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November 9, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Although willing to concede that customer interest is bound to be considerable, the major IBM leasing companies in the UK have greeted the recent announcements of the first add-on memory for the 3090 series by EMC Corp and Cambex Corp with stony silence. Despite indications from both Massachusetts memory manufacturers that negotiations are already under way (CI No 1,041), Meridian’s European marketing chief Michael Stephenson-Smith refused to discuss specific deals. At a more general level, however, he described the introduction of alien products into an IBM mainframe environment as a difficult problem for IBM. If IBM is unable to come to terms with it, he added, the independent maintenance sector will continue to grow at an even faster rate. Atlantic Computers’ Graham Shelley made similar noises, claiming that the company would purchase the products if and when the end-user wants them. In Shelley’s opinion, however, both companies will be forced to drop their prices. Supply will eventually outstrip demand, he argued, and users will also be tempted to avoid perceived maintenance risks by buying second user upgrades from IBM at some 30% of their original list price. According to Joseph Kruy of Cambex, however, any drop will be generated by an easing of the chip shortage, an issue which has apparently provoked more of a price problem than a supply problem for the company. Major problem of the moment, however, would seem to be pushing its 22% – price – advantage – over – IBM claims, over and above rival 30% claims from EMC. When challenged, Kruy offered a most reliable memory in the mainframe business track record, and pointed to the existence of a formal maintenance agreement with IBM, which forces IBM to accept full responsibility for CPU upkeep. EMC spokeswoman Kristen Burrell conceded that the company’s maintenance arrangements with IBM are still at a case-by-case stage; with 15 offices in Europe, including two in the UK, however, the company claims a sales and marketing advantage over Cambex here. The company also hopes to finalise a deal with IBM, entitling any EMC offering to fall within IBM’s fault-diagnosis procedure. Describing the Cambex offerings as the culmination of a five year, multi-million dollar project, Burrell claimed a tremendous post-announcement response to the company’s Central Memory product, and predicted a similar demand for Expanded Memory, as ESA becomes available. Burrell was also keen to stress the reliability of both products, by highlighting the company’s pre-testing procedures; if a fault occurs, she argued, it will occur within the first 24 hours of a memory chip’s life-cycle, and will be identified through the intelligent burn-in process.

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