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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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Eventually, there comes a time to drop support for older, outdated programs that don't meet the latest standards. I had several complain that they could not read my last post on Internet Explorer 6. The post reads fine on more modern browsers like Firefox 3 and even Google's Chrome browser, but not IE6.
Google confirms that warnings are appearing:
[Official: YouTube to stop IE6 support].
My choice is to either stop embedding YouTube videos, some of which are created by my own marketing team specifically on my behalf, or drop support for IE6. I choose the latter. If you are still using IE6, please consider switching to Firefox 3 or Google Chrome instead.
( I cannot take credit for coining the new term "bleg". I saw this term firstused over on the [FreakonomicsBlog]. If you have not yet read the book "Freakonomics", I highly recommend it! The authors' blog is excellent as well.)
For this comparison, it is important to figure out how much workload a mainframe can support, how much an x86 cansupport, and then divide one from the other. Sounds simple enough, right? And what workload should you choose?IBM chose a business-oriented "data-intensive" workload using Oracle database. (If you wanted instead a scientific"compute-intensive" workload, consider an [IBM supercomputer] instead, the most recent of which clocked in over 1 quadrillion floating point operations per second, or PetaFLOP.) IBM compares the following two systems:
Sun Fire X2100 M2, model 1220 server (2-way)
IBM did not pick a wimpy machine to compare against. The model 1220 is the fastest in the series, with a 2.8Ghz x86-64 dual-core AMD Opteron processor, capable of running various levels of Solaris, Linux or Windows.In our case, we will use Oracle workloads running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.All of the technical specifications are available at the[Sun Microsystems Sun Fire X1200] Web site.I am sure that there are comparable models from HP, Dell or even IBM that could have been used for this comparison.
IBM z10 Enterprise Class mainframe model E64 (64-way)
This machine can run a variety of operating systems also, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). The E64 has four "multiple processor modules" called"processor books" for a total of 77 processing units: 64 central processors, 11 system assist processors (SAP) and 2 spares. That's right, spare processors, in case any others gobad, IBM has got your back. You can designate a central processor in a variety of flavors. For running z/VM and Linux operating systems, the central processors can be put into "Integrated Facility for Linux" (IFL) mode.On IT Jungle, Timothy Patrick Morgan explains the z10 EC in his article[IBM Launches 64-Way z10 Enterprise Class Mainframe Behemoth]. For more information on the z10 EC, see the 110-page [Technical Introduction], orread the specifications on the[IBM z10 EC] Web site.
In a shop full of x86 servers, there are production servers, test and development servers, quality assuranceservers, standby idle servers for high availability, and so on. On average, these are only 10 percent utilized.For example, consider the following mix of servers:
125 Production machines running 70 percent busy
125 Backup machines running idle ready for active failover in case a production machine fails
1250 machines for test, development and quality assurance, running at 5 percent average utilization
While [some might question, dispute or challenge thisten percent] estimate, it matches the logic used to justify VMware, XEN, Virtual Iron or other virtualization technologies. Running 10 to 20 "virtual servers" on a single physical x86 machine assumes a similar 5-10 percent utilization rate.
Note: The following paragraphs have been revised per comments received.
Now the math. Jon, I want to make it clear I was not involved in writing the press release nor assisted with thesemath calculations. Please, don't shoot the messenger! Remember this cartoon where two scientists in white lab coats are writing mathcalculations on a chalkboard, and in the middle there is "and then a miracle happens..." to continue the rest ofthe calculations?
In this case, the miracle is the number that compares one server hardware platform to another. I am not going to bore people with details like the number of concurrent processor threads or the differencesbetween L1 and L3 cache. IBM used sophisticated tools and third party involvement that I am not allowed to talk about, and I have discussed this post with lawyers representing four (now five) different organizations already,so for the purposes of illustration and explanation only, I have reverse-engineered a new z10-to-Opteron conversion factor as 6.866 z10 EC MIPS per GHz of dual-core AMD Opteron for I/O-intensive workloads running only 10 percent average CPU utilization. Business applications that perform a lot of I/O don't use their CPU as much as other workloads.For compute-intensive or memory-intensive workloads, the conversion factor may be quite different, like 200 MIPS per GHz, as Jeff Savit from Sun Microsystems points out in the comments below.
Keep in mind that each processor is different, and we now have Intel, AMD, SPARC, PA-RISC and POWER (and others); 32-bit versus 64-bit; dual-core and quad-core; and different co-processor chip sets to worry about. AMD Opteron processors come in different speeds, but we are comparing against the 2.8GHz, so 1500 times 6.866 times 2.8 is 28,337. Since these would be running as Linux guestsunder z/VM, we add an additional 7 percent overhead or 2,019 MIPS. We then subtract 15 percent for "smoothing", whichis what happens when you consolidate workloads that have different peaks and valleys in workload, or 4,326 MIPS.The end is that we need a machine to do 26,530 MIPS. Thanks to advances in "Hypervisor" technological synergy between the z/VM operating system and the underlying z10 EC hardware, the mainframe can easily run 90 percent utilized when aggregating multiple workloads, so a 29,477 MIPS machine running at 90 percent utilization can handle these 26,530 MIPS.
N-way machines, from a little 2-way Sun Fire X2100 to the might 64-way z10 EC mainframe, are called "Symmetric Multiprocessors". All of the processors or cores are in play, but sometimes they have to taketurns, wait for exclusive access on a shared resource, such as cache or the bus. When your car is stopped at a red light, you are waiting for your turn to use the shared "intersection". As a result, you don't get linear improvement, but rather you get diminishing returns. This is known generically as the "SMP effect", and in IBM documentsthis as [Large System Performance Reference].While a 1-way z10 EC can handle 920 MIPS, the 64-way can only handle30,657 MIPS. The 29,477 MIPS needed for the Sun x2100 workload can be handled by a 61-way, giving you three extraprocessors to handle unexpected peaks in workload.
But are 1500 Linux guest images architecturally possible? A long time ago, David Boyes of[Sine Nomine Associates] ran 41,400 Linux guest images on a single mainframe using his [Test Plan Charlie], and IBM internallywas able to get 98,000 images, and in both cases these were on machines less powerful than the z10 EC. Neitherof these were tests ran I/O intensive workloads, but extreme limits are always worth testing. The 1500-to-1 reduction in IBM's press release is edge-of-the-envelope as well, so in production environments, several hundred guest images are probably more realistic, and still offer significant TCO savings.
The z10 EC can handle up to 60 LPARs, and each LPAR can run z/VM which acts much like VMware in allowing multipleLinux guests per z/VM instance. For 1500 Linux guests, you could have 25 guests each on 60 z/VM LPARs, or 250 guests on each of six z/VM LPARs, or 750 guests on two LPARs. with z/VM 5.3, each LPAR can support up to 256GB of memory and 32 processors, so you need at least two LPAR to use all 64 engines. Also, there are good reasons to have different guests under different z/VM LPARs, such as separating development/test from production workloads. If you had to re-IPLa specific z/VM LPAR, it could be done without impacting the workloads on other LPARs.
