IBM will announce this week that it will license fibre channel technology from Symbios in a bid to follow Compaq's embrace of the storage area network (SAN) idea.
The parties confirmed that an OEM deal will come later in the year. In the mean time, IBM will be paying premium third-party rates for fibre channel host adaptors, cable, hubs and controllers in the Symbios Metastore line.
IBM needs the products immediately to compete against Compaq, which has made fibre channel technology a competitive edge. "IBM's cutting corners," admitted Frederick Fabricius, UK sales manager for Metastore, at Symbios.
However, Symbios would give IBM the competitive advantage over its arch-rival, claimed Fabricius. IBM said it was not copying Compaq, but reacting to user demand for fibre technology.
"IBM is six-to-12 months behind Compaq in this market, but that does not mean it is six-to-12 months behind market demand," commented Mark Rafael, senior analyst for storage at the Meta Group.
It is unclear how the decision to license third-party storage technology will be received within IBM SSA, the company's own storage division.
Due to the intervention of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the proposed acquistion of the Symbios subsidiary by Adaptec from Hyundai Electronics America was terminated last week.
Sources close to the merger had previously said it was unlikely that the FTC would sanction the merger without a divestiture of some of the considerable overlapping storage business.
Prior to the decision, IBM and Symbios had both insisted the outcome of the FTC's decision would have no impact on the licensing deal.
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