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NetApp buys Riverbed's SteelStore cloud backup appliances

NetApp acquires backup appliances formerly known as Whitewater that move data into public and private clouds.

LAS VEGAS -- NetApp in 2009 lost a bidding war with EMC for disk-based backup vendor Data Domain. This week, NetApp added a different type of data protection appliance when it acquired Riverbed Technology's SteelStore cloud backup platform.

NetApp revealed the $80 million, all-cash transaction at the NetApp Insight partner and user conference. The move provides NetApp with local disk-based backup to NetApp Private Storage on public clouds, which it expanded on at the conference.

Phil Brotherton, vice president of NetApp's cloud solutions group, called the acquisition "a logical extension to our hybrid cloud strategy and technology portfolio."

SteelStore, formerly known as Whitewater until a Riverbed rebranding this year, is sold as physical or virtual appliances. George Crump, president of analyst firm Storage Switzerland, said the cloud-connected device for local disk backup supports the NetApp Data Fabric for hybrid clouds that also rolled out this week.

"It gives NetApp a backup product that is cloud-integrated. It also could make sense as part of NetApp's long-range data movement strategy for old data that hasn't been accessed in a long time," Crump said.

SteelStore installs on-premises and works with third-party backup software. It encrypts, compresses and deduplicates data, and streams it to a public or private cloud. It caches recent backups and vaults older versions to the cloud.

Jason Radford, chief architect of NetApp customer IlliniCloud, said he expects NetApp to quickly integrate SteelStore into the FAS2500 Series arrays as a SnapVault target. IlliniCloud provides private cloud storage to about 600 school districts in nine states and is adding about three times more unstructured data year over year.

"We have an archive-forever policy, so the SteelStore acquisition makes an extremely good use case for us. We'll be able migrate and tier it on-premises to our huge object store," Radford said.

The SteelStore sale comes weeks after Riverbed declared it would reorganize and conduct a strategic review of strategic and financial options to cut costs. Riverbed's primary business line is WAN optimization.

This has been a busy week for storage vendors making cloud-related acquisitions. EMC on Monday bought startups Cloudscaling, Maginatics and Spanning as part of its hybrid cloud strategy.

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