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IBM FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R – Product Brief

Last updated December 17th, 2019 for end of year updates. This IBM FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R Product Brief is a concise report on the features and functionality of this product. Includes EvaluScale Reviewing Methodology. Download the free Product Brief now!

Overview

The IBM FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R solid-state storage systems are based on the FlashSystem 9000 combined with Spectrum Accelerate software executing on grid controllers (Intel-based servers).  The A9000 system has three grid controllers with the FlashSystem 900 in an active-active-system.  The A9000R is a rack system with four grid controllers and two FlashSystem 900s in the base configuration and the ability to scale within the rack in increments on a single grid controller and another FlashSystem 9000.  The Hyper-Scale software feature allows up to 144 systems to be managed as a single entity with migration for balancing systems.

The A9000 and A9000R are based on Spectrum Accelerate software, which is derived from the XIV system.  With the mature software base, the FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R has the advanced features from the successful XIV.  Added with the A9000 and A9000R is deduplication and compression to increase effective capacity (and reduce cost).  The HyperSwap feature provides active-active stretched clusters.

As a high performance flash system, the A9000 and A9000R has 250 microseconds response time – even with the inline deduplication and compression active.  IBM quotes 900,000 IOPs for the A9000 and 2.4 million IOPs for the A9000R with 4K I/Os and 70% reads and 30% writes.

IBM only quotes effective capacity with the two models using a 5.26:1 data reduction however; the systems use IBM MicroLatency modules that come in 3.6, 8.5, and 18 TB capacities using 3D NAND TLC.  There are 12 MicroLatency modules per FlashSystem 900.

The grid controllers differ between the A9000 and A9000R by the number of processor cores.

IBM positions the A9000 as a building block for cloud storage.  The A9000R is positioned for larger enterprise environments.

The features provided with the A9000 and A9000R include:

  • Effective capacity range of the A9000 is from 110TB to 900TB.
  • Effective capacity range of the A9000R is from 360TB to 1.8PB
  • Synchronous and asynchronous remote replication
  • Quality of service at pool, volume or host level
  • Multi-tenancy support of isolation of access
  • Role-based administration
  • Encryption with support for key management software SKLM or internally managed keys
  • 3-site replication
  • HyperSwap active-active stretched clusters
  • VAAI
  • VVOLs
  • VASA 2.0
  • Redirect on write snapshots
  • New GUI – advanced beyond the original XIV GUI.
  • Migration from externally attached storage
  • Always on compression and deduplication. Note that the MicroLatency Modules in the FlashSystem 900 have inline hardware-based compression as well.

The flash-based solid state modules are RAID protected with two methods:  RAID 5 within the module (or optionally RAID 0 in the case of model 900) to protect from cell failures and RAID 5 across the modules called Variable Stripe RAID to protect from module failures.  The RAID protection method is called 2D Flash RAID.  In addition to redundant power, data paths, and control paths, ECC is used in the flash modules.

IBM FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R Product Brief Includes:

Highlights
Overview
Usage
EvaluScale Product Review Methodology
Evaluator Group Commentary

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