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IBM offers low cost disk, tamper-proof tape

IBM has announced an entry-level SATA disk array, Tivoli provisioning software for storage devices and write-once-read-many tape technology. Users had mixed reactions to the news

IBM Corp. added a couple of new products to its storage portfolio this week, following the industry trend toward lower cost disks for tiered storage and write-once-read-many (WORM) tape technology for compliance.

The newly announced disk array, dubbed TotalStorage FAStT100 Storage Server, is a near-line device that uses serial advanced technology attachment (SATA) disks, which are cheaper than traditional Fibre Channel and SCSI disks. It will be available in July, starting at around $15,000 and ranges from 250GB up to 56TB. StorageTek Corp and LSI Logic Corp already offer similar products.

IBM anticipates the FAStT100 will appeal to companies that have a need to store transaction records, healthcare records or just general auditing information, though that type of data is seldom accessed. Keeping it online on lower cost storage means that it can still be quickly accessed should government regulators come calling.

Customers had mixed reactions to this idea. Bob Venable, head of IT at Blue Cross Blue Shield in Tennessee isn't convinced that migrating data to lower cost disk is the wisest strategy. "Everybody is looking at the initial purchase price and not the TCO," he said. "If there's a second disk failure before the first one is rebuilt you're in trouble, as these cheaper disk systems have no sparing mechanisms." Venable said he would rather pay more for a high-end system and avoid the cost of trying to recover data when less robust products fail.

Ken Westerback, technology architect at St Michael's Hospital, has a different view. "We have groups within the hospital that have different abilities to pay for storage; Our research group uses lots of storage, but they don't need high availability -- the FAStT100 would be good for them," he said.

The FAStT100 has the same functions as the FAStT600, such as dynamic volume expansion, which allows administrators to resize logical volumes non-disruptively, and dynamic capacity expansion, which allows new disk drives to be added to the array to increase capacity while the system remains operational. It can also be partitioned into 16 storage partitions to allocate capacity where it's most needed.

On the software side, IBM announced Tivoli Provisioning Manager, a workflow management product that provisions and configures servers, operating systems, middleware, applications and network drives, which is now available for storage.

Tamper-proof tape

In addition to the FAStT100, IBM announced long-awaited enhancements to its tape portfolio, including Write Once Read Many (WORM) media technology for the Model 3592 tape drive.

This tape storage is of particular interest to companies that need to securely store large quantities of electronic records for regulatory and internal audit requirements, though they will rarely need to access such information. IBM said it is also a key component of its data lifecycle management portfolio.

IBM is relying on software partners to perform the data lifecycle management component of compliance. These include Abreon Group, Acumen Advanced Technologies, Blue World Information Technology, iLumin, iRise, GlobalVision IT, GlobalValue, Hyperion, Informatica, QuickCompliance, SkillSoft and ZipLip.

Earlier this month IBM announced the TotalStorage Data Retention 450. Jack Scott, a partner with the Evaluator Group Inc., said the 450 was "a lot of everything else that they have" cobbled into one system.

For more information:

IBM package aims to capitalize on compliance fears

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