Big Blue Delivers Big Blow To Storage, Server Rivals

Big Blue took aim at rivals EMC and Hitachi Data Systems, along with the latter's allies, Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems, with a new family of storage arrays.

The company also hit Sun and HP in the Unix server space with a new line of pSeries and iSeries servers.

More than the timing, the two moves are tied together by the fact that the new servers and one of the new arrays are based on IBM's Power5 microprocessor, which the company started filtering into its server lines earlier this year.

The closeness between the two product lines has important implications for customers, said Joel Kaiser, account executive at TSG Server and Storage, an Edina, Minn.-based IBM solution provider.

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"The two lines, working that close, means a lot of synergy," Kaiser said. "The opportunities to use LPAR [logical partitioning] for storage is a big story. The fact that the Power5 is leading in the Unix space, and moving into storage, is a great story to tell."

The enterprise-class DS8000, based on the Power5, virtualizes up to 97 Pbytes of data behind a common architecture. With the Power5 LPAR capability, the storage resources can be allocated into separate logical storage partitions, which can be independent and isolated.

The midrange DS6000 array uses IBM's Power4 processor and can address up to 67 Tbytes of capacity. Prices start at around $97,000 for a 500-Gbyte configuration.

"It takes up 4 percent of the space, and it weighs about one-tenth of the box it is going to replace," said Dan Colby, general manager of storage systems in Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM's Systems and Technology group. As a follow-on to IBM's ESS Shark arrays, the DS6000 and DS8000 offer a revolutionary leap, Kaiser said. "The price point and footprint they have vs. both the competition and their predecessors is unbelievable," he said.

IBM also unveiled a 32-way pSeries server and its first 64-way pSeries, both based on the Power5, said Karl Freund, vice president of product marketing for the pSeries. They are scheduled to replace the p690 series "Three years ago, folks kind of counted IBM out in high-end servers," he said. "But in three years, we stole 14 points of market share from Sun. This is another stepping stone in our move to market dominance."

List price of the p590 with 16 processors starts at about $745,000 vs. about $1.3 million for a similarly configured p690. The new arrays are scheduled to be released Dec. 3; new servers are slated to start selling Nov. 19.

EdWARD F. Moltzen contributed to this story.