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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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Continuing my quest to "set the record straight" about [IBM XIV Storage System] and IBM's other products, I find myself amused at some of the FUD out there. Some are almost as absurd as the following analogy:
Humans share over 50 percent of DNA with bananas. [source]
If you peel a banana, and put the slippery skin down on the sidewalk outside your office building, it couldpose a risk to your employees
If you peel a human, the human skin placed on the sidewalk in a similar manner might also pose similar risks.
Mr. Jones, who applied for the opening in your storage administration team, is a human being.
You wouldn't hire a banana to manage your storage, would you? This might be too risky!
The conclusion we are led to believe is that hiring Mr. Jones, a human being, is as risky as puttinga banana peel down on the sidewalk. Some bloggers argue that they are merely making a series of factual observations,and letting their readers form their own conclusions. For example, the IBM XIV storage system has ECC-protected mirrored cache writes. Some false claims about this were [properly retracted]using strike out font to show the correction made, other times the same statement appears in another post from the same blogger that[have not yet beenretracted] (Update: has now been corrected). Other bloggers borrow the false statement [for their own blog], perhaps not realizing theretractions were made elsewhere. Newspapers are unable to fix a previous edition, so are forced to publishretractions in future papers. With blogs, you can edit the original and post the changed version, annotated accordingly, so mistakes can be corrected quickly.
While it is possible to compare bananas and humans on a variety of metrics--weight, height, and dare I say it,caloric value--it misses the finer differences of what makes them different. Humans might share 98 percent withchimpanzees, but having an opposable thumb allows humans to do things that chimpanzeesother animals cannot.
Full Disclosure: I am neither vegetarian nor cannibal, and harbor no ill will toward bananas nor chimpanzees.No bananas or chimpanzees were harmed in the writing of this blog post. Any similarity between the fictitiousMr. Jones in the above analogy and actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
So let's take a look at some of IBM XIV Storage System's "opposable thumbs".
The IBM XIV system comes pre-formatted and ready to use. You don't have to spend weeks in meetings deciding betweendifferent RAID levels and then formatting different RAID ranks to match those decisions. Instead, you can start using the storage on the IBM XIV Storage System right away.
The IBM XIV offers consistent performance, balancing I/O evenly across all disk drive modules, even when performing SnapShot processing, or recovering from component failure. You don't have to try to separate data to prevent one workload from stealing bandwidth from another. You don't have to purchase extra software to determine where the "hot spots" are on the disk. You don't have to buy othersoftware to help re-locate and re-separate the data to re-balance the I/Os. Instead, you just enjoy consistentperformance.
The IBM XIV offers thin provisioning, allowing LUNs to grow as needed to accommodate business needs. You don'thave to estimate or over-allocate space for planned future projects. You don't have to monitor if a LUN is reaching80 or 90 percent full. You don't have to carve larger and larger LUNs and schedule time on the weekends to move thedata over to these new bigger spaces. Instead, you just write to the disk, monitoring the box as a whole, ratherthan individual LUNs.
The IBM XIV Storage System's innovative RAID-X design allows drives to be replaced with drives of any larger or smaller capacity. You don't have to find the exact same 73GB 10K RPM drive to match the existing 73GB 10K RPM drive that failed. Some RAID systems allow "larger than original" substitutions, for example a 146GB drive to replace a 73GB drive, but the added capacity is wasted, because of the way most RAID levels work. The problemis that many failures happen 3-5 years out, and disk manufacturers move on to bigger capacities and differentform factors, making it sometimes difficult to find an exact replacement or forcing customers to keep their own stockof spare drives. Instead, with the IBM XIV architecture, you sleep well at night, knowing it allows future drive capacities to act as replacements, and getting the full value and usage of that capacity.
In the case of IBM XIV Storage System, it is not clear whether
"Vendors" are those from IBM and IBM Business Partners, including bloggers like me employed by IBM,and "everybody else" includes IBM's immediate competitors, including bloggers employed by them.
-- or --
"Vendors" includes IBM and its competitors including any bloggers, so that "everybody else" refers instead to anyone not selling storage systems, but opinionated enough to not qualify as "objective third-party sources".
-- or --
"Vendors" includes official statements from IBM and its competitors, and "everybody else" refers to bloggerspresenting their own personal or professional opinions, that may or may not correspond to their employers.
That said, feel free to comment below on which of these you think the last two points of Steinhardt's rule istrying to capture. Certainly, I can't argue with the top two: a customer's own experience and the experiencesof other customers, which I mentioned previously in my post[Deceptively Delicious].
In that light, here is a 5-minute video on IBM TV with a customer testimonial from the good folksat [NaviSite], one of our manycustomer references for the IBM XIV Storage System.
Well, this has been an interesting two weeks. On week 1, I focused on IBM's strategy and four keysolutions areas: Information Availability, Information Security, Information Retention, and InformationCompliance. On week 2, I focused on individual products, their attributes, features and functions.Which week drew more blog traffic? You guessed it--week 1. Apparently, people want to know more aboutsolutions to their challenges and problems, and not just see what piece part components are available.
