By Heidi Biggar
In a move that industry analysts describe as a strategic counter-thrust against archrival EMC, IBM last month announced plans to invest $400 million in open-systems storage area network (SAN) product development and services.
The initiative, which cuts across all IBM divisions, calls for additional SAN testing facilities, new products and services and, most importantly, considerable staffing increases, primarily to its Global Services sales force.
"Technology alone won't beat EMC," explains John Webster, an analyst with Illuminata, a research firm in Nashua, NH. "When you compete with EMC, you realize that where they win, in the final analysis, is in the close relationships they have built with customers."
Perhaps recognizing that it is a numbers, not just a technology, game, IBM says it will boost its overall storage solutions sales force by 1,000 people.
"It's a $400 million, 1,000 person investment-the largest portion of which will go toward staffing up Global Services' IT consultant staff to focus on SAN services," explains Linda Sanford, general manager, IBM's storage sub system division. How-ever, both Tivoli and the Storage Sub- systems Division are also expected to get significant staffing boosts.
Resources are also earmarked for new SAN testing centers in Montpellier, France, and Makuhari, Japan. Like IBM's Gaithersburg, MD, facility, these centers are designed to provide demonstration and proof-of-concept benchmarking services in open-systems environments. A fourth center in Mainz, Germany-home of IBM's Executive Briefing Center-focuses exclusively on storage product development.
Meanwhile, IBM will also work with its various business partners to establish 50 SAN competency centers by the end of the quarter.
"We wanted to make sure our business partners could demonstrate-at their locations-deliverable solutions for such things as tape sharing, server and storage consolidation, and disk pooling," explains Sanford. Champion Computer, for example, has established a demonstration facility capable of testing IBM as well as other vendors' SAN hardware and software.
In terms of product development, IBM also announced:
- Two new Enterprise Storage Server models, featuring IBM 64-bit RISC processors, 16GB of cache, and additional PCI buses for a reported 100% increase in throughput. FlashCopy and Peer-to-Peer Remote Copy (PPRC) capability will be added over the next several months.
- Enhanced Fibre Channel-based routers, gateways, switches, and managed hubs, providing improved connectivity, performance, and data availability.
- Magstar SAN connectivity via IBM SAN Data Gateway.
- SAN clustering using two Netfinity servers and Legato mirroring extension software.
- LAN-free SAN management via Tivoli SANergy (formerly Mercury SANergy).
General manager, storage subsystems division, IBM