Several of my IBM colleagues will be attending the "Virtual Worlds 2007" conference
today and tomorrow. This conference sold out so quickly that they have already scheduled a second one for October. The focus is on 3-D internet technologies likeSecond Life
. Attendance is expected at over 600 people.
IBM is investing heavily in this new concept of v-business. Last year, I was one of only 325 IBMers on Second Life. Now, according to this Better than Life blog entry from Grady Booch, IBM Fellow, the number is over 4000!
Of course, the challenge for IBM, and others, is learning to market in virtual worlds. Already, my team is in-world, and we meet several times a week. Using Second Life is quickly becoming an essential business skill, like participating in conference calls, or responding to instant messages.
What does meeting in-world entail?
- Scheduling a time and a place
Finding a time that people can meet is no different than scheduling a audio or video conference call. In general, you don't have to worry about travel, but you do have to be actively somewhere connected to everyone else.
Finding a place involves actually determining the island, region and coordinates to hold the meeting. You need to find a place with enough seating. You don't have to worry about daylight, each person can control how much or little sunlight shows up on their screen. You do have to make sure you pick a spot that nobody else plans to use at that same time. Just like scheduling conference rooms at the site or hotel, we have to schedule rooms in advance.
To avoid this hassle, I have created the "pocket conference room". This is a single object that I can "rez" onto the ground, from my inventory, with 40 chairs, a PowerPoint presentation screen, a podium for a speaker to stand behind, and stools for speakers to sit on if they are next on the agenda. Now, I can hold impromptu meetings in any sandbox, grassy knoll, or the roof top of a building.
- Ground Rules
As with any other meeting, you need some basic ground rules. I am not talking the usual "no shooting, no gambling, no selling" rules that you see everywhere in Second Life. Instead, rules like an avatar must stand up before speaking. Anyone with a question must first "raise their hand" and get recognized by the chair. These ground rules can be as formal as Robert's Rules of Order or more casual, depending on who is participating.
It costs 10 Linden Dollars (L$) per PAGE to upload a PowerPoint presentation. This has the immediate benefit of having everyone spend more time and effort on their presentation, trying to cut down the number of charts, and focus more on what they are going to say.
- Public Speaking Skills
It is amazing. People who are too scared to speak in front of an audience in Real Life have no problem having their avatar stand in front of other avatars in Second Life. This has greatly broadened the pool of speakers to tap into.Are you a woman with a husky masculine voice? Are you a man with a high-pitched feminine voice? Now, you can create an avatar that matches your voice.
- The Audience
This turns out to be the biggest challenge. In Real Life, organizing a face-to-face meeting involves time and effort making sure the venue has everything you need, a platform, a podium, good Audio/Video system, etc. All people have to do is show up, sit in a chair and listen.
In Second Life, however, the aspects of venue are all covered, but getting people to show up is another story. People have to sign up for Second Life account, create an avatar, wear appropriate virtual clothing, figure out how to teleport near the venue, walk or fly the difference to get to the exact building and room, master the sitting-in-a-chair and hold-coffee-and-sip-occasionally process, and pay attention.
Perhaps the best part of Second Life is that if you are not paying attention, your avatar noticeably falls asleep, into a hunched-over position, what is called "afk" (short for Away From Keyboard). On the other hand, if you do need to step away from your desk, you can put your avatar in "afk" mode immediately, tell everyone why and perhaps when you'll be back, and then re-activate when you return. This is one of the best improvements over regular audio conference calls.
I suspect the need for having places in Second Life to hold meetings will become more and more in demand.At a time when real-estate sales in the US is slowing down, Coldwell Banker's Second Life efforts are ramping up. I am not making this up. Coldwell Banker is one of the nation's largest real estate brokerage firms. They are trying to bring the same "adult supervision" to virtual real-estate transactions, offering to help people buy and rent properties in Second Life.
We live in interesting times!
technorati tags: IBM, Virtual, Worlds, VW07, 3-D Internet, v-business, Coldwell Banker, Real-estate, Linden Dollars, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Grady Booch, marketing
Today was our annual "State of the Site" meeting for the IBM Tucson site
. This facility was completed in 1978, and I started my career here in 1986.
Various employees and teams were recognized for the contributions and dedication. For example:
- Tom Beglin's N series team was recognized for 900% growth in IBM's NAS business.
- Jack Arnold of the Tucson Executive Briefing Center for his client advocacy.
- Michael Scott, one of my "Second Life" builder/scripters, for demonstrating client-focused dedication to IBM's corporate values.
Our site manager, Terri Mitchell, did a recap of all our recent awards and accomplishments.Of the nine Design Innovation awards won by IBM this year at the CeBIT conference, eight were for IBM System Storage products!
- The IBM System Storage EXP3000: an entry-level data storage server that is optimized for cost-sensitive and space-limited environments and employs a user-centered design that enables ease of use and simple tool-less installation and removal of all components.
- The IBM System Storage N7000 Series: a modular disk storage system that delivers high-end enterprise storage and data management value ideal for large-scale applications, while helping to anticipate growth, maintaindata availability and reduce costs.
- The IBM System Storage N5000 Series: a modular disk storage system designed to address the entire spectrum of data availability challenges while offering value in price and scalability. Built-in enterprise serviceability and manageability features support efforts to increasereliability and simplify storage infrastructure and maintenance.
- The IBM System Storage N3700: a filer that integrates storage and storage processing into a single unit, facilitating affordable network deployments.
- The IBM System Storage DS4700: a NEBS-compliant disk storage server designed to address requirements for companies in the telecommunications industry, as well as other segments, such as oil and gas, meeting standardsfor electromagnetic compatibility, thermal robustness, earthquake and office vibration resistance, and provides protection for the product components from airborne contaminants.
- The IBM System Storage EXP810: a data storage expansion unit capable of 4.8 Terabytes of physical storage, with a user-centered and tool-less design featuring redundant power, cooling, and disk modules for ease of use and simple serviceability.
- The IBM System Storage TS3400: an affordable, space-friendly tape library for users in remote locations that supports enterprise-class technology and encryption capabilities.
A representative from Tucson's Brewster Center presented Terri an award, thanking IBM for its strong support for the community through various charity initiatives.
