IBM Spectrum Virtualize Review

A non-disruptive solution that does not require constant fine-tuning


What is our primary use case?

It is used for continuity, protecting stuff in the cloud, and migrating data from a legacy device to a new device. 

The big solution that I last implemented was called IBM HyperSwap on SVCs. It is now called IBM Spectrum Virtualize. The solution we build was basically a high availability data center. I replicated all my data with IBM HyperSwap so that if a data center gets destroyed, you can fire up everything on the other side in minutes. It was very fast.

What is most valuable?

There are many benefits to this solution. Storage virtualization and the ability to migrate massive amounts of data to other systems without impacting your client are the most valuable. It is non-disruptive for my users. We migrated 350 terabytes of data in one night to a new machine without a small system going down and a single user complaining about the performance.

You have to fine-tune a lot of storage machines constantly for performance and for making sure that they are optimal, but IBM Spectrum Virtualize does this by itself. It does the adjustment on its own, and it does it right. That's what makes it different. I had a huge VSP from Hitachi, which is also a type of virtualization-based engine but with a decent size. It was a continuous performance-tuning exercise. I never had that issue with IBM Spectrum Virtualize.

What needs improvement?

I hate I/O groups. If you start swapping I/O groups, they can be potentially risky. If they could get rid of the whole I/O group principle, the risk is not there anymore. I understand the fundamental thing about I/O groups, but they are risky.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using IBM Spectrum Virtualize for probably ten years. I used to be a service provider. Now I am working for the clients, and I am deploying the solutions myself.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I have had some issues where I was losing new features, but most of the problems were coming from the firmware. The problem is that most people won't have a test environment for this solution because you need to virtualize other storage. This means building another solution, which won't make sense at the end of the day. The firmware goes right into your production, and there you go. There were also a few other bugs on a site that troubled me for probably eight months.

How are customer service and technical support?

I had contacted them for a firmware issue. In South Africa, IBM's support is not very much up to scratch, which is a bit of a problem. When the pressure was put, they were able to get resources from other countries and assist us. 

The local support is very weak in South Africa. I have raised this issue with my account managers many times. When you start talking about issues, they are completely confused. As soon as I stumble upon a problem and start hammering them, they bring in an international support person who then solves the problem. So, they can get your problem resolved but using local resources from South Africa is a problem.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is a bit complex because there are a lot of pieces that you need to check and know beforehand, but once you have implemented it, you can forget about it. It runs on its own.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I am very happy with the pricing. There is no comparison when it comes to pricing. I have looked at all solutions from EMC, Veritas, Hitachi, Dell, etc. None of them compares to IBM when it comes to pricing. I get great pricing from them.

What other advice do I have?

I would absolutely recommend this solution for any big company that has storage devices and is moving towards things like software-defined storage. It is definitely a key tool to have, but you need to make sure that you can afford it, and you do it right. Otherwise, you will not get any sleep.

You have to get it right from the word go, and that is important. Once you get it there, it just runs, and you can forget about it. According to me, this is the leading exporting storage utilization engine in the world. There are only a few solutions that can do what this solution does. Most of the other solutions are years behind this solution. 

I would rate IBM Spectrum Virtualize a nine out of ten. The only issue in this solution is related to the firmware that is released. 

**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller
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