Silver Bulletin

What’s Object Storage got to do with Spectrum Protect (TSM)?

Posted by: Alistair Mackenzie

Every year, for at least the last six years, our chief engineer has asked his team to look at object storage for enterprise backup architectures. The answer has always been the same – it’s too expensive for all but the very largest enterprises.

Two things have since happened which has caused the Silverstring team to reconsider this option. Firstly, IBM announced in September v7.1.3 of Spectrum Protect (TSM) and secondly, IBM announced just this week plans to acquire a company called Cleversafe, a market leader in object storage.

When IBM announced Spectrum Protect v7.1.3 our first blog focussed on the new in-line deduplication capability which can be found here. This development was made possible by the complete overhaul in how IBM stores data in Spectrum Protect – using the new concept of container storage pools. These containers can utilise not just traditional storage (SAN, NAS) but also scale-out object storage.

There are some limitations, such as not been able to support backup copy pools or not migrating data from existing storage pools to the new containers. However, in the rare circumstance of building a new greenfield platform would object storage usher in a brave new world of data protection?

Unfortunately, we still couldn’t get past the cost economics so it was looking like being a really niche play until we heard about the proposed Cleversafe acquisition. Most interestingly IBM has decided to roll the technology into its Cloud unit, which for most of us means the Softlayer infrastructure as a service business. This is the real game changer for data protection.

Softlayer allows enterprises to consume storage rather than purchase storage, or to put it another way, pay-as-you-use. IBM has the technology now to build an Amazon S3-like storage tier across its global datacenters and hopefully meet a price point which gets close to tape options.

The technology won’t be available in the Softlayer cloud until well into 2016 but if you are one of those people who like to plan ahead, here are a couple of use cases for your next generation backup you might want to consider

  • The combination of cloud and object storage offers “anywhere access”. Do you have backup systems spread across multiple sites and a need to get data off site quickly and securely?
  • Do you have a need for retaining a lot of data in backup or archive (Petabytes not Terabytes)?

Let us know what you think? Do you have a use case for TSM 7.1.3 and Object storage?

Posted by: Alistair Mackenzie on October 9, 2015

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