The final speaker was a new IBM client, Tony Casella, the IT Director of the town of Marana. Recently, the town of Marana selected IBM products made big news. Arizona is the fastest growing state in the USA, and the town of Marana, just north of Tucson, is one of the fastest growing communities in Arizona. The town is growing so large that it will soon spill over from Pima into Pinal county, and will be the first town in Arizona authorized to span county boundaries.
Marana is most famous for its Gallery Golf Club on Dove Mountain that is the new home of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship.
His decision was based on conversations he had with other IT directors of other towns and cities, and this November 2006 article in Network World. He held up the copy of his magazine.
Tony was very delighted with IBM's solution-oriented approach, rather than just selling more boxes of hardware. He found IBM easy to do business with, and committed to his success.
technorati tags: IBM, Tucson, Tom Beglin, Jack Arnold, Michael Scott, Second Life, Terri Mitchell, CeBIT, design, awards, NEBS, disk, tape, NAS, Tony Casella, Marana, Arizona, Accenture, Golf, Championship, Network World, HP
It's good to see IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center
evolve and expand. I was the lead architect for this product a few years ago, and my has it come a long way from its early beginnings.
Today, Gartner, Inc. has IBM Positioned in Leader Quadrant for Storage Resource Management and SAN Management Software.
The Magic Quadrant is copyrighted concept by Gartner, representing a two-by-two grid that ranks various offerings from different vendors. Ideally, vendors want their products in the upper right "Leaders" quadrant. Yahoo Finance reports:
According to Gartner, Inc., "Leaders have the highest combined measures of an ability to execute and a completeness of vision. They have the most comprehensive and scalable products. They have a proven track record of financial performance and an established market presence. In terms of vision, they are perceived as thought leaders, having well-articulated plans for ease of use, how to address scalability and product breadth. For vendors to have long-term success, they must plan to address the expanded market requirements for change management and root-cause and performance analysis. Leaders must not only deliver to the current market requirements, which continue to change, but they also need to anticipate and deliver on future requirements. A cornerstone for leaders is the ability to articulate how these requirements will be addressed as part of their vision for resource management. As a group, leaders can be considered a part of most new purchase proposals, and they have high success rates in winning new business."
IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center is a strategic part of IBM Service Management
, and a foundational component of the IBM Systems Director family
. IBM is making a concerted effort across servers, networks, software and storage to help manage the IT infrastructure in a coordinated way.
I have seen other quadrants used to help explain different market segments, such as the one used in this 40-minute video Guy Kawasaki’s Art of the Start speech at TiECon 2006.
To the current architects and developers of Productivity Center, well done!
technorati tags: IBM, TotalStorage, Productivity Center, Gartner, Magic Quadrant, storage resource, SRM, SAN, management, software, Guy Kawasaki, TieCon
As an alumni of the University of Arizona
, it is always good to see any of the Arizona schools try something new and innovative. This time, it was our arch-rivals atArizona State University
(in Tempe, AZ, near Phoenix).
An article in InformationWeek reports that40,000 ASU Students Leap to Google Apps; University Pays Zero. The ASU president, Michael Crow, wants to make IT the primary driver in his ambitious "New American University" project.Last October, ASU became the first large institution to deploy Google Apps, a comprehensive suite of productivity applications that includes e-mail, search, calendars, instant messaging, and even word processing and spreadsheets.I've tried them out, they work, nothing fancy but certainly good enough for college homework assignments.
Already 40,000 students and faculty have switched their e-mail to Google, while keeping their asu.edu designation. (out of 65,000 student population, which Mr. Crow is trying to raise to 90,000 students!)
E-mail is a thorn in the side of storage administrators. Being "semi-structured" repositories, they cannot just delete or move files around, as there is context between notes and their attachments, that shouldn't be broken. E-mail systems are often the fastest growing consumer of storage for many organizations.
Switching from maintaining their own mail servers to Google is saving ASU $500,000 US dollars alone, not including the administrator labor savings. Again, some corporations might feel their e-mail is too "secret" to be outsourced like this, but for college students who spend all their creative talent posting things on MySpace and YouTube, and faculty who spend their careers TRYING to get published, they have nothing to hide from the rest of the world. It makes perfect sense.
Best of all, Google isn't charging ASU anything for this service. Google is able to cover the costs from advertising revenue instead. I can think of a lot of companies that might want to advertise to a demographic of "40,000 students who are mostly 18-25 years old and all live in or near Tempe, AZ".
In the list ofTop 10 Best Presentations Ever is Seth Godin talking about Marketing at Google. The video is worth watching.
technorati tags: ASU, Arizona State University, Google, Presentations, Marketing, Seth Godin, Tempe, Phoenix, e-mail
The amount of information stored and available today is astounding. Consider the following:
...a weekday edition of The New York Times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across in a lifetime in seventeenth-century England.
Richard Wurman, Information Anxiety. 1989.
Shawn Callahan mentions this in his great presentation on how work really gets done.
Mark Nelson covers this in more detail inWe Have the Information You Want, But Getting It Will Cost You: Being Held Hostage by Information Overload.
To help address this challenge of organizing finding the right information at the right time, Web 2.0 technologies have emerged. You can read the 16-page paper What Is Web 2.0? -- Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation by O'Reilly.
Or better yet, watch the quick 4-minute video Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/Ing Us.
technorati tags: Richard Wurman, Information Anxiety, Shawn Callahan, Mark Nelson, Web 2.0
The movie industry is slowly making the conversion to digital.
For about 25 years, movies were silent, actors acted, text was shown on the screen, and an organ or piano player added the musical score. My mother was a concert pianist, so I grew up listening to all kinds of piano music. Last weekend, while I was in Chicago for St. Patricks Day, we watched and listened to the dueling pianos at a bar called "Howl at the Moon". Those not familiar with this art form can watch this 1-minute video of Star Wars re-imagined as a Silent Movie.
