After years of false starts, the online storage services market is suddenly red hot, and vendors just can't seem to get enough.
Dell and Atempo are the latest vendors to make storage-as-a-service moves, acquiring MessageOne and Lighthouse Global Technologies, respectively. Others with recent moves into the space include EMC, IBM and Google.
Dell will pay $155 million in cash for MessageOne, which provides e-mail business continuity, compliance, archiving and disaster recovery services in a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model.
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Steve Schuckenbrock, president of Dell Global Services and the company's chief information officer, said in a statement that MessageOne adds "key capabilities to our growing SaaS-enabled services portfolio for the most critical application to businesses of any size e-mail. MessageOne's services not only meet the needs of large companies with an impressive roster of existing Fortune-500 customers and marquee partners as proof points but can also scale down cost effectively to meet the needs of small and medium business customers."
Dell plans to make MessageOne offerings available to both direct customers and channel partners.
MessageOne was co-founded by Adam Dell, Michael Dell's brother, and is owned in part by two investment funds that are managed by Adam Dell. Michael Dell and family are investors in the funds, which required the company to take steps to assure objectivity in the deal, and Michael Dell will donate his family's $12 million proceeds from the deal to charity.
Atempo, meanwhile, picked up Lighthouse Global Technologies, developer of E-Trail Digital Archive, which the company describes as a "feature-rich, open architecture e-mail archiving solution."
Atempo CEO Neal Ater said the company chose Lighthouse because of its easy integration into Atempo's backup, recovery and data protection offerings and its SaaS architecture. Atempo will combine its technology with Lighthouse to offer an integrated data protection and e-mail archiving solution, he said.
"We're really pushing SaaS in 2008," said Ater.
Lighthouse's E-Trail Digital Archive software supports Windows, Linux, Unix and Mac OS X operating systems, and Microsoft Exchange and Lotus e-mail servers.
Ater said a number of factors have combined to make the storage services market viable. Falling costs, infrastructure improvements and technology like incremental backups and de-duplication have made the offerings cost-effective and reliable, and companies have become more open-minded about third-party data services.
Gartner and IDC project the market to grow by 24 to 37 percent annually over the next few years, reaching $1 billion or more by 2011. Not surprisingly, that growth has attracted a number of players; Gartner rates 15 e-mail archiving vendors in its "magic quadrant" alone.
Atempo, which was founded in 1995 and boasts 3,200 customers, hopes its long experience in the data protection market and financial strength will give it a leg up on competitors.