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New IBM FlashSystem Family Introduced

by Adam Armstrong

Today IBM introduced a new FlashSystem Family with the idea of keeping things simple while meeting the storage needs for entry-level to high-end systems. The new family leverages a common software platform that is said to work across all deployment types (bare metal, virtualized, container, and hybrid multicloud) and will support customers’ existing storage devices even if they are not IBM.


Today IBM introduced a new FlashSystem Family with the idea of keeping things simple while meeting the storage needs for entry-level to high-end systems. The new family leverages a common software platform that is said to work across all deployment types (bare metal, virtualized, container, and hybrid multicloud) and will support customers’ existing storage devices even if they are not IBM.

Making off the shelf storage doesn’t make the same sense it made years ago. Now the needs of customers vary wildly. Not even just from customer to customer, within the same organization applications may have several different needs such as entry point, performance, scalability, data services, functionality, and availability. Vendors need to respond to various needs, though at times this can lead to added complexity or higher costs and cause a new set of issues. IBM is looking to address the above as well as the compatibility between differing existing gear.

The new IBM FlashSystem Family looks to address all the above while being extremely simple to use. The family leverages IBM FlashCore Modules (FCMs) that are said to deliver data compression and FIPS 140-2 data-at-rest encryption without penalizing performance. The new FCMs have usable capacities up to 38.4TB or a maximum of 4PB in only 2U of space. The FCMs can be used in older FlashSystem models as well including FlashSystem 9100 and Storwize V5100 and V7000 Gen3. Also, on the storage side, IBM is leveraging storage-class memory drives from Intel and Samsung as a tier for the new FlashSystem family for an added level of performance. As the FCMs, the storage-class memory can be used as an upgrade in the same systems listed above.

With management, IBM uses its Spectrum Virtualize software foundation to work with the storage options above as well as over 500 other heterogeneous storage systems. IBM is also leveraging AI-driven software in its IBM EasyTier that automatically places data on the appropriate tier when it needs to be there. As with most tiering, hot data is moved to faster media tiers while cooler and cold data is moved off to more cost-effective media. Other AI-based software including IBM Storage Insights for monitoring, alerting, reporting, and support.

Benefits include:

  • A single approach to extraordinary data availability: “six nines” availability across all price points, 2- and 3-site replication, cross-site high availability configurations, and the option for guaranteed 100% data availability. Data-at-rest encryption coupled with tape and cloud “air gap” copies, malware detection, and application-aware snapshots help provide a dependable cyber resiliency solution.
  • A single software foundation: IBM Spectrum Virtualize that provides enterprise-class data services from entry enterprise to high-end enterprise deployments on-prem and with consistent capability for hybrid multicloud. IBM Spectrum Virtualize provides the foundation for simplifying storage by delivering these same services for existing storage together with the ability for nondisruptive data movement, and supports transformation by enabling cloud and container deployments with all supported storage.
  • Consistent APIs for automation delivered on-prem and in the cloud and supporting all deployment approaches: bare metal, virtualized, containerized, and for hybrid multicloud.
  • Cloud-based, AI-infused management, storage analytics, and integrated proactive support: IBM Storage Insights delivers heterogeneous storage management made simple. IBM and select non-IBM storage together with cloud storage managed by IBM Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud can all be managed through a single pane of glass. AI-based analytics offers insights into best practice recommendations. For IBM storage, IBM Storage Insights provides streamlined access to support to help resolve issues even more quickly.

From a new storage solution standpoint, the new IBM FlashSystem family adds four new enterprise-class systems that deliver the benefits of IBM FlashCore Modules, storage-class memory, and the enterprise-class data services of IBM Spectrum Virtualize. These systems including the entry enterprise FlashSystem 5010, 5030, and 5100. IBM does offer higher end capacity in the form of the following:

  • IBM FlashSystem 7200: End-to-end NVMe and sophisticated enterprise-class hybrid multicloud functionality in a system designed for mid-range enterprise deployments. Supporting both scale-up with expansion enclosures and scale-out with up to 4-way clustering, FlashSystem 7200 supports 24% higher performance than Storwize V7000 Gen3 with a maximum of 8M IOPS. and 55% better throughput: a maximum of 128GB/s.
  • IBM FlashSystem 9200: End-to-end NVMe in a system designed for the most demanding enterprise requirements. FlashSystem 9200 delivers comprehensive storage functionality and our highest levels of performance: 20% better performance than FlashSystem 9100 with maximum 18M IOPS and 180GB/s per 4-way cluster. Both FlashSystem 7200 and 9200 also support only 70ìs latency.
  • IBM FlashSystem 9200R: Designed for clients needing an IBM-built, IBM-tested complete storage system delivered assembled, with installation and configuration completed by IBM. The system includes 2-4 IBM FlashSystem 9200 control enclosures, Brocade or Cisco switches for clustering interconnect, and optional expansion enclosures for additional capacity.

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