To access storage, IBM offers N-port ID Virtualization (NPIV). Without NPIV, two Linux guest images could not accessthe same LUN through the same FCP port because this would confuse the Host Bus Adapter (HBA), which IBM calls "FICON Express" cards. For example, Linux guest 1 asks to read LUN 587 block 32 and this is sent out a specific port, to a switch, to a disk system. Meanwhile, Linux guest 2 asks to read LUN 587 block 49. The data comes back to the z10 EC with the data, gives it to the correct z/VM LPAR, but then what? How does z/VM know which of the many Linux guests to give the data to? Both touched the same LUN, so it is unclear which made the request. To solve this, NPIV assigns a virtual "World Wide Port Name" (WWPN), up to 256 of them per physical port, so you can have up to 256 Linux guests sharing the same physical HBA port to access the same LUN.If you had 250 guests on each of six z/VM LPARs, and each LPAR had its own set of HBA ports, then all 1500 guestscould access the same LUN.
Yes, the z10 EC machines support Sysplex. The concept is confusing, but "Sysplex" in IBM terminology just means that you can have LPARs either on the same machine or on separate mainframes, all sharing the same time source, whether this be a "Sysplex Timer" or by using the "Server Time Protocol" (STP). The z10 EC can have STP over 6 Gbps Infiniband over distance. If you wantedto have all 1500 Linux guests time stamp data identically, all six z/VM LPARs need access to the shared time source. This can help in a re-do or roll-back situation for Oracle databases to complete or back-out "Units of Work" transactions. This time stamp is also used to form consistency groups in "z/OS Global Mirror", formerly called "XRC" for Extended Remote Distance Copy. Currently, the "timestamp" on I/O applies only to z/OS and Linux and not other operating systems. (The time stamp is done through the CDK driver on Linux, and contributed back to theopen source community so that it is available from both Novell SUSE and Red Hat distributions.)To have XRC have consistency between z/OS and Linux, the Linux guests would need to access native CKD volumes,rather than VM Minidisks or FCP-oriented LUNs.
Note: this is different than "Parallel Sysplex" which refers to having up to 32 z/OS images sharing a common "Coupling Facility" which acts as shared memory for applications. z/VM and Linux do not participate in"Parallel Sysplex".
As for the price, mainframes list for as little as "six figures" to as much as several million dollars, but I have no idea how much this particular model would cost. And, of course, this is just the hardware cost. I could not find the math for the $667 per server replacement you mentioned, so don't have details on that.You would need to purchase z/VM licenses, and possibly support contracts for Linux on System z to be fully comparable to all of the software license and support costs of the VMware, Solaris, Linux and/or Windows licenses you run on the x86 machines.
This is where a lot of the savings come from, as a lot of software is licensed "per processor" or "per core", and so software on 64 mainframe processors can be substantially less expensive than 1500 processors or 3000 cores.IBM does "eat its own cooking" in this case. IBM is consolidating 3900 one-application-each rack-mounted serversonto 30 mainframes, for a ratio of 130-to-1 and getting amazingly reduced TCO. The savings are in the followingareas:
Hardware infrastructure. It's not just servers, but racks, PDUs, etc. It turns out to be less expensive to incrementally add more CPU and storage to an existing mainframe than to add or replace older rack-em-and-stack-emwith newer models of the same.
Cables. Virtual servers can talk to each other in the same machine virtually, such as HiperSockets, eliminatingmany cables. NPIV allows many guests to share expensive cables to external devices.
Networking ports. Both LAN and SAN networking gear can be greatly reduced because fewer ports are needed.
Administration. We have Universities that can offer a guest image for every student without having a majorimpact to the sys-admins, as the students can do much of their administration remotely, without having physicalaccess to the machinery. Companies uses mainframe to host hundreds of virtual guests find reductions too!
Connectivity. Consolidating distributed servers in many locations to a mainframe in one location allows youto reduce connections to the outside world. Instead of sixteen OC3 lines for sixteen different data centers, you could have one big OC48 line instead to a single data center.
Software licenses. Licenses based on servers, cores or CPUs are reduced when you consolidate to the mainframe.
Floorspace. Generally, floorspace is not in short supply in the USA, but in other areas it can be an issue.
Power and Cooling. IBM has experienced significant reduction in power consumption and cooling requirementsin its own consolidation efforts.
All of the components of DFSMS (including DFP, DFHSM, DFDSS and DFRMM) were merged into a single product "DFSMS for z/OS" and is now an included element in the base z/OS operating system. As a result of these, customers typically have 80 to 90 percent utilization on their mainframe disk. For the 1500 Linux guests, however, most of the DFSMS features of z/OS do not apply. These functions were not "ported over" to z/VM nor Linux on any platform.
Instead, the DFSMS concepts have been re-implemented into a new product called "Scale-Out File Services" (SOFS) which would provide NAS interfaces to a blendeddisk-and-tape environment. The SOFS disk can be kept at 90 percent utilization because policies can place data, movedata and even expire files, just like DFSMS does for z/OS data sets. SOFS supports standard NAS protocols such as CIFS,NFS, FTP and HTTP, and these could be access from the 1500 Linux guests over an Ethernet Network Interface Card (NIC), which IBM calls "OSA Express" cards.
Lastly, IBM z10 EC is not emulating x86 or x86-64 interfaces for any of these workloads. No doubt IBM and AMD could collaborate together to come up with an AMD Opteron emulator for the S/390 chipset, and load Windows 2003 right on top of it, but that would just result in all kinds of emulation overhead.Instead, Linux on System z guests can run comparable workloads. There are many Linux applications that are functionally equivalent or the same as their Windows counterparts. If you run Oracle on Windows, you could runOracle on Linux. If you run MS Exchange on Windows, you could run Bynari on Linux and let all of your Outlook Expressusers not even know their Exchange server had been moved! Linux guest images can be application servers, web servers, database servers, network infrastructure servers, file servers, firewall, DNS, and so on. For nearly any business workload you can assign to an x86 server in a datacenter, there is likely an option for Linux on System z.
Hope this answers all of your questions, Jon. These were estimates based on basic assumptions. This is not to imply that IBM z10 EC and VMware are the only technologies that help in this area, you can certainly find virtualization on other systems and through other software.I have asked IBM to make public the "TCO framework" that sheds more light on this.As they say, "Your mileage may vary."
For more on this series, check out the following posts:
If in your travels, Jon, you run into someone interested to see how IBM could help consolidate rack-mounted servers over to a z10 EC mainframe, have them ask IBM for a "Scorpion study". That is the name of the assessment that evaluates a specific clientsituation, and can then recommend a more accurate estimate configuration.
Array-based replication does have drawbacks; all externalised storage becomes dependent on the virtualising array. This makes replacement potentially complex. To date, HDS have not provided tools to seamlessly migrate away from one USP to another (as far as I am aware). In addition, there's the problem of "all your eggs in one basket"; any issue with the array (e.g. physical intervention like fire, loss of power, microcode bug etc) could result in loss of access to all of your data. Consider the upgrade scenario of moving to a higher level of code; if all data was virtualised through one array, you would want to be darn sure that both the upgrade process and the new code are going to work seamlessly...
The final option is to use fabric-based virtualisation and at the moment this means Invista and SVC. SVC is an interesting one as it isn't an array and it isn't a fabric switch, but it does effectively provide switching capabilities. Although I think SVC is a good product, there are inevitably going to be some drawbacks, most notably those similar issues to array-based virtualisation (Barry/Tony, feel free to correct me if SVC has a non-disruptive replacement path).
