IBM reboots storage portfolio

IBM reckons its customers face three pressing data challenges and is realigning its storage product portfolio to measure up to them.

Update. SVC and Storage Virtualize note added at end of story. 5 March 2023.

The three challengers are adoption of AI/ML and HPC workloads; hybrid cloud app transformation and data movement from edge-to-core-to-cloud; and ensuring data resiliency in the face of malware. The Spectrum brand prefix is being dropped as part of this following a IBM Storage process involving market research, talking to industry heads, and working with customers.

Denis Kennelly, IBM
Denis Kennelly

Ahead of publication, IBM gave us sight of a blog written by Denis Kennelly, GM of IBM’s storage division, in which he talks about the effect of this exercise: ”The result was to simplify our offerings by reducing the number of products we promote to a more manageable number with a bias on solution-led conversations that is software-defined, open and consumable as a service. Also, it was important to make it plainly obvious that IBM is very much in the storage business – leading to a decision to drop ‘Spectrum’”’ in favor of what we do incredibly well: ‘Storage’.”

His blog includes a diagram depicting this realignment: 

IBM storage rejig

The AI/ML/HPC (Data and AI) market will be presented with IBM Storage Scale (Spectrum Scale as was) and also Storage Ceph, the software that came with IBM’s Red Hat acquisition. Kennelly said: “We are investing in industry-leading open source based Ceph as the foundation for our software defined storage platform.“ Ceph provides block, file and object access protocol support and will be used for general-purpose workloads in this market.

The storage hardware product associated with these two software products is the Storage Scale System, previously called the Elastic Storage System or ESS line.

The hybrid cloud market will have data-orchestrating Storage Fusion software focused on Red Hat OpenShift environments. This enables customers to discover data across the organization, and store, protect, manage, govern, and mobilize it. The software was previously called Spectrum Fusion and combined Spectrum Scale functionality with Spectrum Protect Plus data protection software.

The Storage Fusion HCI System is purpose-built hyperconverged infrastructure for OpenShift with container-native data orchestration and storage services.

Storage Defender

Storage for data resilience relies on new Storage Defender software; a combination of IBM Storage Protect (Spectrum Protect as as), FlashSystem, Storage Fusion and Cohesity’s DataProtect product. This will run with IBM Storage’s DS8000 arrays, tape and networking products.

Storage Defender is designed to use AI and event monitoring across multiple storage platforms through a single pane of glass to help protect organizations’ data layers from risks like ransomware, human error, and sabotage. It has SaaS-based cyber vault and clean room features with automated recovery functions to help companies restore their most recent clean copy of data in, so IBM tells us, in hours or minutes from what used to take days.

The FlashSystem product contributes its Safeguarded Copy for logical air gap facilities.

IBM says Storage Defender is its first offering to bring together multiple IBM and third-party products unifying primary, secondary replication, and backup management. Cohesity provides, IBM says, world-class virtual machine protection managed in the hybrid cloud though a cloud-based control plane supporting a multi-vendor strategy optimized for data recovery.

Storage Defender will, according to IBM’s sales pitch, allow companies to take advantage of their existing IBM investments while significantly simplifying operations and reducing operating expenses. IBM says this is the first of such ecosystem integrations.

Kennelly writes “When we looked at the overall market, we were impressed by the Cohesity platform and team’s differentiated focus on scalability, simplicity, and security. By integrating our leading software-defined technologies, I am excited to bring essential cyber resiliency capabilities to IBM clients. Cyberattacks are on the rise, but data can be protected and restored when you are prepared.”

IBM plans to make the Storage Defender offering available in the second quarter of calendar 2023 beginning with Storage Protect and Cohesity DataProtect. Storage Defender will be sold and supported by IBM as well as through authorized IBM Business Partners.


With this resell deal, Cohesity now has the advantage of IBM’s sales force and channel working in its favor.

The IBM Storage rebranding and realignment exercise apparently means some Spectrum-branded products have been left behind. Spectrum Connect, Spectrum Discover, Spectrum Virtualize (the old SAN Volume Controller or SVC) and Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud are examples. But not so. IBM’r Barry Whyte, Principal Storage Technical Specialist and IBM Master Inventor, tells us: “SVC stays SVC, and Virtualize becomes Storage Virtualize but with more of a focus on the FlashSystem branding itself. SVC turns 20 this year and is still going strong at some major accounts.”