I/O virtualization sector consolidates

Contact: Thejeswi Venkatesh, John Abbott

Rumors are swirling that Fusion-io has acquired patents and key employees from Aprius, after the I/O virtualization vendor failed last year. I/O virtualization, which helps remove the I/O bottleneck from servers, frees up resources for datacenter users and simplifies configuration and cabling. The sector has seen a wave of consolidation and exits recently, indicating both the difficulty of surviving as independents and the importance of the technology for future generations of server infrastructure. First, it was 3Leaf systems, which announced its acquisition by Huawei in November 2010 – only to be blocked by pressure from the US government. Then, earlier this year, Micron announced the purchase of Virtensys.

That leaves NextIO and Xsigo Systems as the only surviving independent companies that have multiplatform products. Xsigo is the more successful of the two and has been expanding its scope into networking I/O territory. For its part, NextIO has indicated that it’s going strong establishing new OEM partnerships. However, given the level of activity in the sector, we wouldn’t be surprised if the two surviving players got acquired by existing strategic partners Dell or IBM. Other potential suitors include firms in the adapter space such as Emulex, Mellanox and QLogic.