Posts Tagged ‘flash 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.

 

IBM’s Latest Flash Announcements Target Dell/EMC

August 26, 2016

The newest IBM storage, announced here earlier this week, aims to provide small, midsize, and global enterprises with virtualized SDS for primary storage and for cloud or cognitive applications and workloads. Central to the effort is IBM Spectrum Virtualize, which automates Storwize all-flash solutions intended to reduce the cost and complexity of data center and cloud environments. Entry pricing for the new storage starts at $19,000, which IBM describes as cost-conscious.storwize logo

IBM All-Flash for the midrange

In addition, IBM announced Flash In, a no-cost storage migration program targeting Dell/EMC customers that IBM hopes will bail out of the merged operation.

SDS in the form of IBM Spectrum Virtualize is central to making IBM’s latest all-flash offerings work for the broad set of use cases IBM envisions.  As IBM puts it: organizations today are embracing all-flash storage to deliver speed and response times necessary to support growing data workloads across public, private, and hybrid cloud environments, as well as the emerging demands of cognitive applications and workloads.

IBM Spectrum Virtualize promises to improve storage efficiency through features such as real-time data compression, thin provisioning, and snapshotting across nearly 400 different storage arrays from a multitude of vendors. That means organizations can leverage, even repurpose, physical storage capacity they already have as they scramble to meet the storage needs of new workloads.

Spectrum Virtualize also optimizes data security, reliability and operational costs. For example, the software automatically tiers and migrates data from one storage array to another, provides secure data-at-rest encryption, and remotely replicates data for disaster recovery and business continuity

The announcement centers around two products, the enterprise-class IBM Storwize V7000F and a midsize IBM Storwize 5030F,  which promise enterprise-class availability and function in a mid-range and entry-level all-flash storage array.  At the same time, both offer greater performance and require less time to provision and optimize systems. Coincidentally, IBM has just been recognized, for the third year in a row as a leader for Flash Storage in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Solid-State Arrays (SSA).

Specifically, the all-flash IBM Storwize V7000F improves performance by up to 45 percent and supports four times the clustering for scale-out and scale-up growth to help organizations manage rapidly growing datasets.  The midrange and entry level all flash IBM Storwize 5030F offers high performance and availability at a discounted entry point (noted above) to help clients control costs.

The all-flash Storwize V7000F and Storwize V5030F are also built to manage a variety of primary storage workloads, from database management systems, such as SQL Server and MySQL, to digital media sources that include broadcast, real-time streaming, and video surveillance. The new technology can also handle huge data volumes, such as IoT data.

Given the product line confusion that typically characterizes big technology platform mergers, IBM is looking to entice some Dell or, more likely, EMC storage customers to the new Storwize offerings. To that end, IBM is offering what it describes as a no-cost migration initiative for organizations that are not current IBM customers and seeking a smooth transition path from their EMC or Dell storage to the IBM family of all-flash arrays. BTW: EMC is a leading provider of z System storage.

While too early to spot any Dell or EMC customer response, one long time IBM customer, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, has joined the flash storage party. “With ever increasing volumes of customer and operational information, flexible and secure data storage is crucial to keeping our operation afloat (hope the pun was intended) as our company expands to hundreds of destinations worldwide,” said Leonardo Irastorza, Technology Revitalization & Global Shared Services Manager. The cruise line is counting on IBM flash storage to play a critical role, especially when it comes to ensuring exceptional guest experiences across its brands.

And more is coming: IBM released the following statement of direction: IBM intends to enhance IBM Spectrum Virtualize with additional capabilities for flash drive optimization and management. These capabilities are intended to help increase the service life and usability of flash drives, particularly read-intensive flash drives. The planned capabilities will likely include:

  • Data deduplication for workloads and use cases where it complements IBM’s existing industry leading compression technology
  • Improved flash memory management (mainly for garbage collection)
  • Additional flash drive wear management and reporting.

By implementing these capabilities in IBM Spectrum Virtualize they will be available for IBM Storwize family, FlashSystem V9000, and SAN Volume Controller offerings as well as VersaStack (the IBM/Cisco collaboration) and IBM PurePower systems.

