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IBM bundles storage software products

Big Blue introduces software designed to ease the management of complicated data storage systems, the latest entry into the hotly contested market.

IBM on Tuesday introduced a package of software designed to ease the management of complicated data storage systems, the latest entry into the hotly contested storage software market.

Big Blue's latest offering combines two previous software products with a new one focused on handling multiple storage hardware devices. The entire set, dubbed the IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center, aims to provide a central point of control for storage administrators to manage hardware, maintain storage networks and analyze performance measurements.

Productivity Center "not only centralizes but also automates storage infrastructure management, reducing the need for human intervention," Brian Truskowski, IBM's general manager of storage software, said in a statement. "This can result in fewer errors in the storage management process and can break the cycle of storage hardware build-out by helping companies to find and use untapped potential in their existing storage infrastructures."


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The new package is part of IBM's "on demand" vision to make computing a utilitylike service--a goal several companies, including Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard, are pursuing. Last year, IBM introduced software designed to "virtualize" storage, or pool together hardware for improved management and utilization.

Software has become more central to the storage industry, as companies seek to squeeze more out of their hardware and cut personnel costs. Competitors to IBM include Veritas Software and EMC, which recently bought software companies Legato Systems and Documentum. When it comes to software for managing storage infrastructure, EMC and IBM have comparable offerings, said Mike Fisch, analyst at The Clipper Group. "They're both in the same ballpark," Fisch said.

EMC's ControlCenter software includes the capability to provision storage, according to the company. Storage provisioning refers to bringing additional disk capacity online when needed.

EMC spokesman Dave Farmer said IBM is cobbling together technologies with its new offering. "IBM is using its rebranding to present the illusion of integration of its storage software," Farmer said. "This announcement basically covers over IBM's long-standing inability to use Tivoli to centrally manage IBM storage products."

In addition to the new multiple-device manager software, IBM's Productivity Center includes Tivoli Storage Resource Manager and Tivoli Storage Area Network Manager. Storage Resource Manager monitors and reports servers' use of storage gear, while Storage Area Network Manager focuses on aspects of storage networks such as switches.

Productivity Center is part of what Big Blue is calling its TotalStorage Open Software Family. This new group combines Tivoli storage software products with virtualization software that has come from IBM's systems division. IBM earlier this year indicated that it would sell storage software from the two divisions through one sales organization.

Fisch suggested that customers could be overwhelmed by the number of IBM products related to storage provisioning. "There are so many pieces," he said. "That can be hard to understand."