IBM beefs up NAS offering

IBM on Tuesday upped the ante on its NAS (network attached storage) rivals with the introduction of three new NAS systems.

NAS systems are storage file servers that can reside at any location along a network, and are generally used as localised storage for individual workgroups or remote offices.

The new NAS products from IBM represent phase two of a storage networking initiative that began in February with the launch of the IBM NAS Gateway and other products intended to provide faster connections for the new NAS systems.

The IBM TotalStorage NAS 200 tower configuration is designed specifically for small workgroups or remote offices. Powered by a single IBM processor, the TotalStorage NAS 200 tower can store up to 216GB of data for e-mail storage or video streaming. Pricing for the NAS 200 tower is US$14,000 and it will be available June 29.

A scalable, rack-mounted version of the TotalStorage NAS 200 is also available to cater to the networked storage needs of larger regional offices or sales force support environments. The NAS 200 is powered by dual IBM chips and can be scaled to 1.74TB, according to Bob Mahoney, vice president of storage networking hardware for IBM. It is due out June 29 and pricing begins at $36,000.

The fault-tolerant IBM TotalStorage 300 dual-engine storage unit is designed to meet traditional storage needs for sectors such as retail, banking, finance, and insurance, said Bob Maness, IBM's director of tape storage products. The TotalStorage 300 scales up to 3.24TB of memory. It is due out July 13 with a list price of $115,000 for a system with 360GB of storage, Maness said.

The IBM TotalStorage 300G takes the TotalStorage 300 and adds a clustering feature that bridges the LAN with the SAN (storage area network). Mirroring the TotalStorage 300, the 300G is also due out July 13 with a starting price of $115,000 for a system with 360GB of storage.

The IBM NAS products mean increased pressure on NAS market leader Network Appliance, according to Mahoney.

"[IBM is] committed to go after this business," said Mahoney, adding that IBM will use the new NAS systems to attack NAS competitor and market leader Network Appliance on the basis of price-performance. According to Mahoney, the IBM NAS 200 rack system is 50 percent faster than a comparable Network Appliance 740 NAS filer, while offering almost a terabyte more of scalable memory for less money.

However, a recent survey by Zona Research showed performance metrics were "a long way from the top of the issue list [for customers] selecting among the available NAS/SAN solutions.

"The topmost items on their list was the reliability of the system, followed by security and encryption features, the scalability of the system, and then overall ROI and TCO issues," the report said. Zona Research is an industry research firm based in Redwood City, Calif.

IBM also announced enhancements to its TotalStorage Linear Tape-Open Libraries. The company has added an optional gateway that provides Fibre Channel support for the Ultrium Scalable Tape Library via dual 2Gb ports. The Fibre Channel support is being announced for eServer iSeries hosts, along with remote management capabilities available through a Web browser. IBM also has added new hot swap drive and redundant drive power availability features for the UltraScalable Tape Library. The enhancements will be available on Aug. 31, the company said.

IBM will also double the number of virtual and physical drives on its TotalStorage Virtual Tape Server Family, provide larger block sizes, and offer a new peer-to-peer configuration. In addition, the company will add support for IBM's 3590 Cartridge and include additional Open System attachment and SAN attachment options for a stand-alone Virtual Tape Server. The enhancements are due to be made available Sept. 14.

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