Safe Harbor Statement: The information on IBM products is intended to outline IBM's general product direction and it should not be relied on in making a purchasing decision. The information on the new products is for informational purposes only and may not be incorporated into any contract. The information on IBM products is not a commitment, promise, or legal obligation to deliver any material, code, or functionality. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for IBM products remains at IBM's sole discretion.
Tony Pearson is a an active participant in local, regional, and industry-specific interests, and does not receive any special payments to mention them on this blog.
Tony Pearson receives part of the revenue proceeds from sales of books he has authored listed in the side panel.
Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Specialist for the IBM System Storage product line at the
IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2011, Tony celebrated his 25th year anniversary with IBM Storage on the same day as the IBM's Centennial. He is
author of the Inside System Storage series of books. This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to storage and storage networking hardware, software and services. You can also follow him on Twitter @az990tony.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson
"This week, IBM is launching a companywide effort to build the digital eminence of all IBMers. The goal is to arm you with the tools and knowledge to effectively use emerging technologies -- such as social, mobile, and cloud computing -- for strategic advantage."
This is how Rod Adkins, IBM Senior VP of Systems Technology Group, and my sixth-line manager, starts a memo to declare April "Digital IBMer awareness month". I am not sure if this is just for this April, or every April going forward. Included with this is a set of ten guidelines to improve CyberSecurity:
In honor of this, I will be spending the next two weeks traveling through Europe. Instead of bringing a large suitcase and my laptop, I have decided instead to only take:
The clothes I am wearing on the plane
A heavy jacket with lots of pockets
A backpack with 15 pounds of clothes
A hipsack with my smartphone, digital camera, MP3 player and all the related adapters, chargers and cables
My smartphone uses a GSM chip, so I should be able to get a European SIM when I arrive. I have not booked any hotels, tours, or transportation. Instead, I will rely on social media and cloud computing to take care of things on a daily basis.
(Why only 15 pounds of clothing? I just had major surgery two weeks ago, and my doctor advised me not to lift more than 15 pounds for the next six weeks!)
I plan to have a series of blog posts documenting what I learn from this trip. For those who want to follow along, I will be tweeting from @az990tony. You do not need a Twitter account to read my tweets. You can read them directly from [http://twitter.com/#!/az990tony].
I can't remember the last time I have gone this long without the comforts of my laptop or desktop, so it will be interesting how it works out!
Well, it's Tuesday, which means IBM Announcements!
We have both disk and tape related announcements today.
2 TB Drives
Yes, they are finally here. IBM now offers [2 TB SATA drives for its IBM System Storage DCS9900 series] disk systems. These are 5400 RPM, slower than traditional 7200 RPM SATA drives. This increases the maximum capacity of a single DCS9900 from 1200 TB to 2400 TB. The DCS9900 is IBM's MAID system (Massive Array of Idle Disk) which allows for drive spin-down to reduce energy costs and is ideal for long term retention of archive data that must remain on disk for High Performance Computing or video streaming.
TS3000 System Console
The TS3000 System Console [provides improved features for service and support] of up to 24 tape library frames or 43 unique tape systems. Tape frames include those of the TS7740, TS7720 and TS7650. Tape systems include TS3500, TS3400 or 3494 libraries as well as stand-alone TS1120 and TS1130 drives. Having the TS3000 System Console in place is a benefit to both IBM and the customer, as it improves IBM's ability to provide service in a more timely manner.
Both announcements are part of IBM's strategy to provide cost-effective, energy-efficient, long-term retention storage for archive data.
As a consultant, I am often asked to help design the architecture for the information infrastructure. A usefulanalogy to gather requirements and preferences is the difference between area rugs and wall-to-wall carpeting. Arearugs are not secured to the floor and cover only a portion of the floor area. Carpets are generally tacked or cemented to the floor, often with an underlay of cushion padding, stretched across the entire floor surface, out to all four walls of each room.
Each has its pros and cons, and often is a matter of preference. Some people like area rugs because they can choosea different style for each room, match the decor and color scheme of furniture, and use these to define each livingspace. Ever since paleolithic man put animal skins on the floor of their cave, people recognize that cold, hard andugly floors could be covered up with something soft and more attractive.Others prefer wall-to-wall carpeting because they want to walk around the house barefoot, have their young children crawl on their hands and knees, and give the entire house a unified look and feel. This is often an inexpensive option when compared against the cost of individual rugs.
The same is true for an information infrastructure. For some, they prefer the "area rug" approach: this style ofstorage for their email, this other type of storage for their databases, and perhaps a third for their unstructuredfile systems. When customers ask what storage would I recommend for their SAP application, or their Microsoft Exchangeemail environment, or their Business Intelligence (BI) software, I recognize they are taking this "area rug" approach.
