Unlikely as it sounds, Compaq Computer Corp now claims to be number three in the storage market, behind only IBM Corp and EMC Corp. Compaq says its storage revenues are nigh on $1bn, compared to EMC’s $2.27bn. The Windows NT storage market grew by 140% last year, says Compaq, and is set to double each year as companies progress from just using personal computer-based servers for file and print and move them up to mission critical business applications such as SAP AG’s R/3. Efforts are now underway at Compaq to change the perception of the company from that of primarily a personal computer and server company to one that is also a serious storage player. In the third quarter, Compaq plans to bring out a line of disk drive units based on fiber channel technology, as a successor to today’s slower SCSI systems, and will market them for use with systems from other vendors, as well as its own. Compaq’s current SCSI systems have a data transfer speed of 20Mb per second, and fiber channel will boost speeds to 100Mb per second. And fiber channel will enable data to be striped across several units of storage. At the moment you can stripe data across several disc drives only, while a unit can contain up to eight disc drives. With fiber channel, customers will also be able to hang more storage off one Compaq server – up to four terabytes, compared to today’s limitation of 700Gb. Prices are expected to be well below EMC prices, according to the company. Compaq has not ruled out the Unix storage market for its attentions later on, once it’s branded itself in NT storage. Meanwhile, EMC is due to release its own fiber channel products this summer, and points out its systems will support systems running all the major operating systems, including IBM mainframe, AS/400 and OS/2 boxes, as well as Unix and NT.
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