IBM Making Solid Progress in Flash (includes video)

While IBM has always been known for some great technologies across the IT board, it's not every day that one chats to IBM storage executives about its market leadership. But right now, good old Big Blue is doing remarkably well in the all-flash battleground. To try to figure out a little bit of the how and why, I spoke to both Michael Kuhn and Kevin Powell while at the recent Flash Memory Summit. I asked Mike to talk about how he sees the general market situation - in addition to IBM's recent success - while Kevin talked more about the elements behind that sales improvements...both from an overall storage portfolio perspective as well as some details about the latest update to the IBM V840 (which was announced at the Summit). The results are in this 5 minute video:

Video Transcript

Mark: Hopefully you can hear me well over the sound of these glorious fountains at the Santa Clara Convention Center, where I and a few thousands of my closest friends who are gathered for this year's flash memory summit. I took the time at this summit to specifically talk to IBM who has been doing remarkably well in the flash arena in the last year or two. First, I asked Mike Kuhn about the market in general, what he sees happening in flash, and really why IBM has been able to do quite so well.

Mike: The flash technology has had a huge impact on the consumer market place, it really is starting to have a huge impact now in the enterprise storage market place as well. It's taking a perspective on what's happening in the world of big data and analytics, and what's happening with that technology. That's really the more powerful thing that's happening in the marketplace today is what's happening with data and how clients harness the power of data to transform their businesses. The flash part of it is this powerful big data technology that allows businesses to do things that they couldn't do before. So, we'll talk about how it's helped companies like Sprint and Royal Caribbean and Saint Jude's Children's Hospital which is a world class research center really transform their operations by really tapping into and harnessing the power of all this data.

Mark: Next, I turned to talk to Kevin about the breadth of IBM's portfolio not only how broad it is but how they have such breadth that may be obvious, but it's always worth hearing. Then, specifically I asked him to narrow down on to the V840 where IBM had a major announcement congruent with this year's event.

Kevin: For individual customer environments, individual workloads you need the right solution, so sometimes that's an all flash array, sometimes it's a hybrid configuration with our StoreWise or XIV portfolio or sometimes there's still even a need for tape products. So, we offer a wide storage portfolio of disk, tape, flash. Even within the flash portfolio a wide portfolio of everything from server side flash, with our eXFlash DIMMs to flash and the storage system in our new IBM flash system portfolio.

Today, we announce the new flash system V840. What that really does is now it extends the flash system family to a full featured all flash array. We started with great technology from the TMS acquisition, our great flash's 840 product which is very high performance, low latency technology which comes through implementing in typically in a Tier zero type environments, but now with the flashes in V840 you get that same great micro latency flash technology, but now a rich software stack that has been optimized and integrated in to that V840 product. Whether it's data management capabilities like real time compression that improves your overall dollars per IOPs and dollars per terabyte capacity or efficiency capabilities like thin provisioning or even easy tier or disaster recovery capabilities like snapshots and mirroring. All that's now built-in integrated, so you have the ability to have an all flash array with highest performance, but also a rich software feature set for a full complete storage system offering.

A lot of customers started with flash technology and they were doing just application acceleration, and often even just inside the servers where we started. Now, with Tier zero environments you can do larger application acceleration environments, but now as we really look at disk systems being replaced by all flash systems you need that same rich software feature set that customers are used to in the enterprise data centers around disk systems now in a storage system that's all flash technology. That's where we see the market moving not just using flash for individual workloads for accelerating applications, but really flash as an alternative to high performance disk, and really taking over the enterprise data center marketplace.

Mark: Now we know the sort of the shape of the market from Mike, and we also heard a little bit about the portfolio in the announcement from Kevin. I then turned back to Mike and asked him to succinctly summarize where the future of flash might be?

Mike: Everybody knows that flash is extremely fast, very powerful, but what it really has done is not just allow people to do things in an order of magnitude faster, it's allowed them to do things in real time. When you think about it, if you have access to any data that you need any time you want it, then you can make better actionable decisions in real time. That's the real power of flash technology. We believe flash technology is going to replace all high performing spinning disk in the near future. To do that there are many challenges, it has to be enterprise ready, it has to have a lot of characteristics made for the data center like encryption, concurrent code load. It has to be software defined. You need a software point of view around the technology to drive things like copy services or real time compression, things that drive cost on as well as make it ready for enterprise applications.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure