The IBM FlashSystem 9200 is an end-to-end NVMe storage system, meaning it supports NVMe over Fabric with Fibre Channel and Ethernet as well as attaching storage devices in the form of SSDs and FlashCore Modules using PCIe with NVMe protocol. The FlashSystem is targeted with the performance and capacity to cover requirements from mid-tier to high-end enterprises. With Spectrum Virtualize software in the FlashSystem 9200, it is capable of virtualizing other attached storage systems providing common administration, advanced features such as replication and snapshots, and the ability to seamless migrate data. The FlashSystem 9200 is a scale-out storage system with the basic unit being a pair of controllers that can be scaled to four pairs or eight controllers in a cluster. Included in the system is data reduction via Data Reduction Pools. Data is deduplicated, compressed, and compacted as it is received in the 9200 controllers and stored in reduced form. Data in the virtualized external storage systems may also be reduced.
Storage devices used in the FlashSystem 9200 include NVMe protocol SSDs and FlashCore Modules along with SCM devices. The FlashCore modules were re-engineered from the original FlashSystem 900 to attach to the controllers using PCIe and support the NVMe protocol. FlashCore modules are in a 2.5” form factor. Up to 12 SCM devices can be supported as a storage tier.
The functionality of the FlashSystem is the same as the IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC), and previous Storwize systems. The management is a web-based GUI that is highly advanced, targeted at an IT generalist. Different from most other storage systems, the advanced features are pre-installed on the FlashSystem 9200 with many being included in the base price of the system. Additional cost features are enabled with license keys.
The virtualization of external storage systems from a variety of vendors has two forms that can be utilized. One is to explicitly map the LUNs (volumes) from the external storage for host access through the FlashSystem and the other is to migrate the data through the FlashSystem to internal or external storage to take advantage of the block-level virtualization with the advanced features for thin provisioning, wide striping, and the EasyTier automated data tiering. Since all the accesses are through the FlashSystem controllers, this type of virtualization has been called an “in-band” type of virtualization approach.
For high availability, FlashSystem 9200 runs in a paired configuration with custom clustering software. Clustering for a scale out configuration is supported for up to four pairs of controllers. (Note – IBM uses the term ‘node’ for a controller rather than a pair of controllers, which is different from most other vendors).
In 2021 IBM added in support for its Safeguarded Copy functionality, similar to the capability found in IBM DS8900 systems. Safeguarded Copy provides data resiliency and ransomware protection by creating immutable, logically air gapped copies of data.
Transparent Cloud Tiering allows volumes to be tiered to clouds including Amazon S3, OpenStack Swift, and IBM Cloud. IBM Cloud Object Storage is also a tiering target.
IBM Storage Insights is included with the FlashSystem purchase, providing storage analytics and monitoring. Storage Insights improves resiliency, manages problem resolution, and has storage resource management reporting.
For the FlashSystem 9200, IBM has an evergreen program where the controllers will be replaced with purchase of a three-year hardware and software maintenance agreement.
IBM FlashSystem 9200 Product Brief Includes:
Usage and Deployment
Evaluator Group Commentary
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