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Options Galore

IBM System Storage offers tasty choices across a wide spectrum of needs

IBM System Storage offers tasty choices across a wide spectrum of needs
Illustration by Jeff Bennett

Remember when you were a kid and you entered the magical world of a candy store? Oh the choices! They lined every wall and covered every counter. You knew your favorites lay among the vast variety.

Today’s IBM System Storage* options may make you feel that way again. Internal storage and external storage. Hardware, software and services. Different choices to meet your various business needs. Are you trying to improve access, manage growth, protect data, reduce costs or reduce complexity? Whatever your goals, IBM has an integrated storage option for every organization.

Following all of the recent IBM System Storage and Power Systems* announcements, IBM Systems Magazine sat down with two distinguished engineers to help navigate the storage landscape. Lee Cleveland, Power Systems direct attach storage, and Andy Walls, chief hardware architect for DS8000* and solid-state drives (SSDs), sat down at a roundtable to discuss how these great new technologies can address Power Systems client pain points and imperatives.

IBM Systems Magazine: When I look at back at October of last year through first quarter of 2011, the pace of IBM storage announcements has been phenomenal with new announcements delivered across the whole product range from DS8800*, Storwize* V7000 through to Tivoli* software products. Our Power Systems customer base is very broad—from the smallest mom-and-pop shop all the way through to the largest enterprise. It encompasses the full storage portfolio but tends to make clients question where they should go with it.

One of the questions I hear regularly is, my business currently uses internal storage for my Power Systems server, but I also have a network-attached storage (NAS) that’s growing rapidly. Should I consolidate, and if so, how?

Cleveland: My first tack would be if they’re focused on performance and reliability, you always have to balance whether you want to participate in shared storage in general. If you’re really looking at response times then you have to caution yourself. Now, if you really just want to take advantage of the falling cost of storage and you’re not as concerned about your raw transaction rates, there’s no reason not to go to external storage.

Walls: And we continue to add rich functions to our external storage. We had Easy Tier* technology on our DS8000 products last year so clients can get improvements from SSDs without having to manually determine what goes on those SSDs. They can take advantage of that set of functions if they move to external storage. They can also take advantage of the disaster-recovery solutions that IBM offers and, with the advent of the Storwize V7000, there’s also a set of virtualization functions that IBM now offers in external storage. These are good reasons to consider.

However, on the flip side of that with SSDs becoming more prevalent, the cost coming down and some of the announcements that we made last year—for example our PCIe SSD card where you can plug SSDs directly into Power Systems into PCI Express—now you can get tremendous latency improvement. You don’t have to incur the delays from the switching fabric.

You really have to look at it both ways. If the performance is critical and you want to take advantage of some of the new SSD offerings, then integrated storage is still a great thing. If you want some of the other functions that we offer in external storage and you want a common centralized place, then we continue to enrich those offerings too.

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

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