IBM To Unveil MSS, FAStT200 Storage

IBM To Unveil MSS, FAStT200 StorageMSS is the first product from IBM/Compaq alliance. By Jacqueline Emigh & Steven J.

IBM To Unveil MSS, FAStT200 Storage MSS is the first product from IBM/Compaq alliance. By Jacqueline Emigh & Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols , Sm@rt Partner Look out EMC and Sun, IBM and Compaq are launching the Modular Storage Server (MSS) at IBM's International Storage Systems Symposium (ISSS) today. This is the first product shot from IBM and Compaq's July 6 storage alliance against EMC and Sun's powerful high-end storage position. The high-end storage cold war has just heated up.

Big Blue also will be rolling out a lower-end storage device called FAStT200, for Netfinity servers at this customer event. In addition, it will be releasing new 36 gigabyte 10,000rpm disk drives for its top-of-the-line Shark storage server.

The big product, MSS, "is based on Compaq's StorageWorks Modular Array 8000. But it also includes IBM hard disk drives and IBM racks," according to Mike Harrison, IBM's director of storage alliances.

IBM plans to ship this new high-end storage server system for Unix and Intel servers on Sept. 29, at pricing of about $70,000 for a typical configuration. Configurations will range from one drive with 18GB capacity to 72 drives with more than 4 terabytes capacity. It will be available with either 10,000rpm or 15,000rpm hard disk drives.

IBM's MSS also will include Compaq software for storage management, disaster recovery and fail-over. On its side, IBM will be rebranding Compaq's software for use with MSS. For example, Compaq's SecurePath fail-over software will be sold to IBM customers as DataPath Optimizer (DPO) for MSS.

IBM already produces a software product for Shark known as DPO. Over time, Big Blue expects to migrate the load-balancing capability in its own Shark software to DPO for MSS.

Harrison predicts that Compaq will announce a Compaq-branded edition of IBM's Shark some time during the fourth quarter. Shark supports S/390 mainframes, in addition to Unix and Intel servers. Compaq also will be reselling some of IBM's Tivoli software products, he notes.

Big Blue's new FAStT200 storage system for Netfinity servers is set for release on Sept. 12, at list pricing of $12,000. LSI designed the control unit and is manufacturing the FAStT200 for IBM. The system also includes IBM disk drives.

Above The Disk

This is more than just co-produced and branded products news. It's real proof that IBM and Compaq have been working together and with their partners on building an organizational "infrastructure" to support their storage alliance.

The alliance is widely seen as a move by the two companies to build market share in the burgeoning storage market by expanding their product lineups. Compaq makes no bones about it. In a New York press conference, Compaq painted Sun and EMC as Compaq's chief rivals in the storage market, and criticized them for their "proprietary" approach.

In addition, IBM and Compaq have started collaborating together and with other players on product interoperability. Compaq last week opened a 22,000-square-foot storage lab in Colorado Springs, to be used for developing technology based on its VersaStor software that will support use of multivendor computers and storage devices for networked storage and retrieval. At the same site, Compaq is building a Storage Networking Technology Center for use by storage system vendors, switch makers, and other members of the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA). Gary Wright, Compaq's director of marketing for enterprise storage software, says Compaq also is providing the new SNIA lab with "equipment and guidance to help with the interoperability."

Harrison says IBM and Compaq have been working on an organizational infrastructure to support their own storage alliance over the past six weeks. "Teams have been identified at both companies. We've spent a great deal of time in training thousands of employees and business partners about the capabilities of both companies' products."

Storage specialist EMC Corp. has come from behind in recent years to grab the top spot from IBM on both the mainframe and Unix/Intel sides of the market. But with this, IBM has served notice that it's back in the field and that Compaq is also gaining its first toehold in the mainframe storage space. Let the war for high-end storage begin.