IBM has been working to enhance the way we do business from day one. From clock, to typewriters, mainframes, PCs, software, storage... the idea behind our innovation is to make it easier for our clients to do their business. Now we are taking it one step further to help our clients make the world better.
If you have been watching standard TV, Youtube or Hulu, you probably have seen a commercial for the IBM Smarter Planet initiative. These great adverts keep the tradition of IBM marketing our message to the masses. They describe how IBM is making our world better by using technology through many disciplines; Healthcare, Traffic, Food, etc. If you dig a little deeper than the catchy ads, you see a real movement not only to 'save the planet' but to make our lives better.
One of the ways IBM is making our planet better is by increasing the utilization of our systems. Today's average commodity server rarely uses more than 6% of its available capacity. This hold true for our storage systems as well. We find storage systems are bound by traditional technologies that keep us from keeping up with demand.
Looking at how this relates to my involvement I see how both SONAS and N series fit this mantra. The technologies allow clients to conserve energy by decreasing the amount of storage needed to achieve typical installations.
N series software allows a client to over subscribe a system by cloning the volumes with out adding additional space. This software called FlexClone allows clients to use products like VMWare, Xen or Hyper-V to create zero space copies of the original image. This zero consumption keeps the original blocks locked to the original image and any new changes are added to the free space as a delta. In traditional storage systems, a 10GB image would consume 1 TB for just 100VMs. With FlexClone, the only space needed for all 101 VMs would be just 10GB. Lowering both the OPEX and CAPEX for this system.
The IBM Scale out NAS system (SONAS) is a gaining steam as the private cloud business has increased in the business market. Not only are research universities and high performance computing labs seeing the benefits, so are mid-market to enterprise business leaders. Typical storage systems are not utilized to their full potential because of the purpose of the system or how it was integrated into their data center.
With a SONAS system, we no longer have to think how this system will be provision as all of the equipment can respond to requests from multiple parts of the business. If you have 5 systems that provide storage to your business and one of those systems is struggling to keep up with demand, the only way to keep up with the requests is to move data off by hand to the other systems. This is time consuming and could introduce mistakes and possible data loss. SONAS allows clients to be flexible in a dynamic-on-demand business environment. No longer will you have one system slowing down productivity as all of the storage in a SONAS system can be distributed through out the entire client interface. This will increase your efficiency rates and lower the required amount of systems in your data center, lowering environmental cost, CAP/OPEX.
There are other Storage systems that can increase utilization, Information Archive moves older data off to low cost, slower disk allowing you to store more on primary, faster disks. XiV keeps data spread throughout the entire system in case of a failure with no traditional RAID overhead. We at IBM are constantly looking for ways to increase the utilization of our systems.
IBM is working hard to build a smarter planet that not helps our clients, but helps the human race. Either through smarter storage systems, servers, software or consulting, IBM is working hard to bring this vision to a realization. Take a look at your systems and take stock of their utilization. Can they be doing more for you? Find out more about the IBM Smarter Planet initiative here.
I was working with a company today that had 5 storage vendors supplying gear for their data center. They were interested in SONAS not only for the scalability but for the idea that we could consolidate their storage footprint from 5 vendors to 1 with out having to sacrifise performance. Now must vendors would say, sure we can rip and replace all of the storage there and replace it with their own, but can they do it to the same scale (both horizontal and vertical), with a high performance engine like GPFS, one global names space and one single management tool? The customer was really impressed by our solution as is very interested in how we can help him go from 40+ racks of storage down to 13 and increase his efficiency.
The idea is to use multiple teirs to put meta data on the faster disk, data that is being accessed currently on a medium speed and then 'near to archive on slow, fat disk. Currently they have no way of moving data between their 5 different systems. This causes them to keep running into issues where they are buying expensive disk to run applications/databases where they have data that is stagnant or non as important on the existing fast disks. SONAS will allow them to create pools of storage (tiers) and policies to move the data between the pools. Then with the HSM integration, the data can be archived off to tape until needed down the road.
From a cost perceptive, the cost associated with the size and speed of the disk match their purpose with out them having to manually move the data themselves. With IT departments that have a huge growth in storage and are not hiring more admins, this makes sense. They can set the policies up front and not have to worry about some old file sitting on a expensive SAS disk. The other expense savings is in support contracts. The reduction from five support contracts to one will save customers money, and allows them to have one place to get all of their support.
I can not wait to start work on this account as it looks like we will be putting in a great system and helping a client save money.
The 451 Group did an analysis of the SONAS unit back in Febuary 2010. Their take was:
The announcement of SONAS by IBM is noteworthy for a few reasons. First, it underscores
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