IBM launches new versions of IBM Spectrum Protect and IBM Spectrum Accelerate
IBM launches new versions of IBM Spectrum Protect and IBM Spectrum Accelerate

IBM has announced that the latest version of Spectrum Protect 7.1.3 is to get a new cloud backup option and will be available as a service on the IBM cloud

Six months ago at IBM Interconnect in Las Vegas IBM announced a $1 billion investment in storage under the IBM Spectrum Storage brand. Since then, IBM has spent the time establishing the IBM Spectrum Brand and reorganising its various assets and products. Today’s announcement is the first major update from IBM around Spectrum Storage with updates to the Spectrum Protect and Spectrum Accelerate product lines

Spectrum Protect increases its capacity and performance

Exponential data growth and the increased use of the cloud as a backup target appear to be the key drivers for the Spectrum Protect announcements. IBM has announced that it is increasing the amount of storage a single Spectrum Protect server can backup from around 500TB to a whopping 5PB. That’s a 10-fold increase which IBM believes will give it an edge in the market

To make it possible to backup this amount of data on a single server, IBM has also improved its dedupe capability. It is claiming that it has decreased the amount of space required for deduped data and significantly increased the speed at which data can be deduped

In many data centres, dedupe is done on client servers before being shipped to the backup server. There are several reasons for this. Network bandwidth, processor speeds, memory requirements and an ever shrinking backup window. As part of this announcement IBM is claiming its re-architecture of dedupe means that both client servers and the Spectrum Protect server can dedupe data 3-4x faster than before

The advantage of this from IBM’s perspective is that it enables client servers to offload the data to the Server Protect backup server to do the dedupe. As such, it reduces the number of servers required to support applications while data is being deduped on the client servers. The problem here is getting a clear view on exactly how much time is being saved by the client servers and what the cost savings are to the enterprise

Taking advantage of the cloud and ease of use enhancements

IBM releases key updates for Spectrum Protect
IBM releases key updates for Spectrum Protect

One of the more interesting changes to Spectrum Protect is that it can now address cloud storage as part of its tiered storage. IBM claims that this means that customers can take advantage of lower cost storage in public cloud. What is interesting about this is that existing rules for storage tiers can also treat cloud storage as a first class storage platform

The most exciting thing about the whole announcement, however, is support for OpenStack Swift. This means that customers can not only backup to the cloud and then use that to restore to their on-premises storage but can now do restores from cloud backup to another cloud instance. The first stage will see support only for IBM SoftLayer but IBM is promising to support other cloud providers at a later date

At the OpenStack project meeting in Vancouver earlier this year members agreed to greater standardisation. Part of that was around storage and OpenStack Swift. As a result, if IBM really has built this on OpenStack Swift it should be able to do cloud to cloud restore with any vendor who meets the OpenStack Powered Object Storage criteria

This same enhancement means that customers can restore direct to any OpenStack Swift on-premises native object store

IBM has also announced a much needed upgrade to the UI across its Spectrum Protect family. This will deliver a common UI across all the products in the family. Spectrum Protect Operations Center will be one of those products that gets the UI meaning that operations staff will no longer have to rely on understanding a complex set of command line commands

The final announcement around the Spectrum Protect family is that the introduction of the Front-safe cloud portal will now be available direct from IBM. This means that Service Providers and large IT organisations can now sell access to Spectrum Protect to their customers. It supports multi-tenancy, on-boarding and invoicing making it easy to deliver. It will ship as a white label product allowing service providers and resellers to re-brand it

Spectrum Accelerate goes cloud and gets new licence and deployment option

IBM has announced that Spectrum Accelerate is now a cloud service. What that means is that customers order Spectrum Accelerate and IBM will deploy and provision it in the cloud for them. It will have all the same features as the on-premises option

A big part of this announcement is that IBM is turning Spectrum Accelerate into a converged solution. At present the storage and application had to sit on different machines. With this release they can now be deployed on a single server which will help simplify architecture while reducing both cost and the number of servers customers have to deploy.

The ability to move licenses to where they are needed is something that IBM has been rolling out over other parts of its business. It has now announced that there is a new licence option for Spectrum Accelerate that means the licence can be transferred between cloud and on-premises solutions depending on what the customer needs at the time.


This is a good set of announcements for users who have bought into the IBM Spectrum Storage messaging. The most important part being the support by Spectrum Protect of OpenStack Swift. If IBM commits to aggressively supporting other OpenStack cloud providers it could grab a real slice of the cloud storage market. If it takes its time, it is likely that other vendors such as HP and EMC will seize their chance to outflank Big Blue.


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