IBM Systems Lab Services

Spectrum Scale, SDI and motorcycles: Scale up, scale out!

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You might wonder if I’ve completely gone off the rails when I mention my passion for motorcycle riding in the same breath as Spectrum Scale and software-defined infrastructure (SDI). Trust me, I’ll make a case for why I put them together.

In the early days, a motorcycle was nothing more than a bicycle with a motor, gas and oil tank, spark advance (today’s throttle), bicycle brakes and balloon tires. There was limited paved road, and you were often riding by the seat of your pants.

From 1901 to 2001, the rider experience was enhanced, road infrastructure improved and riding became more pleasurable and safer.

In the 21st century, software started being introduced into touring lines to further enhance the riding experience, along with the introduction of an interface that monitors the mechanical and electrical works of the motorcycle, collecting and displaying data in a user-friendly format during the ride. I can map out routes, connect Bluetooth or USB devices, and in some cases listen to satellite and broadcast radio. All of this is based on the software stack a company has developed to set itself apart from other manufacturers.

I love riding, so I am always looking for ways to “scale up and scale out” my motorcycle to give it more power, capabilities, storage and speed. This past May, I scaled up the hardware by upgrading my motor from 1819cc to 1901cc, and by adding new “flash” or firmware to enable the software to monitor and tune the new motor, thus applying the changes to the motor, to make it faster and more powerful.

The “scale out” process was accomplished by adding more storage to the motorcycle for carrying items needed for longer trips or runs to the grocery store.

So what does this have to do with SDI and Spectrum Scale?

Let’s break it down:

The hardware that IBM Spectrum Scale runs on can be thought of as the engine of a motorcycle. If you want to increase the power of your engine, you scale up Spectrum Scale by upgrading to a more powerful system, adding more processing power, memory and so forth. The more horsepower a motorcycle has, the less effort is required to move me from one location to another. In the same manner, scaling up Spectrum Scale will allow it to operate faster and more efficiently.

The “scale out” process is akin to adding storage capacity to your motorcycle. Spectrum Scale can be scaled out by adding additional components — in this case, more disk or solid-state drive (SSD) storage. We can further scale out Spectrum Scale by adding additional NSD servers to the cluster. This would be similar to adding an additional motor to a motorcycle or replacing the two-cylinder motor with a four-cylinder motor. However, in Spectrum Scale, the process of scaling out is much easier!

So, what does motorcycle riding have to do with software defined infrastructure (SDI)?

At a high level, SDI is about infrastructure flexibility. It’s about building what’s needed by choosing the components that meet your workload requirements. In my case, I added extra horsepower, torque and storage to my motorcycle, and updated my software to run and manage it. Spectrum Scale does much of the same by providing the flexibility to scale up and scale out, with software defined storage support and cloud support — and it’s all tied together with a friendly user interface!

IBM Systems Lab Services Storage and Software Defined Infrastructure is a team of consultants with proven expertise on all aspects of designing and building storage and software defined infrastructure systems. Contact us today if you’re looking for support to scale up and scale out your storage infrastructure.

Senior Managing Consultant, Storage, SDS and Infrastructure Architecture and Delivery

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