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IBM upgrades storage product

Hoping to tap into the market for disaster recovery spending, Big Blue on Friday will offer an enhanced Shark storage system allowing for better long-range data mirroring.

Aiming to tap into a healthy market for disaster-recovery systems, IBM on Friday will offer improvements to data backup features in a high-end storage setup.

Big Blue is upgrading both a data-copying tool and a technology for remotely mirroring information. The enhancements are for IBM's TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server Model 800--also known as the Shark system.

More and more, companies are interested in disaster-recovery systems for reasons such as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and regulatory requirements for safeguarding data, said David Sacks, a senior storage consultant at IBM. "Those are two drivers," Sacks said. "A third driver is that IBM has been able to reduce the cost of storage significantly over time."

Sacks estimated that the price of a Shark system comparable to the Model 800 has been dropping by 30 percent to 40 percent per year. Sharks, which are built for large corporations, have an entry-level price of roughly $250,000, according to IBM.

Disaster recovery is seen as a promising field in a dreary tech-spending climate. Last year, market research firm IDC said the business continuity market--including software and hardware such as high-availability computers and storage area networks--would expand from $29.9 billion in 2001 to $54.9 billion in 2006, representing annual growth of 12.9 percent.

Some of the Shark improvements to be offered beginning Friday center on what IBM calls its "FlashCopy" tool, which takes a snapshot of data in the storage system. IBM is offering an "incremental" copy feature that will transfer to a second set of disks only the information that has changed from an earlier copy.

Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM also is releasing an upgrade to its Peer-to-Peer Remote Copy technology, which allows Shark systems to zap data to another location. The upgrade solves a problem that's related to creating a backup data set located far away, Sacks said. Backing up a completely current set of data can be done with confidence only within a relatively short distance from the original source, given limitations such as computer input/output constraints, Sacks said. But with IBM's so-called "cascading" PPRC enhancement, a New York City-based client could set up a first backup center in New Jersey, and then have a machine in New Jersey relay a complete data set to Chicago.

IBM's disaster-recovery storage products compete with those from EMC and Hitachi Data Systems.