FBA vs CKD Overview

Parameter Open System IBM z System (Mainframe)
Storage Type FBA (Fixed Block Architecture) CKD (Count Key Data)
Connectivity Fibre Channel/SCSI etc ESCON/FICON
Character sets ASCII EBCDIC
Extent Size 16 MiB, 1GiB 21 cylinders (or) 1113 cylinders
Base Used by many OEMs IBM proprietary

Note: Whether Flash or HDD, it’s still an emulated track for zOS or FB environments

IBM Spectrum Storage Offerings

Just thought of doing small write-up on IBM Spectrum Storage Offerings. Even though you can find many articles related to these Offerings, I’m sure those who are reading this can get an eagle-view understanding of our flagship products.

Important Note:
Licensing terms may vary time-to-time and please visit IBM website to get the most accurate and current one. The views expressed are my own.

IBM Spectrum Storage Offerings Icon


Now, let’s jump into each of the product offerings listed above. I’ve captured only an overview here and you can deep-dive into the products by landing to IBM sites.

IBM Storage Offering-1

Spectrum Virtualize is an amazingly powerful software stack for our storage products. It is available in 3 modes of distribution

  1. SDS (Spectrum Virtualize for IBM Cloud and AWS Cloud)
  2. Appliance (SAN Volume Controller)
  3. Integrated Storage Hardware (FlashSystem 5010, 5030, 5100, 7200, 9200/R)

Spectrum Virtualize provides rich set of features including the below (but not limited to)

  • External Storage Virtualization (~ 500 Heterogeneous Arrays)
  • Auto tiering (Easy Tier)
  • HyperSwap
  • 3-Site Replication “ENHANCED”
  • Metro Mirror – synchronous remote replication
  • Global Mirror – asynchronous remote replication
  • SCSI Unmap capability / zero block detection
  • Compression
  • Thin Provisioning & Deduplication
  • Distributed RAID 5 & 6
  • Encryption of data at rest
  • Public Cloud offerings and Container Support (RHOCP CSI backend PV)

IBM Storage Offering-2

Initially, data protection was simply backing up of raw business data to tape and today data protection evolved a lot with snapshots, replication, immutable copies, backup to cloud (air gap isolation), forever incremental backups and etc.,

Spectrum Protect is a Modern Data Protection Offering. More than just backup & recovery, Spectrum Protect is used for achieving Cyber Resiliency, Data re-use for various use cases analytical & reporting purposes.

Spectrum Protect can be obtained as Individual Products depending upon the requirement, Suite and Bundled modes. It is measured in PVU (Processor Value Unit) and in Tiered FETB / BETB. Reach out to IBM Seller to get suggestion on choosing the right (optimal) licensing for your requirements.

IBM Storage Offering-3

Spectrum Protect Plus is primarily used in VMware & Hyper-V virtualized environments. SPP available in ready-made virtual appliance. So that, customer can install it in minutes and configure it in few hours. Spectrum protect Plus can be integrated with Spectrum Protect.

Current release of Spectrum Protect Plus – 10.1.5 supports below workloads,

  • VMware & Hyper-V (On-prem or in the cloud)
  • Containers & Kubernetes
  • Databases (resides in both physical / virtual machines)
  • Cloud Applications – Office 365/OneDrive
Spectrum Protect Plus licenses available in both standalone mode and suite mode,
Virtual Environments – per 10-pack of Managed VMs (VMs which are getting backed-up)
Applications on Physical Servers (MS SQL, Oracle) – per TB
Spectrum Protect Suite licenses measured in either Front-End TB (or) Back-End TB

IBM Storage Offering-4

We used to call Spectrum Archive as LTFS (Linear Tape File System) earlier days.

If you want to read the data from your existing cartridge’s, we must have to use the backup software which was used to backup the data. With LTFS approach, cartridge is self-identifying and you can just load the cartridge in the tape drive and you can see everything that’s there in the drive. It is as good as inserting a USB storage media on your laptop and reading what is inside.

LTFS Journey:

  1. LTFS format – Single drive Support
  2. LTFS Tape Automation Support (Library Edition)
  3. LTFS Integrated Tiered Storage Solutions (Enterprise Edition- which is Spectrum Archive now)

Spectrum Scale and Spectrum Archive together can create the data tiering capability from Flash to disk to slower disk and to tape

IBM Storage Offering-5

IBM Spectrum Discover is a user-friendly tool that automatically and continuously catalogs all of the objects from the data source, in real-time using metadata, into a powerful and customizable database. Users can locate and identify the most relevant data regardless of its type or location. Using either a simple SQL query command or actionable API scripts or commands, users can enable comprehensive insight into their data in a fast and efficient way. This is incredibly important when you consider the velocity of data arriving from your source data for any analytics.

