IBM Improves Enterprise Storage With A Hand From NetApp

Big Blue on Tuesday unveiled new high-end NAS appliances, the latest products it's bringing to market via the OEM agreement it signed with NetApp early last year. IBM also enhanced its high-end DS-series arrays and DR550 line of storage appliances for compliance requirements.

IBM last expanded on its NetApp relationship with the release in June of a line of NAS gateways made by NetApp.

NAS gateways are storage appliances that serve data in a file format in the same fashion as NAS appliances. Unlike NAS appliances, however, NAS gateways lack their own storage capacity and instead store the data on other storage devices connected to a SAN that would otherwise serve the data in blocks instead of as files.

With the release of the N7000 series, IBM now OEMs the entire NetApp hardware line except the NAS vendor's StoreVault small-business NAS/iSCSI appliances, said Charlie Andrews, director of product marketing at IBM.

Sponsored post

The line includes the IBM System Storage N7600, an enterprise-class storage appliance that supports simultaneous NAS, iSCSI and 4-Gbps Fibre Channel SAN connectivity and scales up to 504 Tbytes. It's the same as NetApp's FAS6000 appliance. IBM is also bringing out the N7800 NAS gateway, its version of NetApp's V6000 gateway, Andrews said.

IBM's OEM deal with NetApp hasn't resulted in conflict between solution providers that partner with IBM or NetApp, according to Andrews.

"Each vendor is selling to its own effective market segments," he said. "We don't want to strain the ability to compete. We just want to make sure there's minimum channel overlap. Customers have to decide if they are looking for IBM or NetApp solutions. IBM-branded sales are typically part of a larger overall IBM solution, while NetApp sales are part of a storage-specific solution."

On the high-end IBM System Storage DS8000 side, IBM is enhancing the array's performance with the latest POWER5+ processors, the same processors used in the company's System p servers. With the new processor, performance for application-based applications is improved by 15 percent, Andrews said. The DS8000 family is also being enhanced with FICON connectivity for mainframes and 4-Gbps connectivity for Fibre Channel SANs.

IBM also unveiled a new version, the DS8000 Turbo, that works with Fibre Channel and Fibre Channel ATA (FATA) hard drives. FATA drives, introduced by Seagate in 2004, combine a low-cost ATA hard drive with a Fibre Channel interface to allow the mixing of high-performance Fibre Channel and low-cost FATA drives within a single array for multiple tiers of storage.

Also new with the DS8000 Turbo is three-site business continuity and disaster recovery, which allows customers to simultaneously replicate data to a local site and a long-distance site.

IBM, too, is changing its storage software offerings so customers can buy IBM Global Mirror software for asynchronous copying of data at unlimited distances or IBM Metro Mirror software for synchronous copies to up to 300 km away. In the past, customers had to purchase both if they wanted data mirroring, Andrews said.

For the DR550 appliances, which are aimed at helping customers store data unchanged and in a non-delete fashion for a certain number of years, IBM is now including an IBM System Storage DS4700 storage controller and a new storage expansion chassis to upgrade them to work with 4-Gbps Fibre Channel SANs, as well as to be compatible with 500-Gbytes SATA drives, Andrews said.

With Tuesday's new product introduction, IBM's entire storage line is now compatible with 4-Gbps SANs, he added.

List prices for the N7600, expected to be available Sept. 1, start at $140,500. The N7800 is expected to ship Sept. 22 at a starting price of $113,500. The DS8000 Turbo is due to ship with all the new software features on Nov. 17 and carry a list price of $213,400. The DR550 with a dual-server configuration is scheduled to ship Sept. 15 and have a starting list price of $128,000.