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IBM Brings Ransomware Protection To Storage, Launches Storage-as-a-Service

‘We want to help customers recover from malware and ransomware attacks. We make data immutable so customers don’t have to worry about someone altering their data. Immutable copies allow rapid recovery, so instead of days or weeks, it could be hours. We can do it with all of a customer’s data,’ says Eric Herzog, chief marketing officer and vice president of worldwide storage channels for IBM storage.

IBM Tuesday introduced new security protection for the IBM FlashSystem all-flash arrays to help businesses prevent and recover from ransomware and other cybersecurity attacks.

Armonk, N.Y.-based Big Blue also unveiled plans to roll out an IBM storage-as-a-service offering aimed at bringing hybrid cloud storage into the data center without the need for upfront capital expenditures.

The new IBM Safeguarded Copy technology is IBM’s way to help safeguard copies of data on IBM FlashSystem all-flash storage, said Eric Herzog, chief marketing officer and vice president of worldwide storage channels for the IBM Storage Division.

[Related: 2021 Storage 100: The Data Conversation Starts Here]

“We want to help customers recover from malware and ransomware attacks,” Herzog told CRN. “We make data immutable so customers don’t have to worry about someone altering their data. Immutable copies allow rapid recovery, so instead of days or weeks, it could be hours. We can do it with all of a customer’s data, but most people will pick and choose which data to make immutable.”

IBM Safeguarded Copy “airgaps” data, or keeps the primary copy disconnected from other copies, to help stop attacks, Herzog said. The data can be airgapped to a local storage system for highest performance, airgapped to the cloud, or airgapped to tape, which is slower but which offers the lowest cost, he said.

IBM Safeguarded Copy, which is based on technology already available on IBM’s DS8000 family of mainframe storage arrays, is included at no charge with IBM Spectrum Virtualize software, which is a part of every IBM FlashSystem sold, Herzog said.

For partners, Safeguarded Copy is a nice “sell-with,” Herzog said. “If they are selling security, they can increase that security with this technology,” he said.

IBM Safeguarded Copy is pretty neat if you think about what’s going on in the news with ransomware, said John Zawistowski, global systems solutions executive at Sycomp, a Foster City, Calif.-based solution provider and long-time IBM channel partner.

“The timing is impeccable,” Zawistowski told CRN.

While IBM Safeguarded Copy is targeted by IBM at its FlashSystem all-flash storage arrays, because it’s part of IBM Spectrum Virtualize, FlashSystem is only part of the story, Zawistowski said.

“With IBM Spectrum Virtualize, it can be extended to any storage platform, IBM or not, that is virtualized by Spectrum,” he said. “That gives ransomware protection to a lot of storage arrays that might not otherwise have it. There are very few platforms that can’t be virtualized with Spectrum Virtualize. So IBM is actually extending immutability across all your systems. And I don’t think anybody in this day and age has just one single storage platform in their data centers.”

Also new from IBM is the company’s new storage-as-a-service offering that gives business users the ability to consume storage with all the capabilities of IBM storage but with a true operating expense model and one billing per quarter, Herzog said.

“Customers only pay for the storage they use,” he said. “They can dedupe or compress the data, and if they cut capacity, they get the benefits. This works with all IBM storage capacities and features, including Safeguarded Copy.”

IBM is looking to keep storage consumption as flexible as possible, giving businesses a choice of purchasing storage, leasing it, or offering it as a service, Herzog said.

“Many customers choose different ways to consume storage at the same time,” he said. “IBM has had a storage utility model, which was a hybrid model that was part opex and part capex. But with storage-as-a-service, IBM owns the storage, and brings to customers as 100 percent opex.”

With IBM storage-as-a-service, the customer and partner pick the scale and the length of the contract, but pay no penalty fee if capacity exceeds the contracted amount, Herzog said.

“Customers can also go month-to-month any time with no penalty,” he said. “But we expect partners to get contracts. It’s better for the partner, and customers don’t end up with any surprises.”

IBM storage-as-a-service is bringing a new option to how IBM storage is deployed and paid for, Zawistowski said.

“Whether customers are ready depends on the customer,” he said. “If a customer pays a lot of attention opex vs. capex, they will gravitate to it as it gives them an opportunity to refresh their storage without taking on a capital expense.”

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