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IBM Picks Brains in Tucson

Desert heat could bring new SAN technologies to the boil at the University of Arizona in Tucson, thanks to an IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) research grant.

Like most big companies, IBM enlists university researchers for R&D. In this case, it's bequeathing a raft of hardware for projects focused on two key areas crucial to its storage strategy -- dynamic provisioning and storage resource management.

IBM picked the university's business school, the Eller College of Management, for one of the company's Shared University Research grants. "They have a unique blend of technology and business knowledge. That's one of their strengths," says Ken Boyd, distinguished engineer at IBM.

IBM wants two things from this project: First, it wants the researchers to find better ways to automatically assign storage to users -- regardless of where they are located. In most SANs today, users can tap into the SAN only when they're in a specific location. IBM hopes to better accommodate users who work outside the office, make requests from different locations, or need different data from geographically dispersed servers.

"The way storage needs to be allocated today is constantly changing -- it's no longer static," says Dr. Sudha Ram, Eller professor of MIS (management information systems) at the University of Arizona and the lead investigator for the research project. Ram has done similar research in data management and system interoperability in the past. IBM's Boyd indicates the project could lead to new designs for SAN gear, such as integrating virtual-resource allocation into storage controllers.

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