IBM Turns Up Virtualization Heat

IBM reaffirmed its plans to add more logical partitioning (LPAR)
capabilities to its DS8000 storage systems, reducing the need
to have separate machines and saving companies money.

The DS8000 employs
logical partitioning features, which allow clients to run several storage
workloads and create virtual storage images.

Later this year, the DS8000 will run applications inside of a single
partition by virtualizing the input/output between partitions,
just as it exists inside an IBM server, said Rich Lechner, vice president of
IBM storage systems.

“The reason it’s important is if you virtualize the I/O so the application
thinks it’s talking over the network — when in fact it’s just talking over
memory speeds — you can dramatically improve performance,” Lechner said.

In one example, Lechner said IBM is working with medical imaging companies
to put pattern recognition applications inside the partition in the DS8000.

With the LPAR technology, a health care provider treating a cancer patient could search for tumors of a certain size, shape and type, he said, and could find a match and find out what the course of treatments were and what the response rates to those treatments were. He said a patient could receive more responsive
treatment.

“That kind of pattern recognition application is very CPU and I/O
intensive,” Lechner said. “You need something so that it would benefit
greatly from living in close proximity to the storage itself. We’d never
even dream of doing this if we didn’t have utter confidence in the fact that
one partition in no way can disturb the other partition.”

The LPAR trick is just one of several plans IBM has laid to boost its
virtualization offerings for helping customers more efficiently manage large
amounts of data.

Lechner spoke in a phone interview from Camden, Mass., where he and other
IBM storage officials outlined their technological and strategic plans to
stay ahead of competitors like EMC and Hitachi Data Systems by merging
server technologies with storage products.

In one strategic coup versus EMC, Lechner said IBM sold
Cisco Systems two SAN Volume Controller (SVC) software
packages, which the networking giant will use to manage its in-house pools
of storage. The kicker is that Cisco uses EMC
storage arrays, such as Symmetrix and Clariion.

On the surface, this may not seem like a huge deal. IBM and Cisco already paired their offerings for virtualization to other customers.

But Lechner used that point to emphasize the fact that customers of EMC’s
storage systems have to look elsewhere if they want to do what SVC
does: Manage pools of stored data through one console.

EMC lacks a major virtualization product, but is planning
its Storage Router software for the second quarter. IBM sells its SVC, which
works with arrays from EMC, HP and Hitachi Data Systems.

Lechner said customers from all over the world are using the SVC and SAN
File System (SFS) software, which helps customers consolidate file systems
on Unix, Windows, and Linux servers to efficiently route, manage and store
data.

IBM is boosting the attraction of SFS by announcing tape support for file
movement among storage pools. SFS helps corporations facilitate information
lifecycle management practices by making sure the right data ends up on the
right storage.

Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for CIO.com covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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