Turning up the volume on cloud storage conversations

With Thanksgiving and December just around the corner, I naturally find myself reflecting on 2016 and this year’s highlights for IBM Storage. Continued leadership in flash, software defined storage, object storage, as well as mainframe and tape storage are surely worthy of note. Equally significant are the strides that IBM has made in allowing customers to leverage the economies of storage in the cloud – private, public, and the ever-more pervasive form, hybrid.
As over 70% of organizations already know, hybrid cloud has become the prevalent way to deploy IT. And that means that IT infrastructure – including data storage – must, yes must, empower organizations to simply and efficiently store and move all types of data across the IT landscape. To that end, IBM continuously infuses offerings with functionality that enables end-users to squeeze as much value as possible from hybrid cloud. A stream of enhancements and features has rolled out in 2016, and here are only three of the many enhancements (learn more in this presentation):

  • Moving data among clouds – transfer data simply and securely to a variety of clouds with Transparent Cloud Tiering, now available in offerings such as IBM Spectrum Scale, IBM Spectrum Protect, and IBM Spectrum Virtualize 
  • Managing hyper-scale environments – monitor and manage over 100 IBM FlashSystem, IBM XIV, and IBM Spectrum Accelerate instances on- and off-premises as one flexible hyper store (watch the demo here)
  • Deploying object storage anywhere – scale large unstructured data volumes across on-premises systems as well as public and private clouds quickly and easily with IBM Cloud Object Storage

Cue up the dialogue, live and on-demand
What’s been especially interesting over the last 24 months is listening to a growing number of enterprises and service providers as they share their cloud-building experiences. Those were on display in droves at the recent IBM Edge event with dozens of end-users such as Microsoft, University of Chicago, and Unisys presenting at length on their experiences using IBM Storage to build out clouds of all shapes and forms.

The good news is that a recently launched webinar series keeps the dialogue on tap. We’ll continue talking to IT experts so that you can learn from their experiences and best practices. A number of excellent ones such as those with Unisys and Winnipeg Free Press are already available for your listening pleasure.
welchs-builds-hybrid-cloud_socialtile_01-02As part of this series, I will be hosting Mukesh Sharma, senior IT manager at Welch’s. Register to tune in and hear how this leading juice and jelly company is transforming its IT to stay ahead of the competition; placing workloads such as Oracle, email, finance, etc. across its hybrid cloud environment; and planning for the future with cognitive computing.

I look forward to seeing you on the 28th and, until then, wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all those celebrating the holiday later this week!

Catch a wave with IBM and you’re sitting on top of the VMworld

The VMware universe has converged on San Francisco this week to learn, impart, network, and even have a little fun at VMworld 2015.* A Gold sponsor, IBM has put together a riveting roster of presentations, demonstrations, and breakout sessions — click to check out the activities and visit the booth to win a trip to Hawaii.

Hawaii

IBM and VMware have a deep, longstanding partnership. IBM is an elite VMware global OEM partner (IBM was actually VMware’s first OEM partner), and the companies meet frequently at every level, from executive on down.

With the breadth and depth of both companies’ portfolios, there are many exciting developments at any given time. So it’s no surprise that foot traffic at the booth is brisk, my sources informing of keen interest in VersaStack and IBM Spectrum Accelerate.

To get the lowdown on key integration points, watch theCUBE interview Eric Herzog, VP Marketing, IBM Storage; also, read Paula Koziol’s recent blog, a handy summary of the latest and greatest points of integration.

ericube

In this blog, I’d like to cover two of many noteworthy developments:

  • support of VVol by IBM Spectrum Virtualize
  • the self-service recover portal for IBM Spectrum Protect

IBM Spectrum Virtualize: Bringing VVol to Storage Near You
In February, I wrote about VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes (VVol) and how it addresses an acute problem faced by VMware administrators, application administrators, and storage managers (Tony Pearson provides depth in his recent guest blog on the VMware blog page).

So what’s new? At VMworld, there have been demos and presentations on how support of VVol by IBM Spectrum Virtualize — the software in SAN Volume Controller, the Storwize family, FlashSystem V9000, and VersaStack — is making a deep impact on the storage world in at least two ways:

  • Users of these storage systems can benefit from VVol 
  • Users of storage virtualized BEHIND IBM Spectrum Virtualize (and there are 250+ such systems) can benefit from VVol as well, even if those systems don’t support VVol natively. Now that’s powerful.

Users tap into VVol functionality with IBM Spectrum Control Base Edition. The latter consolidates VMware integration across IBM Storage (DS8000, XIV, the Storwize family, FlashSystem, Spectrum Accelerate, etc.) — meaning only one component is required to support VMware functionality for any IBM storage platform.

Check out the IBM Knowledge Center to learn more about VVol implementation.

