Systems Engineer, Storage Solutions
IBM announced some new and exciting all-flash storage arrays in February 2020: The IBM FlashSystem 7200 and IBM FlashSystem 9200. They represent a merging of the Storwize and FlashSystem families. They, along with prior generations and IBM SAN Volume Controllers (SVC), are all still running IBM Spectrum Virtualize software. If you’re not familiar with what the software can do, then you’ve come to the right blog post! The IBM Spectrum Virtualize platform has been around since 2003 and continues to innovate and lead the market with features and functionality. Here are 10 features that make IBM Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud an integral part of your data center and storage system strategy.
1. Broad Integration. Spectrum Virtualize currently supports over 440 IBM Cloud, on premise, and non-IBM storage systems, enabling them to also utilize the software features listed below and do more with what you have on the floor.
2. Easy Tier. If you had an easy button to manage your storage, this would be it. Easy Tier is a dynamically tiered environment that allows you to assign highly active data on volumes to faster-responding storage. In order to visualize the two types of movement, think of a compass. East–west movement would be the balancing of workload in a homogeneous pool. North-south requires a hybrid storage pool with more than one type of drive and data is then moved between them based on how hot or cold the extents are. This improves the efficiency of your storage, your performance, and allows you to have different cost levels to meet the varying types of data housed on your arrays.
3. Replication for Disaster Recovery. Because your prized data should never reside in just one location, Spectrum Virtualize supports fiber channel and IP-based remote replication in the forms of IBM Global Mirror and IBM Metro Mirror. If the copies are in separate locations, Global Mirror and Metro Mirror can be used as backup for disaster recovery, the difference being the supported distance. Metro Mirror is designed to cover metropolitan distances up to 300 km (the same as HyperSwap discussed below), while Global Mirror can support virtually unlimited distances between the local and remote sites. IBM Global Mirror with Change Volumes is also available, which is great for customers with limited bandwidth or spotty connectivity, essentially cycling changes and only sending them when the system can.
4. High Availability. Disaster recovery is a very different scenario compared to high availability. IBM HyperSwap is a dual-site solution that provides continuous availability of data during planned and unplanned outages. With a supported distance of 300 km, it is ideal for something like a multi-campus setting. HyperSwap allows for extremely high availability, completely redundant storage infrastructure, and continuous access to your data. It’s a more intelligent, automated, and aware version of Metro Mirror.
5. Data Encryption. In today’s technology landscape, it’s rare to have a few weeks go by without news of a data breach and you never want to see your company’s name making headlines like that. Encryption is key (see what I did there?) for data security, protecting against bad actors removing a drive or data being compromised when drives are returned as part of a maintenance event or systems are moved or sold. Spectrum Virtualize can either use SKLM- or USB-based encryption.
6. NVMe and SCM. Spectrum Virtualize can support Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) and storage class memory (SCM), which is the next flash evolution, and Easy Tier can take advantage of this new technology. This means you can have tiers of flash storage and the system will know the difference in the drives between SCM, FCM, and SSD.
7. Distributed RAID, or DRAID, takes advantage of all drives. None sit idle, which provides 5-10 times faster rebuilds and better performance. Imagine slicing a little off the top of all the drives and that space is dedicated to parity and spare capacity.
8. Data Reduction. We’re constantly hearing about the explosion of data, and one great strategy to manage that is through data reduction. Imagine shrinking your data like you’d shrink a wool sweater in the dryer. Software-based compression and deduplication can shrink data up to 80%, which can save a ton of money and headaches since few budgets are growing for hardware spend.
9. Hybrid Multi-Cloud Integration. Cloud has been the buzzword of the past few years, but the question is always ‘how do I integrate with what I currently own?’ Spectrum Virtualize supports transparent cloud tiering, enabling volume snapshots to be tiered to clouds including Amazon S3, OpenStack Swift, and IBM Softlayer. You can also run the Spectrum Virtualize software itself in the public cloud for real-time, DR, migration, or replication in the cloud.
10. IBM Storage Insights. Management of sprawling storage is a common concern and integration with IBM Storage Insights is the key to access cloud-based analytics. Spectrum Virtualize integrates with Storage Insights to show you how your systems are running, deliver code upgrade suggestions as part of best practice, assist in capacity planning, generate reports, provide the ability to open a problem management report and upload logs, and much more in a single pane of glass.
Here at Mainline, we have customers running Spectrum Virtualize in their own data centers, at co-locations, in the cloud, and even at sea! Across industries, supporting iSeries, open systems, and Epic certified, no matter how big or small, we can help find the right-sized solution for your unique environment. The bottom line is, Spectrum Virtualize can increase your agility, enable cloud strategies, protect your data, improve your performance, and Mainline can help you make the best choices to get there.
*not all features are available with all models
Case Study: Sisters of Charity Health System