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The fracking oil price drop whacked Panasas – who's next in energy IT?

Plummeting fuel prices cause tech budgets to shrink, which is bad news for tech suppliers

NAS appliance maker Panasas was forced to restructure after falling oil prices caused its customers in the energy sector to spend less on its technology.

That's why executives fled the building, and why other staff have been let go.

CEO Faye Pairman said Panasas has a long-standing strategy of diversifying into vertical markets and did not want to walk away from that. Business in manufacturing, life sciences and entertainment and media markets is doing very well, we're told, but the energy sector – a significant and really important part of Panasas' business – is not doing well at all, hence the restructuring.

The company, however, is not selling its IP portfolio.

Some Panasas patents were assigned to White Oak Global Advisors in June 2015. That company says: "At White Oak, we originate and underwrite flexible and efficient capital to middle market companies through direct lending programs and other initiatives. Our financing solutions support companies throughout their credit life cycles with growth capital and acquisition financing, recapitalization and exit programs, equipment and inventory loans, and restructuring solutions."

At the end of 2014, Panasas was ready to go to market with a new hardened file system product, and used White Oak for trade financing, with its patents being the collateral.

Although the designs have been assigned to White Oak, they have not been sold. Pairman said that this is a normal way of doing business, so there is nothing to see here, move along.

She thinks the oil price, and hence the energy sector, will come back, but it's a geopolitical struggle with its own time table.

The implication here is that other storage and IT system suppliers with an energy market focus, such as DataDirect Networks and Seagate's Xyratex business, will also be suffering as the sector's buying power has slumped over the past couple of quarters.

Expect other IT system suppliers with energy sector exposure to start bleeding too. ®

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