IBM rolling out server storage strategy

IBM will broaden its network computing strategy by introducing technology for managing the gobs of data that many companies now make available online.

NEW YORK--IBM will unveil a new twist to its network computing strategy today by introducing technology for managing the gobs of data that many companies now make available online.

At PC Expo here, Big Blue will roll out an CNET's PC Expo coverage overarching plan for providing Storage Area Networks, or SANs, far-ranging storage architectures that are coming into vogue among corporate clients.

Referring to a "centrally managed, secure information infrastructure" that allows access to all kinds of data regardless of the proprietary operating systems or technologies already in place at a company, IBM will provide broad interconnection schemes linking up disparate server computers and storage systems. Typically, a SAN will have several storage devices, each available from several servers, compared to the earlier approach of assigning each server a storage system of its own.

IBM is touting the broad initiative as the "next big wave in network computing" and part of its aggressive thrust into e-commerce. The initiative will include servers, storage systems, and services.

"SANs are the digital bank for [e-commerce] information. This makes SANs one of the most important IT advancements since the emergence of network computing," said Dr. James T. Vanderslice, senior vice president at the IBM Technology Group, in a statement.

Putting a SAN together involves a relatively complex, arcane amalgamation of hardware, software, and services--in other words, it requires the "big iron" capabilities for which IBM is known.

But the need for SANs may be more widespread. IBM is estimating that by the year 2002, 70 percent of all medium- and large-sized customers will implement SANs as they turn more and more toward e-commerce. Other companies, including storage maker EMC, are eyeing the market as well.

At a center in Gaithersburg, Maryland, IBM also plans to establish a storage solution interoperability labs for customers, its vast constellation of business partners, and computer companies. In February, Vanderslice indicated IBM would move deeper into storage and SANs. Today's announcments are essentially part of the realization of that strategy.

The highlights of IBM's SAN announcement, which will occur later today, include:

  • Services: Services for design and implementation of storage infrastructures at companies.

  • Server computers: A demonstration of IBM Netfinity eight-processor servers. These servers use 550-MHz Intel Pentium III processors and advanced "hot plug" technologies for adding or removing components while the server is still running. The Netfinity 8500R is targeted for use in datacenters.

  • Software: Starting next year, Tivoli, an IBM subsidiary, will provide "LAN-free" data backup and data sharing. This frees up data bandwidth on a network and effectively doubles existing LAN capacity by more than 100 percent, IBM said. Tivoli already provides SAN management technologies for both IBM and non-IBM platforms. Related software provides a central view of and control over a variety of hardware.

  • "SAN Fabric:" SAN-ready disk and tape storage servers, and SAN "fabric" hardware such as switches, gateways, routers , and hubs will be introduced on an ongoing basis, in addition to the Fibre Channel Switches and the SAN Data Gateway. Later this year, IBM will announce a SAN-ready Storage server based on IBM's Seascape Architecture, an "open" technology which forms the basis of all of IBM's corporate enterprise storage solutions.

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