Cisco, IBM Collaborate on Storage

The companies' new product is designed to make data management simpler and less costly by creating one point of control for varied storage systems.

Extending their collaborative efforts into the storage arena, IBM and Cisco Systems Inc. today unveiled an IBM storage volume controller built into Cisco switches. The companies foresee network-hosted storage applications as a means of enabling enterprises to build larger, smarter storage area networks.

Together, the companies took IBMs TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller software and custom-fit it for Ciscos MDS 9000 Multilayer Intelligent Family of SAN switches. The IBM software adds an extra layer of storage intelligence to the switches, Cisco officials said.

The new product was designed to make data management simpler and less costly by creating one point of control for varied storage systems. It allows users to perform data management, including data replication and data migration, from the network. By administering storage from the switches, users dont have to take servers offline when changes, such as adding or deleting capacity, need to be made.

Cisco built a new module—the Caching Services Module—for the switches that will host the IBM software. The module can be installed in the MDS 9500 series and in the MDS 9216 fabric switch.

"This product is a line-card that you can plug into the switches, and it gives you the SAN virtualization capability," said a Cisco spokesman. "Previously you would have run those applications off storage or services."

IBMs volume controller software is already available as an appliance on IBM servers in storage area networking systems. Incorporated into the Cisco switch, the system has the benefit of being more tightly integrated, according to Cisco. The integrated IBM/Cisco SAN switch is slated for availability in December.

From Ciscos perspective, the latest collaboration with IBM is part of a strategy to make its SAN switches standards-compatible so that storage software vendors can migrate their applications to them.

Two weeks ago, Cisco and IBM unveiled a collaborative endeavor to develop common technology for detecting, recording and resolving networking and computing problems. Standardization of problem detection across the infrastructure is slated to make it faster and easier to detect potential errors and fix them.

Underlying the joint standards effort is IBMs Common Base Event format, a standard for exchanging problem determination through Web services, which the Armonk, N.Y., company has submitted to a standards body for review. IBM will begin incorporating the standard into its software, storage and servers right away, and Cisco said it will integrate the same technology into its products in a second phase of the initiative.