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IBM Revamps Venerable Tivoli Storage Software

IBM today unveiled the first major overhaul of its Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) in seven years, a move designed to capitalize on a dramatically altered storage landscape and ballooning business needs.

Version 6.0 of the back-up software now offers integration with IBM's DB2 database, data duplication for greater storage efficiency and reporting and monitoring tools that customers typically had to buy from third-party vendors.

A great deal has changed in storage since TSM version 5.0 debuted in 2002. Companies are struggling to contend with increasing amounts of data that require more storage hardware and management tools. IDC research reported in August that the amount of global digital data created and stored on a worldwide basis has increased over 3,000 percent in the past three years.

IDC and storage vendor EMC reported last spring that they found that data requirements are growing at an annual rate of 60 percent. At the time, that meant that users and businesses had 281 exabytes worth of data, or equivalent to 281 billion gigabytes (GB) -- 45 gigabytes per person. Their study also predicted that the total amount of digital information will balloon to 1,800 exabytes by 2011.

Not surprisingly, it's that trend on which IBM is seeking to cash in with the latest upgrade to the 15-year-old TSM.

"We're providing needed capabilities at a time when enterprises most need them," Ron Riffe, manager of IBM's storage software product management, told InternetNews.com.

One capability is simply faster throughput: According to IBM, beta TSM 6 customers have achieved as much as a 300 percent improvement in backup performance.

But with database integration, deduplication and greater reporting features, TSM has other enhancements as well -- several of which have come into vogue only recently, and which are in high demand among enterprises.

"The database integration increases storage scale and performance, deduplication is hot given its cost efficiencies, and the lack of reporting tools have been a longstanding complaint with TSM," Dave Russell, an analyst at Gartner, told InternetNews.com. "Given the macroeconomic environment, all these are attractive features. This is a bigger bang for the buck than some other offerings."

Deduplication, or "dedupe," in particular has become a hot spot for storage vendors, who realize the technology can help businesses eliminate redundant data in their storage, thus freeing up space and allowing for faster storage processing at a cheaper price point.

Dedupe is typically an add-on feature, but IBM is hoping TSM 6.0 wins converts because it now offers the technology built-in.

"TSM will find replicate data after the backup is completed to disk and eliminate redundancy. That means that capacity of the backup data is optimized," Lauren Whitehouse, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, told InternetNews.com. "It's unique."

[cob:Special_Report]While IBM may be one of the few offering dedupe as a built-in feature, a number of other vendors deliver deduplication as an add-on, including NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP), Data Domain (NASDAQ: DDUP), Storewiz and FalconStor. Storage giant EMC, too, is also getting into the game, having announced plans to push out its own dedupe products later this year.

Gartner's Russell said he also sees TSM 6.0's other enhancements gaining traction. With the DB2 integration, enterprises can manage twice the amount of data objects as before -- as much as one billion objects in a single system, IBM said.

Russell added that the inclusion of reporting tools should be well received, since users have had to rely on third-party offerings to make up for their lack. TSM provides a range of predefined reports that users can also customize.

"It has been worth the wait," he said. "This will have market appeal."

IBM said there are current 20,000 TSM users. Version 6.0 of the software will be a free upgrade to users under a maintenance plan. Pricing varies depending on processor power, with a license for six quad-core Intel Xeon servers running about $4,470, the company said.