IBM Storage Announcements Bolster Hybrid Cloud Strategy

By Jane Clabby, Clabby Analytics

On November 2, 2016, IBM introduced a set of storage-related enhancements that will improve businesses’ ability to easily and seamlessly modernize and optimize traditional workloads by improving performance and efficiency, as well as support new-generation, born-in-the- cloud applications by leveraging hybrid cloud architectures. These latest announcements improve scalability, efficiency, performance and flexibility across the already comprehensive IBM storage and software defined storage portfolio. New announcements include:

  • IBM Spectrum Virtualize
    • Transparent Cloud Tiering
    • Cloud Flash Copy
    • Flash enhancements
  • IBM Spectrum Scale
    • IBM Spectrum Scale 4.2.2
    • Cloud data sharing
  • IBM Storwize Family upgrades
  • IBM DS8880 High Performance Flash Enclosure Gen2
  • IBM DeepFlash Elastic Storage Server
  • VersaStack support for cloud-enabled Flash

Let’s look at each of these announcements in greater detail.

IBM Spectrum Virtualize

IBM Spectrum Virtualize Transparent Cloud Tiering

IBM Spectrum Virtualize Transparent Cloud Tiering extends local storage (including almost 400 IBM and non-IBM systems) transparently, cost-effectively and on-demand into the cloud for snapshots and restores, freeing up primary storage for demanding new-generation cognitive and analytics workloads. By using cloud as a back-end tier, capex (capital expenditure) can be converted to opex (operational expenditure), changing the economics of storage by minimizing up-front costs. This feature is available in IBM Spectrum Virtualize software, IBM Storwize V7000 Gen2/Gen2+, IBM FlashSystem V9000, IBM SAN Volume Controller and VersaStack configurations that use those arrays.

IBM Spectrum Virtualize Cloud FlashCopy

This solution provides full and incremental restore from cloud snapshots stored in public clouds, including IBM SoftLayer, OpenStack Swift and Amazon S3 clouds (others will be added in the future). Data is compressed before sending it to the cloud minimizing bandwidth and storage requirements, and all data stored on the cloud is encrypted, including data that has been stored on all supported IBM and non-IBM arrays. Use cases include backup to store copies of volumes in the cloud, archiving cold data (storing a copy in the cloud and deleting the primary copy), and transferring volumes from system to system to restore a volume to a new system.

IBM Spectrum Virtualize family Flash enhancements

The IBM Spectrum Virtualize family enhancements will enable high density expansion with up to 3X better drive density than 12-drive 2U enclosures. New enclosures will support up to 92 drives in only 5U rack space for up to 920TB with 10TB NL-SAS HDDs and 1380TB with 15TB flash drives. These can be intermixed with 2U enclosures in the same system and are supported across Storwize V5000 Gen2, Storwize V7000 Gen2/Gen2+, FlashSystem V9000, SAN Volume Controller (DH8 and SV1) and VersaStack.

IBM Spectrum Scale

IBM Spectrum Scale Cloud Data Sharing

You may recall that back in July, IBM announced IBM Spectrum Scale Transparent Cloud Tiering, which enabled a single namespace for data across the hybrid cloud and provided policy-based tiering to manage data placement and migration seamlessly across on-premises and off-premises infrastructures. Movement of data is automated based on policy. For example, data that hasn’t been accessed in a week could be automatically migrated to the cloud and files can be recalled on demand.

IBM Spectrum Scale Cloud Data Sharing adds to these capabilities with automated policy-driven replication and synchronization, and more granular control over data movement based on type of data, action, metadata or heat. Data can be moved from storage to storage, including data and metadata, bridging the gap between cloud and file infrastructure. This solution is ideal for cloud- native applications, DevOps, new generation applications such as Apache Spark, and/or workloads that are heavily parallel-processed. Data can be analyzed and then automatically tiered out to public cloud providers.

IBM Spectrum Scale Version 4.2.2

IBM Spectrum Scale includes new features that improve security, usability, flexibility and Big Data analytics. Here is a sampling of new features. An updated GUI provides better, more comprehensive monitoring and troubleshooting, and tasks can be streamlined using guided interfaces. The new revision includes iSCSI client support with diskless boot and RESTful API support. To better address analytics workloads, the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) has been updated to support new applications and data oceans, and multiple HDFS domains can be included in a single storage pool – ideal for large scale Big Data and analytic cognitive workloads.

