IBM unveils new storage products, talks virtualization

IBM announced two new storage products Wednesday during a strategy briefing in which the company touted its work on storage management and virtualization products as the catalyst for future technology advances.

The entry-level FastT100 storage server is based on SATA (serial advanced technology attachment) technology and is designed for the near-line storage needs of small and medium-size businesses, said Rich Lechner, vice president of storage systems for IBM, during a briefing Wednesday for reporters at IBM's offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

IBM refers to near-line storage as data that must be available at a moment's notice to users, as opposed to data that is backed up and needs to be restored from a tape drive or disk drive.

Pricing for the FastT100 will be announced on May 25, an IBM spokesman said. The company is trying to determine how competitive the product will be against similar products from rival storage firm EMC's CX product line, but it will probably cost around US$5,000, the spokesman said. It will be available worldwide in early July.

IBM also announced that the Model 3592 tape drive will now feature WORM (write once read many) technology. WORM technology is useful for companies that need to store large amounts of data that does not need to be accessed very often, Lechner said.

A 20-pack of 300G-byte WORM tape cartridges for the Model 3592 tape drive will cost US$4,460, or US$223 per cartridge, the IBM spokesman said. The WORM tape cartridges will be available May 21 worldwide.

The company also unveiled a 60G-byte tape cartridge in both WORM and non-WORM versions. Pricing for those cartridges was not immediately available.

IBM spent the day briefing reporters on the current state of the technology market, pointing out that while advancements in raw storage technology continue, more emphasis needs to be placed on developing tools that help companies manage and simplify their SANs (storage area networks) as the amount of stored data skyrockets.

Tools such as SAN File System and SAN Volume Controller allow companies to virtualize their storage resources, allowing applications to break away from dedicated storage devices and employ a variety of different storage devices across a company's network.

These virtualization products allowed BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee to share files across massive networks while reducing the number of storage administrators required to manage that network, said Bob Venable, enterprise system manager at the health insurance company.

IBM will work to improve these virtualization products while still pushing the envelope of storage capacity and performance, Lechner said.

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