Every time that I take a close look at IBM’s data protection portfolio, veiled under its storage solutions umbrella, I am happily surprised by the technology—and my guess is that you would be too.
Among the announcements and reveals of the week were a few important data protection nuggets:
- A convergence of IBM’s storage hardware and software teams, which should result in better solution development not only from an actual engineering perspective but from customer marketing and partner enablement perspectives as well.
- A holistic rebranding of IBM’s storage portfolio as its “Spectrum.” Those who follow me know that I deem data protection to be a spectrum, so this is welcome news to me. One of my favorite quotes from IBM’s Michelle Steen was “IBM is a leader in backup, but we don’t call it backup—we call it data protection.” She gets it. IBM gets it. “Data protection” is not synonymous with “backup,” and is instead a much broader strategy of data and service agility and resilience, of which “backup" is but one approach, with others such as snapshots, replication, etc. also being part of the strategy.
- Building on the DP Spectrum, IBM announced updates to enable better integration of snapshotting (via IBM Flash Copy Manager) with its backup solution (IBM TSM) to meet customer demands for better agility.
- IBM also announced new functionality coming later in 2015 around cloud extensibility and WAN optimized replication courtesy of its Aspera acquisition.
- It also discussed new file-level recovery capabilities from VM backups through a portal that enables vAdmins to invoke their own restores, without TSM knowledge or interaction. This builds on IBM’s recent investments in leading-edge virtualization protection, as recently evaluated by ESG’s Lab team.
- IBM even discussed the coming virtual appliance that encapsulates TSM server, TSM Operations Center, and its VM features for a turnkey solution for midsized organizations and branch offices.
The feature announcements and Spectrum messaging also reveal something else when it comes to data protection: This isn’t your daddy’s, or grand-daddy’s, IBM. Because that IBM would rarely talk about vision or pre-release functionality, whereas this IBM is aspirational in its unified approach to data protection and management, yet grounded in technologies that are already shipping. And that is the most important reveal: IBM is evolving not only its products to meet customer demand, including enterprises and midsized orgs, but also its own teams and channels.
The bottom line is that IBM actually (perhaps surprisingly to some) appears to have all of the technologies necessary for a modern data protection strategy for organizations of all sizes. What IBM doesn’t yet have is a reputation of modern technical innovation in a hybrid 2015-world or solution alignment outside of large enterprises. But if IBM’s marketing and business partner enablement engines catch up with IBM’s storage engineering and business units, many folks may be surprised by IBM’s Spectrum of data protection in 2015 and beyond.