Like area rugs, having different storage can focus on specific attributes of the workload characteristics. It alsoinsulates against company-wide changes, the dreaded "rip-and-replace" of replacing all of your storage with somethingfrom a different vendor. With "area rug" storage, you can support a dual-vendor or multi-vendor strategy, and upgrade or replace each on its own schedule.
Thanks to open standards and industry-standard benchmarks, changing out one storage solution for another is assimple as rolling up an area rug, and putting another one in its place that is similar in size dimensions.
Others may prefer "wall-to-wall carpeting" approach: one disk system type, one tape library type,one network type, that provides unified management and minimizes the needs for unique skills. Generally, the choice of NAS, SAN or iSCSI infrastrucutre is done company-wide, and might strongly influence the set of products that will support that decision. For example, those with a mix of mainframe and distributed servers looking for SAN-attached storage may look at an [IBM System Storage DS8000] and [TS3500 tape library] that can provide support for FICON and FCP.
Those looking at NAS or iSCSI might consider the IBM System Storage N series products, "unified storage" supporting iSCSI, FCP and NAS protocols. If you want the "wall-to-wall" to stretch across all the sites in your globally integrated enterprise, IBM's scalable NAS product, Scale-Out File Services[SoFS], provides a global name spacein combination with a clustered file system that provides incredible scalability and performance based on field-proven technology used by the majority of the [Top 100 supercomputer] deployments.
IBM can help you design an information infrastructure that fits either approach.
I use two Cloud-Computing based photo-sharing services, [KodakGallery.com] and [Flickr.com], which serve two completely different purposes.
Formerly, this was Ofoto, but was acquired by Kodak. I started using this service back in 2002, and had over 12,000 photos uploaded over the past 8 years. I was able to share all my photos with my friends and family, and they could simply order whichever prints they want and have them shipped directly to them. They have incredibly high-professional photo-based products, like calendars and coffee table books, that you can produce from your own photos.
Sadly, the fine folks at Kodak Gallery decided they did not want my business anymore, and purged my 36GB of files from their system. To be fair, they did hint that they were having financial problems with an "Archive CD" offering, which would have allowed me to get a set of CDs or DVDs holding the high-resolution graphics of all my uploaded photos. This would have cost $150 or so, and if you uploaded more photos, there was no option to get the "delta" of photos uploaded since your last archive, so it would have cost me $150 every year or so to get an updated "backup" of my files. It seemed expensive and unnecessary at the time, given that I was sure that Kodak was not going out of business anytime soon, and that I was sure they took their own backups of all the photos that people put in their charge.
The problem is that Kodak Gallery was a free service, subsidized by people ordering physical prints and other products. As such, I got lots of email from Kodak every month, offering me free shipping, special promotions, and seasonal discounts. It was so much that I had all email from them automatically routed to a different sub-folder, that I would never look at, unless I was about to make a purchase and needed to find the best coupon code or free shipping option currently offered. This also had the unintended consequence that I missed the following series of notes:
Important: From the Gallery's General Manager (April 17)
Second notice: Our storage policy has changed (April 24)
Final notice: Your stored photos may be deleted (May 8)
We don't want to delete your photos (May 22)
All the notes mentioned the new "Storage Policy", here is a quick excerpt:
"The fact is, we store billions of photos for our 75 million members. The quality storage service the Gallery provides is significant in terms of our business costs.
So that we can provide the highest level of service, we're now asking all Gallery customers to make an annual nominal purchase in exchange for photo storage. We've modified our Terms of Service policy accordingly: if your Gallery photo storage equals 2 gigabytes or less, we're asking you to spend $4.99 annually; if more than 2 gigabytes, $19.99 annually.*
One last thought: We value and appreciate your business, and we want to continue our relationship with you in a spirit of mutual support and benefit. That's always been the Kodak way."
Since they had no response from me, nor saw any purchase activity, my 36GB of files were deleted on June 17. I discovered all of this when I contacted Kodak to find out where my files were last weekend during my "Spring Cleaning". I asked if I could at least get the final set of "Archive CDs", but they told me they were purged completely.
I understand the economy is in a recession, and many free cloud-based services are losing money and going under. I can understand they were faced with tough choices, Kodak opted to switch from a free service to fee-based service.
Albert Einstein defined Insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." In general, if I am trying to get a hold of someone, and email isn't working, then I try something different, try them by phone, try them by snail mail, and so on. With the deluge of emails, people sometimes declare "email bankruptcy" by deleting everything in their inbox after coming back from vacation, or implement filters to automatically route mail to separate folders. I think it is unrealistic to expect that everybody reads every piece of email that you send them.
