IBM market surveys confirm that more than 85% of enterprises have already moved to hybrid cloud environments. Many organizations will likely leverage the flexibility and cost savings of multiple cloud providers and resources.
But even though the hybrid cloud trend appears inevitable, does not mean that it is simple. Among the many challenges, most enterprises will keep some IT infrastructure on-premises. There can be several advantages for this -- including the need for certain applications to sustain ultra-low system latency. But a true hybrid IT infrastructure – with some elements on-premises and some extending to more than one cloud provider – also requires complex cyber resilience and business continuity strategies. Today, IBM Storage is announcing a number of new features and enhancements that are designed to help make hybrid cloud environments faster, less complex, and more cost efficient.
IBM FlashSystem represents the storage of the future. It is built with IBM Spectrum Virtualize software that supports and enables hybrid cloud storage architectures. The FlashSystem family also comes with AI-powered IBM Storage Insights – predictive analytics to optimize storage use and performance and deliver proactive capabilities to streamline support. But what really sets IBM FlashSystem apart is its ability to provide ultra-low latency data access to help accelerate artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics, and high-speed transactional applications that drive 21st century business.
Innovation has continued at a brisk pace within this award-winning storage platform. For example, just in the past two years, IBM FlashSystem has incorporated end-to-end Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) technology, included new form-factor FlashCore Modules (FCM), and accommodated new Storage Class Memory (SCM) drives as they become available.
"SCM technology is especially exciting right now," said Dave Anderson-Ward, Server & Storage Technical Lead at Ordnance Survey in the UK. "This new storage media provides a persistent storage tier that can deliver dramatically faster results than conventional flash.
Now, IBM is increasing the maximum number of SCM drives per FlashSystem 7200 or 9200 control enclosure three-fold to 12. SCM drives can be mixed with FCMs and standard NVMe flash drives to optimize performance and cost for each unique use case. 375GB and 750GB Intel Optane, and 800GB and 1600GB Samsung Z-SSD SCM drives are supported, which means that one IBM FlashSystem array can offer up to 19.2TB of ultra-low latency raw SCM storage capacity. This maximum is 20% more than other high-performance storage solutions offer. Plus, IBM FlashSystem provides AI-based automated tiering across all storage media to to help optimize cost and performance.
Related to SCM utilization, IBM FlashSystem storage solutions now offer distributed RAID (DRAID) 1 in addition to existing support for DRAID 5 and 6. For configurations with a small number of drives such as SCM, DRAID 1 enables more capacity to be used for data storage instead of redundancy. Nonetheless, IBM recommends DRAID 6 for most workoads and where a larger number of drives are available.
Along with the performance and efficiency gained with more SCM drives and DRAID 1, IBM FlashSystem now supports “redirect-on-write” (RoW) snapshot technology as an option for dedupe volumes in data reduction pools to further increase storage efficiency. About half the number of I/Os to storage are needed for writes to RoW snapshot source volumes, which is designed to help improve overall system throughput capability. IBM Spectrum Virtualize also now supports double the number of FlashCopy relationships, designed to enable customers to store more copies in a system. All these new capabilities will be available starting on November 12, 2020.
"Faster - easier - cheaper. IBM turbocharges data with FlashSystem. With even more Storage Class Memory and end-to-end NVMe, these storage systems are becoming more powerful than ever before. The ease of use, the high degree of automation and the excellent price/performance ratio make IBM FlashSystem storage the primary choice for critical data in any organization. Just try it!"
Jan Dittel, Marketing & Business Development Lead, BluVisio GmbH
IBM FlashSystem continues to improve its performance and cost-efficiency, but that doesn’t mean business resilience has dropped out of focus. The IBM Spectrum Virtualize software in IBM FlashSystem and SVC now offers the ability to combine high availability HyperSwap and disaster recovery capabilities in a single enhanced 3-site solution. HyperSwap is designed to enable IT systems to automatically fail over within seconds at metro distances for extreme high availability without application changes, and to protect against loss of mission-critical data. At the same time, IBM Spectrum Virtualize now supports replication of double the number of data volumes to a third site in order to protect a wider range of workloads, and quickly recover at both metro distances and global sites.
FlashSystem family integration with Red Hat® Ansible® also continues to deepen. Red Hat Ansible includes all the tools needed for enterprise-wide automation. Throughout 2020, IBM Storage has delivered additional commands for IBM Spectrum Virtualize that enable wide-ranging integration and functionality with Red Hat Ansible. The latest enhancements include abilities to manage consistency groups, snapshots, volume clones, and replication.
Finally, IBM Storage is releasing a new blueprint for hybrid cloud solutions utilizing container technology, IBM storage systems, and both IBM Cloud and Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud resources. The blueprint is designed to offer guidance on how to create a Hybrid Cloud business continuity solution for the Red Hat® OpenShift Container Platform. Together with IBM FlashSystem storage on premises and IBM Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud in AWS or IBM Cloud, Containerized applications running on OCP can seamlessly migrate with persistent storage between on premises and public cloud in case of a disaster, or even for workload migration scenarios. The blueprint is designed to provide practical advice on how to create real world hybrid cloud solutions that aims to simplify IT modernization and accelerate business transformation.
Innovation at IBM Storage doesn’t happen once in a while – it happens all the time. Hybrid cloud solutions can be complex, high risk, and expensive – or they can be simple, reliable, and powerful.
Learn how IBM Storage can bring this difference to your business.
For an overview of all the IBM Storage announcements on October 27, see this post.
 IBM Institute for Business Value: A blueprint for data in a multicloud world, October 2019 https://www.ibm.com/thought-leadership/institute-business-value/report/multicloud-data-strategy