IBM Looks To Scale With Latest Storage Move

The shift by IBM comes at a time when the entire storage industry will need to rethink how it handles data, said David Vaughn, worldwide marketing manage for IBM storage.

Right now, for instance, about 10 hours worth of video are being uploaded to YouTube every minute, Vaughn said.

"We believe our customers' infrastructures are getting close to the breaking point," he said. "Consumers demand a lot. They expect to get information about anything at any time from anywhere. And right now, customers have an electronic footprint of about 1 Tbyte, including their .MP3 files, videos, and personal data. By 2020, that will be 16 Tbytes, we hear analysts say."

In response, IBM this week unveiled over 30 new storage hardware, software, and services offerings that bring together about $2 billion in R&D and six different acquisitions over the past couple years, Vaughn said.

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IBM grouped the new offerings into three categories.

The first, aimed at Internet-scale management, is aimed at managing an Internet infrastructure that was not designed to manage the estimated 2 million users expected to be on the Web by 2011, Vaughn said.

New from IBM is the XIV scalable storage architecture, which came from IBM's January acquisition of Israeli startup XIV.

XIV is a highly-scalable architecture leveraging industry-standard components such as SATA hard drives, Intel-based servers, and Gbit Ethernet, Vaughn said. It features a grid-based architecture that provides easy management, scalability of both capacity and performance, self-tuning and self-healing, and thin provisioning. XIV-based storage systems are already shipping, with production expected to be ramped up for the channel by early next year, he said.

At least one solution provider is not waiting.

Greg Nightingale, director of storage solutions at Sirius Computer Solutions, a San Antonio, Texas-based solution provider and IBM partner, said he is seeing a lot of interest from customers looking at the new architecture.

"But more importantly, from a management and flexibility perspective, customers are getting the message," Nightingale said. "IBM is ultimately asking customers, why do you want tiered storage when you can get a tierless storage solution? Here, you have the benefits of tier-one storage from a reliability perspective, but the cost benefits of a tier-two or tier-three system."

IBM appears to be making the XIV available to only a handful of solution providers while it ramps up production, Nightingale said

IBM is also tackling Internet-scale management with the introduction of its new DS5000 midrange storage array. It has twice the capacity and twice the performance of the vendor's DS4000 series, and scales to up to 448 1-Tbyte hard drives, Vaughn said.

The other key difference is that the DS5000 includes a 24 x 7 base warranty, compared the 9 x 5, next-day service warranty of the DS4000 family, Vaughn said. "Customers are looking for enterprise-class reliability even in their midrange storage," he said.

Both the DS4000 and DS5000 array families are built for IBM under an OEM contract by LSI, Vaughn said.

IBM and its partners have been getting a lot of requests for enterprise-class support in their midrange storage, Nightingale said.

"Customers want to cut their management overload and maintenance costs," he said. "So IBM is treating the DS5000 like any enterprise-class product. IBM is handling the deployment and all maintenance. This means less services for us on the deployment side, but more opportunities for us for configuration and integration with customers' systems. And that's where we really want to focus. Fixing things is not where Sirius has a big value-add."

The second group of new products from IBM is consolidation and retention, Vaughn said. These products are aimed at making a dramatic amount of information available anytime and anywhere, and will keep it stored safely for a long time, he said.

To do so, IBM this week unveiled the first IBM-branded version of the data deduplication technology it got with the April acquisition of Diligent Technologies. The technology, called ProtecTier, reduces redundant data by a factor of up to 25:1, Vaughn said.

To archive that data, IBM introduced a new frame for high-end tape that stores 3 petabytes of data in a 10-square-foot area, he said.

The third group of new products, aimed at security and compliance, includes additions to IBM's DR550 data archiving appliance.

The DR550 is now available with 1-Tbyte hard drives, effectively doubling capacity, Vaughn said. IBM also added IP Version 6, a new standard for addressing data which is starting to be required by more and more customers.

Next year, IBM will also add encryption to the hard drives of the DR550, he said. Both those hard drives, and IBM's current line of encrypted tape drives, are managed by IBM's new Tivoli Encryption Key Management software, he said.

IBM also introduced the new N6000, its version of NetApp's latest midrange arrays. The N6000, which scales to up to 840 Tbytes, is slated to eventually replace IBM's current N5000 family over time, Vaughn said. IBM also introduced the latest version of NetApp's SnapManager software which includes a specific edition that work's with VMware's Virtual Infrastructure, he said.