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IBM lends partners a hand

Need some storage personnel? If you're an IBM SAN Solution partner Big Blue says it will pay half the salary of any new hire dedicated to working in an IBM storage solution center for the next year.

IBM has instituted a "50/50 program" to foster the hiring of IT professionals to staff openings for its second wave of Business Partner SAN Solution Centers.

The Solution Centers were officially launched in May of 2000 as part of a $400 million storage initiative. The centers, now numbering 62 worldwide, feature the testing, designing, education and training for IBM's storage area network (SAN) solutions.

IBM plans to roll out an additional 88 solution centers over the next four quarters due to positive feedback from its business partners. The new centers will bring the total to 150 worldwide.

"[The solution centers] allow our business partners to bring customers in locally to demonstrate and test SAN configurations," said Jill Kaplan, storage solutions marketing manager for IBM. Kaplan said that for customers making sure everything is tested and the IBM storage solution will interoperate with the existing environment is a top priority.

The SAN Solution Centers generate a lot of consulting services for IBM's business partners as well, which accounts for some of the positive feedback that Big Blue has been getting.

Mike Karp, analyst for the Boston-based, Hurwitz Group, an IT analyst firm, said that IBM's 50/50 program is as aggressive as it is smart. "In a time when the pool of available IT talent is getting shallower and shallower, [we] see this as a terrific incentive to IBM's channel partners to grab as much storage talent as they can get hold of."

In order to get the new round of Solution Centers off the ground, IBM is also offering its partners a break of sorts on leasing its storage equipment. The company said it would pay the first six months of a two-year lease on a new IBM Modular Storage Server (MSS), and Ultrium LTO (Linear Tape-Open) tape automation product.

The announcement came as part of a deluge of new storage offerings from IBM earlier this week.

On Wednesday IBM began its push for the new iSCSI standard, an Internet-based version of SCSI technology, with the introduction of the IP Storage 200i. The 200i is an iSCSI storage appliance that connects users to pooled storage on a network using Internet protocols.

IBM's other new product offering converges Ethernet/IP networks and SANs. The Network-Attached Storage (NAS) 300G is a file server that resides between the local area network (LAN) and a SAN. From the client/server side on the LAN, these products appear as a NAS device, serving multi-protocol files with its storage resides on the SAN. The IBM NAS 300G series was designed as an open system able to work with multiple storage systems and is designed to give existing AIX users the capability to extend their enterprise data management by upgrading their existing disk technology to a SAN.

In addition, IBM announced a range of enhancements to its SAN capabilities including native Fibre Channel for IBM's 3584 UltraScalable Tape Library, and a 32G Byte cache upgrade to IBM's Enterprise Storage Server, also known as Shark. IBM said native Fibre Channel would enable router-less SAN connections for the eServer family, Intel, and Sun platforms.

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Kevin Komiega, assistant news editor

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