Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. are both trying to buy the data-storage provider 3Par Inc. Here are some details on 3Par:
Q: What does 3Par do?
A: 3Par makes and sells "storage utilities," or groups of specialized computers designed to store data that are frequently updated. The company has technology for what's known as thin provisioning, the ability to dole out only as much storage space as necessary at any given moment, with the ability to quickly scale up or down depending on the conditions.
Q: What makes 3Par so appealing to Dell and HP?
A: Dell and HP have both been trying move into more profitable markets than PCs. As part of that, they have embraced cloud computing, in which customers don't buy their own computer servers for certain tasks but instead pay companies such as Dell and HP to sell services that can be accessed over the Internet. With cloud-based storage services, Dell or HP would operate the storage machines on behalf of their customers. The thin provisioning from 3Par would help Dell or HP use expensive storage hardware more efficiently by sharing it among multiple customers.
Q: Who are 3Par's existing customers?
A: The company sells its products to Web companies including Ask.com, IAC, MySpace.com and Priceline.com. Other customers include the U.S. Census Bureau, Credit Suisse and Verizon Business.
Q: How much money does it make?
A: For the most recent fiscal year, which ended March 31, 3Par's revenue was $194.3 million. The company reported a net loss of $3.2 million.
Q: How long has the company been around?
A: Based in Fremont, Calif., 3Par was founded in 1999 and began shipping its products in 2002. It went public in November 2007 at $14 per share and closed at $9.65 on the last trading day before Dell's bid. It employs 670 people.