IBM’s Shark Raises The Bar In Storage Systems

January 5, 2001

NEWS BRIEFS

Armonk, N.Y. — IBM announced the immediate availability of enhancements for the Enterprise Storage Server, code-named Shark, giving customers industry-leading function in the storage industry’s most open storage networking solution.

Linda Sanford, senior vice president and group executive, IBM Storage Systems Group, said, “This catapults IBM into a leadership position in open storage networking. In the 24 by 7 world of e-business, customers need two things – function that provides the reliability, scalability and availability that they have come to expect in the mainframe world, along with the openness and interoperability of a solution that will work across the mixed computing environment. IBM now offers the strongest portfolio of open storage networking solutions the industry has seen.”

The announcement highlights include the delivery of:

— Advanced disaster recovery solutions for Shark, including Peer to Peer Remote Copy (PPRC) for open systems and IBM eServer z900;

— Native Fibre Channel support for non-IBM systems including Sun, Hewlett Packard and Novell;

— FlashCopy for open systems. Primerica, a leader in financial services, is using the new advanced functions of the Shark Enterprise Storage Server to manage its expanding customer service operations and to protect its data.

“We went with Shark for its superior performance and outstanding value,” said Greg Scroggs, Senior Vice President and Data Center Manager at Primerica, a subsidiary of CitiGroup. “With Shark’s new capabilities – particularly Peer-to-Peer Remote Copy – IBM has delivered the industry’s premier, open storage subsystem.”

PPRC is a hardware-based disaster recovery and workload migration solution that maintains a synchronous copy (always up-to-date with the primary copy) of data in a remote location. This backup copy of data can be used to quickly recover from a failure in the primary system without losing any transactions – an optional capability that keeps e-business applications running.

PPRC is designed for customers who need the recovery system to be current with the primary application system and can accept some performance impact to application write I/O operations at the primary location. IBM’s PPRC can be extended to over 60 miles, the longest distance offered in the industry.

“We’ve had our sights set on PPRC for a while now, and are very excited about its availability,” said Paul Zimmer, Director of Data Center and Technical Services at Spartan Stores, headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a premier regional grocery/drugstore retailer and wholesale distributor in nine states throughout the Midwest and Southeast. “Quite honestly, PPRC is one of the important reasons why we bought Shark. Shark along with PPRC will provide an affordable storage solution and will be a key component of our disaster recovery plans, for NT, UNIX and S/390 platforms. Once fully implemented we expect significant cost savings, but more importantly, far superior disaster recoverability than we’ve ever had in the past.”

Flashcopy provides fast data duplication capability and eliminates the need to stop applications for extended periods of time in order to perform backups and restores.

FlashCopy technology – available for the mainframe since July – is now available for UNIX or Windows NT host systems. FlashCopy provides a near-instantaneous copy of data and makes it available to applications as needed, without affecting the overall performance of the storage subsystem or the application being used by the host server. With traditional copy techniques, applications are often tied up for the entire duration of the time required to copy data – which can be many minutes or even hours. Such an extended period of time is simply not an option for today’s dynamic e-business applications.

“IBM’s FlashCopy feature is easier to use than EMC’s TimeFinder since it requires less administrative input and we have seen how it works with NT and AIX systems,” said Phil Sauvageau, vice president, MSI, an IBM business partner based in Omaha, Nebraska. “It allows you to do on-line backup of databases without having to bring the database down. It provides a near instantaneous snapshot of the data without a hint of a performance impact. It was definitely worth the wait.”

Native Fibre Channel connectivity between Shark and Sun, HP, Novell Netware and other platforms also is now available, bringing enhanced interoperability to storage area networks.

“Our main drivers were flexibility in storage allocation, the ability to realize real clustering on the different platforms and to be ready to implement SAN backups,” said Bart De Cleyn, BASF Computer Services N.V., in Antwerp, Belgium. “With the experience of FCAL-connected storage-boxes we knew that a switched fabric is a prerequisite for a failsave configuration. After an intensive series of acceptance tests we are even more convinced we made the right choice to realize an IBM-SAN. Shark delivers “storage on demand” for our server farm with a variety of platforms starting from HP-UX over NT4 and W2000 to Novell Netware.”

Since its introduction in 1999, IBM has improved the performance and functionality of Shark by as much as 80 percent. Beginning in March this year, IBM introduced enhancements including additional microprocessors, a larger cache and faster drives – 36 gigabyte 10,000 rpm. IBM’s rollout of enhanced functions began in July with the availability of FlashCopy and XRC (Extended Remote Copy) for the mainframe as well as Fibre Channel connectivity for the RS/6000, NUMA-Q, Netfinity and all other brands of NT servers. In the same month, Compaq Computer Corp entered into an alliance with IBM to accelerate the adoption of open storage networks and to resell the Shark Enterprise Storage Server.

“IBM’s announcement of the availability of FlashCopy, PPRC and Fibre Channel on Shark fulfill its commitment to its customers and returns IBM to the forefront of enterprise storage providers,” said Mike Kahn, Chairman of The Clipper Group, Inc., technology acquisition consultants in Wellesley, Mass. “FlashCopy and PPRC offer potentially significant performance improvements over available alternatives.

“In addition, FlashCopy does not require dedicated business continuance volumes and its copies are RAID-5 protected. PPRC supports longer distances between arrays than the competition and its use of parallel ESCON paths will deliver more efficient use of bandwidth. Enterprises will find that IBM’s Shark now offers many distinctive benefits.”

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