IBM Adds New Storage Disk, Drive Systems

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IBM has broadened its storage product line for medium-sized companies,
including a new high-end midrange disk system and the next iteration of
its midrange tape system for archiving data and disaster recovery.

Big Blue, presiding over its IBM PartnerWorld conference in New Orleans
this week, introduced the FAStT 900 from its TotalStorage line of
midrange disk storage systems, which the company claimed has as much as
120% read/write performance improvement over previous models. It
also debuted the TotalStorage Linear Tape-Open Ultrium 2 drive, which
it said will prove to be the fastest LTO tape drive performance
available. In fact, the systems vendor said the new drive is 17%
faster than LTO 2 drives from competitors such as HP and Seagate.

Roland Hagan, vice president of storage marketing, IBM Systems Group,
said the products were created to help enterprises with less than 1,000
employees consolidate data networks to make storage management less
cumbersome. Specifically, the FAStT disk system is geared for digital
media or life science applications, which Hagan said don’t require
optimum levels of reliability.

The FAStT 900 runs at 2GB Fibre Channel technology and scales from
36GB to more than 32TB to support e-business applications and other data
files intended to scale. Hagan said customers may also get FAStT 900
fitted with a feature from IBM’s on-demand e-business strategy — the
optional autonomic FAStT Service Alert function, which will alert IBM if
a problem occurs so a technician can quickly diagnose the problem and
fix it. FAStT 900 will be available March 14, 2003.

IBM also offered some news on the tape drive front, as it released two
TotalStorage Ultrium 2 tape drives. The new machines were created with
the Linear Tape-Open (LTO) standard for tape drive interoperability.
Created by IBM, HP and Seagate, the LTO standard provides formats for both fast data
access and high storage capacity.

Hagan said TotalStorage UltraScalable Tape Library 3584 and the
TotalStorage Ultrium External Tape Drive 3580 double the capacity and
the performance of IBM Ultrium 1 drives. Ultrium 2 also has a “sleep”
function which switches the drive to a lower power setting when it is
not in use. Cartridge room is 200GB at a 35 MB per second data rate.

As with the FAStT 900, Hagan said Big Blue is also adding autonomic
computing enhancements to the UltraScalable Tape Library 3584 to include
control path failover. In this safeguarding function, one communication
path is substituted for another in the event of a disruption. Moreover,
the new drives work backward and forward — they can read and write to
Ultrium 1 cartridges, which means customers don’t have to throw out the
Ultrium 1 drives to use Ultrium 2 gadgets. The new systems are currently

Hagan, who said medium-sized businesses are more prevalent than small
and large enterprises, also said Tivoli Storage Manager now supports its
storage and tape libraries.

IBM also announced availability of the Cisco MDS 9216 and 9509 from IBM
and IBM Business Partners in the United States for enterprise-class
storage networks.

Analysts, Customers Respond Favorably

Acxiom, a provider of customer and information management solutions,
tested the performance of the FAStT 900 in business intelligence
workloads scanning multiple-terabyte tables and found it to be
consistently 90 percent faster than the previous FAStT 700 model. This
performance improvement can translate into a competitive advantage for
many Acxiom clients running data warehousing applications, IBM said.

“The outstanding performance of the new IBM FAStT 900 storage server
provides our customers with enterprise class performance at lower cost,”
said Frank Caserta, Senior Technical Leader, Acxiom. “Our customers are
demanding more performance to support their mission critical business
intelligence applications, and that’s exactly what the FAStT 900
delivers. Our performance hungry customers will quickly see the benefits
offered by IBM’s new offering.”

Analysts also responded favorably to the new offerings from Big Blue.

Evaluator Group Senior Partner Ron Johnson said the FAStT 900 “is a
logical extension of the IBM/LSI Storage Systems relationship. It is
based on the LSI 5884 controller. The FAStT900 is a high-performance
array with a rich set of software features, including PIT Copy and
Remote Copy. It is an excellent solution [for] single or cluster servers
or as a SAN consolidation.” He said another benefit is that the FAStT storage
can be used in the DataCore SANsymphony abstraction solution.

Nancy Marrone of Enterprise Storage Group said the new FAStT 900 “has
much better performance numbers than the old version…much greater
scalability and new reliability features like phone home, built in
replication with flash copy and remote mirroring capability.”

“IBM is keeping in step with the competition,” Marrone said. “They
needed to respond to mid-range offerings from the other top storage
vendors. The FAStT has always been strong from a performance perspective
— it’s essentially OEMed from LSI, and the LSI controllers are top
notch. These new features address the customers’ requirements to add
high-end features into the products for the mid-range without
significantly increasing costs. These new features should help IBM
maintain the success they have had with the FAStT.”

Michael Karp of Enterprise Management Associates said the 900 “hits a
good price/performance point. It matches up very closely with HP’s EVA
array and will certainly be competitive in terms of performance with
the Clariion CX600.”

Current Ultrium users will also be pleased with the new performance
characteristics, Karp said, which let them read and write in half the
time of Ultrium 1, while maintaining the value of the existing Ultrium 1
media. Karp also said the Ultrium 2 drive offers SCSI LVD160 and HVD
connectivity, which match up against HP’s Ultrium, and 2GB
Fibre Channel, which matches up against STK’s offering. “Speed and
power management appear to be impressive compared to those two as well,”
he said.

Back to Enterprise Storage Forum

Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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