IBM Using $1 Billion Storage Investment on All-Flash Arrays

FlashSystem V9000 enables administrators to consolidate existing systems under one management domain and use all the virtualization and services they already have.

IBM, which announced Feb. 17 that it is investing a cool $1 billion over the next five years in developing new-gen software and solid-state storage hardware, revealed Feb. 19 what exactly it is producing with a similar investment from 2013.

Big Blue, currently No. 1 on the IDC chart in all-flash storage sales, introduced two new Micron-powered all-flash IBM Spectrum Storage arrays: FlashSystem V9000 and FlashSystem 900, the company's latest software-defined storage systems.

Using FlashSystem V9000,administrators can consolidate their existing systems under one management domain and continue to use all the virtualization and storage services they already have. IBM said that the FlashSystem 900 will provide fast data-movement performance and enterprise reliability that can be deployed inside an hour, rather than the days required for conventional systems.

IBM said the new systems can provide users real-time analytical insights with up to 50 times better performance than traditional enterprise storage and up to four times better capacity in less rack space than its top competitor.

The days of doubt about whether NAND flash can hold up to the daily pounding of a heavy-workload enterprise storage system are long gone. New-gen flash has proven its endurance over the course of several years and by several vendors, and IBM is pretty confident about it; the company is guaranteeing these new systems for a full seven years.

Seven-year guarantee

If any NAND flash drive quits, burns up or otherwise fails, IBM will replace it immediately at no extra charge.

"Flash is certainly where the market is moving right now, and this is where IBM is investing," Mike Kuhn, Vice-President of IBM Flash Systems, told eWEEK. "We launched the FlashSystem line in April 2013, less than two years ago, and it has done very well for us.

"We have declared where we see the marketplace, and it's moving quickly to a software-defined and a flash environment."

That's for sure. Thus far, Big Blue has shipped about 4,000 FlashSystem 840s and V840s in that short span of time. "Last year alone, we added about 1,000 brand-new clients who were not buying IBM storage before," Kuhn said.

Investment going into development and other things

That $1 billion investment in flash storage research will go not only into software and hardware development, but also into partnerships, enhancements to flash sales and support infrastructures, and 12 new Centers of Competency across the world, Kuhn said.

FlashSystems feature Micron’s MLC (multi-level cell) flash processors. FlashSystem takes advantage of the chips' high density and cost benefits resulting in stronger data protection, improved reliability and enhanced application economics, Kuhn said.

The secret software sauce inside the all-flash storage arrays is IBM FlashCore, a suite of innovations and capabilities that can enable FlashSystem to help deliver better performance than enterprise disk systems, making it flexible as well as easy to deploy across entire IT ecosystems.

"We have both a scale-out and scale-up design," Kuhn said. "They scale up to 2.2 petabytes of effective capacity, when you combine it with our compression and data-reduction technology."

The new IBM Spectrum Storage line incorporates more than 700 patents and is designed to help clients transform to a hybrid cloud business model by managing massive amounts of data in a fast and easy manner from a single dashboard. The software helps users move data where they want it—from flash storage for fast access to tape and cloud for the lowest cost.

Kuhn said that FlashSystem users include Coca-Cola Bottling Consolidated, St. Jude Children's Hospital, and City of Hope National Medical Center.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...