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IBM DS8870 Storage Array Platform

IBM's DS8870 is a storage array platform designed for large enterprise SAN environments with mission-critical workloads.

The IBM DS8870 is a large enterprise storage array for SAN environments, including highly virtualized infrastructures....

The DS8870 has the ability to deploy an all-flash or hybrid-flash configuration. All-flash configurations use flash storage instead of mechanical hard disk drives, reducing latency and increasing read/write speeds; hybrid configurations combine the performance of flash with higher-capacity, less expensive disk drives.

It comes in two models -- the 961 and the 96E -- depending on the configuration and options chosen.

The DS8870 stands 193.4 cm (76.14 inches) tall and has a maximum storage capacity of 3.072 petabytes. The unit supports 400 GB flash cards in the flash enclosure; 200 GB, 800 GB and 1.6 TB flash drives; and 146 GB, 300 GB and 600 GB hard disk drives (HDDs) running at a 15,000 rpm rotary speed. The array also supports 600 GB and 1.2 TB HDDs at 10,000 rpm, as well as 3.5-inch form factor 4 TB HDDs at 7,200 rpm.

The DS8870 is equipped with IBM's Easy Tier Server function, which performs optimization, data restriping and migration based on usage.

The unit uses a 6 Gbps point-to-point switched SAS-2 connection to an 8 Gbps Fibre Channel (FC) backbone. It supports RAID 5, RAID 6 and RAID 10. It has a maximum of 128 host ports on up to 16 host adapters. Each adapter holds either four or eight 8 Gbps FC and FICON ports. The DS8870 has a systemic multiprocessor configuration running two IBM POWER7+ processors with up to 16 cores each. It can have up to 1,024 GB of cache. The unit has a power consumption of up to 6 kVA (kW), and a thermal output of up to 20,800 BTU/hour.

The DS8870 is equipped with IBM's Easy Tier Server function, which performs optimization, data restriping and migration based on usage. For instance, in a hybrid flash deployment, Easy Tier would give users the option to assign the most-used application volumes to the flash tier. Additionally, the I/O Priority Manager automates quality of service management for all application volumes, including multi-tenant environments.

The unit also comes with the industry standard five 9s reliability guarantee. The DS8870 comes with IBM's data redundancy features, such as FlashCopy, Metro Mirror, Global Mirror and Global Copy, providing multi-target mirroring and replication for mission-critical workloads. The unit has a GUI for easy navigation, a command line interface for more detailed management and fully supports full-disk encryption drives. It supports thin provisioning, and comes with IBM's Tivoli Storage Productivity Center that provides detailed storage monitoring and reporting services.

Because of its highly variable nature, pricing for the DS8870 depends upon the configuration chosen. Prices range from $200,000 to $800,000, depending on which combination of flash cards, drives and non-flash drives is chosen, as well as any security options. The highest priced units use an all-flash configuration with encrypted, high-capacity solid-state drives. The IBM DS8870 is a customer-replaceable unit that comes with a 24/7 on-site, same day support service. IBM offers up to a four-year warranty for the unit.

Next Steps

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This was last published in March 2015

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What features are important to you as you consider a storage array platform like the IBM DS8870?
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We're waiting to see who comes out with support for VMware virtual volumes first. VVOL has a lot of potential to really change how we provision our private clouds, and I'd like to see support for it on a bunch of different vendors platforms. Quite frankly, I'm skeptical that VMware will be early to this party, and will likely only support it once they're forced.
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