News broke on September 2, 2014 that HP licensed its Smart Array technology set to PMC Sierra. It was little secret that HP has been using PMC Sierra controllers in its Smart Array RAID controllers and host bust adapters for years. The HP Smart Array stack is well known for being a fairly easy to manage solution that undergoes extensive testing. PMC Sierra has been bolstering its IP and capability in the storage space significantly in recent times. One prime example of this was the purchase of the Adaptec business in 2010.
What we have learned, which was not released in the 8-K on the transaction, is that PMC Sierra is also acquiring a fairly significant Smart Array headcount as part of the transaction. Sources on both sides of the transaction confirmed as much this week. This is a very common practice in this type of industry transaction. On the other hand, it does give some clarity into the transaction for customers.
Essentially, we have learned that many of HP’s enterprise group employees (50+) supporting the Smart Array software stack are changing badges. HP has committed to continue using PMC Sierra based cards in its ProLiant lineup. On the other hand, we now can expect that much of the validation that previously happened in-house at HP is now going to happen at PMC Sierra.
For many customers, there is very likely to be little difference in the short term, especially with the HP ProLiant Gen9 servers that were recently announced. The Smart Array controllers for those servers have likely been in testing for quite some time now. On the other hand, this does allow HP to conceivably turn to an Avago-LSI solution in future generations. There are some customers that liked the fact that HP had a greater control over the stack. Those folks are the ones likely to be most interested with this development.
Overall, HP has started to move pieces of the conglomerate around over the past month or so. HP, a generally acquisitive company stopped major transactions ever since the botched Autonomy transaction. It makes sense that as HP adds capabilities such as Eucalyptus cloud services recently, it would also rationalize its portfolio to a greater degree. Perhaps one of the most intriguing pieces of this transaction is what this means to the traditional Adaptec products since there would likely be cost savings merging the two lines at some point.