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IBM prepares to roll out midrange disk array

IBM reveals details of a new midrange storage disk array, the DS5000 series, which offers modular upgrade features for I/O, memory and capacity.

For the second time in as many weeks, IBM has revealed details of a new product through the early launch of European product websites. This time it's the DS5000 series, a new midrange modular disk array.

Like most of IBM's other midrange storage products, this is a rebranding of a product from LSI Corp. According to the product website, the DS5000 series "is designed to deliver up to a two-fold IOP performance increase over the current generation DS4800 offerings and represents the seventh-generation architecture within the midrange disk family." IBM officials declined to comment Wednesday on whether or not it will replace the DS4800.

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According to the IBM website, the "planned availability date" for the DS5000 is Sept. 9. Two weeks ago, IBM posted details of its XIV Storage System on a website with a planned availability date of Aug. 15. IBM has yet to officially announce the XIV Storage System.

The DS5000 line consists of the DS5100 and the DS5300 storage controllers, and the EXP5000 storage expansion unit. Up to 16 EXP5000 units can be used with each controller, for a total capacity of up to 256 TB. The products have a 4 Gbps Fibre Channel interface and can support Fibre Channel or SATA drives. The DS5100 storage controller supports one Fibre Channel host-port card, while the DS5300 supports two host-port cards for higher performance.

New with these models are several modular upgrade and scaling options. DS5100 controllers can be swapped out for DS5300 controllers with data in place to boost performance. Modular cache memory blocks in 8 GB and 16 GB increments are also available. According to the website, "A design feature of the architecture is to allow for an increase in the number of host ports over time, as well as add or change host-port types as higher speed host ports or new industry standards-based protocol host-port types are introduced."

This is similar to a feature introduced by EMC earlier this month with its CX4 arrays, which include hot-swappable I/O modules designed to allow in-place upgrades to 8 Gbps Fibre Channel, 10 Gigabit Ethernet and potentially, Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE)..

"The specs could line up well with what EMC recently announced with the CX4 series," said StorageIO analyst Greg Schulz. "What will be interesting to see is how the DS5000 series stacks up running different workloads and benchmarks."

As with the disclosure of specs on IBM's XIV launch, an EMC blogger called the market's attention to the DS5000 site. "This now makes two 'new platform' storage announcements from IBM where they simply post a Web page regarding a completely new storage product on their European site and call it a day," wrote Chuck Hollis in his blog post. "Has IBM decided to focus its marketing efforts elsewhere, and decided not to bring much attention to their … storage business?"

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