BLOG: Simplify Your Block Storage Experience with IBM Storage as a Service (STaaS)

October 10th, 2022 BLOG: Simplify Your Block Storage Experience with IBM Storage as a Service (STaaS)
Jack Mason
Systems Engineer


Traditional storage purchasing can be a risky endeavor for many enterprises today. Designing a system to meet capacity demands for the next 3-5 years, while maintaining consistent performance, often results in costly, over-configured hardware and software solutions. Because of this, more and more clients are asking for “cloud-like”, usage-based options they can install in their own data center. Gartner1 recently reported, “By 2024, 50% or more of newly deployed enterprise storage capacity will be as a service or subscription.” The IBM Storage as a Service (STaaS) product offering delivers a unique, unlimited, “all you can eat”, on-premises alternative.


What is Storage as a Service (STaaS)?


Depending on the storage vendor, STaaS can mean many different things. For IBM, STaaS is a way to greatly simplify a client’s data storage management with a flexible consumption model that dynamically scales up or down to meet changing IT requirements. The service offering starts with a base capacity commitment, or the amount of physical usable storage the client commits to pay for each month, regardless of actual use over a selected term. It then adds variable use capacity that is available for the client without any obligation. Finally, IBM STaaS includes all IBM FlashSystems hardware and advanced function software components as well as the installation, monitoring, maintaining, upgrading, and technology refreshing of the solution as needed.


Designing a solution is as easy as 1-2-3


Step 1: Client determines their performance requirement.

IBM has created four performance tiers, or service-level objectives, based on the award-winning IBM FlashSystems Storage Family, with a unique IOPS per TB metric.

  • Tier 1: Extreme – 4500 IOPS/TB (with a read/write max throughput of 45/22 GB/s)
  • Tier 2: Premium – 2250 IOPS/TB (45/22 GB/s)
  • Tier 3: Balanced – 800 IOPS/TB (35/10 GB/s)
  • Tier 4: Capacity – 140/60 Standard/DRP Pools IOPS/TB (19/6 GB/s)

These define the minimum ratio of IOPS per physical used TB of storage with usage up to 85% of the usable capacity (based on a 70:30 Read / Write mixed workload with 50% cache hit and 16K I/O size using Fibre Channel). IBM anticipates that most enterprises will fall within the middle two tiers, with the Extreme tier for very high-end performance workloads and the Capacity tier for low-cost workloads – like archive or image repositories. Finish the configuration by selecting the connection type (Ethernet/Fibre Channel), power cord, and data-at-rest encryption options.

The STaaS availability objective is 99.9999%. A 100% guarantee is available using a Hyper Swap configuration installed by IBM Lab Services. HyperSwap is offered under separate terms for an additional charge.

Step 2: Client determines their base physical usable capacity.

As stated above, this is the amount the client commits to pay for over the selected term and represents the initial usable capacity requirement. IBM does not use raw capacity when determining the base, but usable capacity after RAID protection and sparing have been applied. Also, the base capacity is derived from the physical, not effective, capacity of the array. All data reduction benefits are passed on to the client. So, if the client’s data compresses 2:1, they can effectively cut the per TB charge in half – without penalty. IBM will install approximately 50% additional variable use capacity to allow the client to scale up and down over time. Clients only pay for what they use above the base capacity and at the same rate as the base capacity. Keep in mind that there are minimum base capacities ranging from 25TB to 100TB depending on the performance tier selected. Finally, if at any time during the contract period the capacity usage exceeds 75% of the installed capacity, IBM will install additional capacity at no charge.

Step 3: Client determines their desired term length

The IBM STaaS offering has been designed as an annual subscription service with term lengths from 1-5 years. The longer the contract term, the better the discount and the lower the price per TB. While STaaS contract terms are standard, what sets the offering apart is the “Best in Class” cancellation option. Clients can cancel longer-term agreements at least 60 days prior to the annual payment date and only pay back any longer-term subscription discount.

Leave the rest to IBM. They will design and install a FlashSystems solution that meets the client’s selections and monitor it for the duration of the contract.


Why STaaS from IBM?


Aside from industry-leading hardware, service, and support, there are additional advantages to STaaS from IBM. All the features listed below are included in the offering and taken as a whole, setting the IBM STaaS solution apart from competitive offerings:

  • Hardware installation by certified IBM engineers
  • Hardware maintenance support with same-day, onsite, 24×7 Expert Care Premium
  • Concierge service with a named Technical Account Manager
  • IBM Software Maintenance (SWMA) software support and services agreement
  • Twice a year Remote Code Load upgrades provided by IBM Remote Support
  • All advanced functions, including FlashCopy, replication, Safeguarded Copy, External
  • Virtualization, and encryption

  • Storage Insights Pro monitoring software
  • No data reduction or variable capacity use penalties
  • Periodic technology refresh
  • Flexible tier upgrade, solution renewal, and end-of-term technology return processes


Why IBM STaaS from Mainline?


As a Platinum level IBM Business Partner, the highest partnership level in the IBM PartnerWorld program, and a multiple IBM Award winner, Mainline has the technical and procurement expertise to help clients decide if STaaS is the right solution for their next enterprise storage infrastructure acquisition.

For over 30 years, we have heavily invested in the technical skills and certifications necessary to provide the top level of services and solutions to our customers for all IBM hardware and software products, including maintenance and software support services. For further assistance with IBM STaaS offerings or any IBM storage solution, contact your Account Executive directly or contact us here.


1 Gartner, ‘Market Trends: Consumption-Based Pricing for On-Premises Infrastructure is Evolving to an as-a-Service Model’, Kiyomi Yamada, Daniel Bowers, February 05, 2021.


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