Getty Images/iStockphoto

IBM quietly introduces software-only Spectrum Fusion

IBM has added to its Spectrum Fusion lineup with a software-only version, which also includes data protection for containers and app monitoring for the new and older HCI versions.

IBM is trying to broaden the reach of its Spectrum Fusion with a software-only version that it released -- without much fanfare -- earlier this month.

IBM Spectrum Fusion, unveiled last spring, is a managed storage-defined infrastructure for Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, a hybrid cloud PaaS for container deployments and one of the first integrated products since IBM acquired Red Hat for $34 billion in October 2018.

The software-only version of Spectrum Fusion adds to IBM's initial hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) version. The March 8 release also included data protection for containers as well as monitoring and analytics integration with IBM Turbonomic, according to Scott Baker, chief marketing officer and vice president of the IBM storage division. The software-only version will lower the barrier for entry for customers looking to adopt the technology, he said.

"[The new version of the] Spectrum Fusion software saw the removal of the bare metal components of the HCI offering to create a more price- and compute-sensitive market needing parallelism with a lower node count for its containerized workloads," Baker said.

Scott Baker, IBMScott Baker

In this upgrade, IBM has added Spectrum Protect to backup container workloads in Red Hat OpenShift for both Spectrum Fusion versions, Baker added.

IBM also added integrations with Turbonomic, an application resource and network performance management software that uses automation and AI for optimization, into both versions. The integrations will give users a high level of reporting, trending analysis and automation.

Easing adoption with software-only

IBM is positioning Spectrum Fusion as storage for Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform instead of as a more generic HCI storage offering. "It is not your typical HCI [product]," said Dave Raffo, a senior analyst at Evaluator Group. "It's storage for containers."

The initial version of Spectrum Fusion HCI was a turnkey appliance that had to be purchased through IBM, Raffo said. Now IBM is making the software available to run on any x86 hardware qualified to run OpenShift, giving customers the flexibility to use the software without having to invest as much in the hardware.

Initially, the hardware setup of Spectrum Fusion required six nodes minimum, or six appliances, according to IBM. However, most HCI setups require only three nodes, Raffo said. That is now the case with the new software-only Spectrum Fusion.

Dave Raffo, Evaluator GroupDave Raffo

However, there are drawbacks for IT when choosing this software-only style of HCI.

"You have to put it together yourself," Raffo said. "It doesn't come on an appliance, already packaged. It takes more work."

Baker echoed the point, and added that for Red Hat OpenShift customers with the correct hardware, the software-only version of Spectrum Fusion will provide the persistent storage for which they're looking.

More integrations with Turbonomic

IBM Spectrum Fusion now uses Turbonomic to monitor I/O performance and latency to ensure that the workload is performing based on the parameters set forth by the cluster manager, Baker said. It also ensures I/O throughput for a particular application. The software helps in planning for DevOps as well.

"If I'm not sure how much or the kind of capacity that I want to deploy, I can look at similar kinds of deployed workloads, and get sizing or storage profile recommendations from the Turbonomic integration," he said.

IBM will continue to utilize Turbonomic in other products, Baker said, eventually moving beyond reporting, trends and basic automation and on to focusing the technology for future planning for organizations and automation.

Dig Deeper on Storage system and application software

Disaster Recovery
Data Backup
Data Center
and ESG