I would argue that the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) is more like the HDS USP, and less like the Invista. Both SVC and USP provide a common look and feel to the application server, both provide additional cache to external disk, both are able to provide a consistent set of copy services.
IBM designed the SVC so that upgrades can occur non-disruptively. You can replace the hardware nodes, one node at a time, while the SVC system is up and running, without disruption to reading and writing data on virtual disk. You can upgrade the software, one node at a time, while the SVC system is up and running, without disruption to reading and writing data on virtual disk. You can upgrade the firmware on the managed disk arrays behind the SVC, again, without disruption to reading and writing data on virtual disk.
More importantly, SVC has the ultimate "un-do" feature. It is called "image mode". If for any reason you want to take a virtual disk out of SVC management, you migrate over to an "image mode" LUN, and then disconnect it from SVC. The "image mode" LUN can then be used directly, with all the file system data in tact.
I define "virtualization" as technology that makes one set of resources look and feel like a different set of resources with more desirable characteristics. For SVC, the more desirable characteristics include choice of multi-pathing driver, consistent copy services, improved performance, etc. For EMC Invista, the question is "more desirable for whom?" EMC Invista seems more designed to meet EMC's needs, not its customers. EMC profits greatly from its EMC PowerPath multi-pathing driver, and from its SRDF copy services, so it appears to have designed a virtualization offering that:
Continuesthe use of EMC Powerpath as a multi-pathing driver. SVC supports driversthat are provided at no charge to the customer, as well as those built-in to each operating system like MPIO.
and, continuesthe use of Array-based copy services like SRDF of the underlying disk. SVC providesconsistent copy services regardless of storage vendor being managed.
A post from Dan over at Architectures of Control explains the anti-social nature of public benches. City planners, in an effort to discourage homeless people from sleeping on benches in parks or sidewalks, design benches that are so uncomfortableto use, that nobody uses them. These included benches made of metal that are too hot or too cold during certainmonths, benches slanted at an angle that dump you on the ground if you lay down, or benches that have dividers sothat you must be in an upright seated position to use.
This is not a disparagement of split-path switch-based designs. Rather, EMC's specific implementation appears to be designed for it to continuevendor lock-in for its multi-pathing driver, continuevendor lock-in for its copy services when used with EMC disk, and only provide slightly improved data migration capability for heterogeneous storage environments. Other switch-based solutions, such as those from Incipient or StoreAge, had different goals in mind.
Sadly, my IBM colleague BarryW and I have probably spent more words discussing Invista than all eleven EMC bloggers combined this year. While everyone in the industry is impressed how often EMC can sell "me, too" products with an incredibly large marketing budget, EMC appears not to have set aside funds for the Invista.
If a customer could design the ideal "storage virtualization" solution that would provide them the characteristics they desire the most from storage resources, it would not be anything like an Invista. While there are pros and cons between IBM's SVC and HDS's TagmaStore offerings, the reason both IBM and HDS are the market leaders in storage virtualization is because both companies are trying to provide value to the customer, just in different ways, and with different implementations.
Last week, Paul Weinberg of eChannelLine.com asks Is this the year of the SAN (again)?So, I thought this week I would cover my thoughts and opinions on storage networking. We oftenfocus on servers or storage devices, and forget that the network in between is an entire worldon itself.
I believe Mr. Weinberg is basing this on the idea that in 2007, over 50 percent of disk will beattached over SAN, edging out the alternative: Direct Attached Storage (DAS). But perhaps 50 percentis the wrong number to focus on. In 2007, The United Nations estimates thatcities will surpass rural areas, with just over 50 percent of theworld's population. Does that make this the "Year of the City"? Of course not.
Instead, I prefer to use the methodology that Malcolm Gladwell uses in his book, The Tipping Point.(I have read this book and highly recommend it!)Gladwell indicates that the tipping point happens at the start of the epidemic, not when it is half over.Isn't it better to celebrate the sweet 16 debutante ball when young ladies have completed their years of training and preparation, and are ready to be introduced to the rest of the world, rather than after they are thirty-something, married with children.
Let's explore some of the history. Stuart Kendric has a nice 7-page summary on theHistory & Plumbing of SANs.
IBM announced the first SAN technology calledEnterprise Systems Connection (ESCON) way back in September 1990. This allowed multiplemainframe servers to connect to multiple storage systems over equipment called "ESCON Directors" that directedtraffic from point A to point B. Before this, mainframes sent "ChannelCommand Words" or CCWs, across parallel "bus and tag" copper cables. ESCON was serial overfiber optic wiring. SANs solved two problems: first, it reduced the "rat's nest" of cables between many serversand many storage systems, and second, it extended the distance between server and storage device.
For distributed systems running UNIX or Windows, the CCW-equivalent over parallel cables was called Small ComputerSystem Interface (SCSI). The SCSI command had over 1000 command words, so for its Advanced Technology (AT) personal computers (PC AT), IBM introduced a subset of SCSI commands called ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment). ATA drives supportedfewer commands, ran at slower speeds, and were manufactured with a less rigorous process. Today ATA drives are about 55 percent the cost per MB as comparable SCSI drives.
Anyone who has ever opened their PC and found flat ribbon cable with eight or sixteen wires in parallel, can understand that the same issues applied externally. Parallel technologies arelimited to distance and speed, as all the bits have to arrive at the end of the wire at approximately thesame time. Direct attach schemes with every server attaches directly to every storage device were also problematic.Imagine 100 servers connected to 100 storage devices, that would be 10,000 wires!
So, a new technology standard was developed, called Fibre Channel, ratified in 1994.The spelling of "Fibre" was intentionally made different than "Fiber" on purpose. "Fibre" is a protocol thatcan travel over copper or glass wires. "Fiber" represents the glass wiring itself.
Fibre Channel is amazingly versatile. For today's Linux, UNIX and Windows servers, it can carry SCSI commands, and the combination of SCSI over FC is called Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP). For the mainframe servers, it can carry CCW commands. Running CCW over Fibre Channel is called FICON. This convergence allows mainframes and distributed systems to share a common Fibre Channel network, using the same set of switches and directors.
We saw the use of SANs explode in the marketplace over the past 10 years, and then cool down with a series of mergers and acquisitions. Last year, Brocade announced it was acquiring rival McData, so we will be down to two major players, Cisco and Brocade.
So, IMHO, I think we are well past the "Year of the SAN".
Tomorrow, according to the [Mayan calendar], the end of the 5,125 year cycle rolls over, so it only makes sense to party like it's 1999!
Of course, if you were in the IT industry 13 years ago, you may remember similar hoopla around [Year 2000] when the Gregorian calendar rolled over from "99" to "00". Some of us were asked to work right up to the last day of 1999, and be on-call the first week of 2000, just in case! Tomorrow may prove to be more or less a repeat of that.
Fortunately, there was plenty of other reasons to celebrate these past few weeks.
Birthdays in December Party
The IBM Tucson employees and contractors of building 9070 got together for a combination party, celebrating both the end of 2012 and for three people with birthdays in December: my former manager Bill, my colleague Kris, and myself. Here is our birthday cake! Afterwards, we allVacation movie.
(Note: This was sponsored by my third-line manager, David Gelardi, who one way or another, is responsible for all the IBMers in this building. Thank you David! )
This will be the last year for us to do this, as we are planning to move over to join the employees of building 9032 next year!
IBM Club Event
The IBM Club had its final event at [Golf N' Stuff] family fun park. Over 700 IBM employees and their family members came to eat breakfast burritos and play miniature golf and other games. It had rained earlier in the morning, so the go-kart track was wet, and the staff were trying to dry with leaf blowers. The rest of the park was fully operational, and the weather cleared up nicely. Mo, Rafael and I played golf but the turf was still wet in a few spots. There were also video games, bumper boats, and batting cages.
IBM volunteers dressed up as fictional characters for the kids to take pictures with.
I was proud to be a member of the seven-person IBM Club board for 2012. When I was nominated, I didn't think I stood a chance to be elected, as I was running against five or six other well-qualified candidates, but somehow it happened. I am glad to have been part of the 19-year tradition of the IBM Club history.
(Note: I didn't campaign for this position, but many IBMers in Tucson knew that I had previously owned and managed Tucson Fun & Adventures that organized 15-25 events every month for hundreds of single adults in the Tucson area. This might have helped my chances for election a bit!)
Next year, the IBM Club transitions to the more-efficient "Club Central" model, which is both board-less and cash-less. Instead of a seven-person board organizing events that are fully-funded or partially-subsidized by IBM, events will now be organized by IBM volunteers who post the details on Facebook. All participants simply pay for the events they attend directly to the venue or facility involved.
While the National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA] has put out videos and press releases these past 10 days to assure us [there will be a 2013], this shouldn't stop anyone from having a good time! If you did anything special to celebrate the end of the Mayan Calendar, please comment below!
Well, it's Tuesday again, and we have more IBM announcements.
XIV asynchronous mirror
For those not using XIV behind SAN Volume Controller, [XIV now offers native asynchronous mirroring] support to another XIV far, far away. Unlike other disk systems that are limited to two or three sites, an XIV can mirror to up to 15 other sites. The mirroring can be at the individual volume, or a consistency group of multiple volumes. Each mirror pair can have its own recovery point objective (RPO). For example, a consistency group of mission critical application data might be given an RPO of 30 seconds, but less important data might be given an RPO of 20 minutes. This allows the XIV to prioritize packets it sends across the network.
As with XIV synchronous mirror, this new asynchronous mirror feature can send the data over either its
Fibre Channel ports (via FCIP) or its Ethernet ports.
The IBM System Storage SAN384B and SAN768B directors now offer [two new blades!]
A 24-port FCoCEE blade where each port can handle 10Gb convergence enhanced Ethernet (CEE). CEE can be used to transmit Fibre Channel, TCP/IP, iSCSI and other Ethernet protocols. This connect directly to server's converged network adapter (CNA) cards.
A 24-port mixed blade, with 12 FC ports (1Gbps, 2Ggbs, 4Gbps, 8Gbps), 10 Ethernet ports (1GbE) and 2 Ethernet ports (10GbE). This would connect to traditional server NIC, TOE and HBA cards as well as traditional NAS, iSCSI and FC based storage devices.
IBM also announced the IBM System Storage [SAN06B-R Fibre Channel router]. This has 16 FC ports (1Gbps up to 8Gbps) and six Ethernet ports (1GbE), with support for both FC routing as well as FCIP extended distance support.
With the holiday season coming up at the end of the year, now is a great time to ask Santa for a new shiny pair of XIV systems, and some extra networking gear to connect them.
Storage Networking World conference is over, and the buzz from the analysts appears to be focused onXiotech's low-cost RAID brick (LCRB) called Intelligent Storage Element, or ISE.
(Full disclosure: I work for IBM, not Xiotech, in case there weren't enough IBM references on this blog page to remindyou of that. I am writing this piece entirely from publicly available sources of information, and notfrom any internal working relationships between IBM and Xiotech. Xiotech is a member of the IBM BladeCenteralliance and our two companies collaborate together in that regard.)
Fellow blogger Jon Toigo in his DrunkenData blog posted [I’m Humming “ISE ISE Baby” this Week] and then a follow-up post[ISE Launches]. I looked up Xiotech's SPC-1benchmark numbers for the Emprise 5000 with both 73GB and 146GB drives, and at 8,202 IOPS per TB, does not seem to be as fast as IBM SAN VolumeControllers 11,354 IOPS per TB. Xiotech offers an impressive 5 year warranty (by comparison, IBM offers up to 4 years, and EMC I think is stillonly 90 days).Jon also wrote a review in [Enterprise Systems]that goes into more detail about the ISE.
Fellow blogger Robin Harris in his StorageMojo blog posted [SNW update - Xiotech’s ISE and the dilithium solution], feeling that Xiotech should win the "Best Announcement at SNW" prize. He points to the cool video on the[Xiotech website]. In that video, they claim 91,000 IOPS.Given that it took forty(40) 73GB drives (or 4 datapacs) in the previous example to get 8,202 IOPS for 1TB usable, I am guessing the 91,000 IOPS is probably 44 datapacs (440 drives) glommed together, representing 11TB usable.The ISE design appears very similar to the "data modules" used in IBM's XIV Nextra system.
Fellow blogger Mark Twomey from EMC in his StorageZilla blog posted[Xiotech: Industry second]correctly points out that Xiotech's 520-byte block (512 bytes plus extra for added integrity) was not the firstin the industry. Mark explains that EMC CLARiiON had this since the early 1990's, and implies in the title that this must have been the first in the industry, making Xiotech an industry second. Sorry Mark, both EMC and Xiotech were late to the game. IBM had been using 520-byte blocksize on its disk since 1980 with the System/38. This system morphed to the AS/400, and the blocksize was bumped up to 522 bytes in 1990, and is now called the System i, where the blocksize was bumped up yet again to 528 bytes in 2007.
While IBM was clever to do this, it actually means fewer choices for our System i clients, being only able to chooseexternal disk systems that explicitly support these non-standard blocksize values, such as the IBM System Storage DS8000and DS6000 series. (Yes, BarryB, IBM still sells the DS6000!) The DS6000 was specifically designed with the System i and smaller System z mainframes in mind, and in that niche does very well. Fortunately, as I mentioned in my February post [Getting off the island - the new i5/OS V6R1], IBM has now used virtualization, in the form of the VIOS logical partition, to allow i5/OS systems to attach to standard 512-byte block devices, greatly expanding the storage choices for our clients.
(Side note: SNW happens twice per year, so the challenge is having something new and fresh to talk about each time. While Andy Monshaw, General Manager of IBM System Storage, highlighted some of the many emerging technologies in his keynote address, IBM shipped on many of them prior to his last appearance in October 2007: thin provisioning in the IBM System Storage N series, deduplication in the IBM System Storage N series Advanced Single Instance Storage (A-SIS) feature, and Solid State Disk (SSD) drives in the IBM BladeCenter HS21-XM models. Of course, not everyone buys IBM gear the first day it is available, and IBM is not the only vendor to offer these technologies. My point is that for many people, these are still not yet deployed in their own data center, and so they are still in the future for them. However, since these IBM deliveries happened more than six months ago, they're old news in the eyes of the SNW attendees. While those who follow IBM closely would know that, others like[Britney Spears] may not.)
