If you own shares of clustered storage specialist Isilon Systems (Nasdaq: ISLN), I hope you brought your kidney belt. This is one heck of a bumpy ride.

The stock jumped sky-high a couple of weeks ago on reports that the company was talking to EMC (NYSE: EMC) about a possible $2 billion buyout. After a series of swings one way and the other depending on the mood of the market that day, Isilon then cemented its position as buyout bait with a solid third-quarter report, and the stock jumped again. Then late last Thursday, The Wall Street Journal said that EMC was getting cold feet, and Isilon's stock collapsed. The stock soared back on Friday, because the market seems to treat the latest WSJ report as more rumor than fact -- and if EMC isn't hungry, dealmaker Frank Quattrone might be able to pull a deal out of NetApp (Nasdaq: NTAP), Dell (Nasdaq: DELL), or Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ).

After all these swings, Isilon is back roughly where it was before the recent round of buyout rumors started swirling. That makes sense. It's a good business but not great, and the company specializes in a particularly tricky type of storage management that has turned out to be difficult for even resource-laden giants like EMC to copy on their own. That alone is worth a bit of a buyout premium. But Isilon comes with small sales and is barely profitable. It's a fixer-upper that would be bought more for its technology and engineering talent than for its business acumen and existing accounts. And what company in its right mind would pay $2 billion or more for about 360 new employees, no matter how talented?

So a bidding war is pretty much out of the question. If Quattrone manages to sell Isilon at these prices, it would be a sign that the buyer is desperate for Isilon's particular brand of clustered storage.

It could happen. It would just be bad for your health to hold your breath in the meantime.

Follow this on-again, off-again buyout story by adding Isilon to your Foolish watchlist.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.