IBM Launches New Storage Systems

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2010-10-07

IBM Launches New Storage Systems

NEW YORK-IBM announced a series of new storage systems aimed at helping customers, particularly midrange customers, speed the delivery of data for new workloads that arise with the continued explosion of data as the world becomes more and more instrumented.

At an event at the posh Plaza Hotel here, IBM unveiled its set of new storage systems that are optimized for workloads such as transaction processing and real-time analytics, reflecting the company's $6 billion annual investment in research and development, said Rod Adkins, senior vice president of the IBM Systems and Technology Group.

A standout among the new products announced is a midrange disk storage system, called the IBM Storwize V7000, designed to efficiently and cost-effectively manage the torrent of data flowing into companies so it can be swiftly delivered for such workloads as transaction processing-like the growing volume of transactions completed from the Web and mobile and embedded devices, said Brian Truskowski, general manager of system storage and networking at IBM.

The IBM Storwize V7000 system can help simplify administrative tasks such as setup and management, IBM officials said. And the new system can reduce storage rack space by up to 67 percent when compared with competitive offerings, allowing room for clients' future growth. It also includes a highly integrated set of advanced software for storage efficiency that frees clients from buying piece parts or making trade-offs between price and capability.

"We're at an interesting inflection point in our industry where data is changing the game," Adkins said. "What's required is continued innovation. With this growth in data we will continue to deliver leadership capabilities in analytics, security, compression, deduplication and archiving. Our investment model will continue to focus around those activities."

Adkins called the Storwize V700 a "breakthrough midrange product." He added, "We integrated virtualization, and you can pool your storage resources, and not just IBM storage resources, but any storage resources."

Truskowski said there has been a "feature gap in midrange storage," in that midrange storage systems "tend to struggle to scale." However, the V7000 does not have that problem, as it is a modular system that is designed to grow as a customer's needs grow.

"The first thing to note about the V7000 is the modularity of the system and the ability to grow as you grow," Truskowski said. "You can add up to nine enclosures and scale up to 240 drives. And the second thing you notice about the V7000 is its ease of use."

Active Data Moves to Fast SSDs


The Storwize V7000 combines high performance with ease of use, Truskowski said. It also includes built-in advanced storage efficiency. This advanced storage efficiency includes IBM's Easy Tier technology, which helps manage the data for users. IBM System Storage Easy Tier software, which was invented by IBM Research and can improve performance by up to 200 percent, automatically moves the most active data (such as credit card transactions) to faster solid-state drives (SSDs) to prioritize and provide quick access to data for emerging workloads like analytics, while moving secondary data (less urgent data to be saved, for example, for regulatory requirements) to more cost-effective storage technologies.

"You want to move your more active data to solid state and your less active data to other areas," Adkins said.

Moreover, Easy Tier will be in the base offering of the V7000, along with other technology and features that have traditionally been available only on higher-end storage systems.

"If you look at the storage market, the midrange spot is one of the most highly competitive areas, and because of that, it's a key area to have strength," Henry Baltazar, storage and systems analyst at the 451 Group, told eWEEK. "So the two main features they are pushing are big," he said of IBM's midrange push with the Storwize V7000.

One key piece is Easy Tier, Baltazar said. "This is very important. The main thing holding back SSD is they are expensive-so you can't afford to create volumes of SSDs. So what Easy Tier does is it looks at a volume set and it specifically moves hot data to the flash. Take for instance e-mail. The whole thing is not going to be hot; just a percentage of that volume will be. So say you have 100GB of e-mail. Instead of using all 100GB with flash, if it's only the hot part you need, you can minimize that down to 5GB or 10GB on flash."

The other big takeaway Baltazar says he got from the IBM V7000 announcement is IBM's virtualization support.

"Because you're able to, if you have a lot of systems sitting around, you can put the Storwize system in front of them to aggregate all that space together," he said. "In the old days before virtualization, you had to buy silos of capacity, and silos are always inefficient-because one app could be using 90 percent of capacity and another only 20 percent. Virtualization allows you to more efficiently dole it [capacity] out. Another side benefit is a business impact benefit, in that it will make it easier for IBM to steal some accounts."

Storage Demand Growing Rapidly


Meanwhile, demand for storage capacity worldwide will continue to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 49.8 percent from 2009-2014, according to IDC. Businesses are struggling with the volume and evolving nature of the data they're already collecting. They are under pressure to turn this data into insight and are grappling with how they are going to store and secure it all. IBM continues to develop storage technologies, using its significant R&D spending to help clients not only manage data proliferation, but harness data to create insights for competitive advantages.  

Moreover, the new IBM storage systems build on other storage innovations from IBM. They include technologies that can eliminate the need to repeatedly make copies of the same data; scale-out storage technologies to support growth-particularly of unstructured data like video and photos-and high-performance workloads like cloud computing; and technologies to place the most critical data on fast, dynamic storage devices so it can be more quickly made available for workloads like analytics and mobile transaction processing.

According to an IBM press release, examples include:

  • The IBM ProtecTIER deduplication technology that IBM acquired in 2008 to help clients eliminate duplicate copies of data and significantly improve storage efficiency;

  • The IBM Real-time Compression Appliances-technology that IBM acquired earlier this year to help clients reduce physical storage requirements by up to 80 percent, based on data from currently installed appliances;

  • The XIV high-end disk storage architecture that IBM acquired in 2008. XIV's architecture enables it to adapt to changing workloads and deliver consistently high performance;

  • IBM's Scale-out Network Attached Storage (SONAS), invented by IBM Research to support multiple petabytes of storage in a single file system. Clients can also use XIV and SONAS together to create a complete cloud storage solution; and

  • The IBM Information Archive, which combines tape and disk storage to deliver to clients a tiered storage system that can protect data for long-term retention while helping optimize costs.  

The IBM Storwize V7000 system further demonstrates that IBM is sharing its most innovative storage technologies across its portfolio. For example, the system includes a graphical user interface (GUI) modeled after the popular XIV user interface designed to significantly reduce system setup and administration; Easy Tier software; and industry-leading storage virtualization software that has been shown to double productivity.  

IBM also introduced a range of other storage products, including:  

  • IBM System Storage DS8800, which based on internal studies, can offer up to 40 percent faster performance than its predecessor, the IBM System Storage DS8700 (6). The DS8800 will next year support IBM Easy Tier;  

  • Updated SAN Volume Controller software that includes Easy Tier, an improved administrator GUI and increased scalability as compared with the previous version of the technology;

  • IBM Systems Director Storage Control software that manages storage, servers and network technology through a single interface, reducing storage management complexity, risk and cost;

  • IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v4.2 software, which has been enhanced for midrange systems; and

  • Implementation Services for Disk Systems - IBM Storwize V7000, using highly skilled storage specialists who will provide planning, implementation, configuration, testing and basic skills instruction. Using IBM services will enable clients to use in-house resources for higher priority business initiatives and can accelerate the return on investment in IBM storage technology.

"Organizations are struggling with the volume and evolving nature of the data they're already collecting," Truskowski said in a statement. "The IBM Storwize V7000 will deliver to clients a new level of storage efficiency that can help them better store and secure their data. IBM is combining home-grown storage innovations like our Easy Tier technology together with acquisitions of industry leading storage technologies such as XIV to deliver to our clients a truly unmatched portfolio of storage solutions."  


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