ServersBefore the War, the Storage Sector Peacefully Soldiers On

Before the War, the Storage Sector Peacefully Soldiers On




With many analysts putting the figure for the data storage market in the
billions over the next few years, it’s no wonder top tech firms are both
pumping out upgraded products, and scrambling to ink new deals with key
partners. But a recent Goldman Sachs report questioned how long it would be
before the companies, which have many similar and/or overlapping
technologies, continue to play nice.

With many analysts putting the figure for the data storage market in the billions over the next few years, it’s no wonder top tech firms are both pumping out
upgraded products, and scrambling to ink new deals with key partners. But a recent Goldman Sachs report questioned how long it would be before the
companies, which have many similar and/or overlapping technologies, continue to play nice.

IBM Corp. Tuesday chalked up the former when it rolled out a couple of network-attached storage (NAS) towers as
part of the next phase of its storage networking initiative, which debuted
last February. Brocade inked the latter with Sun Microsystems Inc., a
long-time EMC Corp. partner.

Big Blue launched the IBM TotalStorage NAS 200, a tower (one processor and
up to 216 GB) targeted for the service provider community and e-mail storage
or video file serving, and the more sophisticated, dual engine, TotalStorage
NAS 300, which powers applications, such as accounts receivable, payroll or
customer support, in large departments and small enterprise settings.

The NAS 200 also comes in a rack version designed for departmental and
regional office locations for applications such as sales force support. As
for the higher-end product, Big Blue also now offers a 300G version, which
it says bridges the gap between the local area network (LAN) and a storage
area network (SAN) with new clustering technology.

With these products, IBM is addressing the needs of customers who want to
reduce their dependency on servers for access and management of storage
while using the LAN to consolidate and store file data. And despite scads of
competitors in the storage networking arena, IBM seems to be targeting
Network Appliance in comparison, claiming that its new towers have bested
NetApp’s own products in benchmark tests. While the companies will no doubt
disagree on the accuracy of each other’s tests, one analyst who scrutinized
IBM’s NAS 200 and 300 towers attested to the potential of a single selling
point for Big Blue: David G. Hill, research director, Storage & Storage
Management, Aberdeen Group said “workgroup level customers will enjoy a
sweet spot in price and performance.”

While Big Blue shows its competitive colors with its new NAS releases, the
company has also collaborated with rivals in the field to help the industry
move forward; last Monday, IBM teamed with Brocade Communications Systems
Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., EMC, Hitachi Data Systems Corp. and McData
Corp. to work on interoperable storage networking solutions under the aegis
of the Storage Networking Industry Association
(SNIA)
. The mass collaboration caused one analyst, Sean Derrington of
Meta Group, to praise the firms for their willingness to work together.

“The fact that competing storage vendors have been able to agree on
configurations and software levels to jointly qualify and have entered into
cooperative support agreements is remarkable,” Derrington said in a public
release.

Allied and Axis Powers

The cooperative spirit was there for all to see last week, and it trickled
over this week when Brocade, a leading switch provider for storage area
networks (SANs), and Sun, forged a deal that would allow the hardware giant
to resell, service and support Brocade’s flagship SilkWorm fabric switches
on a global basis. Brocade and Sun will also forge supported storage
networking configurations as well as work together on the software
development initiatives that were announced earlier this year.

Again, the announcement drew nothing but praise from an industry analyst,
this time from Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst, the Enterprise
Storage Group.

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