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IBM expands into new storage area

The company follows storage specialists and its major competitors into a comparatively new area: standalone storage systems that attach to ordinary computer networks.

IBM has followed storage specialists and its major competitors into a comparatively new area: standalone storage systems that attach to ordinary computer networks.

The market for network-attached storage (NAS) has blossomed in recent years, with Network Appliance leading the way. But the current spending slowdown has hurt all companies in the market.

After NetApp's success, storage specialists such as Quantum and EMC entered the market and server makers such as Hewlett-Packard and Dell Computer also tried to get into the act. IBM until this point had been focused chiefly on the high-end market for storage systems, which typically are attached to servers either directly or using an expensive network standard called Fibre Channel.

IBM announced four new NAS products Tuesday. The lower-end TotalStorage NAS 200 tower model has a single CPU, the ability to store as much as 216GB of data and a price tag starting at $14,000. The NAS 200 rack-mountable model has two CPUs, 1.74-terabyte capacity and a price tag starting at $36,000. The high-end NAS 300, costing $115,000 and up with capacity as high as 3.24TB, has "clustering" technology that lets one machine take over from a crashed comrade.

In a different category, IBM announced an upgrade to its existing 300G "gateway" product bridges between standard computer networks and special-purpose storage area networks (SANs), enabling SAN storage devices to function like NAS devices. IBM already had sold the gateway, but the $2,500 upgrade lets users tie two gateways together in a cluster, IBM said.

IBM is among the more aggressive companies in advocating a shift that will move high-end storage networks from Fibre Channel to the less expensive Internet Protocol (IP).

The TotalStorage 200 products will be available June 29, and the 300 and 300G upgrade come out July 13, said spokesman Glenn Hintze.