IBM Readies Entry-Level NAS

IBM is reshaping its NAS delivery with a new set of simplified network-attached storage products and tools targeting small and midsize business customers.

IBM is reshaping its NAS delivery with a new set of simplified network-attached storage products and tools targeting small and midsize business customers.

This week, IBM will unveil the TotalStorage N3700, an entry-level NAS offering. Due at the end of August, the N3700 is the debut product resulting from IBMs integration and OEM alliance with Network Appliance Inc., of Sunnyvale, Calif., said IBM officials in Armonk, N.Y. Roughly equivalent to NetApps FAS (fabric-attached storage) 270 product, the N3700, with pricing starting at $50,000, scales up to 16TB and supports iSCSI filer protocols and mirroring capabilities.

The N3700 serves as a precursor to a variety of other SAN (storage area network) midrange and business continuity offerings, based on NetApp technology, that IBM will release next quarter. For example, IBM will release its version of NetApps NearStore R200 storage system, providing backup and recovery and online archival and remote disaster recovery features. Still unnamed, the new line of IBM and NetApp redesigned storage products will have the prefix "N," followed by a four-digit number, said IBM officials.

In conjunction with the release of the N3700, IBM will release 21 of 30 storage support software tools now provided by NetApp. The remaining nine software tools will be available next quarter to better coincide with the IBM and NetApp midrange and high-end hardware releases.

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Andrew Monshaw, general manager of the Storage Systems & Technology Group at IBM, said IBMs past tries at NAS offerings did not resonate with users. "We had a couple of less-than-successful attempts," said Monshaw. "There was no other choice" beyond partnering with NetApp.

IBM will announce this week its TotalStorage DR550 Express. The compliance-focused unit has a single-storage archive and provides long-term data retention by allowing nonerasable and nonrewritable policy-based storage management for different storage tiers. Sold primarily through IBM business partners, the product is now available, and pricing starts at $45,000.

Also available now, IBMs TotalStorage SAN Starter Kit offers users a simplified package for building a first-time SAN. Costing $16,376, the tool kit is designed for xSeries environments and includes an IBM TotalStorage Storage Switch L10 and dual-controller IBM TotalStorage DS400 Express disk storage for an entry-level Fibre Channel conduit for workgroup storage applications.

Small and midsize businesses, or SMBs, seek simplified iSCSI and IP-based storage offerings that can easily fit and be replaced within IT architectures, analysts said.

Lyle Gleason, systems architect for the city of Richmond, Va., said the growing ranks of SMB users should be drawing greater attention from large storage vendors. "Even if were an SMB operation, we still have the same [type of storage] issues," said Gleason. "I believe the vendors will have to address that, and I think IBM is doing that. Gleason has a Fibre Channel SAN environment running an IBM Enterprise Storage Server 880, a Cisco Systems Inc. MDS 9509 switch, an IBM 3584 robotic tape library with LTO (Linear Tape-Open) drives as secondary backup, an IBM DS4300, and EMC Corp. Clariion CX300 and CX400 models.

The city of Richmond turned to IBMs SVC (SAN Volume Controller) virtualization technology to achieve greater control over storage management on its Intel Corp. platform.

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