IBM Gears Up to Provide All-in-One SAN Solutions

IBM jumped on the growing trend toward bundling of multiple IT services into one package on Tuesday with the unveiling of its SAN (storage area network) initiative.

The initiative packs multiple new offerings from Big Blue, including the creation of 50 new SAN solution centers to develop all-in-one storage solutions that operate over multivendor networks, an expanded service force, and new server models.

"Clearly there is an increased trend toward bundling, services, and software, and when you look at IBM and their resources, they may have a greater ability to bundle solutions than other companies that only sell individual products," said Mike Kahn, chairman of The Clipper Group, a technology consulting company.

SANs are complex storage and data transfer architectures that traditionally require mixed hardware and software components from multiple, specialized vendors.

With its initiative, IBM hopes to simplify the SAN procurement and deployment process by giving companies the option of purchasing a pre-configured SAN backed by a single company and tuned to open standards, according to IBM officials.

"Any industry vendor not committed to open standards for SANs is driving their customers into a proprietary dead end," said Linda Sanford, general manger of IBM storage subsystems systems, in a statement.

The 50 new SAN solution centers will include testing facilities in Montpellier, France and Makuhari, Japan, to develop and demonstrate SANs to customers.

IBM will also expand its portfolio of IBM Global Services to assist customers in assessing their storage needs and existing storage solutions. One thousand additional storage-solution sales specialists will be added to the IBM payroll.

New models of the IBM Shark enterprise storage server were also announced Tuesday. Features include IBM's 64-bit RISC processor, 16GB of cache, and additional PCI buses that result in a 100 percent increase in data throughput, according to IBM.

"On one hand, there are people in large companies that want to integrate the [SAN] system themselves," said Kahn. "But there are a lot of companies less endowed, without the skilled resources, that would rather have a bundled solution that doesn't have to be configured and tested."

"With SANs, you have to look at the issue of openness. Does the solution use other software from other companies? Outside company participation, even if the relationship is at arms length, works good in the bundle," Kahn said. "Because certain customers will be saying, 'I like what IBM is offering, but I also have storage systems from EMC, so how much of your services can work with my existing solution?'"Partners in the IBM SAN Initiative whose components will comprise parts of the IBM all-in-one SAN solutions include McData, Tivoli, and Legato, which will provide a variety of SAN management software tools.

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