About 80 years ago, "talkies" appeared. The sound was converted to a series of colors that were recorded as a separate strip on the film media itself, hence the name "soundtrack". When the movie ran, the colors would then be converted back to voice and music. While the live piano players were out of jobs, the move to sound created a whole new industry for foley artists, orchestras and composers.InformationWeek's Mitch Wagner explains in Something Will Be Lost thatgreat artists like Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford never completely made the transition to talkies.
Now the movie industry is changing again, this time from film to digital format. Thanks to digital, we can now see videos on the internet, such as this set of Impressive Palindromes parody of a Bob Dylan song.
While movies are digital when you rent them from the DVD store, download them on iTunes, or play them on YouTube, they are still mostly in analog format on 35mm or 70mm film stock when you see them on the big screen.
My first "digital projection" experience was the movie "Ice Age" shown in Denver, Colorado. The theatre owner came out to show us what film stock looks like, and then how small the DVD was that held the digital version. The theatre also showed previews of other movies first on film, then in digital, so that we could see the difference in quality.My second experience was "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (episode II)", which I saw opening night at the Ziegfeld theatre in New York City. This was a huge theatre, and we had front row seats in the upper balcony.
Of course, the transition of film stock to digital projection is just one of the many trends resulting in the fast growth of computer IT storage. Documents transitioned from paper, to being scanned into digital format, to being created digitally using word processing software. Likewise, photographs went from film, to being scanned, to being captured with digital cameras.
As with talkies, history repeats itself; the transition to digital projection is not going smoothly.NPR's Laura Sydell reports thatDigital Projection in Theaters Slowed by Dispute. The dispute is between movie production companies and theatre owners. Currently, it is quite expensive to send out film stock to all the theatres, so the transition to digital will save the movie production companies lots of money. On the other hand, installing digital projection equipment will be costly for theatre owners. How the two groups will share the burdensome costs to convert this infrastructure is still under negotiation.
As a fan of going to the movies, I hope they resolve this dispute soon.
technorati tags: IBM, silent movie, Chicago, Star Wars, piano, talkies, foley artists, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, DVD, iTunes, NPR, digital projection, theatre, Mitch Wagner, Laura Sydell
Last Friday,The "Greater IBM Connection" team held a "red carpet" event, showcasing the winners of the Second Life "machinima"
.It is best explained on the Linden Lab website:
Machinima is the art of making real movies in virtual worlds.
Movies made in Second Life use the world's building, scripting, and avatar customization tools, working in real-time collaboration with people around the globe. You can use Second Life as your own virtual back lot, soundstage, choreography studio, costume and prop repository, and special effects house.
The seven videos were shown in Second Life, and are now available on YouTube for those who missed them.
technorati tags: IBM, Greater IBM Connection, Second Life, machinima, red carpet
Robert Von Oech on CreativeThink remembers Ernest Gallo
, who died last week at 97 years old.
"Do you know what I do?" Mr. Mondavi recalls Mr. Gallo asked him when they first met.
"Yes, you run the largest winery in the country," recalls Mr. Mondavi, then in his mid-20s.
"No," Ernest corrected him. "I go out and visit customers in stores."
Robert Smith (aka Radio Voom) reports on National Public Radio that Second Life is now being used for campaigning for political candidates. It used to be that political candidates took trains and buses across the country, meeting people, discussing their issues, and getting a feel for what is going on in the hearts and minds of their potential voters. With the development of TV and Radio, candidates traveled less, hoping to get their word out to people who would listen to them. Using Second Life and other social networking tools brings candidates back to having conversations with the people they hope to represent.
Of course, many of these candidates are old, and are learning internet social networking skills for the first time. John McCain, my senator from Arizona, is running for President at 70 years old! It's true that old dogs CAN learn new tricks.
IBM is investing heavily into Second Life, as are many other forward-thinking companies, to explore the age-old human need for connectedness, community and dialog. I've asked my team to all get their avatars up and running in Second Life. Granted there is a bit of a learning curve, but everybody handles change in different ways, some better than others.
John Windsor on YouBlog,Marina Krakovsky inStanford Magazine,and Guy Kawasaki, all discuss the "Effort Effect" and Carol Dweck's latest book "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success". I haven't read the book yet myself, but the reviews are interesting. The IT industry is evolving fast, and embracing new technologies, new concepts, and new ideas is necessary for success.
Seth Godin takes this one step further, arguing there are two kinds of people in this world: Thrill Seekers and Fear Avoiders. Forbes just published its latest list of billionaires. The front quote on Forbes' website says it all...
"Knowledge is the antidote to fear."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Why are most of these guys (and girls) with over a billion US dollars in net worth still working? Perhaps because they embrace new ideas, and are on the thrill seeking side of humanity. I guess I am too. I'll be thrill-seeking in Chicago this weekend, celebrating St. Patrick's day.
technorati tags: Robert Von Oech, CreativeThink, Ernest Gallo, Mondavi, Robert Smith, National Public Radio, NPR, John+McCain, Arizona, IBM, Secondlife, John Windsor, YouBlog, Mirina Krakovsky, Standford, Guy Kawasaki, Effort Effect, mindset, success, Seth Godin, thrill seekers, fear avoiders, Forbes, billionaires, working, Chicago, Wicked, St Patricks Day
On the news today, they mentioned it was "Happy Pi Day"
. Today is the 14th day of the 3rd month, and "pi" is about 3.14159, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. So, in Tucson it is celebrated on 3/14, at 1:59pm MST.
The ratio has a lot to do with storage.
Tape wrapped around a hub. Tape is thin, but not completely, so wrapping hundreds of meters on tape results in a change in diameter of the spool. This impacts the rotational velocity needed to get the linear meters-per-second on the tape media consistent as the diameter changes when you wind down from a full spindle toward the hub. IBM has variable speed motors and other clever technologies to handle this adjustment.
Disks spin at consistent speeds, but tracks on the outside edge travel faster across the head than the inside tracks.Currently, the top speeds for disk are 15000 Revolutions per minute (RPM). As faster rotational speeds are investigated, the researchers find they need to make the diameters smaller to compensate.
The diameters of disks were based on "U", the unit height of standard 19" racks. A "U" is 1.75 inches, and standard floppy diskettes were 5.25 inch (3U) and 3.5 inch (2U). For those who have a difficult time remember how many inches a "U" is, it is the height of a standard two-by-four (2x4) piece of lumber.
