Posts Tagged ‘cloud storage’

IBM Insists Storage is Generating Positive Revenue

May 19, 2017

At a recent quarterly briefing on the company’s storage business, IBM managers crowed over its success: 2,000 new Spectrum Storage customers, 1,300 new DS8880 systems shipped, 1500 PB of capacity shipped, 7% revenue gain Q1’17. This appeared to contradict yet another consecutive losing quarter in which only IBM’s Cognitive Solutions (includes Solutions Software and Transaction Processing Software) posted positive revenue.

However, Martin Schroeter, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (1Q’17 financials here), sounded upbeat about IBM storage in the quarterly statement: Storage hardware was up seven percent this quarter, led by double-digit growth in our all-flash array offerings. Flash contributed to our Storage revenue growth in both midrange and high-end. In storage, we continue to see the shift in value towards software-defined environments, where we continue to lead the market. We again had double-digit revenue growth in Software-Defined Storage, which is not reported in our Systems segment. Storage software now represents more than 40 percent of our total storage revenue.

IBM Flash System A9000

Highly parallel all-flash storage for hyperscale and cloud data centers

Schroeter continued: Storage gross margins are down, as hardware continues to be impacted by price pressure. To summarize Systems, our revenue and gross profit performance were driven by expected cycle declines in z Systems and Power, mitigated by Storage revenue growth. We continue to expand our footprint and add new capabilities, which address changing workloads. While we are facing some shifting market dynamics and ongoing product transitions, our portfolio remains uniquely optimized for cognitive and cloud computing.

DancingDinosaur hopes he is right.  IBM has been signaling a new z System coming for months, along with enhancements to Power storage. Just two weeks ago IBM reported achievements with Power and Nvidia, as DancingDinosaur covered at that time.

If there was any doubt, all-flash storage is the way IBM and most other storage providers are heading for the performance and competitive economics. In January IBM announced three all flash DS888* all flash products, which DancingDinosaur covered at the time here. Specifically:

  • DS8884 F (the F designates all flash)—described by IBM as performance delivered within a flexible and space-saving package
  • DS8886 F—combines performance, capacity, and cost to support a variety of workloads and applications
  • DS8888 F—promises performance and capacity designed to address the most demanding business workload requirements

The three products are intended to provide the speed and reliability needed for workloads ranging from enterprise resource planning (ERP) and financial transactions to cognitive applications like machine learning and natural language processing. Doubt that a lot of mainframe data centers are doing much with cognitive systems yet, but that will be coming.

Spectrum Storage also appears to be looming large in IBM’s storage plans. Spectrum Storage is IBM’s software defined storage (SDS) family of products. DancingDinosaur covered the latest refresh of the suite of products this past February.

The highlights of the recent announcement included the addition of Cloud Object Storage and a version of Spectrum Virtualize as software only.  Spectrum Control got a slew of enhancements, including new cloud-based storage analytics for Dell EMC VNX, VNXe, and VMAX; extended capacity planning views for external storage, and transparent cloud tiering for IBM Spectrum Scale.  The on-premises editions added consolidated chargeback/showback and support for Dell EMC VNXe file storage. This should make it clear that Spectrum Storage is not only for underlying IBM storage products.

Along the same lines, Spectrum Storage added VMware 6 support and the certified vSphere Web client. In the area of cloud object storage, IBM added native NFS access, enhance STaaS multi-tenancy, IPV6 support, and preconfigured bundles.

IBM also previewed enhancements coming in 2Q’17.   Of specific interest to DancingDinosaur readers will likely be  the likely updates to the FlashSystem and VeraStack portfolio.

The company is counting on these enhancements and more to help pull IBM out of its tailspin. As Schroeter wrote in the 1Q’17 report: New systems product introductions later in the year will drive improved second half performance as compared to the first. Hope so; already big investors are cashing out. Clients, however, appear to be staying for now.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Please follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing at technologywriter.com and here.

 

Storage Looms Large at IBMEdge 2015

April 17, 2015

Been a busy year in storage with software defined storage (SDS), real-time compression, flash, storage virtualization, OpenStack, and more all gaining traction. Similarly, big data, analytics, cloud, and mobile are impacting storage. You can expect to find them and more at IBM Edge2015, coming May 10-15 in Las Vegas.

