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.

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.

Hey Storage, Are you Getting Soft on Us?

Over the last 18 months, Software Defined Storage (SDS) has evolved from buzzword status to a technology deployed in production environments. How did SDS take this significant leap in such a short time? Industry insiders and analysts alike point to the confluence of three discrete forces:

  • The relatively rapid move to cloud models for deploying IT services
  • The continued explosion of data – growing daily to the tune of 2.5 billion GB – and the need to extract business value from this data via analytics
  • The unleashing of mobile and social workloads

The bottom line is that new IT models, data growth, and workloads have pushed traditional storage paradigms to their limits.

Download your complimentary copy of Software Defined Storage for Dummies


The IBM SDS Journey – a brief overview

The IBM point of view on SDS has been clear for some time. Portfolio Manager, Software Defined Environments, Ron Riffe covered SDS back in May 2013, discussing the waves of SDS and the role that IBM has played in each wave. Earlier this year, IBM announced Elastic Storage, based on technology developed to power IBM Watson.

In her recent keynote address at Enterprise 2014 (video below), Jamie Thomas, General Manager, Storage and Software Defined Systems at IBM, outlined the IBM approach to SDS. She emphasized that IBM provides SDS options that optimize the value of data and lead to enhanced business outcomes. She also spoke of IBM SDS offerings delivering value to customers in two fundamental ways:

  • Optimizing traditional workloads (AKA Systems of Record) through virtualization, particularly in heterogeneous storage environments
  • Maximizing the benefits from new-era workloads (AKA Systems of Engagement), characterized by their massive scale and need to rapidly mine value from copious data

IBM focus and resolve are well recognized in the market. Customers such as Citi, Caris Life Sciences, and EVRY , among many others, have deployed Elastic Storage to scale and analyze tremendous volumes of data in a rapid manner. Analysts have taken note as well, IDC recently naming IBM the market leader in SDS Platforms – a market that grew by 15.7% in 2Q ’14 alone.

At this point, you may be asking yourself: how can I tap into the power and benefits of SDS today? IBM offers some flexible routes:

  • Storage as software: IBM Elastic Storage, SAN Volume Controller (SVC), and Virtual Storage Center (VSC)
  • Integrated software and hardware storage: IBM Elastic Storage Server
  • Storage via the cloud: IBM Elastic Storage on SoftLayer

These are compelling, intriguing options, given that they can be deployed on- or off-premise, as software or as an integrated hardware/software offering.

So, back to the title of this blog: is storage “getting soft” (by being software-based)? The answer is a resounding yes. To learn more about IBM SDS offerings, click here.