Back in the 1990s, when IBM was developing the IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC), we generically called the managed disk arrays that were being virtualized by the SVC as "low-cost RAID brick" or LCRB. The IBM DS3400 is a good example of this. However, as we learned, SVC is not just for LCRB, it adds value in front of all kinds of disk systems, including the not-so-low-cost EMC DMX and IBM DS8000 disk systems. ISE might make a reasonable back-end managed disk device for IBM SVC to virtualize. This gives you the new cool features of Xiotech's ISE, with IBM SVC's faster performance, more robust functionality and advanced copy services.
Next week, I'll be in South America in meetings with IBM Business Partners and storage sales reps.
Yesterday morning, the entire country of Colombia suffered their worst black-out (power outage) in 22 years. 98% of the country was out for 4 1/2 hours.This is just 5 months after an outage that hit 25% of the country, December 7, 2006.Ironically, this one happened the week I am here explaining the need for Business Continuity plans to IBM Business Partners from Argentina, Peru, Velenzuela, Ecuador and Colombia. As is oftenthe case, people often need a real example to recognize the need for planning is important.
It reminded me of the Northeast Black-out of 2003 that impacted USA and Canada. I was speaking to a crowd of 800 people at the SHARE conference in Washington D.C. when it happened, and hundreds of pagers and cell-phones went off all at the same time. Although we were outside the effected area and had plenty of lighting, we ended up canceling therest of my talk, and many people left immediately to help execute their business continuity plans.Of course, terrorism was immediately assumed, but a final report showed that it was initiated in Ohiodue to overgrown trees, and then propagated due to a software bug to hundreds of other plants.
According to this morning's Bogota newspaper, "El Tiempo", nobody knows the root cause of yesterday's outage. Immediately, the country's leftist rebels were blamed, but now the leading theory is that it was initiated byoperator error (a technician touching something he shouldn't have), and then propagated by a faulty distribution system.
Another example of the need for a robust and resilient infrastructure, and appropropriate business continuity plans.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!"
Often I get feedback from my readers that I focus too much on storage products in this blog, and have been asked to break out of the work world for a change. Fair enough! The first Sunday of May is designated "World Laughter Day". I am proud to be one of the founding members of the [Tucson Laughter Club] back in 2004, and we held our first World Laughter Day event on May 1, 2005 at Udall Park.
Over the past seven years, we have had four other clubs "spin off" from the main group to form their own club. However, for World Laughter Day, the five sister clubs (or five warring tribes, as some call them) put down our differences and got together for a day of fun. In keeping with the tradition of having these events outside, we were granted permission to hold our event at the University of Airzona mall.
While the Tucson Laughter Club is recognized as one of the oldest laughter clubs in the United States, there are actually over 6000 clubs worldwide in over 60 countries. Laughter clubs started in India, when Dr. Madan Kataria (a medical doctor) and his wife Madhuri (a yoga instructor) gathered people in a park to try laughter as a form of healing and exercise. Today, [Laughter Yoga] is practiced outside in parks or indoors.
Up until now, all of the World Laughter Day events in Tucson have been organized by the original Tucson Laughter Club, but this time we decided to pass the baton over to Gita Fendelman of [Curve's Laughter YogHA club] to take the lead. Here she is standing next to a large yellow sign with facts and figures about the history of World Laughter Day.
We had about 45 people join us in a large circle, and proceed with a series of breathing, stretching and laughter exercises. Many of the laughter exercises involve moving around to look at each of the other participants eye-to-eye, and with 45 people, this can be quite challenging.
The weather could not have been nicer. Clear blue skies, a slight breeze, and an unusually cool 75 degrees F. Last week we were in the nineties approach summer, so we were delighted the weather cooled down for this event.
As a certified Laughter Yoga instructor myself, I offered to help lead the events for World Laughter Day. We had plenty of other certified laughter leaders on hand, and so both Gita and Emily (from Laughter Yoga with Emily) served as co-chairs.
I brought my [CRATE battery-powered amp] and microphones so that we could project our voices loud enough to the entire group. There was no electricity anywhere near our location, so battery-powered amps are the way to go for these situations.
After two hours of laughing, we all lie down for some relaxing meditation. Some people use this time to pray for World Peace. In a delightful coincidence, later that day, US President Barack Obama announced that the [world was a better place] having eliminated one of the world's most dangerous terrorists.
I would like to thank Jeff from our local NBC News Channel 4 affiliate [KVOA] who came to interview Gita and video us while we did our laughter exercises.
Every year, March 31 marks "World Backup Day". Sadly, many people forget the importance of backing up their critical information. This is not just true for businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies, but also for all of your personal information that you keep on computer devices.
My friends over at Cloudwards had developed an awesome infographic related to World Backup Day. Here it is.
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM, which has no business relationship with Cloudwards. Cloudwards does not itself provide backup services, but rather reviews services provided by others. This post should not be considered an endorsement of Cloudwards or their reviews.)
Courtesy of: Cloudwards.net
I hope you find this information helpful and informative!
When I was a kid, we didn't have online access to anything. Either yourparents were rich and generous and bought you the latest set of encyclopedias, or they were poor or cheap, and you hoofed it to thenearest library.
Now, I rely heavily on Wikipedia, and other wikis, to find information I need.The key here is the ability to find stuff. With the old 27-volume set ofencyclopedias, you had to know what word something would be filed under, andhow to spell it, so that you could find it. Today's search facilities are much moreforgiving. If you guess wrong, you are only a few clicks away from what youwere really looking for, in a Kevin Bacon six-degrees-of-separation kind of way.
Wikipedia is now looked at more often than CNN.com or the New York Times website.Why? It is amazingly good at summarizing a situation in succinct terms, even fornews "as it happens". The recent episode at Heathrow airport a few weeks agoserves as a good example. I was in Washington DC that week, on my way to Miami and Sao Paulo,Brazil, so it is good to have the news I needed, when I needed it.[Read More]
Miles per Gallon measures an effeciency ratio (amount of work done with a fixed amount of energy), not a speed ratio (distance traveled in a unit of time).
Given that IOPs and MB/s are the unit of "work" a storage array does, wouldn't the MPG equivalent for storage be more like IOPs per Watt or MB/s per Watt? Or maybe just simply Megabytes Stored per Watt (a typical "green" measurement)?
You appear to be intentionally avoiding the comparison of I/Os per Second and Megabytes per Second to Miles Per Hour?
May I ask why?
This is a fair question, Barry, so I will try to address it here.
It was not a typo, I did mean MPG (miles per gallon) and not MPH (miles per hour). It is always challenging to find an analogy that everyone can relate to explain concepts in Information Technology that might be harder to grasp. I chose MPG because it was closely related to IOPS and MB/s in four ways:
MPG applies to all instances of a particular make and model. Before Henry Ford and the assembly line, cars were made one at a time, by a small team of craftsmen, and so there could be variety from one instance to another. Today, vehicles and storage systems are mass-produced in a manner that provides consistent quality. You can test one vehicle, and safely assume that all similar instances of the same make and model will have the similar mileage. The same is true for disk systems, test one disk system and you can assume that all others of the same make and model will have similar performance.
MPG has a standardized measurement benchmark that is publicly available. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an easy analogy for the Storage Performance Council, providing the results of various offerings to chose from.
