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May 11, 2015 / berniespang

Who would have thought Storage would become so exciting again?

I recently dined with a new business partner and we shared our respective histories to get to know each other better. I noted that I am relatively new to the Storage world, having spent my early career in the System z (a.k.a. mainframe) hardware lab, and almost 18 years in IBM Software.  He, on the other hand, had spent most of his career building or selling Storage systems. He said that he is surprised that after many years of Storage being “relatively boring,” it has again become a dynamic and exciting part of the industry.

I was struck by how his words were similar to ones I had heard from a colleague a few years back when referring to data management software. At that time I was still fairly new to that part of the IBM software business. When I moved to the Information Management team, my friends asked me: “Why move to such a boring part of the business – database software is pretty much what it is going to be.” They did not see that the “Smarter Planet” transformation was beginning to drive exciting innovations, beyond the relational database, needed to bring about a new generation of Big Data Analytics.

When I joined the Storage team last year, I heard similar question from my friends and this time I was prepared. I told them that this part of the business is ripe for transformative innovations. As the world generates more data every day from new systems and devices, and adopts new ways to analyze it for greater insights and business value, it needs a significant leap forward in how that data is securely stored and accessed – faster, easier and at lower cost.  As my new friend Eric Herzog is fond of saying, “our clients are experiencing oceans of data…. and surfs up, dude!”

As I prepare for the Edge2015 conference, reviewing the IBM Storage portfolio news and the many compelling stories our clients will be sharing with each other this week in Las Vegas, I am excited to find myself again in the right place at the right time. Several innovations are driving fundamental shifts in how our leading edge clients are skillfully surfing their growing data oceans:

  • Flash storage has become cost effective for “tier 1” storage, and is on an accelerated price-performance curve that spinning disk will not be able to match
  • Storage capabilities are being deployed as software that supports a variety of physical servers and storage devices, offering unprecedented flexibility and cost savings potential
  • Object Storage is emerging as a much easier and cost effective way to handle the growing volume of unstructured data in files, images, videos, etc.
  • Cloud based storage services, while still emerging for broad commercial use, have the potential to offer new levels of simplicity and cost efficiency
  • Innovations in venerable Tape storage continue the push the boundaries of density and cost efficiency, in both on-premises infrastructure and as a foundation for Cloud storage services

IBM is helping our clients take advantage of these shifts to improve costs and accelerate business growth. In February, we launched Spectrum Storage, a new portfolio of Software Defined Storage capabilities. This week we are announcing an exciting addition, a new feature of Spectrum Control called Storage Insights. Available first as a service on the IBM Cloud, Storage Insight can be deployed in under 30 minutes and provides analytics to optimize on-premises storage infrastructures, ease capacity planning, reclaim under-utilized storage and lower the cost of storage up to 50 percent per GB by optimizing data placement.

Another example is a new active archive Cloud service we are introducing as a Technology Preview and will be demonstrating at Edge.  This service, which has entered a pilot phase with our service partner Iron Mountain and a number of design sponsor clients, will enable users to store large amounts of data as Objects via OpenStack Swift, and easily retrieve it on demand, at the lowest cost possible.

Archived data is a huge treasure trove of untapped insights. Consider the decade’s worth of stored transaction and customer data that hold unseen trends that could help predict future opportunities.  Previous generation data archives may have been cost efficient ways to hold onto data; but today our clients need long term storage with the ability to easily retrieve that data at low cost to unlock all of its business value.  Innovations such as Spectrum Scale and Spectrum Archive software that provide policy driven, automatic placement and movement of data among storage tiers, can be deployed on premises, in a Cloud or across Hybrid Cloud environments to provide new generation data protection, retention and lifecycle management solutions.

These are just some examples of what attendees will hear about at Edge2015 this week. I hope you are joining us in person; but if not, I hope you are able to follow it online and read what the attendees have to say.  Too bad the event is not at Mandalay Bay, I would love to see Eric @zoginstor riding a Spectrum Storage surf board in the wave pool!


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