IBM unveils new tiered storage products

It's focusing on unstructured data and data tiering

IBM today announced several new storage products that are designed to automate the movement of data to appropriate storage media and make it easier for users to use analytics to gain insight from the data.

Driven by a rapidly growing pool of sensors and gadgets that are digitizing information, worldwide data already vastly exceeds available storage space -- yet enterprise demand for storage capacity is expected to have grown at a compound annual growth rate of over 43% between 2008 and 2013.

IBM's DS8700 disk storage system will now include IBM's System Storage Easy Tier feature, which uses performance monitoring software or data tiering technolog to move only the most active data to faster solid-state drives (SSDs).

The new function can eliminate the need for manual storage tier policies and reduce costs by eliminating the number of high-end Fibre Channel or SAS drives that are often short stroked in order to increase performance.

Short stroking involves setting up multiple hard drives so that only the outer sectors of the drive platters are accessed by the read/write head, which speeds data throughput but wastes the vast majority of the unit's capacity. A single SSD, can produce up to 16,000 input/output operations per second (IOPS). In comparison, a high-end, 15,000rpm Fibre Channel drive maxes out at 200 IOPS.

IBM also introduced a new tape library file system for storing unstructured long-term retention data. IBM's new Long Term File System uses the recently released LTO Ultrium Generation 5 tape drive, offering up to 1.5TB of storage capacity or 3TB with compression -- double the capacity of LTO-4 tape drives.

LTO-5 tape drives also offer hardware-level encryption and double the write speeds of LTO-4 drives: 280MB/sec.

IBM said its new Long Term File System is aimed at storing content from organizations that generate digital media such as those in the entertainment, medical and digital surveillance industries.

Video content vendor Thought Equity Motion said it beta tested the IBM Long Term File System and found it to be a less expensive technology for archiving content.

Thought Equity Motion said it saves money for its media partners "by making their news, sports, entertainment and creative footage accessible to content producers and digital channels," Mark Lemmons, Thought Equity Motion's CTO, said in a statement. "This type of footage has a tremendous storage footprint and we are seeking new ways to affordably and securely store our clients' content. The IBM Long Term File System proved itself to be a simpler, less expensive way to handle the unique needs and exponential growth of digital media."

IBM also said it is adding a "many-to-one" replication feature to its ProtecTIER deduplication appliance, which will allow multiple data centers or remote offices to replicate backup data to a central location. Through deduplication of data, ProtecTIER can reduce the bandwidth needed to send the data by at least 95%, IBM said.

The company said its latest version of the IBM Tivoli Storage Manager software can also be used to collect, manage and retrieve the data stored on ProtecTIER.

Additionally, IBM announced the latest version of its XIV Storage System, an array based on a grid architecture.. IBM is offering twice the storage capacity on the physical array with 2TB SATA drives and lower voltage processors to help reduce peak power usage by up to 59%.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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