IBM and HItachi Data Systems (HDS) have signed joint licensing agreements to extend the inter-operability and compatibility of their storage systems.

The companies will also collaborate on product inter-operability testing between Hitachi's storage systems and IBM's zSeries mainframe. IBM has licensed its mainframe Ficon and Escon attachment spec for its high-end TotalStorage DS8000 Series and Shark storage array to Hitachi.

Under the agreement, Hitachi's storage systems will support IBM's mirroring and replication software, including Global and Metro data mirroring functions, z/OS Global Mirror, FlashCopy, parallel access volumes, as well as IBM's Geographically Dispersed Parallel Sysplex clustering technology.

Charlie Andrews, director of IBM's TotalStorage Solutions division, said the announcement goes well beyond earlier partnership agreements with any other storage vendor: "Instead of just exchanging hostages, we've agreed to work on inter-operability and joint testing, so when customers integrate our technologies in their shops, it will have been tested to validate that all the pieces work," Andrews said.

Claus Mikkelsen, senior director of storage applications at HDS, said the deal is just the beginning of a new relationship between the two vendors that will include inter-operability testing and an exchange of management code in future products.

"There are no time frames," he said. "There's a lot of feature functions we'll be working on together. The advantage is by doing this we can hasten the time frame of IBM releasing a function and Hitachi being able to inter-operate with it. It just makes it easier all around."