I would have liked for Kodak to have done at least one or more of the following, given that I had been such a long time customer, and they had earned hundreds of dollars in revenues from all the purchases, over the years, not just directly from me, but from my friends and family, of photos I uploaded to their website:
Send me a letter after not receiving any response from the first three notices. They sent me promotional materials and offers for 20 percent discounts, so they had my active snail mail address on file correctly. With 75 million users, it would have cost $33 million USD to send out snail mail letters to everyone, but for the subset of power-users who have more than 2GB of files, a snail mail letter might have gotten more $19.99 purchases they needed to stay in business.
Called me on the phone. Yes, they also had my phone number in their database.
Go ahead and charged my credit card on file $19.99 without a purchase, and given me a credit towards a future purchase. Something like: "You have not purchased anything in the last 12 months, so we charged your credit card, per our Terms of Service, but you can use this as a credit towards something in the next 60 days."
On the plus side, my "Spring Cleaning" project was done. You can't organize what you don't have anymore.
Flickr from Yahoo
I started using Flickr back in 2008 to hold photos and graphics for this blog. Flickr holds various sizes of photos that I can use directly with HTML tags. Clicking on the photo in the blog will take you to Flickr's service and allow you to see the large size resolution. The "Lotus Connections" that I have on IBM DeveloperWorks only offers 24MB of photo space, so Flickr was a nice alternative.
Unfortunately, Flickr had adopted a new policy that only the most recent 200 pictures would be visible, and I had already reached 170 photos. Rather than start deleting photos from my older blog posts, I opted to upgrade to the "Flickr Pro" account, with a fee of only $24.99 per year.
Hopefully, by paying an annual fee and choosing a successful and profitable Cloud-Computing company, I won't experience another traumatic loss. However, it does remind me that it is my responsibility to keep my own copies of these photos, just in case.
Fortunately, many "photo product" providers are connected to Flickr. For example, my publisher [<a href="http://www.lulu.com/">Lulu.com</a>] can access my Flickr photos to make photo-based coffee table books. As for my last eight years of memories that were lost, I will just have to treat it as if my house burned down. Rebuild and move on.
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".
For those who missed it, IBM announced last Tuesday encryption capability for the TS1120 drive, our enterprise tape drive that read and write 3592 cartridges. Do you need special cartridges for this? No! Use the sames ones you have already been using!
For those who participated in Clark Hodge's "Where's Tony" contest,I was in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzogovina. There were optional side-tours to Montenegro and Slovenia, but I decided not to incur the added time and expense with those.
For those wondering where to go this Summer for vacation, I recommend Croatia. It is a beautiful country, with clean cities, good road conditions, and a calm Adriatic sea as we went from island to island.
And if you get to Mostar, don't let them talk you into jumping off the "old bridge". The water is terribly cold down there![Read More]
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means... IBM announcements!
Last week, IBM had a big storage launch of various products, with the June 4 announcements at the IBM Edge 2012 conference. I provided highlights in my post [IBM Edge Announcements]. As promised, here are the rest of the announcements.
SONAS v1.3.2 adds support for management by the newly announced IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v5.1 release. Also, IBM now officially supports "Gateway configurations" that have the storage nodes connected to XIV or Storwize v7000 disk systems. These gateway configurations offer new flexible choices and options for our ever-expanding set of clients.
ProtecTIER appliances and gateways
IBM ProtecTIER line of data deduplication appliances and gateways add CIFS file system support. Rather than using OST or a VTL interface, you now have CIFS as a new option for host attach. Also, IBM introduces the new TS7620 Express model, with options for 5.4TB and 11TB in capacity, replacing the previous TS7610 entry level.
LTFS Storage Manager
The Linear Tape File System (LTFS) allows files to be stored on tape cartridges in a manner that allows them to be mounted as file systems, much like a USB memory stick. The new LTFS Storage Manager software allows you to manage a collection of files across a set of cartridges, moving files from one cartridge to another, consolidating valid data onto fewer cartridges, and removing files no longer needed. This is sometimes referred to as "lifecycle management".
Tape System Library Manager
When IBM first introduced the "shuttle" that allowed up to fifteen TS3500 tape libraries to be connected together into a single system, only HPSS customers could take advantage of this. Software was required to coordinate the movement of cartridges from one library to another. The new IBM Tape System Library Manager now offers an alternative to HPSS for coordinating this activity.
