IBM will drop Windows-based storage, sources claim

IBM plans to discontinue its line of Windows-based network-attached storage devices to focus on higher-end products, including an...

IBM plans to discontinue its line of Windows-based network-attached storage devices to focus on higher-end products, including an upcoming file server that will run Linux, sources said last week.

The sources said IBM will stop making its TotalStorage NAS 100 and NAS 200 filers, which were designed for departmental, workgroup and low-end corporate applications. The boxes offer storage capacities of 480GB and 7TB, respectively.

According to the sources, IBM will continue to sell its NAS Gateway 300 system, which connects servers and PCs on IP networks to storage-area networks based on Fibre Channel technology, and offer a Linux-based NAS device, most likely by late this year.

IBM officials described the information about its plans as "speculation" and would not comment further.

Microsoft., which develops the Windows Powered NAS software used by IBM and other storage suppliers in their Windows-based devices, also would not comment.

"IBM's plans are IBM's," the spokesman said. "But we have a wide range of OEMs that continue to expand [their NAS offerings]."

IBM announced the NAS 200 in June 2001 and added the lower-cost NAS 100 last July as part of a plan to compete on a wider basis with rivals such as EMC and Hewlett-Packard.

IDC analyst John McArthur said that if IBM were to pull out of the low-end NAS space, it would be a good decision. The business may be high volume, but it generates relatively low revenues.

Pushan Rinnen, an analyst at Gartner, said sales of IBM's low-end NAS line have not taken off in any big way. NAS 100 sales totalled $3.4m last year, taken only 3% of the entry-level NAS market.

"The volume is not high enough [or IBM] to be a strategic player," Rinnen said.

Until now, the top storage vendors have been steadily falling in line with Microsoft and rolling out products based on Windows Powered NAS.

In May, EMC said it would use the Microsoft technology in a new line of low-end NAS devices based on the hardware from its Clariion CX midrange disk arrays.

As for whether IBM is planning on building a high-end NAS device based on Linux, IDC's McArthur declined to comment. But he did say that it is "reasonable" to expect IBM will continue to invest in technology that will allow them to capture the midrange and high-end opportunities.

Lucas Mearian writes for Computerworld

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