IBM Unveils Third Leg of On-Demand Play


IBM Thursday introduced new software to help enterprises more effectively manage their IT budgets, a major new initiative under its on-demand strategy.

The software products cover virtualization technology for storage and grid computing and add more capacity-on-demand capabilities. IBM discussed the new offerings Thursday at its annual analyst conference in Palisades, NY, where company executives preached the cost-effectiveness and productivity boosts that a so-called "fuel economy" needs.

Much like rivals Sun, HP, and most recently Computer Associates, IBM is looking to lure enterprises to use its existing infrastructure for the companies' computing needs, offering new pricing structures as part of the utility-like offerings. Chief among these is a new delivery option that enables customers to acquire pieces of their infrastructure for one monthly price.

Stefan Van Overtveldt, Director of Marketing Strategy for IBM WebSphere, said the IT operating environment is becoming more software-centric as opposed to past practices of relying on hardware servers with their various processor architectures to handle tasks. That is where this third leg, software products for the "on-demand operating environment," come into play. Since announcing an on-demand overhaul last November, IBM has addressed its first and second phases, business transformation and utility computing, respectively.

IBM TotalStorage Virtualization Suite

IBM has also added software for storage virtualization in its IBM TotalStorage Virtualization suite, which is designed to make managing storage on a network easier for customers who already employ SANs. Though it pools resources from many locations in a network, virtualization provides a single dashboard to all available resources and allows any server to use or access information on any storage server in a network, boosting utilization.

The suite features a SAN Volume Controller that consists of clustered virtualization software, is based on IBM eServer xSeries servers, and that runs a Linux kernel. It is compliant with the SMI-S standard and supports AIX, Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, and Intel-based servers running Windows. It also has autonomic capabilities such as failover, mirrored cache, auto restart of nodes, and non-disruptive upgrades and maintenance. Slated for release this summer, entry level configuration pricing is a shade under $75,000.

Another part of this suite is a server for customers new to SANs -- the SAN Integration Server. Also due this summer, the SAN Integration Server will be delivered as pre-configured SAN software with an IBM SAN Volume Controller, redundant Fibre Channel switches, and IBM FAStT600 storage up to 83 terabytes.

In keeping with its capacity-on-demand (COD) strategy, IBM is extending Standby Capacity On Demand offerings to blade servers and storage systems. This means customers can now purchase blade or storage systems and turn on additional capacity over a six-month period as needed (up to 14 blade servers in a single chassis or 3.5 terabytes of storage capacity). Previous IBM COD and on/off COD offerings have been offered for enterprise servers. Customers can expect these later this year.

This accompanies IBM's Open Infrastructure Offering (OIO), a new delivery option that lets customers acquire all or part of their infrastructure for one monthly price, allowing them to substitute new blade or storage technologies as needed.

IBM is also offering Web Server Provisioning, as part of IBM's autonomic computing strategy. This allows customers to switch or add an additional server to increase capacity immediately.

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