#175 – IBM FlashSystem Deep Dive (Sponsored)

#175 – IBM FlashSystem Deep Dive (Sponsored)

Chris EvansAll-Flash, Guest Speakers, IBM, Sponsored, Storage Hardware

This week Chris catches up with Ralf Colbus from IBM to talk about the evolution of FlashSystem. The FlashSystem platform is an enterprise-class block-based storage solution that scales from SMB/SME offerings to high-end all-NVMe and SCM capable devices. At the heart of the design is the software behind Spectrum Virtualise, the SAN Volume Controller or SVC.

FlashSystem now offers a standardised portfolio based on SVC. This starts with the 5010 and 5030, both SAS-based solutions that can be all-flash or hybrid flash & HDD. The 5100 upwards (including 7200 and 9200) introduces NVMe and IBM’s FlashCore modules.

FlashCore is based on technology developed from the TMS acquisition. FlashCore is effectively a custom SSD, based purely on hardware and with in-built FPGAs that deliver features which include hardware-based encryption. FlashCore also uses MRAM to eliminate super-capacitors (see episode #159). Capacities scale from 4.8TB to 38.4TB per modules and up to 2PB in 2U.

An interesting aspect in the evolution of FlashSystem is the strategy to put pricing online. We’ve talked about transparent pricing recently (episode #173) and it’s good to see IBM both being open about the cost of solutions, while offering new, flexible terms, including “pay as you go”.

To learn more, check out the IBM Storage Digital Platform.

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  • 00:00:00 – Intros
  • 00:01:00 – Where did SVC & FlashSystem develop from?
  • 00:03:06 – Storwize brought a brand name and some IP
  • 00:03:55 – IBM Standardized the portfolio around SVC
  • 00:05:00 – Low-end FlashSystem can be hybrid storage (HDD & SSD) 00:06:26 – 5100 models upwards use NVMe in place of SAS
  • 00:07:20 – 5100 onwards introduces hardware-based encryption
  • 00:08:06 – FlashCore – custom flash SSD modules based on TMS IP
  • 00:10:00 – FlashCore is all hardware with FPGAs
  • 00:13:00 – SCM/PMEM (Optane) can be used as a tier or for pinned LUNs
  • 00:17:00 – FlashSystem scales from two to eight nodes (4-way)
  • 00:21:00 – SVC is used within FlashSystem as the software layer
  • 00:23:00 – SVC (and so FlashSystem) offers the capability of 100% uptime
  • 00:25:00 – FlashSystem supports CSI and automation tools like Ansible
  • 00:28:45 – How has IBM changed their FlashSystem pricing strategy?
  • 00:32:00 – IBM offers flexible “on-demand” pricing
  • 00:35:00 – How has IBM evolved Storage Resource Management tools?
  • 00:39:00 – IBM is using Watson to create Storage AIOps insights
  • 00:40:25 – Wrap Up

Ralf’s Bio

Ralf Colbus is Chief Storage Strategist for IBM Systems, designing secure and cost-effective data storage solutions for customers and business partners in the DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) region. He has over 20 years of experience working in data storage across several industries, and is very passionate about helping clients understand the power of data in supporting strategic decisions which will give them competitive advantage. 
Outside the world of data, he enjoys music, good wine, playing golf, and advocating for environmental causes such as climate change.

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