While IBM had switched over to solution-selling a while ago, some of our competitors are still inproduct-selling mode, and try to frame all competitive comparisons on a product-by-product basis.In my post[Supermarkets and Specialty Shops], I drew the analogy that the IT supermarkets (IBM, HP, Sun and Dell) are focusedon selling solutions, but the IT specialty shops (HDS, EMC, and others) are still focused on products.
Certainly, the transition from product-focused to solution-focused is not an easy one. As the IT industry matures, more and more clients are looking to buy solutions from theirvendors. What does it take to change behaviour of newly acquired employees, recently hired sales reps, and business partners, many of whom come from product-centric cultures, to match this dramatic shift in the marketplace? Let's take a look at change in other areas of the world.
On the[Freakonomics blog], Stephen Dubner discusses how clever people in Israel have figured out a way to get people to clean up after their pets in public places. This is a problem in many countries. Here we see an old idea, the [carrot-and-stick] approach, combined with newinformation technology. Here's an excerpt:
"In order to keep a city’s streets clean of dog poop, require dog owners to submit DNA samples from their pets when they get licenses; then use that DNA database to trace any left-behind poop and send the dogs’ owners stiff fines.
Well, it took three years but the Israeli city of Petah Tikva has actually put this plan to work:
The city will use the DNA database it is building to match feces to a registered dog and identify its owner.
Owners who scoop up their dogs’ droppings and place them in specially marked bins on Petah Tikva’s streets will be eligible for rewards of pet food coupons and dog toys.
But droppings found underfoot in the street and matched through the DNA database to a registered pet could earn its owner a municipal fine."
Sometimes, if enough people change, then changing behaviours of the few remaining becomes much easier. DanLockton on his Architectures of Control blog posts about the[London Design Festival - Greengaged]. This year, the festival focused on behavior changes for a greener environment, ecodesign and sustainable issues in design.Here's an excerpt and corresponding 5-minute YouTube video:
Lea argued three important points relevant to behaviour change:
Behaviour change requires behaviour (i.e. the behaviour of others: social effects are critical, as we respond to others’ behaviour which in turn affects our own; targeting the ‘right’ people allows behaviour to spread)
Behaviour and motivation are two different things: To change behaviour, you need to understand and work with people’s motivations - which may be very different for different people.
Desire is not enough: lots of people desire to behave differently, but it needs to be very easy for them to do it before it actually happens."
Of course, tax and government regulations can heavily influence behaviour and decisions. Since today is[International Talk Like a Pirate Day], I thought I would finish this post off with this interesting piece on Google barges. Some companies, like IBM and Google, seem more adaptable to changing behaviour and trying out fresh new ideas.Will Runyon over on the Raised Floor blog, has a post about Google's patent for[Data center barges on the sea]:"The idea is to use waves to power the data centers, ocean water to cool them, and a moored distance of seven miles or more to avoid paying taxes."
Arrr! Now that's what I call a new way of looking at things!
Continuing this week's theme on products that were part of last week'sIBM Information Infrastructure launch, today I'll cover the TS2900.
IBM System Storage TS2900 Tape Autoloader
This little baby is SWEET! At 1U high, it holds a single drive and up to 9 cartridges,up to a total of 14.4 TB at 2:1 compression. Thedrive can be a Half-Height (HH) LTO-3 or LTO-4 drive. (It is called an autoloader because there isonly a single drive. Automation with multiple drives are called libraries).
This can be rack-mounted, or sit on your desktop. There is an I/O station for insertingor removing individual cartridges, as well as a removable tape magazine to populate orremove the tapes in a more efficient manner.
Both LTO3 and LTO4 support a mix of regular and "Write Once, Read Many" (WORM) media tohelp comply with regulations demanding "Non-erasable, Non-rewriteable" storage. TheLTO4 can also support on-drive encryption, managed by the IBM Encryption Key Manager (EKM).
To learn more, see the IBM System Storage[TS2900 page].
Before acquisition, Diligent offered only software. The task of putting this software on an appropriate x86 server with sufficientmemory and processor capability was left as an exercise for the storage admin. With the TS7650G, IBM installs theProtectTIER software on the fastest servers in the industry, the IBM System x3850 M2 and x3950 M2. This eliminateshaving the storage admins pretend that they have hardware engineering degrees.
Before acquisition, the software worked only on a single system. IBM was able to offer multiple configurations of the TS7650G, including a single-controller model as well as a clustered dual-controller model. The clustered dual-controller model can ingest data at an impressive 900 MB/sec, which is up to nine times faster than some of thecompetitive deduplication offerings.
Before acquisition, ProtecTIER emulated DLT tape technology. This limited its viability, as the market sharefor DLT has dropped dramatically, and continues to dwindle. Most of the major backup software support DLT as anoption, but going forward this may not be true much longer for new tape applications.IBM was able to extend support by adding LTO emulation on theTS7650G gateway, future-proofing this into the 21st Century.
