IBM Expands 4-Gbit/s & Backup

Adds 4-Gbit/s enclosure and Exchange application for midrange systems

March 1, 2006

4 Min Read
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IBM will modify its midrange SAN systems over the next few weeks with a 4-Gbit/s expansion enclosure and a disk-based backup application for Microsoft Exchange.

IBM became the first major storage vendor to ship 4-Gbit/s SANs when it launched the DS4800 last June as part of a midrange platform it sells through an OEM deal with LSI Logics Engenio storage division. (See IBM Drives 4-Gbit/s and IBM Ships Engenio-Based 4G FC.) Next week, the vendor will add a 16-bay disk enclosure that adds up to 48 Tbytes to the DS4800. A switch on the enclosure allows customers to select either 2-Gbit/s or 4-Gbit/s speeds.

According to Harold Pike, IBM product manager for midrange storage, the new enclosure is part of IBM’s transition to end-to-end 4-Gbit/s systems. IBM will add 4-Gbit/s dual-controller HBAs from Emulex and QLogic for its pSeries servers in April and begin rolling out 4-Gbit/s hard drives in May or June. By the end of the year, Pike expects to offer 4-Gbit/s support for IBM's higher-end midrange system, the DS6000, and the DS8000 systems.

“We said all along our move to four-gig will be an evolution, not a revolution,” Pike reports. “By June we will have a complete end-to-end four-gig solution. To me, end to end is starting at the server and going out to the disk system, expansion unit, and the hard disk drives.”

Most of its competitors claimed IBM was too early with its 4-Gbit/s system last year because the other components -- switches, HBAs, and disk drives -- weren’t widely available.That resistance is evaporating. Hitachi has been shipping 4-Gbit/s midrange FC systems since last July. (See Hitachi Plans Midrange Rollout.) Hewlett-Packard last week announced 4-Gbit/s and iSCSI connectivity for its midrange EVA systems. (See HP Plans HW/SW Upgrades and Brocade Enables 4-Gbit/s SAN.) EMC, perhaps the loudest 4-Gbit/s critic until now, is expected to follow with 4-Gbit/s and iSCSI connectivity for its midrange Clariion SANs by June. (See EMC, NetApp Ready New Wares.)

The market seems ripe for 4-Gbit/s FC. The DS4800 is considered a major reason that IBM’s midrange storage system revenue grew 40 percent year over year last quarter. Brocade claims 72 percent of its switch revenue last quarter came from 4-Gbit/s gear, and Emulex and QLogic forecast strong growth in 4-Gbit/s HBA sales in coming months.

But while IBM rivals fall into step with 4-Gbit/s systems, Pike doesn't expect IBM follow the competition by moving to iSCSI with its 4-Gbit/s DS4800 anytime soon.

“In talking to customers, I don’t see iSCSI as a priority on the DS4800,” he explains. “I see no demand whatsoever.”

IBM’s new Exchange software is also developed by Engenio, launched today as Replication Express (REX) for Microsoft Exchange Server 2003. (See Engenio Tackles Exchange Backup.) IBM calls it DS4000 Integrated Backup for Databases (IBD) for Exchange, and will begin offering it March 17.The application is near-continuous data protection (CDP) for Exchange. It falls between Microsoft DPM and Symantec Backup Exec 10d -- which provide near-CDP for files only -- and CDP products such as Asempra, Mimosa, Storactive, and TimeSpring Software that perform full continuous backup on Exchange. (See Microsoft and Symantec Cut SMB Tape.)

REX uses Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) to create point-in-time copies of data on the host server. While CDP products can restore corrupted data from any point in time, IBM’s REX users can restore from hourly snapshots. It also works only on Engenio arrays.

Engenio and IBM expect to have a similar application for Microsoft SQL Server available as well as one for Oracle databases, eventually. Engenio also hopes to sell the solutions through other OEM partners.

IBM took the “first step in building a Microsoft SAN Kit” by achieving Microsoft Simple SAN designation for its DS4100 and DS4300. The only thing missing is the SAN kit -- a big miss. When Hitachi received Simple SAN designation last week, it offered a kit complete with low-cost switches, HBAs, and management software from QLogic. (See Qlogic, HDS Team on SAN.) Microsoft awarded IBM a device designation for its arrays, but not for the bundled kit. Pike says he hopes to gain full Simple SAN designation for connectivity kits from Emulex and QLogic by April.

Pricing for the expansion enclosure will start at $6,000, and IBD for Exchange will start at $4,800.— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • Asempra Technologies

  • Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD)

  • Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX)

  • Engenio Information Technologies Inc.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Mimosa Systems Inc.

  • QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC)

  • Storactive Inc.

  • TimeSpring Software Corp.

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