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IBM adds Easy Tier to DS8700

Auto data movement to SSD

IBM has added an Easy Tier feature to its high-end DS8700 storage array that moves hot data to solid state drives (SSD) automatically.

EMS has been promoting this automated data tiering feature with its FAST technology, initiated first at the volume level on its Symmetrix and other arrays and coming at the sub-volume level. 3PAR has already announced that its automated sub-volume tiering feature will be delivered ahead of FAST 2, and now IBM is doing the same thing.

The DS8700 software monitors activity on 1GB data chunks called Extents and moves ones with a lot of activity into the SSD storage tier. Previously storage admin staff had to manually create policies to move data into the SSDs.

A Taneja white paper (pdf) available on IBM's web site says:

Easy Tier ... will dynamically and automatically redistribute the 1GB extents within DS8000 disk pools.

Operating across administrator identified pools of storage – including any selected type of rotational disk, as well as SSD disks where customers have it – Easy Tier will automatically reposition data based on IO patterns and disk characteristics with no further administrative interaction.

Administrators will be able to use out of the box templates or create their own policies – selecting specific volumes or entire pools, setting performance sampling windows, scheduling movement intervals, and more – to keep volumes within all selected pools automatically optimized.

But Easy Tier will also be accompanied by an API that can trigger periodic migrations, allow applications to provide storage tiering suggestions, or enable custom user integrations. That is a sophisticated range of functionality, but just as with most other DS8000 features, Easy Tier will be enabled with a microcode upgrade.

IBM has not announced this level of functionality but it's probably coming. There is a URL for a Mesabi white paper (pdf) on the IBM site, but it was broken when we wrote this story. Check it out - it will probably be fixed pretty quickly.

Admin staff can also use Easy Tier to move entire storage volumes around the DS8700's storage tiers manually and, IBM says, non-disruptively.

DS8000 customers can already use IBM's Storage Tier Advisor to help identify likely candidate volumes for Easy Tier optimization by analysing the performance of their current application workloads. It's not automated like Easy Tier but it's better than simply guessing.

IBM has also announced its TS7650 ProtecTIER deduplication product can replicate data to remote sites with a many-to-one capability. Big Blue has added 2TB SATA hard drive support to its XIV, DS8000, and N series arrays, doubling their capacity. The TS3100, TS3200 and TS3500 Tape Libraries, and TS2250 and TS2350 Tape Drive Express products now support the latest LTO-5 tape format.

Easy Tier functionality will be added to IBM's SAN Volume Controller later this year. IBM isn't charging for Easy Tier on the DS8700. ®

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