IBM offers new SAN package

IBM will offer a new package of software, hardware, and services allowing customers to set up SANs (Storage Area Networks).

The new package, called SmartPaks, will allow customers to test and integrate SANs before implementing them, IBM said Thursday. Using the package, customers will be able to optimise SANs for data consolidation and protection as well as disaster prevention or sharing, based on the company's needs and its size. IBM also will offer SAN-ready storage capabilities to companies using the Windows platform.

"A lot of people are offering parts of the pie. This allows businesses to come to one place to get a whole SAN package," said Whitney Detwiler, a spokeswoman for IBM.

SANs are computers linked together in a separate network from a main LAN (local area network) to share data quickly with servers. IBM estimates that 70 percent of all medium-sized and large businesses will implement SANs to help manage their data.

While IBM touts software from its Tivoli Systems subsidiary, SmartPaks are open systems that can operate without proprietary software.

"We're looking at them as soft bundles," said Jill Kaplan, IBM marketing director for storage. "We wanted to make them adaptable so that customers could use non-Tivoli software in the deployment."

This reflects the state of the storage market, without clear standards for software, said Doug Chandler, an analyst with International Data Corp (IDC). "It's an early, immature market. IBM is in a fierce battle with EMC over storage, and it's not clear yet who, if anyone, will dominate."

Aiming at SANs for small businesses, IBM will release a low-end server called Piranha that will cost less than $US8,000.

IBM invested $400 million setting up business centers around the world to develop and market SANs, Kaplan said.

"We kicked off IBM's corporate SAN initiative at last year's PC Expo. We spent last year getting all the groups together," he said.

IBM will demonstrate SmartPak networks at this year's PC Expo trade show next week in New York.

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