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Smaller Boxes, Bigger Plans For IBM Storage

IBM's new four-year storage strategy, laid out last week, came with a few surprises. First, the talk was all about gee-whiz hardware and lower costs, not related services. And when Dan Colby, IBM's general manager of storage, pulled the sheet off what looked like one of IBM's old-style storage towers, it was actually a metal frame holding a system that's only the size of a couple of pizza boxes.

That smaller form-factor storage system--the IBM TotalStorage DS6000, with some high-end functionality and easier-to-install architecture--is part of IBM's effort to show that it's serious about competing in storage with EMC Corp. and Hitachi Data Systems. "We're committed to storage as a part of the end-to-end fabric of customer infrastructures," says Rich Lechner, IBM's VP of marketing for storage systems.

The system's bigger twin, the IBM TotalStorage DS8000, is based on the same architecture as the DS6000 and much of IBM's server line, but it is the newest high-end storage system from IBM for customers who want 96 terabytes of capacity. The systems will be available Dec. 3; pricing for both lines starts at $97,000 for 500 Gbytes of capacity. The vendor also plans usage-based pricing.

IBM promises lower total costs from its use of industry-standard components in its servers, a four-year warranty that includes software upgrades, and the ability for customers to double performance by themselves by upgrading from two to four processors.

 BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee needs storage flexibility, Bob Venable says.

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee needs storage flexibility, Venable says.

What intrigues Bob Venable, manager of enterprise systems at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, is promised features in the DS6000 and the DS8000 that IBM calls Adaptive Replacement Cache and logical partitioning. Adaptive Replacement Cache could let customers increase the performance of the system for different forms of data access, while taking up less capacity with cache. Venable believes he could pitch the benefits of logical partitioning, which allows a single operating system to run multiple workloads as if each were alone, to his CFO. "We could give priority to business processes without any hard coding," he says.

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