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July 28, 1994

STORAGE TECHNOLOGY TO MOVE INTO THE BLACK AT END OF FIRST QUARTER AFTER LOSSES OF $70m LAST YEAR

By CBR Staff Writer

Louisville, Colorado-based Storage Technology Corp finally moved back into profit – of $11.3m for the quarter that closed June 30 (CI No 2,464). This is further good news for the company that just a fortnight ago experienced a massive resurgence in its share price following the first shipments of its long awaited Iceberg disk array storage system. StorageTek reported losses of $70m last year, attributed by UK managing director Campbell McGarvie to the acquisition of Chatsworth, California-based Amperif Corp and not the delay in Iceberg’s shipping; money for its development came from StorageTek’s large research and development budget which last year amounted to 12% of 1993 revenues. Sales of Iceberg are strong, says the company, with 150 installed worldwide so far, with the UK company predicting 20 installations here by the end of this year. Iceberg provides a total storage capacity of 400Gb in what StorageTek describes as a Managed Array of Independent Disks; a virtual storage architecture combined with the data protection characteristics of a Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks and cache. StorageTek claims that mean time between failures on Iceberg is nearly 3,000 years. StorageTek needs Iceberg to perform well: after prematurely announcing the product and then failing to deliver it, the company has seen Hopkinton, Massachusetts-based EMC Corp’s Symmetric make huge in-roads into its potential market and IBM Corp’s launch of Ramac poses another threat. Its other product launch of the summer in the UK is NearNet, an automated data management system for networks, which sneaked onto the market with considerably less fanfare than Iceberg. StorageTek is marketing NearNet on the angle that many local area networks have grown organically and managing the data they generate takes, on average, 100 hours a month for each file server, and in the meanwhile, valuable data runs the risk of being lost. NearNet is a combination of software and hardware centred on the NearNet 7990 Storage Management Unit, a server running the core sotware providing the storage management functions to the network. It was developed jointly with Epoch Systems Inc, now ironically owned by EMC Corp, and presumably uses the Sparc-based server Epoch offers. It transparently migrates inactive data to one of StorageTek’s tape libraries and backs up other data. The network manager can define at which level of inactivity and what type of data should be transfered to the library. So far, 50 NearNets have been installed worldwide. It supports a variety of networks for back-up and SunOs, Irix, Ultrix, AIX-RS/6000 and HP-UX for migration. It is also considering NearNet’s potential for wide area networks; StorageTek believes falling prices in telecommunications makes this theory a more feasible one.

Bread and Butter Business

Despite the activity with Iceberg and NearNet, StorageTek has not forgotten its bread and butter business, tape. Although very reticent since its experience with trumpeting Iceberg too early, the company is planning to add to the libraries in its Nearline range. Three cartridge drives, Silverton, Timberline and RedWood, are being launched in ‘the near future’. The Redwood, says StorageTek, will provide automated storage at a cost of less than a penny a Megabyte compared with 20 to 30 pence at the moment. StorageTek’s overall aim, it says, is to come out from under IBM and be the storage provider fulfilling all the needs of customers. It, like most others, is sure the need for storage will mushroom and it wants to hold a big slice of what will be a billion dollar market by the turn of the century. Looking to the future, McGarvie says StorageTek is developing a hierarchical storage manager for networks that would select the most appropriate storage medium for different types of data and store it automatically. Iceberg is being developed for other systems as are NearNet’s migration capabilities.

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