When Pat Martin took over as president and CEO of Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) (NYSE: STK) in July 2000, he would have been met with wails of laughter if he'd claimed the struggling tape company was destined to conquer the storage disk business.
But today, just three years after the company looked as if it could be sucked into a swamp of financial problems, Martin makes that claim with a very straight face and he apparently believes that StorageTek is in a position to unseat the likes of industry kingpin EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) in the disk market.
"Almost every decade there are new leaders in the disk business," he says. "EMC came in with RAID technology in the mid-'90s, and they built, obviously, a terrific company. But every time there's a technology change, I think there's an opportunity for leadership to change."
What's this supposed "inflection point" Martin's referring to? Low-cost ATA disk drives, which he says will account for the vast majority of disk storage that's sold in the years ahead.
"I strongly believe that ATA is going to redefine how people use vintage subsystems," he says. "If 90 percent of the stuff sitting on primary disk is never accessed, and most of the data sitting on disk is replicated information, then you've got a technology that's so substantially cheaper without an awful big penalty in terms of response time, what would you use?"