In January 2014, Japanese giant Toshiba made a move for Silicon Valley's OCZ Technology Group, snapping up the firm's assets and launching a new subsidiary, OCZ Storage Solutions, in the process.
With the partnership now six months old, the time is ripe for an assessment of how the acquisition has affected both parties, and what this could mean for the SSD industry as a whole.
With this in mind, we spoke to both Seiichi Mori, VP of Toshiba's Storage Company and Corporate Vice President of Toshiba, and Ralph Schmitt, CEO of OCZ Storage Solutions, now a Toshiba Group Company.
TechRadar Pro: Seiichi, why didn't Toshiba absorb OCZ rather than allowing it to sit as a standalone entity (divide and conquer approach?)
Seiichi Mori: OCZ is a company who has built up capabilities in R&D, manufacturing, marketing and sales of SSD products with strengths in each area. This is the backbone of the strong OCZ brand known today in the SSD space. It was important for us to keep the team and their capabilities intact while identifying areas where improvements can be made with the integration with Toshiba.
TRP: What were the primary motivations for acquiring OCZ? Was there a focus on bringing in the talent or the technology?
SM: Our motivations had been driven by our interest in acquiring the unique talents and technology which has created the OCZ business. The company, under talented management, functions as an efficient team to develop, manufacture and sell leading edge SSD products. We wanted to combine this team into our leading NAND business team for the benefit of both teams.
TRP: Where does OCZ sit within Toshiba's Semiconductor and Storage business unit?
SM: In general, SSD product is one of the fastest areas of growth in NAND Flash application and is a key focus for our Semiconductor and Storage Company. We are confident that OCZ not only reinforces our resources in the SSD products, but will also further strengthen our presence in the market.
TRP: OCZ has always had a strong brand in the high performance and enthusiast space, moving forward can we expect to see OCZ Storage Solutions continue to serve the client market?
SM: Yes. Not only will OCZ continue to address these markets utilizing the proprietary controllers, we are jointly making efforts to quickly combine them with our latest NAND Flash technology products. You can expect even more products coming on line under the OCZ brand for these markets.
TRP: How are you making sure that there's no overlap between the two brands especially as both address consumer and enterprise SSDs?
SM: The SSD business of OCZ is very supplemental to Toshiba in both product lines and the channels in which the products are delivered to the end customer, with only a small overlap currently. We are taking steps to further reduce the overlap for future development to better improve our efficiency to meet market needs.
TRP: Will any of OCZ's controller and firmware technology be leveraged in Toshiba solutions?
SM: OCZ Storage Solutions will leverage Toshiba's cutting-edge NAND and combine it with the Company's proprietary controllers, firmware and software to provide both client and enterprise customers with innovative and cost-effective solid-state storage solutions.
Since OCZ storage solution is already a part of "Toshiba solution", naturally, we will be looking into opportunities to use it for Toshiba branded products but the challenge is to do so without interrupting the on-going development activities.
TRP: Where do you see the consumer and business SSD markets heading over the next few years? The same trajectory as HDDs with consolidations and bankruptcies?
SM: Unlike HDDs, due to the nature of NAND Flash, solid-state storage systems have very little limitations in form factors as well as opening up possibilities for system architecture. Aside from USB memory, memory cards, smart phones and tablets, the vast majority of systems are still limited by the legacy design and architecture which had used HDD as the primary storage for years.