IBM unveils disk archive system, cloud storage tools

New IBM offerings include a pre-configured private cloud storage service

IBM this week unveiled a new private cloud storage service for enterprise-class companies at its Information Infrastructure Analyst Summit conference here.

IBM also disclosed plans to release a new disk-based archive array called the IBM Information Appliance that can scale to 300TB and offers retention rules and customized policies. The company also said their SAN Volume Controller storage virtualization appliance now supports solid state disk drives, greatly increasing the throughput of the device.

IBM's new Smart Business Storage Cloud private cloud service uses commodity components such as x86 servers in IBM's BladeCenter rack, and a scaled-down version of the company's high-performance General Parallel File System to offer a preconfigured rack-mountable file-based cloud storage offering.

The service uses IBM's Scale-out File Services (SOFS) and can be configured with either IBM's WebSphere CloudBurst appliance or the XIV grid storage system it gained via the acquisition of XIV Ltd. in 2008. Both Cloudburst and XIV can be configured with IBM's BladeCenter or System X servers. The SOFS software, which creates a single global name space for files, enabling universal sharing of files.

As part of its cloud storage direction, IBM also announced it will begin shipping its Information Archive appliance that uses the XIV management software, its Enhanced Tamper Protection tool and IBM's BladeCenter servers to offer users a pre-configured, rack-mountable disk-based archive system in the first quarter of 2010.

Al Zollar, general manager of IBM's Tivoli products unit, said the Information Archive appliance can be installed and running with a disk archive system in "a day or less." The archive box uses Tivoli Storage Manager software, enabling backup to tape archive behind the array while also de-dupicating it, removing any repetitive data blocks, files or e-mail attachments to consolidate storage.

Zollar said the IBM Information Archive is designed for archiving a broad range of electronic records, including e-mail, digital images, databases, applications, instant messages, account records, contracts and insurance claim documents.

Information Archive will be supported by IBM e-mail, content, data and report archiving software, including the IBM Optim Data Growth Solution, the IBM Content Collector and other Enterprise Content Management offerings.

"The IBM Information Archive leverages IBM's strengths in software disk and tape to deliver a solution that will help clients manage their information infrastructure needs," Zollar said. Pricing for the IBM Information Archive will be announced prior to its slated first quarter of 2010 availability, IBM said.

Barry Rudolph, vice president of IBM's System Storage, said that IBM also upgraded is storage virtualization appliance, SAN Volume Controller, by adding solid state drives. The upgrade culminates the company's QuickSilver proof of concept project that was launched a year ago. At the time, IBM showed off a demonstration of an upgraded QVC serving up 1 million input/output operations per second (IOPS). The company said it would have taken 6,000 Fibre Channel hard disk drives to achieve the same throughput.

"SSD in the SAN Volume Controller is huge news," said Arun Taneja, of the Tenaja Group. "The biggest knock on IBM's virtualization appliance in the past was bandwidth. SSD increases that bandwidth by multiples."

Coupled with its midrange TotalStorage DS4700 array, the SAN Volume Controller with SSDs is two and a half times faster than the previous generation SVC, IBM contended. "Just grabbing a bunch of SSD and stuffing them into an array wasn't necessarily the best way to do this," Rudolph said, saying the appliance will be able to manage various tiers of storage, including SSD "by policies."

Rudolph also said IBM plans to optimize DB2 for SSD technology, but did not elaborate on the timeframe for that upgrade.

"Solid state is coming into the market and it's less about the technology and more about the use case scenario," Steve Mills, senior vice president of group executive IBM software group. "How to optimize it for performance is what's important."

IBM did not disclose pricing information for its new products.

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