IBM Takes Aim at EMC, HDS with New Storage System

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IBM (NYSE: IBM) today began shipping a long-awaited upgrade to its high-end data storage product line, the new System Storage DS8700.

Big Blue, which competes in the high-end storage market with EMC (NYSE: EMC) and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), claims a big performance improvement for the new storage system, along with new solid state drive (SSD) management features.

The DS8700 uses new dual IBM Power6-based controllers and PCIe to provide a 150 percent performance boost over the DS8300. The new storage systems are also more energy efficient, with a 50 percent increase in IOPS/watt over DS8300 models, and they also offer full disk encryption.

The DS8700 also lets DS8000 series customers upgrade non-disruptively from base models to advanced models. The DS8700 offers full interoperability with DS8300 hard drives, drive enclosures, tools, scripts and copy services, Big Blue said.

IBM will continue to sell the DS8100 and DS8300 storage systems.

IBM, which added solid state drives to the DS8000 earlier this year, said it plans to expand SSD technology on the System Storage DS8700 through smart data placement technology, which will identify hot data and automatically migrate that data to and from solid state and Fibre Channel drives to optimize price and performance. IBM said that moving just ten percent of the hottest data from Fibre Channel drives to SSDs could result in a 300 percent performance gain for high-transaction workloads.

EMC is working on similar technology, dubbed FAST for fully automated storage tiering, which it plans to introduce by the end of the year, and Sun (NASDAQ: JAVA) and Compellent (NYSE: CML) offer similar features.

New IBM System ‘A Clear Statement’

IDC analyst Benjamin Woo said the DS8700 “is a clear statement that IBM is committed to the platform, and that it is not abandoning its core traditional customers who have relied on IBM storage technologies. The SSD part of the announcement underlines IBM’s focus on delivering high-performance solutions for their customers.”

Woo added that FlashCopy interoperability with other IBM storage systems “is a clear indication that IBM recognizes the need to bring continuity between all its various product families.”

“There are still many overlaps in the IBM product lines,” Woo said. “The most important thing IBM must do is consolidate its storage systems portfolio and clearly identify the target customer problem that each product family is designed to address.”

IBM has also enhanced its N Series line OEMed from NetApp (NASDAQ: NTAP) with new Performance Accelerator Module (PAM II) cards for a 30 percent increase in response time while reducing power consumption. Big Blue is also introducing new IBM System Storage EXN3000 expansion SASdisks for the N Series, along with SnapManager for Microsoft Hyper-V for automated data protection and disaster recovery for Hyper-V environments.

Finally, IBM also unveiled the new System Storage DS3950 Express, a midrange disk storage system with 8Gbps Fibre Channel connectivity.

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Paul Shread
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, 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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