The Battle for Data Domain

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It’s the Day After for the storage industry as it digests EMC’s bombshell $1.8 billion bid for Data Domain (DDUP), topping a $1.5 billion offer from NetApp. There was plenty of discussion and analysis from around the Net. Here’s a roundup of some of the notable commentary:

  • Steve Duplessie at Enterprise Strategy Group is perplexed. “I see absolutely nothing logical in the move, and if I were NetApp, I would look at this as the world’s best Mulligan. EMC has 19 dedupe solutions already, owns Quantum practically, and ALREADY sells more target based backup systems than DD.  Why on earth would they want to pay that much for another version of a feature?” (He has a follow-up post with much more)
  • EMC’s Chuck Hollis tries to answer Steve’s question, writing that EMC is seeking to build a portolio of deduplication offerings. “There’s no single ‘best approach’ simply because there are so many places where dedupe can be intelligently used … Hence EMC’s interest in Data Domain as well as many other forms of compression, single instancing and data deduplication.”
  • Brian Gracely of NetApp doesn’t comment directly, but points readers to an earlier post by Hollis which called NetApp-Data Domain a “questionable deal.” He writes: “A long time ago, my mother taught me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, not to say anything at all … Be sure that you have friends and partners that you trust both in good times and in difficult times.  Their words today will reveal a lot about your relationships in the coming months and years.” 
  • Stephen Foskett says the offer seems logical. “Although many questions were raised about the fit for Data Domain within NetApp’s product lineup, the fit in EMC makes more sense. Their Quantum-based VTLs are expensive and enterprise-focused, while a new Data Domain-powered line might have broader appeal.”
  • Marc Farley at StorageRap says DDUP was almost certainly shopped to EMC before the NetApp deal was announced, and sees “loser’s remorse” driving EMC’s bid. “My guess is that EMC looked at their own dedupe products and realized that they could see their own products getting killed by the Netapp/DDUP combination.  Apparently EMC views dedupe as strategic and they saw a failure in their strategy passing before their eyes. They really should have taken care of business earlier rather than playing chicken with Netapp and DDUP.”

  • Dave Vellante at Wikibon also assumes EMC took a pass, and then moved aggressively once it reconsidered. “Bottom line: EMC doesn’t mess around. They saw an opportunity to play hardball and they took it. Reminds me of Yankess/Red Sox wars with the Boston-based EMC playing Steinbrenner. How ironic.”
  • Chris Preimesburger at eWeek thinks the battle is over. “This is a no-lose situation for EMC. What EMC wants, EMC gets. Period. It will be a major upset if NetApp can overcome this serious obstacle.”
  • Robin Harris at StorageMojo suggests a possible third bidder for Data Domain: “This is a company that Dell could put to very good use. Willing to make that $2.5B Michael?”
  • Om Malik assumes EMC will prevail and contemplates NetApp’s future: “So what does NetApp do next? Maybe try and make a bid to buy Compellent Technologies or 3PAR, two companies with fresh approaches to Storage Area Networking. They seem to be gaining traction in the current recessionary economy. The big question then becomes, who would sell to NetApp, which is said to be losing influence in the storage market.”
  • Finally, the coverage at The Register is worth visiting to check out their illustration. 

For what it’s worth, investors on Wall Street are expecting another offer to top the $30 a share price of EMC’s bid. Shares of Data Domain closed at $31.58, well above EMC’s offer.

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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