IBM Storage: Reinforcing a commitment to cyber resiliency and high performance

Executive Summary

IBM’s latest set of storage announcements reinforces two consistent themes and important differentiators for IBM storage (1) Cyber resiliency – a strong defensive posture against cyberattacks and, in the event of a data breach, a quick recovery and (2) Performance and capacity – continued improvements designed to accelerate data delivery in distributed file and object storage used in cloud scale applications such as high-performance computing (HPC), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML). These announcements include:

  • A partnership with Predatar leverages IBM Spectrum Protect and IBM Spectrum Protect Plus, extending the capabilities of IBM enterprise back-up and recovery solutions by providing cyber analytics and recovery orchestration. IBM will sell Predatar as well as any related consulting services.
  • The all-flash IBM Elastic Storage System 3500 is designed for compute intensive workloads speeding time-to-market with cloud-scale performance (up to 12% greater than previous systems) and capacity (from 46TB to 700TBe effective capacity per node).

Background

This news follows closely on the heels of another significant storage announcement, the third generation of IBM’s FlashCore Module, (https://bit.ly/37YMHgf) also focused on enhancing IBM’s cyber resiliency and improving performance/capacity. IBM’s goal is to address the following top-of-mind customer challenges in order to seamlessly and securely get the right data to the right person at the right time.

  • Siloed data – With data spread across infrastructure and applications, businesses require a consistent way to encapsulate and address data services across diverse information sets;
  • Complexity of existing infrastructure – Organizations have a range of data sources including IBM and non-IBM systems, legacy systems and other on-premise data storage, containers and cloud-based infrastructure–also necessitating a uniform way to access data;
  • Data mobility – With the rise in work-from-home at many businesses, data must be mobile — with policies bound to the data itself rather than its physical location;
  • Application performance – The underlying objective is to streamline data services to improve application performance across a growing number of data sources and diverse data types;
  • Fork lift upgrade – By addressing sustainability, businesses can minimize the time taken to replace and refresh when doing upgrades. And last but not least;
  • Cyber resiliency ­– Cyber resiliency encompasses preventing and recovering from cyber threats and attacks—an escalating concern for today’s businesses. In fact, IBM reports that 61% of businesses have been or are infected, and that fewer than 50% have a complete recovery after an attack. With days that can potentially stretch into months of downtime, these attacks can affect the viability of the business itself and company reputation.

With this in mind, let’s look at details on IBM’s latest announcements.

A Closer Look

Predatar with IBM Spectrum Protect and IBM Spectrum Protect Plus

Predatar for IBM Spectrum Protect and IBM Spectrum Protect Plus is the latest in IBM’s family of back-up solutions, enabling IBM to apply cyber resilience capabilities to the back-up sets themselves. Back-up sets can be used as a point of restore, analyzing the back-up environment as well as orchestrating how it responds and recovers.  This turnkey offering provides analytics and alerting, and gives businesses a back-up “score” in order to help achieve a 100% backup success rate. Automated recovery, testing, and orchestrated malware scanning ensures data is recovered quickly and cleanly.

This extends IBM’s air-gapping solutions, providing the highest level of air-gapping, operational air-gapping, where unsecured networks have both a physical and logical separation from the production environment, further reducing the attack surface. IBM Safeguarded Copy offers logical air gapping which entails a physical connection but logical isolation from the network, while IBM Spectrum Archive and Tape provides physical air-gapping.

Major features:

  • Back-up anomaly detection – Predator analytics scans and explores back-up data sets, examining the scoring analysis to find bad data sets;
  • Automation and Orchestration– By identifying individual files that are infected, the back-up administrator can quickly identify the root cause and isolate the source of the threat (server, user, product, etc.) and take remediating actions. Automated alerts can be tailored to report on both normal and abnormal behavior;
  • Anomaly testing and remediation – Several types of testing are available including scheduled testing, randomized testing, behavior-based testing, and event-based testing. The administrator can scan for on-going potential threats based on business obligations or look for threats of a particular type or that are triggered by something specific (such as a back-up on a particular server).

IBM Elastic Storage System 3500 (ESS 3500)

IBM ESS 3500 is designed for compute-intensive workloads such as AI, ML, HPC and analytics workloads.  Running applications in parallel, the ESS 3500 can also be used for data collaboration, mission critical applications, hybrid cloud applications, and workload consolidation. IBM ESS 3500 works with IBM Spectrum Scale and can be deployed as a high-performance storage tier with an ESS capacity tier for warm data and an offload of cold data to tape or cloud.

Major features:

  • AMD 7642 Processor
  • Four PCIe Gen4 slots
  • Two integrated network ports (separation of MGMT and BMC)
  • Streamlined design for better thermal results
  • Simplified Service
  • Supports twelve or twenty-four NVMe flash drives, which can be 3.84, 7.68, or 15.36TB capacity
  • Same FRUs between ESS 3200 and ESS 3500

What it means to you:

  • 12-15% performance boost over previous generations
  • 91GBs per node sustained throughput from data delivery through first point of consumption
  • Linear scalability in a clustered environment – up to 1.8 TBs per rack
  • Scales from 46TB to 700TBe effective capacity per node.
  • 1 PB effective capacity with compression in 2U of rack space
  • Up to 70% improvement in AI training time using IBM Spectrum Scale and IBM Elastic Storage Systems
  • Accelerate AI-enabled transformation up to 100% while using 2x fewer compute nodes for big data analytics

Summary Observations

IBM’s latest storage announcement reinforces the company’s commitment to cyber resiliency and high performance, high-capacity storage. With Predatar for IBM Spectrum Protect and IBM Spectrum Protect Plus, IBM extends its cyber resiliency portfolio to include a solution designed specifically for back-up data, complementing existing solutions IBM Safeguarded Copy (production data), IBM Cyber Vault (on-line data) and IBM Spectrum Archive (archive data). Performance and capacity improvements of the ESS 3500 offer a significant boost to today’s compute intensive applications.