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IBM Poised to Shake Up Storage Market

IBM is set to make a major splash in the storage market next week at a press event in New York, where it will introduce its renovated disk family to help customers face rising tides of unstructured data.

According to information obtained by internetnews.com, the upgrades will include two new disk subsystems -- the DS6000 and the DS8000 -- as the next products in the company's evolving disk storage suite. In a bold move, the DS8000 employs the Virtualization Engine used in IBM's current Power5 servers.

An IBM spokesperson refused comment Thursday when asked to confirm the products.

The DS6000 and DS8000, geared for the mid-market to high-end enterprises, respectively, follow on the heels of the DS3000 and DS4000, announced in September.

The DS8000 is unique in the industry because it features two logical partitions to run management or utility applications, such as the company's SAN Volume Controller and Tivoli Storage Manager, for backup and data management.

While HDS' new TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform launched last month with considerable virtualization capabilities, IBM has drawn from its server technology well, using the technology that drives the company's Power5 machines to spice up its DS8000.

By allowing administrators to partition storage like a mainframe, IBM is delivering on the convergence between the server and storage lines the company promised earlier this year.

The race to safeguard customers' e-mail, spreadsheet and photo files from loss is on as record retention policies sweep the country. Storage systems that adhere to some order of information lifecycle management appear to lead the public's interest, according to analysts. This makes IBM's upgraded disk systems valuable and competitive with EMC and HDS.

Targeted for large businesses as well as EMC's upper-crust DMX products and HDS' TagmaStore, the DS8000 runs zOS, Unix, Linux and OS400. It supports Fibre Channel , ESCON and FICON , eight to 64 FC or FICON drives or four to 32 ESCON drives.

The machine holds 96 petabytes of total storage, with 256GB cache and the capability to handle 73GB, 146GB or 300GB drives. Going forward, the DS family line is expected to include a machine capable of handling one petabyte of storage while running 128 FC or FICON, or 64 ESCON drives.

Aimed squarely at mid-market products like EMC's CX700 or DMX800, the DS6000 supports zOS, Unix, Linux and OS400, includes 67 terabytes of disk capacity, four GBs of cache and eight Fibre Channel ports, and it supports 73GB, 146GB and 300GB drives.

The DS6000 and DS8000 will have the same functionality that was previously only available in the Armonk, N.Y., company's high-volume Enterprise Storage Server, including Peer-to-Peer Remote Copy and FlashCopy replication tools.

IBM will announce more at the event Tuesday, but experts who have been briefed are keeping mum. Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Nancy Hurley would not reveal specific details, but said the news should shake up the competition in the high end of the market, which includes HDS and EMC.

"IBM has architected systems that are flexible and scalable in a way that other existing systems are not, and it will take significant architectural changes for the competition to offer something on par with IBM's new products," Hurley told internetnews.com.

"It's time to get away from looking at just speeds and feeds, and look at how organizations want to use their storage resources over a long period of time," she continued. "This is a significant change from how storage has been offered in the past."