IBM SoftLayer Brings To Market Two High-Performance Storage Offerings

IBM introduced enhanced storage options to its SoftLayer public cloud Wednesday designed to give users flexibility in choosing high-performance file or block storage solutions.

IBM made available to its cloud partners and customers two new products: Endurance, a three-tiered offering that sets performance based on volume size; and Performance, which allows users to select variable size and performance characteristics.

The new virtual storage options, which complement IBM's current portfolio, come amid a fresh round of storage upgrades from leading public clouds -- Google and Amazon having brought to market new products in that arena in recent weeks.

[Related: Amazon Upgrades Performance Of Elastic Block Storage Service As Cloud Wars Heat Up]

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Michael Fork, SoftLayer's storage product manager, told CRN that Endurance and Performance can be provisioned as either persistent block-level or file storage with consistent baseline performance. Both provide durable and resilient storage that leaves no need for OS level RAID implementations, he said.

Users of both options can choose volumes between 20 GB and 12 TB and receive highly available connectivity, with multiple paths to their data, Fork told CRN. The block storage allows concurrent access to volumes to facilitate advanced clustering.

Endurance allocates IOPS proportional to the size of the storage volume selected, with three performance tiers.

The first tier provides .25 IOPS per GB. It's suited for use cases that involve a lot of data with only a small portion active at any time, such as email.

The second tier boosts performance to 2 IOPS per GB, and that's where IBM expects most general-purpose usage to fall, said Fork. It's an appropriate plan for users running small databases, Web applications or virtual machine disk images.

The highest Endurance tier provides 4 IOPS per GB, a performance that can power transactional databases and higher-intensity workloads.

The Performance offering disentangles volume size from performance.

"The biggest differentiating feature is we independently allow you to control Performance. It's ideally suited for a well-understood workload. You can come in here and fine-tune the price/performance to what you need," Fork told CRN.

Endurance also comes with two features not available on Performance: Snapshot and Replication.

With Snapshot, users can take a point-in-time snapshot of the volume without disrupting the system. Replication allows the snapshot to be automatically replicated it in a remote data center.

With those features, users can set known recovery points with the capability to failover and failback, Fork said.

In immediate scenarios, the two features can be used to implement disaster recovery functionality. And in controlled scenarios they can aid projects such as data migrations.

Fork told CRN he believes the spate of cloud offerings coming to market of late, from AWS upgrading its Elastic Block Storage to Google introducing Nearline, which drastically eases access to cold storage, isn't so much a features war heating up as much as it is an innovation cycle being harvested.

About a year ago there was a flurry of storage announcements from major cloud vendors, he said, from low-latency options to inexpensive deep storage services. Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM, like its rivals, has been working since then to advance those products.

"I think you're seeing the next cycle of innovation coming out," he said. "All of the major providers are trying to fill in that continuum with different offerings. What we're seeing is all of them now coming out at the same time."