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IBM Doubles Down on AI-Powered Storage Security

IBM Doubles Down on AI-Powered Storage Security

The News: IBM announces new AI-enhanced versions of its FlashCore Module (FCM) technology available inside new IBM Storage FlashSystem products, and a new version of IBM Storage Defender software, to help organizations better detect and respond to cyberattacks. Additional information is available in IBM’s blog.

IBM Doubles Down on AI-Powered Storage Security

Analyst Take: IBM’s FlashCore Modules are a family of high-performance flash drives that are used in IBM Storage FlashSystem offerings. To-date, the technology has been able to scan incoming data for anomalies that could indicate nefarious activity to the block level of granularity. The new, fourth generation FCM (FCM4) are even more granular, with the ability to monitor every I/O. According to IBM, this can allow anomalies to be detected in less than a minute – in turn allowing the organization to respond to and recover from an attack more quickly. A host of factors including compression and entropy are measured via machine learning and are then sent to IBM Storage Insights to alert administrators.

Perhaps even more notably in my opinion, the anomaly detection occurs in-line without an impact to write performance. This is because the FCM offloads these functions from the storage controller. This frees the processor in the controller to focus on core storage management services.

When an attack is detected, recovery can occur from immutable data copies that reside on the IBM Storage FlashSystem itself due to the IBM Safeguarded Copies feature in IBM Spectrum Virtualize software.

In conjunction with the FCM4 updates, IBM has also enhanced Storage Defender, its cyber resiliency solution that pulls from a number of its offerings including IBM Storage Protect, IBM Storage Protect for Cloud, IBM Storage Virtualize, and IBM Storage Sentinel. The solution integrates with IBM FlashSystem for more comprehensive capabilities spanning not only early detection but also streamlined recovery, as well as primary and protection environments.

To Storage Defender, IBM has enhanced AI-based threat detection capabilities for the protection data copies that are used for cyber-recovery. It also added workload and storage inventory management capabilities, to enhance organizations’ visibility into their data and applications. This is particularly important to mitigating blind spots that attackers may compromise, and when it comes to establishing the business continuity plan and what is critical to recover immediately following a cyber-attack. IBM presents this as a concept of “minimum viable recovery,” and I note that this is critical for IT operations teams when it comes to prioritizing efforts and mitigating downtime of critical business services, following an attack. Last but certainly not least, IBM has added the ability to orchestrate and automate the recovery of VMware applications, to reduce recovery times and better guarantee recovery.

I view IBM’s announcement as a response to the fact that attack vectors are continuing to evolve, especially as attackers find new fuel and innovation in the form of generative AI. Against this backdrop, early detection is critical – but so is the ability to then take swift action in the form of response and recovery. The ability to be more proactive is a growing requirement that we are seeing, and that IBM is addressing by bringing capabilities ranging from production storage to protection software and augmenting them with new capabilities including AI. It is notable that, in addition to addressing both production and protection environments, IBM’s approach also addresses complex hybrid multi-cloud environments that have become the norm for most enterprises.

As a final concluding point, I note the promise that AI offers for enhancing cyber-resiliency, but we also note that its effectiveness relies heavily on the quality of data that is used to train the models. As noted, IBM is tying visibility and detection robustly across the storage environment. This viewpoint, alongside responsible access to subsequent insights, are important for customers to consider as they evaluate such solutions.

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

Other Insights from The Futurum Group:

IBM Augments its Cyber Resiliency Stack with IBM Storage Defender, in Collaboration with Cohesity

IBM Announces New Quantum Processor and IBM Quantum System Two

IBM Security’s Program for Service Providers & Innovative Solutions – The Six Five on the Road at AWS re:Invent 2023

Author Information

With a focus on data security, protection, and management, Krista has a particular focus on how these strategies play out in multi-cloud environments. She brings approximately a decade of experience providing research and advisory services and creating thought leadership content, with a focus on IT infrastructure and data management and protection. Her vantage point spans technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her work has appeared in major publications including eWeek, TechTarget and The Register.

Prior to joining The Futurum Group, Krista led the data center practice for Evaluator Group and the data center practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research. She also created articles, product analyses, and blogs on all things storage and data protection and management for analyst firm Storage Switzerland and led market intelligence initiatives for media company TechTarget.

Krista holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Journalism with a minor in Business Administration from the University of New Hampshire.

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