IBM Spectrum Protect: Self-service portal for simple recovery
Another way that IBM Storage is simplifying the lives of administrators is with a self-service recovery option for IBM Spectrum Protect.

With the new self-service portal, users of VMware and IBM Spectrum Protect can recover files easily and quickly. Simply point to a URL, enter the portal, and choose the recovery point and files. The new portal eliminates phone calls, emails, and other irksome tasks, increasing productivity for everyone involved.

protect

Self-service portal for VMware environments

To read the recently published analyst paper about the benefits of IBM Spectrum Protect in virtual environments, click on the thumbnail below.

esg paperSurfing data oceans
With these two integration points, among so many others, VMware and IBM Storage continue their cadence of integration, enabling customers to “surf” the waves of their data oceans and dramatically reduce the complexity of IT operations. Given that virtual server and storage infrastructure are the predominant deployment methods for hybrid cloud, customers of IBM and VMware are uniquely positioned to leverage our cooperation and rapidly reap business results along their virtualization and cloud journey.

* I, alas, am missing the North America event and will be catching the European event in Barcelona in a few weeks.

Fly to the Cloud with IBM Spectrum Storage

I concluded my last blog by emphasizing that software defined storage (SDS) offers companies different ways to deploy storage: as software, as a purpose-built appliance, and on a cloud. In this blog, I’ll focus on the last option – the ability to procure and consume storage services in a rapid, agile way using a public cloud.

Being software defined, IBM Spectrum Storage offerings can naturally be deployed in the cloud. Cloud-based storage provides many advantages, including the ability to store and manage data without having to procure, “house,” and manage physical hardware.

Two products that truly demonstrate these SDS benefits are IBM Spectrum Control Storage Insights and IBM Spectrum Accelerate. The first delivers storage efficiencies through a unique combination of analytics and management; the second allows companies to rapidly deploy Tier 1 storage with striking simplicity.

IBM Spectrum Control Storage Insights 
People and data are an organization’s most important assets. To be blunt, though, most companies are more adept at managing headcount than they are at managing data. In fact, IBM studies show that typical capacity utilization rates are around 50%.¹ And just as HR wouldn’t accept “employee utilization” of 50%, IT organizations shouldn’t accept poor storage utilization rates.

That’s where IBM Spectrum Control Storage Insights can help. It addresses a wide range of storage inefficiencies head on. This new software-as-a-service offering runs on SoftLayer, using analytics developed by IBM Research; enabling companies to better understand their storage situation; and, ultimately, engendering a tight, efficient data storage outfit. 

Organizations can benefit from Storage Insights by:

  • Monitoring capacity and performance of on-premises storage (IBM Storage and over 250 non-IBM storage systems)
  • Reclaiming unused storage to improve utilization and defer capacity purchases
  • Optimizing data placement based on usage patterns to help lower storage costs by 50% per GB, while increasing performance
  • Deploying powerful analytics in as little as five minutes and gaining actionable insights within 30 minutes

Learn more about Storage Insights


IBM Spectrum Accelerate
Based on the XIV Storage System software stack — decoupled from the XIV “box” for use on standard x86 servers — IBM Spectrum Accelerate can also be deployed on the cloud.  

This offering has been generally available since March 2015, and it’s exciting to witness how companies have been embracing it. Earlier this month, Silverpop, a cloud-based digital marketing company, discussed how it is relying on IBM Spectrum Accelerate to store its Oracle data (video in the thumbnail below).

During the candid 20-minute dialogue, Paul Rafferty, SaaS Infrastructure Architecture Program Director at Silverpop, provided his insights on IBM Spectrum Accelerate. He discussed how his company is:

  • Moving 250 TB of Oracle data from on-premises storage to the SoftLayer cloud
  • Using IBM Spectrum Accelerate for Tier 1 storage 
  • Benefiting from consistent high performance and high end features
  • Starting small and adding nodes as-needed

Learn more about IBM Spectrum Accelerate


Board the Cloud with IBM Spectrum Storage
Cloud is impacting IT – storage included – in a fundamental way. To stay ahead of the curve, companies should explore and leverage the efficiencies and agility imparted by the cloud-based offerings such as Storage Insights and IBM Spectrum Accelerate. 

1. Average of individual customer Analysis Engine Reports produced by IBM using Butterfly Software

March Madness, IBM Storage Style

Growing up in Los Angeles during the post-Wooden years and with my parents being UCLA alumni, it’s only natural that I love this time of year, the NCAA tournament, and March Madness. What basketball fan doesn’t appreciate the month-long revelry, rivalries, grit, and talent on display – a joy to behold.

So what exactly does college basketball have to do with the world of storage? The answer is that since mid-February, we’ve been awash with awesome events at IBM Storage, and we’ve been enjoying an extended March Madness of our own. Let me share a few highlights with you:

The Sweet Six
First, IBM announced the birth of Spectrum Storage, a new family of software defined storage offerings. This comprehensive set of six products is designed to give customers choice and flexibility as they deploy storage, especially in cloud environments.

