StorageTek bets on tape-disk SAN for future

www.computerworld.com |  Storage

Executives with struggling storage systems vendor Storage Technology Corp. say it's
a leaner, more focused company after six months of internal scrutiny that included the
appointment of a new chairman and CEO, a revamped marketing plan and the introduction
of several products.

Patrick J. Martin, who was appointed chairman, president and CEO of the Louisville,
Colo.-based company four months ago
(see story)
, attributed a long slump in sales to poor marketing, mission focus and
overall execution.

Tape automation and virtualization, or multiple storage mediums, through open
storage-area networks (SAN) will be its new focus, and with the introduction of its L20
tape-library system in September, the T9940 tape drive and StorageNet6000 series
network manager in October, Martin said his company is poised to make a comeback.

"We're a storage provider, not just a tape provider," Martin said. "We're betting on
disk, tape and SAN."

Martin said StorageTek isn't abandoning its mainstay tape storage systems, but will
focus on providing storage systems in general, alluding to the disk drive market
currently led by EMC Corp.

"There are some storage vendors in the Boston area who are not storage companies.
They're disk companies. And they're saying tape is dead," Martin said in an interview
Friday in Boston, where he and other executives were meeting with industry and
financial analysts after demonstrating the SN6000.

"Ninety percent of digital storage is still on tape today," he said.

Ed Broderick, an analyst at Robert Frances Group in Westport, Conn., agreed that
while tape library systems are here to stay, virtualization through SANs that
incorporate multiple storage mediums are the future.

"I think they have something with this one. I like the road map I see," he
said. "It's a good implementation of tape today. Now [you] have a big I/O server that
sits back there handling everything, supporting all environments and providing a lot of
sophisticated management functions at the same time."

The NS6000 supports, among others, Windows NT, Sun System's Solaris or any Unix
variant, StorageTek said.

StorageTek laid off 1,300 employees earlier this year because it suffered a $39.5
million loss in the first quarter, which ended March 31, and higher-than-expected
losses last year (see story).
IBM's decision last year not to renew a three-year-old contract to resell StorageTek's
disk-array subsystems under its Ramac storage banner was a blow that represented a loss
of 20% of StorageTek's annual revenue, Martin said. That, coupled with some late
product deliveries, spelled a traumatic period for the company.

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