IBM Storwize V5000: A SAN For The SMB Masses
November 4, 2013 Alex Woodie
IBM has introduced a new member of its Storwize family of storage arrays designed for use by small and midsized businesses, including those running IBM i on Power Systems. The Storwize V5000 sits happily in the “Goldilocks” zone between the V3700 and V7000 arrays, and provides some high-end features, such as support for IBM’s Easy Tier, Flash Copy, SAN Volume Controller (SVC), and remote mirroring for high availability.
The V5000 looks to have many features that will make it popular among IBM i shops. Anecdotal evidence indicates that IBM i shops are increasingly adopting storage arrays to get a handle on their ever-increasing data volumes. In particular, IBM seems to be getting traction with its lower-end arrays, such as the V3700 and V7000, while IBM i shops that are more likely to be represented by the Large User Group (LUG) are more apt to move to a higher-end offering, such as the DS6000 or DS8000 series offerings, which offer better I/O, more storage, and better management tools.
While the V5000 doesn’t offer petabyte-range scalability or advanced management functions of the DS series of machines, it’s no slouch either, and offers hundreds of terabytes of capacity, which is where many IBM i shops will find themselves in a few years at current data growth rates.
In terms of vital stats, the Storwize V5000 looks like a slightly shrunken version of the V7000. A V5000 control enclosure can be connected to up to six expansion enclosures for housing SAS drives (compared to eight expansion enclosures for the V7000). Each V5000 enclosure can have up to 24 drives of the 2.5-inch small form factor (SFF) variety, or 12 drives of the 3.5-inch large form factor (LFF) variety. In total, a fully expanded V5000 system can house a total of 168 SAS drives of various sizes and speeds, or 336 in a dual-controller setting.
In the SFF corner, you can choose from 146 GB and 300 GB drives spinning at 15K RPM; 600 GB, 900 GB, and 1.2 TB drives spinning at 10K RPM; and 1 TB drives spinning at 7.2K RPM. For LFF, IBM gives you the option of using 2 TB, 3 TB, and 4 TB drives spinning at 7.2K RPM. IBM is allowing users to mix and match SFF and LFF enclosures that make up a system, and to mix and match different types of SFF and LFF drives within an enclosure of that type, but users cannot load SFF drives in an LFF enclosure, or vice versa. The V5000s can also accept 200 GB and 400 GB 2.5-inch solid state drives (SSDs).
Users can connect V5000s to IBM i, Windows, Unix, and Linux servers using either 1 Gb/sec SCSI, 6 Gb/sec SAS, 8 Gb/sec Fibre Channel, or 10 Gb/sec iSCSI-FCoE ports. The V5000 also features dual controllers for extra flexibility, and supports RAID levels of 0, 1, 5, 6, and 10. Fans and power supplies are fully redundant and hot-swappable, as you would expect in a midrange IBM storage array. IBM offers a Web-based GUI for managing the system, which is a nice touch.
Many V5000s are bound to be loaded up with at least a few of those speedy flash-based SSDs to support the “hottest” and most heavily accessed portions of customer’s databases. According to IBM, by using SSDs for only 5 percent of the drives in a V5000 array, the Easy Tier software, which manages the placement of data on hot and cold devices, can deliver up to a 300 percent better performance in I/O.
Support for IBM’s FlashCopy function lets users create a copy of active data in a very short amount of time, which helps to minimize downtime required for backups. The V5000 also supports Metro Mirror, which provides synchronous replication for clusters with nodes located within 300 km of each other, and Global Mirror, which provides asynchronous replication for clusters with nodes up to 8,000 km away from each other.
IBM started shipping the Storwize V5000 in mid-October. At the same time, IBM also started shipping software for the storage array, called Storwize V5000 version 7.1 (Yes, it’s brand new hardware and software, but the software is already at version 7.1. Why? The short answer is: This is IBM.) The software is where much of the virtualization happens, including support for the IBM SVC functions, which enable users to control SANs from other manufacturers from the comfort of their Storwize system. IBM has offered SVC to customers for years in high-end DS series of arrays. It brought SVC to the masses with the Storwize V7000 array, which was launched in 2010.
IBM is charging $10,000 for the LFF and SFF control enclosures, and $4,000 for the LFF and SFF expansion enclosures. It costs $3,999 for additional 8 Gb Fibre Channel and 10 Gb/sec iSCSI-FCoE ports. Hard drives start at $949 for the 2.5-inch 146 GB 15K RPM drive, and top out at $15,099 for the 800 GB SSD drive. For more information on the Storwize V5000, see announcement letter 113-159.