The value of "pi" has been calculated to over a billion significant digits. Here is a cuteapplet to use if you ever need the value to any level of accuracy.
technorati tags: IBM, disk, tape, pi, Pi Day, U, RPM
Yesterday, most of the USA moved its clocks forward an hour. Arizona and Hawaii don't bother, as there is plenty of daylight in both states. While it may seem that Arizonans are not "affected" by Daylight Saving Time (DST)
, we are, because we have to deal with the time zone offsets with those we talk to in other states. (Note: it is SAVING not SAVINGS
, many people mistakenly say "Daylight Savings
Time", which is incorrect).
Year round, Arizona is on Mountain Standard Time (MST), which is GMT-7. Figuring out what time Arizona can be remembered by a simple mnemonic:
- In the winter time, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona are all on MST, so best American ski resorts are all on the same time zone. People who hop from one ski resort to another by helicopter don't have to reset their watches as they move into or out of Arizona.
- In the summer time, Arizonans head to San Diego, Los Angeles or other parts of California, where it is not so hot. California is on PDT, which is the same as MST. People who hop from Arizona wineries and vineyards to those in California and Oregon can easily cross the Arizona-California border without having to reset our watches.
Those in Second Life may have noticed that "Second Life time" (SL time) shifted from PST to PDT. That is because their servers reside in San Francisco, California.
technorati tags: IBM, Daylight Saving Time, DST, Second Life, Arizona, Hawaii, PDT, MST, GMT
The blogosphere has quieted down a bit over the two papers on MTBF estimates for Disk Drive Modules (DDM).One article on SearchStorage.com by Arun Taneja asksIs RAID passé?
Disk capacity is growing at a faster rate than DDM reliability. During the hours to rebuild a DDM, companies are at risk of additional failures that could require recovery from a copy, or result in data loss, depending on how well your Business Continuity (BC) plan is written and followed.
I'll discuss two comments in particular.
Joerg Hallbauer felt I did not address all the issues raised:
... The problem with that is that it's the DISK ARRAY that determines when a drive has failed an starts the rebuild process. That IS under the control of IBM, specifically the controller. But more importantly, it effects my risk of data loss.
As I see it, my risk of data loss with RAID-5 is influenced by two main factors. 1 - The drive replacement rate and 2 - The rebuild time (which to a great extent is a function of the drive size) both of which IBM has some control over.
So, I think that the question in my mind is, what's the tipping point? Where does the risk of using RAID-5 protection exceed what I'm willing to accept, and I need to move to some other protection mechanism like RAID-6? Is it when the rebuild times exceed 12 hours? 24 hours? 48 hours?
Also, I wonder why IBM isn't publishing some information to help me make these kinds of decisions?
Bill Todd felt I was not technical enough:
Oh, dear - while Tony doesn’t seem to be parrying vigorously (as Seagate, Hitachi, and Chunk were doing), his contribution sounds more like IBM marketing than the kind of detailed, technical response one might have hoped for
... well, he *is* a manager, and a marketing one at that, so perhaps we shouldn’t expect more).
Both are fair comments. Disk arrays do run microcode to assist or perform the RAID function, detect failures and start the rebuild process, and so clever designs to support spare disks, process the rebuild quickly, and so on, can differentiate one vendor's offering from another.
On the issue of what does IBM provide to help its clients make the right decisions for their environments, Jon William Toigo at DrunkenData points his readers to IBM's Business Continuity Self-Assessment tool. In normal data center conditions, DDMs will fail, and a Business Continuity plan shouldbe written and developed to handle this fact. Using 2-site and 3-site mirroring, complemented with versions of tape backups, can help address some of these concerns and mitigate some of the risks involved with using disk systems.
For those who want a more technical answer, IBM has just published a series of IBM Redbooks.
Each client's situation is different, so no simple answer is possible. However, IBM does have a lot of experience in this area, and would be glad to help you write or update your existing Business Continuity plan.
technorati tags: IBM, disk, MTBF, estimates, papers, Arun Taneja, Jon William Toigo, StorageMojo, Business Continuity, Redbooks
For those interested in performance, my IBM colleague Elisabeth Stahl hasstarted up her own blog on the subject, called Benchmarking and Systems Performance
. Check it out!
technorati tags: IBM, systems, performance, TPC-C, benchmarking, blog, Elisabeth Stahl
Tuesday is always good for announcements. Today, Gartner, Inc.
announced that IBM has taken over HP in its climb to the top. I'll quote directly from today's press release:
STAMFORD, Conn., March 6, 2007 — Worldwide external controller-based (ECB) disk storage revenue totaled $15.2 billion in 2006, a 4.1 percent increase over 2005 revenue of $14.6 billion, according to Gartner, Inc.IBM overtook Hewlett-Packard for the No. 2 position in 2006 (see Table 1). IBM’s worldwide ECB market share increased to 15.8 percent, while HP’s market share dropped to 13.1 percent.
IBM beat HP both in 4Q06, as well as 2006 full year.You can read more about it from Gartner Dataquest report “Market Share: Disk Array Storage, All Regions, All Countries, 1Q05-4Q06" on their website. (Note: non-IBMers might need an account with Gartner to access this, not sure)
The focus was on external controller-based disk, not external controller-less SCSI/SAS disk, not disk arrays posing as virtual tape libraries, nor any disk sold inside HP, Sun, IBM or Dell servers. This is to compare with disk-only vendors such as EMC and HDS. The revenues reflect hardware only, including hardware-related parts of financial leases and managed services. Revenues from optional priced software features such as multi-pathing drivers, management software, or advanced copy services were excluded.I discussed these types of analyst reports back in blog post last September: Space Race Heats Up.
These marketshare numbers are based on revenues, not units or terabytes. When a box gets sold, the revenue was counted toward the vendor that sold it, not the manufacturer that built it. In this last report:
- When Dell sells an EMC box, it gets counted as Dell. When Fujitsu Siemens sells an EMC box, it gets counted as "Other".
- When HP sells an HDS box, it gets counted as HP. When Sun sells the HDS box, it gets counted as Sun.
