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Data Storage

IBM Ups Its Flash Factor, Buying Texas Memory Systems

IBM Ups Its Flash Factor, Buying Texas Memory Systems
August 16, 2012 11:56AM

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Texas Memory Systems offers its solid state solutions as the RamSan family of shared rackmount systems, like the RamSan-820 shown here, and Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) cards. The products are designed to help companies improve performance and also reduce server sprawl, power consumption and space requirements.

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In a move to beef up its flash memory tech, IBM on Thursday announced plans to acquire Texas Memory Systems. The Houston-based privately held company develops high-performance flash memory solutions that Big Blue is betting will fit nicely into its Smarter Computing division. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Although privately held, Texas Memory Systems is no startup. The company was founded in 1978 and sells high-performance solid state storage solutions. Unlike hard disk drives that rely on spinning disks and robotic arms, solid state systems are high-speed data storage solutions based on Flash or RAM memory that promise significantly faster throughput and data access, while consuming less power.

Reducing Server Sprawl

Commenting on the acquisition, IBM's Brian Truskowski, general manager of Systems Storage and Networking explained that the TMS strategy aligns well with IBM's own Smarter Computing approach to information technology by helping clients realize increased performance and efficiencies at lower costs.

"Solid state technology, in particular, is a critical component of our new Smarter Storage approach to the design and deployment of storage infrastructures," said Truskowski, "and part of a holistic approach that exploits flash in conjunction with disk and tape technologies to solve complex problems."

Specifically, Texas Memory Systems offers its solid state solutions as the RamSan family of shared rackmount systems and Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) cards. The products are designed to help companies improve performance and also reduce server sprawl, power consumption, cooling, and floor space requirements, all of which in turn can help clients save money and boost performance.

With the Texas Memory Systems acquisition, IBM is preparing for a growing opportunity. IDC estimates the amount of solid state storage solutions being shipped into the enterprise will grow significantly, reaching nearly 3 exabytes by 2016.

Flash Disrupting Traditional Servers

Alex Kurtz, a stock analyst at Sterne Agee, told us IBM's Texas Memory Systems acquisition suggest that the Flash storage market is finally reaching a threshold of disruption to the traditional server and storage markets and architectures.

"Other key Flash private companies include the likes of Violin Memory, Nimbus, Pure Storage and hybrid Flash/SATA vendor Nimble, to name a few," Kurtz said. "We don't see a material impact on Fusion-io business at this point, as IBM has been less than 10 percent of revenue for the last few years, with demand partially driven by Fusion-io resources into IBM accounts. On the fringes, a slight headwind to revenue over the next few years, potentially offset by the NetApp initiative that is not in our numbers." (continued...)

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