IBM Intros New Arrays, Adds Virtualization, Tiering Capabilities


IBM on Thursday unveiled new enterprise and midrange disk storage arrays and appliances that incorporate new tiering capabilities.

The company's new midrange storage array was also rebranded with the Storwize name, and also includes the storage virtualization features found in its SAN Volume Controller.

The new storage arrays are aimed at making it easier for customers to better manage their fast-growing data stores, said Brian Truskowski, general manager of storage at IBM.

Data is still growing between 20 percent and 50 percent per year, depending on whose numbers one follows, Truskowski said. And that calls for new ways to drive storage efficiency.

"Clients are struggling to get information from all that data they've collected," he said. "And at the same time, they are struggling with how to protect it."

Next: New Ways To Tier And Virtualize Storage

To that end, IBM on Thursday unveiled a new version of its SAN Volume Controller (SVC), an appliance which virtualizes a customer's existing storage capacity into a single pool to improve management of that storage.

New to the SVC is Easy Tier, which automatically migrates data between multiple tiers of storage, including low-speed disk, high-speed disk, and solid state disk, Truskowski said. "Easy Tier automatically learns which data is frequently accessed and moves it to solid state disk," he said."

SVC was also given the same GUI of IBM's XIV arrays, which Truskowski said includes many built-in IBM recommendations for used in storage provisioning to make it easier for customers to learn and use the appliance.

At the enterprise level, IBM introduced the DS8800 array, a new model in its DS family. The DS8800 features IBM's POWER6+ controllers, 8-Gbit per second Fibre Channel and 6-Gbit per second SAS connectivity, and 40-percent higher performance than the company's previous top model, the DS8700.

The DS8800 also includes Easy Tier, a high value-add feature that will help customers cut the cost of storage, said Scott Pond, CTO at Key Information Systems, a Woodland Hills, Calif.-based solution provider and IBM partner.

Next: What Customers Are Looking For

Using the DS8800 with Easy Tier and SSDs, customers can go from five frames of DS8700 storage to only two frames of DS8800 storage, which represents a huge savings for such high-performance storage, Pond said.

"I am literally swamped because of the announcement," he said. "Customers have been waiting for availability and pricing on this. A few of our customers who signed NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) with IBM on the DS8800 see this has a godsend for its performance and price."

IBM on Thursday also unveiled a new midrange storage array, the Storwize V7000. Unlike IBM's current DS-series midrange arrays, which are manufactured by LSI, IBM is building it using its own hardware and adding the "Storwize" name it got with the July acquisition of a data compression technology vendor by the same name.

The V7000, like the DS8800, includes the XVI GUI and Easy Tier, Truskowski said. It is also IBM's first array to come integrated with the SVC technology, giving it the ability to create virtual storage pools that can increase disk utilization by up to 30 percent and decrease storage costs by 20 percent, he said.

"Customers can buy a license for the SVC software and then virtualize multi-vendor storage behind the V7000," he said. "We will also include a limited-time free license for the SVC software that customers can use to migrate data from older storage to the V7000."

Next: Channel Opportunities For The Storwize V7000

Solution providers will be the primary go-to-market focus for the V7000 when it becomes available in November, Truskowski said.

In addition to selling and deploying the V7000, partners will also be able to provide additional services including helping customers virtualize their storage, set up remote replication on a metro or global level, and take advantage of IBM's ProtectTIER dedupe technology, Tivoli Storage Manager software, or LTO tape, he said.

The V7000 is a great midmarket storage array, especially for customers who do not have an installed base of DS3000 or DS5000 midmarket arrays, Pond said.

The V7000 should actually do well with a wide range of customers ranging from enterprises already familiar with and using IBM's SVC down to smaller businesses, Pond said.

"We already have one on order with only 6 TBytes of storage capacity," he said. "This array has a lot of legs."