IBM To Buy Texas Memory Systems (TMS), Challenge EMC, Startups In Flash Storage


IBM is getting into flash storage in a big way with its planned acquisition of Texas Memory Systems, a pioneer in the development of shared rackmount and server-based PCIe flash storage technology.

With the acquisition, IBM gets a head start on its top system competitors, and it is better positioned to compete head to head with storage rival EMC, as well as a host of startups, in the fast-growing flash storage market.

Texas Memory Systems, or TMS, was founded in 1978, making it the granddaddy of the flash storage market. It is best known for its RamSan family of storage devices, including rackmount flash storage ranging from a 1U, 10-TB model to a 42U, 140-TB system.

[Related: New Flash Memory, SSD Devices Drive Storage, Application Performance]

TMS also will bring to IBM a series of low-latency SSDs, as well as high-speed PCIe-based flash storage devices that plug into industry-standard servers.

IBM declined to discuss financial terms of the deal, which it expects to close later this year.

To date, the flash storage market has been dominated by smaller companies, primarily startups, who have introduced a variety of devices ranging from PCIe devices to SSDs to full-fledged arrays featuring either all-flash storage or a mix of flash storage and spinning disks.

In terms of the major storage vendors, EMC has grabbed the lead thanks to a strategy of offering flash storage in as many forms as possible.

EMC was the first top-tier storage to adopt SSDs in its arrays over three years ago. Since then, EMC has introduced its VFCache PCIe device, which combines its software and hardware from LSI; acquired startup all-flash-based array developer XtremIO; and unveiled plans to release its "Project Thunder" network-attached flash storage appliance.

Other top-tier storage vendors have started adding flash storage to their offerings, such as Hewlett-Packard's move to introduce an all-flash version of its 3PAR storage array, or NetApp's collaboration with flash storage vendor Fusion-io.

However, assuming its acquisition of TMS closes as planned, IBM will rank with EMC as a top-tier storage vendor with its own multifaceted flash storage technology.

NEXT: Why IBM Chose TMS Over Flash storage Startups