IBM Aims 4-Gig at SMBs

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Small and medium-size businesses face the same problem as inner-city apartment dwellers: an increasing amount of “stuff” and no place to put it.

Big Blue may not be in the business of building closets, but it does have a solution for SMBs who have hit the data storage wall.

The company earlier this week unveiled the DS4700 Express, a high-bandwidth storage system that extends the existing DS4000 line and can be configured to include more than a hundred disk drives by adding optional expansion units. The basic system has a capacity for 16 disk drive bays, each capable of handling more than 500G bytes of information.

The introduction of the DS4700 is the first in a series of announcements planned this year by IBM for its DS4000 series of storage systems as it shifts it focus to provide more solutions to the SMB community.

“Small to medium sized clients are faced with the same challenges as large enterprises, which is to cost-effectively manage and run [an] increasing flood of complex data applications,” explained Kristie Bell, vice president of IBM System Storage.

The DS4700 debut also ushers in a name change for this and future disk drive systems, now branded as System Storage instead of TotalStorage devices. IBM decided on the name change to better promote its systems-wide view of integration and create “more synergy between our server brethren and their offerings and our storage products,” she said.

The DS4700 system includes the ultra-fast 4 gigabit/second technology introduced by IBM more than a year ago with its DS4800 storage system. This technology is specifically designed for graphics-rich content, including streaming video and complex medical imaging and archiving files, which eat up massive amounts of disk storage and can be a challenge to manage, said IBM. The technology and 4Gbps Fibre Channel interfaces can also ‘auto negotiate’ down to slower speeds for backward compatibility, and can be upgraded to the DS4800.

The new entry also includes IBM’s DACstore technology, which allows dynamic data portability across the entire system and attached disk drives. When partnered with the built-in 4Gbps capability this means users can get fast access to data across an enormous storage area, or establish data-redundant failsafe areas that can kick in if portions of the drive farm are inaccessible or inoperable.

The new IBM offerings are based on technology from LSI Logic unveiled on Monday, when EMC also announced its 4-gig offerings.

Small and medium businesses, over the next year or so, are expected to show an increased interest in enterprise-class storage solutions that offer more data capacity, improved data protection and backup, and faster access speeds, according to IDC. While most SMBs reserve most of their disk storage for e-mail and digital content, top priorities going forward will be to add more disk capacity and enhance data recovery options to prepare for more data-intensive applications.

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