HP woke up the IT world this morning by announcing their acquisition of IBRIX, a maker of scale-out file servers. The purchase will presumably be integrated with HP’s existing clustered file system technology acquired with PolyServe in 2007. The move demonstrates HP’s commitment to continue to be a major player in the enterprise storage market. IBRIX can be seen as a complement to the scale-out iSCSI systems HP acquired from LeftHand in 2008.
The unique IBRIX IP is in distributing metadata and “ownership” of files across a grid of systems, enabling massive scale. Most competing products have a centralized metadata database which makes them more difficult to scale. When an IBRIX node receives a read or write request, it simply checks the file against its own database and, if it is not found, against a so-called “area code” database which tells it which node should handle the request. This is conceptually similar to how massive distributed databases like DNS function.
The IBRIX system is focused on scalable file services, with the system appearing as a single massive NAS appliance. This is similar to the capabilities of the former LeftHand iSCSI storage systems currently offered by HP. The two products complement each other nicely, one being file and the other being block. Both are also sold as software solutions bundled with HP hardware. HP still lacks a similar Fibre Channel product, but LeftHand could be modified to support FCoE in the future.
What is more confusing is exactly how IBRIX fits with PolyServe, a former IBRIX competitor whom HP acquired back in 2007 and has had mixed success promoting. The two products could be merged, targeted at different markets, or one could fall by the wayside as the other gains traction. PolyServe can be seen as a higher-end or higher-performance solution, where IBRIX focused on scalability. Regardless, the sale suggests that HP is not in the market for NetApp, as had been rumored.
IBRIX was founded in 2000 and is headquartered in Billerica, Massachusetts. Details of the transaction (price and revenue) have not been released.