IBM Storage Hits the Ground Running in 2018

By Billy Clabby, Clabby Analytics

On February 20, 2018, IBM announced enhancements and new solutions in its storage portfolio  designed to ease customer’s adoption of data-driven, multi-cloud architectures including IBM Cloud, AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and others. Businesses continue to struggle to modernize traditional workloads (VMware, Oracle etc.), adopt next generation applications (Spark, Hadoop), and deploy development tools such as application refactoring (Docker, Kubernetes).

In response, IBM is providing a broad range of software defined storage solutions to make this transition smoother, more efficient and cost effective.  IBM’s flexibility also continues to be a differentiator, with support for multiple cloud architectures, an impressive number (> 440) of storage arrays from multiple vendors, and a wide variety of deployment/pricing models.

Customers are responding very well to IBM’s strategy.  The company enters 2018 with four strong quarters of revenue growth in 2017. With a focus on higher-value solutions, including software defined storage, all-Flash and modern data protection, those product areas dominate IBM’s storage business.

This latest announcement includes new offerings and enhancements across the company’s entire portfolio. However, in this review Clabby Analytics will highlight new offerings in modern data protection (Spectrum Protect & Spectrum Protect Plus) and network-attached storage (Spectrum NAS). We believe that these products, in particular, fill existing gaps in IBM’s product line and provide more feature-rich, scalable and easy-to-use solutions for small and mid-size businesses.

IBM Spectrum NAS

IBM Spectrum NAS is a new, easy to use software-defined file storage solution. A few years ago, the company announced it would no longer partner with NetApp for storage specific projects and products. As a result, IBM was without a long-term general purpose NAS solution.   In addition – as of July 2018– IBM will no longer support any of the related N-series storage models. Spectrum NAS successfully fills the need for basic file sharing with a robust solution that is easy to deploy and highly scalable.

Major Features:

·         Deploy as virtual machines or on industry standard commodity x86 servers

·         Scalable clustered file storage from 4 nodes to hundreds of nodes

·         General purpose secure file sharing & home directories – active directory and internal file sharing

·         Native Windows SMB/CIFS and NFS support for Microsoft applications

·         Easy set-up, and no downtime during upgrade

·         Self balancing and data efficient erasure coding

With this announcement, IBM now has software-defined storage solutions that cover a broad range of use cases for unstructured data. With IBM Spectrum Scale, customers have a big data analytics, high-speed back-ups and restores, as well as the ability to manage and consolidate compute clusters. IBM Object Storage provides a low-cost archive storage and content repository for cloud environments, and now IBM Spectrum NAS is the ideal solution for general-purpose file serving.  With the release of Spectrum NAS, IBM has a full portfolio of software defined storage solutions: file, block, and object.

Modern Data Protection

IBM Spectrum Protect and Protect Plus underscore the company’s effort to provide customers enhanced modern data protection capabilities. IBM’s Spectrum Protect which supports data protection across physical, virtual, cloud and software defined environments now includes better visibility into potential ransomware threats. Automated data change tracking can detect, for example, changes in the data deduplication rate or slow-downs in back- up processes, indicating a potential threat. Other enhancements include tracking capabilities that facilitate audits for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance, a data privacy requirement for organizations doing business in the European Union (EU) that becomes effective on May 25, 2018.

IBM Spectrum Protect Plus (announced in August 2017) is a data protection and availability solution designed for virtual machines (VM’s).  Architected to be substantially less complex and easier to use than IBM Spectrum Protect, it can be installed and running in less than an hour and provides quick and easy file restores. With simple “point & click,” virtualized back- up of VMware and Hyper-V environments, back-ups can be done without requiring a specialized administrator. Also included are reporting, global search and recover, and policy-driven SLA-based automation, moving back-up responsibility and control to new classes of users, including VMware and Hyper-V administrators.

 IBM Spectrum Protect Plus can be used as a stand-alone product with its own data repository or integrated into IBM Spectrum Protect. By integrating with IBM Spectrum Protect, users get both the agility and ease-of use of the IBM Spectrum Plus solution and also the feature-rich back-end provided by IBM Spectrum Protect, allowing easy protection of VMware and Hyper-V environments. As a stand-alone solution, IBM Spectrum Protect Plus also provides an entry-level, easy to use back-up solution for small and mid-range businesses.

This latest revision (IBM Spectrum Protect Plus 10.1.1) adds several new features including:

·         Improved availability with vSnap cloning

·          Oracle RAC support

·          New hardware selection blueprints

·          Item level restores from SQL and Oracle.

Finally, IBM Spectrum Protect Plus will be included at no additional charge as part of the IBM Spectrum Protect Suite as well as the IBM Spectrum Storage Suite, providing a savings of 40% over buying the products separately.

IBM Spectrum Protect Plus will also now be available on the IBM Cloud, providing easy access to VMware data as-a-service.  The company is offering integrated billing for Spectrum Plus for IBM Cloud so that customers can buy directly from IBM or they can “bring their own” license. In addition, the over 300 cloud providers currently using IBM Spectrum Protect will also have the opportunity to offer services around IBM Spectrum Protect Plus.

Summary Observations

This announcement of new offerings and enhancements to the IBM Storage portfolio eases customer adoption of data- driven multi-cloud architectures by extending functionality and improving flexibility and ease-of-use. Whether businesses are using the IBM Cloud or another provider, IBM storage or storage from another storage vendor – IBM’s Spectrum software defined storage helps businesses manage storage architectures securely and efficiently.

As data continues to be increasingly valuable, IBM’s broad range of solutions protect customer’s existing investments while also providing a foundation for new business initiatives and next generation applications and workloads. Continuing solid storage revenue growth indicates IBM is on the right track.

Clabby Analytics views the new announcements in IBM Spectrum Protect data protection solutions and IBM Spectrum NAS as filling key needs of both new and existing customers. By providing easy- to-deploy, feature-rich solutions for both on-premises applications and those in the cloud, IBM is expanding their market to include not only small and medium size businesses ­– but also business and application owner’s at large enterprises.

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