IBM bundles storage hardware for biotech

IBM has released three bundles of storage networking products aimed at helping researchers combat the exponential growth of...

IBM has released three bundles of storage networking products aimed at helping researchers combat the exponential growth of biotech data.

The combinations of pre-existing disc drives, tape storage and servers have been tested to ensure interoperability, and have been designed to gather scientific data into a repository that can be accessed by disparate members of a research team, said Kathy Smith, vice-president for storage solutions with IBM's storage systems group.

"We've researched what biotech and pharmaceutical companies need: data anytime, anywhere; storage that can scale as the company grows; and worldwide collaboration. Our pre-tested offerings will help companies deal with the explosion of data associated with gene sequencing and gene mapping techniques," said Smith.

A single gene sequencing process can create about 300Tbytes of data, and companies need to find a way to deal with that, she said. Biotech companies working on drug discovery efforts need to store data that can be readily accessible via the Internet, housed in network attached storage (NAS) devices with slower response times or archived.

"This is where storage is growing the fastest - the life sciences and medical imaging markets," said Steve Kenniston, senior analyst with The Enterprise Storage Group.

Storage customers are also looking for value as technology budgets shrink, he said. As a result, they will be interested in packaged, integrated products that can eliminate the cost of mixing and matching products, then having to integrate them, he said.

IBM has designed bundles for three sizes of research groups. For small groups IBM has made available package including the IBM TotalStorage FASt500 mid-range disc for sharing data between servers, the IBM TotalStorage Linear Tape Open (LTO) mid-range tape storage device for backup and archiving, and an IBM eServer p630 running IBM's flavour of Unix, AIX.

The medium-sized research group offering includes the FASt500 mid-range disc, the TotalStorage LTO, an IBM eServer pSeries and add IBM's TotalStorage NAS 300G for sharing data across a storage area network.

The package for enterprises companies includes everything in the mid-range package, but adds a TotalStorage NAS 300 for exchanging files around a departmental network, an IBM eServer xSeries, and a TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server (ESS), also known as "Shark". The TotalStorage ESS family includes the recently announced ESS 800.

IBM's mid-range products are on a par with those from EMC and Hitachi Data Systems, but it has had more difficulty matching the other two companies in the high-end enterprise storage market, Kenniston said.

IBM will also encourage research organisations to use its DB2 database software, and server management software from its Tivoli Systems subsidiary, but purchasers will not be required to use that software in order to use the storage bundles. Organisations can mix and match products, but will be responsible for making sure another vendor's products interoperate with IBM's, Smith said.

Enterprise customers will pay no more than $1.2m (£767,000), not including DB2 and Tivoli software or consulting services. Middle tier customer should expect to pay less than $200,000 (£127,880), and smaller companies less than $80,000 (£51,150).

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