IBM recently held its inaugural storage-dedicated event, IBM Edge2012, in Orlando, Fla. Although breakout sessions focused on specific products and the words cloud and big data were sprinkled liberally about, IBM's emphasis was on its concept of Smarter Storage, which it views as a new approach, focusing on three key principles:
- Efficient by design: From a storage perspective, efficient means better utilization of storage assets. Technologies used to accomplish this include real-time compression of primary storage, thin provisioning capabilities and an intuitive UI designed to reduce operating complexity and increase storage administrator productivity/efficiency. The business value of "efficient by design" translates into better use of existing storage and the ability to defer new expenditures.
- Self-optimizing: This concept concerns algorithmic and heuristic policy-based software decision-making for the placement of data, to balance the need for performance for latency-sensitive data with the need to store infrequently accessed data on less performance-capable but more cost-effective storage media. This provides a value-add for performance-demanding data and cost efficiencies for non-latency-sensitive data. Self-optimization also results in the automation of performance-tuning management, which increases administrator productivity; automated storage tiering (IBM's version is called Easy Tier), including the use of flash memory devices, is the most familiar example of self-optimizing storage.
- Cloud agile: Cloud implies the transformation of the IT infrastructure to a more efficient, flexible and/or agile form that emphasizes, from a user perspective, IT as a service; as the concept of cloud rapidly evolves, an enterprise must remain agile to take advantage of the different opportunities. Cloud agility for storage means an enterprise has to be aware and continuously look for ways to use storage to improve access to information. For example, IBM has available services for application-centric storage clouds and is also planning stand-alone storage clouds.
Next: Let's look at one technological illustration for each of the three principles.