Dell (DELL) - Get Report agreed to buy EqualLogic, a maker of advanced storage-area network systems, for $1.4 billion in cash.

The deal will give Dell a presence in so-called iSCSI storage technology, which the PC giant said is the fastest-growing part of the storage business.

iSCSI allows for commands and storage traffic to occur over existing Internet protocol networks, leading to lower costs for multiple hardware and easier maintenance.

"Our customers will be dealing with the largest increase in data we have seen in our history over the next few years," said Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell. "Leading the iSCSI revolution will help Dell accelerate IT simplification and virtualization and will drive the Dell value proposition into more areas of the enterprise storage business."

This past summer, Nashua, N.H.-based EqualLogic filed to go public following the hugely successful initial public offering of

VMware

(VMW) - Get Report

, which is also a player in the "virtualization" segment. EqualLogic hadn't set a date for its IPO.

The EqualLogic purchase is expected to close in the fourth quarter of Dell's fiscal year, which ends in early February, or early in the fiscal first quarter. Dell expects the deal to cut earnings by a total of 2 cents to 5 cents a share for fiscal 2009 and 2010.