Two takes on storage for free

1. Free IP SAN

Nimbus Data Systems is giving away iSCSI target SW. Combine this with Microsoft's free iSCSI initiator SW and anyone can set up a Windows IP SAN for nothing. You take any partition on any Windows storage device and give it an iSCSI address (iSCSI target). Then you assign that address to any PC/server over Ethernet and it uses the iSCSI initiator SW to talk to it.

So a bunch of old PCs in an office could be turned into an IP SAN. The partition on the Windows target system could be direct storage, a NAS box or a LUN on a Fibre Channel-attached SAN. So you could use this free iSCSI stuff as a Fibre Channel SAN extension method.

It's an interesting take on the commoditisation of parts of our storage universe. It's thought that Nimbus is doing it to increase sales of its layered products that use the iSCSI target.

2. Free Storage system management

IBM has unleashed an open source strategy update. It's full steam ahead promoting and developing open source initiatives in several areas:-

- Web Application Servers - Based on Apache open source projects like Geronimo.
- Development Tools - Built on the open source Eclipse Integrated Development Environment.
- Client-side middleware - Supporting the Eclipse Rich Client Platform project for hosting cross-platform applications.
- Data Servers - Building on the open source Apache Derby, with IBM Cloudscape, and free no-license fee IBM DB2 Express-C.
- Systems Management - Including open source Aperi projects.
- Open hardware architectures - Community-driven collaborative innovation with and
- Grid Computing: Expanded support for Open Grid Services Architecture and the Globus Alliance.
- Business Consulting and Technology Services - Enabling customers to innovate with open source-based solutions and development models.

The systems management area, with Aperi, affects storage. Why is IBM doing this? Why is IBM trying to get rid of added value in the storage system management area? The thinking is that IBM benefits because its services arm, IBM Global services, will pick up projects that integrate Aperi and other open source ultra-commoditised software applications into large business projects. It denies sales to competitor products and, because those competitors don't have world-class services operations, denies them services business too.

There is no threat that hardware could go open source; it's software that's the battlefield here. There is a looming problem for storage system software suppliers where an open source approach could work. Are you listening HP? It seems to me that IBM wants to destroy the added value represented by AppIQ and replace it with Aperi code instead.

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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