IBM exec predicts massive growth for storage; plans for utility product

In a keynote address to attendees of IBM's International Storage Symposium this week in San Diego, Calif., IBM Storage Systems Group Vice President Walter Raizner told the audience to expect their companies' storage needs to double every few months and their storage requirements spending to quadruple over the next four years.

According to Raizner, storage administrators can also expect storage to be moved out of the background and onto center stage in today's business environments. "The new e-business revolution drives a tremendous amount of data we all have to handle and manage," he said. "Now, information will become the most valuable asset for your company."

What makes it tough, however, is that it's all over the place -- in data centers, on tape, on desktop PCs in different departments -- and it's exchanged dynamically with others. "These [issues] have moved storage from the back-office to the forefront, right along servers," he said.

While all this dependence on storage bodes well for the storage administrator's job security, it also means more work. With batch windows no longer available in today's high availability Internet world and unplanned spikes in demand and usage, these trends will "put a tremendous burden on IT," Raizner said. "You will need an entirely new infrastructure, built on different classes of servers."

Raizner identifies three server classes that will be most critical for this next phase of e-business: Data transaction servers, to manage huge volumes of transactions; application servers, to manage the customer and end user experience on the Web; and highly specialized appliance servers, to perform specific functions such as, firewalls and load balancing.

Raizner sees Linux as one key in the application server arena and believes it will bring many new applications to the market. IBM, and all of its key partners, have agreed to support Linux, he said, "and are committed you won't have to pay more." Referring to IBM's recent founding of the Gnome Foundation to help support Linux development, Raizner said, "We want to make Linux a viable alternative to Microsoft."

According to Raizner, one of IBM's answers to the growing needs of storage is its Shark Enterprise Storage Server. After exactly one year on the market, Raizner indicated that a Shark server has already been installed in 57% of Fortune 100 companies. He also claimed that the company has shipped over 4,000 T Bytes of capacity on Shark in its first 9 months on the market.

In recent tests performed by IBM's performance group on Shark and the new IMS Version 7.0 (which they expect to be available on Oct. 27), Raizner said that they achieved over 11,000 transactions per second, and 1 billion transactions per day.

Behind Shark are the company's tape systems, including IBM's new LTO Ultrium, which is "their response to EMC's claim that tape is dead," says Raizner. He indicated that companies like Entertainment Tonight are even now planning to digitize and transfer over 100,000 hours of TV programming onto an LTO library.

Rounding out the product line are Tivoli system management solutions, which he claimed "let the good guys in, and keep the bad guys out" when it comes to managing services and devices.

Raizner said IBM is expected to announce soon a move into the storage utility market, where users will be able to buy storage solutions on demand. Also, IBM will continue to push for open systems and interoperability across platforms and different vendors, he said. Citing the recent agreement formed with Compaq, Raizner said that they are trying "to ensure storage standards will go forth under an open, nonproprietary solution."

The fact that IBM is teaming up with other vendors, says Raizner, "will isolate other vendors who cling to their proprietary systems." Raizner cited EMC as one of those vendors. "Our hope is that other vendors of the industry will join our party."

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