An IBM File System That Rivals Could Love

A few years ago, IBM promised a file system with multi-vendor interoperability.

On Tuesday, Big Blue made good on its word with the next iteration of its TotalStorage SAN File System (SFS). It supports storage devices from rivals EMC , HP and Hitachi .

SFS, formerly code-named “Storage Tank,” was launched last October as a heterogeneous file system that provides a single point to manage files and databases.

The software is designed to help reduce the amount of storage required in a customer’s infrastructure. It works by allowing storage resources to be shared more efficiently across servers via virtualization , which allows users to run multiple versions of an application or operating system on one physical device.

But the first version supported only IBM storage area network (SAN)
devices. Analysts welcomed the news, but competitors jeered over its lack of interoperability.

As the result of work at its Almaden Research Center, IBM said version 2.1 of its latest SFS supports non-IBM hardware. The shift reflects the general trend of offering customers more choice by enabling them interoperability with rival vendors’ products. After all, customers are
attracted to
vendors who offer the greatest amount of choice, which saves them from
dreaded vendor lock-in.

Last month, IBM said
TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller (SVC), which allows users to
storage to manage multiple devices and free up capacity in their
SANs can now pool data from EMC machines.

SAN File System Version 2.1, which also has improvements to the
administrative user interface and supports Red Hat Linux Enterprise
3.0 and Sun Solaris 9, will be available June 29. Costs are $10,000 per
processor for the SFS Metadata Server and a usage charge of $5,000 per
processor for connected application servers.

Big Blue’s SFS 2.1 news also comes two weeks after the company held a
event in Cambridge, Mass. to announce
its pledge of support for information lifecycle management (ILM) as a
component of its on-demand strategy.

At that event, Jai Menon, IBM Fellow and director and chief technologist
storage systems and design, detailed a number of forward looking
products from the company’s Almaden Lab that highlight autonomic
and virtualization.

Menon told the company’s Intelligent Storage
(code-named Ice Cube) project is taking the supercomputing approach and
applying it to a hybrid server/storage system, which is essentially a
block of hardware made up of several cubes.

The cubes, independent computing servers or storage servers that perform
virtualization tasks independently, essentially make up an entire data
center. The machine is perhaps three years or more from seeing the
light of
day and is intended as the company’s replacement for its TotalStorage
Enterprise Storage Servers, Menon said.

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