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

 

New IBM Flash Storage for the Mainframe

June 2, 2014

IBM is serious about flash storage and they are enabling just about everything for flash—the DS8000 family, San Volume Controller, EasyTier, Real-time Compression (RtC), and more.  Of particular interest to DancingDinosaur readers should be the recently announced DS8870 all flash enclosure.

Storage in general is changing fast. Riding Moore’s Law for the past two decades, storage users could assume annual drops in the cost per gigabyte. It was as predictable as passing go in Monopoly and collecting $200. But with that ride coming to an end companies like IBM are looking elsewhere to engineer the continued improvements everyone assumed and benefited from. For example, IBM is combining SVC, RtC, and flash to get significantly more performance out of less actual storage capacity.

The DS8870 is particularly interesting. In terms of reliability, for instance, it delivers not five-nines (99.999%) availability but six-nines (99.9999%) availability. That works out to be about 30 seconds of downtime each year. It works with all IBM servers, not just the z, and it protects data through full disk encryption and advanced access control. With the new flash enclosure packed with IBM’s enhanced flash the DS8870 delivers 4x faster flash performance in 50% less space. That translates into a 3.2x improvement in database performance.

Flash is not cheap when viewed through the traditional cost/gigabyte metric, but the above performance data suggests a different way to gauge the cost of flash, which continues to steadily fall in price. The 3.2x increase in database performance, for example, means you can handle over 300% more transactions.

Let’s start with the assumption that more transactions ultimately translate into more revenue. The same for that extra 9 in availability. The high-performance all flash DS8870 configuration with the High Performance Flash Enclosure also reduces the footprint by 50% and reduces power consumption by 12%, which means lower space and energy costs. It also enables you to shrink batch times by 10%, according to IBM. DancingDinosaur will be happy to help you pull together a TCO analysis for an all-flash DS8870 investment.

The sheer specs of the new system are impressive. IBM reports the product’s up to 8 PCIe enclosures populated with 400 GB flash cards provides 73.6TB of usable capacity. For I/O capacity the 8 I/O bays installed in the base frame provide up to 128 8Gb FC ports. Depending on the internal server you install in the DS8870 you can also get up to 1TB of cache.

all flash rack enclosure

all flash rack enclosure

ds8870 rack

The Flash Enclosure itself is a 1U drawer that can take up to 30 flash cards.  By opting for thirty 400GB flash cards you will end up with 9.2TB Usable (12 TB raw). Since the high-performance all flash DS8870 can take up to 8 Flash Enclosures you can get 96TB raw (73.6TB usable) flash capacity per system.

A hybrid DS8870 system, as opposed to the high-performance all flash version, will allow up to 120 Flash cards in 4 Flash Enclosures for 48TB raw (36.8TB usable), along with 1536 2.5” HDDs/SSDs. Then, connect it all to the DS8870 internal PCIe fabric for impressive performance— 200,000 IOPS (100% read) and 130,000 IOPS (100% write). From there, you can connect it to flash-enabled SVC and Easy Tier.

Later this year, reports Clod Barrera, IBM’s storage CTO, you will be able to add 4 more enclosures in hybrid configurations for boosting flash capacity up to 96TB raw.  Together you can combine the DS8870, flash, SVC, RtC, and EasyTier for a lightning fast and efficient storage infrastructure.

Even the most traditional System z shop will soon find itself confronting mixed workloads consisting of traditional and non-traditional workload. You probably already are as mobile devices initiate requests for mainframe data. Pretty soon you will be faced with incorporating traditional and new workloads. When that happens you will want a fast, efficient, flexible infrastructure like the DS8870.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding. Follow him onTwitter, @mainframeblog

IBM Edge2014: It’s All About the Storage

May 22, 2014

When your blogger as a newbie programmer published his first desktop application in the pre-historic desktop computing era it had to be distributed on consumer tape cassette. When buyers complained that it didn’t work the problem was quickly traced to imprecise and inconsistent consumer cassette storage. Since the dawn of the computer era, it has always been about storage.