MPG has usage-specific benchmarks to reflect real-world conditions.The EPA offers City MPG for the type of driving you do to get to work, and Highway MPG, to reflect the type ofdriving on a cross-country trip. These serve as a direct analogy to SPC having SPC-1 for Online transaction processing (OLTP) and SPC-2 for large file transfers, database queries and video streaming.
MPG can be used for cost/benefit analysis.For example, one could estimate the amount of business value (miles travelled) for the amount of dollar investment (cost to purchase gallons of gasoline, at an assumed gas price). The EPA does this as part of their analysis. This is similar to the way IOPS and MB/s can be divided by the cost of the storage system being tested on SPC benchmark results. The business value of IOPS or MB/s depends on the application, but could relate to the number of transactions processed per hour, the number of music downloads per hour, or number of customer queries handled per hour, all of which can be assigned a specific dollar amount for analysis.
It seemed that if I was going to explain why standardized benchmarks were relevant, I should find an analogy that has similar features to compare to. I thought about MPH, since it is based on time units like IOPS and MB/s, butdecided against it based on an earlier comment you made, Barry, about NASCAR:
Let's imagine that a Dodge Charger wins the overwhelming majority of NASCAR races. Would that prove that a stock Charger is the best car for driving to work, or for a cross-country trip?
Your comparison, Barry, to car-racing brings up three reasons why I felt MPH is a bad metric to use for an analogy:
Increasing MPH, and driving anywhere near the maximum rated MPH for a vehicle, can be reckless and dangerous,risking loss of human life and property damage. Even professional race car drivers will agree there are dangers involved. By contrast, processing I/O requests at maximum speed poses no additional risk to the data, nor possibledamage to any of the IT equipment involved.
While most vehicles have top speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, most Federal, State and Local speed limits prevent anyone from taking advantage of those maximums. Race-car drivers in NASCAR may be able to take advantage of maximum MPH of a vehicle, the rest of us can't. The government limits speed of vehicles precisely because of the dangers mentioned in the previous bullet. In contrast, processing I/O requests at faster speeds poses no such dangers, so the government poses no limits.
Neither IOPS nor MB/s match MPH exactly.Earlier this week,I related IOPS to "Questions handled per hour" at the local public library, and MB/s to "Spoken words per minute" in those replies. If I tried to find a metric based on unit type to match the "per second" in IOPS and MB/s, then I would need to find a unit that equated to "I/O requests" or "MB transferred" rather than something related to "distance travelled".
In terms of time-based units, the closest I could come up with for IOPS was acceleration rate of zero-to-sixty MPH in a certain number of seconds. Speeding up to 60MPH, then slamming the breaks, and then back up to 60MPH, start-stop, start-stop, and so on, would reflect what IOPS is doing on a requestby request basis, but nobody drives like this (except maybe the taxi cab drivers here in Malaysia!)
Since vehicles are limited to speed limits in normal road conditions, the closest I could come up with for MB/s would be "passenger-miles per hour", such that high-occupancy vehicles like school buses could deliver more passengers than low-occupancy vehicles with only a few passengers.
Neither start-stops nor passenger-miles per hour have standardized benchmarks, so they don't work well for comparisonbetween vehicles.If you or anyone can come up with a metric that will help explain the relevance of standardized benchmarks better than the MPG that I already used, I would be interested in it.
You also mention, Barry, the term "efficiency" but mileage is about "fuel economy".Wikipedia is quick to point out that the fuel efficiency of petroleum engines has improved markedly in recent decades, this does not necessarily translate into fuel economy of cars. The same can be said about the performance of internal bandwidth ofthe backplane between controllers and faster HDD does not necessarily translate to external performance of the disk system as a whole. You correctly point this out in your blog about the DMX-4:
Complementing the 4Gb FC and FICON front-end support added to the DMX-3 at the end of 2006, the new 4Gb back-end allows the DMX-4 to support the latest in 4Gb FC disk drives.
You may have noticed that there weren't any specific performance claims attributed to the new 4Gb FC back-end. This wasn't an oversight, it is in fact intentional. The reality is that when it comes to massive-cache storage architectures, there really isn't that much of a difference between 2Gb/s transfer speeds and 4Gb/s.
Oh, and yes, it's true - the DMX-4 is not the first high-end storage array to ship a 4Gb/s FC back-end. The USP-V, announced way back in May, has that honor (but only if it meets the promised first shipments in July 2007). DMX-4 will be in August '07, so I guess that leaves the DS8000 a distant 3rd.
This also explains why the IBM DS8000, with its clever "Adaptive Replacement Cache" algorithm, has such highSPC-1 benchmarks despite the fact that it still uses 2Gbps drives inside. Given that it doesn't matter between2Gbps and 4Gbps on the back-end, why would it matter which vendor came first, second or third, and why call it a "distant 3rd" for IBM? How soon would IBM need to announce similar back-end support for it to be a "close 3rd" in your mind?
I'll wrap up with you're excellent comment that Watts per GB is a typical "green" metric. I strongly support the whole"green initiative" and I used "Watts per GB" last month to explain about how tape is less energy-consumptive than paper.I see on your blog you have used it yourself here:
The DMX-3 requires less Watts/GB in an apples-to-apples comparison of capacity and ports against both the USP and the DS8000, using the same exact disk drives
It is not clear if "requires less" means "slightly less" or "substantially less" in this context, and have no facts from my own folks within IBM to confirm or deny it. Given that tape is orders of magnitude less energy-consumptive than anything EMC manufacturers today, the point is probably moot.
I find it refreshing, nonetheless, to have agreed-upon "energy consumption" metrics to make such apples-to-apples comparisons between products from different storage vendors. This is exactly what customers want to do with performance as well, without necessarily having to run their own benchmarks or work with specific storage vendors. Of course, Watts/GB consumption varies by workload, so to make such comparisons truly apples-to-apples, you would need to run the same workload against both systems. Why not use the SPC-1 or SPC-2 benchmarks to measure the Watts/GB consumption? That way, EMC can publish the DMX performance numbers at the same time as the energy consumption numbers, and then HDS can follow suit for its USP-V.
I'm on my way back to the USA soon, but wanted to post this now so I can relax on the plane.
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.
Ken Gibson has written a four-part series about where the storage industry is going, on his Storage Thoughts blog. You can find the four parts here (Part 1,Part 2,Part 3,Part 4).
His analysis of the storage industry is based on the concepts in Clayton Christensen's latest book Seeing What's Next, his latest work on the heels of his last two successes "The Innovator's Dilemma" and "The Innovator's Solution". I've only read the first book, "The Innovator's Dilemma" but need to check out these other two.
Ken explores the efforts of the incumbent players, and I agree IBM is farthest along, but not only for our "Storage Tank" architecture. For those not aware of Storage Tank, it was the code-name of a project from IBM's Almaden Research Center, productized as IBM System Storage SAN File System (SFS). Earlier this year the advanced policy-based data placement, movement and expiration features of SFS were copied over to IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS) which has wide adoption among the High-Performance Technical Computing (HPTC) community. As I've said before, switching from one file system to another is hard, so it makes sense for HPTC clients who already use GPFS to make use of these new features by staying with GPFS, rather than trying to get them to move to SFS.
