IBM: Goodbye Storwize, Hello Storwize

October 7, 2010 -- IBM made a slew of storage announcements in NYC today. At first glance, it looks like some winners on the disk array front, but there's one part of the announcements that may cause some confusion.

But first, let's take a step back. IBM recently acquired Storwize, which specialized in real-time data compression for primary storage. Big Blue has apparently scuttled the Storwize name as it applies to that company's products. The products now fall into the IBM Real-time Compression (note the url on that page) operation, and the products are generally referred to as IBM Real-time Compression Appliances for NAS, although IBM seems to be keeping the specific model names; e.g., the STN 6500 (up to 16 Gigabit Ethernet connections) and STN 6800 (up to eight 10GbE connections).

However, headlining today's product blitz was the IBM Storwize V7000 array which, at least for now, apparently does not have any of the technology associated with the products from the former Storwize company.

I thought I was missing something, so I checked in with Greg Schulz at The Server and StorageIO Group (formerly StorageIO), who was also confused on IBM's re-purposing of the Storwize moniker. Here's what Greg had to say:

"If IBM was trying to make a cloud storage announcement, they may have succeeded in creating a layer of fog around the renaming of the data footprint reduction (dfr) company formerly known as Storwize to Real-time Compression.

"That may be straightforward, but what's confusing, or foggy, is the use or recycling of the Storwize brand name, which was gaining ground and awareness around real-time compression for primary storage, to name an SVC-based storage virtualization system. Are they trying to say that using the V7000 is storage wise, or smart? Are they trying to differentiate from SVC, or storage virtualization, or virtual storage? Or trying to ride the growing awareness around the Storwize brand name?"

As mentioned, the confusing part is that the Storwize V7000 does not have Storwize's (the company) real-time compression technology, at least not yet.

The IBM Storwize V7000 is a mid-range storage system that incorporates elements of IBM's SAN Volume Controller (SVC), as well as Big Blue's Easy Tier technology and the XIV interface. (IBM claims that Easy Tier provides a performance improvement of up to 300% via automatic migration to solid-state disk drives, and the SVC functionality enables users to virtualize existing storage resources.) The Storwize V7000 also includes IBM technologies such as FlashCopy, Systems Director and thin provisioning.

Hardware specs of the 2U array include up to 24 2.5-inch drive bays or 12 3.5-inch drive bays, up to 24TB of capacity using 2TB SAS drives or 14TB using 600GB SAS drives, eight Fibre Channel host ports and four 1Gbps iSCSI host ports, and a RAID controller that supports up to nine storage expansion units.

In his blog post (which is a good one) on the Storwize V7000, IBM employee and SVC specialist Barry White says that the V7000 integrates:

"Something old (SVC)
Something new (the controller and enclosure)
Something borrowed (DS8000 RAID)
But it's ALL BLUE!"

For another good blog on the Storwize V7000, check out this Storage Buddhist post.

Shipments of the Storwize V7000 are slated for mid-November.

Particularly if you're an SVC fan, the V7000 may be a very cool product -- and it is Blue through and through -- but I'm still scratching my head over the Storwize branding.

"They seem to like the name Storwize so much that they've elevated it," says the Taneja Group's Arun Taneja. "The V7000 is the first in a series of products that could replace IBM's entire mid-range arrays. This is a very strategic product, but the question is: How high can it scale?"

Also at the event in NYC today, IBM introduced the high-end System Storage DS8800 array, which IBM claims is 40% faster than the DS8700. As are its high-end competitors, IBM has moved away from 3.5-inch disk drives, going only with 2.5-inch, 6Gbps SAS drives on the DS8800, which can be configured with up to 1,056 drives for a total capacity of 634TB. The array can also be configured with SSD drives, and support for Easy Tier is expected next year.


posted by: Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson, Editor-in-Chief
by Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson has been the Editor-in-Chief of InfoStor since its inception in 1997. He previously held editorial positions at publications such as Datamation, Systems Integration, and Digital News and Review. He can be contacted at dsimpson@quinstreet.com

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