IBM's DS8800: Latest Flagship Enterprise-class Disk System DS8800

The last blog covered the new Storwize V7000 midrange storage system. This blog covers the enterprise-class disk system announcement that IBM made at its recent New York City storage announcements, the DS8800. The new system introduced at the New York City event represents the 4th generation in IBM's DS8000 enterprise disk platform which began in 2004. Now while their sheer size makes disk enterprise disk systems appear visually and viscerally as hardware devices, they are actually tightly integ

David Hill

October 29, 2010

4 Min Read
Network Computing logo

The last blog covered the new Storwize V7000 midrange storage system. This blog covers the enterprise-class disk system announcement that IBM made at its recent New York City storage announcements, the DS8800. The new system introduced at the New York City event represents the 4th generation in IBM's DS8000 enterprise disk platform which began in 2004. Now while their sheer size makes disk enterprise disk systems appear visually and viscerally as hardware devices, they are actually tightly integrated hardware/software systems that require an enormous amount of processing power. IBM has relied on its POWER server architecture, which includes the processor as well as caching and other performance and RAS capabilities, to provide the computing oomph for the DS8000 and the new DS8800 is based on the company's POWER6+ chips.

This is not only about enhancing system performance, but also continues the company's tradition of providing a code base that is binary compatible with prior models. This has two big implications for enterprise class customers. First, they can simply buy the DS8800 when appropriate and then use/manage them alongside older DS8000 arrays without having to do anything different than they are already doing.

Moreover, the various tools and scripts, as well as the variety of copy services, are supported across various generations of DS8000 models. Secondly, the IBM POWER code base has long since been market-proven, and IBM strives to bolster its performance, reliability, and scalability with every release, which is a must for enterprise IT organizations.

Every new DS8000 model has delivered faster performance as well as greater efficiency and scalability than the previous ones. That is, of course, not unique to IBM nor the DS8800, but it a reason why information technology continues to be a positive contributor to the world economy. One way to improve performance is to have faster I/O adapters and the DS8800's 8 Gbps FC interconnect backbone and 6 Gbps SAS to disks are much faster than the previous generation. And so the DS8800 plays its part as the latest iteration of that evolutionary procession.

On the disk side, the trend has been to use smaller and smaller drives as time goes on. IBM has decided that the time is right to start moving away from 3.5" drives as it has moved to smaller 2.5" form factor drives. Moreover, the DS8800 has also moved away from solely supporting Fibre Channel drives to 6 GB/s SAS-2 drives which can still work in a FC SAN array. The size of drives is important as 50 percent more 2.5" drives can be installed in the same size drive enclosure than 3.5" drives.That's all to the good but a bigger practical effect though is that the DS8800 can support more drives, from 1,056 to 1,024, in only 60 percent of the floor space of the previous generation DS8700, as well as using 36 percent less energy. That's a good green sales point but IBM has also introduced some other green improvements in the DS8800 with front-to-back cooling that enables more efficient airflow and improves the energy efficiency in data centers moving to hot-aisle-cold-aisle designs. All in all the DS8800 may not be totally new since it utilizes same basic architecture and management capabilities as previous DS8000 generations which is a good thing from the perspective on enterprise-class customers, but it certainly is "improved."

As an IT vendor, IBM currently emphasizes three strategic growth initiatives: Smarter Planet, Business Analytics & Cloud Computing. Of course, storage innovations play a key role in all these efforts, such as in delivering advanced archiving features and scale-out NAS. That said, IBM is "old school" in that it focuses on the basics in technical innovation for storage, such as delivering measurably better system performance, scalability, efficiency, and integration. That is in contrast to "new school" vendors which tend to emphasize different features and functions, such as stages of virtualization. Each approach has its merits and it will be interesting to see how the competitive battles shape up.

From IBM's "old school" perspective, innovative storage is all about providing customers the capabilities that they need to meet changing and growing business requirements. IT organizations will have to look not only on the surface, but also under the hood to see how the DS8800 measures up for performance, scalability, efficiency, and integration. The DS8800 continues to give enterprise customers the binary compatibility and robustness that they have come to expect while at the same offering such improved capabilities as floor space and energy efficiencies.

IBM is currently a client of David Hill and the Mesabi Group.

About the Author(s)

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like


More Insights