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IBM FlashSystem A9000 Designed to Make Storage Simple

Andy Walls

Nick Harris wrote this article on behalf of IBM Systems Magazine.

In April 2016, IBM announced its latest flash storage system. The two models—the IBM FlashSystem* A9000 and the FlashSystem A9000R—are designed to make fast storage simple.

IBM Systems Magazine sat down with Andy Walls, CTO and Distinguished Engineer, IBM FlashSystem, to learn more about how cloud storage is changing as well as how the features and benefits of these new FlashSystem offerings will make a difference in cloud storage.

IBM Systems Magazine (ISM): Apart from its rapid adoption, how is cloud storage changing?
Andy Walls (AW):
Businesses are putting the full gamut of applications in the cloud, expecting it to service a variety of workload and data types, any of which can influence the storage capabilities needed at the back end.

One may think of cloud storage as a cheap repository for large amounts of rarely accessed data in order to reduce infrastructure cost. But we are seeing clients move pools of storage and applications to the cloud.

The need for cheap and deep storage is being augmented by a need for more demanding business-driven requirements, including analytics on all of that data.

ISM: Once clients get their “I love my Cloud” sticker, what’s their next step?
As clients become more comfortable with deploying their workloads in a cloud—either on- or off-premises—the demand for performance/cost differentiation between workloads, based on value to the business, will soon appear. We are seeing this right now with managed service providers (MSPs) and enterprise cloud adopters that have multiple workloads sharing the same infrastructure. Clients are looking for mission-critical applications, to share that infrastructure and to be protected or have guaranteed microsecond latency. This means cloud providers will demand a new level of cloud management technology. These are the same management features that FlashSystem A9000 and the IBM Spectrum Accelerate* solution have built in with IBM Hyper-Scale Manager.

ISM: Are infrastructure managers on board with large cloud deployments yet?
They are cautiously interested, looking at cloud and investigating our Spectrum Accelerate products for all types of cloud deployments. This enterprise class consideration is becoming more important to them.

Most infrastructure organizations now defining their hybrid environment are fairly bimodal, applying different rules for their new workloads to their existing systems of record (SoRs). Over time, organizations will become familiar with the new underlying infrastructure and expect cloud infrastructure to have the same characteristics as their SoR counterparts. They’ll also want to differentiate their workloads. This will drive up the need for workload separation through performance tiers, managed with multitenancy and quality of service (QoS) functions.

FlashSystem A9000 fills this new requirement for high performance in the hyperscale cloud space with differentiated QoS technology. One of the attractive propositions is the Spectrum Accelerate solution’s breadth across both deployment types. Whether you deploy FlashSystem A9000, FlashSystem A9000R, XIV* storage or the Spectrum Accelerate solution as an on-premises, off-premises or hybrid cloud, you can enjoy consistency of management experience and functions that reduce the effort in what can be a labor-intense environment.

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

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