IBM has purchased the oldest and most respected high-end SSD builder in the country: Texas Memory Systems. Founder and CEO Holly Frost has led the company for 34 years. No word on price, but I expect it was not stratospheric.
Before the advent of flash memory, the SSD business seemed simple enough: stick a bunch of DRAM in a box with a battery backup; add the I/O channel du jour; and tout the performance – while ignoring the price. Many companies tried – and failed – but TMS soldiered on.
While SSD technology was important, the real key to success was building successful customer relationships. And that meant finding the critical applications of affluent customers and understanding how best to use the costly DRAM SSDs.
NAND flash changed the traditional SSD business by making SSDs much more affordable. TMS moved into flash SSDs, but lost out to nimbler competitors such as Fusion-io and Violin Memory.
Good technology but limited market penetration and a company too small – ≈200 employees – to grow downward from their traditional high-end niche. Employee morale began to drop and good people started leaving for companies where their years of SSD expertise had a better chance of reward.
The StorageMojo take
This is a good move for both companies. TMS gets the distribution to take their considerable expertise to a much wider market. IBM gets a proven product with excellent references to feed their large customer base.
It isn’t a billion dollar IPO, but it is a win for both and the larger storage market.
Courteous comments welcome, of course. I recently joined IBM’s Storage Community site – stay tuned for my 1st post – so maybe I’m now biased. OTOH, I can’t see how the TMS buy could be a Bad Thing. Perhaps a reader can enlighten me.