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IBM Storwize V7000 – Product Brief

Last updated December 28th, 2018 for annual review and updates. Concise and unbiased 9-page overview of the features and functionality of IBM Storwize V7000. Product Brief includes EvaluScale Reviewing Methodology. Download the free Product Brief now!

Overview

The IBM Storwize V7000 is a mid-tier block-storage system capable of virtualizing all attached disks and other attached storage systems.  The Storwize system utilizes IBM Spectrum Virtualize software as the underlying embedded software.  The V7000 starts as a dual controller system and scales out to four pairs of controllers.  It supports up to 760 devices in a cabinet along with the ability to virtualize external attached storage systems.  The V7000 includes data reduction of primary data, now included in the base price.  Data is compressed and inline using the processor chipset hardware as it is received in the V7000 controllers.

The Gen3 technology Storwize V7000 was released in October 2018 and introduced NVMe over Fabric support, NVMe protocol for SSDs and Flash Core Modules (FCMs) that are also offered in the FlashSystem 9100, and Skylake processors.  The performance increase of the Gen3 technology over the Gen2+ is 2.7x.  The V7000 supports internal devices but can also add expansion enclosures of SAS attached SSDs or HDDs.

The Storwize V7000F is an all-flash model with 1,056 or 3,040 SSDs of FCMs in the max scale-out configuration.

The functionality of the Storwize V7000 is the same as the IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC).  The management of the V7000 is a web-based GUI that has advanced over the earlier GUI adapted from the IBM XIV system.  Different from most other storage systems, the advanced features are pre-installed on the V7000 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 V7000 and the other is to migrate the data through the V7000 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 V7000 controllers, this type of virtualization has been called an “in-band” type of virtualization approach.

For high availability, Storwize 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).

Cloud tiering allows volumes to be tiered to clouds including Amazon S3, OpenStack Swift, and IBM Softlayer.  IBM Cloud Object Storage is also a tiering target.

For the V7000F, 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.

Options for 50/100 GigE and 32 Gb/s Fibre Channel adapters has been added for future NVMeoF support.

Usage

The IBM Storwize V7000 is targeted as a mid-tier general purpose, block storage system with the ability to virtualize existing storage systems as a consolidation solution.  With the VMware support and the ability to use SSDs and automatic tiering, the V7000 is an excellent storage solution for server virtualization.  The large capacity, advanced features, and the performance give the V7000 capabilities much greater than its midrange positioning by IBM.

  • Characteristics
    • Performance – IBM has released extensive performance data. The Gen3 V7000 has 2.7x the performance of the previous Gen2+ system.
    • Availability – The V7000 is dual controller nodes as a system with the option clustered nodes. It is designed as a high availability system with the ability for failover between controllers.
    • Replication for BC/DR – Remote mirroring, both synchronous (FC) and asynchronous (FC and IP), is supported along with consistency groups. File replication is asynchronous over Ethernet.
    • Active-active stretched clusters are supported between two sites with HyperSwap
    • Encryption for internal and external storage
    • Data reduction – compression and compaction
  • Applications
    • The V7000 is targeted at any block storage application. As a general purpose storage system, the V7000 fits a very wide of application applicability.
  • System environments
    • The V7000 has been integrated with VMware Site Recovery Manager and has support for VAAI, VASA 2.0 and VVOL.
    • With the ability to virtualize other storage systems and provide both passthru LUN access or non-disruptive migration of LUNs, the V7000 is well suited as a consolidation solution.
    • The V7000 supports open systems and IBM System-i environments
  • Deployment and Administration
    • The V7000 has an intuitive GUI that has been evolved from the earlier XIV-based GUI. The simplicity brought with the new GUI allows it to be installed by a customer with moderate storage skills.
    • The management is integrated into IBM management products but can also be completely managed from the GUI.
    • A mobile application for management is available as a download from the Apple App Store.
    • IBM Storage Insights is the SaaS solution for predictive storage analytics and storage resource reporting.

Evaluator Group EvaluScale™: IBM Storwize V7000 – 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 Storwize V7000

The IBM Storwize V7000 system is a high-performance, scale-out block storage system with an all-flash model, the V7000F.  The major value for customer is with the block storage system and the ability to scale performance and capacity and the integration of Spectrum Virtualize software to virtualize externally attached storage systems.  The functionality provided is typically seen in high-end enterprise systems but with the V7000, is offered into mid-tier markets.  The Gen3 update with high performance deduplication, compression, Flash Core Modules, end-to-end NVMe makes this a very high performing system and will be a leading system for customers to consider.

Advanced features of replication, snapshot and tiering to clouds are very complete implementations.  The V7000 added storage pooling with dynamic block assignment (called distributed RAID by IBM) but continues to use copy-on-write snapshot technology rather than redirect-on-write.  We would expect this to change, providing the more efficient redirect-on-write snapshots.

The scale out capability is another advanced feature for block storage.  Currently the system scales to four pairs of controllers but we would expect this to be increased at some point.  The storage virtualization features are the same as offered with the SVC and provide great customer value.

Evaluator Group believes the Storwize V7000 system to be a leading midrange block storage system with the advanced features, scale-out capability, storage virtualization, and all-flash model.  The technology update with Gen3 illustrates IBM’s commitment to deliver leading storage solutions.


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