Getting StorageTanked Leaves IBM Giddy

IBM Corp. today announced StorageTank, an upcoming software product for centralized storage management, integrating SAN and NAS devices from a variety of vendors into a single pool.

“It allows all of our customers to use all of their devices in their network together in a single pool,” says Mike Harris, director of storage business alliances. Customers who have deployed SANs and NAS devices have often found that each solution needs to be managed individually or on a by-vendor basis.

In addition, SAN and NAS devices are often deployed for different needs, in different parts of the network, making management a challenge. “The direction here is clear: it is not limited to SAN, it is not limited to NAS,” Harris says. Despite the differences in topology, Harris believes customers will want to pool and centrally manage different devices together.

IBM says that a multi-vendor strategy is critical to the StorageTank initiative, taking a shot at vendors such as EMC Corp, who provide monolithic storage solutions with hardware and software sometime interoperable with other vendors. “The intent is to go to market with partners on this one,” Harris says.

Compaq Computer Corp. is a key IBM partner in the storage arena, and Harris says that StorageTank will leverage cooperation between IBM and Compaq. The VersaStor storage virtualization technology Compaq is developing promises to expand the ability of users to pool storage. “VersaStor and StorageTank are very complementary products,” Harris says, “ VersaStor works at the block level, while the StorageTank is very much at the file level.”

Although, IBM’s announcement come the same day as a large EMC announcement, detailing a new strategy for midrange NAS devices, Harris says the IBM announcement comes for IT managers’ planning purposes, not the Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) that IBM is famous for. “Will StorageTank work with EMC’s products? Absolutely,” Harris says, “But this has more to do with customers’ planning in 2001.”

Harris says that IBM expects to release products based on StorageTank technologies in the second half of 2001. The company has not decided whether the products will branded as IBM or with its Tivoli line of storage and network management software. – Christopher McConnell

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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