A Brief History of “recent” Time – Part 5

2008-2020 The “Storwize” Years

It seems fitting for my first officially new post on the new site to actually be a historical retrospective. At the same time however, it brings us right up the to recent IBM Storage annoucements made on 11th/12th February 2020.

So its 2008, and for probably the previous decade the Hursley storage team had made various proposals for what we called an ‘organic IBM midrange controller’. There had been many ‘skunk works’ projects, most of which proved the design and architecture, but never made it out the lab – for various reasons – funding, politics, the usual.

In 2006 we had proposed taking the SSA RAID technology and embedding it in a layer in the SVC software stack (not for the first time). This gained some traction and some basic prototype code was done. The big issue was the drive layers. SVC until then had only needed to make use of mdisks. LUN’s at a SCSI level, and so didn’t need any of the funky ERP that comes with handling the 1001 ways a drive can decide to go wrong!

We’d made our first steps with the ‘Quicksilver’ project that morphed into ‘Mercury’ and finally saw the light of day on SVC CF8 nodes where we offered a SAS HBA and up to 4x SLC based SSD. So now we had a SAS driver at least.

SVC CF8 with hidden SSD drives behind removable display

At the time, we were OEM’ing the LSI (since then Engenio, then Seagate) products and selling as the DS3/4/5000 product lines. These always had good enough performance but were seriously lacking in advanced functions. Finally the ‘Thunderbird’ project was approved, and in 2010, after a couple of crazily busy years by the whole team, the first generation IBM Storwize V7000 was born.

Its hard to believe, but in IBM’s 100+ year history, Storwize was the first internally developed midrange storage system. Storwize as a name came from the company we acquired in the same year who produced Real-time Compression appliances for NAS systems. There had been many many many hours debating the product name, until it was decided to re-brand Storwize as the new product name.

6.1.0 GA’d, adding the best from each of the existing products. SVC as the core software stack, SSA RAID for the drive redundancy, EasyTier from DS8000 for the tiering, SSD’s for new levels of performance an as GUI that was inspired by XIV.

The last ten years have seen over 25 different major software releases and 14 different hardware platforms that wore the Storwize name.

V3500, V3700, V5000 and V7000, V7000U in Generation 1.

V5010, V5020, V5030, and V7000 in Generation 2. (V7000 with a Gen2+)

V5010E, V5030E, V5100 and V7000 in Generation 3.

During that time, the overall re-branding of the Software Defined Storage platforms gave the software portion a new name too, with the birth of Spectrum Virtualize (which in 2020 is actually 20 years since it was really born internally, and 17 years in the field)

SVC also evolved over that time. From fixed hardware models to flexible hardware, up to 4x as much connectivity. Moved from a single 1U + 1U UPS into a 2U box with internal batteries and still continues to be the #1 Storage Virtualization appliance in the industry, both in terms of capability and functionality.

2020 + Storwize No More

With well over a quarter of a million Storwize boxes out there it is a slightly sad time as we transition the brand name from Storwize to FlashSystem.

The new products FlashSystem 7200 and 9200/R (more of which soon) take the FlashSystem branding, where the 7200 could be thought of as a Gen4 7000.

If you found this interesting, click on the “History” link here or in the title bar above to view parts 1 through 4.

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