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Where are the next storage startup stars?

Is there room for another 3PAR, Compellent or Data Domain ...

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Comment Have we witnessed the end of an era? Has the great storage company growth boom ended with a series of big bang acquisitions: 3PAR, Archivas, Compellent, Data Domain, Diligent, EqualLogic, Isilon, LeftHand Networks, Ocarina, Storwize and more? Over the last five years a whole swathe of up-and-coming storage companies has been gobbled up by the majors eager to buy into technology and markets where they have limited or no presence.

The net result is that, in storage terms, EMC, Dell, HDS, HP, IBM, Netapp (less so) and Oracle – the big seven – are bigger than ever, with virtually a whole layer of substantial startups and early-stage public companies becoming operating units of the super seven.

The ones left behind, the too-large-to-buy (Symantec?), the refuseniks, the hard-to-swallow technologies, the mature niche occupants (CA) and the rejects, now have to grow organically and will have a harder job doing so because their previously independent competitors now have big bucks behind them for more development and greater sales and marketing resources.

If BlueArc, DataCore, FalconStor, Pillar, Sepaton or Xiotech ever thought that acquisition was an attractive option, it must now seem as if that door is closed and they have to grow the hard way, the organic way, the DIY way of building great product, keeping up with the market, and selling, selling, selling, which they can do as they have great products and energetic and enthusiastic execs running them.

There are a lot of early and mid-stage start-ups that could grow into substantial mid-tier publicly owned storage companies in the next five years though. Who are they and where are they in market niche terms?

The runners and riders for the next five years:

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