IBM Sees Storage Virtualization Catching On

Storage virtualization is widely viewed as lagging server virtualization, but IBM sees that trend changing fast.

Big Blue already boasts more than 1,400 storage virtualization customers — and that number is up a stunning 40% since May. That growth is also occurring across all market segments — more than 800 of those customers are small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), which IBM defines as businesses with 1,000 or fewer employees.

There is no “trickle down” effect from larger to smaller enterprises usually seen with technology adoption, says Rich Lechner, IBM’s vice president of TotalStorage Solutions. Demand is roughly equal across all market segments.

“That says to me that there’s a real pent-up demand for this technology,” Lechner told Enterprise Storage Forum.

The occasion for Lechner’s remarks was IBM’s release of its latest products targeting server and storage virtualization, including the eighth release of SAN Volume Controller.

IBM’s goal, Lechner said, is a “completely virtualized environment” spanning storage and servers, with common management across the entire IT infrastructure.

The new Virtualization Engine offerings range from tape storage to software wizards, and IBM also announced a “Ready For Virtualization” partner program that helps independent software vendors (ISVs) build solutions on IBM virtualization platforms.

Among the new offerings is tape virtualization connection to UNIX and Intel servers. The new solution, called the IBM Virtualization Engine TS7510, is designed to be part of an integrated disk and tape infrastructure and improve the time it takes to backup and restore data, as well as increase utilization and sharing of tape resources.

IBM TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) Version 3.1 supports four times more servers than the previous version and includes numerous updates to operating system and clustering software support. The latest version also helps protect business continuity by letting clients keep their copy services in the disk arrays or move them into the network.

IBM Director 5.10 systems management software will become generally available October 26 for download by clients for all IBM xSeries and BladeCenter servers, and later in the fourth quarter for iSeries, pSeries System z9 and zSeries servers, as well as non-IBM Intel-compatible hardware. The integrated suite of software management tools that provides a consistent, single point of control and automation will also target storage at a later date.

Other offerings include wizard virtualization capabilities for UNIX servers, and plans for xSeries virtualization switching.

Lechner said IBM doesn’t see storage virtualization as a debate about whether the virtualization is in a switch, appliance or controller.

“The relevant question is the breadth of technologies that you can virtualize,” Lechner said. “Freedom of movement, freedom of choice and flexibility are more important and in-band versus out of band. You have to be able to mix and match to meet QoS requirements. We offer that capability.”

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Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for Time.com, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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