RealTime IT News

New IBM Systems Mark Storage/Server Convergence

NEW YORK -- IBM took the covers off its latest storage strategy Tuesday with an imposing DS8000 enterprise-class storage server along with the much smaller, ultra-dense DS6000.

As previously reported, the DS8000 employs logical partitioning features, which allow clients to run several storage workloads and create virtual storage images with the help of the company's Virtualization Engine.

The machines are designed to compete with products from rivals EMC and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS).

If IBM's Enterprise Storage Server 800 was originally dubbed "Shark," then this high-end machine could be called a blue whale for its ability to digest volumes of data for enterprises. The new products arrive at a time when customers need to store valuable information that can be recalled accurately and quickly.

Dan Colby, general manager of IBM's Storage Systems Group, said although the DS8000 is smaller than the company's Enterprise Storage Server 800, it is six times as fast and can address up to 96 petabytes (or 20 million full, four-drawer filing cabinets) of data.

The inclusion of the Virtualization Engine technology in the DS8000, which is powered by IBM's Power5 chips, marks Big Blue's long-promised convergence of its storage and server lines.

The Power5 chip employs two 64-bit microprocessors and includes simultaneous multithreading (SMT), a powerful tool that makes each processor appear like two. IBM claims to have seen a 45 percent increase in system throughput when using SMT.

The machine will be available December 3rd in a two-way and four-way configuration, with an eight-way to follow in 2005.

The product is taking direct aim at EMC's deluxe DMX3000 model. For example, maximum raw capacity of the DS8000 is 192TB compared to the DMX3000's 84TB. The DS8000 supports 640 drives. EMC's supports DMX3000's 576.

The DS8000 also has a four-year warranty, which IBM is comparing to the 90 days EMC offers with its DMX3000.

During a press event here, Bill Zeitler, senior vice president and group executive of IBM's Systems and Technology Group, said the company sees strong growth potential in the storage market now. Citing IDC estimates, the executive said the market is projected to grow six percent a year to achieve a total of $30 billion by 2008.

While the DS8000 boasts several breakthroughs for IBM's engineers, the DS6000 is nearly as impressive for its small size as the DS8000 machines is for its largeness and scalability.

Built for mid-range businesses, the DS6000 is a mite 3U (5.25 inches high), but scales to 67 terabytes. By comparison, its EMC-made counterpart, the DMX800 is 42U (75 inches) and only handles 17.5 terabytes.

In unveiling the DS6000, IBM's Colby used humor to illustrate the compact nature of the DS6000 compared to EMC's machines. Pointing out an EMC Clariion CX 600 box onstage, Colby said he wanted to buy a DMX800 to appropriately compare it to the DS6000 at the event, but said he couldn't afford it.

He then unveiled the DS6000, which sat on the same size rack as the CX 600. With the point of the DS6000's petite nature made, the audience laughed. The modular machine is also available December 3.

In another technology advancement, the DS800 utilizes new caching technology from the company's research lab that helps users realize greater throughput and response times than the ESS800. The Adaptive Replacement Cache (ARC) uses autonomic technology to provide a more intuitive caching experience.

Pricing for the DS8000 and DS6000 machines, with configurations starting at half a terabyte, depends on the amount of capacity and power required, but generally start at $97,000.

IBM's new machines are crucial advancements in its many duels with EMC and HDS, whose recent high-end TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform has been lauded by analysts.