Research Library

IBM DS8000 – Product Brief

Last updated August 6th, 2020 for product updates and cache. Concise and unbiased 6-page overview of the features and functionality of IBM DS8000. Product Brief includes EvaluScale Reviewing Methodology. Download the free Product Brief now!


The DS8000 is IBM’s high-end enterprise storage system supporting both mainframe and open system attachment. The DS8000 storage system currently consists of the DS8900F models with various choices of base and expansion elements to address specific configuration needs from a capacity, connectivity, and performance perspective. F is the designation for all flash models such as the previous DS8880F systems and the current DS8900F.

The DS8000 series is based upon the IBM POWER 9 server technology that is also integrated with the IBM Virtualization Engine technology. The DS8000 consists of a storage unit and one or two Hardware Management Consoles. A storage complex is the storage unit and the Management Consoles that manage it.

The DS8900F systems are all flash models that replaced the previous generation DS8880 hybrid models that were built upon IBM POWER 8 technology. The DS8900F provides the following features:

  • Two processor complexes with System-p POWER 9 processors
  • Models
    • DS8910F All Flash System
    • DS8950F All Flash System
  • PCIe Gen 3 adapters and Flash Enclosure connection
    • 6 Gb/s SAS-2 connections for devices
    • Up to 5.9 PB of physical flash storage
  • Up to 3.4 TB of processor memory (cache)
  • Up to 16 host adapters (HAs) supporting Fibre Channel and FICON host connectivity
  • Easy Tier for dynamic tiering of SSDs and HDDs and the Flash Enclosure
    • API for software developers to control data placement
    • Storage Tier Advisor tool for tiering optimization
  • Gen-2 Flash enclosure with dual-active PCIe connected controllers that utilize 2.5” Flash modules and custom flash controllers for accelerated performance.  RAID card with custom ASIC pair for redundancy
  • Multi-target replication with PPRC licensed feature
  • 19” rack with 40U rack expandable to 46U
  • Copy Services Manager – automation for advanced copy services and multi-site migration and disaster recover – both mainframe and open
  • zHyperLink for low response time system z connection and data protection
  • End to end encryption of data in-flight and at-rest

Transparent cloud tiering where data is automatically migrated to IBM Cloud Object Storage, IBM Cloud, or IBM TS7700 was added in 2017. This allows the mainframe to control movement for ECKD volumes with DFSMShsm to move data to and from the DS8000 and cloud object storage.


The IBM DS8000 is targeted at the high-end enterprise, especially with mainframe support requirements. IBM supports both mainframe and open systems and the DS8000 is IBM’s only storage offering capable of mainframe attachment. As a very mature and extremely reliable system, the DS8000 has extensive features required in demanding enterprise environments.

  • Characteristics
    • Performance – IBM has run the SPC benchmarks against the DS8000 with information available at the SPC website. As IBM’s premier high-end system, the DS8000 has special performance features to meet requirements in the enterprise IT space. The Flash enclosure called Flash Optimization with flash modules yield over 3M IOPs and 47 GB/sbandwidth according to IBM.
    • Availability – The DS8000 uses a dual Power system as the underlying system with high availability built into the design.
    • Replication for BC/DR – For usage in the most demanding environments, the DS8000 has extensive multi-site remote mirroring features with both synchronous and asynchronous capabilities along with consistency groups.
    • Safeguarded Copies for cyber resilience – immutable, non-host visible copies managed by IBM Copy Services Manager
    • End to end encryption of data including data transmitted over remote links
    • Compression of data transferred over TCPIP links for replication
  • Applications
    • The DS8000 is targeted at any block storage application including databases. As a general-purpose storage system, the DS8000 fits multiple usages in mainframes and open systems.
  • System environments
    • With mainframe attachment capability, the DS8000 has integrated features with the z/OS and other variations that are required.
    • The DS8000 has been integrated with VMware Site Recovery Manager and has support for VAAI.
  • Deployment and Administration
    • The DS8000 has an intuitive GUI migrated from XIV that would allow it to be installed by a customer with moderate storage skills.
    • The management is integrated into IBM management products (IBM Spectrum Control) but can also be completely managed from the GUI.
    • DS8900F features IBM Storage Insights cloud based management system.

Evaluator Group EvaluScale: IBM DS8000 – SAN Storage

Evaluator Group product review methodology “EvaluScale” assesses each product within a specific technology area.  The definitions of the criteria and explanations of how products are reviewed can be found in the  Evaluator Series Evaluation Guide. Download the product brief now to view the Evaluscale for this product.

Evaluator Group Opinion: Differentiating elements for IBM DS8000

The IBM DS8000 is a mature architecture that is extremely reliable – without question the most reliable of the high-end SAN storage systems. The inclusion of the Flash Enclosure with Flash modules is an enhancement that will improve the value of DS8000 with increased performance for customers. The need for a mainframe attached storage system will continue and IBM will support the DS8000 as that system. The maximum capacity for the different models reflects the amount required in that environment. Other storage systems will scale larger, but focus specifically on open systems usage.

The tight integration with zOS is a key value proposition for the DS8000 and IBM has the advantage of controlling both sides. It should be evident that IBM will continue to be the leader here. Evaluator Group expects that more advances will be made with the flash enclosures with great capacity and greater density as customers transition to all-flash primary storage.

Competition for selling storage, especially all-flash storage, is fierce and there is a continue price decline and dealing for footprint by vendors. IBM maintains a high list price and then provides discounting. The high list price needs to change given the changing competitive practices.

Register or login to download the free Product Brief with Evaluscale Product Review

Forgot your password? Reset it here.