Tom Richards, Practice Lead – Systems and Storage
20 June 2017
For many years, the cost and complexity of external disk arrays for IBM i made them a luxury that only enterprise clients could afford. Indeed, among IBM’s “Large User Group” for i, more than 70 percent have gone down the external storage route for their i workloads.
However, times – and technology – have changed. Many smaller i shops may not be aware that IBM external storage is now far more affordable and accessible. There is now a wide range of arrays – with conventional spinning disks, solid-state drives and enterprise flash modules – that are fully compatible with i and that can help you dramatically improve performance, manageability and resilience.
So what are the key benefits of moving to external disk? In very general terms, you’ll gain a dedicated, specialised platform for storing data that will provide more built-in functionality and easier expansion. Any storage capacity you deploy in an external array can also be shared with other servers, both within your Power landscape and in your distributed landscape. This means that you can invest in new capability with more confidence and less risk of obsolescence.
First in the list of solutions you should consider is the IBM Storwize family, featuring both all-flash and hybrid storage solutions, all of which offer direct-attach compatibility with i (7.1 TR8 and later). Storwize has built-in IBM Spectrum Virtualize software – the new name for SAN Volume Controller, IBM’s class-leading storage virtualisation technology. Spectrum Virtualize makes it easy to create and manage different pools of storage that can span multiple disks or groups of disks, while the thin-provisioning functionality enables you to plan future capacity without immediately needing to deploy all of it. Spectrum Virtualize also enables you to virtualise other storage arrays, including non-IBM systems.
Also on the software side, IBM Storwize includes IBM Real-Time Compression technology, which – no surprise – compresses data in real time by up to 80 percent. The technology works across most active primary workloads, and as well as reducing total capacity requirements, it may also accelerate batch runs and shrink the windows for backup and recovery. If you’re currently struggling to complete overnight batch runs or backup jobs, moving to external storage could be just the ticket, helping you deliver a better service to the business. Throw in the ability to take point-in-time snapshots of critical production environments – so that you can back them up without bringing them down – and it’s easy to see how adopting Storwize could help you ensure greater uptime for i workloads.
Recently, in our International i-Power 2017 session “Demystifying External Storage and PowerHA for IBM i” we talked through some real client deployments of external storage for i, including some all-flash solutions, and we showcased the operational, performance and resilience benefits that some of your peers are already enjoying. If you would like a copy of the slides, please email me.
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