Cray buys Seagate’s enterprise storage array business

Cray’s purchase of Seagate’s ClusterStor HPC storage array business gives the company ammunition to compete with Dell EMC

Cray buys Seagate’s enterprise storage array business

Supercomputer specialist Cray announced it is acquiring Seagate’s ClusterStor HPC storage array business for an undisclosed sum as part of a strategic deal and partnership. The deal should close in the third quarter. 

Cray will take over development, manufacturing, support and sales of the ClusterStor product line, picking up 100 Seagate employees in the process. Seagate acquired Xyratex, the maker of ClusterStor for $374 million in 2014. 

Cray already sells ClusterStor under its Sonexion scale out Lustre arrays. Sonexion is based on ClusterStor, so it simply comes in-house. Cray is the biggest OEM for the ClusterStor line. 

Even though Cray was already knee deep in ClusterStor, it brought the technology in-house so it can reduce margins and push further on development to align with its strategy, which sounds like it intends to compete with Dell EMC. 

“Building upon our long-term strategy and the amazing growth of data, storage is becoming more important in our market. With the push to exascale computing and the explosive growth in artificial intelligence, deep learning and analytics, the ability to integrate compute and storage into supercomputing systems is more critical than ever,” said Peter Ungaro, president and CEO of Cray, in a statement. 

“Current ClusterStor customers and partners can be assured that we will continue to advance and support the ClusterStor products. In addition, I look forward to welcoming our new Cray employees along with the ClusterStor partners and reseller channel—strengthening our strategic positioning for growth into the future," added Ungaro 

The HPC storage market is considered a growing and profitable one, and it has other players beyond Cray/Seagate and Dell EMC. Western Digital, IBM and Oracle all play in that space, along with more dedicated storage vendors such as DataDirect and NetApp.

It’s clear what Cray gets out of the deal. What’s not so clear is why Seagate dumped a product line that it only recently acquired. It could be it simply didn’t have the capacity to handle the HPC market, since it plays in so many markets at once, while HPC is where Cray lives and breathes. In that case, it did the product line and its customers a favor.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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