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Storwize launch brings NVMe to midrange IBM flash arrays

IBM brings NVMe to the midrange with the latest Storwize SAN array, which includes Spectrum Virtualize software bundle for storage management, data protection and security.

IBM today refreshed its V5000 Storwize SAN flash arrays, including a midrange model to complement the NVMe-based V7000 Storwize flash arrays rolled out in October.

The new IBM flash systems natively embed IBM Spectrum Virtualize software-defined storage and IBM Storage Insights analytics. IBM previously sold Spectrum Virtualize as a separate license with Storwize. IBM said the V5000 provides 99.9999% of availability at the array level. Spectrum Virtualize is the IBM SAN Volume Controller product line with a different branding, launched several years ago when IBM started selling it as a virtual appliance.

The Storwize V5100F expands the product line with a low-end system engineered for NVMe flash. With presumed data reduction, IBM said the V5100F systems support 2 petabytes (PB) of usable flash in a 2U rack fully loaded with 1,520 commodity NVMe SSDs.

Storwize and FlashSystem arrays use IBM's custom-built FlashCore Modules, available in 4.8 TB, 9.6 TB and 19.2 TB capacities, although customers can choose SSDs from third-party vendors instead of the FlashCore Modules.

This marks the third IBM flash upgrade centered on emerging NVMe fabric technologies in the past year. In addition to the Storwize V7000, the IBM FlashSystem 9100 rack-scale arrays hit the market in June. IBM previously introduced NVMe on its FlashSystem V9000, which uses InfiniBand, and the Ethernet-based FlashSystem 9100.

The Storwize V5000 competes mainly with the Dell EMC Unity arrays. Storwize arrays are the first midrange systems to integrate NVMe flash, said Eric Burgener, a research vice president of storage at IDC. Burgener said the only other midrange NVMe flash system on the market is Huawei Systems OceanStor Dorado V3 arrays.

"One of the singular things about the new Storwize is that you can get NVMe flash technology in the midrange. Almost every vendor has an NVMe system in the market, but most of them are high-end systems. Dell EMC Unity is a midrange system, but it doesn't have NVMe yet," Burgener said.

IBM Storwize V5000
IBM Storwize V5000 upgrade adds midrange array with NVMe flash.

Storwize SAS, SATA refresh

Flash has been a focus under IBM Storage GM Ed Walsh, helping the vendor end a five-year revenue decline in 2018.

Along with the NVMe-based V5100F, IBM today added enhancements to Storwize SAS and SATA SSD systems. The Storwize 5010E is the successor to the entry-level 5010. Like the 5010, the Storwize 5010E supports 392 SAS or SATA devices, but cache size quadrupled from 16 GB to 64 GB, which IBM claims can deliver 30% more IOPS per box. The 5010E starts at 12 TB of raw capacity for $12,000.

A single Storwize 5030E scales to 23 PB. Two-way clustering allows the 5030E to expand capacity to 32 TB, using 30 TB SSDs. A nondisruptive controller upgrade enables customers to start with a Storwize 5010E and move up as capacity or performance needs to be increased.

Spectrum Virtualize provides storage management features, such as data reduction, storage pooling, automated tiering, thin provisioning, mirroring, replication, snapshots and software-based encryption. The software gives IBM customers a common management platform across Storwize and high-end enterprise FlashSystem 9100 arrays, and it also supports other vendors' storage systems.

"Bundling Spectrum Virtualize changes things significantly, in the sense that it's entirely new software. They're using a common software across more of the IBM flash product line," Burgener said.

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