DS8000 v6.3 microcode
IBM now offers 400GB solid-state drives. IBM's market leading support for Full Disk Encryption (FDE) is now extended to cover all drive speeds, from the slowest 7200RPM NL-SAS drives up to the fastest solid-state. IBM Easy Tier extends its super-easy implementation to work across all three of these tiers including encryption.
IBM now offers implementation services for IBM XIV Gen3 storage system, and the N series models 3220 and 3240.
This week I am on the road visiting various clients. Next week, Moscow Russia for the "Edge Comes to You" event!
This week I was in Palm Springs in meetings with clients, prospects, business partners and IBM sales reps.
Tuesday consisted of "outdoor meetings", but the high winds caused some people to arrive late, and others to land in the various sand traps and water hazards. A "welcome reception" event allowed everyone to socialize and get to know the IBM experts and executives. Two of my colleagues, Mike Stanek and Dave Wyatt, were with me also in Australia last week, and so the three of us were discussing recovery from jet lag.
Wednesday was organized as a main tent event, where everyone met into one large room to hear our strategy,latest set of offerings, and customer testimonials. This was done indoors, of course, which was a good thing as the winds were now gusting up to 50 miles per hour, knocking over windmills and making the local news.
Here's a quick sample from the testimonials:
An insurance company virtualized their IBM DS8000, DS4000, ESS 800 and EMC DMX3 high-end disk with theIBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller and got higher availability and performance. Data migrationefforts that used to take six(6) hours of admin time now took less than one hour, and with no system downtime.They have a total of 350TB virtualized under SVC now, but plan to extend this for a variety of other projects.
A bank presented their success using "Global Mirror" (IBM's asynchronous two-site replication disk mirroring capability).Their previous "business continuity" plan was called 2-20-24 for 2 sites that were 20 miles apart and recovery time objective (RTO) of 24 hours. With the events of Hurricane Katrina, this was considered inadequate, and a new2-200-6 plan was requested, across 200 miles with a recovery time objective of only 6 hours. The chose to deploythis one application at a time, to learn and grow by experience in each phase. They started with Microsoft Exchange e-mail application running under VMware on BladeCenter servers, and wereable to recover remotely within 1 hour. They are now looking to refine and automate the recovery process, perhapswith IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center for Replication and Geographically Dispersed Open Clusters (GDOC).
A healthcare provider presented their success with tiered storage, managing a 475TB mix of IBM DS8000, DS6000,DS4000 and HP EVA disk arrays. The key was having centralized storage management from IBM, which allowedthem to shrink provisioning time from 3 weeks average, to now 96% of their storage provisioning requests are completedin less than 1 week. Moving data between storage tiers was non-disruptive, and the significantcosts savings greatly justified the change in "mindset" that required some training on the new environment.
Thursday we offered a series of "workshops" on specific topics. These were interactive sessions to discuss installation, design and deployment of various solutions. The event ended early enough so that people couldreturn home, or go to the practice range, which reminded me of this inspiring video on How to play golf as well as Tiger Woods.
The event got great reviews, and I look forward to the next one. Until then, enjoy the weekend!
For those of you worried about my mysterious absence on the blogosphere, I am getting better. Sorry for not posting much lately, I have had more serious issues to worry about. I am awaiting results on whether I have Dengue fever from Brazil, Avian flu from Thailand, Malaria from Kenya, or perhaps it is just food poisoning from the otherwise fabulous French cuisine I ate last week in the South Pacific. Well, I am back in town for a while, and hopefully will recover to full health, and have some time to reflect my thoughts on storage topics.
Speaking of which, a lot has happened while I was out. Let's take a quick look.
Following our introduction of the world's first encryption-capable tape drive, the TS1120, IBM now offers higher capacity 700GB cartridges, in standard 3592 format.
The DS8000 Turbo disk system now is being offered with a flexible choice of warranty periods, 1-year, 2-year, 3-year and 4-year. Since IBM was the only one to offer 4-year warranties, it was sometimes difficult to compare apples-to-apples with our competition that offered lesser warranty periods. Now, we can match the warranty period you need, so the focus can shift on the added value the DS8000 Turbo provides at the right price.
IBM's newest low-end half-high tape drive, the TS2230 Tape Drive Express Model H3L, part of our Express portfolio of offerings designed for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB). It supports the latest LTO Generation 3 specification, so fully compatible with our larger tape systems, as well as the LTO-based gear from HP and Quantum.
Well, it's that Back-To-School time again! Mo's thirteen-year-old reluctantly enters the eight grade, still upset the summer ended so abruptly. Richard's nephew returns to the University of Arizona for another year. Natalie has chosen to move to Phoenix and pursue a post-grad degree at Arizona State University. They all have two things in common, they all want a new computer, and they are all on a budget.
