IBM Moves Against EMC With Migration Appliance

In a bid to steal customers away from arch rival EMC, IBM announced an aggressive migration program for moving enterprises off EMC hardware and onto its own line of

December 4, 2003

3 Min Read
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In a bid to steal customers away from arch rival EMC, IBM on Wednesday announced an aggressive migration program for moving enterprises off EMC hardware and onto its own line of Shark-grade storage servers.

To entice current EMC customers, and to a lesser extent those relying on Hitachi storage hardware, IBM is deploying a force of more than 100 consultants and technologists, and arming them with a Linux-based, rack-mounted migration appliance that, says IBM, can migrate data to IBM storage servers with no downtime.

"We've been in a dogfight with EMC over the years," said Lou Sciacchetano, IBM's vice president of its worldwide storage competitive sales group. "We've won our share of the battles, but we're starting to see a surge in customer demand to not just replace boxes, but move data as well."

The migration appliance, dubbed 'Piper,' includes an Ethernet hub, Fibre Channel switches, and eight migration engines relying on IBM-crafted migration software.

In a year-long pilot program, the appliance was deployed by IBM's own army of consultants and a limited number of its business partners, said Sciacchetano, but IBM is now taking the program public and opening it up to a wider range of its partners. Currently, a half dozen of IBM's biggest business partners are undergoing training on using the appliance.One of those early partners is Champion Solutions Group, which has purchased a migration appliance from IBM. "In Champion's first couple of engagements," claimed Sciacchetano, "it paid for itself."

IBM is targeting EMC -- the current leader in storage server market share -- said Sciacchetano, because its Symmetrix line of hardware is aging and proprietary.

As part of the program, IBM has developed methodologies for migrating customer data from EMC hardware to its own storage servers, then trained its consultants and business partners so that they toe the line on the process.

"The appliance is installed on the customer site by skilled personnel who do the migration for you following our methodology to insure it's risk free," said Sciacchetano.

That risk-free spin is exactly what enterprises want to hear, said Anne MacFarland, the director of enterprise architecture and infrastructure solutions at The Clipper Group."These days one of the great inhibitors to moving data is the risk of migrating," she said. "Having an appliance doing it in an automated way makes it seem like a less risky move to enterprises."

Other advantages to IBM's migration push, said MacFarland, include the ability to migrate data transparently and without the need to bring down the storage network. "And because the appliance is tunable, the migration can be scaled back if necessary. That's a very attractive feature for enterprises concerned about moving their critical data."

Although IBM stressed the no-downtime benefit of the appliance, the tool can also be used in an offline mode to boost the speed of the migration, said Sciacchetano. And while EMC is in Big Blue's crosshairs, the appliance can be used to move data from any non-IBM system, and from a wide range of operating systems, including Solaris, NetWare, Windows, and HP-UX.

"Migration wars aren't anything new," said MacFarland. "Everyone is trying to steal customers from competitors. But this is a new weapon in the storage wars. It's well thought-out as far as how it's delivered and who delivers it."

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