Cray Closes Seagate Deal, Folds in ClusterStor Business

Sept. 25, 2017

By: Michael Feldman

On Monday, Cray announced it had completed the acquisition of Seagate’s ClusterStor business and would begin transitioning the new storage line into its array of HPC offerings.

As we reported in July, the supercomputer-maker sought to bring the high performance storage in-house after years of reselling the ClusterStor equipment under its Sonexion brand. With the deal now completed, Cray is reporting that it has brought over about 130 employees from Seagate, 90 of which are engineers that will take over R&D for the ClusterStor product and the associated Lustre filesystem work. As expected Cray will also take over maintenance of existing installations. The company also has a four-year agreement in place to use Seagate as the OEM supplier for the storage hardware.

The move helps to solidify Cray’s ability to control more of the critical pieces of its supercomputing offerings, and be able to integrate them more seamlessly across its platforms.  Storage is certainly a critical piece of almost any traditional HPC solution, as well as those in areas that Cray wants to gain a larger foothold in, namely AI and data analytics. “With the constant growth of data and the need to move it quickly for data-intensive simulations and artificial intelligence models, the addition of the ClusterStor line enhances an important piece of our product portfolio,” explained Cray CEO Peter Ungaro.

According to John Howarth, VP of Storage at Cray, the company will sunset the Sonexion line after the current sales pipeline of that product is flushed. Going forward, it will offer ClusterStor gear to its customers under its own brand. The first iteration of this will be the new ClusterStor L300, the next-generation ClusterStor L300N, and the ClusterStor SL220. They expect to be shipping these under the Cray banner by the fourth quarter of the year.

“This is going to give Cray critical mass for the next generation of computing platforms,” Howarth told TOP500 News. With everything under one roof now, Cray expects to be able to achieve tighter integration of the storage with its own existing supercomputing hardware and software, allowing them to build more purpose-built solutions for their customers. This, says Howarth, will be especially critical for the next-generation of storage aimed at exascale computing.

Howarth also reiterated that they are committed to supplying ClusterStor’s existing resellers, including, HPE, Dell, and Atos. Given that these vendors are, to varying degrees, competitors with Cray, it’s not clear how long this arrangement will last. Even before the acquisition, Cray was the largest supplier of ClusterStor systems, with about half of the total market. Given the new ownership, that percentage is almost assured to rise, regardless of what the other current resellers have in mind. We’ll just have wait and see how the market shakes out.