After also HDS jumped on the Unified bandwagon i think it’s time for some differentiation. Let’s start with the definition of Unified Storage.
What is a Unified Storage system ?
Unified Storage consolidates block-based and file-based access into one system. It’s a SAN(iSCSI/FC)-NAS-system or a better said we merge a block-based controller with file-based head.
What are the advantages of a Unified Storage system ?
- Single resource for provisioning Storage (block and file)
- Easy and quick provisioning of Storage (space for virtual machines) in virtual Environments
- Can easy cope with changing requirements (SAN to NAS or vice versa)
- One-stop management
What makes the difference ?
When you look over a Unified Storage system today they look all quite the same. You have a pair of redundant Disk controller (with Disk expansions behind it) for the block level access and one pair of servers in front of them for the file based access.
The big differentiator is the Software
The IBM Storwize V7000 U uses the functionality of IBM SVC (SAN Volume Controller) for provisioning of block level storage. This proven solution (since 2003) for Storage virtualization has many advantages. Combined with a very intuitive and easy GUI it’s a powerful and fast way to provision block level storage. Did i mention the EasyTier functionality ?
The IBM NAS software stack (think GPFS) running in the redundant File Modules give you access via NFS/CIFS/FTP/HTTPs/SCP protocols to the underlying storage. Administration of the V7000 Unified is done in one place (no extra hardware needed !) with just one GUI (see below)
Scalability is another important topic. With V7000 U you can start small and grow with the system. There is no need to get rid of your existing system and buy a larger box.
Another important differentiator is the IBM Active Cloud Engine. Richard Swain (thank you) explained it very good: “This engine is a policy driven engine that will help improve the storage efficiency by automatically placing, moving and deleting files to the appropriate storage. The efficiency gain comes from storing the files where they should be with out an administrator manually moving them. As data is gets older, the engine can move the file to another location where the price per TB is less and even delete the file if necessary.
The movement is done seamlessly and the end user does not have any idea their data has moved. Another aspect of the engine is identifying files for backups or replication to a DR location. As the data ages, the data continues the life cycle through the data center without storage administrators intervention.
Data can be moved from internal disk to external virtualized disk and even to tape. The diagram below shows the movement from file creation to 180 days old and off to deduped tape.”
So there you have it – a proven true Unified system – the IBM V7000 Unified has it all. Did i mention the installed base and references ?