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IBM evolves its storage line

Apr 22, 20043 mins
Data CenterIBM

* Storage happenings at IBM

As your paleontologist friends will tell you, either of two things happened to the dinosaurs:  some evolved, and some turned into oil.  Those that evolved turned into, among other things, snakes, crocodiles, turtles and birds.  Those that didn’t, wound up in our gas tanks.

Almost all of the earliest computer companies turned into oil, a few wandered into their own special ecological niches and morphed into evolved versions of their former selves (OK, I freely admit that I do in fact think of some of them as snakes, croc[k]s and turtles), and one at least has learned how to fly.  I think the metaphor works.

IBM, once thought of as a dinosaur, isn’t.  And at least as far as storage is concerned, the evolution continues.

The company’s storage software portfolio, now called “TotalStorage Open,” has merged into three product groups:

* Productivity Center Solutions, which includes storage resource management, storage-area network management and device management tools.

* Data Management Solutions, which features hierarchical storage management, backup and recovery, data management, data archiving, information lifecycle management and compliance software.

* Virtualization Solutions group, which offers block, file, and object level virtualization. 

I have looked at the Productivity Center Solutions set of products.  The next step on its evolutionary path will be to front-end the present set of SRM, SAN management and device management point products with a common launch pad, and to provide storage workflow automation via a linkage to Tivoli Provisioning Manager.  After that, look for a common user interface and a common set of data, fabric, disk and replication services across all the products. 

Basically, all this means is that a historically robust set of products now, at long last, has a clearly defined path (and corporate commitment) to becoming a set of integrated solutions. 

One curious thing about IBM’s marketing approach is the continued distinction it makes between HSM and ILM. 

Admittedly, IBM invented the concept of HSM back in the days when computers still ran on coal, but it is puzzling that it differentiates the two in the marketplace.  Certainly the two are different, but in many respects, they are different sides of the same coin.   After all, many of the core values of HSM and ILM are the same: improved efficiency of asset utilization, better performance for processes that require it, and an ability to move data on an “as necessary” basis.

Also, when HSM is used in conjunction with Tivoli Storage Manager’s policy-based data retention capability to address the regulatory requirements, it is hard to see why HSM isn’t just thought of as a subset of managing the information lifecycle.

Most of you will point out that this is pretty much a quibble with the marketing message and not with the products, but in many respects, the message (and the perceptions that result from it) often becomes the product.  On the other hand, if the product set is moving forward (it is), it is also a certainty that the message will continue to evolve as well.