IBM, StorageTek go separate ways

IBM, StorageTek go separate ways

Longtime collaborators are developing rival virtual storage products

By Patricia Daukantas

GCN Staff

IBM Corp. and Storage Technology Corp., which have collaborated for years on virtual storage products, have begun competing directly for Unix and Linux users who are moving into high-end distributed computing and data warehouses.

A virtual storage architecture separates the logical view of storage from the physical location of the media.

Since 1996, StorageTek of Louisville, Colo., has supplied its virtual-disk technology to IBM through an original equipment manufacturer agreement, said Chauncey Schwartz, strategic planning director for StorageTek's enterprise disk group. IBM has sold the resulting product as the RAMAC Virtual Array.

Last month, IBM rolled out its Enterprise Storage Server, a large-scale disk storage system code-named Shark. It will not support virtual-disk technology until the end of next year. At the same time, StorageTek announced a step-up program for its Shared Virtual Array system, which the company has been delivering since early June.

Action, reaction

The head-to-head announcements were part of a flurry of product rollouts related to storage area networks and high-availability storage for electronic commerce and data warehousing.

IBM will add the RAMAC Virtual Array disk architecture, now sold with its System/390 servers, to the Enterprise Storage Server by the end of next year, said Ron Kilpatrick, general manager of IBM's storage systems division. IBM is lab-testing Enterprise Storage Servers with the virtual-disk technology, said Chris Saul, an enterprise disk systems consultant for IBM. By late next year, Shark users will be able to add virtual-disk capacity to their servers or migrate their data from the RAMAC Virtual Array, partitioning it for both virtual and nonvirtual storage, Saul said.

Last month, IBM also released a new version of the RAMAC Virtual Array, Saul said. The Turbo Model X83 doubles capacity from 840G to 1.7T. Although the RAMAC is compatible with OS/390 servers, it can store data from systems running Unix and Microsoft Windows NT via the IBM Cross Platform Extension connector, Saul said.

Schwartz said the two companies' RAMAC offerings have a 27 percent share of the market, which is dominated by EMC Corp. of Hopkinton, Mass. StorageTek wants to re-enter the market under its own brand to attract new users from growing open systems markets, he said.

This spring, StorageTek announced the 9393 Model 4 Shared Virtual Array, an 830G storage system with the same platform as the RAMAC Virtual Array. Starting this fall, the Shared Virtual Array will be able to connect to Unix platforms, Schwartz said.

Under the step-up program, he said, StorageTek will honor warranties and service agreements and give expansions to owners of both brands of virtual-array disk systems.

StorageTek last month announced the 9393 Model 6, an upgraded Shared Virtual Array with a capacity of 1.7T. The disk array works with StorageTek's SnapShot data duplication software, which makes point-in-time copies of data sets without using up physical storage. The Model 6 starts at $250,000.

IBM's Kilpatrick said the Shark storage server is designed specifically for storage area networks. 'We chose the name Shark because it shows an aggressiveness you haven't seen for a while from IBM,' he said.

Shark is built around IBM's Seascape software architecture. Other IBM products using the Seascape architecture include the Magstar 3494 Virtual Tape Server.

Shark is scalable and connects with up to 32 systems running Unix, Windows NT, IBM AS/400 or OS/390. It can use Ultra SCSI, Fibre Channel, Escon, Ficon or Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop interfaces. The disk system's hardware has two four-way symmetric multiprocessing RISC CPUs, 6G of cache and 10,000-revolution-per-minute drives.

Contact IBM at 800-426-2255 and StorageTek at 800-786-7835.

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