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Address Hybrid Cloud Storage Management Priorities With IBM Hyper-Scale Manager

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Nick Harris is the storage team lead in the IBM Competitive Project Office. Nick wrote this article on behalf of IBM Systems Magazine.

In a previous interview with Andy Walls, IBM Fellow, CTO and Chief Architect, IBM FlashSystem, we discussed the new demands being made of storage infrastructure as data spreads throughout hybrid clouds. We focused on the growing need to discriminate between workloads based on performance, capacity, scale and the need for data reduction to reduce cost and footprint.

In this interview we will discuss management of storage in a hybrid cloud. Ease of use is cited as a key priority in many research papers. An IDC Opinion paper “Customer Storage Priorities—Breaking down Storage Tradeoffs” discusses a survey of 254 businesses across the U.S. and Europe, and poses the question, “Which of the following features and capabilities are the most important when purchasing storage systems?” Reliability came in highest, with ease of use and consistent system performance tied for second highest ranking.

Nick Harris: What are the recent changes for FlashSystem A9000/A9000R, XIV and Spectrum Accelerate?

Andy Walls: In the past six months, IBM has made some significant upgrades to how you manage IBM’s Spectrum Accelerate powered offerings in an Enterprise Hybrid Cloud.

In February 2015, we announced Spectrum Accelerate as a software only version of this product. This provided our customers with both pre-integrated (IBM XIV) and SDS versions of the same product base. This enabled clients to visualize what a capacity based hybrid cloud could look like, as it included both on-premises or off-premises forms.

In 2016, we filled the growing performance gap in hybrid cloud that could not be fulfilled by a capacity-based solution. IBM FlashSystem A9000 and IBM FlashSystem A9000R provided the highly reliable microsecond latency demanded as enterprise solutions transitioned to hybrid clouds. At the same time, we also shipped IBM Hyper-Scale Manager V5. As we progressed through 2016, we announced that this new version of Hyper-Scale Manager would replace both the existing Hyper-Scale Manager and the IBM XIV User Interface.

NH: Why did IBM decide to replace the existing GUI that came from IBM XIV?

AW: The IBM XIV GUI has been extremely popular, and it was a big part of the success of the XIV platform. In fact, we ported it to Spectrum Virtualize, IBM Flash System 900 and the DS8000.

One of the benefits of having the broadest portfolio of storage is that IBM has the ability to inherit the best of breed technology across all platforms. This is exactly what we did with the famed IBM XIV GUI.

As IBM XIV grew as a major solution for the VMware client base, the number of XIV devices being managed by customers and service providers mirrored this growth. Being able to manage multiple XIVs across disparate environments became critical, and IBM Hyper-Scale Manager was born. IBM knew having two different user interfaces was going to be a challenge as clients moved forward to hybrid clouds.

NH: What did IBM do to understand this new way of working?

AW: We knew there needed to be a change in operational technique. We had a product with outstanding ease of use for managing single instance, simplicity of management for dozens of systems, in a highly secure multi-tenancy storage cloud.

Any new UI would need to be user and task centric. After 10 years of working with IBM XIV, and more recently Spectrum Virtualize and DS8000 series, we came to the conclusion that we needed to innovate to meet the new needs of our customers.

We visited customers and watched them working in their environments, from single systems to managed service providers with multiple storage boxes. We concluded that although we had a very simple UI, our customers’ work style and flow had changed. We also found that the existing UI design was not that simple in the case where the workflow is complex, or where multiple boxes are involved.

Nick Harris is the Storage Lead in the IBM Competitive Project Office.

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