Fellow blogger Bob Sutor (IBM) pointed me to an excellent article on [How to Build Your Own $200 PC], which reminded me of the [XS server I built] for my 2008 Google Summer of Code project with the One Laptop per Child organization. Now that the project is over, I have upgraded it to Ubuntu Desktop 10.04 LTS, known as Lucid Lynx. Building your own PC with your student is a great learning experience in itself. Of course, this is just the computer itself, you still need to buy the keyboard, mouse and video monitor separately, if you don't already have these.
If you are not interested in building a PC from scratch, consider taking an old Windows-based PC and installing Linux to bring it new life. Many of the older PCs don't have enough processor or memory to run Windows Vista or the latest Windows 7, but they will all run Linux.
(If you think your old system has resale value, try checking out the ["trade-in estimator"] at the BestBuy website to straighten out your misperception. However, if you do decide to sell your system, consider replacing the disk drive with a fresh empty one, or wipe the old drive clean with one of the many free Linux utilities. Jason Striegel on Engadget has a nice [HOWTO Erase your old hard disk drive] article. If you don't have your original manufacturer's Windows installation discs, installing Linux instead may help keep you out of legal hot water.)
Depending on what your school projects require, you want to make sure that you can use a printer or scanner with your Linux system. Don't buy a printer unless it is supported by Linux. The Linux Foundation maintains a [Printer Compatability database]. Printing was one of the first things I got working for my Linux-based OLPC laptop, which I documented in my December 2007 post [Printing on XO Laptop with CUPS and LPR] and got a surprising following over at [OLPC News].
To reduce paper, many schools are having students email their assignments, or use Cloud Computing services like Google Docs. Both the University of Arizona and Arizona State University use Google Docs, and the students I have talked with love the idea. Whether they use a Mac, Linux or Windows PC, all students can access Google Docs through their browser. An alternative to Google Docs is Windows Live Skydrive, which has the option to upload and edit the latest Office format documents from the Firefox browser on Linux. Both offer you the option to upload GBs of files, which could be helpful transferring data from an old PC to a new one.
Lastly, there are many free video games for Linux, for when you need to take a break from all that studying. Ever since IBM's [36-page Global Innovation Outlook 2.0] study showed that playing video games made you a better business leader, I have been encouraging all students that I tutor or mentor that playing games is a more valuable use of your time than watching television. IBM considers video games the [future of learning]. Even the [Violent Video Games are Good for Kids]. It is no wonder that IBM provides the technology that runs all the major game platforms, including Microsoft Xbox360, Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation.
(FTC disclosure: I work for IBM. IBM has working relationships with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony. I use both Google Docs and Microsoft Live Skydrive for personal use, and base my recommendations purely on my own experience. I own stock in IBM, Google and Apple. I have friends and family that work at Microsoft. I own an Apple Mac Mini and Sony PlayStation. I was a Linux developer earlier in my IBM career. IBM considers Linux a strategic operating system for both personal and professional use. IBM has selected Firefox as its standard browser internally for all employees. I run Linux both at home and at the office. I graduated from the University of Arizona, and have friends who either work or take classes there, as well as at Arizona State University.)
Linux skills are marketable and growing more in demand. Linux is used in everything from cellphones to mainframes, as well as many IBM storage devices such as the IBM SAN Volume Controller, XIV and ProtecTIER data deduplication solution. In addition to writing term papers, spreadsheets and presentations with OpenOffice, your Linux PC can help you learn programming skills, web design, and database administration.
To all the students in my life, I wish you all good things in the upcoming school year!
A few weeks ago, my Tivo(R) digital video recorder (DVR) died. All of my digital clocks in my house were flashing 12:00 so I suspect it wasa power strike while I was at the office. The only other item to die was the surge protector,and so it did what it was supposed to do, give up its own life to protect the rest of myequipment. Although somehow, it did not protect my Tivo.
I opened a problem ticket with Sony, and they sent me instructions on how to send itover to another state to get it repaired.Amusingly, the instructions included "Please make a backup of the drive contents beforesending the unit in for repair." Excuse me? How am I supposed to do that, exactly?
My model has only a single 80GB drive, and so my friend and I removed the drive and attachedit to one of our other systems to see if anything was salvageable. It failed every diagnostictest. There was just not enough to read to be usable elsewhere.
This is typical of many home systems. They are not designed for robust usage, high availability, nor any form of backup/recovery process. Some of the newer models havetwo drives in a RAID-1 mode configuration, but most have many single points of failure.
