IBM has announced a new shared-storage option for its BladeCenter S product in what I see as a clear bid to target the needs of the SMB market. What it essentially means is that owners of IBM's BladeCenter S blade offering can choose to add an on-board SAN (storage area network) without having to go to the expense and trouble of purchasing and administering an external SAN.
Besides being potentially cost-prohibitive, SANs are still relatively complex beasts that could well entail levels of technical expertise not normally found within an SMB.
The SAN option here will see the BladeCenter S running off SAS (serial-attached SCSI) drives, with a data storage that is scalable up to 12TB. SMB customers should be more than satisfied with this ample data storage capability; also, the high-performance SAS drives are a more than reasonable option, compared to the cost that a full-fledged external SAN would entail. A number of standard RAID configurations are available, including RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10, and the SAN is shared across all the blades within the enclosure.
I could see businesses flocking to harness this technology for use with either their virtualization efforts or to drive database applications, both of which work best with large amounts of shared storage. In fact, smaller businesses could well fit their entire computing facilities into the BladeCenter S and still have ample room for growth.
Indeed, depending on actual business needs, it might well be possible to enable limited business continuity configurations involving technologies such as Microsoft Clustering Services or VMware's VMotion technology. The pricing for the IBM BladeCenter S chassis starts at $2,599, with the SAN configuration available later this month.