When Quantum secured Rick Belluzzo as its new CEO in August 2002, there were plenty of raised eyebrows and even some talk of career suicide. What was the former president and COO of Microsoft, the former CEO of Silicon Graphics, the ex-head of
HP’s computer organisation doing at the helm of a tape drive vendor?
But the appointment of Belluzzo, better known for his management acumen than his technology vision, signals that Quantum has plans to move much more aggressively into the broader networked storage market and so revive its fortunes.
Since it backed out of the hard disk drive business in 2001, the company has drawn the bulk of its revenues (80%) from digital linear tape (DLT) drives and libraries. But while Quantum dominates the ‘sweet spot’ of the market — mid-range tape drives — it is facing stiff competition from the high end as Storagetek and IBM push down, and from the low end where Sony is rising aggressively. Couple that with the fact that the tape drive market as a whole is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of just 0.4%, and Quantum knows it must diversify fast.
To date that broadening of its product base has involved low-end network attached storage (NAS) devices. Since it entered the market in 2000, its Snap servers have earned it the number three slot in the market, even though its low single digit share is dwarfed by the market leaders.
But the company has set its sights on moving high up the NAS food chain. In April 2002, it launched into the mid-range NAS server, with its Guardian range, offering a storage capacity of 1.4 terabytes – a considerable leap up from Snap’s 80 gigabytes.
Belluzzo might be the executive to take Quantum into that more lucrative market. But is Quantum ready to fight for survival against the NAS powerhouses of EMC, NetApp and Dell?