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IBM Settles on SATA

LAS VEGAS -- Networld+Interop -- While IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) announced its first full-fledged SATA FastT storage system in Cambridge, Mass., today, a group of vendors and users at Networld+Interop discussed using SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) in a panel on new storage protocols.

Considering the discussion included a handful of active SATA users and vendors, you have to wonder why IBM just got around to offering a system with SATA only. IBM previously offered SATA as part of an expansion draw for its FastT 600, which the new FastT100 replaces on the low end of IBMs open storage systems (see IBM's SATA-Day Arrives).

IBM is aiming the new system at financial services organizations and small enterprises that need to retain storage for a long time and don’t want to pay for Fibre Channel drives. SATA drives are substantially lower in cost than Fibre Channel, but users pay a performance price. Pete McCaffrey, part of IBM’s total storage marketing team, says the FastT100 will cost about 25 percent less than the FastT600. IBM also said it will offer write-once/read-many (WORM) tape cartridges for its model 3592 enterprise tape drive.

IBM hopes the combination of SATA and WORM [ed. note: SWORMATA?] will help it gain customers looking to tier storage according to its importance. SATA is considered best for secondary storage while archived data goes to tape. That’s a common strategy among storage vendors these days, and the crux of EMC Corp.'s (NYSE: EMC) Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) initiative.

While IBM is just getting to its first full SATA system, EMC says SATA drives were a big seller last quarter on its Clariion and Centerra systems. Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) also has reported strong SATA sales.

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