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IBM will next month roll out one of its beefiest NAS (network attached storage) systems to date, pumping the kit full of technology typically used on high-end Unix servers.

The TotalStorage NAS Gateway 500 box should arrive by the first week of February at a starting price of $60,000. With a price tag like that, it's clear that the product is for serious networked storage customers. It's designed to link a number a of boxes through a central point, giving it the Gateway name.

IBM proudly says it's taking aim at EMC and Network Appliance with the new kit. The system runs on IBM's own Power4 processors and AIX operating system - the two keys to the pSeries line of Unix servers. With the Power4 chip on its side, IBM claims it has boosted overall performance of its NAS systems by 150 percent.

The NAS Gateway 500 will serve up files to IBM's servers, TotalStorage FAStT products and the Enterprise Storage Server - aka Shark - box. The gateway also supports Unix, Linux and Windows clients and can support servers from other vendors when used in conjunction with the IBM SAN Volume Controller product.

IBM will bundle agents for Tivoli Storage Manager, Tivoli Storage Resource Manager, and Tivoli SAN Manager software to help manage the kit.

But one of the unheralded features of the NAS Gateway is the clustering technology used to connect two systems and supposedly lessen the effect of failures. The problem with the clustering, however, is that IBM bills it as a way to "maximize system downtime." See for yourself on this Web site. That is until IBM wakes someone up in the UK to fix the marketing slip. ®

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