IBM will unveil storage products Wednesday that will let customers move blocks of data over an Ethernet network. Currently, customers can only move blocks of data, vs. files, over direct-attached storage or storage area networks (SANs) based on the fibre channel interconnect.
The IBM TotalStorage Networked Attached Storage 300G and the IBM TotalStorage IP Storage 200i will enable customers to bring their Ethernet network into the SAN fabric. The 300G sits on the network between the Ethernet LAN and the fibre channel-based SAN, converts information as it passes through, and delivers it between servers and storage systems in the format they understand.
The 200i conforms to the new iSCSI standard for moving blocks of data over an Ethernet network. With it, customers can pool storage, tie specific clients and servers to different storage systems on the network, and make it happen using Internet protocols. These products are gradually breaking down the wall that has files moving over the Internet protocols and blocks of data moving across the fibre channel-based SAN. A single engine version of the 300G will be available next month and a dual engine version will be available in April. It will cost between $45,000 and $95,000, based on configuration. The 200i will be available by July 1 and pricing starts at $20,000. Customers concerned with the high costs of fibre channel SANs may want to look at these kinds of products.
Industry analyst Anne Skamarock at Enterprise Management Associates believes customers still shouldn't use existing LANs to move the data, but suggests they build a second network using the same technology and standards. "Now that IBM is the first vendor to put iSCSI on storage, it means customers don't need to install a fibre channel infrastructure to access storage and get reasonable performance," she says. "They can use technologies they have in-house like Gigabit Ethernet to access storage at the block level."