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February 17, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

By Siobhan Kennedy

IBM Corp revealed its Storage Area Network (SAN) vision yesterday, detailing a four-phase corporate strategy and introducing the first of a range of products to be rolled out over the next twelve months. Under the initiative, IBM says it will develop and combine all the key elements – networking and storage products, management software, services and training – that a company needs to set up and run an end-to-end SAN. Where necessary, it will OEM equipment from third party vendors and partners and integrate their solutions via its services organization. Scott Drummond, IBM’s senior marketing manager for SANs said the company waited until now to enter the market because it wanted to get all its ducks in line before talking to the industry. Over the last six months, there’s been a lot of talk about SANs, he said, with companies issuing press release after press release but he said that IBM wanted to wait until it could actually deliver products, not just concepts. He added that Big Blue’s view isn’t to think of SANs as a technology, but as a business solution: it’s a different way of thinking about how to manage your corporate data. At the moment, companies hold vast quantities of heterogeneous data and they have serious problems managing it all. But we think SANs are a way of dealing with that, said Drummond. He said that one of the main drawbacks of the SAN solutions available to date are that they don’t adhere to any industry defined standards so people are building their SANs based on proprietary technology. IBM is clearly pointing to initiatives from EMC Corp, Legato Systems and Sun Microsystems when it says that in an attempt to overcome this problem it is working with other leading SAN players (including Veritas and Microsoft) within the auspices of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) to develop a set of common standards. SNIA is the body eschewed by EMC and its FibreAlliance in favor of the IETF. The first products incorporating those standards should be rolled out by the middle of the year, IBM says. Although yesterday’s announcement came out of its storage systems division, Drummond added that each of IBM’s units would contribute products and services to the strategy throughout this year and next.


IBM has developed its SAN strategy based around four initiatives and products and services will be developed and rolled out within the four categories over time. Under the first phase – Connectivity – IBM will deliver solutions that deal with the physical infrastructure of the SAN. To that end, customers will select from fibre, SSA (serial storage architecture) and IBM’s own ESCON/FICON fiber optic-based technology. Management of the SAN, the second phase, will deliver software to manage the devices on the network, plus software to monitor the status of the infrastructure itself. Under the third phase – Exploitation – the company will introduce new products, late this year and early 2000, aimed at giving businesses better return on their investments. To that end, Drummond said IBM was currently developing products to enable servers to share storage resources, such as disks and tape libraries. It’s also working on high availability clustering technology as well as developing software to provide a global file share system. The fourth initiative – Services – will see the company’s services organization provide installation, integration, training and on going support and maintenance to customers. As part of today’s announcement, IBM introduced the first of its new connectivity products. The Storage Area Network Data Gateway enables organizations to attach their existing SCSI devices to the SAN; the Fibre Channel Storage Hub lets devices, up to 10Km away, connect to the network and a new Fibre Channel RAID Storage Server. It also rolled out three software management solutions. The first, StorWatch Fibre Channel RAID, monitors raid servers. StorWatch SAN Data Gateway Specialist is designed to simplify the management of SAN data gateways by providing a graphical user interface to centrally configure, manage and service multiple gateways from one console. And the Storage Manager tool is resides on the host system providing automatic I/O path failover when a host adapter, storage hub or storage server controller fails.

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