IBM ships SAS-based SAN for blades

By Kevin Komiega

--IBM today announced a blade system chassis that includes blade servers, networking gear, management software and a new SAN based on a Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) fabric. The system is aimed at SMBs and branch offices in search of a way to consolidate multiple storage devices and servers onto a single blade computing system.

The centerpiece of the new BladeCenter S is a shared-storage architecture that employs SAS-based switches to create a full SAN within the BladeCenter S chassis, according to David Tareen, IBM's BladeCenter marketing manager. "The SAN can share its storage with any of the blade servers within the system, allowing physical blades to host a number of virtual machines."

Tareen also says IBM has planned support for VMware ESX infrastructure and VMotion functionality. "It's basically an end-to-end virtual data center in one box," he says.

The BladeCenter S is housed in a 7U rack chassis with support for as many as six blade-server bays and up to 12 SAS or SATA disk drives for a total capacity of up to 9TB.

Tareen adds that the BladeCenter S is not designed to eat into the Fibre Channel SAN market, claiming that the starting price of $2,599, which includes power supplies, fans, rack rails, and a DVD/CD combo drive, costs much less than competitive Fibre Channel systems with better performance than iSCSI SANs.

"SAS is almost as fast as Fibre Channel at 3Gbps, with a roadmap for 6Gbps set for next year. It has all of the redundancy and advanced features of Fibre Channel and is faster than today's 1Gbps iSCSI SANs," says Tareen.

Tareen says BladeCenter S can help reduce the number of servers used by a typical medium-sized company by up to 80% through the addition of shared storage, a requirement for many business applications such as IBM Lotus Notes, Microsoft Clustering Services, Oracle, SAP and VMware VMotion.

Other new BladeCenter S features include the BladeCenter Start Now Advisor, which guides users through the system setup process, and the BladeCenter Service Advisor, an automatic phone home feature that alerts IBM and its business partners to system problems.

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This article was originally published on October 01, 2008