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IBM Storwize V5000 joins Big Blue's unified family

IBM Storwize is slotted into the middle of three unified storage arrays. IBM also refreshed its XIV high-end array and SmartCloud storage software.

IBM this week added a third member of the Storwize unified storage platform, along with enhancements to XIV and its SmartCloud Storage Access software.

The new IBM Storwize V5000 is slotted between the Storwize V7000 that launched in 2010 and the entry-level V3700 that came along two years later. All three models are built on IBM's SAN Volume Controller (SVC) storage virtualization engine.

The IBM Storwize platform competes primarily with Dell Compellent storage arrays, EMC VNX, Hitachi Data Systems HUS-V and NetApp FAS3200.

The V5000 is a 2U, 19-inch rack mount enclosure that supports up to six expansion enclosures and a maximum of 336 TB of physical storage capacity per node. Two nodes can be clustered to get 672 TB.

Thin provisioning, data migration and system clusters are integrated features in SVC, while external virtualization, flash copy, easy tier and remote mirroring are optional features.

"The software stack is the same," said John Barber, IBM's vice president of midrange and low-end systems for the Systems and Technology Group. "The hardware has a different Intel processor so it's not as high performance. The customers that need high performance will buy the V7000, where it all comes in a bundle and there is very little optional software. The V5000 does not have all the functions of the V7000."

IBM also integrated Bridgeworks SANSlide IP replication technology into the SVC stack for long-distance replication.

"IP replication can be a little flaky," Barber said. "Bridgeworks has worked on reliability in sending packets over IP. You can do true remote mirroring at long distance over IP and it's a lot cheaper [than replicating over Fibre Channel]."

IBM also has enhanced the stretch clustering for its SVC hypervisor, which can be split into two locations at approximately 186 miles apart for high availability. The hypervisor is now aware it resides in primary and secondary sites, so data is only sent once through the network.

"We have reduced the response time when writing to a secondary site," Barber said.

XIV goes to Havana and the cloud

IBM also enhanced its high-end XIV Storage System to support the latest OpenStack Havana release and the RESTful application programming interface (API) for cloud implementations. XIV has been integrated with the SmartCloud Storage Access management software for self-service provisioning, and now supports the IBM Storage Integration Server (SIS). SIS is a VMware VASA (vStorage APIs for Storage Awareness) provider and vSphere Web client plug-in for the cloud.

XIV also added data encryption with self-encrypting hard disk drives, software-encryption flash and flexible hot encryption. XIV does space reclamation for VMware and Windows 2012.

IBM SmartCloud Storage Access now supports block storage, including SVC, XIV and the Storwize V7000. The IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center has been upgraded with automated storage tiering to optimize storage volumes across heterogeneous storage systems and hypervisors.

Ian Smith, an IBM IT architect, said the enhancements in the SmartCloud software [are] a step toward software-defined storage.

"The problem with the cloud is customers are struggling to adopt it," Smith said. "SmartCloud software allows traditional storage environments to become more service-oriented."

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