RealTime IT News

IBM Beefs Up Storage Base

IBM moved to strengthen its position in the storage market today, with a range of products covering disk and tape storage, storage management and storage virtualization.

One focus of the products is to make the expansion of installed storage easier. Another is to help both enterprises and small and medium businesses counter the ever-shrinking window for data backup and recovery while shrinking the amount of space and power required to meet expanding storage requirements.

"This is a very broad storage announcement from IBM," said Cindy Grossman, IBM's vice president of tape and archive systems. "The overarching message here is that we're looking at providing better solutions for all of our customer base."

For the enterprise, IBM announced an enhanced version of its IBM System Storage DS8000 Turbo series disk storage systems with a new data "snapshot" capability for critical operational data called FlashCopy SE.

Organizations can configure the snapshot to include only specified subsets of the data to be backed up. This reduces the storage requirements necessary to support the backup image of the data. IBM FlashCopy SE has a starting price of $6,500.

Additionally, the DS8000 enhancements include the ability to dynamically add more disks to an existing storage volume without reconfiguration, making it easier to expand storage for applications as demand for storage capacity grows.

Accompanying the enhancements to the DS8000 is a new storage management console called the IBM System Storage Productivity Center (SSPC). It gives administrators centralized control over storage devices, a storage topology viewer, reporting and monitoring, and simplified installation for additional devices. The enhancements to the DS8000 Turbo series will be available on Dec. 7, and the SSPC will be available on Nov. 16, with pricing starting at $7,500.

Also on tap for IBM is a set of new products for virtualized tape and disk storage. IBM continues to gain market share in tape storage; according to IDC Research, IBM achieved the lead in market share for tape with 33 percent of the total market's revenue.

The new IBM Systems Storage N series Virtual File Manager (VFM) can virtualize file systems across Unix, Linux and Windows, and IBM N-series servers, presenting all storage as a single networked drive. The software will be available on Oct. 26 in two versions: an Enterprise edition starting at $2,000, and a Migration edition (with a subset of the overall features, focused on data migration) starting at $1,200.

IBM also announced an improved version of its Virtualization Engine TS7520 tape solution, which can provide up to 1.3 petabytes of virtualized tape storage through the use of new 750GB disks, and encrypted archiving to tape and increased tape storage density through support of IBM's LTO Gen 4 tape drives. The system will be available on Dec. 7 at a starting price of $104,769.

"Rather than being innovative here, what they're really doing is responding to the industry," said David Reine, director of The Clipper Group, a technology acquisition consulting firm in Wellesley, Mass.

"While capacity is growing, time is not -- people who've been doing backups to tape can't get them done. So, by putting the additional capacity [on the TS7520], IBM is giving [customers] the ability to reduce the window they need."

Reine said that the TS7520 in its smaller configurations would also be attractive to midrange customers.

"It will solve a lot of problems for the smaller user who is just running out of backup window. This blended use of tape and disk really addresses three issues -- not only the backup window, or the recovery time, but also the energy issue."

He said that by allowing customers to choose what data can be dumped from the cache to tape -- a feature of the advanced caching introduced with the original TS7520 in June -- organizations could reduce the electrical cost and the datacenter power distribution issues associated with keeping all the data online by moving some to tape. "It's the green side of tape," he said. IBM also introduced enhancements to existing disk storage systems and a new tape storage system, all specifically designed for the small and medium enterprise.

First is the IBM System Storage TS2240 Tape Drive Express Model LTO 4 Half-High. It provides the same managed LTO Gen 4 encryption support as the TS7520, and 800GB of tape capacity. It will be available on Nov. 16 for $4,495.

The company will also announce enhanced versions of IBM's System Storage DS3000 and DS4000 series disk storage systems.

The DS3000 series has been expanded to include support for low-cost Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) drives in addition to Serially Attached Storage; the series will also now be compatible with IBM's System p servers and BladeCenter Power blades.

The DS4000 series will get a number of enhancements for the DS4800, DS4700 Express, and the DS4200 Express, including support for high-availability RAID 6, support for greater than 2TB volumes on operating systems that can handle such large volumes, and an Increased number of available FlashCopies for rapid recovery of operational data.