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EMC Answers Sun, Snaps Up Prisa Networks

A week after Palo Alto, Calif.'s Sun Microsystems poached storage software maker Pirus Networks from its home state, Hopkinton, Mass.'s EMC countered by snapping up Prisa Networks for $20 million in cash.

San Diego's Prisa makes storage area network (SAN) management optimized for managing low-end to midrange SAN environments, a market segment EMC said it sees as becoming increasingly important. Prisa's software provides customers in this segment with advanced Windows-based multi-vendor SAN management. EMC, the leader in storage software, said the acquisition will bolster its automated networked storage capabilities, as outlined in the concern's Auto IS strategy.

At first, Prisa software will be sold through existing OEM agreements with future plans for the software to be offered through additional EMC channel partners and EMC's sales organization. The companies hope to benefit from Dell's relationship with Prisa to ensure a faster deployment of the technology for customers using Dell EMC systems.

EMC discussed the deal with internetnews.com. "We've made no secret about our software intentions," EMC spokesperson Greg Eden said. "Our software strategy is to both make and buy. We're going to spend $800 million on research and development, 75 percent of which will be on software."

Nancy Marrone, a senior analyst with research firm Enterprise Storage Group, told internetnews.com that the acquisition should pan out well for both outfits.

"People are screaming about management being the biggest problem in software and EMC is right there as a company who is delivering it, and buying a company like Prisa shows it," Marrone said.

While EMC is effectively bolstering their Auto IS software line by adding heterogeneous storage management capabilities, Marrone said the deal may be a bigger win for Prisa.

"Prisa was in trouble," Marrone explained. "They lost a big OEM when the HP/Compaq deal closed, and the Compaq line was absorbed by HP's OpenView [software line]. They were struggling. There was some doubt as to whether they were going to make it. They are now viable and their technology may be adopted in other places through this deal with EMC."

While Sun purchased Acton, Mass.'s Pirus Networks for some $160 million out of EMC's backyard, the fact that EMC was able to scoop up a storage software specialist under Sun's nose underscores just how wide-open the market is: if firms have the cash to shell out, there are plenty of smaller storage startups looking to be bought. Of course, the major issue is, different companies are looking to buy things at different times.

Eden, whose company has made eight software purchase in the last three years, said EMC wasn't concerned with the play by Sun. He also wouldn't comment on whether EMC considered purchasing Pirus.

"But we are always looking at what's out there," Eden said. As for the bashing of EMC by fellow systems giants, EMC noted that firms, such as Sun, IBM and Hitachi, all spout rhetoric while EMC is already delivering products.

Prisa's management and more than 60 employees will continue to operate in San Diego as part of EMC's Open Software organization, with plans to expand staff as needed.