 But storage continues to make news every week. Recently IBM scientists demonstrated an areal recording density triumph, hitting 123 billion bits of uncompressed data per square inch on low cost, particulate magnetic tape. That translates into the equivalent of a 220 terabyte tape cartridge that could fit in the palm of your hand, or comparable to 1.37 trillion mobile text messages or the text of 220 million books, which would require a 2,200 km bookshelf spanning from Las Vegas to Houston, Texas. (see graphic below)

Tape compression breakthrough

Courtesy of IBM (click to enlarge)

Let’s take a look at some sessions delving into the current hot storage topics at Edge2015, starting with tape, since we’ve been talking about it.

(sSS1335) The Future of Tape; presenter Mark Lantz. He discusses current and future scaling trends of magnetic tape technology—see announcement above—from the perspective of IBM Research. He begins by first comparing recent scaling trends of both tape and hard disk drive technology. He then looks at future capacity scaling potential of tape and hard disks. In that context he offers an in-depth look at a new world record tape areal density demonstration of more than 100 Gb/in2, performed by IBM research in collaboration with Fujifilm, using low cost particulate tape media. He also discusses the new hardware and tape media technologies developed for this demonstration as well as key challenges for the continued scaling of tape.

If you are thinking future, check out this session too. (sBA2523) Part III: A Peek into the Future; presenter Bruce Hillsberg. This session looks at novel and innovate technologies to address clients’ most challenging technical and business problems across a wide range of technologies and disciplines. The presentation looks at everything from the most fundamental materials level all the way to working on the world’s largest big data problems. Many of the technologies developed by the Storage Systems research team lead to new IBM products or become new features in existing products. Topics covered in this lecture include atomic scale storage, research into new materials, advances in current storage media, advanced object stores, cloud storage, and more.

Combine big data, flash, and the z13 all here. (sBA1952) How System z13 and IBM DS8870 Flash Technology Enables Your Hadoop Environments; presenter Renan Ugalde.  Analyzing large amounts of data introduces challenges that can impact the goals of any organization. Companies require a reliable and high performing infrastructure to extract value from their structure and unstructured data. The unique features offered by the integration of IBM System z13 and DS8870 Flash technology enable a platform to support real-time decisions such as fraud detection. This session explains how integration among System z13, DS8870, and Hadoop maximizes performance by enabling the infrastructure’s unique big data capabilities.

Jon Toigo is an outstanding non-IBM presenter and somewhat of an iconoclast when it comes to storage. This year he is offering a 3-part session on Disaster Recovery Planning in an Era of Mobile Computing and Big Data:

  • (aBA2511) Part I: For all the hype around hypervisor-based computing and new software-defined infrastructure models, the ongoing need for disaster preparedness is often being buried in the discussion. High availability server clustering is increasingly believed to trump disaster recovery preparations, despite the fact that the transition to an agile data center is fraught with disaster potentials. In the first of three sessions, Toigo looks at the trends that are occurring in IT and the potential they present for disruption.
  • sBA2512) Part II: builds on the previous session by examining the technologies available for data protection and the trend away from backups in favor of real-time mirroring and replication. He notes promising approaches, including storage virtualization and object storage that can make a meaningful contribution.
  • (sBA2513) Part III: completes his disaster recovery planning series with the use of mobile computing technologies and public clouds as an adjunct to successful business recovery following an unplanned interruption event. Here he discusses techniques and technologies that either show promise as recovery expediters or may place businesses at risk of an epic fail.

Several SDS sessions follow: (sSS0884) Software Defined Storage — Why? What? How? Presenter: Tony Pearson. Here Pearson explains why companies are excited about SDS, what storage products and solutions IBM has to offer, and how they are deployed. This session provides an overview of the new IBM Spectrum Storage family of offerings.

 A second session by Pearson. (sCV3179): IBM Spectrum Storage Integration in IBM Cloud Manager with OpenStack: IBM’s Cloud Storage Options; presenter Tony Pearson. This session will look at the value of IBM storage products in the cloud with a focus on OpenStack. Specifically, it will look at how Spectrum Virtualize can be integrated and used in a complete 3-tier app with OpenStack.

