Tandberg Takes Over InoStor

Tape drive vendor absorbs remaining share of its subsidiary to help its storage strategy

March 24, 2005

3 Min Read
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Tandberg Data ASA (Oslo: TAD) has taken over a NAS subsidiary in an effort to organize itself as a new power in tape and disk storage.

Last month, the Oslo-based company exchanged 600,000 shares of its stock for the remaining 45 percent minority stake in InoStor Corp. (Oslo: TAD). According to European news sources, the parent also will pay up to $1.5 million in royalties related to licenses of InoStor technology.

Big deal? No. But the world of storage is full of surprises. And Tandberg Data, up to now a minor player in the tape drive and autoloader segment, is bent on getting a bigger storage act.

Tandberg's ambitions started back in 2002, when Tandberg Data Inc., which distributes Tandberg Data's tape drives, autoloaders, and tape libraries in North America, bought Land-5 Corp., a disk-storage appliance firm, and became InoStor.

InoStor, still under the same name and now wholly owned by Tandberg Data, sells NAS systems and a technology called RAIDn that boosts redundancy among multiple drives in disk-backup systems (see InoStor Launches RAID Algorithm, InoStor Granted RAID Patent, and New Roads to Reliability).So far, InoStor has one licensee for RAIDn, nStor Technologies Inc. (Amex: NSO), which announced the deal in November 2004 (see nStor Embeds InoStor). But InoStor COO Ken Cruden says other potential licensees are in the wings.

Meanwhile, back in Norway, Tandberg has quietly built its tape drive and autoloader business, enjoying an OEM supplier relationship with IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), and in turn OEMing some elements of its products from Quantum Corp. (NYSE: DSS).

"They aren't invisible. They have been fairly quiet and low-key, doing reasonably well in Europe," says Bob Abraham, founder and tape analyst at Freeman Reports.

Tandberg's looking to change that mild-mannered characterization. Now a member of the LTO Consortium, which entitles it to develop its own LTO tape technology, Tandberg plans to launch its own LTO drives and autoloaders at an unspecified date.

Also, on March 17, Tandberg announced the acquisition, for an undisclosed sum, of Computer Design Group plc (CDG) of Cambridge, U.K. This company sells a RAID-enabled iSCSI disk system for backup and recovery. Up to now, its main market has been Europe.So the pieces fall into place. Tandberg's consolidating its storage marketing in both Europe and the U.S., via the acquisition of companies that also will give it a leg up on disk-based technologies. While Tandberg's new tape products, produced by the parent, focus on the SME market, the company has an eye on a future when tape-to-disk and virtual tape will be preferred by even smaller players.

There's also the possibility that Tandberg will start integrating all this. "You'll start to see an integration of products from CDG and us over time," Cruden says.

Whether this can make Tandberg more than a minor player in storage is open to question. But with this kind of consolidated tape/disk plan, it could be a surviving player.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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