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EMC Buys Isilon for Big Data and the Cloud

Isilon is supposed to be good at what has come to be called Big Data

EMC is going to peel off $2.25 billion in cash money to buy scale-out NAS house Isilon Systems and that figure's net of the money Isilon has in the bank. It'll be paying $33.85 a share, roughly a 29% premium over Isilon's closing price last Friday.

Boy, was the Wall Street Journal wrong. It said last week that EMC had balked at paying a significant premium for the joint since Isilon's price spiked to a $1.8 billion market cap on chatter that EMC was interested. Seems Frank Quattrone, who handled Isilon like he did 3PAR, hasn't lost his knack for delivering carriage trade deals for properties that don't seem worth that kind of money.

Isilon is supposed to be good at what has come to be called Big Data, the massive amounts of unstructured data produced by such things as online streaming and seismic interpretation.

It competes mostly with EMC rival NetApp and EMC a little bit, but the acquisition is going to let EMC expand its cloud footprint and make new use of its VMware, RSA Security and Data Domain acquisitions.

"The cloud isn't hype," EMC said during a conference call Monday.

In a statement CEO Joe Tucci said, "The unmistakable waves of cloud computing and ‘Big Data' are upon us. Customers are looking for new ways to store, protect, secure and add intelligence to the vast amounts of information they will accumulate over the next decade. EMC, in combination with Isilon, sits at the intersection of these trends..."

EMC means to pair Isilon with its Atmos cloud-optimized object storage for unstructured Big Data even if the two widgetries currently have different interfaces (Atmos is SOAP and REST; Isilon CIFS and NFS). Atmos is supposed to good at massive globally distributed environments and object access to the data in things like Web 2.0 applications.

EMC said the technologies will work in parallel to start; common management software shouldn't be much of a problem; it'll see where it goes from there; it pooh-poohed differences in operating systems and interfaces. It expects the two properties together to triple their revenues in two years and have a combined billion-dollar run-rate in the second half of 2012.

Nine-year-old Isilon, which lost money last year, is supposed to do about $200 million this year, up 77% year-over-year, but is still barely profitable.

It hasn't gotten very far outside of America. EMC expects to fix that. It thinks it's just catching the Big Data wave that's already drowning some companies and overwhelming other people's NAS architecture.

Isilon is supposed to be chi-chi because its relatively simple architecture can scale out to capture and analyze Big Data without needing more IT staff. Its 1,500 customers include folks like Adobe, ARM, PetroChina, NBC, Merck, Kodak, Sony and the Harvard-MIT genome sequencing project. Kodak Galley started with 10TB and with two billion images is now at 10PB without adding minders. Scale-out is new to storage and 10PT is as far as Isilon can go right now.

EMC is promising to invest in all aspects of Isilon's business to accelerate growth and take advantage of the market opportunity. Isilon should also benefit from EMC's buying power since it uses x86 servers.

EMC said the transaction should close late this year. The break-up fee is $100 million if anybody cares to try to upset the apple cart.

The acquisition and its employees will report to EMC Information Infrastructure Products unit.

EMC says the purchase shouldn't have a material impact on its full-year 2010 GAAP or non-GAAP diluted EPS and should be accretive to its non-GAAP 2011 diluted EPS.

EMC reaffirmed its guidance for realizing non-GAAP earnings of $1.25 a share on revenues of $16.9 billion this year excluding any restructuring and acquisition-related charges, stock-based compensation expenses and intangible asset amortization.

IDC projects the scale-out NAS segment will grow approximately 36% a year and be worth better than $6 billion dollars in 2014. EMC figures data volumes should grow 44x by 2020, with growth in unstructured data being three times structured data.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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