For all of its talk about smart storage this week at IBM Edge, Big Blue’s storage announcements amounted to mostly cosmetic changes. The lone exception was the addition of real-time inline compression for primary storage arrays.
IBM ported the Random Access Compression Engine (RACE) technology acquired from Storwize in 2010 into its Storwize V7000 and SAN Volume Controller (SVC) virtual storage arrays. This is IBM’s first integration of the compression technology into SAN arrays.
Until now, IBM used the technology only in its Real-Time Compression Appliances, which were re-branded boxes that Storwize sold before the acquisition. Even the Storwize V7000 launched in late 2010 lacked compression, despite its name.
Now IBM is claiming it can compress active primary data with no performance impact on SVC and Storwize V7000 storage, and says it can reduce primary data accessed via block-based protocols by up to 80%.
It turns out that integrating data reduction into primary storage isn’t easy. Dell bought primary deduplication startup Ocarina around the same time that IBM picked up Storwize, and has yet to port primary dedupe onto its Compellent or EqualLogic SAN arrays. Dell did launch a backup appliance using Ocarina dedupe in January, and may have a primary data dedupe announcement next week at its Storage Forum.
Other IBM enhancements include support for Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and non-disruptive volume moves between I/O groups for SVC and Storwize V7000, and four-way clustering for Storwize V7000.
IBM added thin provisioning and Enhanced FlashCopy (allows for more snapshots) for DS3500 and S3700 midrange arrays, and a new web-based UI for the IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center (TPC) suite. For tape management, it added IBM Tape System Library Manager (TSLM) software that helps manage multiple libraries, and an IBM Linear Tape File System (LTFS) Storage Manager for customers using LTO-5 tape libraries and IBM’s LTFS Library Edition.
IBM also said it plans to extend its Easy Tier automated tiering software to direct attached server-based solid-state drives (SSDs) so customers can migrate data between disk systems and servers.