I also like Ken's analysis of "overshot" and "undershot" clients. Overshot clients are those that find what the marketplace delivers already "good enough" for their needs, and are price sensitive against paying for features they don't think they need. The undershot clients are those that the current marketplace set of offerings are not yet good enough, and are willing to pay a premium to the vendor or supplier that can get them closer to what they are looking for.
Changes are underfoot, and it is an exciting time to be involved in the storage industry.[Read More]
Stephen Colbert, of The Colbert Report, explains the name changes in recent mergers of the Telecommunications industry. A discussion on "changing names" and how that impacts storage seems like a good way to wrap up the week's theme on naming conventions.
Name changes are sometimes painful, but often times done for a purpose, such as to promote a family. In the US, when a man and woman marries, the woman often changes her family name to match her husband, and the kids all adopt the father's family name. I say "often" because there are times where the woman keeps her name, or adds to it in a hyphenated way. ABC News reported that a Man Fights to Take Wife's Name in Marriage. KipEsquire, a lawyer, writes about it in his blogA stitch in haste.
IT industry changes the names of products that people knew as something else. Other times, they re-use an existing name, when really it is or should be different from the original. Last year, I took on the job of helping transition from our brand "TotalStorage" to the "System Storage" product line under the new "IBM Systems" brand. I help decide what stays the same name or what changes, when it should change, and how to announce that change.
On the disk side, IBM renamed Fibre Array Storage Technology, or FAStT, which was pronounced exactly like "fast", to DS4000 series. This was a big improvement, as people couldn't seem to spell it properly, with variations like "FastT". Nor could people pronounce it properly, saying "fast-tee" instead. The advantage of "DS" is that it is both easy to spell, and easy to pronounce. The DS4000 series continues to be "fast", providing excellent performance for its midrange price category.
IBM's Enterprise Storage Server (ESS) line went from model E10, to F20, to 750 and 800. When IBM came out with its replacement, the IBM TotalStorage DS8000, some people asked why it wasn't named the ESS 900, for example. The DS8000 is quite different internally, new hardware design and implementation, but is highly compatible with the ESS line, and shares much of the same functionality from microcode. Last year, it was replaced by the IBM System Storage DS8000 Turbo. Again, newer hardware, so it was easy to justify the new name change from "TotalStorage" to "System Storage".
Renaming a product risks losing its certifications and awards. For example, IBM spent a lot of time and money getting the OS/390 operating system certified as a "UNIX" platform. When it was renamed to z/OS, IBM had to do it all over again. Learning from this experience, IBM decided not to rename the SAN Volume Controllerto a new designation like "DS5750", as it enjoys the "number one" spot on both the SPC-1 and SPC-2 performance benchmarks, and is recognized as the leader in the disk storage virtualization marketplace. Renaming this product would mean losing that collateral.
IBM's "other disk systems" the N series posed another set of challenges. The current DS line already has entry-level (DS3000), midrange (DS4000) and enterprise-class (DS6000 and DS8000) products. The OEM agreement that IBM has with Network Appliance (NetApp) resulted in a new set of entry-level, midrange, and enterprise-class products. But these didn't fit nicely into the DS3000-to-DS8000 continuum. Instead, IBM decided to go with N series, using N3000 for entry-level, N5000 for midrange, and N7000 for enterprise-class. These are different than the numbers used by NetApp for their comparable, but not identical, offerings.
On the tape side, IBM decided to name the tape drives TS1000 and TS2000 range, tape libraries and automation with a TS3000 range, and tape virtualization to the TS7000 range. A lot of tape products already had 3000 numbering that had to change to fit this new scheme. This is why IBM's popular 3592 tape drive was renamed to the TS1120. The replacement to the 3494 Virtual Tape Server was named TS7700 Virtualization Engine.
Obviously, you can't change the names of products that are currently in the field, but what about existing software with minor updates? IBM decided to leave "TotalStorage Produtivity Center" under the "TotalStorage" brand until it has a significant version upgrade. Many people say "TPC" as a convenient acronym when referring to this product, but TPC is a registered trademark of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) to refer to its "Tournament Players Club".
How can anyone confuse "managing storage" with "playing golf"? One activity is full of frustration that takes years or decades to master, involving the need to understand a variety of equipment and techniques to use each properly to accomplish your goals; and the other is an enjoyable activity, immediately productive in front of a single pane of glass managing all of your DAS, SAN and NAS storage, from reporting on your files and databases to managing storage networks and tape libraries.
This week and next I am touring Asia, meeting with IBM Business Partners and sales repsabout our July 10 announcements.
Clark Hodge might want to figure out where I am, given the nuclearreactor shutdowns from an earthquake in Japan. His theory is that you can follow my whereabouts just by following the news of major power outages throughout the world.
So I thought this would be a good week to cover the topic of Business Continuity, which includes disaster recovery planning. When making Business Continuity plans, I find it best to work backwards. Think of the scenarios that wouldrequire such recovery actions to take place, then figure out what you need to have at hand to perform the recovery, and then work out the tasks and processes to make sure those things are created and available when and where needed.
I will use my IBM Thinkpad T60 as an example of how this works. Last week, I was among several speakers making presentations to an audience in Denver, and this involved carrying my laptop from the back of the room, up to the front of the room, several times. When I got my new T60 laptop a year ago, it specifically stated NOT to carry the laptop while the disk drive was spinning, to avoid vibrations and gyroscopic effects. It suggested always putting the laptop in standby, hibernate or shutdown mode, prior to transportation, but I haven't gotten yet in the habit of doing this. After enough trips back and forth, I had somehow corrupted my C: drive. It wasn't a complete corruption, I could still use Microsoft PowerPoint to show my slides, but other things failed, sometimes the fatal BSOD and other times less drastically. Perhaps the biggest annoyance was that I lost a few critical DLL files needed for my VPN software to connect to IBM networks, so I was unable to download or access e-mail or files inside IBM's firewall.
Fortunately, I had planned for this scenario, and was able to recover my laptop myself, which is important when you are on the road and your help desk is thousands of miles away. (In theory, I am now thousands of miles closer to our help desk folks in India and China, but perhaps further away from those in Brazil.) Not being able to respond to e-mail for two days was one thing, but no access for two weeks would have been a disaster! The good news: My system was up and running before leaving for the trip I am on now to Asia.
Following my three-step process, here's how this looks:
Step 1: Identify the scenario
In this case, my scenario is that the file system the runs my operating system is corrupted, but my drive does not have hardware problems. Running PC-Doctor confirmed the hardware was operating correctly. This can happen in a variety of ways, from errant application software upgrades, malicious viruses, or in my case, picking up your laptop and carrying it across the room while the disk drive is spinning.
Step 2: Figure out what you need at hand
All I needed to do was repair or reload my file sytem. "Easier said than done!" you are probably thinking. Many people use IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) to back up their application settings and data. Corporate include/exclude lists avoid backing up the same Windows files from everyone's machines. This is great for those who sit at the same desk, in the same building, and would be given a new machine with Windows pre-installed as the start of their recovery process. If on the other hand you are traveling, and can't access your VPN to reach your TSM server, you have to do something else. This is often called "Bare Metal Restore" or "Bare Machine Recovery", BMR for short in both cases.