Finally, (sSS2453) Myth Busting Software Defined Storage – Top 7 Misconceptions; presenter Jeffrey Barnett. This session looks at the top misconceptions to cut through the hype and understand the real value potential. DancingDinosaur could only come up with six misconceptions. Will have to check out this session for sure.

Of course, save time for the free evening entertainment. In addition to Penn & Teller, a pair of magicians, and rocker Grace Potter, here. There also will be a weird but terrific group, 2Cellos. Stick with it to the end (about 3 min.) for the kicker.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran IT analyst and writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his IT writing on Technologywriter.com and here. And join DancingDinsosaur at IBM Edge2015. You will find me hanging out wherever people gather around available power outlets to recharge mobile devices.

IBM Edge2014 Executive Track Hits Critical Issues

May 14, 2014

Until now this blog has looked at the technology issues being addressed at the upcoming IBM Edge2014 conference starting in Las Vegas on Monday. There also, however, is a business focus through the Edge2014 Executive Track. You can find Executive Track session details here.

DancingDinosaur, a mediocre programmer in a previous life, still gravitates toward technical sessions in the hopes of understanding this amazing new technology. But for the sake of some balance your blogger will hit a few Executive Track sessions. The following look particularly interesting:

Infrastructure Matters Because Business Outcomes Matter—to be given by Tom Rosamilia, Senior Vice President, IBM Systems & Technology Group and IBM Integrated Supply Chain. Your blogger has heard Rosamilia talk on this topic before and he is spot on. He explains why the right IT infrastructure choices are critical for business success and how the demands created by cloud, big data and analytics, mobile, and social are fueling an explosion of data, and spawning new workloads and business models. This has drastically changed expectations for IT infrastructures, which now is expected to be software defined, open, and more secure than ever before. The result is what IBM calls Composable Business, which optimizes technology by building a robust, highly agile infrastructure that can adjust quickly and efficiently to change for better business outcomes.

Along the same lines is Rethinking Your Business Model with Cloud. Here Robert LeBlanc, Senior Vice President, Software and Cloud Solutions, IBM Software Group, describes how new disruptive technologies are pushing companies to rethink how they do business. As a result, a wide range of companies, both new and well established, ranging from Tangerine (formerly ING Direct), OnFarm (farm management) and Kiwi (wearable technology) to Pitney Bowes (reinventing the postage meter business) are redefining themselves and their industries. Not surprisingly business leaders, IT executives, and developers are embracing cloud technology across their organizations to promote innovation, drive business growth, and gain a competitive advantage.  Enterprises are tapping into IBM cloud technologies, such as the IBM Cloud Marketplace and BlueMix, to quickly build applications that transform their businesses.

Improved Economics with Data Virtualization—Jeff Barber, Vice President, Mid-Range/Low End Disk Business Line Executive, IBM Systems & Technology Group discusses how data is the next natural resource; the new currency of business. In today’s mobile and social environment, users expect data to be available anytime, anywhere, and on any device. This has placed great financial pressure on enterprise data fabrics. With budgets under constant scrutiny, companies need to manage storage costs while delivering faster business insights. IBM Storage provides data virtualization that helps enable business agility while reducing both infrastructure and operational costs. Data virtualization also provides the foundation for software defined storage and cloud storage.

Big Data Insights in a Flash–Michael Kuhn, Vice President and Business Line Executive, Flash

Systems, IBM Systems & Technology Group explains how the massive amounts of data being generated each day are making it difficult to capture insights from the data. Through this data explosion businesses can achieve their competitive edge by making data-driven decisions in real time. However, the velocity at which data is growing has made it increasingly difficult for businesses to manage and extract value from their data. Kuhn shows how adding flash storage to a data fabric offers a fast, low cost way to create business value and extract greater insights from data. Flash also enables data analytics in near real time so workers can take appropriate actions even as customers are making buying decisions.

Much of IBM Edge2014 will touch on storage in various ways, which makes sense since data lies at the heart of technology’s value, and storage is how organizations capture, preserve, protect, and leverage data for its maximum impact.

