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IBM refreshes StorWize with NVMe flash and NVMe-over-fabrics

Big Blue boosts midrange arrays with NVMe and NVMf capability and launches Spectrum Discover, a Data Lake metadata-focused data analysis tool, plus a new tape drive, the TS1160

IBM has upgraded its StorWize arrays with the launch of the third-generation 7000 series, with support for NVMe flash storage and NVMe-over-fabrics (NVMf). It also unveiled Spectrum Discover, new data classification and metadata management software for file and object, plus a new high capacity tape drive, the TS1160.

In line with announcements over the summer, IBM’s refresh puts an emphasis on the adoption of NVMe and NVME-over-fabrics.

So, after announcing NVMe capability in its FlashSystem 9000 (with Infiniband connectivity) and FlashSystem 9100 (Ethernet), IBM has now announced support for the technology in its mid-range products.

Most notably, Big Blue has unveiled a new addition to the StorWize range, the 7000, with NVMe drives and support for NVMf.

According to IBM, third generation StorWize V7000 arrays will come with support for the company’s FlashCore Modules and its accelerated data compression functionality and generalised NVMe capability plus NVMe-over-Fibre-Channel.

IBM’s 2.5” FlashCore modules offer capacity up to 19.2TB, although customers can opt for standard NVMe drives.

According to IBM marketing director Eric Herzog, FlashCore modules offer better performance than traditional SSD with lower latency and a seven-year working life guarantee.

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With the new 19.2TB modules, each StorWize V7000 controller can now manage internal capacity of 461TB of flash before adding external shelves. Configured for maximum capacity, a cluster of four controllers can manage 32PB of data.

Like preceding generations, the StorWize V7000 uses code from Spectrum Virtualize (formerly SAN Volume Controller) and includes all its functions of thin provisioning, snapshots, replication and data deduplication.

The array is available in all-flash and hybrid configurations, the latter with the support of IBM’s EasyTier tiering tool. According to IBM the new StorWize V7000 delivers maximum throughput at 2.7x that of the previous generation when compression and NVMf support are taken into account.

NVMe-over-Fibre Channel in Spectrum Virtualize

Another big announcement is that IBM now supports NVMe-over-Fibre Channel in its arrays powered by the Spectrum Virtualize operating environment, notably the FlashSystem 9100, FlashSystem V9000 and StorWize V7000F/V7000.

This support can be activated by a software update in the FlashSystem 9100/V9000 or in StorWize V7000F arrays bought after September 2016.

A new 16Gbps Fibre Channel target adapter allows FlashSystem 9000 to support NVMe-over-Fibre Channel, in addition to the support for NVMe-over-Infiniband available since February 2018.

Spectrum Discover for Data Lake metadata

An interesting announcement is the arrival of new IBM Data Lake data classification software called Spectrum Discover. It is designed to classify very large quantities of data and enrich its metadata and is the fruit of research in the IBM labs.

Spectrum Discover can automatically catalogue unstructured data via standard metadata, but can also enrich that metadata to allow data analytics, governance and storage optimisation.

The software is deployed in VMware virtual appliance format and includes an API to data analytics applications.

For now, Spectrum Discover is able to catalogue unstructured data in object storage systems powered by IBM Cloud Object Storage and in IBM file access systems managed by IBM Spectrum Scale (formerly GPFS). IBM plans to add support for its Isilon scale-out storage next year.

New TS1160 tape drive

In parallel with its flash announcements, IBM has also upgraded its tape drive offer with the TS1160, which has native capacity per cartridge of up to 20TB (60TB with compression) and improved native throughput of 400MBps (900MBps with compression). The preceding tape drive, the TS1150 had a capacity ceiling of 10TB while the TS1155 is capable of writing up to 15TB per cartridge.

The TS1160 can read and write cartridges formatted by the TS1155 and TS1150. Here, IBM has respected its convention of offering compatibility in tape reads/writes with the preceding generation of cartridge and reads with tapes formatted with drives older than two generations.

According to IBM the new drive is supported by its TS3500 and TS4500 tape libraries.

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