And certainly, it is not mission critical data. Life goes on without the last few episodesof Jack Bauer on "24", or the various Food Network shows that I recorded for items I planto bake some day. For the past few weeks, I have spent more time listening to the radioand reading books. Somehow, even though my television runs fine without my Tivo, watchingTV in "real time" just isn't the same.
I suspect that if you gave someone a method to do the backup, most would not bother to useit. People are now relying more and more heavily on their home-basedinformation storage systems, digital music, video and cherished photographs. Perhaps experiencing a "loss" will help them appreciate backup/recovery systems so much more than they do today.
In his blog post, [The Lure of Kit-Cars], fellow blogger Chuck Hollis (EMC) uses an excellent analogy delineating the differences between kit-cars you build from parts, versus fully-integrated systems that you can drive off the car dealership showroom lot. The analogy holds relatively well, as IT departments can also build their infrastructure from parts, or you can get fully-integrated systems from a variety of vendors.
Is this what your data center looks like?
Certainly, this debate is not new. In my now infamous 2007 post [Supermarkets and Specialty Shops], I explained that there were clients that preferred to get their infrastructure from a single IT supermarket, like IBM or HP, while others were lured into thinking that buying separate parts from butchers, bakers and candlestick makers and other specialty shops was somehow a better idea.
Chuck correctly explains that in the early years of the automobile industry, before major car manufacturers had mass-production assembly lines, putting a car together from parts was the only way cars were made. Today, only the few most avid enthusiasts build cars this way. The majority get cars from a single seller and drive away. In my post [Resolving the Identity Crisis], I postulated that EMC appeared to be trying to shed itself of the "disk-only specialty shop" image and over to be more like IBM. Not quite a full IT Supermarket, but perhaps more like a [Trader Joe's] premium-priced retailer.
(If you find that EMC's focus on integrated systems appears to be a 180-degree about-face from their historical focus on selling individual best-of-breed products, see my previous discussion of Chuck's contradictions in my blog post: [Is Storage the Next Confusopoly].)
While companies like EMC might be making this transition, there is a lot of resistance and inertia from the customer marketplace. I agree with Chuck, companies should not be building kit-cars or IT infrastructures from parts, certainly not from parts sold from different vendors. In my post [Talking about Solutions not Products], I explained how difficult it was to change behavior. CIOs, IT directors and managers need to think differently about their infrastructure. Let's take a quick look at some choices:
Following Chuck's argument, it makes no sense to build a "kit-car" combining Oracle/Sun servers with EMC storage. Oracle would argue it makes more sense to run on integrated systems, business logic on their "Exalogic" system, and database processing on their "Exadata". Benchmark after benchmark, however, IBM is able to demonstrate that Oracle applications and databases run faster on IBM systems. Customers that want to run Oracle applications can run either on a full Oracle stack, or a full IBM stack, and both do better than a kit-car including EMC parts.
HP has been working hard to keep up with IBM in this area. With their their partnership with Microsoft, and acquisitions of EDS, 3Com and 3PAR, they can certainly make a case for getting a full HP stack rather than a kit-car mixing HP servers with EMC disk storage. The problem is that HP is focused on a converged infrastructure for private cloud computing, but Microsoft is focused on Azure and public cloud computing. It will be interesting when these two big companies sort this out. Definitely watch this space.
If you squint your eyes and focus on the part of the world that only has x86 machines, then Dell can be seen as an IT supermarket. In my post about [Entry-Level iSCSI Offerings], I discuss how Dell's acquisition of EqualLogic was a signal that it was trying to get away from selling EMC specialty shop products, and building up its own set of offerings internally.
Cisco is new on the server scene, but has already made quite a splash. Here, I have to agree with Chuck's logic: the only time it makes sense to buy EMC disk storage at all is when it is part of an integrated "V-block". This is not really an IT supermarket situation, instead you park your car at the "Acadia Mini-Mall" and get what you need from Trader Joe's, Cisco UCS, and VMware stores.
But wait, if what you want is running VMware on Cisco servers, you might be better off with IBM System Storage N series or NetApp storage. In his blog post about [Enhanced Secure Multi-Tenancy], fellow Blogger Val Bercovici (NetApp) provides a convincing argument of why Cisco and VMware run better on an "N-block" rather than a "V-block". IBM N series provides A-SIS deduplication, and IBM Real-time Compression can provide additional capacity and performance improvements. That might be true, but whether you get your storage from EMC, NetApp or IBM, to me, you are still working with three different vendors in any case.
