IBM Embraces Storage Area Networks



After years of remaining loyal to Serial StorageArchitecture interconnect technology, IBM yesterday fullyembraced storage area networks based on Fibre Channel withthe release of several products under its newly developedSAN initiative. The products and initiative are part ofIBM's plan to help customers move toward SANs that, inaddition to providing performance and distance benefits,will allow centralized management of heterogeneous hardwareand software systems and sharing of information acrossstorage systems regardless of vendor computing systems andsoftware applications.

IBM unveiled its SAN Data Gateway that connects SCSI andUltra SCSI-attached disk and tape storage systems to selectUnix and NT servers with Fibre Channel interconnect. IBM'sFibre Channel RAID Storage Server is the company's firstdevice with Fibre Channel drives inside designed for smallclusters of the same Unix and NT servers. The storage systemwill offer capacity ranging from 18 Gbytes to 1 terabyte.The company also released Fibre Channel Storage Hubs withseven ports to support up to 100-Mbyte-per-second datatransmission between system servers and storage servers. Onthe software side, IBM upgraded its StorWatch centralizedmanagement tool, which lets network administrators monitorand dynamically reconfigure multiple RAID Storage systemsfrom a single Windows 95 or NT workstation, to now supportFibre Channel.

According to IBM, the products are the first of severalupcoming announcements that will accompany the company's SANinitiative. Under the initiative, the services, software,networking, and server divisions of IBM will be generatingproducts that will help with the company's goal of creatinga unified infrastructure using SANs. Currently, SANs sufferfrom a lack of management capabilities across heterogeneoussystems.

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