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IBM provisioning lab offers hands-on experience

Users willing to travel to Washington, D.C., can put IBM's storage provisioning products to the test.

IBM is opening a technology lab in Washington, D.C., to demonstrate on-demand computing, including storage provisioning, to provide users with hands-on experience of its products.

In the first quarter of next year, IBM will put Tivoli's orchestration and provisioning software through its paces on the new DS8000 storage array. Users can investigate, for example, how to maximize storage utilization by provisioning capacity among resource pools and matching this up with changing business needs.

"We've been talking about on-demand for two years... Now we're very close to customers implementing it, and we're trying to stay ahead of that wave," said Brian Sanchez, director of advanced technology support, IBM Americas. He added that playing with this stuff before implementing it will avoid costly mistakes in the long run.

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The lab is located in Gaithersburg, Md., several miles outside of Washington and will house multiple Sharks, DS6000s and DS8000s as well as the complete suite of Tivoli and IBM storage software. It will be staffed with 20 storage and 20 Tivoli experts and up to 90 IBM Z-series specialists.

One product on display that will likely draw attention is SAN Volume Controller (SVC), IBM's virtualization software that runs either on a standalone appliance, or on a blade mounted in Cisco Systems Inc.'s MDS 9000 SAN switches. When it was first launched last summer, SVC only worked with IBM disk arrays, but since then IBM has added support for Hitachi Data Systems, Hewlett-Packard Co., EMC Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. storage.

SVC enables data movement and replication between unlike disk arrays. It's advantageous for users who want to migrate data to cheaper storage and to loosen up their reliance on a single vendor.

Unfortunately, IBM won't show SVC hooked up to third-party storage, according to Sanchez, as it's "very expensive to buy and maintain other vendors' gear." But he indicated the lab will accept equipment loaned or consigned from users who want to see other technology working with IBM products. "We realize it's a mixed environment world," Sanchez said.

For users who can't make the trip to Gaithersburg, Md., IBM will provide remote demos of Tivoli Intelligent Orchestrator over the Web.

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