IBM Launches Low-Cost Storage Server

Big Blue introduces a cost-effective storage server based on iSCSI to trump rivals' SMB products.
Posted September 3, 2004

Clint Boulton

IBM moved to undercut its rivals Friday by offering an entry-level storage server for about a third less than the street cost of EMC's and HP's comparable products.

IBM's new TotalStorage DS300 is an entry-level disk server, based on iSCSI , that costs less than $3,000 for mid-sized businesses. The Armonk, N.Y., company also trotted out the TotalStorage DS400, a 2 gigabyte Fibre Channel storage system that is 3U (5.25 inches) thick.

The DS300 and DS400 are part of the company's TotalStorage DS family. Big Blue is presenting the DS300 and DS400, which run Windows and Linux, as suitable storage systems for its eServer xSeries and BladeCenter rackable systems to serve work group and departmental needs, such as managing databases, e-mail and Web serving.

Rich Lechner, vice president of IBM Storage Systems, said the DS300 is "extremely aggressively priced" to help IBM better compete with EMC and HP.

EMC last May issued the AX100 as its leanest entry-level storage product, priced between $4,999 and $9,999. The product also targets HP's new MSA 1500, which starts at $8,995.

By comparison, IBM's DS300 VL model starts at $2,995, but costs $4,642 with three 146GB drives. A DS300 Single Controller model will cost $6,091 with the drives. The DS300 Dual Controller with five drives will run customers $8,340, a price still lower than HP and EMC's entry-level machines.

IBM, HP , EMC and Dell are all fighting it out in the small- and medium-sized business space, which many experts expect to grow rapidly as budgets loosen up.

Lechner told that the low cost of the DS300 is predicated on the fact that the new machine is based on the iSCSI protocol, a substantially cheaper means to move data from servers to storage. At a time when pricey Fibre Channel boxes rule the roost, vendors are looking to offer customers with tight budgets low-cost options based on iSCSI.

The DS300 is evidence of that. With iSCSI, an IP-based method, clients can create storage area networks with Gigabit Ethernet networks. iSCSI, which research firm Gartner expects to mature into a $2.7 billion market by 2008, improves SAN management.

The DS300 is fitted with Ultra320 SCSI drives, battery backup cache and redundant, hot-swappable power supplies, which means users can add new power supplies without taking down that server.

New members of this TotalStorage DS family include the DS4000 Mid-range Disk Systems family and the DS4000 Storage Manager V9.1. The Manager is software that can be downloaded from the Web that provides new remote mirroring and copy functions, called Global Mirror and Global Copy, to help customers mirror data both synchronously and asynchronously.

These features were previously only available in the company's high-end Shark array.

The IBM TotalStorage DS4000 Storage Manager is available now. Single controller models of the DS300 and DS400 will ship September 24, with dual controller models to come December 17.

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