IBM launches storage blitz

By Kevin Komiega

— IBM this week announced what it billed as the largest expansion of its storage product line in years, including two new models of its flagship DS8000 enterprise storage arrays, new connectivity and drive options, and products based on its partnership with Network Appliance.

At the high end, IBM introduced the System Storage DS8000 Turbo arrays. The DS8100 Turbo and DS8300 Turbo are based on POWER5+ processors and include 4Gbps Fibre Channel and FICON connectivity. Both arrays offer tiered storage within a single enclosure using standard Fibre Channel disk drives and lower-cost Fibre Channel ATA drives, which are sometimes referred to as FATA drives.

Software includes Metro Mirror for synchronous copy up to 300 kilometers and Global Mirror for asynchronous replication at virtually unlimited distances.

New to the systems is a pair of features called I/O Priorities and Cooperative Caching, both of which work with AIX platforms to boost data-transfer rates for high priority applications.

"The DS8000 Turbo models use the same POWER5+ processors as our new P Series servers for a performance boost of 15% [over the previous models] in transaction processing with a 25% lower price with the option of lower cost disk drives," says Craig Butler, manager of IBM's disk, SAN, and NAS product marketing.

In addition, IBM tweaked its DS6000 disk arrays, which now feature the option of Fibre Channel or FATA drives, as well as TPC for Replication support, which serves as a single point of control for Metro Mirror, Global Mirror, and FlashCopy software applications.

IBM also launched the next major products born of its relationship with Network Appliance, the System Storage N7000 series, which are available in both enterprise appliance and gateway models.

The N7000 systems support Fibre Channel and Serial ATA (SATA) disk drives, as well as NAS, iSCSI, and 4Gbps Fibre Channel SAN connectivity. The N7000 appliances scale up to 504TB, and are available in single-controller and clustered-controller configurations. The gateways can attach to IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Hitachi disk subsystems, allowing users to consolidate storage under a single point of management.

Rounding out IBM's expansion of its storage line, the company beefed up its content-addressed storage (CAS) systems with the debut of the DR550 and DR550 Express data retention platforms. The DR550 now includes the DS4700 storage controller and EXP810 storage expansion unit as its disk storage subsystem. The DS4700 uses 500GB SATA drives and 4Gbps Fibre Channel for external connectivity.

Data Mobility Group founder and senior analyst John Webster says IBM is taking an interesting tack with its latest round of product announcements. He believes, despite the potential of cannibalizing its own homegrown product offerings, IBM is trying to be "all things storage to all people."

"If you aggregate all these announcements, there is an interesting trend in that IBM is getting to a point where there is more potential crossover between its product lines," says Webster. "IBM appears to be comfortable selling some product lines with its own intellectual property and some from OEMs [such as NetApp and LSI Logic's Engenio division]. And they have a broad enough customer base where they could pull it off."

Pricing for the DS8000 Turbo systems, which will be available on September 9, starts at $213,400.

The N7000 series appliance models will be available September 1, with a starting price of $140,500, and the gateways models will be available September 22 at a starting price of $113,500.

Pricing for the DR550 platform starts at $21,000. Dual-server models will be available September 15, starting at $128,000.

This article was originally published on August 24, 2006