- When IBM sells its System Storage N series (from the OEM agreement with NetApp), it gets counted as IBM. Both IBM and NetApp experienced growth in the NAS/unified storage arena.
It's still cold here in the Washington DC area, but at least good news like this helps warm me up!
technorati tags: IBM, disk, external controller-based, ECB, Gartner, 4Q06, 2006, revenue, marketshare, HP, EMC, Sun, Dell, NetApp, HDS, NAS
Well, this week I am in Maryland, just outside of Washington DC. It's a bit cold here.
Robin Harris over at StorageMojo put out this Open Letter to Seagate, Hitachi GST, EMC, HP, NetApp, IBM and Sun about the results of two academic papers, one from Google, and another from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). The papers imply that the disk drive module (DDM) manufacturers have perhaps misrepresented their reliability estimates, and asks major vendors to respond. So far, NetAppand EMC have responded.
I will not bother to re-iterate or repeat what others have said already, but make just a few points. Robin, you are free to consider this "my" official response if you like to post it on your blog, or point to mine, whatever is easier for you. Given that IBM no longer manufacturers the DDMs we use inside our disk systems, there may not be any reason for a more formal response.
- Coke and Pepsi buy sugar, Nutrasweet and Splenda from the same sources
Somehow, this doesn't surprise anyone. Coke and Pepsi don't own their own sugar cane fields, and even their bottlers are separate companies. Their job is to assemble the components using super-secret recipes to make something that tastes good.
IBM, EMC and NetApp don't make DDMs that are mentioned in either academic study. Different IBM storage systems uses one or more of the following DDM suppliers:
- Seagate (including Maxstor they acquired)
- Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, HGST (former IBM division sold off to Hitachi)
In the past, corporations like IBM was very "vertically-integrated", making every component of every system delivered.IBM was the first to bring disk systems to market, and led the major enhancements that exist in nearly all disk drives manufactured today. Today, however, our value-add is to take standard components, and use our super-secret recipe to make something that provides unique value to the marketplace. Not surprisingly, EMC, HP, Sun and NetApp also don't make their own DDMs. Hitachi is perhaps the last major disk systems vendor that also has a DDM manufacturing division.
So, my point is that disk systems are the next layer up. Everyone knows that individual components fail. Unlike CPUs or Memory, disks actually have moving parts, so you would expect them to fail more often compared to just "chips".
If you don't feel the MTBF or AFR estimates posted by these suppliers are valid, go after them, not the disk systems vendors that use their supplies. While IBM does qualify DDM suppliers for each purpose, we are basically purchasing them from the same major vendors as all of our competitors. I suspect you won't get much more than the responses you posted from Seagate and HGST.
- American car owners replace their cars every 59 months
According to a frequently cited auto market research firm, the average time before the original owner transfers their vehicle -- purchased or leased -- is currently 59 months.Both studies mention that customers have a different "definition" of failure than manufacturers, and often replace the drives before they are completely kaput. The same is true for cars. Americans give various reasons why they trade in their less-than-five-year cars for newer models. Disk technologies advance at a faster pace, so it makes sense to change drives for other business reasons, for speed and capacity improvements, lower power consumption, and so on.
The CMU study indicated that 43 percent of drives were replaced before they were completely dead.So, if General Motors estimated their cars lasted 9 years, and Toyota estimated 11 years, people still replace them sooner, for other reasons.
At IBM, we remind people that "data outlives the media". True for disk, and true for tape. Neither is "permanent storage", but rather a temporary resting point until the data is transferred to the next media. For this reason, IBM is focused on solutions and disk systems that plan for this inevitable migration process. IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller is able to move active data from one disk system to another; IBM Tivoli Storage Manager is able to move backup copies from one tape to another; and IBM System Storage DR550 is able to move archive copies from disk and tape to newer disk and tape.
If you had only one car, then having that one and only vehicle die could be quite disrupting. However, companies that have fleet cars, like Hertz Car Rentals, don't wait for their cars to completely stop running either, they replace them well before that happens. For a large company with a large fleet of cars, regularly scheduled replacement is just part of doing business.
This brings us to the subject of RAID. No question that RAID 5 provides better reliability than having just a bunch of disks (JBOD). Certainly, three copies of data across separate disks, a variation of RAID 1, will provide even more protection, but for a price.
Robin mentions the "Auto-correlation" effect. Disk failures bunch up, so one recent failure might mean another DDM, somewhere in the environment, will probably fail soon also. For it to make a difference, it would (a) have to be a DDM in the same RAID 5 rank, and (b) have to occur during the time the first drive is being rebuilt to a spare volume.
- The human body replaces skin cells every day
So there are individual DDMs, manufactured by the suppliers above; disk systems, manufactured by IBM and others, and then your entire IT infrastructure. Beyond the disk system, you probably have redundant fabrics, clustered servers and multiple data paths, because eventually hardware fails.
People might realize that the human body replaces skin cells every day. Other cells are replaced frequently, within seven days, and others less frequently, taking a year or so to be replaced. I'm over 40 years old, but most of my cells are less than 9 years old. This is possible because information, data in the form of DNA, is moved from old cells to new cells, keeping the infrastructure (my body) alive.
Our clients should approach this in a more holistic view. You will replace disks in less than 3-5 years. While tape cartridges can retain their data for 20 years, most people change their tape drives every 7-9 years, and so tape data needs to be moved from old to new cartridges. Focus on your information, not individual DDMs.
What does this mean for DDM failures. When it happens, the disk system re-routes requests to a spare disk, rebuilding the data from RAID 5 parity, giving storage admins time to replace the failed unit. During the few hours this process takes place, you are either taking a backup, or crossing your fingers.Note: for RAID5 the time to rebuild is proportional to the number of disks in the rank, so smaller ranks can be rebuilt faster than larger ranks. To make matters worse, the slower RPM speeds and higher capacities of ATA disks means that the rebuild process could take longer than smaller capacity, higher speed FC/SCSI disk.
According to the Google study, a large portion of the DDM replacements had no SMART errors to warn that it was going to happen. To protect your infrastructure, you need to make sure you have current backups of all your data. IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center can help identify all the data that is "at risk", those files that have no backup, no copy, and no current backup since the file was most recently changed. A well-run shop keeps their "at risk" files below 3 percent.
