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IBM Spectrum protects OpenShift container data

IBM seeks to outdo Tanzu; Spectrum Protect for Red Hat OpenShift launches as new containers are spun into operation, and protects OpenShift Container Storage with snapshots.

IBM Storage bolstered data management for containers by nudging Red Hat OpenShift closer to the IBM Spectrum Scale clustered file system.

The launch this week adds an IBM Cloud Paks module for IBM Spectrum Protect Plus aimed at container-native storage in Red Hat OpenShift Container Storage (OCS) and CoreOS-based environments. The enhancement protects containerized apps that access IBM Spectrum Scale data lakes using the Kubernetes orchestration engine.

Storage was not a key driver of IBM's $34 billion Red Hat acquisition in October 2018, and there has been little integration of IBM and Red Hat storage products. However, IBM said its ultimate goal is to establish Red Hat OpenShift as a standard for moving Kubernetes-based application containers and data across IBM storage arrays and other supported storage and public clouds. Spectrum Protect Plus for Red Hat containers is scheduled for general availability in the fourth quarter of 2020.

IBM also expanded the storage systems it supports with its Spectrum Discover metadata analytics and management platform and added capabilities in IBM Spectrum Virtualize for IBM FlashSystem arrays.

Spectrum Protect as a DR container

Containers virtualize data without a fully hosted guest operating system. Experts said containers will be the default for writing cloud-based applications. Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) said three-quarters of organizations will run production-ready apps in containers by 2021.

Scott Sinclair, an ESG storage analyst, said enterprises realize that containers require a different management tool set than virtual machines.

"As adoption of containers in production continues to rise, so has the need for enterprise-level storage capabilities and additional functionality to expedite the adoption. IBM recognizes this as well. IBM's integration of features for storage and data production keeps pace with how organizations want to consume containers," Sinclair said.

IBM's plan is to establish Red Hat OpenShift as a foundation for developing applications that span multi-cloud environments. IBM Cloud Paks is a manifestation of that aim, allowing IBM to containerize its software portfolio running atop Red Hat Open Shift. The Spectrum Protect Plus code protects application data and metadata across Kubernetes clusters.

Integrating Spectrum Scale and OpenShift allows Kubernetes administrators to add nodes for improved performance, IBM director of storage products Chris Saul said.

Customers with IBM storage or 5,000 supported storage systems invoke a Red Hat OpenShift runtime operator to run IBM Spectrum Protect Plus server as a disaster recovery container. Doing so eliminates a previous requirement to run Spectrum Protect Plus on a dedicated VMware client.

IBM positions Red Hat OpenShift as a direct competitor to VMware's Tanzu Kubernetes orchestration. The Kubernetes inventory can be viewed with a command-line interface or the Spectrum Protect Plus management pane. Service-level agreements can be set to govern remote data backup, recovery, replication and retention.

Red Hat's operator packages sets of automation code that launch IBM Spectrum Protect Plus as new containers are spun into operation.

"The Red Hat operator is a very impressive technology. A key aspect of container environments is not having to think about how to submit a trouble ticket to stand up new storage and data protection for microservices," Sinclair said.

IBM enhanced Spectrum Protect Plus snapshots to support OpenShift Container Storage and Ceph block storage. That's a follow-on development from Container Storage Interface-based snapshots added earlier this year to IBM Spectrum Virtualize. The Red Hat Velero API allows development teams to recover applications, namespaces and entire container clusters. The addition of IBM Cloud Object Storage provides a new target for immutable container snapshots.

IBM FlashSystem is the vendor's flagship block storage, updated with new arrays in February. Upgrades include distributed RAID mirroring to boost efficiency of small configurations of flash. Saul said FlashSystem supports up to 12 storage class memory cards and 24 SSDs of IBM FlashCore modules.

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