IBM is slowly getting back to where it thinks it should be in storage.
Having ceded the leadership of the high-end disk systems market to EMC during the 1990s
and losing the storage management software wars to Veritas, the company is now clawing its way back into the upper echelons of both disk systems and storage software.
Most significantly, since re-entering the enterprise disk array market in 1999 with the aptly named ‘Shark’ TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server (ESS) range, the company has almost doubled its market share to 13% – largely at the expense of EMC and despite some problems with scalability and performance.
Those shortcomings are now well behind it, says the company. Its latest model, the ESS Model 800, provides a data throughput speed of 2 gigabytes per second and an expanded 64 gigabyte cache for staging commonly-used data. That finally makes Shark a head-to-head performance challenger to EMC’s top-of-the-range Symmetrix machines, but still leaves it behind Hitachi Data Systems in terms of device bandwidth and I/O throughput.
IBM has also been in a three-way fight for storage software market share. Although it comes a distant third to EMC and Veritas, the company has been narrowing the gap. In 2001, storage software revenues grew by a sterling 32% to $701.2 million, according to sector research group Gartner.
Products fueling that growth include Tivoli Storage Manager for backup and recovery, SANergy for sharing files between multiple servers, and Flashcopy for data replication. But the company has realised it needs to do more to capitalise on customers’ move away from direct attached storage towards storage area networks (SAN) and network attached storage. In April 2002 it formed the IBM Storage Software Division, a new unit focused on developing the Storage Tank, a SAN-wide file system and storage virtualisation engine due in 2003.
As that roadmap suggests, IBM has no intention of losing ground in storage again.