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IBM's dynamic infrastructure taking shape

Storage part comes in collection of point releases

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Big Blue's is in the process of revealing its Dynamic Infrastructure, an IT infrastructure package presented as being lean, mean and green.

Customers can lower costs, improve services and reduce risks, so CIOs and CFOs better get their corporate chequebooks out and start buying now, although some of these things are futures.

IBM has announced a gigantic raft of things under the DI tagline. We've looked at DI's server aspect, some of the networking, and here is the storage part of what IBM calls its "highly optimized, agile, responsive, and automated" IT infrastructure.

The mid-range DS5000 array gets encrypting disks and 8Gbit/s Fibre Channel links. Storage capacity goes up with support for 448 hard drives (DS5300). This is IBM's OEM'ing of the uprated LSI Engenio 7900 array. The system has key management support built in and integrates with Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager.

There is a new version of IBM's TotalStorage Productivity Center, now renamed Tivoli Storage Productivity Centre v4.1, with performance analytics technology to identify hot spots for problem determination. IBM says it also has quick tuning to improve performance and storage utilisation. TSPC supports more third-party storage products, including Hitachi, NetApp, and EMC, alongside IBM's own XIV, DS, and (NetApp-sourced) N series, with better reporting and security features for multi-vendor storage environments.

They have also announced Tivoli Storage Manager 6 with Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM) for Windows and Tivoli Storage Manager 6 for SharePoint. The SharePoint version helps customers restore their SharePoint business data and content after almost any kind of business interruption. It also has a faster backup capability.

There is also the Tivoli Storage Productivity Centre for Replication product.

Also on the cards is an announcement on the IBM System Storage TS7650 ProtecTIER Deduplication product with IP-based replication capabilities. This will replicate deduplicated backup data on virtual tape cartridges to a remote location.

Finally, IBM has revealed a fast recovery system for Exchange and SQL Server customers. It's a bundle including Tivoli Storage Manager FastBack, System x servers and DS3000/DS4000/DS5000 series disk arrays.

This is beginning to look like a set of point announcements that happen to have occurred at the same time and so get to be wrapped in the DI moniker.

Another referred to thin clients, IBM said its Virtual Storage Optimizer creates new desktop images in minutes, meaning reductions of up to 75 per cent in the time required to create and deploy new virtual machines.

One more announcement said Softek Replicator/TDMF (IP) for Windows v3.1 now enables clients to non-disruptively migrate Windows data to thinly provisioned storage volumes such as those provisioned by IBM's SAN Volume Controller storage, XIV Storage System, and DS8000 Disk Storage.

In a fuzzy statement of direction, IBM said its researchers identified three areas where flash memory solid state storage could be useful: speeding up applications, including flash in its storage architecture, and advanced solid state technology, which is a tad circular. El Reg thinks IBM means to say that it is going to bring out advanced Fusion-IO-type PCIe flash for servers and embedded servers, meaning storage controllers such as the SAN Volume Controller (SVC). The DS5000, mentioned above, does not include SSD capabilities.

IBM said in a presentation that small SSD investments can pay big dividends, mentioning Smart Data Placement benchmarks. This is not explained - searching for "Smart Data Placement" on IBM's web site doesn't return a single hit on that search string - but we reckon it refers to placing data on the right memory tier for the best balance between cost and performance. That is what Sun is aiming to do in principle with separate read and write flash memory caches for system and application working set data in its servers.

Returning to networking, although IBM has buddied up to Brocade, it wants us to know that it is also working, still working that is, with both Juniper and Cisco, described as a long-term strategic networking supplier. In February, IBM and Juniper demonstrated hybrid public-private cloud capabilities and the two are exploring opportunities to expand their relationship. Juniper reckons it has massive switches for internet service providers and the like that Brocade' Foundry boxes are simply no match for.

Within this broad and disparate set of storage and networking announcements, all lashed together under the Dynamic Infrastructure tag, we can see the formation of IBM's response to Cisco alongside a whole raft of minor product refreshes.

The DS5000 8Gbit/s support will be generally available on June 5th, with encryption support GA'ing on August 21st. ®

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