Storage Technology Corp sprang a surprise after the markets closed on Thursday last week when it announced that it would be buying privately-held would-be competitor in the disk array business, Chatsworth, California-based Amperif Corp. Amperif, a long-time player in the Unisys Corp storage subsystems business – it has not always enjoyed an easy relationship with […]
Storage Technology Corp sprang a surprise after the markets closed on Thursday last week when it announced that it would be buying privately-held would-be competitor in the disk array business, Chatsworth, California-based Amperif Corp. Amperif, a long-time player in the Unisys Corp storage subsystems business – it has not always enjoyed an easy relationship with Unisys has been developing its own disk array product under the code-name Viking. Comparex Informationssysteme GmbH put up some money for the development of Viking, and Memorex Telex NV had been planning to market the product too, but is understood to have pulled out. StorageTek says that it too had put some money up for the development and would have marketed the product even without buying the company – although the Viking was seen as a direct competitor to its own Iceberg, Viking is in fact a simpler device with fewer features. Under the letter of intent, StorageTek agreed to issue 1.3m new shares Amperif shareholders and will set aside about 600,000 shares for warrants and employee stock options, valuing the company at $75.3m at the time of the announcement – but that valuation quickly improved to $83.6m as Storage shares shot up $4.375 to $44 even in after-hours trading on the news, and hovered round there on Friday. StorageTek said that the Amperif acquisition is part of a three-tiered strategy to enhance market coverage. The primary element will remain its Iceberg RAID 6+ design for performance-intensive, continuous-operations environments. The Iceberg subsystem will provide unique storage management capabilities to address the mission-critical segment of large-scale, information-processing systems and networks, the company says. The second offering will be Amperif’s Viking, cost-effective, high-performance systems for the emerging RAID 5 segment of the IBM-compatible mainframe disk market. It also highlights the scalability of Viking, which will be able to offer a range of performance characteristics from those of solid-state store to the new offerings of very large capacity disk drives. The low-end product is Nordique, a StorageTek-designed product planned as a medium-scale RAID 0/1/5 device for varying levels of fault tolerance in the mid-size segment of the large-capacity disk drive market for both IBM Corp and non-IBM attachment. Nordique uses a variable high-speed memory in the control unit to provide greater throughput than normally seen in conventional disk units, the company said. Viking is way behind schedule: it had been intended for this quarter, but StorageTek said that based on the present status of the product and schedule estimates it expects IBM-compatible products based on Viking architecture to be available in the second half of 1994. Nordique should appear late this year. The firm also says it is continuing to make steady progress on Iceberg, and that it expects to enter the internal beta test portion of the programme in July or August, and hopes to ship production units a year late, in the fourth quarter of this year.