Moderator: Peter Burris
Analyst: David Floyer
On April 24th, 2007 IBM announced two products that are related mainly in that they both target archive and retention applications. The IBM System Storage Multilevel Grid Access Manager is a product that IBM is OEMing from Bycast based on the Bycast StorageGRID software product that provides a set of system storage services between the DICOM and other access methods and storage devices generally. The IBM Systems Storage DR550 File System Gateway is a new optional device for the IBM DR550 that provides file archiving capability through the NFS/CIFS network file protocols interface. It takes a more general purpose hardware approach to archive and retention applicatons. Users should focus most of their attention on the more interesting of the two announcements which is the Grid Access Manager, a grid of devices that allows security and recovery across distributed nodes and sites.
The solution today is specifically targeted at large digital medical image applications that have very stringent requirements for duration of archive, security through encryption as well as other characteristics that are specific to the medical imaging world. This product is likely to be a success within the medical imaging community and will certainly begin tumbling some walls in that space where solutions have tended to be relatively hardware specific.
However Bycast is using a proprietary set of technologies and interfaces engineered and currently marketed specifically for medical imaging-like applications that might also be transferable to other areas such as homeland security applications. But these are unlikely to be easily transferred into image-orientated archive and retention domains, generally. Nonetheless, this is an important announcement in that the combination of IBM and Bycast has demonstrated the potential of a software-focused approach on mediating and providing a general mechanism for accessing image files in an archiving and retention setting. Users should begin exploring how this technological approach can impact their image archiving and retention requirements as well as other storage requirements.
Specifically we belive this is a validation of the overall Extensible Access Method (XAM) approach to providing a set of storage service interfaces between applications and devices that can handle both archive and retention as well as other storage needs. XAM in general and the Bycast/IBM solution in particular provide a powerful reference model for how storage solutions are likely to evolve over the next few years. Namely software led/device followed, which is a very different model from the storage market generally, which has been driven by what can be accomplished with the controller and devices and how software can be used to manage that controller.
Action Item: The Bycast IBM solution validates the overall XAM approach to software-led storage innovation. Users should become as familiar as possible with this reference model and immediately incorporate it into their ongoing storage strategy discussions. As well, buyers should start pushing vendors to indicate how a storage world driven first by software innovation and second by hardware innovation will affect products, solutions and go-to-market strategies.