IBM reorients to offset historic storage hardware decline | Computer Weekly

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On this storage vendor profile we take a look at IBM, which has a protracted historical past and in IT far more broadly than simply storage. It’s nonetheless a giant participant in servers, companies and analysis and growth (R&D).

If something characterises the corporate now, it’s the ongoing strategic change after a interval of declining revenues. That re-orientation takes the type of a heavy guess on the cloud, containerisation and as-a-service modes of buy.

On this article, we take a look at IBM, its origins, its key storage merchandise and its strategy to the cloud, containers and consumption fashions of storage buying.

The place did IBM come from? 

IBM is really an enormous – amongst firms typically and never simply IT, not to mention storage.
Initially based in 1911 because the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Firm, it modified its identify to the a lot snappier Worldwide Enterprise Machines in 1924 and have become a long-time chief in punch card info recording programs, then electrical typewriters, calculators and different workplace equipment.
From the Nineteen Sixties onward, it turned synonymous with the roots of contemporary IT and was a frontrunner in mainframe and later private computing. It misplaced floor within the PC market to rising gamers, received out of client merchandise and centered on enterprise computing services and products, in addition to analysis, the place it holds 150,000 patents.
Maybe essentially the most far-reaching latest shift for IBM has been its acquisition of Pink Hat for $34bn in 2019. That introduced the Pink Hat portfolio of Linux and cloud- and container-focused merchandise – Ceph, OpenStack – to IBM and confirmed the corporate had put a sizeable guess on a hybrid/multicloud technique.

How does IBM rank in opposition to different storage gamers?

By the second quarter of 2021, IDC ranked IBM joint fifth among the many large six storage array makers, with market share (4.7%) in an analogous ball park to Hitachi (4.9%) and Pure Storage (4.1%) for “exterior OEM storage programs”. Dell, HPE, NetApp and Huawei occupied the highest 4 locations in that rating. IBM is in a state of relative long-term decline in opposition to different corporations, together with in tech.
In 1980, the Fortune 500 had IBM because the 8th largest US firm, with no different tech firm within the high 30. It ranked 65th within the 2023 Fortune 500, with many tech corporations forward of it, together with Amazon and Apple.
IBM income has been on a downward pattern over the previous 20 years, with averages of round $90bn from the flip of the millennium to round 2007 and reaching $106bn in 2011. It has declined since then.
Nevertheless, it’s nonetheless an enormous. In 2022, IBM turned over $60.5bn in income and had round 300,000 workers in 170 international locations. Earnings for yr ending 2022 had been about $1.6bn with a revenue charge of two.7%.
IBM storage hardware revenues have mirrored that decline, with gross sales close to $3bn in 2010 however round half that by 2021, however that determine doesn’t embody software program gross sales, nor storage-related cloud figures, so it’s potential these have taken up slack from decreased hardware gross sales.
In IBM’s first-quarter 2022 outcomes, income had grown by 8% after virtually a decade of detrimental stories. Pink Hat was a number one contributor with 18% progress, whereas the hybrid cloud enterprise grew 14%.

What are IBM’s key storage merchandise?

