IBM Gets Flexible with Small Storage Systems

With the proclamation that it intends to overtake EMC as the top enterprise storage supplier, IBM announced today the DS6000, a disk storage system slightly bigger than a VCR, and the TotalStorage DS8000, which can act either as a single system or, through partitioning, as multiple systems.

Rich Lechner, vice president of IBM storage systems, told TechNewsWorld that the creation of a low-cost entry point into enterprise class storage was just as important as raising the bar on high-end capacity.

“We’ve created a continuum of highly scalable enterprise storage,” Lechner said.

Shared Microcode

Key to the announcement is the fact that the systems share microcode, Dianne McAdam, senior analyst and partner with Data Mobility Group, told TechNewsWorld.

“That means that if I want to make a copy of a volume on the DS6000, I use the same commands as the DS8000. It makes life simpler for the people running enterprises,” McAdam said. It also makes the systems more scalable.

The DS6000 is “as small as one-twentieth the size of comparable EMC systems” for as little as half the price, IBM touted in its press release. It broadens IBM’s storage portfolio into the midrange, but offers more storage capacity and features than had been available at that price level.

List price for the base model is $97,000. It is built on IBM’s Power4 process and has storage capacity ranging from 580 gigabytes to 67.2 terabytes.

The DS8000, built on the 64-bit Power5 processor, can address up to 450 petabytes of data with prices starting at $250,000. Some models contain IBM’s logical partitioning (LPAR) technology to split the system into multiple storage systems. The systems are scheduled for release December 4.

Partitioning a Differentiator

McAdam said that adding LPAR to storage, which no other vendor has done, was the other key advantage of the new systems.

“Future news is that you will be able to run things other than storage code, like Veritas backup, right on the storage system,” McAdam said, which will add to the system’s value over the long term.

The DS6000 is compatible with zSeries, iSeries, Unix, Linux and Intel environments. It also shares 90 percent of its storage code with the DS8000, making it easy to integrate the two RISC-based systems.

Lechner said IBM researchers leveraged cooling technology from its blade server division and lessons learned from the design of its ThinkPads and other products in shrinking the form factor and boosting storage capacity.

IBM had 21.7 percent market share in the high-end storage market in 2003, according to IDC. EMC was on top with 34.9 percent

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