Flexible Storage for Data in the Cloud by Vincent Hsu, IBM Fellow and Chief Technical Officer, Storage Systems and Sidney Chow, Vice President and Business Line Executive, High End Disk, IBM Systems & Technology Group. Hsu and Chow start with the unpredictability of workloads in cloud environments that is driving an ever increasing need for a flexible and scalable infrastructure. Your cloud services, whether provided on-premises or off-site, are only as good as the elasticity and control they can provide. The right data infrastructure matters when creating cloud environments that can optimize data for faster business performance and lower total costs. Software Defined Storage take elasticity to the next level by simplifying interfaces and automating tasks.

Not sure which of these sessions your blogger will attend—all look good. In fact, there is so much at IBM Edge2014 that this blogger would need another week to catch all he likes. And, still need to make time for the Sheryl Crow concert.  Decisions, decisions, decisions…

Look for this blogger 5/19 through 5/22 at Edge2014. You’ll find me in the social media lounge when not attending a session. And follow me on Twitter, @mainframeblog or @IBMEdge.

CA Technologies Joins System z and Cloud for Cheaper Storage

December 2, 2013

A pair of announcements at the AWS re:Invent conference in mid November aimed to combine System z with the cloud. The first addressed how to unite the z with the cloud through new tools that support storage, virtualized environments, and application delivery for the purpose of  meeting the management demands of what CA refers to as dynamic data centers by blending mainframe and cloud capabilities.

The idea here is to blend the z with cloud infrastructures that offer greater flexibility to manage enterprise data centers and balance workloads across platforms. Citing a Forrester Consulting study commissioned by IBM that noted how organizations, by including the mainframe in cloud infrastructures, can enable a broader mix of infrastructure service options. The idea, for example, is to enable a mix of Linux virtual machines from both the mainframe for data needing to meet high SLAs and from commodity infrastructure when SLA requirements are less stringent. The study also pointed out that the z can better accommodate high densities of very small workloads with resource guarantees — something very difficult to achieve on commodity resources. CA is supporting System z and the cloud with several new software releases that bring improved efficiencies and cost savings.

The second announcement is similar to the first except it looks specifically at cloud storage for the z, particularly when backing up data through Amazon Web Services and Riverbed Technology. The promise here is to streamline storage management operations while cutting storage costs to pennies per gigabyte. Essentially, z shops can use the CA tools to back up their data and archive it very cheaply in the cloud.

CA Cloud Storage for System z, when used with  Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud storage and the Riverbed Whitewater cloud storage appliance enables mainframe data centers greater storage agility at lower storage costs. The upshot: disaster recovery readiness is improved and AWS cloud storage is accessed without changing the existing backup infrastructure.

The product not only lets organizations reduce data storage costs by taking advantage of low cloud storage costs but delivers the elastic capacity and flexibility.  CA also insists the product eliminates purpose-built robots and disks, but that doesn’t seem to be entirely the case.

Rather, it incorporates Riverbed Whitewater, itself a purpose-built storage appliance that helps integrate cloud storage infrastructures to securely deliver instant recovery and cost-effective storage for backup and data archiving. By using CA Cloud Storage for System z and the Riverbed appliance, z shops can back up IBM System z storage data to Amazon S3, a storage infrastructure designed for mission-critical and primary data storage or to Amazon Glacier, an extremely low-cost storage service for which retrieval times of several hours are suitable. Both services are highly secure and scalable and designed for 99.999999999 percent durability, according to CA.

Apparently CA is deploying the software with AWS and Riverbed for itself. The company expects achieve scalable storage while reducing the cost of its own backups. In addition, it picks up the benefits of elastic storage, which should improve its disaster recovery and ensure faster response to business needs without having to depend on offsite tape recalls, according to the company.

Both CA offerings, in effect, blend the System z with the cloud to increase flexibility and reduce cost. “The growth of System z and the increased adoption of Linux on the mainframe make it an optimal platform for reliably and cost-effectively delivering IT services that support opportunities around cloud, big data, and mobile,” said Joe Clabby, president, Clabby Analytics commenting on the CA announcements. In short, he noted the product combination enables IT workers to bridge the IT on-premise/cloud gap and manage the cross-enterprise and cross-platform operations of today’s dynamic data center.