Of course, following Chuck's logic, it makes more sense for people with IBM servers, whether they be mainframes, POWER systems or x86 machines, to integrate these with IBM storage, IBM software and IBM services. IBM is the leading reseller of VMware, but also has a lot of business with Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix Xen, Linux KVM, PowerVM, PR/SM and z/VM. While IBM has market leading servers, disk and tape systems, to compete for those RFP bids that just ask for one component or another, it prefers to sell fully-integrated systems, which IBM has been doing successfully since the 1950s.
Back in 2007, I mentioned how IBM's fully-integrated InfoSphere Balanced Warehouse [Trounced HP and Sun]. For business analytics, IBM offers the fully-integrated [IBM Smart Analytics Systems]. Today, IBM expanded its line of fully-integrated private cloud service delivery platforms with the announcement of the [IBM CloudBurst for on Power Systems], which does for POWER7 what the IBM CloudBurst for System x, Oracle Exalogic, or Acadia's V-block, do for x86.
IBM estimates that private clouds built on Power systems can be up to 70 percent less expensive than stand alone x86 servers.
Before he earned his PhD in Mechanical Engineering, my father was a car mechanic. I spent much of my teenage years covered in grease, helping my father assembling cars, lifting engines, and rebuilding carburetors. Certainly this was good father-son time, and I certainly did learn something in the process. Like the automobile industry, the IT industry has matured, and it makes no financial sense to build your own IT infrastructure from parts from different vendors.
For a test drive of the industry's leading integrated IT systems, see your IBM sales rep or IBM Business Partner.
The author is wondering whether EMC will try to avoid the fate of Hitachi's mainframebusiness, focusing on "moving into the IBM field" of offering software and services for more complete solutions.
Interestingly, one comment opines that EMC's acquisition of Documentum was "followed" byIBM's acquisition of FileNet, not realizing that IBM already has the leading documentmanagement software (IBM Content Manager).
Another comment cites IBM's recent push of Xen asanother example "following" EMC's acquisition of VMware, again not realizing that IBM has hadLogical Partition (LPAR) capability in its System z, System p and System i server lines formany years.
"IBM says revenue for its mainframe business rose 32% in the second quarter compared with a year earlier, easily outpacing overall sales growth of 13%.A big driver was February's launch of IBM's next-generation mainframe line, the z10, its first big upgrade since 2004. IBM spent about $1.5 billion on the new line.
With their power and size, mainframes have some unique advantages over (distributed) servers. Many companies cobble together many servers, powered by industry standard chips made by Intel (INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices, (AMD) to do jobs that were once the province of mainframes. IBM, too, sells such servers.
IBD: Can you tell me more about this business?
Gelardi: Traditionally, the mainframe was the back-office powerhouse for batch and transactional processing — sort of the thing behind banks, the thing behind retailers, the thing behind insurance companies.
It's the thing that, if you screw this up, you just gave your whole business away. The new thing, which is really sort of the second driver of growth, is the introduction of Linux (an open-source operating system popular with some servers) on the mainframe. Z-Linux (IBM's Linux mainframe software) is where we have been able to drive substantially new workloads to the mainframe.
IBD: Why is the mainframe business important to IBM?
Gelardi: It's a very differentiated product environment where we feel very confident that we can say to a client, look, we built this thing from the casters all the way up; the software stack, all the way up. We've built into this a level of performance and scalability and efficiency. We're very, very confident that we can resolve any issue (for customers).
Let me give you an example. If I take (1,500 Intel) servers . . . and put them on a single mainframe, I'll have no performance problems whatsoever. But I'm taking all of that workload that was on 1,500 separate servers and consolidating them on one mainframe. While it may be a million-dollar machine and up, it's actually cheaper than those 1,500 servers.
IBD: What are some big drivers for your clients today?
Gelardi: Energy. If you look at a workload on a previous generation mainframe, z9, for the equivalent performance on a z10, I'm going to use 15% less energy for the same amount of performance.
Look at the (physical data-center space) in the industry. The question used to be, "How much space do you want?" The question now is, "How much energy are you going to consume?" It's more efficient to manage the work loads inside the larger (mainframe).
IBD: So, you're saying that using a mainframe addresses these modern problems better than servers?
IBD: Is it hard to convince people of that?
Gelardi: It's a legitimate question for clients who never had a mainframe. There are a few. (In those cases) it will probably be more complicated (to convince them).
However, a year or so ago we put out a press release about an entertainment (company). Their story was, "We're going to build a new gaming environment." Long story short, they said, "Why not use the mainframe?" There are new clients coming to the mainframe.
IBD: Do mainframes help other IBM businesses?
