IBM launches storage offensive

13 Oct 2004

FRANKFURT: IBM has unveiled two new storage systems that its says will help propel it back to the No 1 position in the global data storage market at the expense of archrival EMC.

In an event billed as its most significant announcement in the storage arena for half a century, IBM took the wraps off the DS8000, a 192TB capacity monster aimed at data-hungry industries such as telecoms and financial services, and its smaller brother, the DS6000, which tops out at 67.2TB capacity and that IBM claims brings the benefits of mainframe computing down to medium-sized enterprises.

Speaking at the launch, at IBM’s storage hardware testing and development centre in Mainz, Germany, Tom Hawk, general manager of Enterprise Storage at IBM Systems Group, said the products would “change the economics” of data storage. For example, the DS6000 has been engineered to be highly compact such that a single storage unit was not much larger in profile than a VCR but at 4.7TB could deliver the storage capacity of a physically much larger machine. In fact, IBM made much of the fact that the DS6000 is one twentieth the size of an EMC DMX800 machine with comparable configurations but only half the price. Hawk said that DS6000 showed that powerful storage boxes did not need to be placed in dedicated cabinets or data rooms but could be sited anywhere in the office.

He also highlighted the compatibility of the two systems, which share 97pc of the same software code and have common management interfaces, making it easier for customers to integrate the two systems into a single infrastructure.

The new machines will be available from December 2004 with prices starting at US$97,000 for the DS6000 and approximately US$200k for the DS8000.

Hawk declined to put a time frame on IBM’s aspiration to be world leader in the data storage market but said it was a “serious plan” that had the active backing of IBM CEO Sam Palmisano. “It was not that many years ago that IBM was the No 1 supplier of storage systems and storage technology. We lost our way for a few years but we believe we can be get back to the No 1 position.”

Hawk added that storage hardware was IBM’s fastest-growing business and was an area of ever greater strategic importance for IBM’s customers. “It’s not that servers aren’t important but data, management and information is a core life-blood asset of most organisations and, therefore, the ability to use technology to help customers solve their problems becomes very compelling.”

By Brian Skelly