Inside System Storage -- by Tony PearsonTony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior Managing Consultant for the IBM System Storage product line at the IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor to IBM's developerWorks. In 2011, Tony celebrated his 25th year anniversary with IBM Storage (June 16) on the same day as IBM's Centennial. He is author of the Inside System Storage series of books. This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to storage and storage networking hardware, software and services. You can also follow him on Twitter @az990tony.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson )
This week I am off to Budapest, Hungary, for business meetings. It is the closest major city to IBM'smanufacturing plant in a small town called Vac (rhymes with "knots") where the IBM System Storage DS8000 seriesand SAN Volume Controller are assembled.
Last week, I opined that Monday's IDC announcement "IBM #1 in combined disk and tape storage hardwaresales for 2006" was in part because of a resurgence of interest in tape, with four specific examples. There was a lot of reaction and reflection fromboth sides.
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One of the differences between IBM and the other storage vendors is that IBM is also in the business of middleware, application-aware backup software, and advanced copy services. This allows IBM to put togethersolutions that work to address specific challenges for our clients.
IBM has written a whitepaper on a cleverVSS Snapshot Backup for Exchange using IBM Tivoli Storage Manager and the point-in-time copy capabilities of IBM System Storage disk systems.
A problem in the past was that each vendor's point-in-time copy method had its own unique proprietary interface.Microsoft Developed Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS) as a common interface front-end to resolve this concern.IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Mail can invoke standard VSS interfaces, and this in turn can invoke FlashCopyon the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller, DS8000 series, or DS6000 series disk system.
You might be thinking: Wouldn't it have been less effort to just have TSM for Mail invoke IBM proprietary interfaces,rather than having to put full VSS support into TSM for mail, and then full VSS support into IBM's various disksystems? Perhaps, but IBM doesn't decide to do things because it is the cheapest way, we focus on what is theright way, and in this case, customers now have more choices, then can use TSM for Mail with IBM or non-IBM disksystems that support the VSS interface, and IBM disk systems can be employed into other uses for VSS snapshot.
Of course, we would like our clients to consider both TSM and IBM System Storage disk systems for a combined solution,not because they are required to make the solution work, but because both are best-of-breed, and whitepapers likethis show how they can provide synergy working together.
A recent blog by Chris Mellor makes the outlandish conspiracy theory that IBM and HDS copied virtualisation technology from small start-up company DataCore.
(Chris doesn't actually name who is his source making such a claim, whether thatsomeone was employed by any of the parties involved at the time the events occurred,or is currently employed by a competitor like EMC bitterly jealous of the success IBM and HDScurrently enjoy with their offerings.)
As I already posted before about IBM'slong history of storage virtualization, SAN Volume Controller was really part of a sequence of major product in this area, after the successful 3850 MSS and 3494 VTS block virtualization products.
In the late 1990's, our research teams in Almaden, California and Hursley, UK were exploring storagetechnologies that could take advantage of commodity hardware parts and the industry-leadingLinux operating system.
As is often the case, while IBM was working on "the perfect product", small start-ups announce "not-yet-perfect" products into the marketplace. Tactical moves like partneringwith DataCore was a smart move, for the following reasons:
The partnership proved worthwhile, not just to prove to IBM that this was a worthwhile market to enter, but also how "NOT" to package a solution. Specifically, DataCore SANsymphony was software that you had to install on your own Windows-based server. The client was left with the task of orderinga suitable Intel-based server, with the right amount of CPU cycles, RAM and host bus adapter ports,and configure the Windows operating system and DataCore software.
It didn't go well. Basically, customers were expected to be their own "hardware engineers", having to knowway too much about storage hardware and software to design a combination that worked for theirworkloads. Most clients were disappointed with the amount of effort involved, and the resulting poor performance.
To fix this, IBM delivered the SAN Volume Controller, with an optimized Linux operating system and internally-writtensoftware that runs on IBM System x(tm) server hardware optimized for performance.
I can't speak for HDS, but I suspect they came to similar conclusions that resulted in a similar decisionto build their product in-house. I welcome Hu Yoshida to correct me if I am wrong on this.
I hope everyone enjoyed the French Open in Second Life! Here are some upcoming events: