IBM has made a commitment to storage area networking (San) including products, test facilities for customers and partners, and multi-vendor support.
Analysts welcomed the move because it was based on strategy, and not just products. One argued that IBM and other vendors have been offering San products for a while, but have only just jumped on the bandwagon.
James Vanderslice, senior vice president of the IBM technology group, claimed: 'No other company can bring together a combination of storage, services, servers and software to take advantage of this important trend.'
IBM revealed that its strategy included providing customers with the hardware, software and services to develop and implement Sans, regardless of operating system, server platform or applications. San technology takes storage off the Lan and on to a dedicated network, enabling more flexible cost effective storage.
But Janet Waxman, director of servers, storage and distribution at IDC, greeted IBM's move with a note of caution: 'I can't say if IBM is the only vendor that has everything, but it's the only one of its class that makes it own disk. But it's a great announcement because it's strategy based, as opposed to product-based.'
IBM's product list included San-optimised Netfinity servers and NT-based systems, multi-vendor tape pooling capability, Lan-free backup, recovery and archiving software, and San Fibre Channel Fabric hardware.
It will also make its San Fabric components - such as switching chips and fast microprocessors - available to third-party San vendors, a familiar move designed to encourage OEMs to handle its products.
IBM is also planning a storage system interoperability lab for customers, business partners and vendors to be based at the National Testing Centre in Gaithersburg in Maryland.
Waxman said that for customers, Sans are less expensive and more flexible than direct connect storage because storage can be shared between servers.
But one downside is that because of the flexible access, data protection and user privileges must be controlled.
She added that mainframes have been offering San products for a long time, but recent attention has focused on client/server.
'IBM has had a San position for a long time with Escon, but it's good to see it getting out and marketing it. With the explosion of storage, everybody needs it - that's why Sans are taking off.'
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