IBM has introduced a new family of enterprise disk storage systems codenamed "Shark", marking a major new shift in strategy at the high end of the market in an attempt to take on market leader, EMC.
For the past three years, Big Blue has resold Storage Technology’s offerings, although it said it would continue to do so, at least until their contract expires at the end of next year.
But IBM’s new Enterprise Storage Server (ESS), which is scheduled to ship in September, will now compete head on with rival products from EMC, which owns 35 per cent of the market compared with Big Blue’s 20 per cent.
Carl Grenier, an analyst at the Meta Group, said: "What IBM is trying to do is put together an enterprise storage platform that can attach to any server platform. In effect, what it’s trying to do is catch up to EMC and Hitachi."
But Ron Kilpatrick, general manager of IBM Storage Systems, attested: "Many competitors in the storage industry have only one card to play - they are disk storage companies, tape companies or software companies. While other storage suppliers attempt to eke out new functionality from aging storage architectures, the ESS offers customers real choices when designing an enterprise storage infrastructure for the future."
He added that ESS, which scales from 420 gigabytes up to 11.2 terabytes of capacity, runs at 30,000 input/outputs per second. It supports Windows NT, Unix, the AS/400 and S390 mainframe and supports a variety of interfaces, including Escon, Fibre Channel and Ultra SCSI.
ESS is based on IBM's Seascape Storage Enterprise Architecture and has a "snap in" design that enables users to add capacity, performance and connectivity as required.
The offering builds on IBM's Storage Area Network (SAN) initiative, which was announced last month. SANs are storage devices that reside on separate networks to manage and store data without tying up other servers’ computing resources.
At the same time, IBM also unveiled its Magstar Virtual Tape Server (VTS), which, it claimed, boosted the efficiency of its 1/2 inch tape drive, the Magstar 3590E. The offering is based on combined disk, tape and software storage subsystems that can be upgraded individually.
And to encourage customers to take the plunge, Big Blue also said that IBM Global Financing would provide a worldwide 1999 deferred payment scheme, offering customers the option to delay payment without charge for up to 110 days.
Under the initiative, users would not start paying for the system until 1 January, 2000, or as late as March 30, 2000, depending on when they installed it.
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