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IBM stacks storage building blocks

IBM announces a new system of storage devices and software designed for intensive applications such as data warehousing and data mining.

IBM (IBM) today announced a new system of storage devices and software for applications such as data warehousing and data mining.

The Seascape storage enterprise architecture employs snap-together "building blocks" that allow for incremental upgrades of storage systems and for the interchange of components between systems built using the architecture. For additional flexibility, the storage system is designed around portable software rather than hardware-based management systems, making upgrades easier and cheaper.

IBM is positioning Seascape systems as a more cost-effective, flexible alternative to what it calls the "forklift storage upgrade" approach, where whole systems must be replaced each time an upgrade is required. Under this new system, IBM said, it is possible to upgrade the drive systems of an existing storage server simply by snapping in new drive units, keeping the supporting hardware already in place.

According to company, the Seascape architecture provides maximum scalability while allowing companies to grow and maintain storage without bringing their systems down.

Along with this latest announcement, IBM announced three new products that integrate into the Seascape architecture. The products are targeted towards the small- and medium-sized businesses likely to find Seascape's easy expandability appealing.

IBM's Network Storage Manager 2.0, provides full storage management with backup, disaster recovery, and archive functions for storage operations holding from 1 to 7 terabytes of data. Release 1.0, which targeted larger operations, handled up to 40 terabytes of data.

The AdStar Distributed Storage Manager 3.0, or ADSM, improves performance of data backup and restoration by grouping small files together. It also improves fault tolerance and provides larger buffers for higher performance. The system has a new Web-based administrative interface for easier remote management.

IBM's new MagStar MP 3575 Tape Library Data Servers can retrieve a tape from its storage slot, load it into a drive, search, and be ready to transfer a data file in under 19 seconds. Faster data retrieval is becoming important for automated tape storage systems as they are used in network storage management, data warehousing, and digital libraries. The five new models range in capacity from 300GB to 4.8 terabytes. They can be used in isolation or as a "snap in" component of a Seascape storage system.

Big Blue also unveiled plans to let Unix-based systems access the S/390's and RAMAC Array based storage control functions, which were previously only available to mainframe customers.