IBM fills out NAS line

IBM has plugged a hole in its NAS product line with the addition of the NAS 100, an entry-level box based on ATA drive technology.

IBM Corp., has added another piece to its network-attached storage pie by introducing an entry-level system to its product line.

The 1U-high TotalStorage NAS 100, referred to as a "pizza box" because of its slim, rectangular shape, represents the third, and the least expensive NAS product in IBM's portfolio.

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The NAS 100 utilizes four 7200 RPM, 120G Byte ATA hard drives for a total capacity of 480G Bytes at a price of approximately $4,400, which is less than half the cost of the TotalStorage 200G. But, Vaughn said, the 100 contains the same software as its larger, more expensive brethren.

David Vaughn, product manager for storage networking said that although IBM has been shipping its midrange 200G and high-end 300G NAS products for more than a year the company left a hole in its product line for an entry-level system.

"One of the first decisions that we made was to keep the same software across the board. That way all of the interoperability work we've done for the 200 and 300 carries into the 100," he said.

Last May, IBM took the self-healing and self-managing software technologies developed for Project eLiza and applied them to its NAS product line.

The self-healing technology has been embedded into the latest version of IBM Director Agent 3.1 and can predict when problems may occur and, has the ability to automatically call another computer for help or even order necessary parts.

Another automated eLiza feature of IBM Director is the ability to predict processor or memory bottlenecks that can slow performance or cause unplanned downtime. The Director can alert the customer in advance of the bottleneck, make recommendations to avoid it, and provide and respond automatically when an alert is received.

IBM said the software improvements can boost performance of Unix applications by as much as 67%. But the hardware is what makes the 100 a bargain.

While the NAS 200G and 300G utilize SCSI and Fibre Channel hard drives, respectively, the 100 is based on cheaper ATA drive technology.

Vaughn said the timing was right to introduce ATA technology to its NAS products. "We're seeing more and more ATA solutions as the drive technology matures," he said.

IBM also introduced new storage capabilities to its midrange FAStT products and announced 11 new TotalStorage Proven applications.

IBM is now offering an end-to-end 2Gb solution with new FAStT EXP700 Storage Expansion Unit and availability of 2Gb Fibre Channel disk drives. The expansion unit delivers 2 Gb performance throughout the system with the FAStT 700.

John Webster, Founder and senior analyst for the Data Mobility Group Inc., Nashua, N.H., said the addition of end-to-end 2Gb support is probably the result of demand from its channel partners.

"They're seeing some resistance from the channel toward doing 2 gigabit on the front-end and 1 gigabit on the back end, which can only mean that their channel partners are [objecting]," said Webster. IBM is also offering a new 2Gb Fibre Channel PCI-X 133MHz host bus adapter for eServer xSeries and other Intel-based servers attaching to FAStT Storage Servers.

Finally, IBM is also announcing 11 new additions to the IBM TotalStorage Proven program, boosting its ranks to more than 100 members. The new additions to the program include BMC Software, DataCore Software, DataTrend, FalconStor Software, J.D. Edwards, Jeskell, Novell, SANcastle, Siebel, StoreAge and Vicom.

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