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IBM FlashSystem V9000 – Product Brief

Last updated December 28th, 2018 for annual review and updates. Concise and unbiased 5-page overview of the features and functionality of IBM FlashSystem V9000. Product Brief includes EvaluScale Reviewing Methodology. Download the free Product Brief now!

Overview

The IBM FlashSystem solid-state storage systems are a family of all solid-state technology systems with the latest models being the 900, the Spectrum Virtualize based V9000 and the Spectrum Accelerate based A9000.  The FlashSystem storage systems come from the IBM acquisition of Texas Memory Systems in 2012.  The 900 uses custom designed flash devices with special software to manage wear and lifespan called MicroLatency Modules.  The FlashSystem systems come from a heritage of systems designed for solid-state technology with the original systems based on DRAM technology.  The all solid-state systems benefit from the memory –based performance designs.

The IBM FlashSystem V9000 integrates a FlashSystem 900 with the Spectrum Virtualize software on SVC hardware nodes.  The solution is targeted for usage in enterprise environments where the advanced capabilities of enterprise storage systems and the performance acceleration of the FlashSystem 900 are required.   The minimum configuration is an SVC dual controller system with the ability to scale to four pairs (8 controllers).  The features provided with the V9000 include:

  • Currently, same SVC characteristics and software
  • Can scale to 8 controllers (4 node pairs)
    • Performance 5.2M IOPs and 68 GB/s bandwidth for 8 controllers with V9000
    • 180 us latency (90 us latency for writes on the FlashSystem 900)
  • Provides advanced features of Spectrum Virtualize
    • Remote replication
    • Snapshot
    • Deduplication, compaction and compression – with hardware assist
    • Encryption of external attached storage
    • 3rd party storage virtualization attachment
    • Easy tier – use with 3rd party storage and three tiers
    • Support for VASA 2.0 and VVOLs
    • Support for SMI-S for MS SCVMM management in Hyper-V
    • Cloud tiering
    • Encryption of internal and external devices with SKLM or internal key management
  • Can add up to 20 2U-24 device enclosures or 8 5U-92 device enclosures of SSDs or HDDs per controller pair
  • Optional standby node
  • Optional node pair without devices for performance scaling only

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. A hot spare flash module is included and hot swap of the module allows for non-disruptive operation.

For the V9000, IBM has an evergreen program where the controllers will be replaced with purchase of a three-year hardware and software maintenance agreement.  This is for controllers purchased after 4/1/17.

Usage

The IBM FlashSystem storage systems are designed for general purpose block storage usage where high performance is required.  Targeted usages referenced for the FlashSystem systems include database applications with storage for Indexes, logs, and temporary databases.  Other performance demanding applications such as virtual desktops should benefit from the performance of FlashSystem.

The FlashSystem 900 would be used in environments for application acceleration.  The FlashSystem V9000 would be used as primary or tier 1 storage with the scaling and advance features from the SVC software.  The FlashSystem 900 supports NVMeoF with InfiniBand.

Evaluator Group EvaluScale™: FlashSystem V9000 – 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 FlashSystem V9000

The IBM FlashSystem V9000 is a solid-state system supporting block storage.  The systems are typically used in environments with high performance requirements or multiple workloads where high speed random I/Os are required.  High availability is designed into the systems with redundancy of components and access paths.  The V9000 is a complete enterprise system with features and performance to address even the most stringent needs.  Additionally, the V9000, with the SVC capabilities can virtualize external storage systems, allowing for a seamless migration to an all-flash environment.

The scale-out capabilities of the V9000 allow customers to scale capacity in parallel with performance as the need for capacity increases.  This is a great long-term benefit. From a challenging standpoint, the packaging of the V9000 is very large, much greater than competitors.  In addition, the VASA provider is external to the storage system and must run in a virtual machine.

Evaluator Group has tested the performance of the FlashSystem and believe it will be a good solution for customers in enterprise environments, both for acceleration and consolidation in the storage environment.


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