IBM Flash Storage System Simplifies, Bolsters Cloud Options

By basing all of its FlashSystem flash storage solutions on a common storage platform, IBM is enabling organizations of all types to standardize and simplify storage.

Karen D. Schwartz, Contributor

February 18, 2020

3 Min Read
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In an effort to address storage sprawl and complexity across organizations, IBM is taking a new approach to its FlashSystem product family by consolidating under one platform that can meet the needs of all organizations, from entry to high-end.

All the products in the FlashSystem line of flash storage solutions are now based on a common storage software platform that can work across all deployment types, including bare metal, virtualized, container and hybrid multi-cloud, while also supporting existing storage from many vendors.

The idea, says Eric Herzog, chief marketing officer of IBM Storage, is to enable all types of organizations, including those with applications that have different storage requirements and employ different storage technologies from different vendors, to standardize and simplify storage.

"We hear from customers all the time that their needs vary from entry to midrange to high end, but the complexities of having to choose between multiple different storage products across multiple different product lines was becoming overwhelming," Herzog said.

By meeting entry, midrange, higher-end and hybrid multi-cloud storage needs, IBM is onto something, said David Hill, founder of Mesabi Group.

"Historically, most storage vendors have had separate product families for entry, midrange [and] high-level with different features and capabilities like encryption and SCM [storage-class memory]. They were typically made available at the high end first and then might 'trickle down' to the other families over time," he explained. "IBM has eliminated this problem, which is of great value to midrange customers, who were enterprise-class in every way except quantity of storage needed."

Related:What Switching to NVMe Means for the Data Center

The simplified FlashSystem family of flash storage products, all running on IBM's Spectrum Virtualize platform, allows for "six nines" of availability, two- and three-site replication, and cross-site high availability configurations. Consistent APIs for automation support a variety of deployment approaches, while AI-based management and analytics through IBM Storage Insights can improve management and support.

The consolidated, simplified approach includes security by incorporating data-at-rest encryption, tape and cloud air-gapped copies, malware detection and application-aware snapshots.

In addition to the new approach, IBM also has announced three new FlashSystem models, all of which come in a variety of drive options, including SCM, all-flash and hybrid configurations.

IBM FlashSystem 7200 is an all-flash solution with an NVMe control enclosure and the ability to add all-flash expansions. It supports both scale-up with expansion enclosures and scale-out with up to four-way clustering. The 9200, designed for higher demands, is a 2U all-flash array, and IBM said it offers the company's highest-level performance. The 9200R is a rack-based storage solution with ultra-high throughput and NVMe-optimized flash performance. With expansion, it can reach up to 32 petabytes of usable capacity, 18 million IOPS and 180GB/s throughput.

Related:HPE Designs Primera Storage System for NVMe from Scratch

All three are built using IBM FlashCore Modules for data compression and FIPS 140-2 certified data-at-rest encryption with no performance penalty. The FlashCore module technology creates nearly 30% more usable capability than industry-standard flash drives, Herzog said. These systems have the option of upgrading to a new FlashCore Module with 38.4TB of usable capacity, which the company says is twice the size of the largest previous module. A new feature called EasyTier allows organizations to configure storage environments on these storage systems more easily.

Because they support the Container Storage Interface (CSI), all FlashSystem solutions are also ready to work with containerized deployments using Red Hat OpenShift, Kubernetes and CRI-O.

About the Author(s)

Karen D. Schwartz


Karen D. Schwartz is a technology and business writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has written on a broad range of technology topics for publications including CIO, InformationWeek, GCN, FCW, FedTech, BizTech, eWeek and Government Executive

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