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IBM Refreshes Entry FlashSystem Flash Storage, Beefs Up Cloud Storage

“Last year we launched the FlashSystem refresh at the upper end and entry-level, and got rid of our StorWize product line. We consolidated it to a single family for non-mainframe workloads. The FlashSystem family seamlessly supports hybrid cloud and container deployments [and] is driving high-end features down-market,” says Eric Herzog, chief marketing officer and vice president of global storage channels for IBM’s storage division.

IBM on Tuesday unveiled a new family of entry-level, all-flash storage systems with full enterprise capabilities and full container support.

Big Blue also introduced new hybrid-cloud capabilities for its storage technologies to help channel partners more easily deploy cloud services.

The new FlashSystem all-flash storage arrays are the second generation of entry-level systems in the IBM FlashSystem family introduced 12 months ago as a way for IBM to combine multiple storage lines into a single unified family, said Eric Herzog, chief marketing officer and vice president of global storage channels for IBM’s storage division.

[Related: The 10 Hottest SSD And Flash Storage Devices Of 2020]

“Last year we launched the FlashSystem refresh at the upper end and entry-level, and got rid of our StorWize product line,” Herzog told CRN. “We consolidated it to a single family for non-mainframe workloads. The FlashSystem family seamlessly supports hybrid cloud and container deployments. And FlashSystem is driving high-end features down-market.”

Along with the new arrays, IBM is also introducing new incentives for the company’s channel partners including a $1,500 incentive above normal channel discounts for referring customers to IBM who will then handle the sale, along with new “In It To Win It” bonus payments that in total could provide solution providers with up to $4,000 in total bonuses, Herzog said.

The company is also donating up to $1 million to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund with sales of its FlashSystem 5000 family, he said

New this week is the IBM FlashSystem 5200. Scheduled to replace the IBM FlashSystem 5100, this new model provides up to 1.7 petabytes of capacity in a 1U chassis and supports 21 GBs per second throughput, or 40 percent greater than its predecessor.

The IBM FlashSystem 5200 includes two Intel Skylake processors with eight cores. The 5200 also offers end-to-end NVMe connectivity, six nines (99.9999 percent) uptime, and IBM’s new HyperSwap option that provides 100-percent availability with as few as three flash modules, Herzog said.

“We’ve integrated HyperSwap into the Red Hat Ansible automation platform so companies large and small will find it easy to use,” he said.

Also new are the IBM FlashSystem 5015 and 5035. These 2U systems, which replace the 5010 and 5030, Herzog said. The 5035 includes two Broadwell processors with six cores and the 5015 includes two Broadwell processors with up to two cores.

The new FlashSystem offerings support Red Hat OpenShift, Container Storage Interface (CSI) for Kubernetes, Ansible automation, Kubernetes, and VMware and bare metal environments. They also include IBM Storage Insights to provide visibility across complex storage environments, and IBM Spectrum Virtualize to virtualize and consolidate multi-vendor storage technologies, he said.

With the included IBM Spectrum Virtualize software, the IBM FlashSystem 5200 supports migration of data from multiple older IBM and non-IBM arrays, Herzog said.

“That lets businesses repurpose their old technology for secondary storage,” he said. “They already bought and paid for that storage. Why not use it for backups or archiving?”

IBM storage in general continues to be a solid best-of-breed offering for clients who are not wedded to specific single-vendor strategies, said Daniel Bongiovanni, client solutions executive at Micro Strategies, a Parsippany, N.J.-based solution provider and long-time IBM business partner.

The introduction of the new IBM FlashSystem arrays is a big plus for channel partners like Micro Strategies, Bongiovanni told CRN.

“It shows IBM’s commitment to really growing the storage business,” he said. “People ask if IBM is getting out of the hardware business. We point to storage, and say that question is just fluff from the competition.”

IBM has a reputation for exceeding client’s expectations for storage, which helps channel partners concerned about decreasing storage revenue as the cost of storage technology continues to fall, Bongiovanni said.

“IBM is providing capabilities that exceed customer needs,” he said. “We find a lot of customers running expensive enterprise storage that they don’t really need, but could instead replace with IBM storage. They get enterprise capabilities with a price that’s often lower than the maintenance cost of older technology.”

Bongiovanni said he has been involved with IBM for about 20 years, and was a beta tester of IBM SVC, the forerunner of IBM Spectrum Virtualize.

“I love the fact that IBM SVC is now the centerpiece of the IBM portfolio with IBM Spectrum Virtualize,” he said. “It really helps eliminate vendor lock-in.”

In addition to the new IBM FlashSystem arrays, IBM also introduced a couple of new technologies aimed at easing the deployment of hybrid clouds.

The first is new support in the IBM FlashSystem family for IBM Cloud Satellite, a control plane that eases extending workloads running on IBM’s public cloud into on-premises and edge environments.

IBM Cloud Satellite, which will be delivered as a service once it exits the current beta testing process, is slated to help businesses build, deploy, and manage cloud services in public clouds, on premises and at the edge.

IBM is also planning to update its IBM Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud, which enable data on heterogeneous storage systems to be managed and replicated across on-premises environments and the IBM Cloud or Amazon Web Services. Starting in the third quarter of 2021, IBM expects to start a beta program to expand IBM Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud to include Microsoft Azure.

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