IBM's mainframe customers will soon be able to connect their systems to IBM's Shark enterprise storage device using a high-speed Fibre Channel connection. IBM says the link transfers data up to six times faster than systems that use the industry standard Enterprise Systems Connection.
At the same time, the company introduced two new versions of its TotalStorage Virtual Tape Server--the first to be powered by IBM's high-speed copper chip technology, providing a 100% speed increase over older models. The new tape server will be available at the end of August, while the Fibre Channel Shark upgrade will ship at the end of September. IBM also introduced a number of other storage related products, including a new disk controller that facilitates Fibre Channel connections to servers made by Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard, as well IBM's own servers.
IBM's emphasis on storage isn't surprising. Research firm Gartner currently values the market at $7.5 billion and expects it to grow to $14.7 billion by 2004. Storage is also one of IBM's fastest growing businesses. In the second quarter, sales of the company's Shark enterprise storage system grew 55 % to about $350 million. Meanwhile, market leader EMC Corp. reported that sales of storage systems fell 19% in the second quarter to $1.22 billion.
Helping to boost IBM's fortunes in the hotly competitive storage market, analysts say, is the fact that IBM has been undercutting EMC on price. Says David Hill, an analyst with the Aberdeen Group, "But eventually you'll probably see EMC respond in kind."