SINGAPORE--Computer giant IBM is expanding its network
attached storage (NAS) free trial program in Asia to include higher-end products.
Called NAS TIKI (Try It, Keep It), the program was first launched in July. It provides companies with a
30-day free trial of IBM's entry-level NAS 200 hardware. Now, Big Blue has added its high-end storage products, NAS 300 and 300G, to the program.
"The response was very positive and we want to expand this program
(TIKI) to include our NAS 300 range of products," claimed Daniel Ng, IBM Asia Pacific director for Volume Products, Storage
When NAS TIKI was launched two months ago, Ng said the firm would consider making the other models (NAS 300 and 300G)
available to companies, "provided we have available units and if their
business justifies using a higher-end machine."
Since the launch, the program has attracted several requests for NAS 300 and
300G, Ng claimed.
"There were too many exceptions...when you make too many exceptions, you
might as well make it the rule," he told Singapore.CNET.com.
To date, approximately 40 companies have signed up for the TIKI trial. Of
these, five are now NAS customers, while most of the remainder are either
in the midst of buying or have shown keen interest in acquiring the
products, Ng claimed.
According to him, about 20 to 25 percent of companies that responded to
TIKI were from Indonesia, while 15 to 20 percent came from Singapore.
The remainder were spread across India, Malaysia, Thailand and the
Although, TIKI has been well-received in Asean, Ng admitted that
adoption was slower among non-English-speaking markets such China, Japan
and Korea. Nevertheless, he was optimistic that it would eventually catch
Storage market is big enough
Ng believes that the TIKI program would probably allow IBM
to take over some of its competitors' market share in Asean.
However, some analysts are skeptical. "There is still a big market for
the storage industry...I don't think they are taking over anybody's
market share," said International Data Corporation (IDC) Asia Pacific senior
analyst for tape and optical storage Martin Wijaya.
"(Nevertheless), I believe that this program will give the competition a
run for their money," Wijaya added.
Ian Bertram, Gartner Dataquest Asia Pacific regional director (Hardware
Platforms) concurred. "The storage industry has become very
vital...more so following the tragic event in the US last week. More
companies will need storage," Bertram said.
Gartner predicts that revenue from storage would outstrip services revenue by
2004, he added.
On the TIKI plan, Bertram noted: "This sort of program has been well used as a marketing technique and it originated in the consumer market. (However), NAS is not your typical
consumer product. Perhaps what IBM is doing here is to create some brand
awareness and try to retain these customers."
"You can look at the program as a catalyst to creating awareness among
small- and medium-sized businesses. It is much easier to keep your
existing customers than take on new customers...This program will focus
on creating that loyalty and that's what IBM is good at," he added.
Competitors not threatened
When contacted, storage rivals EMC and NetAppliance said they were not
threatened by IBM's move.
"I can understand IBM's standpoint...It is a new player in the NAS area
and it needs to build the awareness and what better way to do it than
by providing a free trial," NetAppliance regional director Chan Chee Keong
told Singapore.CNET.com in a telephone interview this afternoon.
"We see this as healthy competition. We'd rather there be competition
than us championing a lone cause," Chan added.
He was confident that NetAppliance's market position would not falter as
a result of IBM's TIKI program. "(Besides), we have a competing
entry-level product, F85, which can scale from 200 gigabytes to half
terabyte," Chan added.
Meanwhile, EMC Asean & India director for Alliances & Partners Steve Goh
said: "Trial periods might appear to be great in the beginning but the
solutions must still solve the information management problems of a
business--that's what it's all about! Businesses need to ask themselves,
'What if the trial doesn't work? How am I going to measure success?' If
not, they lose time to market."