IBM today unveiled a storage software roadmap aimed at embedding intelligence in storage networks through a combination of breakthrough IBM technologies designed to exploit rapidly emerging industry-wide storage management standards.
In support of this initiative, IBM's Storage Systems Group is focusing the company's software, research and systems management expertise on three areas of innovation:
Linux-based virtualization engine: virtualization software designed to reduce total cost of ownership by enabling systems administrators to view and access a common pool of storage on a network, and to increase storage utilization on existing storage servers.
Storage Tank: the industry's first file system optimized for accessing, saving, sharing and managing files on storage networks.
Standards-based management interfaces: open management interfaces centered around the software model proposed by the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) designed to allow any storage system or device, such as IBM's Storage Tank and virtualization engine, to be managed by standards-based storage management software, including software from IBM's Tivoli Division.
"IBM is addressing the critical issue of data availability with a smart strategy that will benefit companies searching for a way to maximize the efficiency of their heterogeneous data centers," said Joe Fucillo, senior vice president of Xand Corporation, a managed storage and service provider. "Most importantly, IBM's commitment to developing interoperable software technologies can help reduce complexity and make easier to manage storage networks. I haven't seen a comparable plan from any of IBM's competitors."
Unlike narrowly-focused efforts aimed only at the storage block level, IBM's software roadmap is intended to address customer needs at both block and file levels by combining IBM-developed technologies with open, industry-wide programming interfaces to support interoperability with solutions from other vendors.
The IBM approach is consistent with the open storage model proposed and endorsed by SNIA. In addition, IBM's roadmap for the delivery of storage infrastructure software from its Storage Systems Group complements the storage management software roadmap from Tivoli. Tivoli's storage management products are part of their full systems management suite.
IBM's virtualization engine will be implemented on a cluster of IBM eServer xSeries systems running Linux, and is designed to help customers increase efficiency and productivity by providing a single point of control over disk storage capacity (block level management) within a storage network. Very importantly, the virtual disks presented to application servers provide an indirect route and insulation between application servers and storage servers. This is intended to allow customers to move data, add physical disks and reallocate spare storage capacity without impacting the performance or availability of applications.
In addition, IBM's virtualization engine is designed with the reliability features expected of robust storage controllers, such as the ability to automatically failover and restart while preserving cached information.
Storage Tank and IBM's virtualization engine are planned for availability in 2003.