IBM

IBM Corp. simultaneously announced two products for the storage area networking (SAN) and network attached storage (NAS) markets last month, citing the industry’s rapid migration to open storage networking as the reason for the launch.

The TotalStorage Networked Attached Storage 300G is a file server that sits between the local area network (LAN) and a SAN and creates a bridge between the two. From the client side, it appears to be a NAS device, but the storage is actually on the SAN. According to IBM, the 300G allows network managers to use their SAN infrastructure and tools while benefiting from the reduced cost of access and heterogeneous data sharing common to NAS technology.

“What does it do? It says I can get the benefits of using my Internet protocol – my Ethernet protocol – and at the same time, I can use my infrastructure, which I might well have already existing in my storage area environment,” said Graham Whillier, national sales manager for storage at IBM Canada Ltd. in Markham, Ont.

The TotalStorage IP Storage 200i, a NAS device, uses a new technology called iSCSI that adapts SCSI commands to run on Ethernet and TCP/IP protocols. The iSCSI technology in the 200i was developed in San Jose, Calif., and Haifa, Israel, by IBM Research. Cisco Systems Inc. later collaborated with IBM Research to refine the technology. The iSCSI technology has been submitted to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) storage standards body.

“It enables us to plug storage straight into your Ethernet,” Whillier said.

He added that companies with big workgroups or distributed infrastructure with remote locations can use the 200i to allow every location to share files through devices connected to the Ethernet network. According to Whillier, the 200i, like other NAS devices on the market, can be connected and up and running in a matter of minutes.

According to one analyst, there are players in the market that offer products like the 300G and the 200i, but they only offer one type of technology, not both.

“They don’t have any real direct competition, as such,” said William Hurley, a program manager at The Yankee Group in Boston, Mass.

Hurley said IBM’s launch of their iSCSI technology is a somewhat aggressive move, and it is the first incumbent vendor to go to market with an iSCSI product, however IBM is the second vendor to launch an iSCSI offering. Mountain View, Calif.-based 3ware Inc. launched its 3ware NSU (network storage unit) product family in September.

The market for products like the 300G is very strong in the enterprise workgroup or remote business unit space and the large Internet data centre industry, he said, adding that he believes the iSCSI market will also be quite big within those spaces.

The 300G is available now and starts at US$44,000. The 200i will be available in June at a cost of US$20,000. For more information about the TotalStorage Networked Attached Storage 300G and the TotalStorage IP Storage 200i, visit www.ibm.com.