IBM brings high-end storage functions to midrange

IBM Corp. on Tuesday announced two new storage products – upper midrange and high-end disk arrays designed for ease of use and lower cost. The DS6000 and DS8000 feature higher physical storage capacities, a modular architecture, and additional visualization technology, all in systems considerably smaller than previous versions.

The high-end disk array DS8000 features advanced 64-bit Power5 processing capabilities and will be available in two-way and four-way controller configurations, with eight-way and 12-way versions planned for the future. The DS8000 will connect to other vendors’ storage systems and uses SAN Volume Controller (SVC) software for visualization. The DS6000 is built on IBM’s Power4 processor and comes in a 3U cabinet configuration that supports 16 drives and 13 expansion drawers. It can support as much as 67TB of storage and 4GB of cache.

“The announcements we are making today are going to change the way the market looks, and four years from now things will look (drastically) different,” said Bill Zeitler, senior vice-president of systems and technology group.

Zeitler added that he thinks the storage market will shift from vendors being in control to one in which the customers hold the power. “This is not IBM taking the storage proposition to market, this is IBM and a lot of partners,” Zeitler said. “It is not IBM standing alone that will bring choices to market.”

IBM customer Bob Venable, enterprise systems manager at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, came onstage in a panel discussion during the event and explained that his company’s storage has grown by a factor of 10 in the last four years, all while reducing the staff that manage storage.

“Soft (logical partitioning) is the key,” Venable said. “We’ve taken it down from the mainframe to Unix.”

Venable plans to also partition on Windows and Linux systems, but has not done so yet.

According to a research report from PacificCrest Corp., the new offerings should help IBM, particularly in the midrange. The report says that the DS6000 “will extend some of IBM’s high-end functionality into the fast-growing midrange storage market segment.” The two systems compete with systems from EMC Corp. and Hitachi Data Systems Corp. The DS8000 competes with EMC’s Symmetrix platform, while the DS6000 is competitive with EMC’s Clariion products. IBM is not the only company to recently release some new high-end storage products. Hitachi last month announced its new TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform, which will be resold by Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

According to IDC, IBM had 21.7 per cent market share in the high-end storage market in 2003. EMC had the largest market share with 34.9 per cent.

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