IBM beefs up SMB storage offerings

IBM Tuesday unveiled several storage products that it said will bring iSCSI and enterprise-class functionality -- including WORM (write-once, read many) disk storage -- to the small-to-midsize (SMB) business market.

Among the products announced is a network-attached storage (NAS) device that's the first fruit of IBM's reseller agreement with Network Appliance that was announced earlier this year.

IBM's new TotalStorage N3700 is a rebranded NetApp FAS270 array that supports file-level data transfers or block-level transfers via the Internet SCSI protocol, which is most widely used to consolidate backing up farms of inexpensive Wintel servers.

"We've seen [that] the SMB market is a fast-growing marketplace. We're attempting to bring some enterprise capabilities that we've been developing for some time to that space," said Charlie Andrews, director of IBM's TotalStorage Solutions division.

The N3700 comes fully configured with 14 disk drives in either 72GB, 144GB or 300GB disk capacities. It can scale to 16TB.

IBM is pitching the new N3700 as "an economical" NAS solution for businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees that remains versatile enough to be used at large companies with remote-office storage requirements.

IBM is seizing an opportunity in the SMB market and acting quickly by using NetApp technology "to preclude Dell and EMC from getting a leg up" in the iSCSI arena, said Tony Prigmore, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc. in Milford, Mass. "NetApp is the clear leader in the iSCSI marketplace. And clearly IBM has always had an excellent collection of SMB channel partners and SMB clients."

IBM also announced the TotalStorage DR550 Express, a disk array suited for compliance-based archival needs because of its ability to create files with WORM capability. The DR550, which uses IBM's Tivoli Storage Manager software, scales from 1TB to 56TB in 1TB increments, Andrews said.

IBM also announced a storage-area network (SAN) starter kit. The bundled equipment includes an entry-level DS400 Fibre Channel array with up to 12TB of storage and a 10-port Fibre Channel switch. The bundled SAN starts at US$16,376 retail, with half a terabyte of storage capacity. The N3700 starts at US$50,000 retail, which comes with 14 72GB drives for about 1TB of capacity.

The DR550 starts at US$45,000 for 1TB of capacity.

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