The Power of a Storage Platform: IBM FlashSystem 9100

The Power of a Storage Platform: IBM FlashSystem 9100

This post originally appeared on IBM developerWorks and was written by Eric Stouffer.


Published on July 10, 2018 | Today, IBM Storage has announced the newest member of the IBM FlashSystem family – IBM FlashSystem 9100. Even at first glance, it has already impressed the experts:

“Today, enterprises are motivated and – if they want to optimize their results – required to be data driven within a multi-cloud deployment model,” said Mark Peters, Principal Analyst & Practice Director at ESG, “With its FlashSystem 9100, IBM is making it easier to optimize the value of data in terms of speed, availability, reliability, and resilience. At the same time, IBM has loaded its FlashSystem 9100 with sophisticated software for modern data protection, enhancing users’ ability to reuse secondary data, and supporting Docker and Kubernetes container environments.”

And when you take a closer look, FlashSystem 9100 continues to impress.

For decades, IBM has offered a range of high performance, ultra-low latency storage solutions.1 Now, FlashSystem 9100 combines the performance of flash and the Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) protocol with the reliability and innovation of IBM FlashCore technology and the rich feature set of IBM Spectrum Virtualize in one powerful new storage platform for your data driven multi-cloud enterprise.

The NVMe-optimized all-flash arrays are offered in two basic models – FlashSystem 9110 and FlashSystem 9150. The compact, 2U enclosures feature dual array controllers, dual power supplies, redundant cooling, and full hot swap capabilities. Both models have two Intel Skylake CPUs per array controller with the FlashSystem 9110 offering eight cores per CPU, while the 9150 model comes with 14 cores/CPU for higher throughput and performance. Essentially, two rack units of space can provide the performance and efficiency of over a terabyte of memory and up to 2 petabytes of effective storage – all moving at NVMe speeds to tackle even the most demanding real-time analytics or artificial intelligence (AI) applications and workloads.

A key innovation involves the transformation of IBM FlashCore technology into the industry standard 2.5” small form factor (SFF) FlashCore Modules (FCM). Twenty-four FCMs with NVMe interfaces can form the basis of the storage array. Remember that FlashCore technology refers to the IBM innovations that enable FlashSystem solutions to deliver consistent microsecond latency, extreme reliability, and a wide range of operational and cost efficiencies. FlashCore engineering includes the high-performance architecture and advanced flash management features such as Variable Stripe RAID technology, IBM-engineered error correction codes, and proprietary garbage collection algorithms.

Flexibility is built into the FlashSystem 9100 architecture. You can choose IBM FCMs offering 4.8 TB, 9.6 TB, and 19.2 TB 3D TLC capacity points, or you can opt for industry standard NVMe SFF drives. This means that effective capacities can grow into the 2-petabyte range in a single 2RU enclosure, depending on the data set characteristics. In an industry standard 42 RU rack the FlashSystem 9100 delivers the ability to cluster, scale out, or scale up capacity and performance up to 32 petabytes and up to 10 million IOPS. Plus, IBM FlashSystem 9100 arrays come ready to support NVMe over Fabrics, once you are ready to take this step, so that the solutions can extend their extreme low latency across entire storage area networks.

“The value and insights we gain from our data provide important advantages to our business. This means that high performance storage has always been a crucial part of our IT infrastructure. We have intended to move toward NVMe-based storage, but needed to keep deployment risks low,” said Tim Conley, from The ATS Group and Galileo Performance Explorer, “The new IBM FlashSystem 9100 enables us to take advantage of NVMe technology and performance with minimal risk, thanks to the maturity and stability of the IBM FlashSystem platform. This new system is a big step forward for us.”

