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IBM doesn’t often name names when it publicly discusses its competitors in the IT storage business, but it made an exception Aug. 22 when it aimed a new product line squarely at market leader EMC.

The new “turbo-powered” line of storage servers offers faster performance and improved system management compared to both EMC’s servers and previous IBM models, an IBM spokesperson said.

IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y., also announced the launch of the new IBM System Storage N7000, developed in conjunction with Network Appliance as part of a recent alliance between the two companies.

The N7000 completes IBM’s portfolio of unified storage products based on NetApp technology that provide end-to-end systems for enterprise class NAS (network-attached storage) and iSCSI offerings, ranging from 50-person businesses to large data centers.

NetApp will produce the N7000 Series as branded IBM products while concurrently selling similar models under its own name, the spokesperson said.

“This [the Turbo line and the N7000] is the largest expansion of [IBM’s] storage portfolio in years,” the spokesperson said.

The enterprise-class disk array IBM DS8000 Turbo line features 4GB-per-second FICON (Fibre Connection) throughput, which is about double the I/O now typically available. The Turbo runs on IBM’s Power 5 chips, and the company claims that it delivers 15 percent better performance than the company’s older model.

“As EMC’s appetite for acquisitions grows ever more healthy, the foundation from which the company began is under siege,” the IBM spokesperson said. “Market share numbers from IDC show the company is losing its grip on market dominance in the storage sector. Today, with the introduction of more enterprise-to-SMB [small and midsize businesses] appealing systems from IBM, that grip will be further tested.”

According to industry reports, IBM has been making strong inroads into the $4.2 billion disk storage systems market share that EMC and HP (Hewlett-Packard) have historically owned.

EMC owned 21.8 percent of the enterprise external disk storage systems market in Q1 2006, with HP at about 18 percent and IBM at 12 percent, according to IDC, in Framingham, Mass.

DS8000 Turbo: tiered storage options within single system

The IBM DS8000 Turbo features:

  • Tiered Storage Options—Offers tiered storage within a single system in order to align data with business value and simplify data management. The first tier, using Fibre Channel drives, serves to store critical, frequently used data, whereas the second tier incorporates low-cost FATA (Fibre Channel ATA) drives and is used to store less frequently used data.

  • Three-Site Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery —Provides constant access to data and is designed to support failover/failback modes for efficient resynchronization, with quick updates of changes in the event that any site experiences downtime.

  • IBM Server Synergy Features—I/O priorities and Cooperative Caching enable the DS8000 Turbo to work in conjunction with IBM AIX solutions and DB2 in order to improve efficiency and performance for high priority applications.

  • TPC for Replication—Provides a single point of control for Metro Mirror, Global Mirror and FlashCopy, as well as tracking and ensuring completion of replication to avoid costly mistakes.

    The IBM System Storage DS8000 Turbo and enhanced DS6000—each with a four-year warranty—will be available on Sept. 9, with starting list prices of $213,400 for the DS8000 Turbo and $102,600 for the enhanced DS6000. The server synergy features for the DS8000 Turbo will be available on Nov. 17.

    NetApp-IBM N series: scalable up to 504TB

    The NetApp-IBM N series enterprise appliance models, IBM System Storage N7600 and N7800, offer Fibre Channel and SATA (Serial ATA) disk drive support and provide simultaneous NAS, iSCSI and 4G-bps FCP (FC SAN) attachment. Additionally, they offer more than 35 advanced software features and are scalable up to 504TB. Both are available in single controller and clustered controller versions.

    Key software features include:

  • FlexShare—Provides administrators with the ability to increase processing utilization without sacrificing the performance of critical business needs, as well as the control to prioritize applications based on how critical they are.

  • MetroCluster—Extends cluster failover capabilities from the primary to remote site and replicates data from the primary site for the remote site so that data is completely up-to-date and available. It allows customers to rapidly resume operations within minutes at the remote site in the event of a disaster. Disaster recovery options are available for distances up to 100 kilometers.

    The N series enterprise appliance models will be available Sept. 1 with a starting price of $140,500. The N series enterprise gateway solutions will be available Sept. 22, with a starting price of $113,500.

    Data retention products enhanced

    Designed for long-term data retention and to help support regulatory and corporate governance data retention requirements, the IBM System Storage DR550 V3.0 and DR550 Express offer increased flexibility, capacity and price performance by including the IBM System Storage DS4700 storage controller and the EXP810 storage expansion as its disk storage subsystem. The DS4700 system uses 500GB SATA drives and offers 4G-bps Fibre Channel technology.

    Single server and express model configurations are currently available starting at $21,000. Dual-server models will be available Sept. 15 starting at $128,000.

    Expansion of IBM System Storage DS4000 Series

    IBM has expanded its DS4000 line of midrange storage servers with the introduction of the IBM System Storage DS4200 Express Model, aimed at SMBs. It also added new features and functionality across its entire DS4000 family of products to increase capacity, speed and overall performance.

    The new IBM System Storage DS4200 Express will be available on Aug. 25, starting at a list price of $11,474.

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