So, where does that leave us?
- ATA drives are probably as reliable as FC/SCSI disk. Customers should chose which to use based on performance and workload characteristics. FC/SCSI drives are more expensive because they are designed to run at faster speeds, required by some enterprises for some workloads. IBM offers both, and has tools to help estimate which products are the best match to your requirements.
- RAID 5 is just one of the many choices of trade-offs between cost and protection of data. For some data, JBOD might be enough. For other data that is more mission critical, you might choose keeping two or three copies. Data protection is more than just using RAID, you need to also consider point-in-time copies, synchronous or asynchronous disk mirroring, continuous data protection (CDP), and backup to tape media. IBM can help show you how.
- Disk systems, and IT environments in general, are higher-level concepts to transcend the failures of individual components. DDM components will fail. Cache memory will fail. CPUs will fail. Choose a disk systems vendor that combines technologies in unique and innovative ways that take these possibilities into account, designed for no single point of failure, and no single point of repair.
So, Robin, from IBM's perspective, our hands are clean. Thank you for bringing this to our attention and for giving me the opportunity to highlight IBM's superiority at the systems level.
technorati tags: IBM, Seagate, Hitachi, HGST, EMC, NetApp, HP, HDS, Sun, Google, CMU, DDM, Fujitsu, MTBF, MTTF, AFR, ARR, JBOD, RAID, Tivoli, SVC, DR550, CDP, FC, SCSI, disk, tape, SAN,
Sometimes, it's difficult to explain the products I manage to people outside the IT storage industry. How do you explain FCP vs. FICON, Giant Magnetoresistive (GMR) heads, the SMI-S interface, etc. enough to then explain how your job relates to those technologies. At least my friends and family read this blog, so they can somewhat understand some of the things I am working on. When I visit my folks on Sundays, we sometimes discuss items they read in my blog that week.
In addition to a "take your children to work day", we have discussed within IBM a "take your parents to work day", especially for the young new hires who have a hard time explaining what their new job is to the rest of their family.
Seth Godin points to a video ad to fill a job position and the confusion therein with the "recruiter" who just doesn't understand the job involved.
The problem is not just your parents, but any of your co-workers old enough to be parents who haven't bothered to keep up with the latest advancements in Web 2.0 technology. Here are some examples:
- A project leader working with a technology partner asked if me if there was a difference between a "blog" and a "wiki" and which should his team use. This was not a simple yes/no answer, and involved some explanation, conversation and understanding of what he was trying to accomplish.
- For one of my meetings, someone instant-messaged me asking where it was, was it "face-to-face" (F2F) or Conference call (CC). I replied back, "A2A w/CC" (avatar-to-avatar with voice over conference call). When you are meeting other avatars in-world in Second Life, it gets quite distracting having everyone typing away, with their hands and fingers moving furiously, so we use a conference call to complement our 3D interaction.
That's why I was very excited to seeLinden Lab announces voice beta in Second Life. It won't be fully ready until later this year, but adding voice to Second Life will greatly reduce the hurdles we now have trying to coordinate conference calls with in-world activity.
I realize not everyone can keep up with all the new and different technologies, but the social networking aspects of some of these new developments are worth looking into.
technorati tags: IBM, blog, wiki, social networking, technology, avatar, voice, Second Life, GMR, FICON, FCP, SMI-S
Tonight I had dinner with Henry Daboub (an SVC expert from Houston, TX) and some clients, who asked what I would blog about tonight, and I figured it made sense to blog about the SVC.
Hu Yoshida clarifies his position about storage virtualization, including the statement: "As a result they can not provide the availability, scalability, and performance of a DS8300. If they could, there would be no need for a DS8300."
Of course, if humans descended from apes, why are there still apes? Now that we have cars, why are there still trains? But perhaps a better question is: now that there are supercomputers, why are there still mainframe servers?
The issue is the difference between scale-up versus scale-out. Scale-up is making a single box as big and beefy as possible. When the SVC was introduced, the major vendors all had scale-up designs: IBM ESS 800, HDS Lightning, EMC Symmetrix. Like the mainframe, they were for customers that wanted everything in a single monolithic container.
SAN Volume Controller was the result of IBM Research asking the question, if you could put anyone's software (feature and functionality) on anyone's hardware (monolithic scale-up design), what combination would you choose? What if the brains inside today's monolithic systems could be snapped into the another vendor's frame? What if you could run SRDF on an HDS box, or ShadowImage on an IBM box? The surprising response was that most customers would want a single software for consistency, but wanted the option to choose from different vendors hardware, to negotiate the best price of the commodity iron. Based on this feedback, the SVC was born.
The idea was simple, put all the brains in a separate appliance. The appliance would do the non-disruptive migrations, the caching, the striping, and all the copy services. This lets the customer chose then the hardware they want, any mix of FC and ATA disk, from any vendor.
The SVC design was based on IBM's long history in supercomputers. Using the same "scale-out" technology, the power comes not from having it all in one monolithic box, but rather in a design that combines small nodes together. While the cache is not globally shared, the data is shared between node-pairs, and the logical-to-physical mapping is routed around to all nodes in a cluster. Each SVC node talks to each other SVC node through the FCP ports, eliminating the need for additional wiring. For the most part, each node does its own separate work, but when it needs to, they can communicate across, just like nodes in a supercomputer.
Both the SVC and the DS8300 Turbo have better than 99.999 percent availability, based on redundant components designed for no single point of failure (SPOF). IBM has sold thousands of each, and they have been in the field enough time that we can make that claim. There is nothing between scale-up versus scale-out that makes on inherently more available than the other.
Both the SVC and the DS8300 Turbo can scale from as little as a few TB of disk, to hundreds of TB of disk. We have yet to meet a customer that is too big for the SVC. The DS8300 Turbo is able to scale by adding up to four extension frames, but is still considered a single box from a scale-up perspective. From a processor perspective, an 8-node SVC cluster has 16 Intel Xeon processors, and the DS8300 has 8 POWER5+ processors (dual 4-way). The key advantage of scale-out is that you can add capacity to the SVC in smaller increments. Jumping from a DS8100 (dual 2-way) to a DS8300 (dual 4-way) is a big jump.
SVC remains the fastest disk system in the industry, based on both the SPC-1 and SPC-2 benchmarks. The latest model now supports 8GB per node, for a total of 64GB for an 8-node cluster. This can be used for both read and write non-volatile storage. By comparison, DS8300 Turbo has 32GB write non-volatile storage, and up to 256 GB of read-only cache. The SVC is able to do 155,519 IOPS, faster than the 123,030 IOPS for the DS8300, and of course faster than anything from EMC, HDS, HP or Texas Memory Systems. Of course, workloads vary, and there might be some workloads where the 256GB of read-only cache of the monolithic DS8300 is the better choice.
- copy services
Both SVC and DS8300 Turbo offer FlashCopy (point-in-time copy), Metro Mirror (synchronous) and Global Mirror (asynchronous). SVC provides the additional benefit that it can perform a FlashCopy from one frame to another, and the ability to migrate data seemlessly from one box to another.
Interestingly, IBM has seen a resurgence in both mainframe sales, as well as interest in supercomputers. Both have their place, based on the workload characteristics, and so IBM will continue to offer both modular scale-out designs, as well as monolithic scale-up designs, to meet the different needs of the marketplace.
technorati tags: IBM, disk, SAN, Volume, Controller, DS8300, Turbo, Hu Yoshida, FlashCopy, Metro Mirror, Global Mirror, SPC, benchmarks, HDS, HP, EMC, mainframe, supercomputer
Modified by TonyPearson
Back in 1986, when I first started with IBM, my first job was working on a software product called Data Facility Hierarchical Storage Manager (DFHSM). This did "Information Lifecycle Management" (ILM) by moving data sets from one storage tier to another. (The phrase "Information Lifecycle Management" was coined by StorageTek in 1991, and later resurrected by EMC a few years ago. As is often typical, things that appear new to the distributed systems crowd, are often well-established concepts in the mainframe arena).
To help explain DFHSM and its sister product Data Facility Data Set Services (DFDSS), an enterprising sales rep in Los Angeles named C.D. Larsen made a video called "Re-arranging the sock drawer". He explained that sometimes you want the socks you wear the most on the top drawer, and socks that you only wear now and again in lower drawers. DFHSM can re-arrange your sock drawer based on policy-based automation, determining which ones you wear most often, and moving the others down the "hierarchy" accordingly.
To explain DFDSS, he pulled out an entire drawer of socks, and move it to another level. DFDSS was able to do volume-level backups and dumps to tape very quickly, since it did not process individual data sets, but rather the entire volume image as a whole. These two products are now DFSMShsm and DFSMSdss components of the DFSMS element of the z/OS operating system.
Mainframes use an interesting naming convention for its data sets. 44 characters, divided up into qualifiers that are 1-8 characters long, separated by periods. For example:
The first qualifier indicated it belonged to me, that it was for my Project A, that it was a testcase, and specifically TEST1 job control language. Arranging them in this order meant that I could easily find all the data needed for project A, but if I wanted to keep all the testcase data together, I might have put that as the second qualifer instead.
On Linux, UNIX and Windows, most people are more familiar with hierarchical file systems, so the same file might be stored as:
Same concept. You set up a taxonomy of they way you want to organize your data, so that related data can be grouped together and easier to manage. Whereas we used to tell customers that "Qualifiers are your friend", we now tell people "sub-directories are your friend". This is true when organizing the files on your laptop, in your Lotus Notes, and in Second Life.
Since starting Second Life last November, I have picked up all kinds of free things along the way, and now have thousands of objects in my "inventory". Basically, its like keeping things in your pocket, when you want it, you just take it out of your pocket, and *poof* it appears magically on the ground. I was having a hard time finding things in my inventory, so I decided to re-arrange with sub-folders. This is done in-world, and I found it best to do this away from other avatars asking "what are you doing?" which can get quite annoying. Find a remote island or the rooftop of some building when doing "house cleaning".
I've arranged my main folders as follows. These all appear on a single screen, and makes it easy to find exactly what I am looking for.
- Body Parts
- Calling Cards
- Lost and Found
- Photo Album
In Second Life, you can make complete "outfits" which include your body shape, skin, eyes, hair, and clothes. However, saving away many outfits means duplicating a lot of items. Therefore, I separated them out. I keep body shape, skin, eyes and hair in the folder "Body Parts" and all of the clothing items under "Clothing". Under clothing, I separated everything out into the major categories:
I could have a separate folder for "socks", but I keep those in the "shoes" folder.
technorati tags: IBM, DFHSM, DFDSS, DFSMS, z/OS, qualifiers, taxonomy, Second Life, inventory
Well, I'm back from Mexico.
The flight back was uneventful, except for the leg from Houston to Tucson. The lady in the window seat had "overallocated storage" and required a "distance extension" on her safety belt. To accomodate her, her husband and I flipped up the "logical partitions" between the seats, and "compressed" to take up less space to accomodate. Luckily, it was only for two hours.
On the flight to Houston, I was asked what kind of drink I wanted, in Spanish, as the crew were all from Mexico. Here's a quick Spanish lesson:
- this stands for drink in general, and can include liquor and soft drinks
- this stands generically for soft drink. They will often use "Coke" to refer to any cola beverage, regardless of brand.
It is interesting that Spanish language in each country is slightly different. The Mexicans I met with and spoke Spanish to immediately recognized I was from South America, and not from Central America. Likewise, folks in Puerto Rico knew I was from somewhere from South America, and not from Mexico or Central America. In Columbia, Argentina, and even Brazil, my speech is more recognizable as being from Bolivia.
Before IBM got into an OEM agreement with Network Appliance, I used to indicate that EMC and NetApp were the "Coke and Pepsi" of the NAS marketplace. IBM had a presence, but it was in the single digits, whereas these two major players had roughly equal marketshare, just as Coke and Pepsi dominate equally the US marketplace. That analogy doesn't work in other countries, as in some cases the country might be more heavily in favor of one or the other.
