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IBM storage strategy still fluid for hyper-convergence

Jamie Thomas explains IBM’s storage strategy for its newly branded Spectrum line, and whether a hyper-converged appliance is on the vendor’s roadmap.

IBM has been quiet on the hot area of hyper-convergence, preferring instead to focus on storage software and flash. In a recent conversation with Jamie Thomas, general manager for storage and software-defined systems at IBM, we asked her about the IBM storage strategy and the organization's take on hyper-converged and other storage technologies for virtualization.

Here is what she had to say:

What's IBM's strategy on hyper-convergence?

Jamie Thomas: A lot of people define hyper-converged as only running in a VMware-oriented container. We have a little bit broader definition. When I look at a product like Spectrum Scale, it can run storage in a hyper-converged environment whether it's running bare metal or running virtualized environments. That means you're able to run your compute and storage in the same environment. And that's what a lot of clients do. They can choose to run it that way, or they can choose to just scale out and use those servers as a big storage farm.

When we look at Spectrum Accelerate, that's a product that is particularly well-suited to virtualized environments, VMware environments. And in that kind of environment, Spectrum Accelerate can approximate a virtualized hyper-converged environment.

One of the main advantages of hyper-convergence is that everything comes in one box. Will IBM have a product there or will customers have to put together the pieces?

Jamie ThomasJamie Thomas

Thomas: If I believe there's opportunity there for us, creating the appliance is not a problem. That's something we could always do in the future but not something we're focused on right now. Right now, I think the bigger opportunity for us has been in the models we're currently going after.

What is IBM's storage strategy regarding VM-aware storage?

Thomas: That's really what XIV excels at. XIV is excellent at dealing with virtualized environments. Both XIV and Spectrum Accelerate are very, very good at managing storage in the context of VMware environments. The other thing we handle well is a lot of flash is used to optimize those kinds of environments, and we certainly play in that arena as well.

Has IBM done integration work related to VVOLs and other new VMware features?

Thomas: We have demonstrated exploitation in the context of the Storwize family, our [Spectrum] Virtualize capability as well as XIV. We very much are an exploiter of the APIs and capabilities that VMware makes available.

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