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Technology / AI and automation

Maxtor Moves into Network Attached Storage With Creative Buy

Maxtor Corp is to acquire Creative Design Solutions Inc in a bid to enter the network attached storage market. Maxtor plans to buy the company through a stock swap worth about $57m. Creative Design, based in Santa Clara, California, was founded in 1996, but hasn’t yet achieved the higher profile won by competitors such as Network Appliance Inc. It won investments of an undisclosed amount from Athena Technology Ventures, Intel Corp and JAFCO, the Japan Associated Finance Co, at the start of this year, following a $5m first round of funding in August 1998. Andy Bechtolsheim and Bill Joy, co-founders of Sun Microsystems Inc, are both private investors.

Creative has developed its own software platform, named SimplePi, for storage appliances as well as the Pentium-based Plug and Stor thin servers and Pi low cost appliance hardware ranges. SimplePi consists of a modular set of layers including operating system, device drivers, network protocols and graphical user interface for network appliance or storage systems, which acts as tightly- coupled system middleware. It works with Microsoft, Novell or Unix systems. Pi appears to have been partly based on technology originally OEMed from Programmed Logic Corp (now renamed CrosStor Inc). It has also developed real-time mirroring software for clients and workgroups called Kharma.

In 1998 Creative supplied Auspex Systems Inc with software providing bilingual support for Unix and NT files similar to that offered by Network Appliance. It’s also been working with Sun Microsystems Inc’s StoreX (now renamed Jiro) and Jini technology. Creative’s OEM customers include RAID systems supplier nStor Corp for hardware, and Quantum Corp, which signed a deal earlier this year to license its software as the basis for the development of advanced technologies.

Maxtor’s president and CEO Mike Cannon says he wants the company to build up a leading position in the growing network attached storage market. He views the core competency of CDS as storage management software and operating system technology, and says Maxtor will combine that with its own disk drives. Maxtor will develop storage solutions with embedded intelligence that will change the way storage is used and valued he said. CDS president and CEO Wo Overstreet said the acquisition would enable Creative to accelerate its development plans while helping Maxtor to transition from providing basic storage devices to delivering high value-add storage solutions.

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The network appliance and network attached storage markets are beginning to hot up. Compaq Computer Corp, Dell Computer Corp and Hewlett-Packard Co have all now entered the market, Sun has its Flapjack servers and IBM Corp is planning to launch its Pizzazz appliance next month. Earlier this year, IBM acquired low-end internet appliance vendor Whistle Communications Inc. Aside from Network Appliance and Auspex, the remaining smaller players in this market and the related internet cacheing server market include CacheFlow Inc, Cobalt Networks Inc, Encanto Networks Inc and LXCO Technologies AG (previously Network Power and Light). IDC figure released in June predict that the NAS market will grow from $540m in 1998 to $5.1bn by 2003, representing an annual growth rate of 54%. That compares with an overall storage market growth rate of 11% per year. Network Appliance currently has a 40% share of the market, followed by Auspex with a 21% share.

This article is from the CBROnline archive: some formatting and images may not be present.

CBR Staff Writer

CBR Online legacy content.