News: Cisco Intends to Acquire SSD Pioneer WHIPTAIL

Cisco announced today their intent to acquire Whippany, NJ based WHIPTAIL, a manufacturer of Solid-State Disk (SSD) storage.  The strategy for Cisco is to provide a “converged infrastructure including compute, network and high performance solid state that will help address our customers’ requirements for next-generation computing environments,” said Paul Perez, vice president and general manager, Cisco Computing Systems Product Group.

Cisco’s Nexus switching fabric and UCS server platform have been their cornerstone for their converged data center infrastructure play and Software Defined Data Center (SDDC).  Until now they remained one of the few server vendors that has relied on partnerships with storage vendors to complete the stack offering.  The addition of Whiptail will give them a more complete offering that is Cisco branded.  The move by Cisco is inline with other storage vendor strategies.  HGST, a Western Digital company,  announced yesterday their acquisition of Virident another server side flash storage solution that will be added to their offerings.

Sources inside Whiptail are excited about the acquisition.  The Accela and Invicta product lines are going to be a great add-on to the UCS offering.  Being acquired by Cisco ensures that the technology will not get diluted or picked apart as it would if they had been acquired by one of the big storage vendors.   My sources indicated that they also have a very strong global pipeline of business that Cisco picks up, and they bring along several of Cisco’s largest UCS customers who have already validated the integration of the two product lines.  They have seen themselves as a very strong player in the market where some of their software only or hybrid competitors have struggled to see similar success.  Like other niche, disruptive technology vendors, Whiptail’s challenge has been positioning themselves against the big primary storage vendors EMC and NetApp, and it is those “business owners that looked outside the box”, according to my source, that found success by choosing Whiptail over the others.

Whiptail has seen the most growth in Data Analytics, database and HPC application usage.  Their first offerings focused on virtual desktop optimization, similar to Cisco’s initial go-to-market strategy with UCS.  Through this acquisition Cisco will target these high performing applications and go beyond virtual desktops.

Stressed Partnerships

We have recently seen some of Cisco’s partnerships being tested.  At VMworld this year, Cisco was subtly snubbed by the lack of mention by VMware in regards to their NSX solution.  That move put a question in our minds about the long term viability of the VCE (VMware, Cisco, EMC) vBlock and NetApp Flexpod offerings. The acquisition of Whiptail could just be another nail in the coffin for these partnerships.

For more details of the acquisition, please read the full press release here.