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Citrix buys startup Sanbolic, steps into hyper-converged market

Desktop virtualization firm Citrix acquired software startup Sanbolic to create a new storage division and compete in hyper-converged markets.

On Monday, Citrix moved into storage and the hyper-converged market by picking up software vendor Sanbolic.

Citrix said it acquired Sanbolic for its scale-out storage software for optimizing application workloads across physical, virtual and cloud environments. Sanbolic's Melio platform manages server-side and converged architectures as a unified system and lets users shape their infrastructure to storage requirements.

Citrix did not disclose how much it paid for Sanbolic.

Sanbolic founder and CEO Momchil Michailov joins Citrix as vice president of storage technologies to head its newly created storage division. Michailov said Citrix will add products that focus on alleviating bottlenecks associated with Citrix storage. He said there could be product rollouts as soon as this week.

"So far, storage has been the black voodoo box that destroys customer economics. This integration will provide our customers with a vertically integrated high-performing stack from top to bottom, which gives them a mixture of infrastructure benefits," Michailov said.

Michailov in the past has characterized Sanbolic software more as an enterprise play than being limited to virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and remote offices, which are common use cases for hyper-converged vendors such as Nutanix, SimpliVity Inc. and VMware's Virtual SAN.

However, Sanbolic has worked closely with Citrix since its inception. The two vendors share approximately 200 mutual customers, Michailov said. All of Sanbolic's roughly 300 employees will join Citrix.

Integrating Sanbolic should ease implementation headaches for Citrix customers that deploy VDI and manage virtual applications across storage tiers, said Mark Bowker, a senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group.

"They've removed a lot of the complexity and are addressing issues of efficiency and making sure the end user's experience is on par with what they are used to," Bowker said.

Citrix also is in position to roll out reference architectures for its storage, which will enable users to cobble together hyper-converged systems with white box systems, Bowker said.

Michailov declined to provide specifics on new products but said the company is "not getting into hardware."

"Software until now existed to enable hardware performance. You're going to see a rapid shift of hardware being able to enable software, which will create a humongous shift in cost per IOPS and Capex," Michailov said.

In addition to Citrix XenDesktop support, Sanbolic's volume manager software natively supports Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware vSphere and Kernel-based Virtual Machine for Linux-based storage.

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