IBM 2010 April 19 announcement of new DS8700 version 5.1

In DS8700, IBM by Administrator

Announcing IBM DS8700 5.1

IBM recently announced a new revision of the tier-1 storage platform the DS8700 version 5.1 that includes a new automated storage tiering solution they called Easy Tier.

Easy Tier

With the popularity of SSDs, storage subsystems need some mechanism or automated solution that moves performance constrained data from hard disk to SSDs.  With Easy Tier, IBM has now offered just such a solution.  Easy Tier is available free of charge and depends upon a new concept called the Easy Tier-managed extent pool or hybrid extent pool.

In the DS8700 5.1 a hybrid extent pool of storage is monitored for performance and supports automated migration of data between storage tiers.  Once volume or LUN data storage is migrated into a hybrid extent area, automatic performance monitoring is initiated.  About 24 hours after monitoring starts, performance constrained data will begin to be migrated to SSDs and cold data can be moved off SSDs.  Easy Tier data migration is a background activity and is limited such that it will not impact subsystem performance similar to the DS8700’s background FlashCopy services.

The performance monitoring is only done for disk or SSD access and thereby ignores cache hits.  Hybrid extent storage is broken up into 1GB extents like DS8700’s thin provisioning and volume space allocation.  However, with Easy Tier managed storage these extents are automatically moved up or down the storage hierarchy to optimize pool performance.  With 5.1, only two tiers of storage are supported by Easy Tier migration, i.e., enterprise or SATA disk drives and SSDs but future versions will include a third tier of storage as well.

Included with DS8700 is a manual migration mode that can be used to non-disruptively to migrate data LUNs or volumes in or out of a hybrid extent pool.  In this fashion, current data volumes could be incorporated into a hybrid extent pool to be automatically managed by Easy Tier.  In addition, two hybrid extent pools can be merged into one or a volume can be migrated from one pool to another with manual migration mode.

Also included is a new Windows based, Storage Tier Advisor tool which provides guidance as to what volumes or extents are hot in your DS8700 and thus, could benefit from Easy Tier management. Also the Advisor tool can provide estimates of performance changes available from adding SSD storage to current DS8700 configurations.

Other changes with DS8700 5.1

Included in 5.1 are some additional changes such as

  • New enterprise 600GB disk drives and 2TB SATA disk drive support,
  • 8 SSD drive mini-pack availability
  • Thin provisioning update
  • Faster concurrent, non-disruptive code loading
  • Full disk encryption enhancements to support payment card industry (PCI) data security standards
  • More granular management of multiple Global Mirror sessions
  • Remote pair flash copy updates
  • High performance FICON support at extended distances (system/z performance enhancement option)

Announcement significance

With Easy Tier, now SSDs can be effectively integrated into a fully automated, multi-tier storage hierarchy at the sub-volume level.  Easy Tier implementation comes free, is easy to implement and within a day of monitoring, automatically moves data around to optimize the performance of the DS8700 subsystem storage.

Most of the other enhancements were available on previous versions of the DS8000 that were held back until fully verified.  Such capabilities have now been tested and are enabled with DS8700 5.1.  In contrast, the new 2TB and 600GB drive offerings and the new 8-SSD mini-pack that reduces acquisition cost to add SSDs are new with the DS8700 5.1.

With the recent addition of XIV storage to IBM’s line up there has been some confusion as to which subsystem will continue to see development by IBM.  To put this to rest IBM stated that the DS8700 remains their premier storage platform and continued investment in R&D for enhanced capabilities lends credence to this view.  The DS8700 is the culmination of IBM’s long history with disk storage dating back to the 1950’s.  Given all this I don’t foresee an end to IBM’s continued investment in this technology.

A PDF version of this can be found at

IBM 2010 April 19 Announcement of DS8700 5.1 with new Easy Tier

Silverton Consulting, Inc. is a Storage, Strategy & Systems consulting services company, based in the USA offering products and services to the data storage community.