IBM: Storage Bytes

AUC Berkeley study threw up an interesting insight–12
exabytes (a billion gigabytes) of information was generated in 300,000 years of
man’s existence, but the next 12 exabytes will be added in the ensuing 2.3
years. Computing is approaching its next crunch–of storage space.

The buzz in the storage industry is not about hardware
though. It is more about the ability to manage and administer what is stored.
Storage management technology, along with processes and services, is all set to
define the shape this industry is about to take. Says, Carolyn DiCenzo of
Gartner, “SANs, intelligent storage appliances and new data replication
techniques will transform the way storage back-up and recovery is accomplished
over the next three years.”

  • General-purpose storage with block I/O optimization
    Capabilities of file serving and data sharing
  • Offloads LAN/WAN network back-up/archive workload
  • Massive scalability
  • Superior performance
    Especially with large amounts of data transfer
  • Large suite of storage management tools
  • Task-specific storage
    NFS/CIFS file serving appliance with file I/O optimization
    Back-up/archive appliance (IBM 3466)
  • Easy to add storage
    Connects directly to existing LAN/WAN network
  • NAS file servers share files across 30-plus platforms
  • Lessens need for skilled IT resources

IBM with its mainframe prowess has long been a pioneer and
innovator in many a storage technology. But this has not given the company
supremacy in terms of either market-share or mind-share hitherto vested with
storage-specific vendors like EMC Corporation and Veritas. Robert E Mahoney,
V-P, worldwide storage networking, IBM, says, “Of the 2,886 patents that
IBM filed last year, 436 are in the area of storage. EMC has only 76 of

Big Blue is rebounding with a new-found fervor to stake its
claim in the storage market. The company has rallied its forces in this area and
substantial investments in research, marketing, partner support, and
infrastructure have been planned. In May 2001, for instance, IBM showcased its
entire spectrum of storage technologies under a new program called IBM


IBM’s storage networking initiative includes the industry’s
first open NAS appliance–IBM NAS 300GM which allows local area network-based
clients and servers to easily interoperate with existing storage area networks
leveraging the features and performance of a SAN with the ease and convenience
of a NAS product. Essentially, the 300G converges Ethernet/IP networks and SANs.
The 300G is a highly-tuned file server that resides between the LAN and the SAN.
From the client-server side on the LAN, these products appear as a NAS device,
serving multi-protocol files, yet its storage resides on the SAN.

Another appliance, IP Storage 200i is based on iSCSI–IBM’s
technology to connect storage resources on networks using TCP/IP. This comes as
an attractive alternative to expensive fiber channel SAN environments for
departments, workgroups, mid-market customers and service providers. iSCSI
enables customers to gain the advantages of pooled storage including the ability
to select client and server systems tied directly to storage resources using IP
protocol. To create this industry standard, IBM’s research teams at Almaden,
California and Haifa, Israel explored ways to adapt SCSI commands used by
hardware devices so that they would run atop Ethernet and TCP/IP protocols. More
recently, IBM teamed up with Cisco Systems to refine and extend the original
idea. The outcome of that collaboration–which has been submitted to the IETF
storage standards body–is called iSCSI.

Disks and tapes

The center-piece of IBM’s storage networking is its
Enterprise Storage Server (ESS), code-named Shark. It is a second-generation
Seascape disk storage system for networked computing environments. Target
installations are those where both mainframe and open systems connectivity is
required and where significant scalability and high availability are key
decision factors. Shark helps protect and manage distributed data with same
level of performance as in mainframe environment wherein data from various
servers can be stored on to a single disk server. It reduces data redundancy and
increases administrative productivity through centralized management. Shark can
process 31,000 I/Os per second and achieves 185 Mbps bandwidth and allows
leading high-speed interfaces like fiber channel, UltraSCSI, ESCON and FICON. It
can scale from 420 GB to 11 TB without disrupting operations or having to be
taken offline.

Storage Industry Trends

  Today  Tomorrow
Architecture Direct-attached Networked
Storage Location Decentralized Centralized
Utilization Poor–40%-60% High:70%-90%
Management Tools Many, complex Few (Integrated), simple
Management In-house Mix of in-house and external
Connection Technology Mostly SCSI, Mostly Ethernet
  some fiber channel some fiber channel

IBM has leadership in the tape storage market and has
developed jointly with H-P and Seagate, a Linear Tape Open (LTO) product family
called Ultrium. LTO is a relatively new tape standard, which offers 2.5 times
more capacity and performance than its predecessor standard DLT. The IBM Ultrium
family comprises Ultrium drives with capacity up to 100 GB, Ultrium Tape
Autoloader, Ultrium Scalable Tape Library, and Ultrascalable Tape Library which
can handle capacity up to 248 TB uncompressed. The other high-end tape storage
solutions are the Magstar Virtual Tape Server and Magstar 3590 Tape subsystem.

Managing the store

As enterprises try to manage their storage resources with
proportionally fewer administrators, the worldwide storage management software
market is forecast to grow from $5.3 billion in 2000 to $16.7 billion in 2005,
according to Gartner. Storage hardware vendors look to storage software vendors
to gain competitive advantage and are increasing their software portfolios. IBM’s
acquisition of Tivoli Software a few years ago has put the former at an
advantageous position. IBM/Tivoli’s storage management products are Tivoli
Storage Manager (TSM), Tivoli Storage Network Manager (TSNM), and SANergy. TSM
already has a large footprint in the market with over one million computers
worldwide using the product. TSM provides a business view of storage management
and allows policy-based storage, which means that storage is decided and done
keeping the business criticality in mind. This philosophy is therefore different
from the usual back-up and restore routine. A SAN is just another complex
network resource and needs to be managed. TSNM is the network manager of SAN. It
simplifies configuration management tasks with automatic discovery and topology
mapping. SANergy is a performance tool that shares storage and data resources,
speeds up transaction processing, and scales up to meet demand.

Total storage

Earlier this year, IBM announced solutions aimed at
accelerating the acceptance of SAN. Part of the enhanced TotalStorage offerings
are the pre-configured MSS/LTO solution for mid-markets and programs worldwide
for business partners. The mid-market solution for resellers feature IBM Modular
Storage Server (MSS), Ultrium LTO tape automation, IBM StorWatch resource
management software, copy middlewares, SAN Data Gateway , and SAN Switches- all
pre-tested and rack-mounted and delivered as a single piece.

IBM has announced a 50:50 resources program at its IBM
TotalStorage Solution Centers where IBM will partner with resellers to bring
more technical assistance at the centers to help drive the acceptance of SANs
into the marketplace. The storage market is expected to be about $45 billion in
2003, according to Low Yik Choon, GM, storage, IBM Asean and Asia.

According to Choon, "Forrester Research has reveqaled
that 75% of new hardware spending would be on storage and 80% of the storage
spending would be on NAS and SAN". That is, storage is really getting
center-stage and is going to be a hotly contested market for the next couple of
years. And IBM is revving up its engines to claim a sizeable share.

Easwaradas Satyan in Bali
Islands, Indonesia

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