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IBM to focus on storage infrastructure simplification

May 04, 20043 mins
Data CenterIBM

* IBM's storage directions

I met last week with the senior managers of IBM’s storage products.  I’ll touch on some of the things I found out from the meetings in both of this week’s storage newsletters. 

First, for those of you who were worried about the company, let me assure you that things are just fine at IBM – at least as far as the storage group is concerned.  Storage revenue is up 16% over last year, with particular strength coming from sales of midrange disk systems and from tape products.  In the first quarter of this year, storage showed even more strength, with a 31% year-over-year growth. 

Last year, IBM integrated the system and technology sides of the company.  Now not only are the server and the storage people talking to one another, but the wafer heads are even getting into the conversation.  The result is that many of the various threads at IBM are being woven together more tightly than in the past, virtualization technologies have been rolled out and are now a foundation stone for the corporate direction.

IBM’s major push this year will be in the direction of infrastructure simplification; the company sees consolidation, virtualization and automated management as being the key technology enablers to get it to this goal. 

Consolidation will bring distributed physical assets onto a single platform.  Automation and virtualization in this case means providing consolidated logical views of resources across the enterprise.  The result of this should be that we have a simplified view from which we can manage the complete, complex IT system – servers, storage and network – and that the disparate parts can be managed as a whole system.

Any such simplification is likely to fix a number of problems for IT, not the least of which will be the over-provisioning issue.  If provisioning and de-provisioning of assets can be done on the fly, and we can create provisioning policies that assign assets according to business priorities, higher priority processes will always have greater access to the contents of the provisioning pool than will less-deserving processes.  This will of course move IT a long way down the road towards an on-demand utility model. 

Of course we will first have to sort out which assets are best allocated to which processes, but that is certain to be a much less painful task than having to go out and buy more of what we in some cases already have enough of. In fact, most of us will be pretty happy right now just to get the ability to look across the enterprise and calibrate assets and their usage. That might at least pre-empt some of the unneeded purchasing that we do.

Last Tuesday was tape day for those of us who were of the storage persuasion.  IBM announced the addition of WORM (write once, read many) functionality to some of its tape systems.  WORM capability is becoming increasingly important in regulated data retention scenarios, and will play a growing role as companies seek to manage their data in accordance with new regulatory requirements.  The IBM tape group clearly has every intention of being a part of that game.