IBM, Sun roll out new storage gear

Vendors cater to customer demand for more functionality, flexibility at a lower price

Further evidence that customers are king in the storage world can be found this week at Storage Networking World in Phoenix.

Led by IBM and Sun Microsystems, storage vendors this week are introducing technologies they say were designed to meet customer demand for more functionality and flexibility at a lower price. This trend is driven by customer's desire to keep up with never-ending data growth, say storage vendors.

On Wednesday IBM introduced a new model in its line of TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server (ESS) mainframe arrays. The new ESS 750 model features much of the same functionality found in IBM's existing ESS 800 product, but with a lower price tag. Combined with its new eServer zSeries 890 server, the ESS 750 starts around $100,000 said Brian Truskowski, general manager of IBM's TotalStorage Open Software group.

"The ESS 800 is three times the price of the 750," said Truskowski, who explained that the ESS 750 was born out of customer demand for a high availability solution at a mid-market price. "This model has all the functionality of the 800 minus some of the copy services."

He adds that the ESS 750 also comes with different processors than the 800 and starts at a 1.1TB capacity compared to the 800's 55TB maximum capacity. However the ESS 750 can scale to 4.6TB and can be upgraded to the 800's maximum capacity by switching out the processors and adding extra disk capacity as needed, said Truskowski.

As with IBM's ESS 800 and 800 turbo model, the 750 was designed to work in a mainframe environment, while IBM's Fibre Array Storage Technology (FAStT) was designed to work in an open system environment.

Also looking to appease its customer is Sun Microsystems. At the show, Sun discussed its new system dubbed "The Midnight Special." The forthcoming system was created by cobbling together existing Sun technologies to help solve a problem an actual customer was having. Sun is now turning that reference design into a product that will debut later this year.

According to Sun, the new system will compete with existing archiving solution from EMC and Network Appliance, but unlike those, Sun's system boasts tape, Serial ATA, and Fiber Channel (FC) storage all in one device. Marti Baldwin, Storage Solutions Marketing Manager for Sun's Network Storage Group, explained Sun's existing SAM-FS file system used for storing data to tape has been augmented to allow data to be written to FC and SATA disk too.

Storage Networking World runs through Thursday,