IBM To Let Customers Manage Storage Data - InformationWeek

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10/17/2003
03:55 PM
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IBM To Let Customers Manage Storage Data

New system provides central point of control for files in large networks

IBM next month plans to release software that will give IT departments the ability to manage files in large storage networks.

Storage area networks, with their fast speeds and flexible assembly, have become popular among managers of business data centers for dealing with large amounts of data. But SANs composed of hundreds or thousands of servers, each with its own operating system, have been unable to take full advantage of networked disks, making it difficult to move data files among machines and set up rules for managing that data. That could inhibit market growth, says IBM storage director Bruce Hillsberg.

IBM plans on Nov. 14 to release the first version of a product called the TotalStorage SAN File System to address those problems. Built with software called Storage Tank developed in IBM's research labs, TotalStorage provides a central point of control for files in large storage networks and lets administrators organize files into logical pools, simplify data backup, and reduce the number of copies of files companies must manage. Instead of managing the files on each individual server, the IT administrator manages them as a group.

"That's a huge issue for customers," says Jamie Gruener, an analyst at the Yankee Group. "It has almost no impact on the user, but on the guy managing the storage environment."

Deployments of SAN file systems from IBM competitors, including EMC, Sun Microsystems, and smaller companies, are still modest, Gruener says, but they're "starting to solve a recognizable problem."

IBM's TotalStorage SAN File System runs on Windows 2000 and AIX operating systems. Versions for Linux and Solaris are due next year. A starting configuration costs $90,000.

IBM has been testing the software with its customers, including Johns Hopkins University and CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

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