A giant latest change has seen IBM drop its Spectrum model, at the very least partially. So a lot of what had been Spectrum this, that and the opposite have had added “storage” as a part of their identify.
IBM Storage FlashSystem arrays come within the 5000, 5200, 7300 and 9500 editions, which can be differentiated by use of HDD, 2.5” SSD flash, NVMe flash and mixtures thereof. Capacities additionally enhance, starting from about 0.5PB within the 5000 collection to 4.5PB within the 9500, as does efficiency of controller CPU.
All FlashSystem arrays are hybrid cloud-capable, with connectivity to public clouds for information tiering, migration, replication and snapshots potential. That performance comes as a part of IBM’s Spectrum Virtualize, which all these merchandise embody.
IBM’s Storage DS8K household of flash storage is focused at clients with IBM zSystem mainframe programs (through FICON) and Energy servers (through Fibre Channel).
The 2 mannequin sub-lines are the entry and midrange DS8910F 993 and 994 of 1.5PB and a pair of.9PB most capability, plus the DS8950F 996 and 998 with up to 6PB capability. All supply minimal entry time of 80µs, or 18µs with the mainframe-optimised zHyperLink connection.
IBM claims seven nines availability for DS8K arrays. They arrive with full information encryption, immutable copies – Safeguarded Copy – to defend in opposition to ransomware, automated tiering and catastrophe restoration performance. Different options embody hybrid cloud connectivity, quite a lot of deep integrations with IBM server and mainfame working programs, and container storage through CSI.
IBM Storage Scale is the corporate’s scale-out storage for file and object. It’s primarily based on Storage Scale 3500 hardware equipment nodes that may scale from a couple of tens of TB to yottabytes, with hundreds of thousands of IOPS per node and throughput into the low tons of of GBps. On the software program aspect it runs IBM’s Spectrum Scale / Basic Parallel File System and may give object entry and tiering through OpenStack Swift and S3 APIs.
It’s focused at unstructured information and AI/ML workloads and for deployments that may construct clusters throughout broad geographical areas. Storage media supported embody spinning disk HDDs and NVMe SSDs. Connectivity is through 100Gbps Ethernet and Infiniband.
IBM Storage Fusion integrates compute, storage and networking right into a hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) system that comes with the Pink Hat OpenShift Kubernetes utility platform. Fusion additionally helps S3-based object storage on-prem or within the cloud and clients handle Spectrum Fusion by way of a single administration portal.
IBM can also be a giant participant in tape, with tape, tape administration and digital tape library merchandise up to the most recent LTO-9 customary in its TS collection vary.
Many IBM storage merchandise are additionally obtainable as software program, together with Storage Fusion, Storage Scale, Storage Ceph (block, file and object storage aimed toward AI workloads), Storage Perception AIOps, Storage Shield cloud-to-cloud information safety, and Storage Defender which might mix with Storage Shield, FlashSystem’s Safeguarded Copy, Storage Fusion and Cohesity’s DataProtect. IBM Storage Sentinel is the corporate’s ransomware discovery and restoration product for its Oracle, SAP HANA and Epic healthcare merchandise.
IBM Spectrum Virtualize – previously SAN Quantity Controller or SVC – and a venerable a part of IBM’s vary, appears to have retained the Spectrum branding. It’s a block storage virtualisation system that may permit storage hardware from a number of distributors to discuss to one another in addition to to storage within the cloud. It additionally presents superior storage companies reminiscent of snapshots, replication and storage tiering.

What markets and workloads does IBM goal?

IBM is large, with a really broad vary of storage merchandise. It has the aptitude to ship storage for any workload. As with different IT and storage distributors, key focuses presently are on flash-driven hardware, AI-based use circumstances, elevated use of the cloud, and the rise of cloud-native functions and containerisation.

How does the cloud match IBM technique?

IBM has guess closely on the cloud as the longer term for compute and storage, in hybrid- and multicloud modes. Key to this technique is use of Pink Hat Ceph and OpenShift as a platform that leans closely on use of containers and cloud native functions in cloud environments.
The corporate is probably distinctive amongst array distributors in having its personal hyperscaler-style public cloud with companies for block, file and object entry modes. As well as, its hardware and storage software program merchandise additionally permit for hybrid cloud operation. 

What’s the IBM container technique?

In line with IBM’s strategic orientation to the cloud following the acquisition and assimilation of Pink Hat, containers are a key aspect. Containers may be managed through Pink Hat OpenShift or IBM Cloud Kubernetes service.
Pink Hat OpenShift Container Platform delivers orchestration and administration for Kubernetes clusters throughout the enterprise. IBM Cloud Kubernetes service can create and handle Kubernetes clusters on IBM cloud.

What consumption fashions of buying does IBM supply?

IBM’s storage as a service works throughout on-prem datacentre and cloud and relies on IBM FlashSystem and DS8K hardware. It comes with a base degree set at present wants plus 50% additional pre-installed. Base and growth capability value the identical.
Storage Utility is a pay-per-use mannequin that delivers 200% greater than base capability from day one. Which means datacentre upheaval is prevented by over-provisioning after which utilizing IBM Storage Insights to monitor additional capability wants.
Prospects pay just for what they use and if their information wants shrink throughout any month, the invoice will mirror utilization, albeit with a minimal “base”.

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