IBM touts EMC battle plan, unveils storage hardware

IBM Corp. Wednesday unveiled its first write-once, read-many (WORM) tape cartridge, which it said will help users address regulatory compliance issues, and announced a new nearline disk array aimed at the entry-level storage market.

IBM said the new disk array, the FAStT100 Storage Server, scales from 256GB to 56TB and offers many of the same functions as its midrange FAStT600 array. But it uses lower-cost serial advanced technology attached drives.

The new products, unveiled here in Boston during a media event, are part of a strategy aimed at on-demand computing and an information life cycle management strategy, according to Rich Lechner, vice president of IBM's storage division.

In a statement, IBM said the products are part of a preview of its "offense plan against EMC," which includes many tiers of storage and management capabilities.

IBM representatives did not mention EMC Corp., although they did repeatedly refer to competitors who sold only storage products while claiming that IBM has end-to-end data management tools. IBM "doesn't address just storage. It addresses servers, storage, networks and services," Lechner said.

Lechner touted IBM's TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller software, which it has said can make disk arrays from EMC and Hitachi Data Systems Corp. act like a single pool of storage capacity from which applications users can draw. EMC fired back by saying IBM is offering customers "vendor lock-in," while EMC's strategy is to partner with industry leaders to offer a lower total cost of ownership to its customers.

"We have not only opened up our [application programming interfaces] to our partners, we also support SMI-S (industry interoperability standards) throughout all Clariion products," said Ken Steinhardt, EMC's director of technology analysis.

Lechner said the Fast100 works with IBM's eServer, pSeries and eServer xSeries servers and Intel-based Unix servers. The system will begin shipping by July, although pricing was not immediately available.

IBM also touted its write-once read-many tape cartridge for its TotalStorage Enterprise Tape Drive 3592, which can be used in existing IBM 3494 and 3584 tape libraries as well as in Storage Technology Corp. silo tape libraries. Each cartridge retails for about $220. The cartridge will be available May 21.

"We had been on the path of making optical (disk) products," said Bruce Masters, senior program manager for tape storage systems at IBM. "It was a niche market. WORM tape is a replacement for optical with better search and retrieve speeds."

Master said the tape cartridge has several layers of security, including an RFID chip that can be used to track when and who has used the tape, and low-level encoding that identifies the media as WORM-only technology to the tape drive and comes in a tamper-proof container.

The cartridge comes in 300GB and 60GB capacities and has four times the access speed as IBM's previous 3590 enterprise-class tape cartridge technology.

"The 60GB cartridge has a time to data access speed of 11 seconds," Master said. "The 300GB cartridge has an access time of 39 seconds."

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