IBM SmartCloud Storage: Drive Up Storage Performance, Availability, and ROI for All Cloud Models

How storage-savvy is your cloud strategy?

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Cloud computing solutions often revolve around virtual servers and image provisioning, but for best results, storage should be incorporated into the architecture in an optimized fashion as well. Only in this way it is possible to ensure storage-hungry services will always have the resources they need, yet also keep operational costs and management complexity to a minimum.

Already, the demand for such smart, cloud-optimized storage is high, and every year going forward for the foreseeable future it's likely to get higher yet. Consider the following statistics, as drawn from industry analysts and IBM market intelligence:

And going forward, few if any IT solution providers are as well prepared to deliver cloud storage solutions as IBM. Already IBM manages, in its own cloud, more than 250 petabytes of storage every day, used by more than four million transactions, for more than 200 managed clients—all told, well over a million business users.

The extraordinary scope of this experience has left IBM with the insight and best practices needed to get the best results from storage in a cloud context... and create new offerings designed to deliver those results for its clients and customers.

Introducing IBM SmartCloud Storage

A handful of mouse clicks are typically all that's needed before files can be uploaded over the Internet to specific accounts and storage provisioned to those accounts to align with business requirements

That, in sum, is the premise behind IBM SmartCloud Storage—a compelling new family of cross-brand software, services, and storage, that combines and augments the best elements of IBM's industry-leading storage portfolio, that can help almost any organization utilize storage for best results in a cloud.

And that's true regardless of whether the cloud model is public, private, or hybrid—SmartCloud Storage includes offerings that can be combined to yield a tailored cloud storage strategy for all three cases. Compelling features include:

And the fact that these capabilities are available for all cloud models—via traditional software solutions and physical storage, or IBM's managed services—multiplies the complete value proposition. IBM SmartCloud Storage can be used in the following ways:

All three of these approaches will deliver the key business benefits of the IBM SmartCloud Storage portfolio: increased productivity, improved total cost of ownership, enhanced operational efficiency, and enterprise-class choice and control to create a truly tailored solution that addresses cloud storage requirements in a way that will work best for each organization's context.

A number of new solutions in the SmartCloud Storage family illustrate clearly just how those benefits can actually play out. Two, both intended for organizations interested in the private cloud model, are IBM SmartCloud Storage Access and IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center.

IBM SmartCloud Storage Access: Build an optimized storage cloud

As organizations face rapidly growing data volumes—the aptly titled "data tsunami"—many are turning to clouds as an effective response. Since clouds virtualize and automate key IT functions, including storage functions, it's possible to develop a cloud aimed primarily at storage services—a “storage cloud”—to help manage data volumes better, keep costs lower, and also make data more available and protect it better over its full lifecycle.

In a perfect world, such a storage cloud would (in addition to fulfilling those primary functions) also be relatively simple to deploy, improve the security of data access, and also track how storage is used and report on that use in configurable ways—continually keeping IT and the host organization apprised via a changing portrait of the storage landscape.

These, in fact, were the goals behind IBM SmartCloud Storage Access. This offering is by design unusually intuitive to deploy and integrate with an existing IT infrastructure; the intuitive Web-based management portal provides easy self-service functionality for all storage-related tasks, such as how storage is being provisioned for particular applications and services.

How "intuitive" is it really? A handful of mouse clicks are typically all that's needed before files can be uploaded over the Internet to specific accounts and storage provisioned to those accounts to align with business requirements. In fact, a variety of different account types can be created to reflect organizational roles, so that different users, or groups, have different storage limits and usage policies can easily be created that reflect their needs. Access to these accounts is available any time, from any location, using any Web-capable device—exceptional flexibility and convenience.

SmartCloud Storage Access can also generate on-demand reports suitable for both end users and administrators, to demonstrate storage utilization in a particular context. These are particularly helpful for uncovering new trends or patterns—actionable intelligence needed to make configuration or policy changes so as to get a superior business outcome going forward. If a given user, group, or department is consuming more or less storage than expected, subsequent investigation can reveal the reasons why and suggest a suitable response.

And because the fundamental goal is to optimize storage use in the cloud while also minimizing oversight, SmartCloud Storage Access allows the organization to decide how capacity elasticity will be handled. For the simplest (yet typically still very effective) response to changing conditions, capacity management can be entirely automated, abstracting out this role entirely from IT, or if a more granular and customized approach is needed, tailored business policies can be created at will.

IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center: Spur performance of computationally intensive applications

For private clouds intended to drive performance-sensitive applications and services, optimization is key. And a significant part of developing a truly optimized private cloud for internal purposes lies in getting the best possible use from existing resources—not just buying more resources. Certainly that argument applies in the specific case of storage.

Not all storage resources, however, are by default perfectly suited to a cloud context—and very few are going to fulfill IBM's concept of "smarter storage," in which the way storage is managed is not only optimized to business purposes, but dynamically so—in order to change over time, as circumstances change—and accomplish all of that in the automated fashion demanded by a private cloud.

That's why IBM now offers IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center. This offering allows you not only to virtualize and manage storage systems, but also to optimize storage performance, availability, and more generally, business value—all in ways that require little to no ongoing oversight by the IT team proper.

Particularly aimed at clouds that are intended for computationally intensive applications, SmartCloud Virtual Storage delivers advanced data protection and enhanced business agility, yet management complexity is kept to a minimum. Specifically, the solution can help you:

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