Product development in storage often feels like a bolting together of existing categories of product. You take one advance from here and mate it with another from over there. Getting the timing right so that offerings can combine an optimum amount of new functionality – and to meet the emerging needs of the market – is a key part of the art of productising technologies.
So, IBM’s recent announcement of its Elastic Storage 3000 seems to have landed well in those terms, nudging its nose ahead in a class of AI/HPC-focussed (and often NVMe-powered) scale-out storage systems.
It brings together super-fast NVMe-based flash storage, with its well-established Spectrum Scale parallel file system, with a bit of containerisation thrown in for good measure.
The target market is artificial intelligence/analytics and high performance computing (HPC).
Elastic Storage 3000 is based on IBM’s FlashSystem 9100 NVMe storage array, which is block-based storage.
The innovation in Elastic Storage 3000 comes with the use of NVMe and the addition of IBM’s Spectrum Scale parallel file system (formerly GPFS) to create a massively performant scale-out NAS product aimed at leading edge contemporary use cases based around unstructured data.
IBM has also provided for Spectrum Scale to be deployed via containers to allow for relatively rapid deployment. The company says it has been able to roll out Elastic Storage 3000 in less than three hours.
The IBM product joins a number of others who play in a similar space, but over some of which it has some advantages brought about simply by the timing of its development/release.
A near competitor is HPE’s combination of Apollo hardware with Wekaio’s Matrix parallel file system, which also leverages the high performance of NVMe flash storage media.
Meanwhile, another distributed file system relative newcomer, Qumulo, has its P-Series product, also NVMe-powered when on-prem, but able to add more contemporary nice-to/must-have functionality in the ability to operate in the cloud and as a hybrid file system too.
Pure Storage also aims at AI/analytics use cases with its FlashBlade arrays, which are available as all-NVMe.
Finally, Dell EMC Isilon – a pioneer of the scale-out NAS space – seems to be lagging in terms of adding NVMe flash to its products. It also lacks support for parallel I/O for POSIX-compliant clients, which Spectrum Scale offers.