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Containerized Data Services and Software-Defined Storage come to IBM Z

By Javier Perez posted Wed May 19, 2021 12:11 PM


                                           Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

IBM Storage Suite for IBM Cloud Paks now available for IBM Z and LinuxONE

After an unforgettable 2020, this year is filled with hope. The biggest vaccination campaign in history is underway and we are slowly going back to a new normal. After these eventful past 12 months, there’s a quote by author Hillary DePiano that describes well what to do next: “You can get excited about the future. The past won’t mind.”  I am excited about the future, and I am delighted to share new exciting announcements with you.

As organizations are using different methods and architectures to resolve their compute and storage requirements, two technologies come to mind that are more relevant than ever: software-defined storage (SDS) and containers. SDS has been around for several years. It is a software layer between the physical storage and data requests from applications. It allows control of how and where data is stored. It also includes APIs for the management, provisioning, and maintenance of storage, giving you full control to scale and organize your storage needs, regardless of your physical storage.

Containers continue to grow in popularity because they enable organizations to host and deploy applications faster. Having the application’s entire runtime environment including dependency libraries, binaries, configuration, and even operating system bundled into a container not only makes the software run but also facilitates portability to different computing environments.

Many containers are stateless and the data they create is lost at the end of a session. Most production containerized applications at some stage need access to persistent storage such as databases, and this is where the two technologies of SDS and containers intersect.

Containers are the key component of cloud-native applications. When we talk about cloud-native, we refer to container-based environments, microservices, and flexible infrastructure through agile DevOps processes. Combining all of this brings us to an exciting announcement:  The IBM Storage Suite for IBM Cloud Paks is now available for IBM Z and LinuxONE.

Only some SDS products in the industry can run across containers; IBM Storage Suite for IBM Cloud Paks brings a complete storage management offering to the same container environment that runs and manages applications. Until now, this was only available for x86 architectures. We are now announcing general availability (GA) for IBM Z and LinuxONE.

The IBM Storage Suite for IBM Cloud Paks offering includes products from two major product families: IBM Spectrum Storage and Red Hat Data Services. All of this runs with Red Hat OpenShift, our enterprise Kubernetes-based platform to run and manage containerized applications, and with this, we are providing a consistent user experience regardless of where the data resides.

There are a number of products that are included in this offering, but I would like to bring your attention to two important products: Red Hat OpenShift Data Foundation for IBM Z and LinuxONE GA today; and IBM Spectrum Scale with the recently announced container-native storage access, with GA for IBM Z and LinuxONE on December 10, 2020.

Red Hat OpenShift Data Foundation: A fully container-native data services platform which supports multiple workload types. Red Hat ODF is fully unified with OpenShift, with an Operator-based installation and tight integration with the OpenShift console to deliver dramatically simplified day 0, day 1, and day 2 experiences for all users, from developers to IT admins. Red Hat ODF delivers complete support for raw block storage, RWO and RWX persistent volumes, as well as OBC (Object Bucket Claim) S3 object storage support.  Red Hat ODF also Enables advanced data resilience with support for continuous snapshots and clones, API-based backup and recovery, and advanced Kubernetes-smart disaster recovery for mission critical multi-site business Kubernetes applications. Supports hybrid multi-cloud environments, and runs on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, as well as IBM Satellite, bare metal and virtual machine platforms.

IBM Spectrum Scale with container native storage access: Enterprise-grade high-performance parallel file system and highly scalable storage with hybrid cloud data services. It is now containerized including unified and global storage services for dynamic provisioning and access to containerized applications within OpenShift. Access can be shared to the same file system also available to non-containerized storage so administrators can combine flash, disk, cloud, or tape storage into a unified global file system. It supports interfaces for file (POSIX, NFS, CIFS), object (S3, SWIFT), and Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS), allowing support for a variety of open-source data technologies including Apache Hadoop, Apache Spark, Cloudera CDP, and more.

The data services and storage offerings in the IBM Storage Suite for IBM Cloud Paks bring the latest and most advanced SDS technology to IBM Z and LinuxONE. With this new offering that combines modern SDS for containerized environments to enable data services to the large IBM Z and LinuxONE user base, we are adding even more options to complement the already impressive feature set around performance, security, cryptography, reliability, and scale on IBM Z and LinuxONE. 

Managing important stored data is critical for enterprises, let’s review some of the superior features available in IBM Z and LinuxONE that complement the IBM Storage Suite for IBM Cloud Paks:

  • Encryption for data at rest without code changes to applications. Automatic encryption at rest and in-flight for both data and code.
  • IBM Hyper Protect Data Controller to protect data after it leaves the system of record restricting access to even privileged administrators.
  • IBM Secure Boot for Linux allows booting only from previously signed bootloaders and with this can prevent malware or other unwanted programs from starting.
  • On-chip fast file compression and decompression that can reduce data storage requirements and costs, as well as an increase in data transfer rates to boost throughput above comparable x86 CPUs.
  • Vertical scale up to 190 cores and 40 TB of memory with the ability to consolidate over 2,000 x86 data serving cores.

IBM has a long history of innovation and contributions to open-source software. It creates fully supported software offerings built in large part with open-source software. I invite you to take a look at the growing ecosystem; you can find here a partial list of available open-source software for Linux on IBM Z and LinuxONE. This list only includes open-source software that has been validated by IBM. If you want to see an even larger list of available software, go to Docker Hub, where there are over 7,000 container images available with software for IBM Z and LinuxONE, and our recently launched IBM Z and LinuxONE Container Image Registry.

For more about IBM Storage Suite for IBM Cloud Paks check our website and join our IBM Z and LinuxONE community and IBM Storage community.