IBM announces aggressive long term Storage Plans

DQW Bureau
02 Feb 2002

Computer giant IBM, traditionally known for its hardware and software services, has chalked out an aggressive yet long-term plan for storage solutions. Interestingly, not many are aware of the fact that IBM has a complete range of end-to-end storage products and solutions, including services. Daniel Ng, Director of TotalStorage marketing, Storage Systems Group, IBM Asia Pacific made this announcement at Phuket, the island resort in Thailand, where over 100 IBM storage partners had gathered for Destination 2002. He said, "The strategy revolves around storage services and technology, and back-up and recovery services - on the technology offerings side and financing options and business partner and ISV development - on the business side. Plus we will also focus on developing people and skills for addressing storage needs".

All these plans come in the light of the fact that storage for the networked enterprise is predicted to be a huge market in the next few years. Consider these - stored information is now growing in the e-customer base at 300-800 percent annually. In 1999 more storage space was purchased than all previous years combined. In 2000, storage accounted for 70 percent of system expenditure. According to Denise Buonaiuto, VP, Worldwide Business Partner, Sales - SSG, "Storage spending in enterprises will grow from 4 percent of IT spending to over 17 percent in 2003".

On the business development front, IBM will be focusing on the small and medium business. To that effect it is organizing 3-day events to bring together and train network storage specialists, which it calls e-university. The company will also come out with lots of co-marketing programs with its partners, and also set up more and more number of storage solution demonstration centers. Already over 132 such centers have been set up. Further, considering the hard-pressed economic situation, IBM has opened financing options for storage solutions even for smaller deals. Earlier IGF (IBM Global Financing) was only catering to high value deals in large enterprises. Also being offered is 'pay as you add storage', leasing, and deferred payment options. The company will go after small and medium business in a major way, as 80 percent of business in Asia Pac, which is also the fastest growing geography, come from this segment.

On the technology front, IBM experts admitted that users are today confused between SAN, NAS, disk, tape and so on. "So instead of telling clients about $/MB, we want to talk about solutions", said Daniel Ng. However, IBM is very upbeat about NAS, which it says grew by over 50 percent CAGR compared to 30 percent growth in the SAN segment. The products that it will focus on will be LTO, Shark, and fast range. The company is stressing on low end to high end products and solutions that will run on almost any platform under the

It is also worth noting that the highbrow company, which believed in proprietary systems, is now very actively promoting open systems. A key member of the Storage Networking Industry Association, which comprises of over 300 vendors, IBM says it wants to help set storage technology and service standards in storage.

Storage arena is crowded, but IBM has its sight on the leadership position, which at present is held by EMC. The fact is that IBM has been able to emerge out of nowhere and has taken the 3rd position after Compaq. IBM's aggressiveness can be judged from the tone in Phuket, where EMC bashing was the main plank which IBM executives took. It shared various market research studies from IDC, and Forbes to claim that while IBM was gaining, it was gaining at the cost of EMC. "In a tight market, IBM market share grew by 4.4 percent and EMC lost 4.4 percent", stressed Nancy Coon of worldwide marketing for IBM storage group.


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