IBM CTO Talks Flash

John Borkenhagen, the chief technology officer for IBM’s System X and Bladecenter group, stopped by theCube at Edge 2013 to discuss the hottest trends in storage. He shared his insights into flash memory and explained why the density of HP’s Moonshot server causes diminishing returns.

TheCube host Dave Vellante kicks off the interview by highlighting that traditional storage is on the decline. Borkenhagen agrees, and mentions that spinning disk has only gotten 20 percent faster over the past decade – not nearly enough to keep up with the 800x increase in CPU performance.

The executive notes that disk has historically constituted the main pillar of high availability deployments. This is changing thanks to the rapid adoption of flash cache and other emerging technologies which are blurring the line between compute and storage. Just as notable is the fact that solid-state is turning the storage controller into a bottleneck.

Borkenhagen explains that traditional storage controllers are designed for use in low performance disk environments, which makes them ill-suited for I/O-intensive flash workloads. Web-scale companies such as Facebook and Google have eliminated their bottlenecks with homegrown hyperscale implementations, but certain enterprise apps – such as SAP’s HANA database – don’t benefit from such scale out architectures.

Dave asks Borkenhagen about IBM’s efforts to reduce IT overheads. He replies that his company is working to lower both management cost and complexity, a strategy that hinges on virtualization and software-defined networking. Big Blue invests heavily in open source software, including OpenStack and OpenDaylight, in order to promote these technologies.

The conversation shifts to HP Moonshot, an ultra-dense server designed to make hyperscale accessible for a wide range of organizations. The CTO says that the box doesn’t live up the hype: a 40 standard Intel processors performs 20 percent better than the corresponding 805-core Moonshot configuration.

Check out the video below for the full interview.