Storage Technology Corp.: Battle-hardened Survivor

By Steven Vonder Haar  |  Posted 2002-06-17 Email Print this article Print

Dossier:The 30-year-old StorageTek has reinvented itself many times. It's now trying to differentiate itself by offering "plug-and-play" storage solutions.

Battle-Hardened Survivor

In its 30 years of existence, Storage Technology Corp. has had many lives.

It had a markedly successful debut as a manufacturer of disk and tape drives for IBM mainframes. Along the way, though, it overextended itself and went bankrupt (after a foolhardy attempt 18 years ago to become a maker of IBM-compatible mainframe computers), rose from the dead and has somehow managed to re-establish itself as an innovator of storage technologies. It developed automated tape libraries in 1987, virtual disk systems in 1994 and virtual tape-based storage area networks in 2000.

"I view StorageTek as a leader in storage library technology," says Gary Johnson, architectural consultant for Carlson Companies, a multibillion-dollar conglomerate.

StorageTek now has what's regarded as a good storage-area-network (SAN) architecture, which it is increasingly aiming at the middle part of the market. Indeed, StorageTek is trying to differentiate itself by offering "plug-and-play" solutions—so called "SANs in a can."

One customer in that part of the market is Bob Cecil, network director of The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, a non-profit clinic that uses StorageTek systems to store more than 200 million images. Cecil says that despite the strides StorageTek has made in developing storage-management software products, the company still doesn't market that part of itself well.

"Sometimes the attitude they have hurts them," says Cecil."They tend to undersell themselves when they're in box mode."

He adds,"Sometimes you can't get them to make promises even when they seem to have a suitable solution."

To be sure, StorageTek isn't entirely dependent on growth from midsized customers. Many large customers remain avid users of its products.

MGM Mirage is one: The company uses StorageTek's products because of the capability the products provide to manage multiple computing networks under a single platform.

"The biggest plus with StorageTek was the ability for it to adapt well to the multiple operating systems that we use," says Glenn Bonner, chief information officer of the 31,000-employee casino and hotel chain. "We couldn't get what they provided from anyone else."

Storage Technology Corp.
One Storagetek Drive, Louisville, CO, 80028

Ticker: Stk
Exchange: Nasdaq

Pat Martin
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer
The 23-year Xerox veteran took the top post in July 2000. He is focused on improving Storage Technology's marketing efforts.

Gary Francis
Corporate Vice President and General Manager, Automated Tape Solutions
Francis has held multiple management responsibilities at the company since 1976; now guides businesses focusing on tape drives and tape libraries.

Jill Kenney
Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Marketing and Corporate Strategy
Kenney plays a pivotal role in shepherding the company's global strategy.

Key Products:
A wide range of storage-oriented products, from tape drives and libraries to disk arrays, storage networking products and software solutions.

Reference Checks

Mgm Mirage
Glenn Bonner
Chief Information Officer
glennbonner@ mgmmirage.com
Project: MGM Mirage runs a pair of StorageTek's 9310 Powderhorn systems that combined store more than 2 petabytes of data on tape.

Carlson Companies Inc.
Gary Johnson
Architectural Consultant
(763) 212-1112
Project: The hotel and travel services company uses StorageTek tape drives to store data from a network that serves more than 5,000 sites.

Cleveland Clinic Foundation
Bob Cecil
Network Director
Project: Not-for-profit health center uses eight Storage-Tek 9840 tape drives that store more than 50 terabytes worth of x-rays and other patient information.

Willamette University
Casey Feskens
System Administrator
cfeskens@ willamette.edu
Project: Married storage systems from StorageTek with data management apps developed by SAN tools-vendor Veritas.

N. Texas Public Broadcasting
Rick Owen
Vice President, CTO
Project: Storage- Tek systems are used by this Dallas-area broadcaster to store 9,000 hours of programming in digital format for quick retrieval for on-air use.

Minnesota Life Insurance Co.
Rich Binger
Manager, Production Services
(651) 665-3500
Project: In early stages of SAN deployment that uses StorageTek systems for data storage related to the company's mainframe environment.

Executives listed here are all users of Storage Technology's products. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.


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