It still is. Almost every session at IBM Edge2014 seemed to touch on storage in one way or another.  Kicking it all off was Tom Rosamilia, Senior Vice President,  IBM Systems & Technology Group, who elaborated on IBM’s main theme not just for Edge2014 but for IBM at large: Infrastructure Matters Because Business Outcomes Matter. And by infrastructure IBM mainly is referring to storage. Almost every session, whether on cloud or analytics or mobile, touched on storage in one way or another.

To reinforce his infrastructure matters point Rosamilia cited a recent IBM study showing that 70% of top executives now recognize infrastructure as an enabler. However, just 10% reported their infrastructure was ready for the challenge.  As an interesting aside, the study found 91% of the respondents’ customer facing applications were using the System z, which only emphasizes another theme at IBM Edge2014—that companies need to connect systems of record with systems of engagement if they want to be successful.

In fact, IBM wants to speed up computing overall, starting with flash and storage. A study by the Aberdeen Group found that a 1 sec. delay in page load resulted in a 77% loss in conversions, 11% fewer page views, and a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction.  IBM’s conclusion: In dollar terms, this means that if your site typically earns $100,000 a day, this year you could lose $2.5 million in sales.  Expect all IBM storage to be enabled for some form of flash going forward.

First announced at IBM Edge2014 were the FlashSystem 840 and the IBM FlashSystem V840, which includes integrated data virtualization through IBM’s SVC and its various components. It also boasts a more powerful controller capable of rich capabilities like compression, replication, tiering, thin provisioning, and more. Check out the details here.

Also at Edge2014 there was considerable talk about Elastic Storage. This is the storage you have always imagined. You can manage mixed storage pools of any device. Integrate with any OS. Write policies to it. It seems infinitely scalable. Acts as a universal cloud gateway. And even works with tape.

Sounds magical doesn’t it?  According to IBM, Elastic Storage provides automated tiering to move data from different storage media types. Infrequently accessed files can be migrated to tape and automatically recalled back to disk when required—sounds like EasyTier built in. Unlike traditional storage, it allows you to smoothly grow or shrink your storage infrastructure without application disruption or outages. And it can run on a cluster of x86 and POWER-based servers and can be used with internal disk, commodity storage, or advanced storage systems from IBM or other vendors. Half the speakers at the conference glowed about Elastic Storage.  Obviously it exists, but it is not an actually named product yet. Watch for it, but it is going to have a different name when finally released, probably later this year. No hint at what that name will be.

IBM, at the conference, identified the enhanced XIV as the ideal cloud infrastructure. XIV eliminates complexity. It enables high levels of resiliency and ensures service levels. As one speaker said: “It populates LUNs and spreads the workload evenly. You don’t even have to load balance it.” Basically, it is grid storage that is ideal for the cloud.

LTFS (Linear Tape File System) was another storage technology that came up surprisingly frequently. Don’t assume that that tape has no future, not judging from IBM Edge2014. LTFS provides a GUI that enables you to automatically move infrequently accessed data from disk to tape without the need for proprietary tape applications. Implementing LTFS Enterprise Edition allows you to replace disk with tape for tiered storage and lower your storage TCO by over 50%. Jon Toigo, a leading storage analyst, has some good numbers on tape economics that may surprise you.

Another sometimes overlooked technology is EasyTier, IBM’s storage tiering tool.  EasyTier has evolved into a main way for IBM storage users to capitalize on the benefits of Flash. EasyTier already has emerged as an effective tool for both the DS8000 and the Storwize V7000.  With EasyTier small amounts of Flash can deliver big performance improvements.

In the coming weeks DancingDinosaur will look at other IBM Edge 2014 topics.  It also is time to start thinking about IBM Enterprise 2014, which combines the System z and Power platforms. It will be at the Venetian in Las Vegas, Oct 6-10. IBM Enterprise 2014 is being billed as the premier enterprise infrastructure event.

