M&A: Vertical integration plays

Two items of note here. First, Cavium acquires qlogic. This is interesting at some levels, as qlogic has been a long time player in storage (and networking). There are many qlogic FC switches out there, as well as some older Infiniband gear (pre-Intel sale). Cavium is more of a processor shop, having built a number of interesting SoC and general purpose CPUs. I am not sure the combo is going to be a serious contender to Intel or others in the data center space, but I think they will be working on carving out a specific niche. More in a moment.

Second, Samsung grabbed Joyent. This is Bryan Cantrill’s take on it, but his is denser with the meat of the why, and less filled with (though there is some) marketing blather on synergies, culture, yadda yadda yadda. This is a move by Samsung mobile, one of the Samsung companies. Joyent is famous for starting the node.js project, as well as its cloud with its Triton (data center as a container system), manta (object storage, and move processing to data for in-place computing … very similar in concept to what we’ve been pushing for the last decade), and of course SmartOS.

First off, I don’t see any of the dependency stack going away. Triton lives atop SmartOS. If anything, I see SmartOS benefiting from this massively, as Samsung may add weight to getting drivers operational on SmartOS. This is, IMO, an important weakness in SmartOS, and one I hope, will now be rectified. We were successful in convincing Chelsio to port to SmartOS/Illumos a few years ago, so we had a decent 10GbE driver. But I want 100GbE, and a few other things (NVMe, etc.) that I’d have to hire Illumos kernel devs for. Given Samsung’s focus on NVMe (not mobile, but the other folks), I’ll ping them about helping out with this … as NVMe on SmartOS + 100GbE would be AWESOME … (and for what it’s worth, the major siCloud installation we built a few years ago, started out with SmartDC, and moved to Fifo for a number of reasons … but our systems/code are all SmartOS/SDC/Fifo supporting, as long as we have working drivers).

Ok, bigger picture.

This is vertical integration in both cases. Bring more of the stack in-house, focus on the value that these things can bring. Joyent + Samsung gives you DC wide container engines. Great for mobile. But wildly awesome for other things (think of what OpenStack would like to do, and they are already available with Triton). Then qlogic + Cavium gives a verticalized integration play for a set of DC niches, in storage, in NPUs (possibly), in hyperscale systems …

Both of these are very interesting.

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