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IBM makes tape disappear with virtual storage magic

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Quite awhile has passed since IBM first announced its On Demand Computing agenda, and the vendor is still hammering away at the goal. This week, IBM attacked the virtualization portion of its strategy with a slew of storage and server products.

Tape might not be a sexy topic, but IBM is trying to spice the technology up a bit with the release of a new virtual tape product. The Virtualization Engine TS7510 pairs a rack server with a disk system to give users up to 46TB of storage space. Customers can backup data to this storage box in the same format they use for tape but benefit from the quicker backup and recovery times associated with disk.

IBM, however, doesn't appear to have come up with this gem on its own.

“At this point, for a number of confidentiality reasons, we’re not discussing who (the supplier) is,” Charlie Andrews, director of IBM storage told Byte and Switch.

The online rag continued with some good-natured speculation.

"There’s a number of possible contenders. IBM currently has an OEM deal with Network Appliance to sell its storage gear, and NetApp acquired virtual tape library (VTL) startup Alacritus Software Inc. in April for $11 million. NetApp is currently tweaking the Alacritus VTL and is expected to release it under its own brand later this year or early next year.

"An industry source says IBM has also considered reselling startup Sepaton’s VTL technology. Hewlett-Packard Co. also has an OEM deal with Sepaton."

So there you have it. Kind of.

IBM also celebrated the release of Wizard Virtualization Capabilities for its Unix server line. We covered this "wizard-driven, browser-based user interface" wonder during the recent Power5+ launch. It basically makes it easier for administrators to set up micropartitions on the Power-based kit with either AIX or Linux. The tool is free, which is nice.

Along similar lines, IBM put an Oct. 26 delivery date out for Director 5.1 on its blade and x86 servers. Unix, iSeries and mainframe customers can get their hands on the management software in the fourth quarter. Also, at the end of October, IBM plans to release a version of the software that can manage rivals' x86-based servers. This will help in IBM's overall virtualization goals.

Plans, plans, plans

For those of you who like to stay awake at night wondering what IBM might release next, the company tossed out a pair of tidbits.

IBM announced "plans to deliver" Version 3.1 of its SAN Volume Controller software. The new release will support up to 4 times more servers than current code, so you'll obviously be able to manage more gear from different vendors. When will the software arrive? Easy, tiger. IBM's just announcing plans for the moment.

IBM also has plans to put out a new Advanced Cabling Technology (ACT) family of KVM switches.

Happy waiting. ®

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