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As promised, IBM today came out swinging against EMC in the storage software wars, saying it achieved a "watershed moment in the storage industry" by establishing sales momentum. A watershed moment in the history of gwana-gwana, perhaps, as new products were nowhere to be seen.

IBM decided to take a shot at rival EMC by announcing the 1,000th customer of its storage virtualization software during an event in Cambridge, Massachusetts - a happening exclusively predicted yesterday by El Reg. The 1,000th customer - Cisco - was rolled out to prove that IBM is making a serious charge in the storage software market dominated by EMC and Veritas. IBM, in fact, held the momentum event in Massachusetts just 20 miles from EMC's headquarters to really drive home its attacking stance.

"IBM offers the industry's broadest range of storage virtualization capabilities from software to disk to tape solutions," said new IBM storage GM Andy Monshaw. "Building on our broad set of Virtualization Engine technologies for servers, today's announcement marks a milestone in delivering innovation that matters for our clients and the industry."

IBM rolled out plenty of storage software customers such as IKON, Oakwood Healthcare and the always admired city of Saskatoon. That 1,000th customer, however, was a bit dubious.

Cisco is one of IBM's main storage partners. IBM, for example, on Tuesday dropped the price of the Cisco MDS 9120 Fibre Channel switch it resells by as much as $2,000 on some models. And there's Cisco appearing one day later in an IBM customer momentum press release. IBM can't control in which order the customers come in, but you'd think it might ask Cisco to hold off on a storage virtualization software purchase to let a real customer take that prized 1,000th spot. Cisco notably did not provide a statement in the IBM press release as is standard procedure in these momentum exercises - especially if they are "watershed moments."

We digress.

IBM held the event to tout its wide range of virtualization products, stretching from file systems and managers to servers and switches. It also gave the company a chance to drag Monshaw - the third storage GM in as many years - in front of East Coast reporters. (IBM didn't invite any non-East Coast press to the shindig.)

One of IBM's biggest advantages in this battle is its line of Unix servers that are typically attached to high-end SANs (storage area networks). These popular systems give IBM a direct tie in to the customer. So far though, storage specialists such as EMC and Veritas have dominated the sales of fancy virtualization code - not that any vendor is selling tons of the stuff.

EMC did its best to counter IBM's announcement by making its own news today. The vendor didn't have a 1,000th customer to expose but did have a new product called ControlCenter SAN Advisor. What does this software do? Take it away, EMC.

"SAN Advisor features an automated data import engine that downloads detailed SAN environment data and uses it for analysis, baselining, SAN modeling and predictive change management testing. SAN Advisor helps ensure peak availability by automatically validating the SAN against 130 rules for availability and array configuration."

It's your standard "does all this hardware and software work together?" tool. The code can warn of potential errors that might occur when a new product is added to a SAN and can also run some performance analysis tests. It starts at $5,000. ®

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