IBM to Update Storage Hardware

IBM's storage systems group plans to announce new versions of its high-end enterprise and low-end NAS hardware this month, according to sources.

IBMs storage systems group plans to announce new versions of its high-end enterprise and low-end NAS hardware this month, according to sources.

IBM, having recently exited the hard disk and RAID controller businesses and aborted its iSCSI attempts, is rolling out two upgrades to its high-end Enterprise Storage Server F series, while the new NAS 100 will offer high-end features at low-end prices, said sources familiar with the Armonk, N.Y., companys plans.

The newest versions of IBMs Enterprise Storage Server, also called Shark, are code-named ESS 800 and ESS 800 Turbo and will be announced July 15, sources said. Theyll feature two 32G-bit caches, 2GB of Fibre Channel support and RAID 10 options. The standard 800 will have dual four-way chips, and the Turbo model will have dual six-way chips, the sources said. Neither will scale beyond the F20s 28-terabyte capacity, but both will have physical capacity pricing, replacing usable capacity pricing, and will use new versions of IBMs pSeries Unix server.

IBM officials declined to comment on unannounced plans.

Eddy Mills, vice president of technical services for Alfa Corp.s insurance division, is considering the new Sharks. Alfa planned to upgrade to IBMs F-series products and ordered EMC Corp.s Clariion system as well. But the companys five-year plan is to upgrade to another 1.5 terabytes to 7 terabytes for an imaging application. Alfa has not decided on a vendor. "Today ... were running a 1.2-terabyte configuration with 6G bits of cache" in IBMs older E series, said Mills, in Montgomery, Ala. "Id heard rumors that [Shark upgrades were] in the works."

The ESS 800 and 800 Turbo servers rival EMCs Symmetrix 5.5. "This is nothing new ... for a product thats on life support," EMC spokesman Michael OMalley, in Hopkinton, Mass., said about IBMs products. EMCs hardware is set for an upgrade, to Version 5.6, this fall and a new architecture late this year or early next year, with Version 6.0.

In addition, IBM this week will announce the NAS 100 as a scaled-down version of its NAS 200 and NAS 300 products, sources said. With only 480GB, the NAS 100 will vie with Quantum Corp.s Snap Server 4100 and Dell Computer Corp.s PowerVault 715N products, sources said. Unlike the Quantum and Dell gear, the NAS 100 has dual network interfaces for high availability, plus low-level hard- ware management software—features typically found in midrange and high-end devices.

The NAS 100 gives users high-end features at low-end prices and from an established vendor, said Randy Kerns, an analyst with Evaluator Group Inc., in Greenwood, Colo.

Also on the NAS (network-attached storage) front, Microsoft Corp., of Redmond, Wash., will upgrade its platform, Server Appliance Kit 2.0, from its Windows 2000 core to Windows .Net Server. Version 3.0 will include the Distributed File System protocol, which will add clustering and virtualization. Improved scalability and reliability are planned.