IBM Challenges Industry to Accelerate Delivery of Storage Virtualization Solutions

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PHOENIX, AZ - 16 Apr 2003: IBM's vice president of corporate strategy today challenged the storage industry to work together to accelerate the delivery of enterprise-ready virtualization solutions as a key step in the evolution of the industry.

In a keynote address here today, IBM Vice President Michael Zisman praised the efforts of the Storage Networking Industry Association for its foresight in developing standards to promote interoperability, but called on vendors to embrace standards that will speed adoption of new technologies by enabling customers to ultimately separate decisions of managing storage from the devices itself.

"As data continues to grow exponentially on complex heterogeneous Storage Area Networks (SANs), customers are faced with the dual challenges of managing both their storage costs and the availability of data," said Zisman. "Today, storage virtualization stands on the threshold of maturing as a viable commercial solution to simplify the storage infrastructure and provide these significant benefits to customers. However, for customers to realize these benefits, the storage industry needs to work together to deliver robust, scalable and interoperable virtualization solutions."

SANs have helped control today's booming storage requirements by detaching storage devices from individual applications and providing centralized control, he explained, but the popularity, diversity and size of SANs themselves have presented IT managers with new issues of manageability related to increasing numbers of pooled arrays and a growing variety of storage controllers. Storage virtualization promises to address this increased complexity by shifting storage management intelligence from individual SAN controllers into the network via a virtualization engine.

Zisman explained that virtualization offers customers the dual benefits of improved business continuity and efficiency. With improved business continuity, customers can increase application availability, reduce planned downtime and outages as well as provide consistency and improve the efficiency of backup and recovery operations. Virtualization can help improve business efficiency by providing flexibility and efficiency in managing storage growth, improving data access, sharing, resource utilization and costs as well as allowing easier, quicker application and server deployment. In addition, it can help protect existing IT investments, reduces the impact of obsolescence and supports further improvements in functionality over time.

Open standards and integration are the key enablers of virtualization that will allow the industry to deliver these benefits to customers. Zisman detailed the pivotal technologies and industry initiatives required to deliver interoperable solutions:

As a leader in the shift to openness and interoperability, IBM is totally focused on supporting and collaborating on open standards. In February, for example, the company delivered SMIS support of the IBMTotalStorage Enterprise Storage System (codenamed "Shark"). Plans for future storage software products also include SMIS support.

"The Storage Industry is moving past the 'tipping point' of shifting to open standards," Zisman concluded, "and for customers to realize real the benefits, storage products need to be interoperable and manageable across vendors and platforms. The development of new virtualization and storage management technologies is an opportunity for storage vendors to accelerate next stage of SAN evolution and deliver value to customers."

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