IBM Makes Big Flash Play With TMS Buy
IBM announced that it will be acquiring Texas Memory Systems (TMS), a manufacturer of high-end flash memory products.
Since TMS is a privately held company, there were no financials about the deal available.
TMS plays in the same arena as Fusion-io, but has been around for a much longer time - since 1978. The company is mainly known for its RamSan shared rackmount devices and PCIe cards.
“Solid state technology, in particular, is a critical component of our new Smarter Storage approach to the design and deployment of storage infrastructures, and part of a holistic approach that exploits flash in conjunction with disk and tape technologies to solve complex problems,” said IBM's Brian Truskowski in a prepared statement.
TMS appears not to have taken advantage of the growth in the market as much as Fusion-io, which succeeded with rapid growth and big announcements. For a 34-year old company, TMS' patent base appears to be rather thin as USPTO shows only 16 patents that are assigned to the company. However, the firm holds what could be considered the crown jewels of flash memory storage today, including patent #7,216,222 entitled "System and method for writing data from a storage means to a memory module in a solid state disk system".
IBM said that it plans to "invest in and support" the TMS product portfolio, and will integrate the technologies over time "into a variety of solutions including storage, servers, software, and PureSystems offerings." The move will more than likely affect IBM's relationship with Fusion-io - not immediately, but over time as TMS products make their way into IBM's portfolio. However, there is a clear upside for Fusion-io as well: HP could now be under pressure to make a similar move and look into buying Fusion-io. Fusion-io's market cap is currently at $2.6 billion.