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IBM is buying Storwize for its real-time, inline data compression technology and products.

Storwize produces appliances, the STN-2100 and STN-6000, which sit in front of NAS (network-attached storage) arrays and compress data being written to the array, using Lempel-Ziv algorithms in its Random Access Compression Engine (RACE). The company has over 100 customers and says that up to 80 per cent data reduction can be achieved with no data access performance degradation.

This means that customers can store much more data in their NAS arrays with fewer spindles than before, making this a technology that can reduce storage power consumption and data centre space needs.

IBM says that the products will work with its N series NAS products surfed from NetApp, and its SONAS scale-out NAS products. It will also work with third-party NAS products from EMC, HP and NetApp (as you might expect). The NetApp products already have ASIS deduplication, but the compression should complement that.

Also, since the Storwize products run on their own hardware and inline, there is no use of array controller CPU cycles to compress the primary data being accessed.

IBM says that Storwize will join its other data efficiency technologies such as ProtecTIER reduplication, XIV grid storage, SONAS and the Easy Tier feature of the DS8700 array.

It says running Storwize data compression does not affect business and IT processes or other applications and doesn't require special skills to maintain. Storwize products can be completed in as little as four hours, with little or no downtime.

IBM is acquiring Storwize personnel, with Storwize CEO Ed Walsh saying: "Our customers will benefit significantly as our talented employees and innovative storage solutions merge with IBM's world-wide reach in sales, service and research and development."

That development could include the extension of Storwize compression to block-access data, meaning Storwize hardware could be added to IBM's DS series and its XIV arrays.

Recently Ocarina and Permabit both announced software deduplication products that could be included in array vendors' products. Dell has since announced it is buying Ocarina. Permabit CEO Tom Cook said: “Acquiring Storwize is a solid 'base hit' for IBM storage. The … race is heating up around the value of data optimisation and IBM is now in the game.”

Exar has its HiFn compression engine and that company might now effectively be in play.

The IBM-Storwize deal was rumoured in June. The cost hasn't been revealed but Storwize has gained $38m in three funding rounds and $140m has been mentioned. ®

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