IBM storage chief has EMC in his sights

IBM storage chief has EMC in his sights

IBM's latest offerings could store all Shakespeare's works -- in 76 million copies

IBM was the first company in the world to present a magnetic disk for storing data. That was in 1956, and the capacity of the RAMAC 350 was about 5M bytes. That was enough to store all William Shakespeare's works.

Since then, digital storage has developed somewhat. IBM's latest offerings could store all Shakespeare's works -- in 76 million copies.

Though it pioneered digital data storage, IBM failed to protect its lead in the mushrooming sector.

"Until the 1990s, we controlled 90 percent of the storage market," says Andy Monshaw, general manager of IBM Storage Systems, in conversation with TheMarker during a lightening-fast visit to Israel.

Monshaw, who runs a unit responsible for $US2.5 billion in annual sales, admits that IBM made a series of mistakes in the 1990s and saw most of the market slip between its corporate fingers. By 1999, the pioneer had only 7 percent of the world storage market.

Monshaw joined IBM in 1984 at the tender age of 21. He ran IBM Europe's PC business until it was sold to Lenovo, and also served as financial officer for the IBM Systems and Technology division.

In 2005 he moved to the stuttering Storage division, and went to war with giants such as EMC, which had overtaken IBM at a stroll.

"During the last three years we took back 10 percent of the market share we'd lost," Monshaw says, adding that IBM reached a market share, worldwide, of 17 percent.

Also, for the first time it passed HP in sales of external storage technology. At present IBM is second in the list of external-storage device sales, with revenues of $US2.5 billion a year, he says.

Monshaw doesn't seem satisfied to be in second place, though. Just mention market-leader EMC and he turns belligerent: Now his division's aim is to close that gap and overtake That Company. "We're only 7 percent away, having closed 11 percent since 2000."

We'll know whether Monshaw and his people can pull it off in March 2008, when IDC publishes its annual review of worldwide external storage sales.

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