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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Specialist for the IBM System Storage product line at the
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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.
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[Earth Day] is celebrated in many countries on April 22, which marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Others celebrate this on the March equinox.
IBM has finally aggregated everything that we are doing around "Green" initiatives onto a single[IBM Green] landing page. This has everything from IBM's own activities as well as what we sell to our clients.
Also, to mark this occasion, IBM held an internal contest for employees to make videos about Earth Day,the environment, and IT's role in making the situation better. The grand prize winner, and 10 secondprize winners, are available on this [IBM Green Contest - YouTube channel].Of these, I liked "New Life for Old Silicon" (shown here on the left).
IBM also developed [Power Up, the Game], which is theEarth Day Network's "official" game for today's festivities. It's a 3-D game created by IBM Research to help save a fictitious planet - the goal being to help students learn about ecology and climate change. This game is also hoped to motivate young students to get interested in math, scienceand technology.Eightbar has a great post [PowerUp - A serious game out inthe wild] discussing this.Here's also a 3-minute[the making of "Power Up, the game" video] to geta behind-the-scenes look.The game is a downloadable Windows client that then connects to the main servers to run.
You could buy 10 liters of gasoline in Venezuela with this coin.
I'm back from South America, and am now in Chicago, Illinois. I'm having breakfast at the Starbucksdowntown, and thought I would make a post before all of my meetings today.
On this trip, I met with IBM Business Partners and sales reps from Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. While I have visited thefirst three countries on past trips, this was my first time to Caracas, Venezuela. I grew up in La Paz, Bolivia, and speak Spanish fluently, so had no problemgetting around and holding discussions with everyone. While my friends in the US are oftensurprised I speak multiple languages, it doesn't surprise anyone I visit in other countries.If you are going to have worldwide job responsibilities for a global company that does businessin over 180 countries, the least you could do is learn a few additional languages. I suspect themajority of the 350,000 IBM employees speak at least two languages, the exceptions being mostly the 50,000 orso employees that live in the United States.
I flew on American Airlines from Tucson to Dallas to Caracas, and was only slightly delayed as a resultof all of the flight cancellations that happened earlier that week. Some companies designate a single "official airline" for their employees to use. That makessense if all of your employees are located in a single city, and that city is the hub for yourdesignated airline.IBM is too big, too spread out, and sells technology to nearly every airline to make sucha designation. Instead, IBM tries to spread its business out to multiple carriers, although all ofmy colleagues seems to have their own personal favorites. Mine are American Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
While other people were upset over the delays, I found American Airlines did a great job keeping me informed,and all their employees I talked to seemed to be handling the situation fairly well. If youfly on American, I recommend you sign up for "text message" notifications. I did this for everyleg of my trip, and was kept up to date on times, gates and status. Very helpful!American Airlines even started their own corporate blog: [AA Conversation] (Special thanks to my friend[Paul Gillen] for pointing this out)
(I read somewhere that if you are going to travel anywhere, you need to remember to bringboth your sunscreen and your sense of humor, otherwise you are going to get burned. Goodadvice! Trust me, you don't even know how bad it can really be until you travel in the third world.)
Anyhoo, last week, IBM Venezuela celebrated its 70th anniversary. That's right, IBM has been doingbusiness in Venezuela for the past 70 years. Also last week, IBM put out its impressive [1Q08 quarterly results],including 10 percent growth for IBM System Storage product line worldwide, comparing what IBM earned this first quarter to what IBM earned the first quarter of last year. For just the Latin American countries,the growth for IBM System Storage was 20 percent!There are a lot of oil and gas companies in Venezuela. With a barrel of oil selling at more than$117 US dollars, these companies are looking to spend their newly earned profits on IBM systems, software and services.
As for the picture above, that is a one-thousand Bolivares coin, worth about 47 US cents atthis week's official exchange rate. As with many Latin American countries going through [years of high inflation], Venezuela was tired of all those zeros on their money. For example, a cheeseburger, freedom fries and a Cokeat McDonald's would set you back 20,000 Bolivares.This year the Venezuelan governmentcreated a new currency called "Bolivares Fuertes" (VEF), lopping off the last three zeros.So, the coin above would be replaced by a new coin with a big "1" on it instead, and an old 2000 Bolivares billwould be replaced by a new 2 Bolivares Fuertes bill. Unfortunately,I had to give all my new Venezuelan money back at the airport upon leaving, but they let me keep the coinabove, since it is old money, as a souvenir so that I could use it as a ball mark for playing golf.
(The term Bolivares is named after Simon Bolivar who was born in Caracas. He is famous throughoutSouth America, and was, and I am not making this up, the first president of Colombia, the secondpresident of Venezuela, the first president of Bolivia, and the sixth president of Peru. Here isthe [Wikipedia article] to learn more.)
Gasoline costs a mere 100 old Bolivares per liter.For those who don't do metric, gasoline therefore costsless than 18 cents per gallon. By comparison, in the USA, the average today was $3.47 US dollarsper gallon, of which 18.4 cents of this is Federal tax. That's right, we pay more just in taxes forgasoline than los venezolanos pay for it all.
The side effect of cheap gas is bad traffic. Everybody in Venezuela drives their own car, and nobody thinksabout the price of gasoline, carpooling, or taking public transportation, acting much like Americans used to, up until a few years ago. With some of the gridlock we faced, it might have been faster (but not safer)to walk there instead.
Which makes me wonder if American Airlines fills up their airplanes with fuel at these lower prices when theypick up people in Caracas to take them back to the United States. In 2002, fuel represented 10 percentof the average airline's operating expenses, but today it is now 25 percent. That is a drastic increase!
The same is happening in data centers. In the past, electricity was so cheap, and such a small percentof the total IT budget, nobody gave it much thought. But as the usage of electricity increased, andthe cost per KWh went up, this has a multiplying effect, and the growth in power and cooling costs isgrowing four times faster than the average IT hardware budget increase.
Normally, IBM only makes announcements on Tuesdays, but today, Friday, IBM announces that it acquired Diligent Technologies. What? I got a lot ofquestions about this, so I thought I would start with this...
When I posted in January that[IBM Acquires XIV],fellow EMC blogger Mark Twomey of StorageZilla fame, sent me a comment:
"Ah now Tony I wasn't poking fun. Indeed I find it fascinating that Moshe who's been sitting out on the fringes for years having been banished for being an obstructionist to EMC entering the mid-market is now back.
Which reminds me what happens with Diligent? There his as well aren't they or has he packed his stake in that in?"
As you might have guessed, I am privy to a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes at IBM that I can't talk about in this blog, and all these rumors in the blogosphere about IBM acquisition of Diligent was a topic I couldn't officially recognize, defend or deny, until official IBM announcements were made.
In his latest post, Mark wonders about[the last Tape and Mainframe sales person on earth]. He recounts my interaction with fellow HDS blogger Hu Yoshia about the energy benefits ofVirtual Tape Libraries. Knowing that we were going to announcement IBM's acquisition of Diligent soon, I thoughtthis would be a worthy exchange, driving up the sales of Diligent boxes (whether you buy them from IBM or HDS).Diligent already had reselling arrangements with HDS, and IBM plans to continue thosearrangements going forward with HDS. As I have explained before in my post [Supermarketsand Specialty Shops], IBM and HDS cater to different customers, so if a customer who wants the best technologyfrom a specialty shop, they can buy IBM Diligent products from HDS, but if they want one-stop shopping, they can buyIBM Diligent directly from IBM or its other IBM Business Partners.
(Perhaps a more tricky situation is that Diligent also had an arrangement with Sun Microsystems, which competesdirectly against IBM as another IT supermarket vendor, but I have not heard how IBM has decided to handle thisgoing forward.)
For more on this intricate mess of interconnected companies, alliances and partnerships, read Dave Raffo's article[Data dedupe dance cardfilling up] over at Storage Soup.
So, let's tackle the first question:
Q1. What will happen to IBM's real tape library business?
Come on! IBM is Number one in tape, we've had virtual tape libraries since 1997 (the first in the industry)and continue to do well in both virtual and real tape libraries. Both provide value to the customer, and bothhave their place as part of the overall "information infrastructure". This acquisition provides yet another choicefor clients on our "supermarket" shelf.
(For those following the ["which is greener"] discussion, the robot of the IBM TS3500 real tape library consumes185W per frame (when moving) and each tape drive consumes 50W (when actively working on a tape). Compared to 13W per SATA disk drive, each 6-drive frame of a TS3500 consumes as much electricity as 37 SATA disk drives. If you are not running backups 24x7, the total KWh per day for your tape library is actually quite less, but as several people have pointed out, there are customers that do run backups 80-90 percent of the time. LTO-4 tapes can hold 800GB uncompressed, and SATA disk are now available in 1TB (1000 GB) size, so you can have fun with your own comparisons.)
Meanwhile, Scott Waterhouse, one of the few people at EMC who understand tape workloadslike backup and archive, takes me to task in his Backup Blog with his post[I want a Red Ferrari].For those who are surprised that anyone at EMC might understand backup workloads, EMC did acquire a company calledLegato, and perhaps Scott came from that acquisition. I've never met Scott in person, but based solely only fromhis writings, he seems to know his stuff and makes strong arguments for using IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) with deduplication and virtual tape libraries.
While TSM does a good job of "deduplicating" at the client first, backing up only changed data, Scott feels database and email repositories must be backed up entirely each time, which is what happens in many other backup software products. Some clients might have 80 percent database/email and only 20 percent files, while others might have less than 20 percent database/email and 80 percent files, so this might influence whether deduplication will have small or big benefit.If TSM has to backup the entire database, even though little has changed since the last backup, that is where deduplication on a virtual tape library can come in handy. For IBM DB2 and Oracle databases, IBM TSM application-aware Tivoli Data Protection module interface backs up only changed data, not the entire file. Thanks to IBM's FilesX acquisition-- (also coincidently from Israel) --IBM can extend this support now to SQL Server databases as well.However, to be fair, Scott is partly correct, TSM does backup some database and email repositories in their entirety, which is why it is a good idea to have BOTH an IBM virtual tape library with deduplication and Tivoli Storage Manager to handle all cases. This brings us to the next question:
Q2. What will happen to IBM's patented "progressive backup" technology?
IBM will continue to use TSM's progressive backup technology. TSM already works great with Diligent virtual tapelibraries. One example is LAN-free backup. In this configuration, the TSM client writes its backups directly toa virtual or real tape library, over the SAN, and then sends the list of files backed up to the TSM server over theLAN to record in its database. This can greatly reduce IP traffic on your LAN during peak backup periods. For more about this, see the IBM Redbook titled["Get More Out of Your SAN with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager"].
Jon Toigo from DrunkenData asks[Did IBM Do Due Diligence Before Making Diligent Acquisition a Done Deal?] which is probably always a valid question. Unlike XIV, I wasn't part of the Diligent acquisition team, so I can't provide first hand account of the process. I am told that the IBM team did all the right things to make sure everything is going to turn out right.Sadly, many companies that make acquisitions in the IT industry fail to make them work. Fortunately, IBM is one of the few companies that has a great success record, with over 60 acquisitions in the past six years.In the Xconomy forum, Wade Rousch writes[IBM and the Art of Acquisitions]and gives some insight why IBM is different. Jon did not understand why Cindy Grossman, IBM VP of tape and archive solutions, ran the analyst conference call for this announcement, which brings me to the next question:
Q3. What is Diligent virtual tape library going to be categorized as, a disk system or a tape system?
IBM organizes its storage systems based on the host application workloads.Products to address disk workloads (SVC, DS8000 series, DS6000 series, DS4000 series, DS3000 series, N series, XIV Nextra) are in our disk systems group. Storage that appears to host applications like a tape system to address workloads like backup and archive (tape drives, libraries and tape virtualization) are in our tape and archive group. IBM Diligent has two products, one for big workloads and one for medium workloads. Both look liketape systems, so our tape and archive team, who understand tape workloads like backup and archive the best, are obviously the best choice to support IBM Diligent in the mix.
IBM will offer both N series and Diligent deduplication capabilities. For disk workloads, IBM N series offers a post-process deduplication feature at no additional charge. For tape workloads, IBM will now offer an in-line deduplication feature with Diligent Technologies. Different workloads, different offerings.
As with any acquisition, there will be some changes. The 100 folks from Diligent will get to learn the IBM wayof doing things. This brings me to our fifth and final question:
Q5. What is the correct spelling: deduplication or de-duplication?
It appears that Diligent has a corporate-wide standard to hyphenate this term (de-duplication), but the "word police" at IBM that control and standardize all "proper spellings, trademarks, and capitalization" have sent me corporate instructions a few days ago that IBM does not to hyphenate this term (deduplication). So, going forward, it will be "deduplication", or "dedupe" for short.I suspect one of the first tasks that our new IBMers from Diligent will be doing is removing all those hyphens fromthe [Diligent Technologies website]!
That's all for now, I'm off to Chicago, Illinois tomorrow!
I am still wiping the coffee off my computer screen, inadvertently sprayed when I took a sip while reading HDS' uber-blogger Hu Yoshida's post on storage virtualization and vendor lock-in.
HDS is a major vendor for disk storage virtualization, and Hu Yoshida has been around for a while, so I felt it was fair to disagree with some of the generalizations he made to set the record straight. He's been more careful ever since.
However, his latest post [The Greening of IT: Oxymoron or Journey to a New Reality] mentions an expert panel at SNW that includedMark O’Gara Vice President of Infrastructure Management at Highmark. I was not at the SNW conference last week in Orlando, so I will just give the excerpt from Hu's account of what happened:
"Later I had the opportunity to have lunch with Mark O’Gara. Mark is a West Point graduate so he takes a very disciplined approach to addressing the greening of IT. He emphasized the need for measurements and setting targets. When he started out he did an analysis of power consumption based on vendor specifications and came up with a number of 513 KW for his data center infrastructure....
The physical measurements showed that the biggest consumers of power were in order: Business Intelligence Servers, SAN Storage, Robotic tape Library, and Virtual tape servers....
Another surprise may be that tape libraries are such large consumers of power. Since tape is not spinning most of the time they should consume much less power than spinning disk - right? Apparently not if they are sitting in a robotic tape library with a lot of mechanical moving parts and tape drives that have to accelerate and decelerate at tremendous speeds. A Virtual Tape Library with de-duplication factor of 25:1 and large capacity disks may draw significantly less power than a robotic tape library for a given amount of capacity.
Obviously, I know better than to sip coffee whenever reading Hu's blog. I am down here in South America this week, the coffee is very hot and very delicious, so I am glad I didn't waste any on my laptop screen this time, especially reading that last sentence!
In that report, a 5-year comparison found that a repository based on SATA disk was 23 times more expensive overall, and consumed 290 times more energy, than a tape library based on LTO-4 tape technology. The analysts even considered a disk-based Virtual Tape Library (VTL). Focusing just on backups, at a 20:1 deduplication ratio, the VTL solution was still 5 times per expensive than the tape library. If you use the 25:1 ratio that Hu Yoshida mentions in his post above, that would still be 4 times more than a tape library.
