IBM is preparing to launch a virtualization software offering, code-named Lodestone, that will compete with tools from Veritas Software and Computer Associates International.
Denise Buonaiuto, vice president of Worldwide Business Partner Sales in IBM's Systems Group, did not offer many details but said the company expects
to launch LodeStone within 30 days.
Following that, IBM will release a new distributed file system, code-named Storage Tank, for multiple platforms, said Buonaiuto. "We expect to have at least 50 [total storage solution centers] up and running with our virtualization software by the time we go [to general availability] with it."
Because both tools work across multiple platforms, IBM expects that solution providers will be critical to the company's success in this area, given the fact that IBM salespeople tend to focus on homogeneous IBM accounts, Buonaiuto said.
IBM will offer partners training and certification programs, demand generation tools, market campaign designers as well as seminars on solution selling, she said.
How the virtualization software affects the channel depends in part on how quickly IBM rolls it out to the Unix space as opposed to the mainframe market, said David Costello, IBM eServer manager at Forsythe Solutions Group, a Skokie, Ill.-based solution provider.
The other question is how competitive the new offering will be, given IBM's focus on homogeneous, not heterogeneous, environments, according to Costello. For example, IBM could do more to push its peer-to-peer remote copy capabilities in mixed environments. "It would be nice if IBM would stand up and say they have a lot of reference accounts in heterogeneous SANs," he said.
In anticipation of the LodeStone release, IBM has been re-educating its storage solution providers to help them sell software
and servers in addition to storage.
Late last year, IBM merged its storage and server groups as part of an effort to increase server-attached storage sales. A by-product of that decision has been an expansion of the role of IBM's storage partners.
"This is about getting better synergies between storage and servers," Buonaiuto said. "Our competitors like to say we are getting out of the storage business, but we are absolutely committed to storage for the long haul."
Joseph F. Kovar contributed to this story.