IBM Shark Servers Take Big Bite out of Storage Market

Jim Martin

Only months after it began shipping, the IBM Enterprise Storage Servers--code-named “Shark”--is already gaining widespread popularity as IBM recently announced that over 1,000 Shark servers have been shipped since late September. The combined number of the servers represents the equivalent of close to one and half petabytes of storage capacity.

A set of storage technologies, the Enterprise storage servers are built upon the foundation of IBM’s Seascape Storage Enterprise Architecture and incorporate IBM-unique technologies such as Parallel Access Volume Allegiance.

“We are thrilled to have reached the one petabyte milestone—the fastest that IBM has ever reached this milestone. What is especially exciting is that many of our new customers are switching to IBM disk storage solutions from competitors like EMC, Hitachi, HP and Sun,” says Andy Hurter, IBM Storage Subsystems Division. “Our Shark customer base reflects a diverse group of industries, including retail, banking, insurance and healthcare. These new customers are choosing Shark to meet their data-intensive e-business needs for two simple reasons—price and performance.”

Some Shark features include: scaling from 420GB to over 11TB; performance enhanced by two four-way symmetric multiprocessors; Serial Storage Architecture and a large cache with additional nonvolatile memory, together with performance accelerators such as PAV and Multiple Allegiance; ability to work with heterogeneous hosts and operating systems (AS/400, S/390, UNIX, Windows NT) and a variety of interfaces (Fibre Channel, Ultra SCSI and ESCON); and Open Seascape architecture.

According to IBM, the servers are also gaining popularity with the most popular companies in the world, with almost half of the top 100 global companies among the recipients of the 1,000 plus Shark servers to date.

“The number of Shark shipments since its general availability in Septembers impresses us,” says John C. Scott, managing partner of the Evaluator Group, a Denver-based storage consulting group. “The traditional design paradigm for designing enterprise disk storage units is becoming obsolete. Today, and in the foreseeable future, Shark has taken the design paradigm to its next logical step; a software-based emulation running on a scalable RISC SMP server platform. IBM has a hardware platform that is challenging its major competitors, EMC and Hitachi/HP, for leadership in the enterprise storage market.”