Storage made simple for hybrid multicloud: the new IBM FlashSystem family

By | 6 minute read | February 12, 2020

In part one of this blog post series, we discussed IBM’s approach for delivering innovation while simplifying your storage infrastructure, reducing complexity, and cutting costs. Now let’s take a closer look at the details of the new IBM FlashSystem family, a single platform designed to simplify your storage infrastructure, reduce complexity and cut costs, while continuing to deliver extensive innovation for your enterprise class storage solutions and your hybrid multicloud environments.

Technology innovation

image of the new FlashCore Module with 38.4TB usable capacityIBM FlashCore Modules (FCMs) deliver both data compression and FIPS 140-2 certified data-at-rest encryption with NO performance penalty.

Space is always at a premium in data centers and cloud configurations. IBM is introducing a new FlashCore Module with 38.4TB usable capacity, twice the size of the previous largest module. Using this new FlashCore Module, IBM FlashSystem supports a maximum of 4PB of data in only 2 rack units (2U) of space for extraordinary density and efficiency.[1] These new FlashCore Modules are also available as upgrades for IBM’s previous flash array generation: FlashSystem 9100 and Storwize V5100 and V7000 Gen3.

Storage-class memory

To provide ultra-low latency for performance sensitive but less cache-friendly workloads, IBM is also introducing storage-class memory (SCM) drives from Intel and Samsung as a persistent storage tier for IBM FlashSystem family. Like the new FlashCore Modules, SCM drives are also available as upgrades for our previous generation of all flash arrays: FlashSystem 9100 and Storwize V5100 and V7000 Gen3.

Effortless management

With flexible drive options including Storage Class Memory (SCM), all-flash and hybrid configurations, the IBM FlashSystem family can help you to craft the optimal balance between cost and performance. And through its IBM Spectrum Virtualize software foundation, IBM FlashSystem can integrate storage from over 500 other heterogeneous storage systems.

AI-driven IBM EasyTier capabilityTo optimize both your system performance and deliver cost efficiency, IBM FlashSystem includes AI-driven IBM EasyTier capability that helps place the right data on the right tier at the right time. The system takes care of transparently moving the hottest blocks of data up the tiers while the cooler blocks of data are moved down. There’s nothing for you to do except set it and forget it. With EasyTier, you can configure storage environments with a small amount of the highest performing tiers and a larger quantity of more economical storage.

IBM Storage Insights provides monitoring, AI-based alerts, reporting and support capabilities from IBM Cloud. Storage Insights Pro simplifies storage further with support from a single management pane for cloud storage managed by IBM Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud and EMC Unity and Unity XT, NetApp FAS and AFF, and Hitachi VSP G-series storage.

“IBM’s FlashSystem announcement is a transformational change for the storage market,” says Bob Elliot, Vice President, Storage Sales at IBM Business Partner Mainline Information Systems. “By combining multiple award-winning solutions into one family, IBM is not only protecting existing customers’ investments, they are also providing strong innovation into the future. FlashSystem creates a highly scalable, incredibly adaptable, flexible and seamless solution from entry level to high end, extending to our clients’ hybrid multicloud environments. And since it is predominantly a channel-based family, it is extremely well suited to the partner environment. I think it’s a win-win for both customers and partners.”

Innovative new storage systems

Built with award-winning IBM Spectrum Virtualize software and including IBM Storage Insights, the new IBM FlashSystem family adds four new enterprise-class systems that deliver the benefits of IBM FlashCore Modules, storage-class memory, and the enterprise-class data services of IBM Spectrum Virtualize, while seamlessly connecting and managing data in your hybrid multicloud deployments.

