IBM's New Storwize 5000 Flash Arrays Bring NVMe Performance To Wider Customer Set


IBM Tuesday expanded its Storwize storage system line with new versions of its Storwize 5000 family that bring high-performance NVMe storage to a wider range of customers.

Big Blue also added support for Amazon Web Services' public cloud to its IBM Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud software for virtualizing IBM and non-IBM storage under a single architecture, and introduced new container support for its storage technologies.

The additions to the Storwize 5000 family will let channel partners better serve customers requiring higher- performance storage, said Eric Herzog, chief marketing officer and vice president of worldwide storage channels for IBM's Storage Division.

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"This completes the refresh of the Storwize product line," Herzog told CRN. "It started with the new Storwize V7000, and now we're refreshing the Storwize V5000 line with more software, more performance and more NVMe."

New to the Storwize V5000 family is the V5010E, which replaces IBM's existing V5010. The V5010E brings customers high-performance NVMe storage capabilities, with twice the maximum IOPs (I/Os per second) at a 30 percent lower price point than the V5010, Herzog said. It allows capacity to scale to 12 petabytes, he said. It also scales to support up to 392 flash drives.

Also new with the V5010E is the bundling at no charge with IBM Spectrum Virtualize software. IBM Spectrum Virtualize can connect to 450-plus different non-IBM arrays to give them full storage management capabilities including snapshots, encryption and storage virtualization.

In addition, IBM introduced the Storwize V5130E, which offers the same enhancements to the Storwize V5130 that the V5101E does to the V5010. It scales to up to 1,520 flash drives.

New to the family is the Storwize V5100/F, which offers the same capabilities as the other new members of the 5000 family and scales to up to 1,520 drives. IBM's FlashCore flash storage modules are proprietary modules featuring both flash storage capacity and hardware-accelerated I/O. The latest FlashCore modules are FIPS 140-2 certified for security requirements.

IBM has married two powerful technologies for partners with its Storwize 5000 line and IBM Spectrum Virtualize, said Bob Elliott, vice president of storage sales for Mainline Information Systems, a Tallahassee, Fla.-based solution provider and longtime IBM channel partner.

“The marriage of two really good things leads to a really great thing," Elliott told CRN.

Elliott said he saw the strength of combining the IBM V7000 line and then the V5000 line with IBM Spectrum Virtualize. "They’ve grown into a great product," he said. "IBM Spectrum Virtualize provides a versatile storage virtualization platform. Now IBM is adding NVMe to provide the kind of performance that clients would otherwise need to purchase much larger systems to get."

IBM Storwize with IBM Spectrum Virtualize is an incredibly scalable, high-performance family of products, Elliott said.

"IBM's really done it right to stay with both sets of products," he said. "Add NVMe, and it enhances the ability to evolve the product line and to take it to the next level of performance and flexibility."

IBM was among the first storage vendors to embrace NVMe across its entire product line, said Michael Adams, director of storage and professional services at Lighthouse Computer Services, a Lincoln, R.I.-based solution provider and IBM channel partner.

That leadership is enhanced with IBM's introduction of NVMe FlashCore modules, Adams told CRN.

"The NVME FlashCore modules used to be in the highest-end flash arrays," he said. "Now they're part of the V5000 family. This will allow more customers to do encryption and compression online with no performance hit even while increasing the capacity."

Adding the IBM Spectrum Virtualize software to the Storwize 5000 family is also a good move for IBM, Adams said.

"With the software, I can help customers virtualize their external arrays," he said. "Customers like that. I have some customers with competing brands of storage but who want to add such services as encryption that those older arrays don't support natively."

IBM Tuesday also expanded its multi-cloud storage capabilities with the addition of AWS support to its Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud, Herzog said. Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud, which previously only supported the IBM Cloud, provides a virtual substantiation of IBM Spectrum Virtualize on either public cloud, he said.

Also new with Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud is "air gapping," which allows a snapshot of data to be isolated from the production environment so that if there is a malware attack it does not impact the most recent secondary copy of the data, Herzog said.

IBM plans to introduce support for the Container Storage Interface, or CSI, in the second quarter, Herzog said.

IBM has been supporting block data and file data in containers through such platforms as VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V, he said. But the Container Storage Interface is an industrywide standard software interface defined by container vendors that allows storage managers to see the storage in containers and what that storage is doing. "Now the vendors can see the storage in any containers to manage it properly," he said.

IBM's storage platform was built to easily take on new enhancements like CSI, Elliott said.

"It's smart enough to take on new capabilities," he said. "It's like building a house and adding cable before the cable TV is connected. You may not know what's coming in the future, but the platform is flexible enough to handle it."