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StorageTek wants to fix your content with IntelliStore

Sunsets old CAS kit

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StorageTek wants you to forget about Sun Microsystems for a minute and think about your CAS (content addressable storage) situation.

The company - being acquired by Sun for $4.1bn - rolled out a new CAS product called IntelliStore. The system combines disk and tape archiving and is meant to go up against EMC's much-publicized Centera kit and HP's RISS (reference information storage system). All of these boxes handle "fixed content" or data that won't be changed and is ready to be archived.

Customers want archiving products that are cheap enough, while still making searching for files easy. As the most vocal CAS proponent, EMC has argued that disk-based systems come the closest to striking this price/performance balance since quite sophisticated software can be layered on ever-cheaper disks. StorageTek, however, reckons the disk and tape combo is the better bet - no surprise from one of the largest tape companies.

"Today's disk-based archive systems force companies to accept a high degree of compromise in their environments," said Brenda Zawatski, a VP at StorageTek. "Legacy disk-only solutions pose scalability, performance and cost constraints, while failing to mitigate business risk. IntelliStore, as the world's first intelligent enterprise archive solution, provides an alternative to this great compromise."

Ah, but here's the rub.

While gaga over its own disk/tape marriage, StorageTek won't actually be providing support for its StreamLine SL8500 and SL500 tape libraries as the IntelliStore line rolls out the door this month. The libraries will, however, be supported within the next two or three months. It's a coding thing, we're told.

In the meantime, Intellistore arrives in two basic shapes. The first is the IntelliStore management software that handles all the archiving functions. The second bit is the software's home - a new line of disk-based hardware known as the FlexLine 600 Series. StorageTek last year began talking up these Linux appliances, and now they have finally arrived.

A 3TB starter version of the FLC600 array will start around $45,000. Slap the IntelliStore software on it and scale up to 4TB, and you're looking at $75,000 to get your CAS on. Each additional terabyte will cost $9,000.

So, in the end, IntelliStore is less romantic than StorageTek would have you believe. The company has set up an enter web site for what is really just some new software and a SATA appliance.

This new combination replaces a previous system StorageTek OEMed from Permabit.

In the bigger picture, this new box does, however, bode well for the company and help explain some of Sun's interest. StorageTek makes a good living off tape, and the archiving business remains strong. But, like any company, StorageTek needs to embrace the future as well and improve its disk systems. Executives promised this week that the IntelliStore line will live on should the Sun acquisition go through as planned.

For the curious out there, Sun's President Jonathan Schwartz has penned one of his better blog entries on the StorageTek deal. In it, he makes the admission that StorageTek certainly wasn't the sexiest purchase Sun could make. At the same time, he does a nice job of countering many analysts' criticism of the deal as a poor, long-term buy. ®

Related stories

Vendors enjoy storage swell again in Q1
Sun critics hear the sound of two garbage trucks colliding
Sun sheds $4.1bn for StorageTek
NetApp opens fire on EMC
StorageTek turns nifty Q3 profit
StorageTek seizes Storability

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