SGI buys up storage maker COPAN Systems

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Product portfolio expansion continues apace. But is it good for business?

SGI announced on Tuesday that they’ve bought up storage vendor COPAN Systems

SGI logoSGI acquired the assets with the goal of expanding SGI’s storage portfolio to include a highly scalable, energy efficient enterprise Massive Array of Idle Disks (MAID) platform. COPAN storage solutions are designed to allow customers to access Disk-to-Disk and Virtual Tape Library (VTL) capabilities for cost-effective management of large data environments.

The acquisition cost the company about $2M in cash, and SGI didn’t assume any of COPAN’s debt. What does SGI hope to make of its new assets?

With the acquisition, SGI will be able to offer an expanded portfolio of purpose-built, innovative, massively scalable high performance storage products. Specifically, with the COPAN platform, SGI will be able to offer new storage technologies that target Persistent Data storage. The platform is designed to allow customers to decrease the cost and complexity of storing and managing extensive volumes of long-term information in data-rich organizations.

Of the many things that SGI needs, I wouldn’t have thought that a more diverse product portfolio was on the list. Since the acquisition of SGI by Rackable, the company has continued to grow and diversify its product lines, effectively running two companies with two lines of products and customers under one name. Most recently it threw its hat into the hosted computing arena with the launch of its Cyclone rent-a-cycle program, adding yet another line of business. And meanwhile the HPC side of the business continues to hover as we wait for first ship (not expected until Q2) of the company’s make-or-break Ultraviolet x86-based shared memory platform.

As I’ve said many times in this space before, I don’t run a multinational computer business. But if I did, this is the question I would have wanted to answer before making this buy: are customers really not buying from SGI because the storage offering isn’t deep enough? If not, this was cash that could have been better spent elsewhere.


  1. The difference between Rackable and SGI are beginning to blur. Rackable appears to be in decline as the use the SGI name for other business. Copan is more of a Rackable buy.

  2. @SGI – thanks for the note. Its interesting to have the perspective that the Rackable side is dying…I would have thought it was the other way around.

  3. I think this was a smart move. If SGI is going to maintain a competiveness with the “big boys” in HPC, such as HP and IBM, they need to continue to diversify and become a one stop shop for customers. Customers are looking for a different experience today from vendors than they once had. Gone are the days of them tolerating finger pointing..

  4. Jim – thanks for the comment. I hadn’t looked at it from that perspective, though I will say that you can eliminate finger pointing by going into a bid with a good storage partner and acting as the integrator for the customer. We’ve successfully done that with other Tier 1 vendors to good effect. The bonus to the business is that the HPC company doesn’t have to dilute its focus, and the customer still gets one belly button and, one can argue, better technology since each partner is tightly focused on what it does best.