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IBM to Build on Bycast

Amid a slew of tape-related announcements today, IBM revealed an expanded OEM agreement with Bycast, a maker of hardware-independent software for content-addressable storage (CAS).

Since 2005, IBM has offered Bycast's StorageGRID software in its Grid Medical Archive solution. The joint product, which includes IBM storage arrays and xSeries servers, is sold mainly to hospitals and other healthcare providers. IBM sells the package as an archive for data from Picture Archive and Communication System (PACS) applications and other medical records. The Iowa Health System and Georgia/South Carolina's University Health Care System Augusta is among IBM's StorageGRID customers.

Big Blue intends to expand on its Bycast deal by offering a product called IBM System Storage Multilevel Grid Access Manager (GAM). Based on the Bycast StorageGRID, the software, due for availability June 7 at a starting price of $6,000, will be the basis for customized solutions for a range of vertical markets.

The news is interesting on several fronts. Bycast is one of the world's only software-based CAS systems, which makes it portable across heterogeneous arrays, as opposed to tied to a vendor's hardware, as is EMC's Centerra. Startup Caringo is another. (See Caringo.) And up to now, Canada-based Bycast has made no moves to expand its focus beyond the healthcare vertical.

IBM's news changes things, but it won't take effect right away. IBM is in effect sending up a trial balloon, offering GAM as the basis for larger-scale custom projects, starting with medical solutions that aren't just resold versions of the joint package.

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