Samsung-backed all-flash storage companies expand in Korea

All-flash storage companies funded by Samsung Electronics are expanding their presence in South Korea, reports ZDNet Korea's Cho Mu-hyun.

Pure Storage, SolidFire, and NetApp have recently shown strong interest in entering the Korean market. All three companies have received investments from or have a cooperation agreement in place with Samsung.

Pure Storage launched its Korean office in 2012, and said earlier this year that its strong partnership with Samsung's memory chip division was the main reason for increasing investment.

SolidFire said it plans to open a Korean office on October 23, and will officially begin sales in the market.

NetApp executives visited Korea last month, and presented the company's strategy to expand in the all-flash storage market.

Storage systems based on flash memory are quickly overtaking those based on disks due to an increase in processing speed and the continuing price drops of flash memory.

Samsung has been strategically strengthening investments in its sold-state drive (SSD) business and in the market as a way to create strong demands for its own NAND flashes.

Despite failing to acquire SanDisk in 2008, the world's largest memory chip maker has continued strengthening its SSD portfolio. In 2009, it invested in Fusion-io, which specialises in PCI express flash card for servers, and acquired SSD caching software maker NVELO in 2012.

Samsung's alliance with three all-flash companies is a continuation along this line of expansion. Its main competitors in NAND flashes, Toshiba and SK Hynix, have also shown a similar strategy of investing in all-flash companies.

However, all-flash companies are increasing their usage of cheaper NAND flashes, such as using consumer multi-level cell (cMLC) over enterprise multi-level cell (eMLC), to save costs, which may put Samsung in a conundrum, local sources that work with the Korean tech giant told ZDNet Korea.

"Though demand for Samsung's NAND flashes will continue going forward, new technologies shown off by companies that have forged a strong alliance with Samsung are increasing use for low-cost NAND flashes that may bring in Samsung lower-than-expected profits," one of the sources said.

In the long term, all-flash companies will likely be supplying clients with cMLC over eMLC, though this will depend on the choices of all-flash storage manufacturers themselves, they said.

A Samsung spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.

Source: ZDNet Korea (zdnet.co.kr)

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