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IBM Announces FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R and a bunch of other things
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
IBM ProtecTIER TS7650G model DD6 supports File System Interface (FSI)
The IBM ProtecTIER Data Deduplication appliance (TS7620) and gateway (TS7650G) support three protocols used by major backup software products:
VTL - Virtual Tape Library. Originally, backup software products were designed exclusively to work with tape drives and libraries. To introduce disk-based storage and data deduplication, the easiest way was for disk-based systems to pretend to be a tape library. Hence, "Virtual Tape Library" acts just like a physical tape library.
OST - OpenStorage Technology API, a proprietary interface used exclusively by the Veritas NetBackup software to talk to disk-based backup repositories.
FSI - File System Interface, which are your familiar NAS interfaces like NFS and SMB (formerly known as CIFS). Some backup software like Commvault Simpana are optimized for NAS storage pools.
In the past, FSI was limited to the single-controller models. This is because having an active/active file system sharing was very complicated to implement.
In the new DD6 dual-controller model, you can now run two independent FSI instances, each controller owns its own set of files. To learn more, see the IBM Press Release [IBM ProtecTIER DD6 supports FSI].
IBM TS3000 System Console enhancements
The Tape Storage System Console (TSSC) is a console that allows administrators to manage up to 24 systems in tape libraries (such as TS3500 and TS4500) and virtual tape systems (such as TS7720T and TS7650G). The new features include:
Error-initiated problem reporting, often called "Call Home" support, with staged, error-specific data gathering for support
Automatic wellness checking
Remote services such as remote monitoring support and call-in capability with authenticated access through a modem or broadband, including file transfers and multiple connections with attached systems
IBM offers two sets of products for entry-level and midrange disk systems:
Storwize V7000 and V5000 products are optimized for random-access workloads like Virtual Machines (VMs), Databases, Email and other Online Transaction Processing (OLTP).
The DCS3860 and DCS3700 are optimized for sequential throughput, like video streaming, batch processing or big data analytics.
Prior to this announcement, the DCS3700 and DCS3860 supported 4TB and 6TB Nearline 7200 rpm drives, and 800GB and 1.6TB Solid-State Drives (SSD). Obviously, it doesn't make sense to offer SSD on sequential-oriented solutions. To align better with this worldview, IBM is discontinuing the SSD options, and adding a new 8TB Nearline drive option.
IBM Spectrum Control Advanced Edition and IBM Virtual Storage Center
Earlier in my career, I was the chief architect of what is now called IBM Spectrum Control. If you still have IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center (TPC) Standard Edition V4.x products, you can now migrate to IBM Spectrum Control Advanced Edition V5.2 by ordering a trade-up part number through Passport Advantage.
IBM Virtual Storage Center (VSC) Entry uses a per-TB pricing model. This is a discounted version of VSC "Classic" for those with four or fewer SAN Volume Controller (SVC) node pairs, and 500 TB or less managed storage capacity per enterprise.
I love Hollywood movies where the main character joins the [Witness Protection Program]! For those not familiar, this is when a person witnesses a horrible or obscene crime. To protect the witness from the criminals, the US Government would change your name, create a new identity, and move you to a new city until the trial is over. While this hides the witness from the bad guys, it also means losing touch with all your friends and family.
I mention this because every time IBM renames an existing product, modifies the code to meet IBM standards, translate to other international languages, and all the other activities needed to [assimilates the product into the IBM "Borg"], it is very similar to joining the Witness Protection Program.
(Internally, we refer to this renaming and assimilating as "blue-washing", not to be confused with the traditional definition of "bluewash" -- To tout a corporation's commitment to social responsibility, and to use this perception for public relations and economic gain; to present a humanitarian front in this manner, which IBM also does. See this article [Sesame Workshop and IBM Watson Team Up to Advance Early Childhood Education] for an example.)
Last November 2015, [IBM acquired Cleversafe] for $1.3 Billion US dollars because Cleversafe has the brand name recognition as the #1 Object Storage vendor the past two years in a row (2014 and 2015). Unfortunately, Cleversafe has "witnessed" a huge rise in obscene profits and revenues, and is now joining the "Witness Protection Program".
Renaming Cleversafe software, pre-built appliance hardware, and related cloud services to [IBM Cloud Object Storage System] is like someone acquiring the Coca-Cola company and renaming their namesake soft drink product to "Brown Carbonated Sugar Liquid", which adults might shorten to "Bro-Carbo" and the kids would nickname "Sugar-Liq".
(FCC Disclosure: I work for IBM. This blog post can be considered a "paid celebrity endorsement" for IBM Storage products. I have no financial interest in the Coca-Cola Company, CBS Television, Paramount Pictures, or Warner Bros. I have no knowledge of any IBM's future plans in acquiring any beverage-based manufacturing or bottling companies. I use Coca-Cola® merely as a well-recognized brand for illustrative purposes.)
Honestly, I don't know if "IBM Cloud Object Storage System version 3.8" offers any new features over "Cleversafe 3.7", or if the numbering change was just to help avoid confusion with existing v3.7 clients.
The IBM 3592 Tape Controller Model C07 which provides FICON access for mainframe attachment did not meet the Restriction of Hazardous Substances [RoHS] directive. This is the directive to not have lead-based paint or other hazardous substances in the paint, plastic or other materials in IT equipment.
IBM had a tough business choice. Either fix it, or stop selling it. Our mainframe clients just don't use physical tape anymore. Instead, IBM offers IBM Virtual Tape Systems (TS7720, TS7720T and TS7740) as well as the IBM ProtecTIER TS7650G Mainframe Edition.
In journalism, this is called [burying the lede]. IBM has combined the world's fastest storage, IBM FlashSystem 900, with IBM FlashSystem® A9000/A9000R Software V12.0, based on IBM Spectrum Accelerate and XIV v11 software technology.
This new software has many of the features you love from IBM Spectrum Accelerate and XIV, but adds excellent data footprint reduction. First, we eliminate repeated patterns, then apply data deduplication, and finally apply advanced compression.
This combination works great for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, Virtual Machines for traditional applications, and even databases. Since this applies to all data, the models are priced based on their "effective capacity" based on 5.26x reduction. Different data dedupes or compresses at different rates. Your mileage may vary.
Two models were announced:
FlashSystem A9000 - This is an 8U rack-optimized solution that has three 2U x86 servers combined with a 2U drawer of FlashSystem 900 with a nice bezel on the front. This can fit into any standard 19 inch rack. Since FlashSystem offers 1.2TB, 2.9TB and 5.7TB IBM Microlatency modules, the FlashSystem A9000 is offered in 60TB, 150TB and 300TB effective capacities. Performance is at least 250 microsecond latency, up to 4.5 GB/sec throughput and 50,000 IOPS.
FlashSystem A9000R - The "R" on the end refers to "Rack". Instead of something that slides into an existing rack, the A9000R is a free-standing 19-inch wide rack with two to six flash enclosures. Each flash enclosure will have two x86 servers running the IBM FlashSystem A900R Software v12.0, and one FlashSystem 900 drawer. IBM offers both 150TB and 300TB effective capacity per flash enclosure, based on the 2.9TB and 5.7TB IBM Microlatency modules. Performance is at least 250 microseconds, up to 18 GB/sec throughput and 2 million IOPS.
Some have called these new models the "All-Flash" version of XIV, in much the same way that the FlashSystem V9000 is the all-Flash version of SVC. That is a reasonable analogy.