Storage and IBM i
Do people e-mail you questions? I imagine each of us has this experience – it’s part of the networked life we lead. I frequently receive e-mail from customers, business partners and even other IBMers asking questions about IBM i and Power Systems. I answer what I can and I forward the rest to other people who may know the answers.
Sometimes a question gets asked often enough I realize I should find a way to get the answer out to a wider audience. Today’s blog topic is one of those questions, along with my answer. The actual details of the question might differ slightly, but the topic in general is one we get asked frequently around here. The topic is storage. I’ll copy the question from the note I most recently received (cutting out details that identify the sender).
IBM iQ: I’ve had a difficult time finding information about IBM’s strategy for i storage. I’ve heard rumors that all new development is being tested first on SAN storage and second on integrated storage, but I haven’t found an IBM SOD to confirm or deny this rumor. I’m trying to prepare for what’s coming in the future and was wondering if you could provide some insight.
IBM iA: The IBM i strategy relative to storage is to continue to excel in integrated storage while extending into the external storage, which is becoming so prevalent in the industry. The rumor you mention is certainly not true. We test new storage devices as they’re developed, whether integrated or SAN-attached or VIOS-attached. When we develop IBM i support that’s not specifically tied to the capabilities of storage devices, we test on a mix of configurations.
Now, there’s a set of functions that are going to depend on storage that’s managed, in part, outside of IBM i. Some of the high-availability capabilities in the industry, and indeed in PowerHA SystemMirror for i, are tied to the functions that are delegated to SAN controllers (e.g., Flash Copy). Some virtualization capabilities that will be implemented in VIOS, or in certain external-storage boxes, will require those components. VIOS supports NPIV, which allows sharing of devices across partitions in ways that an integrated device couldn’t.
For many of our low-end customers, integrated storage will remain the best option. We continue to invest in making sure it performs well, it’s integrated into our lowest levels of the operating system, and it can provide growth for customers as they move up in generations. For those who are in the middle or high end of our market, cost pressures and the desire to virtualize and share storage will make external storage more attractive.
I hope this helps.
Let me supplement that answer a little bit. We have some very good SAN (Storage Area Network) technology coming out of IBM. IBM i developers work with the IBM storage development teams, just as AIX and Linux on Power developers do, to ensure we know what features and capabilities they’ll be providing so we can take advantage of them. A SAN may not be the answer for every customer, but when a SAN makes sense, we want the combination of IBM SAN and IBM i to be an excellent solution.
That’s the storage IBM iQ&A. Now, one more note.
I recently asked my Twitter followers to submit questions or topics I could use as subjects for future blogs. (I have received exactly zero responses. Perhaps I should turn up the volume on my tweets?) I'll ask here, too. If you have some suggested topics, or a specific question about IBM i technology that you think is frequently asked, or should be, then send it along. I have several topics coming up this fall that are already scheduled. When I get a few good questions, I’ll schedule another IBM iQ&A. In fact, I have another frequently asked question that I’ll address soon, but it will have to wait for another week or two.