IBM DS8000 gaining ground

The Dutch Chambers of Commerce recently chose the new IBM DS8000 over an EMC Symmetrix, principally for its partitioning capabilities.

The IBM DS8000 high-end storage system is making its way into IT shops, and is beginning to give EMC's Symmetrix a run for its money.

A recent example is the Dutch Chambers of Commerce, one of the first users to speak to the press about implementing the new DS8000, which has been available since December, 2004. The Woerden, Holland-based organization has installed the IBM DS8000 and iSeries server to consolidate storage and improve support for its legal, import and export applications.

The DS8000's partitioning feature was the big draw for Mansour Jouhre, IT architecture manager for the Dutch Chambers of Commerce. The DS8000 uses IBM's Power5 processor to divvy up the processor resources in the system for different jobs.

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"Because the Chambers of Commerce supports 21 different chambers, being able to partition fixed storage for each chamber at a fixed price was important," said Jouhre. The ability to share storage through partitioning is something EMC's Symmetrix does not do, and was the main reason the Dutch Chambers chose IBM over EMC, according to Jouhre.

EMC declines to comment on specific customer situations but insists the Symmetrix DMX does in fact offer partitioning. "EMC has offered partitioning for the past five years and we believe our approach is the most efficient and cost-effective in the industry," a company spokesman said. Indeed, EMC does offer partitioning, but partitioning of disk drives, which is different from IBM's logical partitioning (LPAR) technology, which can partition disks, processors and cache, to divide up all resources as required.

Another reason the Chambers of Commerce went with IBM was maintenance fees. "For the DS8000, IBM guarantees four years without maintenance fees. EMC only guarantees one year for the Symmetrix," said Jouhre.

Could Dutch Chambers' choice to implement DS8000 over Symmetrix be the shape of things to come?

In a recent report, financial analyst firm Morgan Keegan & Company said that the "The initial demand for DS8000 is reported to be quite strong" and that the "the general availability of the DS8000 appears to be elongating sales cycles as customers evaluate performance."

The report also stated that the IBM DS6000 -- a smaller version of the DS8000 -- is "putting pressure on EMC to lower the price point for low-end DMX systems."

It's worth noting that EMC is scheduled to release the seventh version of Symmetrix later this year, and this may be an opportune time to address the threat of the DS8000.

On the other hand, it could be the right time for DS8000 to surge ahead.

A recent report published by Merrill Lynch called "EMC Corp: Bracing for enterprise disk drive tightness," stated that one of the challenges facing EMC this year is "customer hesitation ahead of Symmetrix 7 announced later this year."

Separately, IBM Global Services announced a series of managed data recovery services based on technology from Avamar Technologies Inc., LiveVault Corp. and Network Appliance Inc., among other partners. Click here for the full story.

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