IBM Adds Data Storage Capacity to BladeCenter S

IBM is looking to increase the appeal of its BladeCenter S by adding a shared-storage option and will integrate a SAN (storage area network) into the blade chassis. With this shared data storage option, IBM is looking to offer a competitive product to take on HP's c3000 blade enclosure offering. Both the IBM and HP blade enclosures are designed for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) and remote offices.

IBM is now offering a shared-storage option with its BladeCenter S that will allow small and midsize businesses to take advantage of up to 12TB of data storage within a blade enclosure.

On a day when Hewlett-Packard acquired LeftHand Networks to boost its own storage and virtualization options, IBM announced Oct. 1 that its BladeCenter S will come equipped with its own SAN (storage area network) that will offer up to 12TB of storage for SMBs or large enterprises with branch offices. The SAN with the BladeCenter S will use SAS (serial-attached SCSI) drives, which are less expensive that external SAN configurations that use Fibre Channel.

While small businesses might not need the type of data storage capacity that a 12TB SAN offers, IBM is betting that some customers might want to consolidate some storage equipment into a single blade chassis.

"If those companies are looking to make their IT systems as efficient and cost-effective as possible, integrated shared storage is a handy tool to help achieve those ends," Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, wrote in an Oct. 1 research note. "IBM's new SAS-based SAN can allow companies to deploy and consolidate applications that leverage stored common resources (think databases and similar business assets) onto BladeCenter S enclosures."

The new blade SAN also allows IBM to offer a unique blade chassis to compete against similar offerings that HP has made with its c3000 enclosure called "Shorty." IBM and HP control the vast majority of the worldwide blade server market, and SMBs are seen as the next area where both companies want to expand their blade businesses.

The SAN within the BladeCenter S chassis will allow businesses to take advantage of some technology, such as virtualization and database applications, that require shared storage compared with dedicated storage configurations. The SAN can also be set up to support a number of RAID configurations, including RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10.

For SMBs, the BladeCenter S uses standard 110-volt power supplies and can plug into a typical office wall socket.

Pricing for the IBM BladeCenter S chassis starts at $2,599, and the SAN configuration will be available later this month.