IBM delivers analytics to midrange storage

IBM's new storage product includes new virtualisation, compression and deduplication

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IBM has launched a new, midrange disk storage system designed to better manage the increasing amount of data flowing through the Internet and growing volume of Web transactions.

The Storwize V7000 is a scalable storage system that can improve storage efficiency with new compression, deduplication and virtualisation technologies, said Rod Adkins, senior vice president of IBM's Systems and Technology Group, during a launch event in New York.

Demand for storage is growing, with businesses coming under pressure as cloud computing and Internet-related transactions increase data flow. The new storage system includes a software stack and hardware features that help companies organize storage in a coherent manner to speed performance and cut costs, Adkins said.

The product is targeted at midrange enterprise customers and brings in advanced features generally found in IBM's high-end storage products. For what IBM is offering in storage, "this is groundbreaking and significant," Adkins said.

Adkins said the system's software stack helps manage and allocate storage, reducing rack space. The software's algorithms detect storage trends related to transactions being processed, which ultimately helps cut cost per transaction and reduces energy consumed, Adkins said.

The company has also integrated virtualization technology in the new product that allows users, via a simple graphical user interface, to dynamically assign and provision storage over solid-state drives, hard drives and other storage units, Adkins said. The goal is to reduce management complexity and system cost.

Another new feature in the storage system, Easy Tier software, helps prioritize and place critical data from transactions like credit card transactions on solid-state drives (SSDs). These drives generally can process data faster than other storage technology such as magnetic drives or tapes. Less-important data is moved to secondary storage.

The storage system also integrates new compression technologies from Storwize, a company that IBM acquired in August. Additionally, it includes software tools for storage management and data backup from IBM's Tivoli business.

The product has also been beefed up with technology updates relating to storage research done by IBM's research unit in the fields of compression, deduplication and network-attached storage.

The company is taking a lot of capabilities from its other offerings and bundling them into the new product, said Laura DuBois, program director for storage software at IDC.

IBM, however, has many competitors in the midrange storage market, such as 3Par and Compellent, which offer similar capabilities such as dynamic storage allocation.

"The nuance is in how IBM does it," DuBois said. "That seems to be an area where they could be differentiated."

For example, while competitors charge extra for some software, the Easy Tier algorithms are integrated into the new StorWize offering, DuBois noted. The bundling of management tools, Easy Tier software, compression, deduplication and Tivoli software in one package could make the product a compelling offering from a price standpoint, DuBois said.

The bundling of software, however, won't be a sustainable option for IBM in the future due to cost considerations, DuBois said.

IBM didn't immediately provide the price for the storage system.

As companies demand smarter and more efficient storage, the company will continue to boost its investments in storage, Adkins said..

The company's research division is already looking into shared networking storage technology, where virtual machines can be migrated over servers at different locations.

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