IBM Ups Its Cloud, Object Storage Game

IBM is introducing major upgrades to its IBM Spectrum Discover unified metadata management, Cloud Object Storage, Spectrum Plus data protection and VersaStack converged infrastructure platform with an eye on the cloud and modern workloads.


IBM FlashSystem 9100 now part of the VersaStack Converged Infrastructure

IBM Wednesday expanded its storage capabilities with new cloud technologies and partnerships along with new object storage, data protection and converged infrastructure technologies with partner Cisco Systems.

"These are new solutions for artificial intelligence and big data, and new solutions around the cloud," said Eric Herzog, chief marketing officer and vice president of worldwide storage for Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM.

One major update in the IBM storage line is related to IBM Spectrum Discover, the company's metadata management software aimed at providing data insight for petabyte-scale unstructured storage, both on-premises and in the cloud.

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"IBM Spectrum Discover can now be used to search billions of files across thousands of file types using their metadata, which is faster than searching the files themselves," Herzog told CRN.

New to IBM Spectrum Discover is support for heterogeneous environments, Herzog said. This includes across competitive storage technologies such as Dell EMC Isilon and NetApp, as well as such cloud services as Amazon Web Services S3, Ceph, IBM Spectrum Scale and IBM Cloud Object Storage.

The technology is also compatible with regulatory environments including GDPR and the new California Consumer Privacy Act expected to be enforced starting in 2020, he said.

IBM Spectrum Discover is the most exciting part of IBM's storage news, said Stan Wysocki, president of Mark III Systems, a Houston-based solution provider and longtime IBM business partner, which is how IBM refers to its solution providers.

Mark III Systems rans a couple of proofs of concept while IBM Spectrum Discover was in alpha testing and liked what it saw, Wysocki told CRN.

"We're excited to see the full release, especially the ability to pull data from heterogeneous systems and clouds," he said. "When Spectrum Discover was first launched, it only pulled data from IBM technology. But most companies don't have just a single vendor, especially those with unstructured data. It's important to get that overall view."

Also new Wednesday is a new generation of IBM Cloud Object Storage, a technology for low-cost, efficient management of object storage for secondary storage and next-generation big data and artificial intelligence workloads, Herzog said.

The biggest change is the introduction of a new second-generation object storage appliance featuring a drop of up to 37 percent in terms of cost per terabyte, a 26 percent increase in capacity in a single rack to 10.2 petabytes, and up to a 25 percent increase in throughput, all versus the company's original appliance, he said.

The improvements come from improved hardware combined with new software updates, Herzog said. "Better performance and better density for a better price," he said.

IBM's Cloud Object Storage technology springs from IBM's 2015 acquisition of Cleversafe, which at the time was a leader in object-based storage software.

Wysocki said that his company was an early believer in IBM's Cloud Object Storage technology thanks to that acquisition, which made it easy to start consolidating object storage on a single platform.

"Consolidating cloud object storage is an important first step towards digital transformation for our customers," he said. "The key news here is the lower entry point. Before, we had to focus on large enterprise accounts. Now we can go to our midmarket accounts and even some enterprises who were hesitant to adopt cloud object storage. Having that lower entry point is key."

IBM is also updating its data protection capabilities with a closer relationship between its IBM Spectrum Protect Plus technology and AWS, Herzog said.

New on IBM Spectrum Protect Plus is the ability to protect IBM Db2, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and MongoDB databases hosted on AWS, as well as do disaster recovery from backup repositories stored in AWS, he said.

The new technology is available via the AWS Marketplace, he said.

Data on AWS-hosted repositories can be archived to tape, or to Amazon S3 Glacier, Azure Archive Storage, or IBM Cloud Object Storage Archive, Herzog said. It also supports AWS S3 Intelligent Tiering, he said.

The new data protection capabilities of IBM Spectrum Protect Plus will be a boon for enterprise customers, most of which work with on-premises and multi-cloud infrastructure, Wysocki said.

"Having a common data protection strategy for both on-premises and in the cloud is important to stay ahead of data protection issues," he said. "We do a lot with AWS, with a focus on the DevOps side, making sure applications can be seamlessly migrated between on-prem and off-prem. We try to be a mentor in guiding customers to a seamless multi-cloud experience."

Also new from IBM is a new version of its VersaStack converged infrastructure offering built in conjunction with Cisco that now features the IBM FlashSystem 9100, IBM's first NVMe-based storage platform, Herzog said.

The initial version, expected to be available near the end of the third quarter, will feature NVMe-over-Fibre Channel connectivity, with NVMe-over-Ethernet expected late this year or early 2020, he said.

Mark III Systems works with several major x86-based server vendors and their converged infrastructure offerings, including Cisco, Wysocki said.

"The new VersaStack is important from a performance and tiering perspective," he said.