IBM, Cisco target remote storage

IBM Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. announced earlier this month an agreement to jointly offer open storage networking solutions.

The deal expands on a previous strategic alliance between the two companies and enables IBM to offer Cisco’s MDS 9000 line of high-end SAN (storage area network) switches for storage networks, including the Cisco MDS 9509 Multilayer Director, Cisco MDS 9216 Multilayer Fabric Switch and allied modules.

The deal highlights both companies’ efforts to tap into the nascent data-intensive computing space. According to IBM, the agreement allows the Armonk, N.Y.-based company to reach new customers, including those in telecommunications and firms involved in fibre channel and IP storage area networks.

Brantz Myers, national enterprise marketing manager for Cisco Systems Canada in Toronto, said the deal offers mid- to large-sized Canadian companies access to secure, scalable and highly available remote storage at new price points.

“In the past, for example, where a bank that wanted to build a remote data centre with remote storage in a event of a (disaster)…you want a remote mirrored facility,” Myers said, adding that this type of infrastructure has traditionally been cost-prohibitive to most organizations.

“The cost of having remote storage (is) very high,” Myers said.

Next-gen multilayer switches largely solve that issue. “You get the cost-effectiveness that in the past was unavailable without costs associated with dedicated fibre and point-to-point,” Myers continued.

“This switch brings the storage network to those networks and then the service providers can provide the appropriate network to carry that network traffic to remote sites.”

The Cisco switch, like models from competitors including Brocade

Communications, McData and Inrange Technologies, is authorised to work with

IBM’s family of disk and tape storage products, including Enterprise Storage System (“Shark”), its midrange FastT systems and Tivoli Storage Area Network Manager.

Most of Cisco’s business is tied to networking equipment that uses TCP/IP

networking, the technology the Internet uses. But through its acquisition of

Andiamo, Cisco obtained high-end networking products that can use the Fibre

Channel networking standard used in SANs.

Cisco’s New Venture Group initially set up Andiamo, recruiting Cisco and

other employees in 2000. The company acquired Andiamo in August 2002.

The offerings will be IBM-branded and are tentatively slated for release by the end of March, Myers said.

IBM hardware and Tivoli software customer Elana Samuels, president of Toronto-based data storage service provider (SSP) Storagepipe Solutions Inc., noted that with prices slowly coming down and speeds coming up, storage is becoming a lot more attractive to enterprises.

“When we purchased our infrastructure, we would have liked to purchase a Cisco (product) but it wasn’t part of IBM’s package at that point. We tried to stay as close to an IBM solution as we could have, so when we review our requirements next time around it would be nice,” Samuels said. “Companies have brought a lot of storage and are having trouble managing it all – replicating data is a great option if you can afford it,” Samuels said. “The costs of managing this data is often more than the cost of the hardware itself.”

The fact that storage costs are high isn’t lost on Guy Poirier. The IT assistant director for the Computing and Communications Services department at the University of Ottawa noted the institution’s heterogeneous desktop and server environment copes with more than 53 million files and approximately 130GB of new information every 24 hours.

Storage needs are growing, Poirier noted, adding that in the past year storage needs rose 70 per cent. “We’re constantly getting new desktops…therefore we need more centralized space for backups and restores,” Poirier said.

– With files from IDG News Service