Storage Shapes Up for Multimedia

Vendors plan partnerships and upgrades to cope with telcom and media firm demand

February 15, 2006

3 Min Read
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With telecom and media firms looking to deliver increasingly complex forms of digital content to their customers, storage vendors are re-positioning themselves to provide the raw power behind these services.

This week, IBM joined forces with Nortel to develop new multimedia services, and clustering startup Isilon clinched a deal with NBC to support the channels Winter Olympics coverage. (See Nortel Demos IMS With IBM and NBC Taps Isilon for Olympics.)

The IBM deal revolves around Nortel’s IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS), a method for delivering content that uses the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) for Voice Over IP (VOIP). The idea behind IMS is that it can support a broader range of secure multimedia content than analog technology.

Nortel and IBM are working to integrate applications such as multiplayer gaming and conferencing across mobile devices. The two firms are also testing technologies to enable users to share files and digital content.

Where Nortel provides the specialized IMS software, IBM is using its BladeCenter servers and WebSphere software to actually run these applications.Mike Waldron, IT manager at KTLA, a Los Angeles-based TV station told Byte and Switch that, although he has no need for anything as sophisticated as IMS at the moment, this may change. “I could potentially see a time when we might have an alternate channel delivering breaking news via video to mobile phones," he says. "IMS would help deliver that.”

Waldron, who already uses NAS boxes from IBM for his internal storage, likes the idea of maintaining his relationship with the hardware firm: “If IBM and Nortel are involved, I would think that it could give you a secure path to whatever device you want.”

This is not the first time IBM and Nortel have teamed up. Nortel, for example, is already involved in, a vendor group developing technologies for IBM’s BladeCenter T blade server targeted at the telecom sector. (See IBM Forms Blade Community.)

Brett Goodwin, vice president of marketing and business development for Isilon, was hardly surprised that the two firms have joined forces around multimedia applications. “I think that we’re really seeing a melding of networking and storage technologies,” he explains.

Goodwin feels that firms in the telecom sector and media sectors are facing a real storage challenge when it comes to deploying complex multimedia applications: “The file system that you need is 10 to 20 times larger than traditional storage sytems. We have customers that want 200 Tbytes and up on a single file system.”According to Goodwin, Isilon’s IQ product offers up to 250 Tbytes in a single file system and up to 6 Gbyte/s of sustained throughput. But demand from customers has forced the vendor to overhaul its product line. Goodwin reports that Isilon is looking to expand the IQ’s capacity up to “500 Tbytes and beyond”, as well as pushing its throughput past the 10 Gbyte mark. “Stay tuned for some things that we have coming out later this year,” he adds.

Another storage vendor targeting the telecom sector is 3Par, which has already clinched deals with Savvis and MCI. (See Savvis Stakes Virtualization Claim.) Craig Nunes, 3Par’s VP of marketing, said that the vendor is looking to expand the capacity and throughput of its 350-Tbyte, 3-Gbyte/s InServ product, although he would not reveal specifics.

But Nunes confirmed that 3Par, which already partners with Egenera and VMWare, is on the lookout for new relationships. “As more server virtualization rolls out, (this) is an area that we will continue to keep an eye on.”

Nunes admitted that open source virtualization startup XenSource, also a VMWare competitor, has already caught his eye. “Xen has popped up a couple of times,” he says, “they are right in the thick of things.”

— James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and SwitchOrganizations mentioned in this article:

  • Egenera Inc.

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Isilon Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ISLN)


  • Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT)

  • Savvis Communications Corp. (Nasdaq: SVVS)

  • 3PAR Inc.

  • XenSource Inc.

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