IBM Adds Enterprise Features to Shark

IBM Corp. announcedtoday it had added functionality to its TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server,nicknamed “Shark,” to better serve the needs of its enterprise customers. Thefeatures improve the management and performance of the high-end storagecabinet.

IBM has increased the maximum volume size on Shark to27GB, up from 9GB.  Chris Saul, productmanager for Shark at IBM, says the larger logical volumes can improve both the manageabilityand performance of the storage system. For example, an enterprise with a hugedatabase might have trouble fitting all of the data into a single volume.

“Customers frequently have to split data up to fit insmaller volumes,” Saul says. This results in a file distributed across a largenumber of units, introducing complexity. With the larger volume size, Saulsays, “They’ll be able to put that data on a smaller number of volumes.” Saulalso says the larger volume sizes can improve performance, since the machine willscan fewer places looking for a datum.

A second new feature introduced today is Control UnitInitiate Reconfiguration or CUIR. CUIR addresses a management problem whenShark is serviced. When a technician works on a Shark, the storage channel froma server must be taken offline. Until today, the mainframe operator had tomanually take the connection offline – an often-difficult task in environmentswith several servers or storage devices. If the operator takes the wrongchannel offline, data can be lost.

CUIR is an automated solution to this problem. When theShark is serviced, it detects which channels need to be taken down, then sendsa signal to the mainframe, indicating the channel must go down. The mainframethen automatically takes the channel offline. “It helps to eliminate errors,and it helps to eliminate downtime,” Saul says.

The final new Shark feature is improved “call home”software. Each Shark ships with a PC to monitor activity and notifies IBM whenproblems occur. The new software sends data back to IBM more efficiently.

Saul says these new features are upgradeable onexisting Shark systems – they are accomplished through updates to firmware andsoftware. “All of these functions are upgradeable on Shark, at no cost,” hesays.

IBM also announced new storage products today that takefeatures from the mainframe world into mid-market environments. IBM defines themid-market as enterprises with 100-1000 employees or less than $1 billion inrevenue.

For example, the new FAStT 700 Storage Server is a 19”rackmount unit for managing storage arrays. Although IBM targets companies withIntel-based infrastructures it has features like Flash Copy and Remote Copythat were previously only available on Shark. In addition, it uses 2Gbps FibreChannel from end to end. -Chris McConnell