IBM FlashSystem Storage Appliances Launch With $1 Billion Investment

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2013-04-11 Print this article Print

IBM announced the immediate availability of the IBM FlashSystem line of all-flash storage appliances, which are based on technology IBM acquired from Texas Memory Systems (TMS) last year. The IBM FlashSystem provides organizations with instant access to the benefits of flash. The IBM FlashSystem 820, for example, is the size of a pizza box, is 20 times faster than spinning hard drives and can store up to 24 terabytes of data—more than twice the amount of printed information stored in the U.S. Library of Congress.

Flash systems can provide up to 90 percent reductions in transaction times for applications like banking, trading and telecommunications; up to 85 percent reductions in batch processing times in applications like enterprise resource planning and business analytics; and up to 80 percent reductions of energy consumption in data center consolidations and cloud deployments.

Some use cases for IBM’s new flash technology include OLTP databases, cloud-scale infrastructures, computational applications, analytical applications and virtual infrastructures, Mills said. He said with the new systems, IBM is able to provide storage at $10 per gigabyte. That is comparable to $30 to $50 per gigabyte for more traditional types of storage, he noted. “You can fit a petabyte of data into one floor tile,” he said.

“We’re pushing over 5 gigabytes per second through the system,” Charles Godshall, client technical director on IBM’s global flash storage team, said.

On hand at the event were a handful of IBM customers who have used the FlashSystem technology.

Karim Abdullah, director of operations at Sprint, said Sprint has 121 call centers and after implementing an “all-you-can-consume” mobile initiative for customers, “It drove our systems crazy.” However, the move to flash technology drove a 45-fold boost in access to data, he said.

“I saw benefits of 10x improvement in throughput and similar achievements in latency,” said Al Candela, head of technical and services at Thomson Reuters. He said processes that used to take two hours with traditional storage technology now only take 10 minutes with flash. Moreover, “Just dropping flash in allows you to go into apps and tune them to improve performance.”

Candela also noted that flash exposes weaker developers. “This raises awareness; there’s no place to hide anymore,” he said.

“Developers no longer have any place to hide,” Goyal added. “They used to be able to hide behind the latency of mechanical storage devices, but flash eliminates that.”

Rick Mattingly, director of IT infrastructure projects at Kroger, said his organization began looking at flash technology late last year after many of the company’s database users complained that response times were not fast enough. Yet, “With the move to flash we’re seeing 10 times performance improvements,” he said. “We’re also able to do more virtualization. This allows us to virtualize some databases. We would not have done that previously because of the virtualization tax.”

Bob Bruce, vice president of Vion, a storage system provider to the government, said his company has sold more than $24 million in Texas Memory Systems flash products to the government. Much of that technology is being used “to help the intelligence community try to find bad guys,” Bruce said.


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