IBM Unveils New Disk Arrays, Updates Storage Software
October 12, 2010 Alex Woodie
IBM unveiled a large number of storage-related announcements last week. At the top of the list is a new midrange disk array called the Storwize V7000 that scales up to 120 TB of storage and uses many of the new IBM storage technologies. Big Blue also unveiled a new high-end array, the DS8800, which features up to 40 percent better performance than its predecessor. also In addition, it updated various storage-related software products, including the SVC, the DS-RSM, and the SDSC.
The new Storwize V7000 is a storage area network (SAN) array designed as a repository for transactional data processing on Power Systems and X64 servers running Unix, Linux, and Windows OSes from IBM and other manufacturers. In the IBM System Storage scheme of things, the V7000 sits between the DS5000 midrange array, and the high-end arrays, like the DS6000, DS8000, and XIV Storage System.
The base Storwize Control Enclosure occupies 2U of space in a standard 19-inch computer rack, and can be outfitted with a mix of five 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch SAS hard drives, giving each enclosure a storage capacity ranging from 14 TB to 24 TB.
Customers will eventually be able to add up to eight V7000 Expansion Enclosures to the original Control Enclosure, providing a total storage capacity of 240 TB when using the largest drive available, the 2 TB 3.5-inch Nearline serial-attached SCSI (SAS) drive spinning at 7,200 RPM. However, when the Storwize V7000 ships on November 12, customers will only be able to add up to four V7000 Expansion Enclosures, limiting maximum data storage to 120 TB. IBM expects to remove that limitation by the end of March.
If exclusively equipped with the smaller but faster 600 GB 2.5-inch SAS disk spinning at 10,000 RPM, each enclosure can house up to 120 TB. Two smaller 2.5-inch drives are also available, as is a 300 GB 2.5-inch solid state drive (SSD) built on enterprise-grade multi-level cell (E-MLC) technology that provides the highest I/O. Customers can mix and match any drives in any enclosure.
Connectivity to servers and the SAN fabric is accomplished through eight 8 Gbps Fibre Channel ports per enclosure, or through four 1Gbps iSCSI ports per enclosure. Customers can also use both FC and iSCSI simultaneously, providing a lot of flexibility for connecting to a variety of servers. Connectivity between each Storwize V7000 enclosures is accomplished with a pair of 6 Gbps SAS cables, available in 1-, 3-, and 6-meter lengths.
Total data throughput is very fast as a result of all these high-speed drives, ports, and cables. Also boosting throughput is the use of IBM’s “Easy Tier” technology, which automatically places heavily used data onto the fastest drives and less-used data on the slower drives. According to IBM, total I/O performance is twice as good as “competitive offerings” that weren’t identified. The storage is also very dense with those 2.5-inch drives; IBM claims the Storwize V7000 can reduce storage rack space by up to 67 percent compared with unidentified “competitive offerings.”
Customers can also attach other storage devices, such as FC-based tape drives, to the Storwize V7000, thanks to support for IBM’s SAN Volume Controller (SVC) software. Support for SVC also gives customers access to features such as FlashCopy, RemoteCopy, VDisk Mirroring, and thin provisioning. A Web-based user interface borrowed from the XIV disk array is used for setting up and administering the array.
IBM also announced the DS8000, a new high-end storage array that replaces the DS8700. IBM brought a number of enhancements to the DS8800–the biggest and baddest SAN array in the IBM System Storage portfolio, with storage topping 1 petabyte–and near the top of the list is the addition of Power6+ processors and 8 Gbps FC/FICON adapters.
IBM says the four-way Power6+ processor will increase sequential read throughput performance by 20 percent compared to the DS8700, which launched a year ago and featured Power6 technology. Sequential write throughput performance on the DS8800 is up to 40 percent faster. Customers can also get DS8800 arrays with a pair of two-way Power6+ processors.
The new DS8800 also features 8 Gbps FC/FICON host ports, compared to the 4 Gbps FC/FICON ports offered in the DS8700. Also, the DS8800 can be equipped with FC/FICON adapters that feature eight ports per adapter, compared to the DS8700 adapters, which featured only four ports each. This represents a 100 percent increase in raw potential throughput per port, and 400 percent per adapter.
Another change is the addition of 2.5-inch SAS drives in the DS8800, instead of just 3.5-inch drives. Customers can cram 24 of the mini drives into 2U of space, compared to 16 of the 3.5-inch drives, which occupied 3.5U of space.
The use of smaller drives helps to boost storage density, and also shrinks the total size of the DS8800 enclosures. In changing the physical dimensions of the devices, IBM says it took advantage of the best practices in routing of hot and cold air, and the result is a 40 percent decrease in cooling cost for a fully outfitted DS8800 compared to previous editions, according to IBM.
Like the DS8700 before it, customers can order a DS8800 base unit, called the Model 951, and connect it to one or two expansion units, called the DS8800 Expansion Unit Model 95E. A single Model 951 supports up to 240 drives for a maximum capacity of 144 TB and up to eight FC/FICON adapters. Adding one expansion unit boosts the drive count to 576 and the adapter count to 16, while adding two expansion units results in 1,056 drives and up to 16 FC/FICON adapters.
The DS8800 ships in limited numbers at the end of next week, with volume shipment coming in November.
Storage Software Announcements
IBM made an array of storage-related software announcements last Thursday, too.
IBM delivered a new release of SAN Volume Controller (SVC), the storage appliance that uses virtualization to allow customers to connect SAN arrays from different vendors, and make all those arrays look and work like one giant array. IBM first supported the IBM i platform back in December 2008.
With last weeks launch of SVC version 6.1, IBM added support for additional arrays, including its own DS8800 and Storwize V7000 arrays; arrays managed with VMware vSphere 4.1; EMC VMAX; Compellent Series 20 Storage Controller; and various Fujitsu Eternus arrays.
IBM is also supporting its SVC, DS8000 series, and Storwize V7000 arrays with the latest release of Systems Director Storage Control (SDSC), a plug-in for IBM’s Systems Director software that provides a way for administrators to accomplish certain tasks, including discovering devices, correlating inventory, and visualizing their storage capacity.
Version 4.2.1 of the SDSC software becomes available in December, and adds visibility into the above mentioned IBM storage products; it also adds support for FC switches from Brocade. It also gains some of the new GUI enhancements that IBM delivered with Systems Director VMControl 2.3.