IBM has an answer for some of the biggest trends in enterprise data storage \u2013 including Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe), artificial intelligence, multi-cloud environments and containers \u2013 and it comes in a 2U package.\nThe new FlashSystem 9100 is an all-flash NVMe-accelerated storage platform. It delivers up to 2 petabytes of effective storage in 2U and can provide up to 32 petabytes of all-flash storage in a 42U rack.\n\nNVMe is a protocol for accessing high-speed storage media that\u2019s designed to reduce latency and increase system and application performance. It's optimized for all-flash storage systems and is aimed at enterprise workloads that require low latency and top performance, such as real-time data analytics and high-performance relational databases.\nStorage vendors have been re-tooling their systems to support the faster interconnect protocol, and IBM is no exception. A key change in the FlashSystem 9100 is the use of small form factor NVMe drives. IBM redesigned its FlashCore technology to fit into a standard 2.5-inch SSD form factor with NVMe interfaces \u2013 a move that reduced the physical size of the drives by more than half.\nThat redesign made an impression on Owen Morley, director of infrastructure at online dating platform Plenty Of Fish. Morley is among a group of users of IBM's all-flash storage who came together at an event in Mexico City to share their thoughts on the new\u00a09100 system and the potential for NVME-accelerated storage in their own enterprises.\n\u201cThe fact that they took the big modules from the old system and collapsed that down to a 2.5 inch form-factor NVMe drive is mind blowing,\u201d Morley said at the IBM event.\n IBM\n\nIBM FlashSystem users (L to R): Lief Morin of KeyInfo; Nader El-Ramly of ZE PowerGroup; and Owen Morley of Plenty Of Fish\n\n\nMorley also noted that IBM\u2019s full range of storage software works with the FlashSystem 9100, including Storage Insights, IBM\u2019s AI-based predictive analytics and storage resource management software, as well as Spectrum Virtualize, which provides storage management capabilities including snapshots, encryption, and storage virtualization. \u201cI cannot wait to just kick those tires,\u201d he said.\nPlenty of Fish is a longtime user of IBM FlashSystem storage. \u201cWe\u2019re driving our flash harder, and getting more performance out of it, and it\u2019s lasting longer than any other storage we\u2019ve ever played with,\u201d Morley said.\nReliability won him over. \u201cIt\u2019s one of the few components in the environment that I don\u2019t have to worry about. I can hit this hard and fast and with absolutely no regard. My performance is going to be consistent no matter what I throw at it \u2013 and we throw a lot at it.\u201d\nRecoverability of the system gives him peace of mind. \u201cIf there is a component hiccup \u2013 maybe a module dies or something exciting happens \u2013 we don\u2019t even notice. We get the alert. But the system is already rebuilt and recovered. And the application \u2013 it\u2019s like nothing happened,\u201d Morley said. \u201cSo we know when there\u2019s an issue only because it told us.\u201d\nLooking ahead, Plenty of Fish plans to expand its use of flash storage to more workloads.\u00a0 Morley said the sytem is comparable in price to earlier platforms, plus it offers all the management features with the smaller form factor.\n\u201cOur backend systems weren\u2019t on the super-fast storage that our production systems are. Now we can pull those forward, and they can get the same performance as production to run the backend of the company, which I can\u2019t wait to test,\u201d Morley said.\nFlash storage enables business innovation\nZE PowerGroup started migrating its storage infrastructure to flash about four years ago to break up bottlenecks caused by growing data volumes. The data-management software development and consulting firm helps its clients manage risk and refine their market strategies by wrangling vast amounts of data; ZE collects, pools, transforms and analyzes data, so its clients can make data-driven decisions.\n\u201cAt one point, our storage was falling over. It couldn\u2019t keep up with what our clients are doing,\u201d said Nader El-Ramly, ZE's chief product officer. \u201cThe challenge of getting the data on time for our clients was super important. That\u2019s where flash kicked in. It revolutionized what we did.\u201d\nFlash storage has allowed ZE to innovate in new ways, and to think differently, he said. \u201cIt literally transformed us. Roadblocks that we had before are gone.\u201d\nZE\u2019s upgraded flash-driven infrastructure improved the quality of data and reporting, which in turns helps clients improve their tolerance of risk, said El-Ramly, who also spoke at IBM\u2019s Mexico City event. \u201cGetting rid of risk is huge. Our clients are dealing with risk every day,\u201d he said. \u201cThe speed that flash gives you allows you to make decisions so quickly that you can remove that risk.\u201d\nThe FlashSystem 9100 boosts capacity, IOPS and bandwidth compared to earlier FlashSystem models. \u201cIt\u2019s quite amazing. I\u2019m really excited about it,\u201d El-Ramly said.\nAmong the benefits that stand out to El-Ramly is the extremely small form factor: \u201cWe had two racks of storage, and we went down to a quarter of a rack. And to think that I can go even less than a quarter of a rack \u2013 I\u2019ll only need one-eighth of a rack. Reduce your cooling. Reduce your power. Reduce your footprint. That\u2019s impressive.\u201d\nAutomating storage management frees enterprise IT resources\nLief Morin, president and CEO of\u00a0KeyInfo, also stressed the power of speed as a business advantage. KeyInfo, which provides private and public cloud services, uses IBM\u2019s all-Flash storage arrays internally and is an IBM business partner.\nStreamlining access to data can improve operations. Healthcare clients can improve patient care, and retail companies can optimize operations, for example. \u201cThat translates into real business value,\u201d Morin said.\n\u201cThe revolutionary changes we are now seeing with things like NVMe and NVMe [over fabric], the access to all that data, at speeds we\u2019ve never seen before, in form factors we\u2019ve never seen before \u2013 these are the revolutions that we\u2019re looking to deliver with the FlashSystem 9100," Morin said.\nThe combining of NVMe speeds with deduplication, compression, data protection and all the software-defined capabilities of IBM Spectrum Storage adds value, and frees resources for clients to tackle other projects, Morin says. IT pros can work on strategic business issues rather than tactical chores such as disk placement.\n\u201cI\u2019m sure most people in the room remember when we had to lay out the disk arms across the database, across 100 disks to get the optimal IOPS. You don\u2019t have to do that anymore. It\u2019s all gone,\u201d Morin says.