IBM Enhances Storage For Scale-Out Environments

IBM on Wednesday unveiled enhancements to several of its storage products in order to increase scalability and automation while easing cost and management concerns about ever-growing storage capacities.

The new enhancements to IBM's existing disk and tape storage products are coming at a time when businesses continue to look for ways to handle issues related to the cost and management of non-stop data growth, said Clod Barrera, distinguished engineer and chief technical strategist for IBM storage.

IBM's approach is to improve the scalability of its storage technology while adding new automation features to help better manage a company's data, Barrera said.

"We're moving to a scale-out architecture, an architecture that can grow with low-cost building blocks that address cost issues with no limits to capacity," he said.

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For primary storage, IBM is adding a new technology, Easy Tier, that automates the migration of data to SSDs in its System Storage DS8000 disk arrays.

IBM has had an SSD option with its DS8000 for about a year to handle data for the most performance-intensive requirements, but migrating the data to SSDs has been a manual process, Barrera said.

With Easy Tier, the migration of data between the slower spinning disk and the high-speed SSDs is automated. The technology observes access of data on a very granular basis, and automatically moves most-accessed data to the SSDs, he said.

IBM also introduced 2-TB hard drives for its enterprise-class XIV storage arrays, effectively doubling capacity to 161 TB of usable capacity per standard rack, Barrera said.

Next: IBM Unveils New Technology For Tape

On the tape side, IBM introduced a new technology, Long-term File System, or LTFS, to go with its new LTO-5 tape libraries.

LTFS lets an LTO-5 tape cartridge be set up with one partition containing files and a second partition with a directory and metadata about those files.

"Now customers can mount a tape cartridge as if it were a media drive, and see the files on it," Barrera said. "This is great for industries such as media and entertainment, or oil and gas, because with the metadata, they can easily access a tape for a specific movie or with data gathered from a specific (exploration) ship."

Also new is an enhancement to IBM's deduplication technology which allows remote sites to dedupe data before sending it to a central site for backups and archiving, Barrera said. Once it reaches the central site, that data is deduped again to cut capacity requirements even further, he said.

IBM also released SONAS, a scale-out NAS architecture specifically for storing and managing unstructured data such as large video files or photos while making them accessible to multiple users and providing long-term retention.

IBM on Wednesday also released a YouTube video explaining its scale-out technology.