BTW, we never effectively solved the challenge of distributing desktop programs until the industry came out with 5.5” floppy disks. Years later my children used the unsold floppies as little Frisbees.

Follow Alan Radding and DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog

Flash Economics and Implementation Take Front Stage at Edge2014

April 4, 2014

The Edge2014 Guide to the Technical Sessions is now online and accessible to the public, here.  There are more must-see sessions than any human can attend the few days of the conference and still have time for the Sheryl Crow concert. If you haven’t registered for Edge2014 in Las Vegas, May 19-23 at the Venetian, just do it here.

So what’s in the guide? Descriptions of 450+ technical sessions, according from IBM. Over the next few weeks DancingDinosaur will look at a few of the session tracks. Let’s start this week with flash. Flash is a technology that keeps getting better and cheaper and more useful in more and more ways.

Begin with the economics of flash. Initially flash was considered very expensive and it was if you considered it only on the cost/gigabyte basis and compared it to hard disk drives. Since then, flash costs have dropped but, more importantly, organizations are using it in ways where cost/gigabyte isn’t relevant. Instead, there are new ways to understand flash. Let’s look at five flash sessions coming to Edge2014.

The New Cost Metrics of Implementing Flash to Save Money

Presenter: Matt Key—Flash storage can be cheaper to implement than disk storage. This session explores the reasons and cost justification for implementing flash vs. disk without the focus on low cost/ IOPS, which was the initial justification for so-called costly flash. The session also examines the boundaries where other technologies such as RAM, disk, and tape are still a better fit.

After you have learned the metrics to justify an investment in flash here are a couple of sessions that will show you how to best take advantage of it.

Where to Use Flash in the Data Center

Presenters: Woody Hutsell, Chris Breaux—they will review data center economics and then explore the main reasons to use flash in the data center. For example, flash is best used to accelerate applications and infrastructure, reduce cost through less space, meet power and cooling requirements, and create new business opportunities, mainly through its speed and efficiency.  Any workload that can benefit from cheap IOPS is another place to use flash.

Common IBM FlashSystem Implementation Strategies

Presenter: Erik Eyberg—covers similar ground but focuses on the variety of ways flash is being deployed: primary data storage, tiering, mirroring, and many others. Specifically, the session will cover three common FlashSystem deployment strategies for both tactical and strategic flash deployments, plus a few customer stories illustrating their effectiveness.

The next sessions described below don’t fit easy categorization, but they are intriguing nonetheless.

A Business Overview of Software Defined Flash

Presenter: David Gimpl—takes on this newly emerging flash topic, software defined storage (SDS) as applied to all flash storage arrays. In these cases, flash creates a new entity Gimpl refers to as software defined flash. Here he’ll describe the properties of the low latency, high IOPS flash medium coupled with the feature-rich advanced capabilities that provide Tier 1 storage for your business. This session should be cutting edge.

DancingDinosaur has long been a fan of VDI but except for a handful of specialized use cases it hasn’t gained widespread adoption.  Something was missing. The System z should be especially good at VDI workloads, given its ability to support tens of thousands of virtual desktops. Maybe flash will provide the missing ingredient.

Simplifying the desktop virtualization data problem with IBM FlashSystem

Presenter: Rawley Burbridge—IBM offers a wide range of complete solutions for deploying desktop virtualization environments but data storage is still often a costly and complex component to configure and deploy. The macro efficient and high performance data storage offered by the IBM FlashSystem storage portfolio helps to simplify the often complex storage requirements for VDI environments, and reduce data costs to less than those of a physical PC. This session will explore the methods and benefits for utilizing IBM FlashSystem or your desktop virtualization deployments.

So here are five interesting sessions from over 30 in just the flash category alone. Plan to register for Edge2014. You will learn things that should more than pay for your trip and have a good time in the process. And don’t forget the Sheryl Crow concert.

Next week is the kickoff of Mainframe50, the start of the 50th anniversary celebration of the mainframe. The event itself is sold out but you needn’t be left out; it is being streamed live on Livestream, so you can attend from wherever you are.

Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog.  Will be tweeting from the Mainframe50 event and others.

Expect Flash to be Big at Edge 2014

March 26, 2014

You can almost hear the tom-toms thumping as IBM picks up the beat for flash storage and its FlashSystem, and for good reason. Almost everything companies want to do these days requires fast, efficient storage. Everything waits for data—applications, servers, algorithms, virtually any IT resource. And fast data, of course, depends on the responsiveness of the storage. Flash’s time has arrived.

To get the responsiveness they need companies previously loaded up with conventional DASD, spinning disks that top out at 15K RPM or cheaper DASD at 5400 RPM. To coax sufficient IO/second (IOPS) they ganged together massive amounts of DASD just to get more parallel spindles to compensate for the low IOPS. Sure the disks were cheap but still the cost per IOPS was sky high, especially considering all the overhead and inefficiency they had to absorb.

But in this era of big data analytics, where an organization’s very competitiveness depends on absorbing massive amounts of data fast that old approach doesn’t work anymore. You can’t aggregate enough spindles to handle the huge amounts of machine-generated or sensor or meter data, not to mention data created by millions, possible even billions, of people on Facebook or Twitter and everywhere else to keep up with the data flow. You can’t possibly come up with meaningful results fast enough to be effective. Opportunities will fly past you.

Furthermore, traditional high performance storage comes at a high price, not just in the acquisition cost of large volumes of spinning disk but also in the inefficiency of its deployment. Sure, the cost per gigabyte may be low but aggregating spindles by the ton while not even utilizing the resulting large chunks of unused capacity will quickly offset any gains from a low cost per gigabyte. In short, traditional storage, especially high performance storage, imposes economic limits on the usefulness and scalability of many analytics environments.

Since data access depends on the response of storage, flash has emerged as the way to achieve high IOPS at a low cost, and with the cost of flash storage dropping steadily it will only become a better deal doing forward. Expect to hear a lot about IBM FlashSystem storage at Edge 2014. As IBM points out, it can eliminate wait times and accelerate critical applications for faster decision making, which translates into faster time to results.

Specifically, IBM reports its FlashSystem delivers:

  • 45x performance improvement with 10x more durability
  • 115x better energy efficiency with 315x superior density
  • 19x more efficient $/IOPS.

Here’s how: both the initial acquisition costs and the ongoing operational costs, such as staffing and environmental costs of FlashSystem storage, according to IBM, can be lower than both performance-optimized hard drive storage solutions and emerging hybrid- or all-flash solutions. In short, IBM FlashSystem delivers the three key attributes data analytics workloads require: compelling data economics, enterprise resiliency, and easy infrastructure integration along with high performance.

As proof, IBM cites a German transport services company that deployed FlashSystem storage to support a critical SAP e- business analytics infrastructure and realized a 50% TCO reduction versus competing solutions.

On top of that, IBM reports FlashSystem storage unlocks additional value from many analytics environments by both turbo-charging response times with its use of MicroLatency technology, effectively multiplying the amount of data that can be analyzed. MicroLatency enables a streamlined high performance data path to accelerate critical applications. The resulting faster response times can yield more business agility and quicker time to value from analytics.

In fact, recent IBM research has found that IBM InfoSphere Identity Insight entity analytics processes can be accelerated by over 6x using FlashSystem storage instead of traditional disk. More data analyzed at once means more potential value streams.

Data has long been considered a valuable asset. For some data has become the most important commodity of all. The infrastructure supporting the analytics environment that converts data as a commodity into valuable business insights must be designed for maximum resiliency. FlashSystem brings a set of data protection features that can help enhance reliability, availability and serviceability while minimizing the impact of failures and down-time due to maintenance. In short it protects what for many is the organization’s data, its most valuable asset.

DancingDinosaur is looking forward to attending Edge 2014 sessions that will drill down into the specifics of how IBM FlashSystem storage works under the cover. It is being held May 19-23 in Las Vegas, at the Venetian. Register now and get a discount. And as much as DancingDinosaur is eager to delve into the details of FlashSystem storage the Sheryl Crow concert is very appealing too. When not in sessions or at the concert look for DancingDinosaur in the bloggers lounge. Please join me.

Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter: @mainframeblog

IBM Leverages High End Server Expertise in New X6 Systems

January 17, 2014

If you hadn’t noticed how x86 systems have been maturing over the past decade you might be surprised at the introduction yesterday of IBM’s newest entry in the x86 world, the X6. The X6 is the latest rev of IBM’s eX5. If you didn’t already think the eX5 was enterprise-class, here’s what IBM says of the X6:  support for demanding mission and business critical workloads, better foundation for virtualization of enterprise applications, infrastructure that facilitates a private or hybrid cloud model. Sound familiar? IBM has often said the same things about its Power Systems and, of course, the zEnterprise.

As the sixth generation of IBM’s EXA x86 technology it promises to be fast (although the actual speeds and feeds won’t be revealed for another month), 3x the memory, high availability features that increase reliability, use of flash to boost on-board memory, and lower cost. IBM hasn’t actually said anything specific about pricing; published reports put X6 systems starting at $10k.

More specifically, the flash boost consists of integrated eXFlash memory-channel storage that provides DIMM-based storage up to 12.8 terabytes in the form of ultrafast flash storage close to the processor.  This should increase application performance by providing the lowest system write latency available, and X6 can enable significantly lower latency for database operations, which can lower licensing costs and reduce storage costs by reducing or eliminating the need for external SAN/NAS storage units. This should deliver almost in-memory performance (although again, we have to wait for the actual speeds and feeds and benchmarks).

The new X6 also borrows from the System z in its adoption of compute book terminology to describe its packaging, adding a storage book too.  The result: a modular, scalable compute book design that supports multiple generations of CPUs that, IBM promises, can reduce acquisition costs, up to 28% in comparison to one competitive offering.  (Finally some details: 28% acquisition cost savings based on pricing of x3850 X6 at announcement on 2/18 vs. current pricing of a comparable x86 based system that includes 2 x Intel Xeon E7-4820 [v1] processors, 1TB of memory [16GB RDIMMs] 3.6TB of HDD storage, and Dual Port 10GBe SFP+ controller. x3850 X6 includes 2 Compute Books, 2 x Intel Xeon E7 processors, 1TB of memory [16GB RDIMMs], 3.6TB of HDD storage, and Dual Port 10GBe SFP+ controller.)

X6 also provides stability and flexibility through forthcoming technology developments, allowing users to scale up now and upgrade efficiently in the future based on the compute/storage book design that makes it easy to snap books into the chassis as you require more resources. Fast set-up and configuration patterns simplify deployment and life-cycle management.

In short, the book design, long a hallmark of the System z, brings a number of advantages.  For starters, you can put multiple generations of technology in the same chassis, no need to rip-and-replace or re-configure. This lets you stretch and amortize costs in a variety of ways.  IBM also adds RAS capabilities, another hallmark of the z. In the case of X6 it includes features like memory page retire; advanced double chip kill; the IBM MEH algorithm; multiple storage controllers; and double, triple, or quadruple memory options.

Server models supported by the X6 architecture currently include the System x3850 X6 four-socket system, System x3950 X6 eight-socket system, and the IBM Flex System x880 scalable compute nodes. IBM also is introducing the System x3650 M4 BD storage server, a two-socket rack server supporting up to 14 drives delivering up to 56 terabytes of high-density storage — the largest available in the industry, according to IBM.  (More tidbits from the speeds and feeds to come: Compared to HP two-socket servers supporting a maximum of 48 TB storage with 12 x 3.5″ drives, and Dell two-socket servers supporting a maximum of 51.2 TB storage with 12 x 3.5″ and 2 x 2.5″ drives X6 delivers 46% greater performance—based on Intel Internal Test Report #1310, using SPECjbb*2013 benchmark, July 2013.). IBM’s conclusion: X6 is ideally suited for distributed scale-out of big data workloads.