I carry with me on business trips bootable rescue compact discs, DVDs of full system backup of my Windows operating system, and my most critical files needed for each specific trip on a separate USB key. So, while I am on the road, I can re-install Windows, recover my applications, and copy over just the files I need to continue on my trip, and then I can do a more thorough recovery back in the office upon return.
Step 3: Determine the tasks and processes
In addition to backing up with IBM TSM, I also use IBM Thinkvantage Rescue and Recovery to make local backups. IBM Rescue and Recovery is provided with IBM Thinkpad systems, and allows me to backup my entire system to an external 320GB USB drive that I can leave behind in Tucson, as well as create bootable recovery CD and DVDs that I can carry with me while traveling.
The problem most people have with a full system backup is that their data changes so frequently, they would have to take backups too often, or recover "very old" data. Most Windows systems are pre-formatted as one huge C: drive that mixes programs and data together. However, I follow best practice, separating programs from data. My C: drive contains the Windows operating system, along with key applications, and the essential settings needed to make them run. My D: drive contains all my data. This has the advantage that I only have to backup my C: drive, and this fits nicely on two DVDs. Since I don't change my operating system or programs that often, and monthly or quarterly backup is frequent enough.
In my situation in Denver, only my C: drive was corrupted, so all of my data on D: drive was safe and unaffected.
When it comes to Business Continuity, it is important to prioritize what will allow you to continue doing business, and what resources you need to make that happen. The above concepts apply from laptops to mainframes. If you need help creating or updating your Business Continuity plan, give IBM a call.
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.
Last year in Beijing, China, one of my colleagues told me "When it rains here, cabs dry up". Normally, there are enough taxi cabs to handle normal conditions, but when it rains, people who normally walk now want to take a cab instead, and the demand goes up, resulting in being more difficult to find one when you need one.
I'm wrapping up my week here in Chicago, and it snowed yesterday. Cabs were scarce. I walked. Many others walked too, about half with umbrellas to protect themselves against the snowflakes.
Most systems are designed to handle typical average conditions. Taxi cabs in a city, for example, handle typicalamounts of traffic.
IT is different. In many cases, IT infrastructures are designed for the peaks, not the averages. Peaks can be where you need performance the most, and failure to design for peaks can be disastrous. As with any business decision, this represents a trade-off. Design for the average, and suffer through the peaks, or design for the peak, and be over-allocated and under-utilized most of the time otherwise.
However, I have to assume his real question is ... "what is the quick and easy way for me to build a lightweight database app like Microsoft Access that I can distribute as a standalone executable?"
To which I would say "Lotus has a program called Approach, which is part of Lotus SmartSuite, which some people still use. However, a lot of the focus in IBM now centers around the lightweight Cloudscape database which IBM acquired from Informix, which is now known as the [open source project called Derby]. Many IBM and Lotus products, such as Lotus Expeditor use the JDBC connection to Derby, which allows you to use Windows, Linux, Flash, etc. ... with no vendor lock in".
I am familiar with Cloudscape, and I evaluated it as a potential database for IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center, when I was the lead architect defining the version 1 release. It runs entirely on Java, which is both a plus and minus. Plus in that it runs anywhere Java runs, but a minus in that it is not optimized for high performance or large scalability. Because of this, we decided instead on using the full commercial DB2 database instead for Productivity Center.
Not to be undone, my colleagues over at DB2 offered a different alternative, [DB2 Express-C], which runs on a variety of Windows, Linux-x86, and Linux on POWER platforms. It is "free" as in beer, not free as in speech, which means you can download and use it today at no charge, and even ship products with it included, but you are not allowed to modify and distribute altered versions of it, as you can with "free as in speech" open source code, as in the case of Derby above (see [Apache License 2.0"] for details).
As I see it, DB2 Express-C has two key advantages. First, if you like the free version, you can purchase a "support contract" for those that need extra hand-holding, or are using this as part of a commercial business venture. Second,for those who do prefer vendor lock-in, it is easyto upgrade Express-C to the full IBM DB2 database product, so if you are developing a product intended for use with DB2, you can develop it first with DB2 Express-C, and migrate up to full DB2 commercial version when you are ready.
This is perhaps more information than you probably expected for such a simple question. Meanwhile, I am stilltrying to figure out MySQL as part of my [OLPC volunteer project].
My father's favorite question is "What's the worst that could happen?" He is retired now, but workedat the famous [Kitt Peak National Observatory] designing some of the largesttelescopes. Designing telescopes followed well-established mechanical engineering best practices, but each design was unique,so there was always a chance that the end result would not deliver the expected results. What's the worst that can happen? For telescopes, a few billion dollars are wasted and a few years are added to the schedule. Scrap it and start over. Nothing unrecoverable for the US government with unlimited resources and patience.
... the rest of the grimness on the front page today will matter a bit, though, if two men pursuing a lawsuit in federal court in Hawaii turn out to be right. They think a giant particle accelerator that will begin smashing protons together outside Geneva this summer might produce a black hole or something else that will spell the end of the Earth — and maybe the universe.
Scientists say that is very unlikely — though they have done some checking just to make sure.
The world’s physicists have spent 14 years and $8 billion (US dollars) building the Large Hadron Collider, in which the colliding protons will recreate energies and conditions last seen a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. Researchers will sift the debris from these primordial recreations for clues to the nature of mass and new forces and symmetries of nature.
But Walter L. Wagner and Luis Sancho contend that scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, have played down the chances that the collider could produce, among other horrors, a tiny black hole, which, they say, could eat the Earth. Or it could spit out something called a “strangelet” that would convert our planet to a shrunken dense dead lump of something called “strange matter.” Their suit also says CERN has failed to provide an environmental impact statement as required under the National Environmental Policy Act.
Although it sounds bizarre, the case touches on a serious issue that has bothered scholars and scientists in recent years — namely how to estimate the risk of new groundbreaking experiments and who gets to decide whether or not to go ahead.
What's the worst that can happen? Scientists now agree that it is sometimes difficult to predict, and someeffects may be unrecoverable.
Unfortunately, this is not the only example of people attempting things they may not understand well enough. Theweb comic below has someone complaining they are out of disk space, and the sales rep suggests solving this with a few commands which will result in deleting all her files. Hopefully, most people reading will recognize this is meant as humor, and not actually attempt the code fragments to "see what they do".
This is a webcomic called "Geek and Poke". If you dare to read the punchline, click here: Funny Geeks - Part 5.
Warning: Do not try the code fragments unless you know what to expect!
Sadly, I often encounter clients who have a "keep forever" approach to their production data. When they are seriously out of space, they feel forced to either buy more disk storage, or start "the big Purge": deleting rows from their database tables, emails older than 90 days, or some other drastic measures. With a focus on keeping down IT budgets, I fear that thesedrastic measures are growing more common. What's the worst that could happen? You might need that data for defending yourself against a lawsuit, or need it to continue to provide service to a loyal client, or just continue normal business operations.I have visited companies where a junior administrator chose the "big Purge" option, without a full understanding ofwhat they were doing, resulting in business disruption until the data could be recovered or re-entered.
IBM offers a better way. Data that may not be needed on disk forever could be moved to lower-cost tape, using up less energy and less floorspace in your data center. Solutions can automatically delete the data systematically based on chronological or event-based retention policies, with the option to keep some data longer in response to a "legal hold" request.
That's certainly better than to risk shrinking your business into a "dense dead lump"!