IBM gives cloud storage controls to corporate users

Amid a flurry of news surrounding the Watson supercomputer, IBM this week released major upgrades to three enterprise storage products, including a self-service software portal for end users.

IBM said the new SmartCloud Storage Access software gives users a portal to provision storage for their own computers. Traditionally, storage is provisioned by an IT administrator, a process which can take hours or even days.

The SmartCloud Storage Access tool can provide users a web-based self-service interface into a corporate private cloud infrastructure that's supported by EMC's Storwize V7000 Unified storage array or IBM's Scale-Our NAS (SONAS) array.

Depending on how the software is configured by a corporate administrator, individual users can add storage capacity, request more capacity, access and manage files and even monitor their cloud storage use history, IBM said.

Admins can set up policy-driven approval processes, create storage classes so data is stored on higher or lower performance drives, define service catalogs and optimize capacity utilization across storage systems. IT admins can set capacity warning thresholds and monitor end-user storage use.

IBM adds 10Gbps Ethernet support to XIV

IBM also announced 10Gbps Ethernet on its XIV Storage System, a high-end, grid-based array that supports virtualized server, analytics and cloud computing environments.

The 10Gbps Ethernet support will allow a 5X bandwidth improvement for iSCSI-connected SANs, the company said.

The upgrade to the XIV Storage System also provides for efficient storage utilization in Windows 2012 server environments, and 16% better energy efficiency through the use of new and advanced power supplies, IBM said.

The upgraded system also uses improved solid-state drive (SSD) caching algorithms to increase performance up to four-and-a-half times for random database workloads, and five times for sequential database workloads, such as OLTP, IBM said.

Real-Time Compression Appliance

IBM also announced a new version of its Real-Time Compression Appliance (model STN7800). Version 4.1 of the appliance offers five times the compression of its predecessor; it can compress primary data by up to 80%, IBM said.

The new version incorporates System x server technology and has sixteen Gigabit Ethernet ports that support eight connections between NAS systems and network switches. The updated appliance also support 10GbE optical, 1GbE copper, or mixed 10GbE and 1GbE connectivity options.

The appliance offloads compression processing from both application servers and storage systems, helping to improve efficiency and performance.

Lastly, IBM unveiled an updated version of its System Storage TS7600 ProtecTIER deduplication appliances.

The updated appliances allow files stored in Unix/AIX environments to be backed up using up to 96% less storage space without having to use dedicated backup software, the company said.

IBM also added support for NFS connectivity, Virtual Tape Libraries (VTL), and Symantec OpenStorage (OST). The appliance already offered CIFS as an interface.

There are also new 23TB and 35TB expansion options for the TS7620 model of the appliance, which is aimed at small and mid-sized companies.

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