IBM Jumps Into SMB Storage Market

The new arrays, including IBM's first iSCSI array and an entry-level Fibre Channel model, are designed to compete with EMC and Dell in the small- and midsize-business space.

The channel has been waiting for the entry-level storage offerings from IBM, said David Browning, executive vice president of Advanced Systems Group, a Tustin, Calif.-based IBM solution provider. Browning said he has been looking for an iSCSI-based product from IBM that comes in below the Fibre Channel price point to compete against the likes of Dell, Nexsan and Network Appliance. "This is almost a white-box solution," he said.

Such low-cost storage subsystems make sense in a smaller company's file and print server environment, Browning said. "A lot of people buy storage for the price," he said. "So you might as well have a product line for across the board."

IBM's move comes on the heels of other tier-one storage vendors stretching down into the entry-level space, including EMC and Dell with their AX 100 array and Hewlett-Packard with its new entry-level EVA.

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List price for IBM's new DS300 iSCSI array starts at less than $3,000, including a single controller but no disks. A dual-controller version lists starting at $5,600.

The new DS400 Fibre Channel array lists starting at about $5,000 plus the cost of the hard drives, expected to be about $2,200 for four 146-Gbyte units.

Shipments of both are expected to start late this month. IBM also renamed its FAStT midrange array family with the DS4000 moniker. The company bumped the DS4000 family's value with global mirroring, which allows data to be mirrored across long distances. "Customers basically buy for speeds and feeds," Browning said. "Customers might say they want a 2-Tbyte array with 2-Gbps Fibre Channel. Call it a FAStT or a widget."