IBM introduced new high-end storage systems and management software last week in an effort to make up ground lost to rivals in the past two years.
Announced at IBM's Almaden Research Centre in California, the products are based on the company's Seascape architecture for modular enterprise storage. IBM also said it would support the Fibre Channel high-speed interface as well as its own Serial Storage Architecture (SSA).
Jim Vanderslice, vice president and group executive for IBM Data Technology, described the products as a "third generation" system, claiming IBM was leapfrogging the competition.
"We were slow in bringing our second generation to market," Vanderslice admitted. "But with the third generation, we're the first ones there." In the past two years, IBM has been losing leeway in high-end storage to competitors such as EMC, largely because of product delays.
Heading up the new range is the IBM Versatile Storage Server, designed to consolidate storage across platforms.
It can be connected simultaneously to multiple Unix, NT and AS/400 systems and space can be dynamically reassigned between these servers.
The product is based on the existing IBM 7133 storage system. Multiple standalone 7133 systems can be combined in one rack using a "building block" approach. Users can consolidate their existing storage systems in the Versatile Storage Server rack, and then add additional modules.
The Versatile rack also includes two multiprocessing storage servers, each with four CPUs and running IBM's AIX operating system. IBM claims this approach makes it easier to add support for new platforms, because software is written in the form of a Unix application rather than as microcode.
The storage system will scale from 230Gb up to 2.1Tb of Raid 5 capacity and up to 64 NT servers can connect to it. It is built on IBM's SSA technology.
The Virtual Storage Server will ship in August. Pricing is not yet available.
IBM made two other announcements in the Seascape architecture.
IBM Storwatch is a family of storage management software products that will eventually be expanded to offer management of storage assets, capacity, configuration and performance. IBM said the software will also support non-IBM systems.
An enhanced version of the Virtual Tape Server for S/390 mainframes will join the storage range. The new release has a larger disk cache and other performance enhancements. IBM said that future versions will also support Unix servers via a SCSI interface.
IBM also laid out its plans for supporting Fibre Channel in Storage Area Networks.
While the company intends to hold on to its own SSA, the company will also support the emerging Fibre Channel standard, which offers 100Mbps data speeds.
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