Son of Shark Emerges

Big Blue unleashes scaled-down storage for mainframes, raising marketing questions

April 8, 2004

2 Min Read
Network Computing logo

PHOENIX -- While IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) marked the 40th anniversary of the mainframe with a ceremony at the Museum of Computer History in Mountain View, Calif., its storage clan announced a new member of the extended family at the Storage Networking World show here today.

IBM let its Baby Shark” -- the Enterprise Storage Server 750 -- out of the tank today (see IBM Unveils Mid-Sized Mainframe). A scaled-down version of the ESS 800 mainframe storage system, the Baby Shark scales from 1.1 Tbytes to 4.6 Tbytes and has a two-way processor, 8-Gbyte cache, and up to six Ficon or Escon host adapters. In contrast, the grownup Shark scales to 55.9 Tbytes and has advanced data replication features that are missing in the Baby Shark.

IBM is siccing the little guy on the EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) Symmetrix DMX800. “It’s for the higher end of the midmarket, customers not happy with pricing of Symmetrix,” says Brian Truskowski, GM of IBM’s TotalStorage open software group.

Pricing for the Baby Shark starts at $100,000. Without disputing that Symmetrix DMX costs more than the young Shark, EMC spokesman Rob Callery says the company’s position is “entry-level Symmetrix DMX configurations deliver significantly better price/performance than the ESS750, while offering better scalability and functionality.”

So is it wise for IBM to try to win on price alone with a mainframe product? Do mainframe customers want scaled-down capacity, or will this shark be swimming in the desert? After all, while midrange customers have asked for a mainframe storage system, there’s a chance IBM could take customers away from its own FastT900 product for open systems. [Ed. note: A Cannibal Shark?]Truskowski begs to differ. “FastT900 still makes sense for you if you’re in an open systems environment,” he says.

There's something else: With the Baby Shark, IBM also is gambling that the market for mainframes is still expanding after 40 years.

“People like to badmouth it: ‘The dinosaur is dead,’ ” Truskowski says. “But things people talk about wanting today -- like file systems, [integrated lifecycle management] -- is stuff we’ve been doing in mainframes for 40 years.”

Like other IBMers, Truskowksi recalled those years fondly today, even if he wasn't around for all of them. “System 360, with the big blue panels, I remember from the pictures,” he muses, before heading off to his keynote.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch0

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights