IBM has upgraded its SAN Volume Controller, with added support for SSDs and promises a boost in performance with or without flash storage.

SAN Volume Controller (SVC) 5.0, due to ship on 6 November, is the latest version of a storage virtualisation appliance that can control storage capacity from IBM and other system vendors. It will take advantage of technology IBM researchers developed in Project Quicksilver, which the company said last year had achieved one million read operations per second using SSDs (solid-state drives).

Though SVC 5.0 falls slightly short of those lab results, clocking in at 800,000 read operations, for the first time it allows enterprises to put SSDs inside the SVC. It also includes upgrades that will boost the performance of HDDs (hard disk drives) in the virtualised storage environment, according to IBM.

SSDs are fast emerging as a favoured place to store data that applications such as transactional databases need to access quickly. Because they have no moving parts, they can outperform groups of linked HDDs while making better use of available capacity, space and energy. But capturing the full benefits of SSDs requires more than simply sliding an SSD into a slot, industry analysts advise.

IBM's SVC can be linked over a SAN (storage-area network) to storage systems from other vendors, including Hewlett-Packard, EMC, Sun Microsystems and NetApp. It virtualises the combined capacity as a single pool of storage, giving enterprises greater flexibility in provisioning and using storage resources. It can control a maximum of 8 petabytes of storage.

The mark of one million read operations with Project Quicksilver was achieved using a nonstandard configuration of the SVC, said Chris Saul, IBM's marketing manager for storage virtualisation. The shipping product will be able to deliver 800,000 read operations with four pairs of SVC systems linked together, he said. SVCs, which are servers one rack unit high (1U), are sold in pairs for redundancy.