Posts Tagged ‘IBM SVC’

IBM Brings NVMe to Revamped Storage

February 23, 2018

The past year has been good for IBM storage and it’s not only that the company rang up four consecutive quarters of positive storage revenue. Over that period and starting somewhat earlier, the company embarked on a thorough revamping of its storage lineup, adding all the hot goodies from flash to software defined storage (Spectrum) to NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory express) in 2018. NVMe represents a culmination of sorts by allowing the revamped storage products to actually deliver on the low latency and parallelism promises of the latest technology.

Hyper-Scale Manager for IBM FlashSystem (Jared Lazarus/Feature Photo Service for IBM)

The revamp follows changes in the way organizations are deploying technology. They now are wrestling with exponential volumes of data growth and the need to quickly modernize their traditional IT infrastructures by taking advantage of multi-cloud, analytics, and cognitive/AI workloads going forward.

This is not just a revamp of existing products. IBM has added innovations and enhancements across the storage portfolio to expand the range of data types supported, deliver new function, and enable new technology deployment.

This week, IBM Storage — the #2 storage software vendor by revenue market share according to IDC—announced a wide-ranging set of innovations to its software-defined storage (SDS), data protection, and storage systems portfolio. Continuing IBM investments in enhancing its SDS (Spectrum), data protection, and storage systems capabilities, these announcements demonstrate its commitment to IBM storage solutions as the foundation for multi-cloud and cognitive/AI applications and workloads.

With these enhancements, IBM is aiming to transform on-premises infrastructure to meet these new business imperatives. Recent innovations and enhancements across the IBM Storage portfolio expand the range of data types supported, deliver new function, and enable new technology deployment. For example, IBM Spectrum NAS delivers enterprise capabilities and SDS simplicity with cost benefits for common file workloads, including support for Microsoft environments. Or, IBM Spectrum Protect still addresses data security concerns but just added General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and automated detection and alerting of ransomware.

Along the same lines, IBM Spectrum Storage Suite brings a complete solution for software-defined storage needs while gaining expanded range and value through the inclusion of IBM Spectrum Protect Plus at no additional charge. Similarly, IBM Spectrum Virtualize promises lower data storage costs through new and better performing data reduction technologies for the IBM Storwize family, IBM SVC, and IBM FlashSystem V9000, as well as for over 440 non-IBM vendor storage systems.

Finally, IBM Spectrum Connect simplifies management of complex server environments by providing a consistent experience when provisioning, monitoring, automating, and orchestrating IBM storage in containerized VMware and Microsoft PowerShell environments. Orchestration is critical in increasingly complex container environments.

The newest part of the IBM storage announcements is NVM Express (NVMe). This is an open logical device interface specification for accessing non-volatile storage media attached via a PCIe bus. The non-volatile memory referred to is flash memory, typically in the form of solid-state drives (SSDs). NVMe provides a logical device interface designed from the ground up to capitalize on the low latency and internal parallelism of flash-based storage devices, essentially mirroring the parallelism of modern CPUs, platforms and applications.

By its design, NVMe allows host hardware and software to fully exploit the levels of parallelism possible in modern SSDs. As a result, NVMe reduces I/O overhead and brings various performance improvements relative to previous logical-device interfaces, including multiple, long command queues, and reduced latency. (The previous interface protocols were developed for use with far slower hard disk drives (HDD) where a lengthy delay in response exists between a request and the corresponding data receipt due to much slower data speeds than RAM speeds could generate a fault.

NVMe devices exist both in the form of standard PCIe expansion card and as 2.5-inch form-factor devices that provide a four-lane PCIe interface through the U.2 connector (formerly known as SFF-8639) and SATA storage devices and the M.2 specification for internally mounted computer expansion cards also support NVMe as the logical device interface.

Maybe NVMe sounds like overkill now but it won’t the next time you upgrade your IT infrastructure. Don’t plan on buying more HDD or going back to IPv3. With IoT, cognitive computing, blockchain, and more your users will have no tolerance for a slow infrastructure.

DancingDinosaur is Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog. See more of his work at and here.

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

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