IBM takes another shot at NAS

IBM unveils its first NAS product via its OEM deal with NetApp, introduces a small business compliance system and a SAN starter kit.

Starting at the low end of the market, IBM has announced the first product resulting from its OEM agreement with Network Appliance Inc. (Net App) and expects to introduce the rest of the NetApp line by year's end.

The first product resulting from the alliance, the IBM TotalStorage N3700, (NetApp's FAS 270) is an entry-level NAS box that supports iSCSI and scales from 1 terabyte (TB) up 16 TB in 1 TB increments. It costs $50,000, which includes a three-year warranty for hardware and software. IBM will begin shipping the product Aug. 26.

"The only difference between our product and theirs is their warranty is for 90 days on the software," said Peter McCaffrey, manager TotalStorage solutions, IBM.

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Tony Asaro, senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) thinks IBM is making the right move starting at the low end. "If they're smart they'll push the NAS plus iSCSI angle, that's where the growth is … ESG research found that IBM is one of the top three that small customers will look to for storage networking solutions along with Dell [Inc.] and HP [Hewlett-Packard Co]."

IBM's OEM deal with NetApp was announced in April this year and marks IBM's third attempt to gain a foothold in the NAS market. It used to sell a Windows NAS box but pulled that to build a Linux blade, which didn't last either.

Last week, NetApp and IBM announced plans to integrate IBM's SAN Volume Controller virtualization software with NetApp's V-Series and fabric-attached storage systems. NetApp will also join IBM as one of the founding members in the new Blade.org industry association.

Compliance for small businesses

Sticking with the focus on small businesses, IBM announced the DR550 Express, a smaller version of the DR550 enterprise archiving system. This provides nonerasable, non rewriteable policy-based storage management via Tivoli Storage Manager.

It starts at $45,000 for a single controller and scales up from 1.1 TB to 56 TB. The enterprise edition, with a dual-node configuration, costs $100,000 and scales from 3.3 TB to 56 TB.

"There's no relief from regulatory agencies just because you are a small business," IBM's McCaffrey said. "The only difference is you have less technical expertise than a larger company and probably need more of a load-and-go product." The DR550 Express is a rackable system with all the software preloaded.

SAN starter kit

Lastly, IBM introduced a SAN bundle for small businesses designed for IBM xSeries server environments. It includes an IBM TotalStorage Storage Switch L10 (a rebranded version of Emulex's 10-port switch) and IBM's dual-controller DS400 Express disk array (a rebranded version of Adaptec Inc.'s FSA modular Fibre Channel array). It will include a step-by-step installation guide to help users install the SAN. The kit is available today and is priced at $16,376.

Interestingly, while IBM professes to be completely committed to the storage market, only one of these new products, the DR550 Express, is actually built by the company. "It's like selling chocolate cookies, you can sell the flour, the chocolate chips and the recipe, or you can sell the cookie … we are going to do as much packaging as we can," McCaffrey said.

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