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Big Blue Shark attacks StorageTek

Storage bust up sees long-standing partnership shaken

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IBM has dumped StorageTek's SVA disk array and developed its own rival product – due to be launched today. Big Blue has had an OEM agreement with StorageTek since 1996, reselling StorageTek's SVA (Shared Virtual Array) which it rebranded RVA (Ramac Virtual Array). IBM sold all StorageTek's SVA stock. Big Blue was said to be weak on the developing, and StorageTek poor on the marketing side, so they both benefited from the long-standing partnership. The joint venture has around 6,000 customers worldwide. IBM has now developed its own disk array product – codenamed Shark – due to launch later today. This will replace the RVA and compete with StorageTek’s SVA for the very same 6,000 customers. StorageTek will retaliate by selling its own SVA product direct to the market instead of using IBM as a reseller. David Slater, StorageTek enterprise disk marketing manager, described IBM's new product as "a step backwards" because it did not have the "virtual" technology. Virtual disk arrays store more data on less disk space, and need less man management – users don't have to physically back-up data. It is also more cost effective, according to Slater. He said StorageTek wanted to show its customers that they hadn't been abandoned, despite IBM's move. StorageTek will honour any warranties from users wanting to upgrade from RVA to SVA. Slater said existing IBM customers would suffer from IBM's decision to go it alone. "A lot of customers have bought into the virtual approach. IBM will no doubt go ahead with virtual technology in the future, but we are selling virtual products now," said Slater. Claus Egge, IDC storage analyst, said the move would be good for IBM, which has big ambitions to get back into high-end storage manufacture. "Shark is not a virtual product, but IBM has shown commitment to virtual technology in the future," he said. Egge was unsure if users would stick with IBM or switch to buy direct from StorageTek. ®

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