IBM sprays storage improvements across its Spectrums

IBM has announced enhancements across its Spectrum storage software products, supporting Azure, boosting AIOps, speeding data to GPUs and adding a larger proprietary flash drive.

The news was revealed in an IBM blog with no identified author.

The blog summed things up by blandly announcing: “Today, IBM is announcing new capabilities and integrations designed to help organisations reduce IT complexity, deploy cost-effective solutions and improve data and cyber resilience for hybrid cloud environments.”

The announcements cover Spectrums Virtualize, Protect, Protect Plus, Scale, AIOps for FlashSystem and the ESS 3200, which runs Spectrum Scale software.

Spectrum Virtualize

Spectrum Virtualize is the operating, management and virtualization software used in the Storwize and FlashSystem arrays and SAN Volume Controller. The Storwize brand was absorbed into the FlashSystem brand in February 2020.

Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud (SVPC) is available for the IBM public cloud and was made available on AWS in April 2019, providing a hybrid on-premises-to-AWS capability; it’s been a long time coming to Azure. IBM announced a forthcoming beta program for Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud on Azure in February this year and now, eight months later, the software is generally available.

That means on-premises FlashSystem and SAN Volume Controller deployments can have public cloud-based disaster recovery sites, can migrate data to SVPC in the cloud and support what IBM calls cloud DevOps. This set of disaster recovery, migration and cloud DevOps facilities can function between public clouds as well.

SVPC on Azure supports IBM Safeguarded Copy, which automatically creates isolated immutable snapshot copies designed to be inaccessible by software. That means it functions as ransomware data protection.

Will we see SVPC supporting the Google Cloud Platform? We think so.


IBM’s FlashSystem AIOps capabilities are being boosted by acquired Turbonomic AI-powered Application Resource Management (ARM) and Network Performance Management (NPM) software technology.

In effect we have IBM’s response to HPE’s industry-leading InfoSight system monitoring and predictive analytics technology. IBM says:

  • Turbonomic will collect FlashSystem array information such as capacity, IOPS, and latency.
  • Turbonomic’s analysis engine combines FlashSystem data, virtualization data and application data to continuously automate non-disruptive actions and optimise array performance.

Big Blue says this reduces the need for over-provisioning the arrays and means their density can be increased, by up to 30 per cent on average, with no performance impact. That is surely good news.

It gets better for FlashSystem users with Instana, Red Hat OpenShift, VMware m vSphere or other major hypervisors, since Turbonomic will observe the entire stack from application to array. In IBM speak, “This enables all operations teams to quickly visualise and automate corrective actions to mitigate performance risk caused by resource congestion, while safely increasing density.”

Elsewhere across Big Blue’s Spectrums

Other IBM storage news:

  • Spectrum Protect Plus has been enhanced for Red Hat OpenShift and Kubernetes to support data protection for containerised workloads. This includes Red Hat certification, support for OpenShift workloads deployed on Azure, and direct backup to S3 object storage.
  • Spectrum Protect now supports replicating backup data to additional but unspecified data protection servers. 
  • IBM Spectrum Protect now supports using object storage for long-term data retention to reduce the cost of backup. (Assume an S3 interface.)
  • Spectrum Scale global data fabric gains a high-performance S3 object interface, bypassing the typical delay for object storage. 
  • IBM Elastic Storage System 3200 now includes a 38TB IBM FlashCore Module, double the size of the previous largest option, and doubling ESS 3200 max capacity to 912TB in two rack units.
  • Spectrum Scale has a new GPU-direct storage (GDS) interface which enables Nvidia applications to run up to 100 per cent faster with IBM Spectrum Scale. 

There are no public numbers to allow a comparison with other GDS supporting suppliers such as DDN, Pavilion, VAST Data and WekaIO.

In March we reported that Spectrum Scale delivered 94GB/sec to Nvidia GPUs across GDS. A 100 per cent increase would take this to 188GB/sec — still shy of Pavilion’s 191GB/sec.