FlashCore technology is certainly impressive, but FlashSystem 9100 also provides the software-defined, modern data protection, and multi-cloud capabilities of several members of the IBM Spectrum Storage family. Chief among these is IBM Spectrum Virtualize, the system foundation that provides a broad set of enterprise-class data services – such as dynamic tiering, replication, FlashCopy management, data mobility, transparent cloud tiering, and high performance data-at-rest encryption, among many others. The arrays also leverage innovative new Data Reduction Pools (DRP) that incorporate deduplication and hardware-accelerated compression technology, plus SCSI UNMAP support and all the thin provisioning and data efficiency features you’d expect from IBM Spectrum Virtualize-based storage to potentially reduce your CAPEX and OPEX. Additionally, all these benefits extend to over 440 heterogeneous storage arrays from multiple vendors.

data efficiency from IBM Spectrum Virtualize-based storage

IBM FlashSystem 9100 DRP technology can lead to substantial capital and operational cost savings. Many workloads should be able to realize 5:1 data reduction, or higher, which over a three-year period can potentially save your IT department nearly a million dollars in CAPEX and an astonishing five and half million dollars in OPEX.2

Altogether, members of the IBM Spectrum Storage family, including IBM Spectrum Protect Plus Multi-Cloud starter for FlashSystem 9100, IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management Multi-Cloud starter for FlashSystem 9100, IBM Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud Multi-Cloud starter for FlashSystem 9100, and IBM Spectrum Connect; as well as IBM Storage Insights, come as standard components with every flexible, modern, agile, and blazingly fast IBM FlashSystem 9100 solution, while additional IBM software such as IBM Cloud Private or IBM Spectrum Access can easily be added either at the time of purchase or as future upgrades.

The combination of FlashCore technology and IBM Spectrum Storage functionality has already drawn the attention and enthusiasm of IBM Business Partners.

“Our customers want the speed of NVMe storage, but that’s just the beginning. Our solutions must also provide the full range of cloud, container, and data protection capabilities,” Lief Morin, CEO of IBM business partner Key Information Systems, A Converge Company. “That’s why this latest announcement from IBM is so important. It changes the landscape for enterprise data storage. Now, in one platform we can offer our customers everything they need to modernize and transform their storage infrastructure, their cloud and their data driven business.”

AI-enhanced, cloud-based system insights platform

And don’t think that a new storage system from IBM left the building without a full dose of Artificial Intelligence (AI). FlashSystem 9100 solutions come with Storage Insights, IBM’s enterprise grade, AI-enhanced, cloud-based system insights platform designed to help our customers better understand trends in storage capacity and performance and expedite resolution when support is required. The Storage Insights platform provides proactive best practices and uses AI-based analytics to help identify potential issues before they become problems. And if support is ever needed, Storage Insights helps speed resolution by simplifying opening tickets; automating log uploads to IBM; and providing configuration, capacity, and performance information to IBM technicians.

From the technology, engineering, and innovation perspectives, the new FlashSystem 9100 arrays have plenty to offer. But of course, it’s the view from the board room that matters most. For the data-driven, multi-cloud enterprise searching for information technology to simply accelerate their agility and competitive advantages, rather than constrain them, IBM FlashSystem 9100 is the solution.

1IBM System White Paper: Transforming real-time insight into reality, September 2017 TSW03555-USEN-00

2Metrics based on IBM research using calculations made with preliminary pricing, a 75% discount on hardware, and 30% on system maintenance (street pricing). Calculations made with preliminary pricing, using a 75% discount on Hardware and 30% on Maintenance (street pricing). Without data reduction: 1-FS1150 controler, fully populated with 24 9.6TB NVMe FCM; 2-4 expansions, fully populated with 24 7.68 TB SSD’s; 3-Full SW licenses, 24×7 support over 3 years; Management cost per TB, according to Gartner 2520 per year; Total Capacity: 967.68 TB: Total cost: Capex 1.17M + Opex 7.35 M. With data reduction: FS1150 controller, fully populated with 24 9.6TB NVMe FCM; No need for expansions; Full SW licenses, 24×7 support over 3 years; Management cost per TB, according to Gartner 2520 per year; Total capacity needed after data reduction technologies are applied: 230.4; Total Cost: Capex 337 + Opex 1.75M. Savings in a 3 year period of time is 75%.

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