IBM storage attempts to bridge high-end, mid-range gap

NEW YORK — IBM has unveiled two new Fibre Channel disk-based storage systems it says can bridge enterprise and midrange environments by bringing high end functions to smaller storage servers and ease of use to its high-end products.


is going to change not just the functions that are available to people in all spectrums of storage but the price-performance economics around these things,”” Bill Zeitler, senior vice-president of IBM’s systems and technology group, said here Tuesday.

The enterprise TotalStorage DS8000 series will have up to six times the performance of the ESS800 it replaces, he said, and has an architecture that can manage up to 96 petabytes of storage. It runs on two p5 processors taken from IBM’s Power processor line, and eventually will be able to run 16 CPUs.

However, most Canadian mid-sized companies will be more interested in the petite midrange DS6000 series, which IBM said will offer almost twice the scalability of EMC’s DMX800 starting at half the price — just under US$100,000.

The modular DS6000 is run by IBM’s PowerPC processors and can scale from 580 GB to 67.2 terabytes. It can connect to systems running Windows, Unix, Linux, as well as IBM’s zOS and OS/400 operating systems.

It can be hooked to DS8000 systems, and IBM said the fact that they share management software will help companies save money.

To emphasize the size difference between the two units, the company displayed what it said was a similar EMC storage system with 12 disks that was about 6.5 feet high. The 16-disk DS6000 is about 1.5 feet high.

Or, as one IBM official put it, the DS6000 is four per cent of the size of the equivalent EMC storage server at one-tenth of the weight.

Spokesmen for EMC could not be reached to verify if the comparison of the products is accurate.

However, Tony Asaro, a senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group of Milford, Mass., an industry research company, who was at the announcement, thought it is fair.

“”I think it’s a major break-through,”” he said in an interview.

The DS6000 offers customers a low-cost storage server with enterprise-class functions and a small footprint, he said. And, he added, “”space is gold in certain data centres.””

Anthony Bongiovanni, president of Micro Strategies Inc., a New Jersey IBM systems integrator invited to the event said he was “”very impressed,”” with the new products.

“”It bridges the gap we’ve had for a while between [IBM’s] FastT product line and the Shark [ESS] product line,”” he said.

“”I’m very excited about this. They are many steps beyond what the competition has.””

The DS6000 will be available to IBM Business Partners in December, although no marketing plans were available. The DS8000 will only be sold through partners. Both come with four-year hardware and software warranties.

Right now the DS6000 only comes with Fibre Channel hard drives. Versions using Serial ATA will come out in the future, the company said.

It also includes redundant Fibre Channel switches, RAID controllers and power supplies, as well as what IBM said is enterprise-class data backup and recovery capabilities.

Among other features touted by IBM, it said high-end versions of the DS8000 will be able to run IBM’s virtualization engine technology to run multiple logical partitions, meaning users can run test and production systems on one server.

In an interview before the announcement, an IDC Canada analyst noted there’s a fierce race among leading mid-range storage vendors, who in Canada include IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and EMC.

“”All vendors are facing the declining price challenge — dollars per gigabyte is dropping very rapidly, so it’s a challenge to maintain profitable operations,”” said Alan Freedman.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer. Former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, Howard has written for several of ITWC's sister publications, including Before arriving at ITWC he served as a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times.

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