by Brian Beeler

Cisco Acquires Whiptail for $415 Million

Another day another significant storage rollup. This time it's networking cum converged infrastructure company Cisco adding the flash storage array company Whiptail to their portfolio in a deal worth $415 million. Cisco will integrate the arrays into their Unified Computing System (UCS) strategy that includes blade servers and networking infrastructure. 

Cisco is seeing demand for faster storage as customers increase their reliance on flash for certain applications and workloads like VDI that can benefit from a high performance storage tier. Cisco has been passively involved in integrations like this in the past via partnerships with EMC, Hitachi, Nimble and involvement in NetApp's FlexPod architecture, but to this point they've only owned the interconnect and in some cases the compute nodes. Being able to offer a high-performance flash tier is certainly compelling but it remains to be seen if Cisco is able to integrate that with their existing partnerships or if the offerings at some point become mutually exclusive. 

Cisco is in a unique position in that they have the ability to tune the networking layer for storage, something often overlooked in the data center. Networking is often a bottleneck when flash storage is introduced, as most networks aren't tuned for the increased IO load that flash arrays can release. While the converged play that Cisco can now offer on their own is still pretty far away from what Dell and HP can bring to the table under a single flag, the acquisition certainly shows that Cisco wants to increase their profile in the space. 

The acquisition of is expected to be complete in Cisco's first quarter of fiscal year 2014.

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