IBM Storwize Family Upgrades

IBM has added scalability improvements to systems built with IBM Spectrum Virtualize. For example, IBM reports the following improvements to IBM Storwize V7000 for all-Flash workloads:

  • 50% more drives per system
  • Almost 3x more drives per clustered system
  • 4x larger maximum flash drive size (up to 15.36 TB)
  • Almost 6X larger maximum single system (up to 11.4PB)
  • 8X larger maximum clustered system (up to 32PB in only 4 racks)

IBM DS8880 High Performance Flash Enclosure Gen2

IBM reports 2X performance improvement and 6X added capacity per enclosure. Gen2 also provides a 90% improvement in IOPS read performance and 50% in IOPS write performance, as well as a 110% improvement in read throughput and 85% in write throughput for real-time analytics, cognitive and traditional I/O intensive transactional workloads. Data protection is improved by using RAID 6 as the default.

IBM DeepFlash Elastic Storage Server

In July, IBM announced the Deep Flash 150 all-Flash array with IBM Spectrum Scale, designed for Big Data unstructured workloads and providing better economics, efficiency and time-to-results for analytics applications.

The new IBM DeepFlash Elastic Storage Server (ESS) is a packaged (one SKU) turnkey solution available in two configurations (GF1 with1 DeepFlash system with up to 180GB usable, or GF-2 with 2 DeepFlash systems with up to 360GB usable) provides software defined Flash storage for both file and object data, and includes IBM Spectrum Scale RAID erasure coding for advanced data protection. In addition, IBM reports up to 8X faster response time (compared to HDD) and throughput of 26.5GB/s read, 16.5GB/s write for the GF2. The DeepFlash ESS will grow as to meet the demands of the business with seamless, in-place upgrades to multi-petabytes per system that can be clustered for virtually unlimited scaling.

VersaStack Support for Cloud-enabled Flash

VersaStack, IBM’s converged infrastructure solution, adds support to enable a wider range of use cases and workloads in a converged cloud-enabled package. New systems include:

  • Storwize V5000/V5030F with Cisco UCS Mini – Entry to midsize
  • SAN Volume Controller with Cisco UCS – Mixed storage workloads
  • FlashSystem A9000 with Cisco UCS – VDI

These models join the Storwize V7000/V7000U V7000F w/ Cisco UCS (medium to large enterprise) and the FlashSystem V9000/900 with Cisco UCS (high performance).

Summary observations

Over the last several years, the storage landscape has evolved considerably in order to adapt to and support new applications and workloads. Business initiatives around Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP have been replaced with new generation Big Data, analytics and cognitive workloads and applications including Hadoop, Spark and MongoDB. And while NAS and SAN still play an important role in corporate data centers, large public cloud object stores like Amazon S3 and Microsoft Azure have become increasingly important as businesses look to store massive volumes of structured and unstructured data in a flat, global namespace at cloud-scale.

IBM has responded with a steady stream of announcements that support these trends. IBM Cloud Object Storage provides storage in the public cloud, but can also be deployed on-premise. Working as both service and local storage, it provides the capabilities of hybrid cloud, enabling businesses to seamlessly support both traditional and new generation workloads in a secure, scalable, efficient manner. IBM’s Spectrum Storage Suite of software defined solutions can be purchased software-only, as an appliance or as-a-service. Spectrum Virtualize enables heterogeneous enterprise-class data services including migration, encryption, tiering, snapshots and replication across 400 different storage arrays from a wide range of vendors, providing customers with flexibility and investment protection.

As the price of Flash has decreased and as its overall economics (efficiency through data reduction techniques) have improved, all-Flash storage arrays are being used for a wider range of applications. Recent additions to the IBM all-Flash line-up provide systems for the entry-level and mid-range. With the existing all-Flash arrays such as the FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R, and the DeepFlash 150 and DS8888, IBM can support applications ranging from entry-level to high-end mainframe-based applications.

With these latest additions to its storage portfolio, including comprehensive all-Flash array offerings, a family of flexible software defined Spectrum Storage solutions and a well-articulated hybrid cloud strategy, IBM is uniquely positioned to guide customers into the Cognitive Computing Era.

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