IBM Flashes the Cache On External Storage
September 11, 2017 Alex Woodie
IBM put more a little flash in its storage, specifically its high-end DS8000 arrays, which got new solid state drive options that will boost raw flash storage close to 3 petabytes in a single installation. Big Blue also cached in with its Storwize V7000, which now features up to 256 GB of RAM, among other new features.
Let’s begin the news with the Storwize V7000, which is an X86-based storage system that’s becoming increasingly popular among midsize and large IBM i shops that are looking to consolidate storage but who can’t justify the added expense and complexity of the high-end DS8800 arrays.
IBM is increasing the memory cache in its Storwize V7000 systems, and now supports up to 256 GB of cache per system, or up to 128 GB per canister. This is available on the Model 624. This array also gets a fast, new storage option with the availability of 900 GB, 15,000 RPM 2.5-inch SAS drives. It previously offered the same basic drive but in a 3.5-inch model.
IBM also bolstered its FlashSystem, which, like the Storwize SAN Volume Controller (SVC) software product, are considered part of the Storwize product family. Specifically, IBM announced that its FlashSystem V9000 customers can use a pair of AC3 nodes without AE2 enclosures to scale performance. This system can also use a single AC3 node for use as a hot spare, IBM says. For more info on the Storwize V7000 announcements, see the IBM announcement letter here.
IBM also bolstered its flash story on the DS8800, the aforementioned big dog in the storage lineup. Specifically, it’s now supporting a high-capacity 3.8 TB flash drive, to go along with high-performance SSDs with capacities of 400 GB, 800 GB, 1.6 TB, and 3.2 TB.
With the new drive, IBM now supports up to 182.4 TB of raw flash storage capacity per flash enclosure. While IBM supports inter-mixing of different high-performance drives in the same enclosure, you can’t mix high-capacity and high-performance flash drives in the same enclosure. However, with the Easy Tier system, you can support both drive types within the same storage pool.
You can support up to four high-performance flash enclosure pairs in the DS8884F, giving you a maximum raw storage capacity of 729.6 TB within a single frame. The DS8886F, meanwhile, lets you combine up to two frames with up to four high-performance flash enclosure pairs on each frame, just about doubling the capacity to 1.45 petabytes (PB). For those with even bigger data storage needs, IBM offers the DS888F, which can scale up to three frames and supports up to 2.9 PB of raw storage through 16 high-performance flash enclosure pairs (four on the first and six on the second and third frame).
As if all that flash-ery wasn’t enough, IBM also introduced a new Cascading FlashCopy feature for its high-end arrays that should give users more flexibility in how they handle FlashCopy sources and targets. According to IBM, Cascading FlashCopy enables customers to:
- Reverse one of several FlashCopy relationships from a source device to restore this copy without first removing the other relationships.
- Recover a Global Mirror environment without needing to withdraw an existing FlashCopy used for Disaster Recovery testing.
- Use dataset FlashCopy between devices that are both also the sources of full volume FlashCopy relationships, including in Remote Pair FlashCopy environments.
- Perform an object-level restore using FlashCopy from a Db2 System Backup which still has an active FlashCopy relationship.
- Increase the flexibility of dataset FlashCopy where an existing source track can become a target of a new FlashCopy.
The DS8800 GUI is also getting some enhancements as a result of what IBM calls “exploding” interest. The improvements include new Easy Tier reporting features; full reporting and monitoring support for FlashCopy, Mirroring, and Mirroring Paths; advanced provisioning support for IBM Z and IBM i volume configurations; and integrated functionality from the DS8000 Service Management Console.
Mainframe shops get a new connectivity option called zHyperlink that will connect DS8880 arrays to IBM z14 mainframes residing up to 150 meters away. zHyperlink is a new version of IBM’s FICON storage protocol that supports very low latency connections between the server and the data. The first iteration of zHyperlink, due in early December, will only support reading data; write support is due in early January. For more information see IBM’s August 22 announcement letter here (pdf).
IBM planned to ship the V7000 and DS8800 enhancements on September 8.