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EMC-Isilon swallows software storage firm Likewise

Hot little NAS-enabler

EMC's Isilon business unit has splashed out and bought a fast-growing startup, Likewise, whose software both EMC and other OEMs and enterprises use to NAS-enable Unix- and Linux-based storage devices.

VC-funded Likewise Storage Services (LSS) says it offers a consistent security model for file-based access and cross-platform, unified storage across physical, virtual and cloud environments. It has integrated identity and access management and secure access to data from Windows, Unix and Linux systems. Supported protocols include SMB/CIFS 1.0, 2.0, 2.1, NFS 3.0 and the RESTful API.

OEMs which use the product include NAS vendors like HP and EMC-Isilon. LSS built on the previous Likewise CIFS platform that has been licensed by EMC-DataDomain, HP, Isilon and others. The LSS product is available through OEMs including EMC-Isilon, HP and Microsoft, or via a commercial licence from Likewise Software.

Microsoft SMB 2.2 support for Linux and Unix is in development. Ken Cheney, Likewise VP for marketing and business development, said: "For many IT organisations, block storage has been the only option for provisioning Microsoft application workloads. Block storage is complex and costly to administer.

"With Windows Server 8, workloads running on Hyper-V, as well Microsoft applications such as IIS and SQL Server, will be able to take advantage of the SMB 2.2 protocol, which aims to provide significant performance, reliability and scalability improvements unattainable with prior versions of SMB. The new SMB 2.2 has the potential to reduce the complexity and costs associated with block storage by enabling both application and user workloads to access file-based storage using NAS devices."

Other protocols in development include NFS 4.x, pNFS, HTTP/s, and WebDAV.

In December last year, Likewise announced its Data Analytics and Governance software to access, secure, manage and audit unstructured data – such as financial files, medical records, office documents, media and big data files – across multiple platforms. It integrates with Likewise Storage Services and has adapters that support NetApp, EMC-Celerra and other NAS filers.

Prior to that, in June 2011, the company sold an Active Directory Bridge business unit, which had gained 100,000 users, to BeyondTrust, in order to gain an undisclosed amount of capital to concentrate on the core LSS product area.

Likewise closed a $10m C-round in April 2009, that took total funding to $27m. Let's imagine the price paid equates to four times total funding price – Isilon will have paid around $108m for Likewise.

It must be seeing great potential for expanding sales here or else it sees the technology as absolutely core to its own efforts. The cloud angle is possibly pertinent in this regard. For example, Atmos object storage in the cloud might be NAS-enabled. Possibly there is a NAS + Hadoop play going on as well.

Isilon has secured its own technology and inherited OEM deals with HP, Microsoft and Riverbed, plus partnerships with NetApp and others. The future of those remains to be seen. The new Data Analytics and Governance technology might have relevance to EMC's initiatives in the GreenPlum and Documentum areas.

The news of the acquisition has been outed by Likewise CEO Barry Crist on the Likewise website. There is nothing on either the EMC or Isilon sites yet; an unexpected display of reticence. ®

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