IBM refreshes enterprise storage, bringing strong new storage technologies to IBM Z and IBM LinuxONE customers

By | 4 minute read | November 4, 2019

Written by Eric Burgener, Research Vice President, Infrastructure Systems, Platforms and Technologies Group – IDC, Sponsored by IBM

With digital transformation (DX) underway in most enterprises, there is an ever-increasing need for higher performance, greater than “five nines” availability, and flexible data protection options that give customers the capability to implement a cost-effective approach in meeting their recovery point (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTO).

Enterprises are moving to more data-centric business models, with newer applications that leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning approaches to drive business insights from the massive amounts of data being captured and stored. They are looking for distributed systems options that can deliver the kind of performance, availability and scalability that have long been associated with mainframe technology.

Mainframes: still the mission-critical infrastructure foundation

Despite all the talk about distributed environments, mainframe technology still provides the infrastructure foundation for many mission-critical workloads for most large-scale enterprises. As these business leaders look at how and when they will leverage the public cloud, they are considering:

  • which workloads to re-host through a “lift and shift” to the cloud
  • which workloads to re-factor to more broadly use cloud-based services
  • which to re-architect as native cloud applications
  • which to replace with cloud-based alternatives
  • which workloads to retain in on-premises infrastructure

For many of the workloads running on premises in mainframe infrastructure, performance, availability, and compliance requirements preclude their migration to the public cloud, and it makes the most sense to continue to run them in-house on mainframes.

For successful businesses, these applications are growing as well, and enterprises need their mainframe technology suppliers to continue to push the envelope on performance, availability, scalability and functionality, incorporating newer technologies as they become available. Often, however, these applications may need to move data to the public cloud for data sharing, disaster recovery and other business requirements, and enterprises should be concerned about their ability to protect data through encryption across multicloud environments.

Mainframe infrastructure is renowned for the level of security it supports, and it is important to be able to maintain that level as data is migrated to and stored in other locations.

IBM is the dominant supplier in both the mainframe server and storage markets and introduces a general mainframe technology refresh roughly every four years. Each refresh includes not only new mainframe server technology but new storage (disk and tape) technology as well.

In the external storage array markets, introductions from various vendors over the last several years have focused on increased performance, availability and infrastructure density, improved security and functionality and better cloud integration. With their latest mainframe technology refresh cycle which is currently underway, IBM has addressed all of these areas.

Although they only directly compete with storage arrays from the other two major storage vendors that support mainframe connection (Dell EMC and Hitachi), IBM’s latest arrays, the IBM DS8900F, incorporates new capabilities that make them aggressively competitive with the latest functionality in any enterprise storage arrays (including those that don’t support mainframes). In some cases, the new DS8900 actually leads the industry.

Let’s take, for example, storage latencies. We’ve heard a lot of talk about emerging solid-state storage protocols and technologies that can support sub-100 microsecond latencies for external, enterprise-class storage that can be shared across many servers over switched networks. When connected over FICON using zHyperLink, IBM’s new DS8900F delivers storage latencies as low as 18 microseconds, an industry-leading result for this class of enterprise storage. Other key highlights of the DS8900F announcement:

  • With the new line (which includes both the DS8910F and the DS8950F) now available only in all-flash configurations, the storage latencies are not only lower but are also more predictably consistent than competitive hybrid flash array configurations.
  • Based on their proven track record, the DS systems are now delivering “seven nines” of availability, an improvement over the already impressive “six nines” availability of the prior generation of DS8880s.
  • Using the new, larger 15TB SSDs, the DS8900Fs allow customers to pack 5.9PB of capacity into two floor files, and the move to standard 19″ racking simplifies data center configuration tasks.
  • New end-to-end security capabilities built around 256bit encryption with no performance impact, both in flight and at rest, provide the protection companies need to meet regulatory requirements (as well as their own customers’ expectations) about data privacy.

These capabilities are complemented by new data protection functionality and configuration options that leverage the new systems as well as seamless, transparent cloud integration capabilities for those customers with production hybrid cloud environments. IDC’s survey data shows that 40 percent of enterprises are already running hybrid cloud and an additional 45 percent plan to implement it within the next two years, so cloud integration is equally important for both mainframe and distributed systems technology.

This mainframe storage technology refresh brings in important new capabilities enterprises need to continue to meet evolving mainframe requirements. In terms of performance, availability, functionality and cloud integration, the new DS8900Fs are setting a high bar for the competition. In closing, it’s also interesting to note that IBM’s new DS systems always support mainframes and distributed systems on day 1, unlike their competitors who can wait as long as a year to introduce mainframe support on their own arrays that compete in this market.

Discover the trusted storage foundation for IBM z15 and LinuxONE: Meet IBM DS8900F.

Read the full IDC whitepaper, “IBM’s Enterprise Storage Refresh Brings Strong New Storage Technologies to Mainframe Customers”