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IBM’s new tool for your security toolkit

9/15/2022 by Mike Zwolski

Everyone these days is offering a “Cyber Vault”. As the name implies, it’s a safe place to secure a copy of your corporate data from the bad guys (ransomware, data erasure, etc.).

Although the name and the jargon are easy, the implementation isn’t always.

In the case of IBM, the phrase “Cyber Vault” is a framework, not an actual product. It’s designed to help quantify what needs protection and what the major tasks are to achieve that protection. Within that framework are products, or point solutions if you will, that each address a specific area of the larger problem.

Earlier this summer, IBM announced Spectrum Sentinel as one of those products. For those not close to IBM’s naming conventions, the Spectrum label is the family name for IBM’s suite of Software Defined Storage (SDS) offerings.

Within that family, the new member is Spectrum Sentinel. As the name implies, it’s on guard over your data. But what does that really mean under the covers?

Spectrum Sentinel is composed of three components, some of which you may already have installed.

IBM FlashSystem Storage or Spectrum Virtualize Storage

If you wish to buy IBM’s block SDS software offering, either on prem or in the cloud, you are buying Spectrum Virtualize. If you wish to buy IBM’s SDS software, running also on IBM hardware, you are buying the IBM FlashSystem products. The code base is the same.

In other words, Spectrum Virtualize is IBM SDS software only. Add IBM hardware and you have the FlashSystem family.

IBM is trying to be truly agnostic about how you run its SDS. Whether running Spectrum Virtualize or IBM FlashSystem hardware, you get the immutable copy creation function that IBM calls Safe Guarded Copy (SGC). This lets you create copies of your data and take them offline from the server. Point in time recovery points in essence.

IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management (CDP)

Of course, point in time copies are useful only if they can be tracked and managed. Little things like rolling off old copies as new ones are created, etc. That’s where Spectrum Copy Data Management comes in. It helps script making copies so they are usable and easily available.

Anomaly protection

Even with copies of your data, and a system to track them, you need to know when you need them. That’s where the secret sauce of Sentinel comes in to play. Sentinel includes anomaly scanning software, using AI to help locate and identify logical corruption. With this information, you can fall back to copies of your data that were created prior to the anomaly.

With 200+ analytics, and the ability to learn as it goes, IBM believes Sentinel will achieve a 99.5% level of confidence in corruption detection. Not perfect, but a whole lot closer than what you probably have today! Further, when an anomaly occurs, you work with IBM Sentinel support to review your situation and guide your actions. So you aren’t on your own.   

It’s a nice bundle, and customers currently running IBM’s mainstream storage products can easily build on those investments to deliver a greater level of threat detection and protection. Today, this offering provides application aware backups for the Epic and SAP/HANA environments.

IBM has plans to roll it out to other products supported by its Spectrum CDP product as well. It’s a pretty straight forward way to use what you already have on the floor to deliver greater value to your organization. It’s worth a look.

We can help you look at Sentinel. Just contact us for a free consultation.

About the author

Michael Zwolski is a zSystems and Storage Solution Advisor with LRS IT Solutions. With more than 30 years of experience supporting Fortune 100 IBM customers in the areas of mainframe and enterprise storage, Michael is skilled at interfacing between technical and business resources. His knowledge of IBM storage solutions including DS8000, FlashSystem, SVC, and TS7000 and others make him a valuable asset on storage projects.