IBM parades ESS 3000 appliance in Big Storage Day Out

Twice a year IBM blitzes out a bunch of storage hardware releases. Today was once of the twice.

The information overload is overwhelming but IBM’s main messages for today’s announcements are storage for artificial intelligence and big data applications, with various upgrades, refreshed with a sprinkling of NVMe.

The ESS3000 looks like the latest member of the Elastic Storage Server line, a scale-out set of storage products for AI and Big Data analytics. This product line is based on IBM Power processors and uses Spectrum Scale parallel access file system software.

CPU change

IBM confirmed the ES3000 system is compatible with other ESS models. Blocks & Files was told by an IBMer that the ESS 3000 is based on Intel CPUs Skylake (14cores) running RedHat v8. Also the name – look closely – has changed from ESS (Elastic Storage Server) to ESS (Elastic Storage System).

IBM ESS 3000 configuration details

The ESS 3000 is an all-flash NVMe system in a single 2U box, preconfigured with Red Hat Enterprise Linux v8.x and containerised Spectrum Scale. At launch IBM used different descriptors for bandwidth and usable capacity for ESS 3000 and its older cousins. This makes meaningful comparison impossible.

The ESS can be deployed as a standalone system or scale out with additional ESS 3000 systems or with gen 3 Elastic Storage Server systems, the gen 3 GS flash, GH hybrid and GL disk-based products. It starts from 23TB capacity (12 x 1.92TB drives) and scales up and out to an exabyte and beyond.

The 3000 uses a 24-slot, 2U box, fitted with 1.92 TB, 3.84 TB, 7.68 TB or 15.36 TB SSDs. It provides up to 3m IOPS and has up to 42GB/sec read bandwidth number (32GB/sec read), using 12 x EDR Infiniband or 100G Ethernet ports. 


The Spectrum Scale Erasure Code Edition uses, as you would expect, erasure coding for data integrity. This is more space-efficient than RAID schemes. Spectrum scale also supports the Container Storage Interface.

And now for some more IBM storage news

Next up. Spectrum Discover file cataloguing and indexing now supports Spectrum Protect backup. Discover can harvest and extend metadata for records stored in Spectrum Protect backups. Spectrum Discover supports unstructured data in IBM’s Cloud Object Storage and Spectrum Scale. IBM intends to add support for Dell EMC Isilon later this year.

Storwize V7000

IBM’s top-end mid-range array the gen 3 Storwize V7000, gets FlashCore Modules, IBM’s proprietary SSDs, with compression. The less powerful V5100s got them in April.

The souped up V7000 delivers up to 2.7x more throughput than the gen 2+ V7000 product with its non-compressing FlashCore Modules.

The V7000 has end-to-end NVME capability.


Updated Spectrum Virtualize enables NVMe over Fabrics (NVMe-oF) support for Fibre Channel through a non-disruptive software upgrade for FlashSystem 9100, many installed FlashSystem V9000s, Storwize V7000F/V7000, SAN Volume Controller and VersaStack systems.

A new 16Gbit/s adapter adds Fibre Channel NVMe-oF support for FlashSystem 900, which already supports InfiniBand-based NVMe-oF. It gets a new high-capacity 18TB flash module supporting up to 44TB effective capacity after compression, compared with 22TB for the previous module.

The FlashSystem A9000R gets a lower-capacity entry-level configuration with a 40 per cent lower list price. It gets IBMs HyperSwap high-availability feature and disaster recovery.

Later this year the A9000R (R for rack) should get AI-enhanced capacity management of its deduplicated storage.

The mainframe-focused DS8880F arrays also gets a bigger flash module increasing capacity by up to 2X. The DS8882F tops out at 737.3TB compared to its previous 368.6TB.

IBM plans to add NVMe capability to Cloud Object Storage software in software-defined storage configurations later this year.