IBM FlashSystem Storage Appliances Launch With $1 Billion Investment

IBM announced a flash storage initiative with new FlashSystem appliances and a pledge to invest $1 billion in R&D into flash technology.

NEW YORK—IBM announced a strategic initiative to drive flash technology further into the enterprise to help organizations better tackle the mounting challenges of big data and beyond.

At an April 11 launch event here, IBM announced its new FlashSystem line of flash-based storage appliances, pledging to funnel $1 billion in investment into research and development of flash technology. The investment will go to R&D to design, create and integrate new flash solutions into Big Blue’s expanding portfolio of servers, storage systems and middleware.

“We’re announcing three things,” said Ed Walsh, vice president of storage systems marketing and strategy at IBM. “We’re announcing a $1 billion investment in software and systems across IBM, 12 new Centers of Competency around flash and a new line of products called IBM FlashSystem.”

Flash, a highly efficient rewritable memory, can speed the response times of information gathering in servers and storage systems from milliseconds to microseconds—orders of magnitude faster, IBM said. Because it contains no moving parts, the technology is also more reliable, durable and energy-efficient than spinning hard drives.

Such benefits have led flash to pervade the consumer electronics industry and be built into everything from cell phones to tablets. Today, as organizations are challenged by swelling data volumes, increasing demand for faster analytic insights and rising data center energy costs, flash is quickly becoming a key requirement to enable the Smarter Enterprise, IBM said.

“We’re at an important tipping point in the IT industry,” said Steve Mills, IBM’s senior vice president and group executive for software and systems. “There’s no question that this technology can improve performance, but even more important are aspects of cost reduction.”

“The economics and performance of flash are at a point where the technology can have a revolutionary impact on enterprises, especially for transaction-intensive applications,” said Ambuj Goyal, general manager of systems storage in IBM Systems & Technology Group, in a statement. “The confluence of big data, social, mobile and cloud technologies is creating an environment in the enterprise that demands faster, more efficient access to business insights, and flash can provide that access quickly.”

As part of its commitment to flash, IBM also announced plans to open 12 Centers of Competency around the globe. These sites will enable clients to run proof-of-concept scenarios with real-world data to measure the projected performance gains that can be achieved with IBM flash solutions. Clients will see first-hand how IBM flash solutions can provide real-time decision support for operational information and help improve the performance of mission-critical workloads, such as credit card processing, stock exchange transactions, manufacturing and order processing systems.

IBM is currently targeting Centers of Competency in China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Singapore, South America, the U.K., and the United States to all be operational by the end of the year.