IBM's Piranha to Show Its Storage Teeth

IBM Corp. is rolling out a set of storage-area network offerings to appeal to midsize customers relying on Intel-based servers to do e-business.

This week at PC Expo, the company is expected to announce a new storage server optimised for Windows NT/2000 and Linux operating systems, as well as a series of packaged software service and hardware offerings.

A year after it announced that it would provide SAN products for mainframe users, the company is now working on hitting the entry level of the market. As part of this thrust, the firm will announce the Netfinity "Piranha" storage device, which will let Intel server users connect their machines to high performance SANs - without having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a high-end device such as the top of the line Shark Enterprise Storage Server.

Piranha features up to 1 terabyte of storage capacity and can support to up to four servers. Costing just under US$8,000, the box fits in just below the recently announced TigerShark FAST500 storage box for RS/6000 users. The Piranha will be available in August.

The Piranha could be particularly interesting to enterprise IS staff who want to have a dedicated SAN for remote workgroups or departments or business processes that are using Windows or Linux servers, says Joe Poole, an IS manager at Boscov's Department store, in Reading, Pennsylvania.

The firm currently uses a Shark Enterprise Storage Server that handles data from a mainframe, an RS/6000 and three NT servers. He says in his network, a Piranha, with it low cost, might be used to support the company Web site.

IBM also plans to announce a new Fibre Channel tape drive device, the Magstar 3590 Model E. Most tape drives are SCSI based, and require a Fibre Channel to SCSI gateway to hook up to a SAN. The Magstar box will save users the extra expense of the gateway and let them keep tape drive technology in their storage network. The device is available now, but pricing was not disclosed.

IBM also intends to roll out a series of so-called "SmartPaks" - bundled storage management, devices, testing and implementation packages for enterprise users. The packages eliminate the need of having to go through the laborious process of picking individual products and services one at a time. IBM Global Service personnel or certified resellers will install the hardware and software.

Each offering is optimized for a specific SAN function: data consolidation, data protection, disaster prevention and file sharing. The SmartPaks are available now, pricing depends on configuration.

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