Of course, for z data centers there are other ways to bridge the gap. IBM, for example, has been nudging the z toward to cloud for some time, as DancingDinosaur reported here. IBM also has its own relationship involving the Riverbed Whitewater appliance and Tivoli Storage Manager. Whatever approach you choose, it is time for z shops to explore how they can leverage the cloud.

You can follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog.

IBM Brings Cloud Applications to the C-Suite

June 20, 2013

On Tuesday IBM introduced a set of cloud applications intended to help C-suite executives accelerate innovation around customer experience for the purpose of meeting their business objectives in concert with their company’s IT strategy. First out will be a Big Data and social analytics application that chief marketing officers (CMOs) can use to get an emotional reading on how customers view their brand.

Anyone who attended IBM Edge 2013 couldn’t walk away without realizing how pervasive cloud thinking has become at IBM.  Over 30 sessions dealt specifically with cloud computing as well as the many other sessions that included cloud references. DancingDinosaur expects to take up Clod Barrera’s excellent session on cloud storage design in an upcoming post.

Of course, the cloud is not new to the System z.  The z is a strong candidate for a private cloud and IBM even offers the IBM Smart Analytics Cloud for System z. But IBM’s current cloud interest is generally platform agnostic; Watson, at the moment, may be the exception.

Having identified 100 cloud applications, IBM is not leaving out any C-Suite executive. Executives responsible for customer care and support will get the IBM Watson Engagement Advisor, which uses cognitive computing to enable personalized customer conversations. The head of HR is targeted for the IBM SmartCloud for Social Business, which promises to find, analyze, source and acquire the best talent. Supply chain execs, chief procurement officers, the CFO, and even the CIO have been targeted.

The CIO, according to IBM, will get cloud solutions needed by various lines-of-business as part of a comprehensive IT strategy to ensure security, flexibility in deployment options, and hybrid environment integrations. The CFO and corporate treasury function will be able to tap cloud analytics to make more analytical, risk-aware decisions supporting revenue, expenses, and compensation processes.

To support the announcement, IBM lined up a handful of customers as examples. For instance, London-based Speedo, the big swimwear brand, is using cloud-based digital analytics software from IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative to improve the customer’s shopping experience, which has resulted in cross-selling revenue gains of more than 10% in online sales and is generating six times more revenue per average order.

Nielsen Media taps the cloud–based IBM Watson Engagement Advisor to crunch big data in record time to transform the way they engage clients in key functions such as customer service, marketing, and sales. Watson gives the company a cognitive computing assistant that learns, adapts and understands the company’s data quickly and easily, and through learning the tool increases its knowledge and value over time.

Rent-a-Center, a leading rent-to-own operator, opted for a procurement application from IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative with business partner Coupa Software. It optimizes and centralizes its purchasing process in the cloud, reportedly resulting in millions of dollars in savings.

Apparently, cloud computing has piqued the interest of C-suite executives, which IBM intends to use to advance its various cloud-based offerings. The C-suite is adopting cloud computing because execs see its ability to transform their front office processes –marketing, procurement, supplier management, human resources, and legal. In fact, Gartner estimates that by 2017, CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs.

Making cloud offerings particularly interesting to C-level executives is the nature of cloud computing itself, which allows organizations to start small, pay for what they use, and combine it with their traditional IT systems.  If Edge 2013 and the new C-Suite cloud initiative is any indication, expect to see more cloud in everything IBM does.

IBM Technical Edge 2013 Tackles Flash – Big Data – Cloud & More

June 3, 2013

IBM Edge 2013 kicks off in just one week, 6/10 and runs through 6/14. Still time to register.  This blogger will be there through 6/13.  You can follow me on Twitter for conference updates @Writer1225.  I’ll be using hashtag #IBMEdge to post live Twitter comments from the conference. As noted here previously I’ll buy a drink for the first two people who come up to me and say they read DancingDinosaur.  How’s that for motivation!

