EMC reportedly in talks to buy flash maker XtremIO

NetApp may be sniffing around XtremIO as well

EMC is in talks to acquire start-up XtremIO, a San Jose-based maker of all-flash arrays, according to a report in the Israeli business publication Globes.

According to Globes, EMC is close to pulling the trigger on the deal, which may be worth from $400 million to $450 million. EMC top executives, such as CEO Joe Tucci, have been in Israel where XtremIO has its development arm and the two companies are holding "aggressive acquisition talks." Senior executives from EMC's VMWare subsidiary have also been involved in the talks, the publication said.

EMC has an aggressive flash memory roadmap that started several years ago with solid-state drives (SSDs) being offered in its arrays. More recently it has been selling in-server PCIe flash cards and has already announced plans for an all-flash array this quarter.

That array, dubbed "Project Thunder," will contain 15TB or more of PCIe-based NAND flash storage. The appliances will be connected to server farms through the InfiniBand network protocol. The appliances will hold five, 10 or 15 PCIe cards, according to EMC.

XtremIO is developing a low-power, all-flash array with automatic thin provisioning, real-time primary data deduplication and "low overhead" data protection. The company claims its array has enterprise-class data replication capabilities.

XtremIO, which has raised $25 million in two rounds of venture capitalist funding, competes against other all-flash arrays makers such as Texas Memory Systems (TMS), Violin Memory and Nimbus Data. It describes its own all-flash array as having a scale-out clustered design where additional capacity and performance can be added when needed. It also has no single point of failure.

Members of NetApp's management team have also reportedly been among several companies in Israel speaking with XtremIO about the possibility of an acquisition.

Spokespersons from both NetApp and EMC said the companies would not comment on rumors or speculation.

EMC is not unfamiliar with XtremIO's leadership. The company was founded in 2009 by Shuki Bruck, who had started Rainfinity and then sold it to EMC in 2005 for $100 million. Rainfinity sold a storage hypervisor software product that created a single pool of network-attached storage across disparate devices. XtremIO's CTO, Robin Ren, was VMWare's former director of research and development.

The other co-founder of XtremIO, Aryeh Margi, started Israel-based M-Systems, which made an embedded flash memory module it called DiskOnChip. M-Systems was purchased by rival SanDisk in 2006.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

See more by Lucas Mearian on Computerworld.com.

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