Surf's Up! Wave 2 of IBM's Information Infrastructure Has Arrived

IBM sets a visionary framework, but also realizes that product and service sales are driven by what it can do for customers today

David Hill

February 19, 2009

5 Min Read
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11:30 AM -- IBM's vision of a Dynamic Infrastructure revolves around the theme of "a smarter planet needs a smarter infrastructure." Achieving a dynamic infrastructure requires an integrated approach leveraging many IT capabilities, including service management, virtualization and consolidation, and security. The company believes enabling the convergence of business and IT infrastructures into one dynamic infrastructure will provide a stimulus for societal and business transformation, and will allow IBM to take a leadership role in helping its clients harness emerging IT capabilities.

Overarching strategic visions such as that of IBM serve two very useful purposes: 1) They let customers understand that IBM knows where it plans to go, and that will benefit them in the long run even though the specifics will have to be filled in over time; and 2) The vision helps build alignment internally for employee buy-in and resource allocation. However, IBM also needed to connect the broader long-term vision with a pragmatic strategy that deals with the here and now -- a world where customers are trying to deal with a challenging economic environment while remaining highly competitive. And IBM does that through its information infrastructure strategy.

IBM believes that its information infrastructure is essential to "manage information more effectively and to mitigate information risks with a dynamic infrastructure." The information infrastructure model follows IBM's CARS (Information Compliance, Information Availability, Information Retention, and Information Security) methodology. According to the company, information compliance mitigates information risks, information availability delivers continuous access to information, information retention supports information retention policies, and information security enables the secure sharing of information.

Trying to pry dollars out of pinched budgets is a challenge for all businesses, since economic conditions are focusing customers on the dollars-and-cents benefits of the solutions and services they buy. IBM sees client requirements for the value of information infrastructure as: consolidation, value, quantified short-term ROI (like, within a year!), and efficiency (which translates into lower asset costs, lower energy costs, and optimized use of existing assets).

Rolling up its sleeves, IBM has announced Wave 2 of its information infrastructure initiative with a number of products, including:

  • IBM System Storage TS7650 ProtecTIER Data Deduplication Appliance -- an appliance that IBM claims can reduce up to 25 TB of data into 1 TB of storage, and do it up to 9x faster than any other solution on the market.

  • IBM XIV Storage System -- IBM states that this next-generation storage system scales both performance and capacity, while at the same time helping to reduce power, space, and cooling costs by up to 80 percent.

  • IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller Entry Edition -- SVC virtualizes storage across multi-vendor systems, and IBM claims that it can also increase utilization by more than 30 percent and save up to 50 percent in administration and management costs.

  • IBM System Storage DS8000 -- IBM claims that the DS8000 is the first solution on the market to provide full (hardware-based) disk encryption (FDE) at the enterprise level. FDE follows the work of the Storage Working Group of the Trusted Computing Group, which illustrates IBM's commitment to working with and following the recommendations of industry groups. IBM also announced new DS8000 optional solid state drives and support for more than 1 petabyte of capacity per disk system.

  • Tivoli Storage Manager 6 -- This data protection suite now includes new reporting and monitoring, near instant recovery of Microsoft applications, built-in data de-duplication, and increased scalability and availability via an integrated DB2 database.

  • Enhanced Global Technology Services -- these are categorized into: Information Infrastructure Optimization Services; Information Availability and Data Migration Services; and Information Security and Data Protection Services.

  • Integrated solutions -- IBM feels integrated solutions (notably, Grid Medical Archiving, Scale-Out File Services, and Compliance Warehouse) simplify and speed time to value.

IBM has thrown down the gauntlet to competitors with all its claims. Apart from the individual product claims, they fall into three categories:

  • 1) Increase efficiency -- The claims for ProtecTIER and XIV fall in this category.

    2) Reduce risk -- Related to the prevention of loss of confidentiality of data as provided by enterprise disk encryption and Tivoli Key Lifecycle Management.

    3) Ready for SMB -- IBM has a strong focus on the SMB market and has announced an expanded suite of information infrastructure solutions and services targeted specifically toward SMBs.

IBM also announced some new data protection capabilities including a cloud-based service for continuous data protection. The company also plans to offer Tivoli Storage Manager as a service for cloud-based backup and restore.IBM's Dynamic Infrastructure sets a visionary framework within which its information infrastructure sits, but the company also realizes that product and service sales are driven by what it can do for customers today. And that shorter-term market reality is motivated more and more by helping customers deal with the economic challenges they face. IBM has issued a fusillade of new and enhanced information infrastructure products and services that are aimed at ensuring that customers meet those immediate, inescapable challenges.

That fusillade ranges through its established products, such as enterprise-class DS8000 disk storage systems, its SAN Volume Controller, and Tivoli Storage Manager, to products garnered from acquisitions, such as ProtecTIER and XIV, to newer ventures, such as cloud computing. While pursuing a Dynamic Infrastructure over the long term is a great and valuable exercise, using practical information infrastructure solutions to help customers survive common battles and hand-to-hand combat is what will drive IBMs business day to day.

– David Hill is principal of Mesabi Group LLC, which focuses on helping organizations make their complex storage, storage management, and interrelated IT infrastructure decisions easier by making the choices simpler and clearer to understand.

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