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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

SanDisk buys Pliant for SSD market

By Nick Flaherty

Flash chip maker SanDisk has bought solid state disk company Plaint Technology in a $327m deal to catapult the company into the SSD market.
Pliant, whos new CEO started last month, currently sells ultra-high performance enterprise solid state drives based on multi-level cell flash memory and the SAS protocol to meet the performance, data integrity and reliability needs of enterprise storage customers. The company's product roadmap also includes PCIe-based solutions for high-performance compute servers.
"Flash memory is making significant inroads into the enterprise by dramatically increasing application performance and reducing power consumption," said Sanjay Mehrotra, SanDisk president and chief executive officer. "We believe that the combination of Pliant's innovative technology and enterprise-level system expertise with SanDisk's high-quality, large-scale MLC memory production is a winning value proposition for customers. Our advanced flash technology roadmap and flash management capability will complement Pliant's strengths and allow us to lead the way in reliability and performance in the Enterprise SSD market."
"Pliant has had initial success in the enterprise SAS SSD market, which is that company's sole focus," said Jim Handy at Objective Analysis. "The enterprise SSD market is the fastest-growing SSD market and is one that SanDisk has not targeted so far - SanDisk has dedicated the majority of its SSD efforts to the client PC SSD market, a market that has not materialized to the extent expected by its advocates for the past several years. Most PC buyers still don't want an SSD enough to pay the high price for the amount of storage they get."
"Through this acquisition SanDisk can suddenly jump into the enterprise SSD market at full speed with a device that is already production qualified and with established relationships and design wins with key customers in that market," he said.
"The Enterprise SSD market is poised for considerable growth, with revenue projected to reach $4.2 billion in 2015, up from $994 million in 2010," according to Joseph Unsworth, research director at Gartner. "This trajectory is fueled by the expanding use of MLC NAND technology, which will require extensive flash management expertise to ensure successful adoption in enterprise applications."
"Something striking about this deal is the absence of overlap between the two companies," said Handy. "In design, SanDisk has great strengths in NAND flash and NAND controllers, SATA, USB, and flash card interfaces. Pliant has some flash controller expertise, but also brings significant strengths that SanDisk lacks in SAS interface technology, high-speed SSD data management, and end-to-end data protection."
"SanDisk's sales & marketing strengths include retail sales and OEM sales to cell phone and tablet PC makers," he added. "Pliant's sales and marketing efforts are narrowly focused on enterprise server makers and storage array OEMs. In short, there seems to be a near-ideal lack of redundancies that is rare in companies that bring synergies to the market."

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