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David Hill
David Hill
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IBM Continues To Drive Storage Efficiency

In its fall storage announcement, IBM continued to emphasize the efficiency of its storage products. Efficiency is always a good thing, as it has been defined by the late revered management guru Peter Drucker as "doing things right," and everybody wants to do things right. But saying that you want to do things right is easier than doing it. Continual improvement is the prime ingredient, and that is well-demonstrated in the latest IBM storage announcements.

In its fall storage announcement, IBM continued to emphasize the efficiency of its storage products. Efficiency is always a good thing, as it has been defined by the late revered management guru Peter Drucker as "doing things right," and everybody wants to do things right. But saying that you want to do things right is easier than doing it. Continual improvement is the prime ingredient, and that is well-demonstrated in the latest IBM storage announcements.

To put things in perspective, IBM’s broader development efforts work to make its vision a reality. Here that vision is IBM’s Smarter Computing, which applies not only to storage, but also other IT focus areas, such as processing, software and analytics. Translating the Smarter Computing vision into reality requires a lot of work in activities such as automation, integration and the cloud.

Stop storing so much data, move data to the right place and store more with the systems on the floor are three ways that IBM promises to improve storage efficiency. Each of these mantras are backed by products that make storage efficiency improvements real. For example, IBM claims that Real-time Compression will take up to 80% less storage space than non-compressed data and that Easy Tier can now work with three tiers of storage (including SSDs). IBM also claims that, by moving data to the right place, Easy Tier can improve performance up to three times while using solid-state drives as just 2% of the total. And IBM states that with its storage virtualization, IT can get up to 30% more utilization and with thin provisioning up to 35% more utilization with systems already on the floor.

IBM highlighted three products in the current announcement:

  • IBM Storwize V7000 Unified: The Storwize V7000 is IBM's flagship midmarket storage array. In keeping with a popular trend in storage, file-based NAS storage has now been added to block-based SAN storage to create what is commonly called unified storage. Unified storage has achieved a great deal of popularity because of the increased flexibility and versatility that it enables (naturally both block and file operations without having to have two different arrays and that improves on provisioning and overall capacity utilization). Now, IBM already offers unified storage as a reseller of its long-time partner NetApp. That arrangement should not change as the Storwize V7000 is aimed a little higher in the storage food chain. IBM is also quick to point out that administration for unified storage is accomplished through a single user interface and common GUI, in contrast to one of its competitors. One further benefit is that Storwize V7000 storage pools can be shared between block and file workloads.

  • IBM Scale Out Network Attached Storage (SONAS) R1.3: The primary focus of attention here is on the new IBM Active Cloud Engine (which is available both for SONAS and Storwize V7000 Unified). Active Cloud Engine is the name that IBM gives to a policy-driven file management system whose focus is on enabling efficient file management both locally (which means at a single site) and globally (across multiple sites). Now, file management on the surface does not sound that exciting--after all, aren't files already managed?. Well, it is the breadth (geography) and depth (across all media, including tape, at a local site) that make the difference. User groups used to be isolated, but now sharing and collaboration is mandatory, and old, limited approaches to file management are no longer satisfactory. For example, X-rays may be owned by one hospital, but shared on a collaborative basis with others within a health care system or community. Although the cloud has many aspects, the Active Cloud Engine is an example of one capability that will likely become essential within the "cloud."

    David Hill is principal of Mesabi Group LLC, which focuses on helping organizations make complex IT infrastructure decisions simpler and easier to understand. He is the author of the book "Data Protection: Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance." View Full Bio
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