IBM Storage Offering-6

Spectrum Scale is a software defined file storage (GPFS-General Parallel File System) offering, with high performance and extreme scalability. It supports file systems with sizes of tens of petabytes that contain billions of files and can be accessed by thousands of nodes in a cluster.

Spectrum Scale can provide a single global namespace, offering a single point of management. The data can be accessed across multiple sites enabling global collaboration.

Elastic Storage Server (ESS) with IBM Spectrum Scale integration provides an optimal building block for a high performance, highly scalable solution.

We’ll discuss about ESS little later.

IBM Storage Offering-7

IBMer’s call it as iCOS (IBM Cloud Object Storage). Highly scalable, low cost per TB storage platform that leverages best-in-class object storage design for storing files and objects. With its ‘S3’ interface, it scales to any Cloud offering, meaning no vendor lock-in.

IBM Storage Offering-8

Storage Insights and Storage Insights-Pro are Cloud based Monitoring platform. Storage Insights is free and it is available to use with all our Block storage that we ship. With Storage Insights, customer will have the ability to monitor their capacity and performance stats of IBM Block Storage for a period of 1 day.

Storage Insights-Pro is a commercial edition and it can monitor both IBM and Non-IBM’s Block Storage, File and Object Storage. Customer can retain their performance stats for a period of 2 years. With SI-Pro, we can schedule and receive reports on performance, capacity, inventory, and health. Also, we can create our own alerts by applying hundreds of conditions. SI-Pro will also provide reclamation insights on space wasters to get them freed-up and re-used for some other workloads/purposes.

Storage Insights-Pro Subscription Price Estimator: https://ibm.biz/insightsprice

Subscription starts from minimum of 50TB capacity and then increments of 10TB

Both Storage Insights and Insights-Pro edition are SaaS based offering. Hence, we (IBM) takes care of patching & management of backend platform. We have to deploy a “Data Collector” in customer set-up (it can be a VM) and it will collects the metrics from connected storage arrays and forward it to IBM Storage Insights Cloud over secured HTTPS protocol. Data at rest is AES 256-bit encrypted and it meets below regulatory standards,

  • ISO/IEC 27001 ISM certified
  • HIPAA / Blue Diamond compliant
  • GDPR compliant

Screenshot of the Storage Insights Dashboard is here for your view:

SI dashboard

There are other script based tools available to gather the perf stats for performance analysis,
QPERF (http://ibm.biz/qperftool)

IBM Storage Offering-9

Spectrum Control (former name: TPC)

IBM Spectrum Control is a comprehensive solution that can significantly improve monitoring, automation and analytics capabilities in multi-vendor storage environments. IBM Spectrum Control helps manage storage systems, software- defined storage, storage-area network (SAN) fabrics and Hypervisors, devices. It will give holistic view of the customer’s infrastructure.

Spectrum Control to be deployed in on-premises and customer can choose the retention period based on their internal requirements.


  • Capacity based [Spectrum Control Standard Edition and Advanced Edition]
  • Enclosure based [Spectrum Control Standard Select Edition and Advanced Select Edition]

IBM Storage Offering-10

IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management (Spectrum CDM) is a snapshot and replication management application for storage environments. Spectrum CDM provides data protection in an efficient, automated, scalable, and easy to use way. And it delivers data access that is urgently needed to transform organizations.

For instance, in Spectrum Protect Plus, copies are maintained in vSnap storage repository whereas Spectrum CDM will manage and maintain the copies within the same array.

CDM licensing is based on the managed capacity (cumulative TB capacity of all managed source disk volumes) and it can be ordered in 10 TB increments and when procuring licenses customers with larger storage footprint need to plan for growth in their managed capacity.
CDM Supports the below,
App & DB:
MS SQL Server
Storage platform:
Spectrum Virtualize, including SVC, Storwize, FS V9000
NetApp – Data ONTAP, Clustered Data ONTAP (Certain Versions)
Pure Storage – Flash Array//m, Flash Array 4xx (Certain Versions)
EMC – Unity 300, 400, 500, 600, UnityVSA, VNXe 1600, VNXe 3200 (Certain Versions)



IBM TechU Talks 2020

TechU talks

IBM TechU Talks is a series of free technical training webcasts from April 7 through July 2 under each platform (i.e. 12 sessions for IBM Power Systems, 12 sessions for Storage and 12 sessions for IBM Z and IBM LinuxONE).

You get direct access to 36 specialized IBM Systems technical training sessions that will help you continue to secure and protect your IT security infrastructure, prove compliance and grow your business securely. Get the insight on IBM Systems breakthroughs of today and tomorrow.

Register today for this complimentary webcast series. www.ibm.com/training/events/techutalks

Happy Learning..!