IBM Moves to 1TB Drives for New Arrays

IBM introduces second-generation disk and tape systems for large and small data centers.  

IBM has made its first storage product news since last October by announcing Feb. 12 a wide range of new software and hardware offerings for large enterprises and for small and midsize businesses.
The key item here is that IBM is now using 1TB drives in its storage arrays, following similar moves by Network Appliance, EMC, Rackable Systems and other competitors.
The new packages enable IBM-centric storage shops to upgrade their existing tiered-storage infrastructures, improve data security and enhance their archives to meet compliance requirements, Charlie Andrews, IBM's worldwide product manager for System Storage, told eWEEK.
Systems in IBM's second-generation N7000 series, aimed squarely at Fortune 1000 enterprises, come as either stand-alone appliances or gateways, Andrews said. The new N7700 and N7900 models are designed to provide storage consolidation for large systems, he said.
The systems unveiled Feb. 12 use the 1TB drives to supply up to 1,176TB of raw capacity for large data center storage needs. The N7000 series systems enable users to consolidate SAN (storage area network) and NAS (network-attached storage) needs to a single "either/or" system that can provide support for primary, nearline, regulatory-compliant data retention and archival storage all in single platform, Andrews said.
"We've improved the connectivity in addition to the capacity, so there are new efficiencies built in," he added.
The N7700 has a starting price of $125,000 and the N7900 starts at $190,000. Both will become available April 18.
The new N3300 and N3600 arrays for SMBs, also announced Feb. 12, support SATA (Serial ATA) or SAS drives directly in the controller, giving midrange clients more options, Andrews said.
"For the N3300 and N3600, the inclusion of SATA and SAS drive support should help broaden the number of potential buyers," Clay Ryder, principal analyst with The Sageza Group, told eWEEK.
"SATA drives make a substantial change in the economics of storage capacity while offering decent performance. At the high end, 1,008TB of capacity is huge, and more than you or I will need anytime soon; however, for Web 2.0 services, and organizations with large amounts of multimedia data, they will easily find a way to gobble up the capacity," Ryder said.
The N3300 has increased scalability to 68TB and the N3600 to 104TB, Andrews said, and in addition, SnapManager for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server is now available on all N series systems.
The N3300 DC will be generally available Feb. 29 at a starting price of $9,495.
IBM also introduced a new version of its data center management software, IBM System Storage SAN768B, which is designed for high-performance computing and future FCOE (Fibre Channel over Ethernet) technologies, Andrews said. It is the first director-class product to support 8G-bits-per-second data transfer rates over Fibre Channel links, which is a 100 percent improvement in data transfer speed over the previous generation, Andrews said.
The SAN768B is the first product to support interoperability between b-type (Brocade) and m-type (McData) directors in an 8G- and 10G-bps global enterprise FC SAN infrastructure, Andrews said. It will be generally available on Feb. 22, at an entry price of $390,000.
IBM upgraded its archiving systems with the DR550 v4.5. Using System Storage Archive Manager for policy-based information retention, the DR550 enables the automated movement of archived data between storage tiers without compromising security, Andrews said. The DR550 v4.5 comes in two models, DR1 and DR2. The DR1 is a 25U (43.75-inch) tall rack, preintegrated and aimed at midmarket clients. The DR2, built for large enterprises, is packaged in a bigger 36U (63-inch) tall rack and comes in single or dual-node options.
The DR1 will be available Feb. 29 at a starting price of $26,000. The DR2 will be available the same date, starting at $73,000.
Finally, IBM introduced a new version of the LTO (Linear Tape-Open) tape drive for the IBM System Storage TS3100 and TS3200 Tape Library Express models.
The drives are designed for backing up, saving, restoring and archiving data and providing higher levels of security against physical cartridge loss and theft, Andrews said.
Both the TS3100 and the TS3200 tape libraries will be available March 14 at a starting price of $8,300.
"Some of these announcements show IBM keeping pace with its storage OEM partners who are providing leading technologies for sectors of IBM's storage portfolio," John Webster, principal analyst with Illuminata, told eWEEK. "IBM is also taking a leadership position in delivering LTO ... technology further down-market."

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...