Spectrum Storage products can operate alone and in tandem. Cloud is not a one-size-fits-all proposition, and Spectrum Storage draws out maximum value from traditional infrastructure, while simultaneously enabling companies to set up storage fit for the cloud era. This allows companies to proceed on their cloud journey at their own speed, and to choose storage offerings that suit them best.

GA of Spectrum Accelerate
Working in the center of the XIV “universe,” I had the great fortune of witnessing true development magic over the last few quarters. One of the first to execute on the innovative, user-centric IBM Design Thinking approach, the inimitable Spectrum Accelerate development team “unboxed” the XIV software stack from the XIV Storage System — in a very short time frame.
SpectrumAccelerateInfo

Thus was born Spectrum Accelerate – a new software defined storage offering agility, improved economics, and the freedom to:

  • place data on-premises, off-premises in the public cloud, in a remote data center and/or in a remote office
  • deploy as an integrated appliance (aka the IBM XIV Storage System) and/or on x86 servers and/or as a cloud service
  • manage all data, whether stored on XIV Storage or Spectrum Accelerate, via one pane of glass

————————————————————————————————————–
Newsflash
: the Spectrum Support team has gone social. Hit them up!
YouTube Channel: watch demos and how-to clips
Technical Forum: post questions and get answers from IBMers and other clients
External Knowledge Base: avoid/fix/workaround known issues
————————————————————————————————————–

The Great White North in Fe-brrrr-uary
Just as we announced the Spectrum Storage family, my teammates and I headed to Canada to talk with customers and business partners about how IBM Storage can help drive maximal value from data, especially with the “new addition to our family,” i.e., Spectrum Storage.

Though frigid outside, the audience warmed up quickly to Spectrum Storage. Attendees saw the advantages of leveraging under-utilized or dedicated hardware – whether in the data center or in a remote offices – with Spectrum Scale and Spectrum Accelerate. The deployment flexibility and options provided by Spectrum Storage also piqued their interest.

Warm regards to still chilly Canada and a shout out to our hosts: Jeff, Lynn, and Michelle.
……………………..
These are select highlights from our February and March Madness. Stay tuned – there’s lots more in store during the months to come.

Should it Stay or Should it Go

hybrid-cloud

A combination of public cloud services, dedicated private cloud, and traditional IT platforms supporting various applications.

As 2014 closed and the new year began, a flurry of predictions came down the pike, and I couldn’t help but notice a recurring theme: 2015 is the year of hybrid cloud. Though estimates vary by pundit, 60-70% of companies are expected to adopt a hybrid cloud strategy this year.


More than 65% of enterprise IT organizations will commit to hybrid cloud technologies before 2016, vastly driving the rate and pace of change in IT organizations. IDC


Companies making the shift to hybrid cloud will have to address a number of storage-related issues, including:

  • Deciding which workloads “stay” (private cloud) and which “go” (public cloud)
  • Choosing a cloud services provider
  • Identifying the right infrastructure for private cloud
  • Formulating a storage management strategy in a hybrid cloud

In this blog, I’ll cover the first issue and discuss aspects related to the others in future blogs.

Better out than in?

With the touted benefits of public cloud, including tantalizing storage pricing, who needs private cloud? Why bother going through the hassle of vetting, purchasing, installing, training, and tuning storage hardware for an on-premises private cloud? As Shrek and Fiona say, better out than in, right? After all, public cloud ostensibly eliminates many (though not all) of these headaches.

As it turns out, and with all due respect to my favorite ogres, companies are averse to storing a fair amount of their data in the public cloud for a number of good reasons such as:

  • A preference to have tight control over certain workloads – e.g., mission critical, strategic ones – that are crucial to a business
  • Regulations or compliance guidelines restricting the location of data to defined locales
  • Concerns about security, data breaches, etc.

The workload prism: What to leave in, what to leave out

So how can companies decide what workloads “stay” and which “go?” One approach is to pass workloads through a prism in order to categorize workloads based on attributes such as performance, data value, security, compliance, regulations, etc.

Workloads are classified in buckets with titles such as “mission critical,” “core,” “commodity,” “born-on-cloud,” “strategic,” etc. These buckets are a good indicator of whether workloads should be kept in a private cloud (on- or off-prem) or in a public cloud.

Obviously, this is a suggested path for a starting point. As the value of data changes over time, it could be moved to the appropriate media and location, on-prem or off-prem.

Here are two sources that can be helpful in going forward with a workload classification:

Hybrid cloud just over the horizon

The era of hybrid cloud is here. If you haven’t already done so, get educated on optimal paths for storage and the various cloud models. The Internet is chock full of great materials to get you moving. For starters, head to the links in this blog as well as the IBM Hybrid Cloud landing page.