UPDATED 03:32 EST / MAY 21 2014

Big Blue attacks EMC’s ViPR with its own spin on software-defined storage | #IBMEdge

It’s been a busy couple of days at IBM’s Edge conference in Las Vegas, with the enterprise technology stalwart unleashing a slew of product updates in a grand follow-up to the debut of its software-defined Elastic Storage platform last Monday.  The technology, which incorporates components from the vendor’s Jeopardy!-winning Watson machine, serves as an abstraction layer that decouples capacity from the underlying infrastructure in the same way as EMC’s recently updated ViPR stack.

“They’ve put down a very strong marker for the long-term, what we in Wikibon have termed Server SAN,” Wikibon co-founder and CTO David Floyer commented on Big Blue’s storage plans in a live discussion on theCUBE during the event (see full video below).  “And what they’re looking at is a global Server SAN, which if they can pull it off is gonna be fantastic, but that’s a long journey and a very ambitious one. The thing that worries me me more how do they get volume in the short-term to pay for that long journey.”

IBM hopes that the new solutions it’s currently showcasing at Edge will help fill in those strategic blanks and allow it to better compete against EMC, which has currently got the enterprise storage market cornered.

The  DS8870 Flash enclosure, one of the products introduced at the event, is the newest system in Big Blue’s DS8000 line of high-end enterprise arrays and comes at half the size of its predecessor. Not only that, but the box also consumes 12 percent less energy and can be configured with disk, flash or a mix of both, which gives users the flexibility to fine-tune their deployments for specific workloads.

The platform is joined by an enhanced configuration of the Storwize V7000 Unified virtualized disk appliance with expanded management functionality, two new machines for service providers and a single-socket tower server running Intel’s latest Xeon E3-1200v3 processors geared towards small- and medium-sized businesses.

Last but not least, Big Blue pulled the curtains back on TS4500 tape library, which can store three times as much information as the previous generation solution in the same footprint. It was announced in conjunction with a collaboration between IBM and Japan’s Fujifilm that produced a tape architecture capable of storing up to 154 gigabytes of uncompressed data in a standard LTO cartridge. That’s 27 times more than the maximum capacity of products based on the latest sixth-generation magnetic tape standard.

The main advantage of tape is that it’s cheap, which makes it a good fit for storing large amounts of infrequently accessed “cold” data like the kind companies feed into their Hadoop clusters for historical analysis.  As a result, CIOs are shifting their focus back to the technology, and vendors like IBM and Fujifilm are scurrying to catch up with the demand.


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