Infinite IO Chief: Dell’s $67B EMC Deal Makes It ‘One-Stop Shop’

The monumental Dell-EMC merger is a sign that, among other things, Dell can now be a competitor to the likes of Hewlett-Packard and IBM in selling everything from servers to storage to networking.

While Dell may have already offered those services, EMC makes its storage offering “premier,” according to Mark Cree, the CEO and founder of Infinite io, an Austin, TX-based company in the data storage sector.

“It’s a top-to-bottom solution,” Cree says. “You can now one-stop shop and go to Dell to buy your servers, storage, and your networking all in one place, which sort of puts them on the same tier as HP and IBM.”

The $67 billion buyout also gives Dell access to other services such as Documentum, a content management tool, and VMware (NYSE: VMW), the publicly traded virtualization software and cloud service company of which EMC owns about 80 percent. The deal includes a stock consideration in VMware.

Dell in particular benefits from EMC’s expertise in a type of storage—file-based—that has been growing five times faster in popularity than block-based storage, which both companies traditionally offered, Cree says. For Dell—a company that has sought to rebuild lost revenues as its personal computer offerings diminished by becoming an enterprise storage provider—the acquisition solidifies its position as a top-tier competitor in the storage market.

“It gives a customer the comfort of knowing that if I bought it all from Dell, it’s going to work together, versus me having to do all the integration myself,” Cree says. “For an enterprise, it can be a one-stop shop.”

Cree was formerly the general manager of Cisco’s storage router business unit. In that role in the early 2000s, he worked with both Dell and EMC in different capacities. (He got there via another startup he co-founded, NuSpeed, which Cisco acquired for $450 million in stock in 2000.)

For Cree’s current business, Infinite io, the deal doesn’t change much. The company offers what it calls a network-based storage controller, a product called NSC-110 that it made available to the general public last week. The product in essence helps its users determine where they want to store computer system data: on cloud servers provided by companies such as Google or Amazon or on physical racks that they might buy from Dell or EMC.

Most data is currently stored on those physical racks, kept locally in a data center or something similar, Cree says. But most corporate data—about 80 percent, Cree says—isn’t actively used by companies. To boot, storing data on traditional storage systems costs more than cloud systems—about 75 cents per gigabyte, compared with 1 cent per gigabyte in the cloud, Cree says.

Infinite io’s tool moves data that isn’t actively used to the cloud, while making it look and act as if it’s still stored on the local storage system, in case the user needs to access that data for some reason, Cree says.

The company raised a $3.4 million funding round in late September led by Chicago Ventures, and is now in the process of raising another, Cree says.

“Every storage company has this issue, and every large storage company wants to get in the cloud business,” Cree says. “We have a vehicle that seamlessly migrates the last 20 years of inactive data out of data center into an Amazon cloud or a Dell cloud or a Google cloud or an HP cloud. It doesn’t matter.”

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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