The previous post looked at the Executive track. Now let’s take a glimpse at the technical track, which ranges considerably wider, beyond the System z to IBM’s other platforms, flash, big data, cloud, virtualization, and more

Here’s a sample of the flash sessions:

Assessing the World of Flash looks at the key competitors, chief innovators, followers, and leaders. You’ll quickly find that not all flash solutions are the same and why IBM’s flash strategy stands at the forefront of this new and strategic technology.

There are many ways to deploy flash. This session examines Where to Put Flash in the Data Center.  It will focus particularly on the new IBM FlashSystem products and other technologies from IBM’s Texas Memory Systems acquisition. However, both storage-based and server-based flash technologies will be covered with an eye toward determining what works best for client performance needs.

The session on IBM’s Flash Storage Future will take a look at how IBM is leveraging its Texas Memory Systems acquisition and other IBM technologies to deliver a flash portfolio that will play a major role across not only IBM’s storage products but its overall solution portfolio and its roadmap moving forward.

The flash sessions also will look at how Banco Azteco, Thompson Reuters, and Sprint are deploying and benefiting from flash.

In the big data track, the Future of Analytics Infrastructure looks interesting. Although most organizations understand the value of business analytics many don’t understand how the infrastructure choices they make will impact the success or failure of their analytics projects.  The session will identify the key requirements of any analytical environment: agility, scalability, multipurpose, compliance, cost-effective, and partner-ready; and how they can be met within a single, future-ready analytics infrastructure to meet the needs of current and future analytics strategies.

Big data looms large at the conference. A session titled Hadoop…It’s Not Just about Internal Storage explores how the Hadoop MapReduce approach is evolving from server internal disks to external storage. Initially, Hadoop provided massively scalable, distributed file storage and analytic capabilities. New thinking, however, has emerged that looks at a tiered approach for implementing the Hadoop framework with external storage. Understanding the workload architectural considerations is important as companies begin to integrate analytic workloads to drive higher business value. The session will review the workload considerations to show why an architectural approach makes sense and offer tips and techniques, and share information about IBM’s latest offerings in this space.

An Overview of IBM’s Big Data Strategy details the company’s industrial-strength big data platform to address the full spectrum of big data business opportunities. This session is ideal for those who are just getting started with big data.

And no conference today can skip the cloud. IBM Edge 2013 offers a rich cloud track. For instance, Building the Cloud Enabled Data Center explains how to get maximum value out of an existing virtualized environment through self-service delivery and optimization along with virtualization optimization capabilities. It also describes how to enable business and infrastructure agility with workload optimized clouds that provide orchestration across the entire data center and accelerate application updates to respond faster to stakeholder demands and competitive threats. Finally it looks at how an open and extensible cloud delivery platform can fully automate application deployment and lifecycle management by integrating compute, network, storage, and server automation.

A pair of sessions focus on IBM Cloud Storage Architectures and Understanding IBM’s Cloud Options. The first session looks at several cloud use cases, such as storage and systems management.  The other session looks at IBM SmartCloud Entry, SmartCloud Provisioning, and ServiceDelivery Manager.  The session promises to be an excellent introduction for the cloud technical expert who desires a quick overview of what IBM has to offer in cloud software and the specific value propositions for its various offerings, along with their architectural features and technical requirements.

A particularly interesting session will examine Desktop Cloud through Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and Mobile Computing. The corporate desktop has long been a costly and frustrating challenge complicated even more by mobile access. The combination of the cloud and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) provides a way for companies to connect end users to a virtual server environment that can grow as needed while mitigating the issues that have frustrated desktop computing, such as software upgrades and patching.

There is much more in the technical track. All the main IBM platforms are featured, including PureFlex Systems, the IBM BladeCenter, IBM’s Enterprise X-Architecture, the IBM XIV storage system, and, for DancingDinosaur readers, sessions on the DS8000.

Have you registered for IBM Edge 2013 yet?  There still is time. As noted above, find me in the Social Media Lounge at the conference and in the sessions.  You can follow me on Twitter for conference updates @Writer1225.  I’ll be using hashtag #IBMEdge to post live Twitter comments from the conference. I’ll buy a drink for the first two people who come up to me and say they read DancingDinosaur.  How much more motivation do you need?


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