UPDATED 10:55 EDT / MAY 28 2014

Integration + iteration : Key components of Big Blue’s storage success | #IBMedge

Thick arrow made from jigsaw puzzle piecesThe staggering pace of technological change can sometimes make it seem like startups have an inherent edge over their slower moving incumbent rivals when it comes to innovation. But in some cases, being evolutionarily is just as good as being revolutionary, if not better. IBM’s SAN Volume Controller (SVC) is a testament to that.

Born out of a 1999 research project at the company’s Almaden lab in San Jose, the storage virtualization software started shipping to customers  in 2003 and has been continuously improved ever since. Today, the platform is widely recognized as one of the most hardened and feature-rich management stacks in the industry, a leadership position that Chris Saul, the marketing manager for Big Blue’s Storwize lineup of compression appliances, credits for much of his company’s storage success. He stopped by SiliconANGLE’s theCUBE at the recently concluded IBM Edge 2014 conference in Las Vegas to lay out just how important of a role SVC plays from a product strategy standpoint and explain how it had gotten to that spot.

In large part, it’s thanks a uniquely successful best of all worlds approach. “One of the things that we aim to do and we have consistently done is to look around in IBM, find technologies that other teams might be developing and see how we can include them into our systems,” Saul tells hosts John Furrier and Dave Vellante. The system sports interface components  from Big Blue’s XIV high-end disk array series, which he notes is considered by many to be one of the most user-friendly offerings of its kind, as well as a host of admirative capabilities including the Easy Tier  data distribution feature originally introduced for the DS8000.

The latest addition to the line, a hybrid system dubbed the DS8870 that can be configured with either disk, solid-state memory or a mix of both, made its debut at Edge alongside a new Storwize system featuring Intel’s recently introduced QuickAssist chip. IBM is the first vendor to go-to-market with the technology, which Saul claims can reduce the storage requirements of compressed data to as little as a fifth of the original stipulation while accelerating performance up to tenfold.

Like most of the products in Big Blue’s storage lineup, the new appliance runs on SVC, leveraging the extensibility of the platform to give customers what the company describes as a  level of operational agility not afforded by products from competing vendors. That flexibility  is the result of a modular system design that isolates features from one another which Saul says not only makes it easier for IBM to integrate capabilities from partners and acquisitions but also allows admins to carry out their work without having to worry about upsetting dependencies.

“One of our greatest strengths is that the key architects of the technology are still leading development today. So we have these ‘guardians’ of the architecture if you’d like who know why we designed it the way we did and who enable us to continue to deliver it in a very high quality manner,” Saul highlights.

photo credit: Horia Varlan via photopin cc

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