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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 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.

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