The X6 systems come with a reference architecture that simplifies deployment. To make it even simpler, maybe even bullet-proof, IBM also is introducing the X6 as a set of packaged solutions. These include:

  • IBM System x Solution for SAP HANA on X6
  • IBM System x Solution for SAP Business Suite on X6
  • IBM System x Solution for VMware vCloud Suite on X6
  • IBM System x Solution for Microsoft SQL Data Warehouse on X6
  • IBM System x Solution for Microsoft Hyper-V on X6
  • IBM System x Solution for DB2 with BLU Acceleration on X6

These are optimized and tuned in advance for database, analytics, and cloud workloads.

So, the X6 bottom line according to IBM: More performance at  40%+ lower cost, multiple generations in one chassis; 3X more memory and higher system availability; expanded use of flash and more storage options; integrated solutions for easy and worry-free deployment; and packaged solutions to address data analytics, virtualization, and cloud.

IBM packed a lot of goodies into the X6. DancingDinosaur will take it up again when IBM presents the promised details. Stay tuned.

Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter: @mainframeblog

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?

A look at IBM Edge 2013 tracks: Storage, PureSystems & more

May 22, 2013

Nobody ever accused this blogger of being executive caliber but that hasn’t stopped me from rummaging around the Executive Track offerings at IBM Edge 2013 coming up Jun 10-14 in Las Vegas. Called the Executive Edge, the sessions run the first two and a half days and look pretty interesting. (The technical track, which is larger and runs the entire conference, actually looks much more interesting if you are inclined toward serious geekiness; this blogger intends to attend sessions from both tracks.)

Executive Edge is organized into three sections.  The third section seems to have most of the technology product material.  Here you will find sessions on PureSystems, FlashSystems, the eX5 (x86), Storwize, and Enterprise Storage (probably DS8000).  This third section also includes this intriguing topic: How Data Science Will Change the Course of History.  If I reported to an executive, I would steer him to that one, which should be intriguing to say the least.

The first section has some interesting topics.  One looks at customer usage scenarios around big data and storage.  Some of those DancingDinosaur has already covered, like the City of Honolulu.  Another session, titled All-Flash Everywhere, will probably explain to executives how flash storage radically changes several decades of traditional storage thinking. Again, DancingDinosuar covered it a few weeks back here and also on the Storage Community blog.

Another intriguing topic in this group is Storage Futures. This is being described as: The Next Big Thing in Storage is Software Defined Storage – the inclusion of cost effective, highly automated storage in a Software Define Environment. In the session the presenter will describe the value of this approach, the technologies involved, and the adoption roadmap IBM recommends clients to follow.  This is a great topic, a part of what I describe as Software Defined Everything.  This blogger has been briefed on IBM’s plans in this regard but can’t write or talk publicly until—guess when—IBM Edge 20913. This should be an interesting session.

The second section picks up where Storage Futures left off with Software Defined Networking, another part of my Software Defined Everything but one that is gaining traction today. Another session in this section will look at defending against cyber-threats with security-ready infrastructure and security intelligence in a virtualized world.

Security should attract a crowd of executives; whenever DancingDinosaur talks with executives about cloud computing you can see fear sweep over them.  The cloud, to them, is the Wild West filled with bad guys behind every rock. They may be right, but those same bad guys already are feeding on their on-premise systems. Reputable cloud computing vendors intending to survive are highly attuned to the security challenges. With luck this session will reassure them that they aren’t defenseless.

Have you registered for IBM Edge 2013 yet?  Last year this blogger was shocked at how many people–several thousand–showed up, and this year promises to be even bigger. Overall, IBM Edge 2013 will offer over 140 storage sessions, over 50 PureSystems sessions, more than 50 client case studies, and sessions on big data and analytics along with a full cloud track.  Look for me in the Social Media Lounge at the conference and in the sessions.  You can follow this blogger on Twitter for conference updates @Writer1225 and using hashtag #IBMEdge to post live Twitter comments from the conference. And then there is the FREE drink: 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!


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