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IBM answers VAR requests for midsized company tape storage

A new midcapacity tape-storage unit is designed for midsized customers with midsized budgets, or big customers who need tape in remote offices.

IBM is adding to its TS line of storage solutions with a tape library product that offers encryption capabilities. The offering, aimed at midsized corporate customers, is a way to expand the company's footprint with both midsized companies and large enterprise customers who need to expand their storage capabilities in remote offices.

The new TS3400 tape library has a much smaller footprint than the enterprise-level TS1120, supports 18 cartridges and holds up to 37.8 terabytes (TB) of compressed data; it also supports write-once, read-many (WORM) data recording, and ships with a 4 Gigabit per second (Gbps) dual-port Fibre Channel attachment.

Its drive-based encryption and automated features will help customers better perform data backup, restore and archiving tasks -- areas of high demand at midsized businesses. The TS3400 has a list price of $30,000, and will be available March 9.

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Bill Colestock, vice president, storage sales at Mainline, a Tallahassee, Fla.-based IBM reseller, expects that his medium-sized customers will embrace the product.

"It's a product that we've been asking IBM's tape division to build for us for some time," Colestock said.

"37 TB fits a customer-set that, to date, we've not been able to attack with an automated solution; so it gives us a speed and capacity to serve a market that is greater in size than a single desktop in a standalone store environment," Colestock said.

VARs selling the unit will also be able to build it into their ongoing storage and support services for those customers, he said.

Other prospects for the unit are customers running IBM's high-end TS1120, who often have other tape-storage hardware in different parts of their organizations and would be interested in a more cost-effective product for remote sites.

"It really aims to address companies and corporations that have standardized on IBM enterprise tape technology, especially where encryption is very important," according to Robert Amatruda, IDC's research director for tape and removable storage.

"I look at this as a product that addresses an IBM customer set. I don't necessarily think there's going to be a Sun customer that's going to embrace this unless they are really embracing some of the higher-end IBM products in their enterprise," Amatruda said.

In addition to providing encryption in the drives, the TS3400 tape library offers a Java encryption key manager that allows interoperability across many technologies including AIX, i5/OS, Linux, HP, Sun and Windows.

Stephanie Balaouras, Forrester Research, Inc.'s senior storage analyst said, in addition to federal regulations, what will push the product at midsized companies is compliance issues at the state level.

She said that as of June 2006, 32 states had passed or were in the process of passing laws similar to California's state privacy law, which forces companies to notify their customers if they lose sensitive data, Balaouras said

"For those two reasons, the risk of losing corporate information as well as the potential damage to your reputation if that happens can cost a company a significant amount of money," Balaouras said

Today, IBM also announced it would be delivering the Cisco MDS 9124 for IBM's newest server and storage solutions. Available for IBM storage products on Feb. 23 at a list priced of $4,830, the MDS 9124 is a multilayer fabric switch that features 24 ports capable of speeds of 4, 2, and 1 Gbps.

Let us know what you think about this story; email: Nicole Lewis, Senior News Writer.

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