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.


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.


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.


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

My Right Elbow and the Healthcare Data Tsunami

Six years ago this week, I learned a new word: olecranon, the medical term for what most of us call an elbow. On a wonderfully electric June evening, I was in the zone at my local skatepark – so much so that I got over-zealous and, yes, over-confident. The result: I sped into a 50-50 grind, fell, and shattered my right olecranon (note the gap between my elbow tip and the bone chip).

Right Elbow

So what does my elbow have to do with our favorite topic, data storage? Well, it turns out that this X-ray and the rest of the data I produced during that glorious summer – which included repeated infections and multiple hospitalizations – were my small contribution to the information deluge in healthcare.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, the average individual generates more than one million gigabytes of health-related data – from electronic medical records and images, but increasingly from new connected devices, monitors, sensors and the like. Boy does that make sense to me now. 

Healthcare, Cloud, and IBM Spectrum Storage

At IBM, we’ve noted how data is growing and moving faster than healthcare organizations can absorb it. We’ve witnessed how distruptors across the healthcare segment spectrum – from insurance to hospitals to research facilities – are building clouds with IBM Spectrum Storage to transform their business, drive efficiencies, and most importantly save lives.

We’ve demonstrated how IBM “fuels” the healthcare cloud by partnering with organizations to build ultra-modern infrastructure platforms that enable innovation and a competitive edge. Here are but a few examples (click on the thumbnails to learn more):

  • TWNTime Warner Navisite: this managed services provider relies on a multi-petabyte XIV Storage deployment (AKA IBM Spectrum Accelerate running as storage appliances), finding value in XIV predictable performance and built-in encryption for HIPAA compliance.
  • PrudentialPrudential: building a cloud using IBM Spectrum Virtualize and IBM Spectrum Accelerate as appliances, Prudential cut dollars per IOPS by 75%, dollars per GB by 50%, and has zero storage administrators for routine operations.
  • UPMCUniversity of Pittsburgh Medical Center: this very large medical institution deployed IBM Spectrum Storage offerings, avoiding $40 million in storage costs and foregoing storage capacity additions for 5 quarters
  • HutchinsonHutchinson Regional Medical Center: the Kansas-based organization uses IBM Spectrum Protect in a hybrid cloud, enjoying 98.7% backup success and a 45% reduction in storage capacity.


IBM Spectrum Storage: Storage Your Way
A few weeks ago at Edge 2015, Jamie Thomas – General Manager, Storage and Software Defined – discussed just how these companies and others are using IBM Storage – especially the IBM Spectrum Storage family – to build robust clouds that keep them ahead of the competition.


A key takeaway from Jamie’s session is that companies are choosing different ways to consume storage – as an appliance (e.g., XIV Storage at Prudential and Timer Warner Navisite), a service on a cloud (e.g., cloud provider customers), and as software (e.g., Hutchinson Medical Center and Prudential). I wrote about the flexibility to deploy “Storage Your Way” when we announced IBM Spectrum Accelerate, and it  is proving to be a well-liked attribute of this product family.

To sum up: like it or not, we are all contributing to the data tsunami, and IBM is helping companies across the healthcare spectrum tame the torrent of information we are creating. By providing healthcare players an ability to efficiently store, analyze, and use data at the right time, IBM Storage allows physicians to make wise decisions that not only enhance our health and wellness…they can potentially save our lives.

Ah…and if you’re wondering…I now wear elbow pads when I skate and hope to keep my health data generation to a minimum for many, many years to come.

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.

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

: 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.