IBM Spectrum Virtualize – Traditional SAN Storage at Twice the Efficiency

There’s a great deal of buzz these days around newer cloud, mobile, social, analytic and Big Data workloads whose storage requirements are causing IT managers to re-think storage infrastructure. But what about the more traditional workloads like transaction systems, email, supply chain, HR, and virtual servers? According to the most recent IDC Worldwide Quarterly Disk Storage Systems Tracker , IT managers continue to spend more on traditional SAN storage – the infrastructure of choice for these workloads – than on NAS, IP SAN and direct attach arrays combined. With over half of the worldwide spend on external storage in play, there’s a lot of efficiency to be gained. IBM Spectrum Virtualize is software defined storage that can deliver twice the efficiency on existing SAN infrastructure.

It can be argued that IBM Spectrum Virtualize is the product that gave birth to the software defined storage movement. I started working with this product back in 2003 (at the time it was called IBM SAN Volume Controller) before the term Software Defined Storage had been coined. A couple years ago as folks were starting to talk about the concept of software defined, I posed a mostly rhetorical question Has IBM created a software-defined storage platform? IBM Spectrum Virtualize embodies the concept and is a cornerstone of the IBM Spectrum Storage software defined family.

IBM Spectrum Virtualize servicesIn every geography of the world, across every industry and size of enterprise, there are IT managers who have built SAN storage infrastructures with EMC, or HP, or Hitachi, or IBM, or any of a number of other vendors, but who have also software defined those infrastructures with IBM Spectrum Virtualize and are enjoying extraordinary benefits. It’s really not very complicated to understand where the savings come from.

When you choose to software define your SAN infrastructure with IBM Spectrum Virtualize:

  • You save money on software licensing costs. SAN storage vendors often charge you for advanced capabilities like snapshot, replication, tiering, and even device drivers. Choosing to software define means you don’t need to pay for these with your SAN storage.
  • You pack more data onto the physical disks you own. SAN disk arrays have boundaries. They are individually wrapped in sheet metal meaning workloads attached to one array can run out of space while workloads attached to another can have an over abundance of capacity. Choosing to software define means the boundaries disappear. Capacity is pooled together and overall utilization is improved. What’s more, IBM Spectrum Virtualize compresses data in real time allowing you to pack as much as 5x the data in the same capacity footprint. This validation from ESG was published about the time the industry was figuring out the idea of software defined.

  • You can choose lower cost disk arrays. SAN storage comes in various flavors. Generally, the higher priced physical arrays are where the enterprise class services are found. Many datacenters have an over abundance of these high end disk arrays simply because their workloads need the more robust services. Choosing to software define decouples the services from the physical storage. With IBM Spectrum Virtualize, you have access to the same enterprise services regardless of what storage tier or vendor you choose for capacity. And Spectrum Virtualize can transparently move data up and down those tiers to keep I/O patterns optimized. In a coming post I’ll talk about the intelligent analytics from IBM Spectrum Control that can help optimize your tiering choices and timing.
  • You can adopt new storage technology more quickly. There’s always something new in SAN storage. More dense disk drives resulting in lower cost per terabyte. Flash storage with much higher throughput. Integrating these new technologies into your SAN and getting your data migrated has been a perennial challenge for IT managers for as long as I’ve been in the storage industry.  Choosing to software define eliminates the problem. IBM Spectrum Virtualize can non-disruptively move data across tiers, vendors, and technologies of SAN storage. If you find a new storage type you want to exploit, plug it into your SAN tell Spectrum Virtualize to move data to it. If you have an old array going off lease, add the replacement to your SAN and tell Spectrum Virtualize to move the data. Software defined means these activities happen without interruption to workloads that are up and running, accessing the data.
  • You can implement ultra high availability using any type of physical storage. Datacenters with the most demanding availability requirements have traditionally been shackled to the most expensive SAN disk arrays because that’s where the most robust replication and fail-over / fail back capabilities were offered. Choosing to software define means you can implement those capabilities on lower cost physical storage. With IBM Spectrum Virtualize, you can implement multi-site ultra high availability configurations including sites at distance that operate as an active-active pair. The benefit of software defined is that this can be done regardless of your choice in vendor or tier of storage.

If you are an IT manager responsible for traditional SAN infrastructure, consider the common functionality, management, and mobility across heterogeneous storage types that can come from software defining your SAN.

And join the conversation with #IBMStorage and #softwaredefined

About Ron Riffe

IBM Manager, Software Defined Portfolio. Adoring husband, proud daddy, imperfect but redeemed. I have a thirty year background in the storage industry having held positions as both a consumer and a peddler and in roles spanning from administrator, to thought leader, to strategic planner, to senior manager. I’m also a passionate leader, speaker and author. My perspectives are my own.
This entry was posted in IBM Spectrum Storage, Software Defined Storage and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to IBM Spectrum Virtualize – Traditional SAN Storage at Twice the Efficiency

  1. Pingback: IBM Spectrum Virtualize – Traditional SAN Storage at Twice the Efficiency | The Line — by Ron Riffe | I Love My Storage

  2. Pingback: How software defined is changing storage economics | The Line — by Ron Riffe

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