When application growth calls for more storage capacity:

  • IBM FlashSystem 7200: End-to-end NVMe and sophisticated enterprise-class hybrid multicloud functionality in a system designed for mid-range enterprise deployments. Supporting both scale-up with expansion enclosures and scale-out with up to 4-way clustering, FlashSystem 7200 supports 43 percent higher performance than Storwize V7000 Gen3 with a maximum of 9.2M IOPS[2] and 55 percent better throughput: a maximum of 128GB/s.[3] All this delivered at a lower list price compared to our previous generation.
  • IBM FlashSystem 9200: End-to-end NVMe in a system designed for the most demanding enterprise requirements. FlashSystem 9200 delivers comprehensive storage functionality and our highest levels of performance: 20 percent better performance than FlashSystem 9100 with maximum 18M IOPS[4] and 180GB/s[5] per 4-way cluster. Both FlashSystem 7200 and 9200 also support only 70μs latency.[6] All this delivered at a lower list price compared to our previous generation.
  • IBM FlashSystem 9200R: Designed for clients needing an IBM-built, IBM-tested complete storage system delivered assembled, with installation and configuration completed by IBM. The system includes 2-4 IBM FlashSystem 9200 control enclosures, Brocade or Cisco switches for clustering interconnect and optional expansion enclosures for additional capacity.

These systems are joined in the family by entry enterprise FlashSystem 5010, 5030, and 5100. All members of the IBM FlashSystem family, except the all-flash FlashSystem 9200 and 9200R, are available in both all-flash and hybrid flash models.

When modernizing heterogeneous storage, the trail-blazing IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) provides virtual storage consolidation of over 500 heterogeneous storage systems for simplicity, modernization, hybrid cloud capability and more. SVC uses the same IBM Spectrum Virtualize software and platform as IBM FlashSystem but supports only external storage. Two models are available, one delivering a maximum of 40 percent more IOPS than our previous system[7] at the same list price. The other, designed for more price conscious deployments, offers slightly better performance10 than our previous model but at a 25 percent lower list price.

“IBM’s recent announcement adds new enterprise class features in a storage solution that spans our workload needs from bare metal to virtualized, from container to hybrid multicloud,” says Dave Anderson-Ward, Server and Storage Technical Team Lead at the UK Ordnance Survey. “We’re looking forward for the new end-to-end NVMe generation of the FlashSystem family that is engineered to deliver lower latency and twice the capacity in only 2RU. IBM’s Flashcore Module technology provides us the leading-edge features—such as compression and data at rest encryption with no performance penalty—that we need to keep our data center and cloud environments ahead of our competitors.”

Together these IBM FlashSystem models deliver a single enterprise-class platform for simplicity and consistency across all deployments from the smallest entry configurations to the largest high-end enterprise to hybrid multicloud. They are designed to work across the servers you have today and are ready for containerized deployments using Red Hat OpenShift, Kubernetes, and CRI-O through their support for Container Storage Interface (CSI).

With IBM FlashSystem 5100, 7200, 9200, and 9200R, IBM delivers across the range of deployments end-to-end NVMe storage with the efficiency and cyber resiliency benefits of IBM FlashCore Modules and the ultra-low latency of storage-class memory, all backed by IBM Storage Insights management and streamlined support.

If you are considering new storage or are simply trying to modernize the storage you already have, you’ll find the new IBM FlashSystem family the right choice for your next storage acquisition. Find out more here.

[1] Twenty-four 38.4TB FlashCore Modules in one 2U control enclosure with 4.5:1 data reduction from compression and deduplication.

[2] Based on IBM Lab measurements of FlashSystem 7200 4-way cluster using a 4KB 100% read hit workload.

[3] Based on IBM Lab measurements of FlashSystem 7200 4-way cluster with 24 FCMs using a 256KB sequential read workload.

[4] Based on IBM Lab measurements of FlashSystem 9200 4-way cluster using a 4KB 100% read hit workload.

[5] Based on IBM Lab measurements of FlashSystem 9200 4-way cluster with 24 FCMs using a 256KB sequential read workload.

[6] Based on IBM Lab measurements of FlashSystem 7200 and 9200 using a 4KB 100% read hit workload.

[7] Based on IBM Lab measurements of SVC SV2 and SA2 engines using a 4KB 100% read hit workload.

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