At last week's launch, covering so many products with so few slides, this announcement was shrunken down to a single line "Store 25 TB of backups onto 1 TB of disk, in 8 hours" and perhaps a few people missed that this wasactually covering two key features.
With deduplication, the TS7650G might get up to 25 times reduction on disk. If you back up a 1 TB data basethat changes only slightly from one day to the next, once a day for 25 days, it might only take 1 TB, or so, of disk tohold all the unique versions, as most of the blocks would be identical, rather than 25 TB on traditional disk or tapestorage systems. The TS7650G can manage up to 1 PB of disk,which could represent in theory up to 25 PB of backup data.
With an ingest rate of 900 MB/sec, the TS7650G could ingest 25 TB of backups during a typical 8 hour backup window.
The 25 TB of the first may not necessarily be the 25 TB of the second, but the wording was convenient for marketingpurposes, and a comma was used to ensure no misunderstandings.Of course, depending on the type of application, the frequency of daily change, and the backup software employed, your mileage may vary.
Continuing this week's theme about new products that were mentioned in last week's launch, today I willcover the new [S24 and S54 frames].
Before these new frames, customers had two choices for their tape cartridges: keep them in an automatedtape library, or on an external shelf. Most of the critics of tape focus almost entirely on the problemsrelated to the latter. When tapes are placed outside of automation, you need human intervention to findand fetch the tapes, tapes can be misplaced or misfiled, tapes can be dropped, tapes can get liquids spilledon them, and so on. These problems just don't happen when stored in automated tape libraries.
Until now, the number of cartridges were limited to the surface area of the wall accessible by the roboticpicker. Whether the robot rotates in a circle picking from dodecagon walls, or back and forth from longrectangular walls, the problem was the same.
But what about tapes that may not need to be readily accessible, but still automated? With the newhigh density frames, you can now stack tapes several cartridges deep, spring loaded deep shelves thatpush the tape cartridges up to the front one at a time. The high-density frame design might have been inspired by thefamous [Pez] candy dispenser, but at 70.9 inches, does not beat the[World's Tallest Pez Dispenser].
(Note: PEZ® is a registered trademark of Pez Candy, Inc.)
In a regular cartridge-only frame, like the D23, you have slots for 200 cartridges on the left, and 200 cartridges on the right, and the robotic picker can pull out and push back cartridges into any of theseslot positions. In the new S24, there are still 200 slots on the left, now referred to as "tier 0",but up to 800 cartridges on the right. In each slot there are up to four 3592 cartridges, the positionimmediately reachable to the picker is referred to as "tier 1", and the ones tucked behindare "tier 2", "tier 3" and "tier 4".
<- - - S24 frame - - - >
We have fun slow-motion videos we show customers on how these work. For example, in the diagram above, let'ssuppose you want to fetch Tape E in the "tier 4" position. The following sequence happens:
Robotic picker pulls "tier 1" tape cartridge B, and pushes it into another shelf slot. Tapes C, D and E get pushed up to be Tiers 1, 2 and 3 now.
Robotic picker pulls "tier 1" tape cartridge C, and puts it in another shelf slot. Tapes D and E get pushed up to be Tiers 1 and 2 now.
Robotic picker pulls "tier 1" tape cartridge D, and puts it in another shelf slot. Tape E gets pushed up to be Tier 1 now.
Robotic picker pulls "tier 1" tape cartridge E, this is the tape we wanted, and can move it to the drive.
The other three cartridges (B, C and D) are then pulled out of the temporary slot, and pushed back into their original order.
In this manner, the most recently referenced tape cartridges will be immediately accessible, and the ones leastreferenced will eventually migrate to the deeper tiers. The 3592 cartridges can be used with either TS1120 orTS1130 drives. Each cartridge can hold up to 3TB of data (1TB raw, at 3:1 compression), so the entire framecould hold 3PB in just 10 square feet of floor space. Five D23 frames could be consolidated down to two S24 frames.The S24 frame comes in "Capacity on Demand" pricing options. The base model of the S24 has just tiers 0, 1 and 2, for a total capacity of 600 cartridges. You can then later license tiers 3 and 4 when needed.
The S54 is basically similar in operation, but for LTO cartridges. It works with any mix of LTO-1, LTO-2, LTO-3 andLTO-4 cartridges.The left side holds tier 0 as before, but the right side has up to five LTO cartridges deep. For Capacity on Demand pricing,the base model supports 660 cartridges (tiers 0,1,2), with options to upgrade for the additional 660 cartridges.The total 1320 cartridges could hold up to 2.1 PB of data (at 2:1 compression). One S54 frame could replacethree traditional S53 frames that held only 440 LTO cartridges each.
If you have both TS1100 series and LTO drives in your TS3500 tape library, then you can haveboth S24 and S54 frames side by side.