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Frank Berry
Frank Berry
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Adaptec: R.I.P.

On June 9, Adaptec Inc. announced it's changing its name to ADPT Corp. as part of the sale of its storage business, including the Adaptec brand, to PMC-Sierra Inc. Adaptec managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by missing the transition from direct-connect SCSI storage to networked storage. In 2010, a slew of companies find themselves at a similar inflection point.

On June 9, Adaptec Inc. announced it's changing its name to ADPT Corp. as part of the sale of its storage business including the Adaptec brand, RAID product line, a reseller customer base, board logistics capabilities and SSD solutions, to PMC-Sierra Inc.

In the 1990s, Adaptec produced controllers and host bus adapters based on The Small-Computer-System-Interface (SCSI), the first standards-based storage interconnect to achieve widespread adoption in the industry. They rode that technology to over $800 million in revenue in fiscal 2000 and ruled the storage adapter universe with an iron fist. Sadly, it took only $34 million to acquire the storage business and once powerful brand, as Adaptec could muster only $16 million in the last fiscal quarter which represented yet another in a long list of quarters with declining revenue.

Adaptec managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by missing the transition from direct-connect SCSI storage to networked storage. Designers of Fibre Channel understood that by supporting the SCSI protocol over Fibre Channel, hardware vendors and software vendors could easily port their SCSI products to Fibre Channel SANs where end-users could reap the benefits of shared storage. How Adaptec failed to execute on the technology transition is open to debate. I believe they failed because their number one priority was protecting the SCSI franchise instead of making over the company to lead the new wave of technology.The result of the Adaptec strategy is the guardians of SCSI are being buried in the tomb along with the obsolete technology.

In 2010, a slew of companies find themselves at a similar inflection point. The entire enterprise networking industry has agreed to merge the capabilities different technologies into one. Each switch and adapter leader in the Ethernet, Fibre Channel and InfiniBand network markets must either lead the transition to converged networks based on 10Gb Ethernet with data center bridging (DCB)...or follow Adaptec.

Broadcom, Brocade, Cisco, Emulex, Extreme, Intel, Juniper, Mellanox, QLogic, Voltaire, Juniper, HP ProCurve. Which of these networking leaders will lead and which will follow?

Frank Berry is CEO of IT Brand Pulse, a company that surveys customers about their perceptions on vendors and their products. Berry is a 30 year veteran of the IT industry including senior executive positions with QLogic and Quantum. View Full Bio
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