RealTime IT News

IBM Soups Up Storage Servers

For IBM's  storage group, speed is king and the thing that will differentiate its products from rivals like EMC and Hitachi Data Systems.

The systems vendor upgraded the processing speed of its high-end storage arrays, introduced a new network-attached storage (NAS)  line and enhanced its midrange storage systems.

The IBM System Storage DS8100 Turbo and DS8300 Turbo systems are based on IBM's Power5+ processors and boost transaction processing speeds more than 15 percent compared to their System Storage DS8000 predecessor, said Charlie Andrews, director of product marketing for IBM System Storage.

The machines boast 4 gigabit per second Fibre Channel  and FICON  technology, doubling the speed of existing DS8000 systems and allowing customers to reduce the number of channels to manage the arrays easier.

The IBM System Storage DS8000 Turbo, geared to compete with EMC's  Symmetrix DMX-3 servers and HDS'  TagmaStore machines, feature broader tiered storage options, which allow customers to move less used data to cheaper storage.

The first tier uses Fibre Channel drives to store frequently used data; the second tier incorporates low-cost Fibre Channel ATA drives (FATA) and is used to store seldom used data, Andrews said.

The systems also boast three-site business continuity software that provides customers with constant access to data in the face of natural or synthetic disasters. In the event of downtime, the software will provide quick updates of data changes.

The software uses IBM Metro Mirror technology for synchronous copy up to 300 kilometers. Also, IBM's Global Mirror for asynchronous copy provides three- to five-second replication at virtually unlimited distances.

Andrews said IBM expects the new Turbo systems to give the EMC DMX-3 a stiff challenge in the high-end array market.

Sales of storage machines have been picking up in recent quarters, as large corporations look to upgrade or replace their systems with new technology in the face of data growth and stringent corporate compliance regulations that require reliable data backup.

Overall, EMC maintained its lead in the external storage market with a 21.8 percent revenue share, IDC said.

IBM had its strongest first quarter in years, with 14.8 percent growth and a 12 percent share.

By adding new speeds and feeds, IBM and EMC hope to retain and add new customers.

In a sign of how systems vendors are creating tighter synergies between storage arrays and servers, the Turbo machines feature input/output utilities and "cooperative caching," which work with IBM AIX operating system software and DB2 database to prioritize resources for important applications.

The DS8000 Turbo will be ready on Sept. 9 starting at $213,400. The server synergy features for the DS8000 Turbo will be available on Nov. 17.

IBM also refreshed its pact with partner Network Appliance today, agreeing to resell the storage vendor's high-end enterprise and gateway NAS systems under the IBM brand.

The IBM System Storage N7600 and N7800 offer Fibre Channel and SATA  disk drive support and provide simultaneous NAS, iSCSI &NBSPand 4Gbps FC SAN (FCP) connectivity.

The machines store up to 504 terabytes  of data and are available in single controller and clustered controller set-ups.

To provide customers with choices, the NAS servers will work with IBM, Hitachi and HP storage subsystems, and will consolidate large amounts of IP storage under one single point of management.

Highlights of the software that runs on the N7600 and N7800 include NetApp's FlexShare, which lets administrators increase processing utilization without sacrificing performance, and MetroCluster, which extends cluster failover capabilities from the primary to remote site and replicates data from the primary site for the remote site.

The N series enterprise appliances will be available Sept. 1, starting at $140,500; N series enterprise gateways will be available Sept. 22 for $113,500.

The systems complete the reseller portfolio of NetApp systems for IBM; Big Blue already resells NetApp's N5200 and N5500 midrange systems and the low-end N3700.