I recently participated in a Vendor Day Summit for a large prospective client and I had the opportunity to talk with them about their storage management needs. Over the past 2 years, they have seen over 200% growth in the total capacity of their storage infrastructure and near-term projections are expected to continue this trend. Storage growth has also led to performance concerns with tier 1 applications due to the increased demand on the infrastructure. So, we came to the summit to talk to the client about IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center (VSC), IBM’s flagship storage management solution that combines our market leading technologies from IBM SAN Volume Controller, IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center, and IBM FlashCopy Manager along with intelligent analytics and automated management to reduce administrative complexity. It helps improve capacity utilization and slow storage growth, offer flexibility in the placement of workloads to balance performance demand, extend the life of existing storage assets, and reduce the overall cost associated with managing their infrastructure.
During the course of the conversation, it became apparent that the storage administration staff is significantly overburdened by daily tasks like managing provisioning requests, handling fire drills, and troubleshooting end user support calls. VSC is uniquely capable of improving storage administrator efficiency through a variety of key capabilities and we are continuing to enhance those capabilities to address our clients’ most challenging problems.
IBM’s Smarter Storage vision is aimed at providing global data availability across physical, virtual, and cloud environments, to provide unprecedented levels of cost efficiency and simplicity through innovation and applied analytics, and unrivalled client experience and success. VSC has been built from the ground up to embody that vision and provide our clients with a unique storage management experience.
When we first introduced VSC in October, 2012, it included a new user experience that provides intuitive access to various tasks and views within the console to improve administration of complex infrastructures. Many of the legacy views from our market leading storage resource management product, Tivoli Storage Productivity Center, were updated or completely redesigned, based primarily on direct customer feedback. During the development phase, we run an extensive Early Access and Beta Program to enable clients to test our new features and provide direct feedback to our developers, helping to provide that unrivalled client experience and success. However, we knew when we released that first version that there was still work to do. I am pleased to say that in our plans for an upcoming release of VSC, we have made significant strides to further improve the user experience by providing more intuitive troubleshooting tools, especially in the area of performance management, as well as a completely new interface for managing service classes and storage pools. This capability will be critical for clients that are interested in transforming traditional storage environments into a ‘cloud optimized’ infrastructure that standardizes provisioning services and reduces provisioning time from days and weeks to minutes and hours.
Going back to the Vendor Day Summit, this client was also in need of help managing the growth of their environment, a multi-petabyte heterogeneous infrastructure with multiple classes of storage to service their users. One of VSC’s key features at our original launch was the ability to provide intelligent analytics on top of a virtualized storage environment. Leveraging the market leading capabilities of IBM SAN Volume Controller, administrators can create storage pools that include all of their existing storage assets, organized by performance, drive type, RAID level, etc. to consolidate the management of a heterogeneous environment. Workloads can then be quickly provisioned out of these storage pools based on service level requirements to satisfy end user requests. VSC can help the administrator select the appropriate pool of storage for workload placement based on the user defined characteristics of the workload using built-in intelligence about not only the new workload, but also its impact on existing workloads within the storage pools.
Once the workload has been provisioned, VSC collects performance and utilization data, which can be used to build a comprehensive view across the entire infrastructure. The Analytics Engine within Virtual Storage Center can then identify workloads that are not placed on the appropriate tier or class of storage based on their usage patterns. The Analytics Engine will also make recommendations to migrate volumes to a more appropriate tier of storage. This intelligent analytics capability often results in significant levels of cost efficiency for clients, as they are able to migrate many of their workloads off of the most expensive storage.
This capability was especially interesting to our prospective clients at the Vendor Day Summit and our planned upcoming enhancements to automate the migration of those volumes based on the recommendations for the Analytics Engine was viewed as a major advantage. Storage administrators will still have the ability to approve migrations before they are executed, but tying the recommendations for migration with the actual execution tasks is another way IBM is helping clients improve the efficiency of their data center operations.
Stay tuned to learn more about how IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center is helping clients improve storage utilization, availability, performance, and service levels of heterogeneous storage environments.