RealTime IT News

New Sharks Patrol Storage Waters

In a move to grab a bigger bite of market share in the competitive storage server space, IBM unveiled two new version of its Shark enterprise storage server, saying they would double its current performance while slashing data processing costs in half.

IBM said the Shark 800 and Shark 800 Turbo would be available by the middle of August, featuring 2 Gbps data transfer rates, 64 GB internal cache, an increased 3.2 Gbps internal bandwidth, and a six-way "turbo" configuration that can handle one and a half times more data operations per second.

"We're bringing out two new models to answer specific customer requirements," said John Power, worldwide product marketing manager for IBM's TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server.

Power pointed to two major customer needs the new Sharks address: creating business efficiencies and planning for emergency business continuance.

With the Shark 800 and 800 Turbo, IBM said it would boast the most flexible and cost-efficient server around, beating out offerings from its two major competitors in the high-end enterprise storage space, Hitachi and EMC.

"This is a major upgrade of both the disks as well as the processors," said Mike Kahn, chairman of the Clipper Group, a technology-acquisition consultancy. "The thing that will be most noted is that it is a high-performance box that puts them equal or ahead of Hitachi."

The models boast technology from IBM's 8-month-old Project eLiza, which is Big Blue's attempt to create a nervous system capable of automatically regulating and healing servers. The eLiza technologies, Power said, would increase data availability while cutting downtime.

"These are all significant improvements that will extend our leadership in the space," Power said.

A big bonus of the Model 800, Power said, is that it would allow a company to cut down on support staff needed to maintain the servers.

"The most expensive part of managing storage today is the people," he added.

IBM is battling storage incumbents such as EMC and Veritas for the lead of the lucrative storage market. According to researcher Gartner Group, the storage management software market was worth $6.6 billion last year, with it forecast to top $16.7 billion in 2005. Since unveiling the Shark in 1999, IBM said it has sold 10,000 units.

While IBM relies on Shark to battle for the large enterprise market, it has also made a play for the mid-market, most recently introducing the NAS 100 server.