So are EMC are rumoured to be interested in Isilon; twelve months ago I might have dismissed that out of hand but now I'm not so sure and I think it makes sense for a couple of reasons.
1) Isilon are strong in the media space; EMC aren't. Now, let's not kid ourselves that the media market is huge compared to the traditional enterprise market but it's certainly large and growing though. And many media houses are now making the move to file-based workflows away from video-tape; the storage requirement here is pretty massive and EMC arguably don't have a product which fits especially well. Atmos could fit but the application integration is not there yet and actually, much of Atmos' functionality is replicated at application layer in many Media Asset Managers.
Media also has an air of cool about it; I'm sure Chuck would love to blog on how EMC storage was used to render the latest Hollywood blockbluster, it's a great marketing opportunity. It's all very well to point to a VMAX which is in the background of a film but I reckon he'd be even happier if he could tell the world how EMC storage was actually used to make the film as opposed to an expensive prop/extra.
2) Cloud and Virtualisation; if NFS is going to be the protocol choice for VMware and hence much of EMC's interpretation of cloud, Isilon could be a really useful asset for them. A massively scalable NFS environment which can grow both capacity and performance independently without outage, without moving data between storage devices keeping all that data movement off your network/SAN; that is a really powerful enabler for the virtual data-centre.
Isilon are going pretty well in VMware environments, quietly growing their footprint and this EMC's chance to pick up a company which could hurt both them and NetApp. It's funny to think that a company that EMC own actually enables the competitors to tell a stronger story about their products. This is EMC's chance to nip this in the bud with Isilon and although I think the figures being talked about for Isilon are pretty high; in five years time, it could turn out to be a relative snip.
It's funny that Dell are discussed as a rival bidder for Isilon; I'm surprised that other partner isn't. Isilon would be a very interesting fit for Cisco if they decided that they actually wanted to own yet more of the virtual Data Centre.
I think that Isilon's days as an independent company are numbered, despite all their protestations that they intend to stay independent and do what to NetApp what NetApp to EMC...I mean I heard exactly the same sort of comments coming out of 3Par and look what happened there?