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IBM Virtually in the Game

IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) today outlined new details of its storage virtualization roadmap and said that its SAN File System -- formerly known as StorageTank -- won't be available until December (see IBM Rolls Out Virtualization Line).

But even though it has taken longer than its competitors to get its storage virtualization story ready, IBM doesn't think it's behind the curve.

"In terms of whether we are early or late to the party, I would say we're coming to market in a complete way," says Clod Barerra, director of technical strategy for storage in IBM's Systems Group. "I don't think we're in any way late -- you can't point to someone who has run the table in this area."

IBM's virtualization lineup includes:

  • TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller: A system that comprises two PC-based Linux appliances, slated to ship in July, that will provide a consolidated view of multiple IBM Shark and FastT storage arrays initially and support third-party storage later in 2003. IBM says an "entry-level configuration" of the SAN Volume Controller, which was code-named LodeStone, will cost less than $75,000.
  • TotalStorage SAN Integration Server: A turnkey, rack-mounted version of SAN Volume Controller that includes two or four SAN Volume Controller servers; a FAStT600 array with up to 83 Tbytes of storage; and Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) Fibre Channel switches. The SAN Integration Server option will be available in August 2003; pricing details weren't disclosed.
  • TotalStorage SAN File System: This software, formerly known as StorageTank, will be delivered as a set of PC-based appliances running Linux and will provide centralized file management in a heterogeneous network. IBM expects to ship this in December 2003 -- giving it just enough wiggle room to meet its promise that it would be delivered sometime this year. The company hasn't disclosed any pricing for the SAN File System yet (see IBM Gasses Up Storage Tank, IBM Software Slides to 2003, and IBM Leaks Storage Tank Details).

It's true that storage virtualization remains an emerging category. However, Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) have made headway so far -- HP, in particular, claims it has sold 500 of its Continuous Access Storage Appliance (CASA) systems to date. And smaller vendors like DataCore Software Corp., FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC), and StoreAge Networking Technologies Ltd. have also had some success (see HP, IBM Make Virtual Motions and Sun Thickens Up in the Middle).

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