I am not disputing Mark O'Gara's disciplined approach. It is possible that Highmark is using a poorly written backup program, taking full backups every day, to an older non-IBM tape library, in a manner that causes no end of activity to the poor tape robotics inside. But rather than changing over to a VTL, perhaps Mark might be better off investigating the use of IBM Tivoli Storage Manager, using progressive backup techniques, appropriate policies, parameters and settings, to a more energy-efficient IBM tape library.In well tuned backup workloads, the robotics are not very busy. The robot mounts the tape, and then the backup runs for a long time filling up that tape, all the meanwhile the robot is idle waiting for another request.
(Update: My apologies to Mark and his colleagues at Highmark. The above paragraph implied that Mark was using badproducts or configured them incorrectly, and was inappropriate. Mark, my full apology [here])
If you do decide to go with a Virtual Tape Library, for reasons other than energy consumption, doesn't it make sense to buy it from a vendor that understands tape systems, rather than buying it from one that focuses on disk systems? Tape system vendors like IBM, HP or Sun understand tape workloads as well as related backup and archive software, and can provide better guidance and recommendations based on years of experience. Asking advice abouttape systems, including Virtual Tape Libraries, from a disk vendor is like asking for advice on different types of bread from your butcher, or advice about various cuts of meat at the bakery.
The butchers and bakers might give you answers, but it may not be the best advice.
Fellow blogger and cartoon writer Scott Adams writes in his Dilbert Blog posts about the [Monte Hall problem].Monte Hall was the host of the American game show Let's Make a Deal. Here is an excerpt:
"The set up is this. Game show host Monte Hall offers you three doors. One has a car behind it, which will be your prize if you guess that door. The other two doors have goats. In other words, you have a 1/3 chance of getting the car.
You pick a door, but before it is opened to reveal what is behind it, Monte opens one of the doors you did NOT choose, which he knows has a goat behind it. And he asks if you want to stick with your first choice or move to the other closed door. One of those two doors has a car behind it. Monte knows which one but you don’t."
Mathematically, on your initial choice of doors, you have a 1/3 chance of picking the car, and 2/3 chance ofpicking a goat. But, after you make a choice, Monte knows which door(s) have goats behind them, and selectsone that exposes the goat. If you stay with your initial choice, you still have a 1/3 chance that you win acar, but if you change your mind and choose the other door, your odds double, you have a 2/3 chance of winning.This is not obvious at all to most people, so Scott points people to the [Wikipedia entry] that provides the mathematicaldetails.
What does this have to do with storage?
When you pick a disk system, you are hoping you pick the door with the car. You want a disk system that meets your performance requirements for your particular workload and easy to deploy, configure and manage, with a low total cost of ownership for the three, four or five years you plan to use it.However, with over forty different storage vendors, there are some doors that might have goats. Some vendorshave only 90 day warranties for their software, and I don't know any customers that replace their disk systems that often.
(It was pointed out to me that it was unfair in my last week's post about[Xiotech'slow cost RAID brick], that I singled out EMC offering minuscule 90day warranties for the software needed to run their disk systems. I apologize. I have sincelearned that HDS and HP also shaft their clients with 90 day warranties. Apparently thereare a lot of vendors out there who lack confidence in the quality of their software!)
It would be nice if everyone published all of their performance benchmarks so that you canchoose the right door with the car behind it, but sadly in the storage industry, not everyoneparticipates with industry-standard benchmarks like the[Storage Performance Council].
In other cases, people make their choices based on past decisions. Perhaps someone beforethem chose one vendor over another, and it seems simple enough just to stay with the originalchoice. It is amazing how often people stay with their company's original choice, what we call in the industry the "incumbent vendor", without exploring alternatives.
So, if you bought an EMC, HDS or HP disk system in the last 90 days, it's not too late for you.Tell your local IBM rep that you are afraid you picked the door with the goat, and that you want to change your mind, and choose the other door and go with IBM instead.
You will double your chances of being happier with your new choice!