IBM Rolls Out SAN Demo Centers

With SAN adoption rates lethargic, and some administrators apprehensive about adopting a technology they have not even seen, IBM Corp. (www.ibm.com) opened a series of demo centers to introduce SANs to the world.

Late last month, 50 IBM SAN demo centers opened. When IBM is done, there will be 70 centers in 20 countries. Thirty-five of the centers will be in the United States, giving any interested administrator a chance to check out SANs in action.

"We hope to generate increased interest in our SAN solutions," says Jill Kaplan, director of marketing and strategy, IBM storage area networks.

The centers offer two attractions: a chance to see SAN technology in action, and the ability to check the interoperability of SAN components used in the enterprise.

While viewing computers and storage devices strung together may not be an exciting family vacation, John Webster, an analyst at Illuminata Group (www.illuminata.com), says administrators will be excited by what they do not see. "The rat’s nest of SCSI cabling goes away," he explains, alluding to the previous state of storage systems. Because of the use of Fibre Channel networking, SAN applications are tidier.

Webster compares the interoperability testing to stereo shopping at an electronics store. When consumers shop for a stereo, they can test how a set of speakers sounds with a certain amplifier by mixing and matching through a switchboard. Similarly, administrators will be able to see how SAN components will operate together. Webster believes this is vital since there are more than 10,000 possible combinations of host bus adapters, switches, and storage devices.

At other sites, users will be able to view SANs in action. Here, IBM partners will open their doors to interested users. Through tours, users will be able to see live deployments of SANs. Interoperability is implicit, since the SANs are used in the companies’ lines of business.

IBM makes several SAN components including its Tivoli (www.tivoli.com) unit's SANergy product, but the company's SAN solutions also use devices from third-party vendors. "Sometimes the world is not revolving around IBM, so we look for best-of-breed solutions," Kaplan says.

Kaplan admits that SANs are not yet an open technology. Because of the proprietary nature of SANs, she believes it is vital for users to take a close look at the various components that IBM offers in their solution.

[Infobox] IBM's US SAN Demo Centers

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PartnerLocation
ChampionBoca Raton, Fla.
BerbeeMilwaukee
DatatrendMinneapolis
Rs-unix.comSan Francisco
Solutions II
Solutions IISeattle
Solutions Technology
Aspen Consulting
MSIOmaha, Neb.
MarketexSilicon Valley, Calif.
REALChicago area
JeskellSilicon Valley, Calif.
KeyLink /PioneerAtlanta
BerkshireBoston area
E&YChantilly, Va.
CompsatSouthfield, Mich.
LighthouseBoston area
PSRCanton, Mass.
DSSSan Diego