Western Digital continues buying into SSDs, acquires Virident

Western Digital is continuing its acquisition spree of flash storage companies, announcing a definitive agreement to buy enterprise solid-state drive (SSD) vendor Virident for $685 million.

Virident’s operations will be integrated into WD’s HGST (previously called Hitachi Global Storage Technologies) subsidiary, which was acquired from Hitachi. Virident is best known for its FlashMax range of products, which include SSDs that can function as server-side memory or long-term storage, and also related software that can manage SSD storage resources in data centers.

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WD is well-known for its hard drive offerings, but has been on an acquisition spree as it expands into the SSD market. Earlier this year, WD invested $51 million in Skyera, which develops energy-efficient storage systems with SSDs, and also acquired Velobit, which makes SSD optimization software, for an undisclosed amount. The company in July acquired SSD maker STEC for $340 million. WD also offers its own SSDs and has also announced consumer-grade solid-state hybrid drives that combine hard drives and SSDs.

Virident’s acquisitions will aid WD’s strategy to deliver highly integrated server-based storage products to data centers, said Mike Cordano, HGST president, in a statement.

SSDs are being increasingly used in the enterprise as cache, memory and cold storage. Industry observers feel the enterprise SSD market has yet to mature, as a lot of storage is still based on spinning disks like hard drives, which can be slower and more power-hungry.

The smaller size of SSDs can also provide more storage in fewer servers, and can run in-memory database applications as an alternative to DRAM. For example, Facebook replaced DRAM with flash memory in a server called McDipper, and is also using SSDs for long-term cold storage. SSD adoption is also growing as flash storage becomes cheaper and more durable.

WD said the acquisition of Virident is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

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