On my flight over from Houston to Tucson, however, I was asked what kind of "pop" I wanted. I always say "soda" to refer generically to soft drinks, but realize that others say "pop" instead. Not only can Americans be able to detect what part of the country people are from by accent, but also by the words they use.
Now I see a blog that explores in great detail the issue of Pop vs Soda vs Coke.
So, it looks like I'll need to "retire" my Coke vs. Pepsi analogy, not because their marketshare has changed, but because IBM's parntering with NetApp greatly skews the advantage over EMC.
technorati tags: IBM, Mexico, NAS, OEM, NetApp, EMC, Coke, Pepsi, Bolivia, Pop, Soda
Today, I went looking for reading-glasses. Unfamiliar with my surroundings, I asked several people where I might be able to find and purchase these, and was sent in various directions. My first stop was a bookstore. It would make sense that since many people need reading glasses to read the books, that they would sell them there, but no. The staff didn't know where I could go, but pointed me in the direction of a mall. At the mall, I found a pharmacy. Many pharmacies sell reading glasses, so I stopped in, but no, not this one. The pharmacists suggested the super-store nearby. I walked in to the super-store, and asked the first employee where they keep their reading glasses, and they said the other corner. The other corner was the electronics department. It made sense that they sold CDs and DVDs in the same section as the equipment that plays them, but reading glasses? Skeptical, I went to the pharmacy department, and the young and beautiful lady (everyone is young, thin and beautiful here) had me follow her, and she led me back to the electronics department, whereupon she pointed to a rack of sunglasses. I indicated that I need reading glasses, not sunglasses. She pulled one out, and it was indeed reading glasses, 1.25, just what I was looking for. Others were tinted, so you can read the newspaper out in the sunlight. The pair I chose cost only $97 in the local currency.
After reading the last sentence, you might be thinking I am describing my "avatar" in Second Life, but no, I am talking about my search for reading glasses on the streets of Mexico. I am here this week in meetings with IBM Business Partners and sales reps to discuss IBM's latest System Storage products and offerings.
We used to tell people they should "clothe" servers with storage. IBM offers both, so yes it makes sense to offer both as part of a complete solution. However, when you look through a dictionary definition "to clothe" you learn it is to dress, wrap or cover with clothing, an implication that it is external, and perhaps temporary, easily changed, like switching from sunglasses to reading glasses. In Second Life, objects can be "worn", simply by attaching or detaching them to your "avatar". Sometimes clothing serves a purpose, like reading glasses, provides protection, like raincoats, and other times, more decorative, like"icing on the cake" or "gold plating".
This concept was fine 50 years ago, when we were in a server-centric world, and dumb storage devices were attached to very intelligent servers. Back then, we used the derogatory term "subsystems" to emphasize that storage was just part of the server, not a system of its own.
Today, we live in an information-centric world. The information outlives the media, and the media outlives the servers that access it. It is not unreasonable to attach dozens or hundreds of servers to a single storage system, or collection of storage systems. Over 20 percent of IBM System Storage DS8000 series, for example, are attached to Windows rack-optimized or blade servers. Imagine a refrigerator surrounded by dozens or hundreds of pizza boxes. Storage is no longer a subsystem, but a system on its own right, dressed, wrapped or covered by servers that deliver the right information, to the right people, at the right time.
So perhaps we should reverse it, telling people they should "clothe" their storage with servers!
technorati tags: IBM, disk, storage, servers, Second Life, clothing, DS8000, Turbo, subsystem, system
I didn't really have a theme this week, still recovering from jet-lag from my travels through Japan, Australia, China.
Gary Diskman has an amusing blog entry about a Funny disaster recovery job posting. It is not clear if he is being completely tongue-in-cheek, or a bit cynical. However, it rings true that you get what you measure, and some managers look for easy metrics, even if there are unintended consequences.
Western medicine works this way. Rather than paying your doctor to keep you healthy, you pay him per visit, to get refills on prescriptions, check-ups on medical conditions, surgeries and so on. While Eastern medicine is focused on keeping people healthy, Western medicine profits more from resolving "situations".
I have seen similar situations on the "health" of the data center. In one case, the admins were measured on how quickly they bring back up their web-servers after a crash. They had this process down to a science, because they were measured on how quickly they resolved the situation. I suggested switching from Windows to Linux, a much more reliable operating system for web-serving, and showed examples of web-servers running Linux that have been up for 1000 days or more. Management changed the metrics to "average up-time in days" and magically the re-boots all but disappeared, thanks to Linux, but also thanks in part to shifting the incentive structure. Perhaps some of those earlier situations were "artificially created"?
Back in the 1980s, I was working on a small software project that was about 5000 lines of code. In those days, testers were measured by the number of "successful" testcases that ran without incident. Testcases that uncovered an error were labeled as "failures" to be re-run after the developers fixed the code. When I declared my code ready for test, the test team ran 110 testcases, all successfully, and they were all rewarded for meeting their schedule. I, on the other hand, did not accept these results, met with them and told them I would give them $100 each if they could find a bug in my code in the next week. Nobody writes 5000 lines of code without some error along the way, not even me. (As one author put it, more people have left earth's gravity to orbit the planet than have written perfect code that did not require subsequent review or testing. It's so true. Good software is difficult to write.)
The test team accepted the challenge, and found 6 problems, more than I expected, but at least I felt more confident of the code quality after fixing these. As I suspected, the unintended consequence of counting "successful" testcases was that testers would write the most simple, basic, least-likely-to-challenge-boundaries testcases to ensure they meet their numbers. My experiment was costly to me, but more importantly was a wake-up call for the test management, and they realized they needed to re-evaluate their test procedures, metrics and terminology. This was a long time ago, and I am glad to see that the overall "software engineering" practice has matured much over the past 20 years.
So, my advice is to determine metrics that have the intended consequences you want, while avoiding any negative unintented consequences that might undermine your eventual success. People will quickly figure out how to maximize the results, and if you can align their goals to company goals, then everybody benefits.
Well, I'll be blogging from Mexico next week (yes, it is a business trip!). Enjoy the weekend.
technorati tags: IBM, Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, Gary Diskman, indentives, metrics, testcases, unintented consequences