Category Archives: flash storage

IBM expands flash storage portfolio in continued transition to cloud positioning

Cloud storageIBM has announced the expansion of its flash storage portfolio, to bolster its position in the cognitive computing and hybrid cloud market segments.

The FlashSystem arrays combine its FlashCore technology with scale-out architecture, in the company’s continued efforts to consolidate its position as a vendor to power cloud data centres which utilize cognitive computing technologies. Cognitive computing, and more specifically Watson, has seemingly formed the central pillar of IBM’s current marketing and PR campaigns, as it continues its journey to transform Big Blue into a major cloud player.

“The drastic increase in volume, velocity and variety of information is requiring businesses to rethink their approach to addressing storage needs, and they need a solution that is as fast as it is easy, if they want to be ready for the Cognitive Era,” said Greg Lotko, GM of IBM’s Storage and Software Defined Infrastructure business. “IBM’s flash portfolio enables businesses on their cognitive journey to derive greater value from more data in more varieties, whether on premises or in a hybrid cloud deployment.”

The company claims the new offering will provide an onramp for flash storage for IT service providers, reducing the cost of implementing an all-flash environment, as well as scalable storage for cloud service providers. Another feature built into the proposition, will enable customers to deal with ‘noisy neighbour’ challenges and other network performance issues which can be present in a multi-tenant cloud environment.

“The workloads our department manages include CAD files for land mapping, geographic information system (GIS) applications and satellite imagery for the over 9.2 million acres of State Trust lands we’re responsible to oversee. The data we manage is tied directly to our goal to make this information available and to increase its analytical capabilities,” said William Reed, CTO at the Arizona State Land Department, one of IBM’s customers. “After exhaustive, comparative proof of concept testing we chose IBM’s FlashSystem, which has helped to increase our client productivity by 7 times while reducing our virtual machine boot times by over 85 percent.”

Infinio Blog: Executive Viewpoint 2016 Prediction

This post originally appeared on Virtual-Strategy Magazine and is authored by Scott Davis, CTO at Infinio, a GreenPages partner.  It does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of GreenPages Technology Solutions.


It’s that time of year for CTO predictions. The rate of innovation and disruption across IT is certainly accelerating, providing ample opportunities for comment. Although there is a significant amount of disruptive change going on across many disciplines, I wanted to primarily focus on storage observations for 2016.

Emergence of Storage-class Memory

Toward the end of 2016, we’ll see the initial emergence of a technology that I believe will become the successor to flash. This new storage technology (storage class memory, or SCM) will fundamentally change today’s storage industry just as dramatically as flash changed the hard drive industry. Intel/Micron calls one version 3D XPoint and HP/SanDisk have joined forces for another variant.

SCM is persistent memory technology – 1,000 times faster than flash, 1,000 times more resilient, and unlike flash, it delivers symmetric read/write performance. SCM devices connect to memory slots in a server and they are mapped and accessed similarly to memory, although they are slightly slower. Unlike previous generations of storage technology, SCM devices can be addressed atomically at either the byte level or block-level granularity. Operating systems will likely expose them as either very fast block storage devices formatted by traditional file systems and databases (for compatibility) or as direct memory mapped “files” for next-generation applications. Hypervisors will likely expose them as new, specially named and isolated SCM regions for use by applications running inside the guest operating system (OS).

I expect that SCM will provide unprecedented storage performance, upend the database/file system structures we’ve grown accustomed to, and further drive the trend towards server-side storage processing, shaking up everything from storage economics to application design.

VSAN becomes an Alternative to HCI

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is a sales strategy wrapped around a software-defined storage architecture that has garnered much attention in the past few years. HCI offerings comprise integrated hardware and software “building blocks” bundled and sold together as a single entity. The hardware is typically a server with direct attached storage disks and PCI-e flash cards. All the software needed to run virtual workloads is packaged as well, including hypervisor, systems management, configuration tools and virtual networking. Perhaps most relevant to our part of the industry, there is always a software-defined storage (SDS) stack bundled with HCI offerings that virtualizes the disks and flash hardware into a virtual storage array while providing storage management capabilities. This SDS stack delivers all the storage services to the virtual machines.

In VMware’s EVO:Rail offering, VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) is this integrated storage stack. Now battle-tested and rich with enterprise features, VSAN will become more prevalent in the datacenter.  Organizations attracted to cost-effective, high-performance server-side software-defined storage solutions no longer have to embrace the one-size-fits-all hyperconverged infrastructure sales strategy along with it. They will increasingly choose the more customizable VSAN-based solutions, rather than prepackaged HCI offerings, particularly for sophisticated enterprise data center use cases.

Flash Continues to Complement Traditional Spinning Drives, Not Replace Them

While the all-flash array market continues to grow in size, and flash decreases in price, the reality of flash production is that the industry does not have the manufacturing capacity necessary to enable flash to supplant hard disk drives. A recent Register article quoted Samsung and Gartner data that suggested that by 2020, the NAND Flash industry could produce 253 exabytes (EB), which is three times the current manufacturing capacity at a cost of approximately $23 billion.


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Flash Storage: Is it right for you?

In this video, I discuss flash storage. Remember, flash storage isn’t just an enterprise play. It’s important to understand how it can be used and when you should purchase it. Who are the mayor players? What’s the difference between all-flash and hybrid or adaptive flash? What about single cell or multi-level cell? What’s the pricing like?

What you should be doing is designing a solution that can take can take advantage of the flash that is right for your applications and that fits your needs and purposes. A combination of flash drives and spinning drives put together correctly with the right amount of intelligent software can address nearly everybody’s most critical application requirements without breaking the bank.


If you’re interested in talking more about flash storage, reach out!



By Randy Weis, Practice Manager, Information Infrastructure