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IBM Plays With Self (Virtually)

IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) is almost ready to ship storage virtualization devices it claims will vault it ahead of competitors in terms of price and performance -- but, at least initially, the products work only with Big Blue's own storage systems (see IBM Sets Virtualization Ship Date).

IBM's TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller and SAN Integration Server, both slated to be available to customers on July 25, are designed to improve storage utilization, provide centralized volume management, and provide network-based storage services like copy services and security (see IBM Virtually in the Game).

Primarily, IBM is eager to get a storage virtualization product out the door so it can counter Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), which has demonstrated some success with its Continuous Access Storage Appliance (CASA). (See HP, IBM Make Virtual Motions and HP Opens Doors to CASA.)

"The only competitor IBM customers would consider is HP," says Jeff Barnett, manager of market strategy for IBM Storage Software. "Many IBM customers certainly look at technology like this, but if they're betting their data on it they're not going to go with some startup's technology... Customers have been beating us up for these types of solutions."

Besides HP, though, Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) is offering the N1 Data Platform (the virtualization switch from the Pirus Networks acquisition); and SAN switch vendors Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA) are also developing fabric-based storage virtualization technologies. The aforementioned startups working on products in this space include Candera Inc. and Troika Networks (see V-Switch Alliances Take Shape, Sun Thickens Up in the Middle, Candera in the Wind, Can Troika Triumph on Take Two?, and Brocade Loads Code, Signs EMC).

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