IBM targets low-end, midmarket for storage

IBM Corp. this week is announcing new software and hardware storage products aimed at a booming lower-end market at an industry-low price point, analysts said.

IBM is introducing a new version of its modular TotalStorage Fibre Array Storage Technology (FASt) server line, the FAStT600 storage server. It replaces the low-end FAStT200 server released last year. IBM said it also would soon be coming out with a FAStT700 server to replace its FAStT500 model.

The FAStT600 array, which will be generally available tomorrow, has up to three times the performance and throughput of the previous FAStT200 model and ramps up to 6TB capacity, vs. the 1.47TB capacity of the previous model.

Harold Pike, worldwide product manager for IBM's FASt products, said the rack-mountable, fully redundant array comes with 2Gbit/sec. Fibre Channel throughput and can be configured on the fly to include RAID levels and volume sizes. The array has remote service alert capability, 80 percent higher performance in I/Os per second and 280 percent more bandwidth in sequential reads and writes than its predecessor, Pike said.

Tony Prigmore, a storage analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Storage Group Inc., said the FASt product line has been an excellent price/performance product. "We expect the FASt targeted for this entry-level market will continue to lead that price/performance curve," he said.

The FAStT600 will retail for US$14,995.

IBM is also unveiling its Tivoli Storage Resource Manager (SRM) software, Express Edition, a little brother to Big Blue's Tivoli SRM that monitors large storage servers for disk space and provides forecasting tools, alerts and policy-based automation.

The Express version of SRM installs on laptops and desktops, integrates with IBM's enterprise-class SRM application and is aimed at the workgroup or departmental level of enterprises, according to Mike McCarthy, director of market management for IBM's Tivoli management software division.

Tivoli SRM Express Edition, priced at US$65 per desktop, delivers storage resource monitoring, more than 300 reporting tools, and historical data analysis with forecasting. According to McCarthy, it can be installed in about two minutes.

Linda Loux, a systems administrator at Rosetta Inpharmatics Inc., a biotechnology company in Kirkland, Wash., has been running IBM's enterprise-class Tivoli SRM across five Network Appliance file servers for the past year and a half.

While Loux gave high marks to the enterprise version of IBM's SRM software for being able to monitor and set alerts on her enterprise servers, she said she has no use for SRM Express. "We discourage users from using local drives for storage. When a user leaves the company their system is recycled. If they have corporate data on the local system, we run the chance of losing it," she said.

But Prigmore said enterprise-level IT managers are trying to solve a disparity of management systems between highly centralized storage and distributed sources of data, such as PCs and laptops. Bringing more of an enterprise class of information protection to smaller assets is exactly IBM's goal.

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