Democratizing NVMe and Public Cloud Replication – IBM Storage Briefing Note

Businesses large and small are looking to tap the performance acceleration of flash storage to be able to compete more effectively. The problem is that these solutions frequently come with a premium price tag  – especially as non-volatile memory express (NVMe) flash arrays have hit the marketplace. To maximize return on investment (ROI), denser and more scalable all-flash arrays are required.

At the same time, today’s storage world is multi-cloud, as businesses use a range of private, public and hybrid cloud infrastructure resources to meet applications’ varying cost, performance and security requirements. This creates a management challenge for storage professionals, especially when it comes to protecting data that lives and is flowing across these heterogeneous environments. Centralization of capabilities such as snapshots and replication are needed to efficiently and effectively protect modern multi-cloud architectures.

Storage for a Broad Range of Workload Challenges – IBM Storwize

IBM Storage has updated its mid-range Storwize arrays to address the need for accelerated application performance and to better support multi-cloud deployments. Specifically, the new offerings include:

  • Storwize V5010E arrays, which can scale from 9TB to 12PB, and according to IBM, deliver twice the input/output operations per second (IOPS) performance at a 30% lower price point than the previous-generation 5010 model. The V5010E has four times more cache than previous 5010 models for greater throughput, to better support the modern workload set.
  • Storwize V5030E arrays, which can scale to larger configurations of up to 23PB per system, or 32PB in a scale-out clustered approach. According to IBM, typical configurations are 24TB, and the system delivers 20% improved IOPS performance compared to the previous-generation 5030 arrays at a 30% reduced cost.
  • Storwize V5100F and V5100 arrays, which offer the same levels of capacity scalability as V5030 alternatives but integrate NVMe and nine times more cache for faster performance (2.4 times maximum IOPS performance with data reduction at only a 10% higher price, according to IBM).

Data reduction, in the form of compression and deduplication, is built into the 5030 and 5100 offerings to optimize storage capacity and power utilization, as well as valuable data center floorspace. They also include data-at-rest encryption, and IBM’s Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud helps end users recover from ransomware and malware threats. When deployed in IBM HyperSwap high-availability configurations through IBM’s FlashWatch program, the vendor guarantees 100% availability, and all Storwize arrays include storage system availability of 99.9999%.

The arrays are built with 30TB SSDs and, in the case of the 5100, IBM FlashCore Modules to further optimize density (up to 2PB of data when compression is active in a 2U configuration, according to IBM). IBM’s FlashCore Modules are proprietary 2.5-inch NVMe solid-state drives that can fit into standard industry standard 2.5” drive bays. IBM is currently shipping 19.2TB capacity FlashCore Modules, which it claims are the largest available on the market today. Each FlashCore Module handles its own hardware-based encryption and compression, which helps to offload work from the storage controller and means during those operations there is no performance impact on applications and workloads. The standard configuration of the Storwize 5100 includes the FlashCore Modules, and optionally the customer may choose to deploy with SSDs instead.

IBM’s Storwize software applies artificial intelligence (AI) to enable automated, non-disruptive migration of data across IBM and non-IBM arrays alike. Data migrations can run without impact to production workloads, because the software knows to speed up or to slow down the data migration based on usage patterns. The user simply designates the migration target, and the Storwize platform then handles the migration. AI management capabilities are also extended to automatic tiering of data across on-premises heterogeneous arrays and cloud-delivered storage infrastructure resources, to accelerate application performance and to control storage infrastructure costs through optimal data placement.

The IBM Storage Insights Storage tool, delivered as a Service (SaaS), provides telemetry data-driven recommendations and insights into system health and performance that cannot only optimize data traffic, but that can also provide proactive support insights that enable avoidance of performance issues or system outages, while also streamlining help desk tickets. Additionally, insights Spectrum Control platform now enables policies and updates to be applied across the storage environment (as opposed to individual arrays).

Leveraging the Cloud for DR and Test/Dev – IBM Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud

IBM’s Spectrum Virtualize is the Storwize software running as a VM in a public cloud, processing IT data to be migrated or mirrored between on-premises and cloud data centers, or between two cloud data centers. IBM and non-IBM arrays are supported alike (more than 450 different arrays from IBM and other vendors are supported). Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud is typically used for disaster recovery, test, development use cases, and to create an air gap in the form of read-only snapshots that were written to the S3 object storage protocol (ransomware is typically written to attack block storage). New for April is the platform’s support of Amazon Web Services, in addition to IBM Cloud.

StorageSwiss Take

IBM, known for its enterprise-class storage capabilities, is taking an approach of providing right-sized serial attached SCSI (SAS) and NVMe flash storage solutions alongside smart data management and compression that will help its large enterprise customers to optimize the cost efficiency of these premium-priced technologies, and also make IBM storage more accessible to smaller-scale customers. It offers consumption-based payment options to augment these capabilities, for customers looking to extend utility-based payment to their on-premises storage implementations. Though not alone in going after SAS and NVMe flash or multi-cloud support, the fact that IBM offers a common suite of software across all deployments (whether stand-alone or array based) is a differentiator. Meanwhile, its ongoing extension of support for non-IBM storage systems and clouds reflects a multi-vendor understanding of today’s data center reality.

For IBM that is not a true statement across the board. When IBM announced the FlashSystem 9100 with NVMe in the array we reduced pricing up to 30% compared to the previous FlashSystem that used standard SAS.

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Senior Analyst, Krista Macomber produces analyst commentary and contributes to a range of client deliverables including white papers, webinars and videos for Storage Switzerland. She has a decade of experience covering all things storage, data center and cloud infrastructure, including: technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her previous experience includes leading the IT infrastructure practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research, and leading market intelligence initiatives for media company TechTarget.

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