Undeterred by the devastating fires that blazed around San Diego last week, storage vendor StorageTek was hoping to dispel the smoke and boost its Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) strategy at its annual Forum event.
The change from the usual blissful Californian weather and the threat from the fires did not prevent more than 700 delegates from attending the vendor's 15th annual Forum event.
Making the most of having so many end-users in once place, StorageTek conducted its own research by handing out keypad response devices, and the results were presented on huge screens during each keynote.
It was an open invitation for things to go wrong, and enough to make even the most hardened presenter feel nervous, but the system worked and the vendor was able to pose a series of questions to about 500 of the attendees.
In keeping with its novel way of helping audiences stay awake during keynotes, StorageTek released a raft of storage products with colourful code names such as Red, Purple and Blue.
As well as an appliance for data replication and mirroring, called MirrorStore, and a modular tape library, the StreamLine SL8500, the vendor unveiled a native Escon (Fibre Channel) interface for its T9840C tape drive.
The company added Serial-ATA disks and the B250 2GB blade array module to its BladeStore disk family, and announced the V2Xf Shared Virtual Array addition to its V-Series virtual disk storage systems, which now offers Ficon Fibre Channel connectivity for mainframes.
StorageTek said that all of these releases are boosting its ILM strategy. Chief executive Pat Martin told Computer Reseller News: "I want ILM to be a significant component of my business.
"Certainly it has to be more than several hundred million dollars and part of that would be some of the bits and pieces we have today. We see ILM as the biggest growth opportunity we have right now."
But Martin also freely admitted that, while the vendor is committed to ILM, no company, even his own, has all the answers.
"We don't have all the software," he said. "EMC and IBM don't have all the software." For that reason, he indicated that StorageTek "wouldn't suggest that we wouldn't [make acquisitions]".
"We are in a very strong position financially, both in terms of our stock price, despite its recent hiccup, and cash position, with no debt, so we have an awful lot of options," he explained.
"Much of my investment today is in the software space in R&D. We also know that we don't have a monopoly on all the smart people in the world.
"If there are gaps in our portfolio, and if it makes sense for us to incorporate, whether that be hardware or software, then we will do so."
Claus Egge, programme director for European storage research at analyst IDC, suggested that StorageTek, like many other vendors, had become increasingly reliant on software partners to help it implement ILM strategies. "Buying software companies would make sense," he said.
Fred Moore, president of consultancy firm Horison Information Strategies, maintained that more significant consolidation is on the way.
"Between four and seven companies currently get 80 per cent of the market. The time is right for [StorageTek] to make an acquisition," he said.
"But I don't know when it will pull the trigger on this. The way to grow the company is through acquisition, as EMC is doing. You cannot possibly develop all this code yourself."
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