IBM Storage: Client success intersects with industry’s top spot in storage software
By Eric Herzog | 7 minute read | March 15, 2018
According to the laws of physics, momentum is a three-dimensional phenomenon. The momentum of an object involves mass, velocity and direction.
When industry observers note that IBM Storage is gaining momentum these days, they are right on the mark. What’s happening within and around the IBM Storage portfolio affects thousands of organizations across dozens of major industry sectors. The success of IBM’s clients at driving business value and optimizing business results, the speed of IBM Storage innovation and the powerful results from the storage analyst community clearly shows that IBM is establishing a clear direction – storage industry leadership.
Marketplace momentum may be measured in many ways. For example, according to IDC’s Worldwide Storage Software and Cloud Services QView, 4Q17, IBM Storage and Software-Defined Infrastructure is the #1 in storage software vendor by revenue market share. In just in the past 12 months, IBM has announced innovations in its storage portfolio, from new multi-cloud and container capabilities within our software-defined storage offerings, to 3-dimensional flash chips and high performance data reduction within IBM FlashSystem solutions to the most modern of data protection solutions. It’s easy to see how the speed and direction of IBM Storage marketplace advantage is accelerating.
The best way to measure the sheer weight of IBM Storage momentum is by results – how IBM flash and software-defined storage solutions are helping to change the business outcomes and business value of our customers’ oceans of data. For example, Follett Higher Education has been a trusted partner to public schools, districts and colleges for more than 140 years. With the volume of customer and corporate data climbing as steeply as the company’s growth trajectory, Follett’s IT infrastructure needed to keep pace in order to maintain excellent customer satisfaction. The educational media firm accelerated the performance of the applications powering its services by deploying ultra-fast IBM flash storage in a hybrid cloud environment. The solution drove a 75 percent improvement in system response times, boosting the flexibility and scalability of core applications and helping harness business insights to improve student outcomes. Former CIO, Sanjeev Singh, states: “With IBM solutions powering our storage, we are in great shape to keep delivering fast, convenient service to more customers as we build out new apps.”
Nowhere is the momentum of technology creating more of an impact than in healthcare. In the emergency room and the lab, fast access to medical data is vital to support patient care and to develop breakthrough treatments. At the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), Marty Bush, Manager of Enterprise Systems, lays out the business objectives: “We aim to provide the highest level of medical care at all times, and to help medical professionals lead the fight against disease with world-class research. To achieve this, it is vital that our clinicians and academic staff have fast, continuous access to patient records, medical data, and all the systems they use on a daily basis.”
To achieve these goals, the URMC IT team deployed IBM all-flash arrays and IBM SAN Volume Controller. The IBM solution helped URMC achieve 10 times faster system responses. Marty Bush describes the outcomes: “With the IBM solutions, we can integrate data and infrastructure from new acquisitions quickly and easily – helping us to sharpen our competitiveness. Today, we are achieving sub-millisecond response times around the clock, which eliminates user frustration and cuts time-to-insight for our clinicians and researchers.”
IBM high-performance, highly-available all-flash storage systems are having major impacts on every business sector, from education and healthcare to – love?! Every day, over four million people use the online dating site Plenty of Fish (POF) to help them find someone special. Given the competitive nature of the market for app-based dating services, having a fast, high-performing and always-on website is business-critical for POF. But as the company’s clientele rapidly grew, its antiquated storage systems were unable to keep pace. Owen Morley, Director of Infrastructure, notes: “Speed directly drives the user experience – and if any element of the experience falters, users will look elsewhere. What’s more, with new dating apps seemingly emerging every day, the competition for attention has never been fiercer. We knew we needed faster storage to keep up.” POF opted for IBM’s FlashSystem all-flash, high performance storage arrays, enabling POF to accelerate the delivery of fresh information to its four million daily users so that they can connect and interact almost in real time. “Before, our focus wasn’t on moving forward – it was about keeping the site up,” Owen Morley concludes. “Now, storage is the last thing we have to worry about, so we can look at improving the system in other ways and building new features.” Thanks to IBM all-flash storage, POF is more focused than ever on helping its users find their perfect partner.
Across industry sectors, business leaders need to make data-driven decisions efficiently to stay competitive. ZE PowerGroup Inc. (ZE) provides extensive market research and supporting analytics platforms that leverage big data to provide rapid insights. Nader El-Ramly, Chief Product Officer, explains the ZE IT challenges: “During the first iteration of our cloud it became clear that we were not sufficiently equipped to meet the demands of an evolving data landscape and changing client demands. The limitations of the performance of our storage infrastructure came to the fore over this period; as a result, our service was sometimes running slower than our clients needed it to perform. In our industry, low performance levels can have a significant impact on our services.”
ZE implemented IBM all-flash arrays virtualized behind IBM Spectrum Virtualize, a member of the IBM Spectrum Storage family of software-defined storage solutions. By refreshing its storage architecture, ZE accelerated the delivery of complex big data analytics to its clients, enabling it to diversify its offerings and gain market share. In fact, since deploying IBM storage solutions, ZE has seen a 30 percent increase in its client base, cut time to process client analytics requests from minutes to milliseconds (a 100X improvement), and unleashed new potential for product development and innovation. Aiman El-Ramly, Chief Strategy Officer at ZE, states: “… flash storage has become a true asset to our company, enabling us to provide new pathways to growth for our clients.”
The impact of IBM Storage reaches across a very wide range of industries. If you think that high performance data storage can’t change the fortunes of a newspaper, think again. Timothy Happychuk, IT Director at the Winnipeg Free Press, explains: “Today, people expect to be able to read about and react to major events that are relevant to them in real time, as they happen. The traditional culture of writing reports for the next day’s newspaper doesn’t work anymore – readers want tailored rolling coverage, and they want it now. We had hundreds of disjointed servers and storage platforms from different vendors in place, which made accessing data both tricky and time-consuming. It also meant that we weren’t able to analyze our data.”
To gain deeper and faster insight into reader expectations and preferences, the Winnipeg Free Press needed to bring its valuable data together in one place and create a central content library. But to do that, the media company needed to overhaul its entire IT infrastructure. The newspaper chose to implement a VersaStack converged infrastructure solution from IBM and Cisco featuring IBM Storwize V7000 storage. From that point forward, the story changed. Timothy Happychuk states: “The results have been truly eye-opening. The IBM solution has placed us in the uniquely advantageous position of being one of the only traditional media companies to enjoy day-over-day, month-over-month, year-over-year growth in readership.” In fact, the Winnipeg Free Press recently won two International News Media Association awards based on their phenomenal continued growth in readership – bucking the trend for traditional news organizations.
Marketplace momentum isn’t just a marketing slogan – it’s the measure of how a business impacts its customers. IBM Storage continues to gain momentum with IBM’s award-winning storage solutions. Every day more and more enterprises around the globe are moving faster, serving their clients better, and capturing competitive advantage, thanks to the power, speed, and leadership embodied in IBM Storage innovation.
To learn about other client examples benefiting IBM Storage or to witness demos of IBM’s portfolio of storage solutions, please visit the Infrastructure Campus at IBM THINK 2018, March 19-22.
 IDC Worldwide Storage Software and Cloud Services QView, 4Q17 (8 March 2018). Dell Inc. and IBM were statistically tied in worldwide storage software market share due to a difference of one percent or less in the share of revenue for calendar 2017.