EMC Buys Pi To Boost 'Cloud Computing' Infrastructure

EMC also gains Pi chief executive Paul Maritz, a former senior executive of Microsoft, who will head EMC's newly formed Cloud Infrastructure and Services Division.

EMC has agreed to acquire startup Pi, adding one more leg to the storage vendor's effort to build an online data-hosting service that would likely compete with companies like IBM and Amazon.com

Seattle-based Pi, which has yet to launch a product, is beta-testing software and services that would help people "find, access, share, and protect" their personal digital information. The company has about 100 engineers in the United States, Canada, and India.

In acquiring Pi, EMC gains chief executive Paul Maritz, who will run EMC's newly formed Cloud Infrastructure and Services Division. Maritz, a former senior executive of Microsoft, will report directly to Joe Tucci, EMC president, chairman, and CEO.

"Pi's technology is very complementary to our emerging cloud infrastructure strategy," Tucci said in a statement released Thursday.

"Cloud computing" refers to the delivery of applications and services over the Internet from a data center far away from where the software is being used. Amazon.com is a pioneer in the field, opening up its data centers for developers to leverage Amazon.com's infrastructure to build and offer Web services. IBM in October launched its Cloud Blue strategy.

Business software maker SAP this month told Reuters news agency that EMC was building a data-hosting service for companies dubbed "EMC Cloud," and SAP planned to offer its software through the service in partnership with EMC. The storage vendor had declined comment on the report.

So far, the most visible sign of EMC's new strategy is the online backup service Mozy, which EMC acquired in October for $76 million. EMC in January launched an enterprise version of Mozy, which had been a service for individuals and small businesses. In general, Mozy backs up computers over the Internet and encrypts and stores the data on its own servers.

The Pi acquisition is an all-cash transaction that is expected to cost EMC investors a penny a share this year. The purchase is expected to be complete in the first quarter. Further financial details were not disclosed.

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