IBM Fills Out Storage Strategy

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IBM announced a slew of new storage products and initiatives this week in a strong indication that the company expects the data center of the future to include a heady mix of disk, tape and virtual platforms and services.


Leading the pack is a series of upgrades to the System Storage DS8000 Turbo controller, including a new Web-based management console, new snapshot capabilities and online volume expansion to help maintain availability. On the System Storage N series, the new Virtual File Manager Enterprise and Migration editions allow enterprise-wide management of unstructured data and file-level virtualization across UNIX, Linux and Windows platforms. Meanwhile, the TS7520 virtual tape machine is now available with 750 GB SATA drives, for a total capacity of 1.3 PB.


It was only last week that IBM released a new version of the x/VSE (Virtual Storage Extended) operating system, which boosts the number of tasks the current z OS can accomplish and increases storage support from 8 GB to 32 GB for heavier workload activity.


These upgrades coincide with the acquisition of NovusCG, a Virginia firm that specializes in storage analysis, reporting software and other tools supporting asset-based delivery models. Coupled with the earlier acquisition of Softek, IBM is clearly looking to its storage services wing to deliver a more standardized, and thus predictable, portfolio.


Not everyone is impressed by these changes, however. Mary Jander, writing on Byte and Switch, notes that the virtual file manager on the N series is merely the OEM'd version of NetApp's VFM. And despite IBM's commitment to devise a common interface across its platforms, the company still supports the TotalStorage Productivity Manager and the Tivoli Storage Manager as distinct products.


To be fair, though, any company with as disparate a product line as IBM would have trouble creating a common GUI across the board, especially when most of those systems are brought in through acquisition. And what works for everyday storage management might not be best for specialized operations like backup and recovery.


There's no question that IBM has a lot of balls in the air. The question is how the company plans to juggle them into a cohesive whole.