Everything you need to know about IBM FlashSystem 9100 NVMe-Accelerated, Multi-Cloud Enabled
For more updated information, please refer to IBM FlashSystem Family
IBM launched their new FlashSystem 9100, due to become generally available on 28th August 2018. In this blog, Tom Richards takes a first look at the 9100 and what makes it different with a special Q&A section.
The 9100 is important as it’s IBM’s first full NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) array in a market where this is the new buzzword. If like me, you subscribe to IT industry news sites, you will be inundated with 10-15 new articles per week from industry news sites around NVMe – far more than any other subject in data storage. The majority of these are very focused on NVMe drives as a technology rather than NVMe as part of a solution. For me, this completely misses the point as the emphasis is on the hardware rather than the data. The challenge facing businesses isn’t fixed by introducing fast storage as a point solution but by implementing a data management solution to make sure that the right data is in the right place, at the right time – either based on its business value or usage. This is where the 9100 steps in and differentiate itself from a standard NVMe array.
However, it’s worth taking a step back first – what is NVMe and why is everyone talking about it? If you’ve not come across NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express), it is a relatively new protocol specifically designed for high-speed storage media. The previous protocols of SCSI, SAS and SATA can trace their lineage back to the mid-1980’s and were formed at a time of HDDs and tape. Whilst there have been numerous updates to the protocols over the years to increase transfer speeds, the same basic bottlenecks existed. NVMe is designed to remove some of these bottlenecks and reduce the ‘chatter’ associated with SCSI/SAS to make data access more efficient as well as increase the number of data queues that improves the ability to process data in parallel.
Further enhancements to NVMe will become available over the coming months and years as host adapters become more widely available that support NVMe over Fabric (NVMeOF) to provide further performance benefit. If you’re looking to replace your storage infrastructure and gaining the low latency performance that NVMe can bring, one thing to check is whether the array supports NVMe End-to-End to make sure that you protect your investment.
Coming back to the new FlashSystem 9100 – it’s designed to support NVMe End-to-End but IBM has dropped the ‘V’ moniker that is associated with the 9100’s predecessors (i.e. V5000, V7000, V9000) signifying the integration of IBM’s Spectrum Virtualise Software Defined Storage (SDS) hypervisor. Yes, all 9100’s will still come with Spectrum Virtualise as standard but the new array extends SDS integration far beyond this to help clients focus on improving the use of their data. In achieving this, the 9100 is available either as a standalone array with Spectrum Virtualise or as a choice from three solution bundles that incorporate functionality like multi-cloud support, data protection and reuse, business continuity and private cloud flexibility.
- Spectrum Virtualise as a storage hypervisor – allowing over 440 IBM and 3rd party storage arrays to be virtualised and inherit functionality from the parent array – such as compression, deduplication, tiering and encryption.
- Spectrum Virtualise for Public Cloud to allow synchronous or asynchronous replication from an on-premise storage to public cloud
- Copy Data Management to capture and reuse primary data for secondary use cases such as testing, development and analytics with self-service provisioning to provide cloud efficiency to on-premise applications. The 9100 will also be available to purchase under IBM’s Storage Utility Model to allow clients to pay by capacity used as an opex model to also embrace the commercial benefit of cloud economics
- Spectrum Protect Plus to protect virtual environments
Whilst 9100 is being positioned as a replacement for clients that would have otherwise considered the V9000, there is currently no withdrawal from marketing planned for the V9000. The midrange V5030F and V7000F will continue to exist as lower price points into high-performance storage although not currently NVMe.