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StorageCraft backup diversifies, acquires Exablox object storage

StorageCraft backup targets server-based storage. Exablox OneBlox is converged hardware, with an object-based file system and NAS front end. Product integration is a goal.

Backup vendor StorageCraft Technology Corp. today acquired object storage startup Exablox, a move StorageCraft's CEO Matt Medeiros said will combine primary and secondary storage into one platform.

StorageCraft did not disclose the purchase price, but the acquisition is its second since receiving a $187 million investment from venture firm TA Associates in 2016. StorageCraft bought data analytics provider Gillware Online Backup last September.

StorageCraft's flagship ShadowProtect SPX protects server-based physical and virtual storage on Linux and Microsoft Windows. The Gillware Backup Analyzer added intelligent tiering of data at rest.

Exablox sells object storage with a NAS interface on its OneBlox line of x86-based appliances. Customers can use OneBlox appliances both for primary storage and backup. The vendor introduced an all-flash OneBlox scale-out array last year. In October 2016, Exablox said it would bundle StorageCraft's ShadowProtect on its OneBlox appliances.

"This is a pretty major pivot for StorageCraft," said Dave Russell, distinguished analyst for storage at Gartner. "They bolster their core protection and data availability software by adding the Exablox hardware. They plan to expand into primary and secondary storage."

Medeiros said the two vendors' products will remain as separate brands. Exablox CEO Doug Brockett is joining StorageCraft as vice president. Medeiros and Brockett previously worked together at SonicWall, where Medeiros was CEO and Brockett was vice president of worldwide marketing.

Medeiros said the goal is to gradually integrate StorageCraft and Exablox products, with the aim of boosting rapid recovery of critical workloads. Customers will still be able to purchase each vendor's brand as a stand-alone product.

"Adding Exablox puts us in both primary and secondary storage," Medeiros said. "We know that data intelligence is being lost in the explosion of new data. Not all data is created equal, but the storage industry historically has treated it that way. We are trying to be somewhat avant-garde by allowing you to give priority to your most critical data."

The Exablox software includes continuous data protection, inline data reduction, replication and unlimited snapshots. Medeiros said the merger puts the two companies in better position to compete with vendors converging secondary storage processes, such as backup, archiving and disaster recovery. Those vendors include secondary storage startup Cohesity and converged data protection startup Rubrik.

"Converged technology doesn't need to be so complex," Medeiros said. "We want to make the complexity simple."

StorageCraft isn't the only backup vendor seeking to broaden its reach. Vendors such as Veritas Technologies and Commvault have moved to expand their backup software into data management platforms.

Steven Hill, a senior storage analyst at 451 Research, said the StorageCraft-Exablox deal is part of a trend to provide better visibility into file data and metadata.

"Part of the challenge is getting good metadata from storage," Hill said. "StorageCraft saw this, but didn't have a hardware play. Exablox software didn't extend as deeply as the StorageCraft backup. This gives them a much broader set of capabilities than they would have had independently."

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