IBM's unified V7000 will hook up with just about anything
NAS heads and file access added to cloudy box
IBM has added SONAS-style NAS heads to create a Storwize V7000 Unified storage array that complements, it says, both SONAS and its NetApp-sourced N-Series filers.
The Storwize V7000 is a tiered mid-range block-access storage array with SAN Volume Controller (SVC) code enabling it to virtualise its storage as a single pool and bring third-party arrays from EMC and other suppliers into the pool. This functionality is similar to that of NetApp's V Series and EMC's VPLEX products.
SONAS is IBM's enterprise-class, scale-out network-attached storage offering and the N-Series, although offering unified block and file access, are positioned by IBM as being appropriate for pure filer applications.
The V7000U is in addition to the base V7000 and SVC products. It has two file access modules, NAS heads, attached to its controller, and a single unified management console. Supported file access methods include NFS, CIFS, FTP, HTTPS, and SCP file protocols and there is file-level replication and snapshotting for protection.
Supported storage media includes 2TB and 3TB nearline SAS drives (3.5-inch 7,200RPM), 16 and 300GB 15K 2.5-inch drives, 300, 450 and 600GB 2.5-inch 10K SAS drives, a 1TB 2.5-inch 7.2K SAS disk, and 200, 300 and 400GB eMLC flash drives. There can be 240 drives per control enclosure, meaning 480 in a cluster, and RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 6, and 10 are supported.
Files can be assigned to different storage tiers by using policies set through IBM's Active Cloud Engine (ACE). Such tiers include tape in a Tivoli Storage Manager system. Unwanted or expired files can be deleted through ACE as well.
The V7000U is integrated with McAfee and Symantec antivirus packages to help prevent malware compromising files. The systems come with Easy Tier, FlashCopy and thin provisioning features.
V7000 OS upgrade
The SVC, base V7000 and V7000U products get a new version of software, version 6.3, which includes:
- Extended distance split-cluster configurations - up to 300km - allowing data mobility and migration at metro cluster distances.
- New snapshot-based replication, for greater flexibility at global mirror distances (greater balancing of network bandwidth vs RPO)
- Enhancements to the external virtualisation fabric attachment - round-robin port utilisation across multiple paths to storage that is being virtualised
- Enhanced user-interface for performance statistics collection - the ability to delve further into the details of the real-time performance data in a new unified GUI.
- Native LDAP support
- Enhanced storage interoperability with XIV Gen 3, HP 3PAR, Violin Flash Memory Systems, the new Fujitsu Eternus, Bull StoreWay and TMS RAMSAN versions.
With speculation that IBM wanted to buy BlueArc the indications are that IBM wants out of its NetApp OEM relationship. The V7000U seems to strongly overlap much of the NetApp N-Series feature set and it wouldn't be surprising to see a diminished focus by IBM on N-Series sales.
We are still waiting for compression to be added to the V7000 and, if that happens, it will be much enhanced in storage efficiency terms. ®
architecture does matter
Management is not the same as architecture.
Let me illustrate a point:
With gateway-based NAS boxes (of which VNX is one), the gateway is effectively a server that is given LUNs by the block controllers, and keeps those LUNs in perpetuity (since striped filesystems are laid on said LUNs you can't reduce the size, and you can't thin the LUNs themselves).
So, let's say you get a VNX and allocate out of the storage pool 50TB to NAS and 50TB to block.
You can't reduce the 50TB you gave the NAS unless you are willing to destroy all of it and re-provision.
I've had customers in exactly that scenario, they'd purchased a ton of disk, allocated it to the NAS heads, realized they didn't need all that capacity, but weren't able to recover the disk.
In a TRULY unified system, the box (a single box) does it all, and doesn't care whether it's NAS or block, so you can very fluidly allocate stuff.
different approaches to "unified" storage
I'm a big fan of the NetApp FAS architecture and their unified approach. But let's be honest, at the end of the day all that counts is it's reliability and availability to the end users. It just doesn't matter if there's a single box (FAS) or two (V7000) at the backend if you can manage it as a single entity.
It seems there is some confusion about what "unified" means
Dimitris from NetApp here...
At NetApp, "unified" means that the exact same controller, UNDER A SINGLE STORAGE OS, does ALL the following:
Clearly we've had tremendous success with this architecture, to the point that all the other vendors that plonk a NAS gateway on top of a separate block storage device plus add replication appliances are now calling this approach also "unified".
So "unified" seems to mean "in the same rack" for some folks.