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Starting the Year with Flash

By JORGE ENRIQUE ESCALANTE RAMONET posted Tue February 09, 2021 08:14 AM


Starting the Year with Flash

Hybrid cloud IT environments, where some applications are hosted on-premises while others leverage resources and services from multiple cloud providers, have become the norm for modern business. Even so, the majority of companies have yet to transition many of their business-critical applications into the cloud.[1]

One consequence of the utilization of various cloud-based resources and the continued reliance on traditionally hosted applications is the on-going need for on-premises IT infrastructure such as data storage.

This is the market niche where IBM FlashSystem lives.

Over the years, the IBM FlashSystem platform has evolved and adapted to changing requirements – better flash management and durability, hardware-driven data reduction and encryption, a transformation of the basic FlashCore form factor, new hybrid cloud capabilities, incorporation of the Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) protocol. But one requirement has remained the same – the need for speed.

Recently, IBM Storage announced the newest member of the IBM FlashSystem family. And yes, IBM FlashSystem 5200 is a considerably evolved sibling. It brings all the innovation of earlier family members, then adds an extremely important new capability – entry-level all-flash flexibility and cost-efficiency.

“Benefiting from enterprise class availability, massive scalability, the flexibility of IBM Spectrum Virtualize, and the performance of NVMe, our customers have embraced the IBM FlashSystem family of products.” Says Bob Elliot, Vice President, Storage Sales at Mainline Information Systems. “And with this announcement, IBM continues to prove they’re delivering on their ‘Storage made simple for all’ commitment.”

IBM FlashSystem 5200 is the most powerful and compact storage system IBM has ever made. It essentially introduces NVMe to the entry enterprise. The basic system specs are spectacular:

  • IBM Spectrum Virtualize data management and hybrid cloud functionality
  • 1U12 NVMe dual canister control enclosure with:
    • 12 NVMe drives: FlashCore Modules, Industry Standard, Storage Class Memory
    • Up to 460TB of raw storage capacity and 790TB effective capacity in 1U
    • Up to 512GB cache
    • Multiple I/O adapters: 16/32 Gb FC, 12Gb SAS, 10/25Gb Ethernet
    • FC, NVMe, RoCE/iWARP RDMA, iSCSI, SASprotocols supported
    • 4-way clustering for scale out to the multi-petabyte range
    • Up to 20 expansion enclosures for nearly limitless scale up options
    • DRAID 1, 5, 6

A key advantage of the new IBM FlashSystem 5200 is its ability to operate with full DRAID protection with only three drives. This means that cost-sensitive users can start with a smaller capital expenditure and add capacity as needed. IBM DRAID 1 data can be read from all three drives, which provides a performance boost over traditional RAID 1 approaches, as well as allowing full recovery with the loss of one drive. And assuming DRAID 1, the preliminary performance metrics for FlashSystem are:

  • 1.5M IOPS
  • Under 70µs latency
  • 21 GB/s throughput

This new platform will certainly stretch the IBM FlashSystem market niche downward and outward to include smaller enterprises and more edge use cases. It offers the scale up and scale out capabilities – along with the performance, data management, and hybrid cloud features – to address essentially any workload. It’s a vast understatement to say that IBM FlashSystem 5200 ups the ante within the distributed storage marketplace.

“Using the new FlashSystem 5200 in our Business Solution Centre has been easy and simple to install.” states Mike Potter, IBM Systems Technical Specialist at Tech Data UK. “We are excited to show our customers the FlashSystem 5200’s capability all within a 1U footprint. It is amazing to think of the performance, capacity and features users will be able to access at an affordable price point.”

Along with developing an entirely new IBM FlashSystem platform, IBM engineering has been innovating in other directions as well. IBM FlashSystem 5015 and 5035 now leverage IBM DRAID 1 capabilities, and FlashSystem 5035 leverages new CPUs. A larger capacity 18TB 3.5inch NL-SAS drive option has been added to hybrid flash/disk configurations. IBM Spectrum Virtualize is announcing a new version with increased functionality that includes GUI support for the 3-site HyperSwap feature. IBM Storage support for Ansible continues to be enhanced. And IBM technical support has been simplified under the new IBM Storage Expert Care program that will be rolled out first with IBM FlashSystem 5200. This new program includes Basic and Advanced support levels with up-front predictable pricing and flexible yearly choices.

Also included with the announcements above, IBM has introduced a new offering called – IBM Cloud Satellite® – with far-reaching potential. IBM Cloud Satellite helps enterprises deploy consistently across all on-premises, edge computing, and public cloud environments from any cloud vendor. The result is greater developer productivity and development velocity. This is essentially the IBM public cloud extended to customer infrastructure – IBM Cloud services anywhere a client needs them, delivered as-a-service from a single pane of glass controlled through the public cloud. It features simplified management through one dashboard, common identity and access control, and centralized observability, with end-to-end security where data and workloads reside. IBM FlashSystem family, is the perfect storage choice for IBM Cloud Satellite due to its simplicity, high performance, low latency. Industry analysts are already paying very serious attention to this new offering from IBM.

Finally, IBM has issued a statement of direction about IBM Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud:

We intend to deliver a version of IBM Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud, our hybrid cloud data fabric software, optimized for Microsoft Azure. It will offer functionality on Microsoft Azure comparable to what we already offer through AWS. A beta program will kick off later this year.

Taken all together, these announcements demonstrate that innovation is alive and accelerating within IBM Storage, and beyond. There’s an entirely new IBM FlashSystem platform, and enhancements to existing models; a new IBM Spectrum Virtualize release, plus new directions for the public cloud version; and a new offering from IBM Cloud that’s already stirring up some dust within the analyst community.

This is just the first Quarter of 2021. Imagine what storage may look like by the end of the year.

Don’t miss the announcement blog: Storage made simple for all

To learn more go to IBM Storage news and announcements

[1] IBM cloud computing news: 3 reasons most companies are only 20 percent to cloud transformation, March 2019