Gelardi: Clearly. I have very broad coverage. We are the server vendor. We have the storage capacity; we have the operating environment; we have the software stack, (including) Websphere, Tivoli, DB2. We have the services capabilities. We have the consulting capability. You can sort of go on. It becomes an ecosystem that is really valuable to the company at large.
IBD: What mainframe customers were active in the second quarter?
Gelardi: Interesting enough (given the state of the industry), the financial services sector was very strong. That was particularly true in the Americas and in Europe. We have a pretty broad spread (of users), but there is no question that financial services is a core market."
IBM offers a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than HP or Sun can offer. For more about the IBM System z10 EC, see my posts last month:
'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.' --- George Santayana
This last week of 2006 seems like a good time to recap the past year, and review the upcoming new year.That said, a good start is PC World's Top 21 Tech Screwups of 2006.
Laptops made the news this year in a variety of ways. #1 was exploding batteries,and #6 were the stolen laptops that exposed private personal information. Someone I knowwas listed in one of these stolen databases, so this last one hits close to home. Securityis becoming a bigger issue now, and IBM was the first to deliver device-based encryptionwith the TS1120 enterprise tape drive.
IBM makes the chips used in all the major game consoles: Microsoft's Xbox 360, Nintendo's Wii,and Sony's PlayStation 3. Being all based on IBM technology doesn'tmake the games interoperable or compatible, and in the case of Sony, it made #8 for being incompatible with their own PlayStation 2.Sadly, Nintendo's Wii had its own set of problems, and I found this parody of asafety video on YouTubeyou might enjoy.
Microsoft had #5 (not understanding the holiday shopping season ends in December), #12 (not understanding people who use PCs prefer privacy), and #17 (not understanding how people useMP3 music players). At least they delivered their latest Xbox with minimal problems.As an engineer, taking on a market strategy role involved reading books and taking classeson marketing. I learned that it is all about understanding the marketplace well enoughso that your prospects "know, like, and trust" your company. Perhaps Microsoft should take a refresher course.
A few companies showed off their brilliant customer service. Comcast is representedin a video on #7, and AOL in a taped phone conversation on #15. Many of our clients areafraid of vendor lock-in, and how difficult it might be to undo the deployment of new storagetechnology. Fortunately, IBM is committed to open standards, making it easier for our clientsto make the right choice and feel good about it.
Hopefully, we can all learn from the mistakes of others, and not repeat them in 2007.
On his blog post on preparation, Seth Godin mentioned an appropriate Swedish saying:
There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.
Appropriate because it snowed here in Tucson, Arizona on Sunday evening, leaving many of us here figuring out how to drive through the stuff on Monday. In my entire lifetime, I have only witness snow down in the Tucson valley a handful of times. It got me thinking about coats, and the wonderful schemes for coat check rooms, as an analogy for data access. A lot of people ask me to compare and contrast one technology from another, say block-level virtualization from content-addressable storage, and so on, and I always try to find a good analogy to help explain things.
Let's start with the setting. It is snowing outside and people are wearing coats. When they come inside, they check their coats at a coat check room, a large room with rows and rows of racks with hangers. A coat check attendant takes your coat and puts it on a hanger, and gives you a ticket or other identifier that will allow you to retrieve your coat later. The ticket must have sufficient information to retrieve the coat quickly, rather than searching rows and rows of hangers for it.
Block-based disk storage
You walk to the coat-check desk, tell the attendant to hang your coat on a specific hanger, say hanger number 387. When you come back, you ask for the coat on hanger 387. The coat-check attendant knows exactly where hanger 387 is, and is able to retrieve it quickly. Most disk systems use this approach, including IBM SAN Volume Controller and DS family of disk systems.
Name-based disk storage
You walk to the coat-check desk, tell the person the name that you want to call your coat. An empty hanger is located, and a list of coat names, with their associated hanger number, is then kept. Upon return, you ask for your coat by name, and the coat-check attendant looks up the hanger number to match, and retrieves your coat. This is the scheme used by the IBM System Storage DR550, N series for NAS storage, and the IBM Healthcare and Life Sciences Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS).
Content-addressable storage (CAS)
You walk to the coat-check desk and hand them your coat. The attendant weighs your coat, checks the brand, the size, the number of buttons and zippers, types it all in, and the computer spits out a "hash code" from 1 to 99999. An empty hanger is found, and the hash code is associated to the hanger number. Upon return, you provide the hash code you were given, and the coat-check attendant looks up the hanger number to match, and retrieves your coat.This is the scheme used for some non-erasable, non-rewriteable storage, such as the EMC Centera.
IBM invented hash codes in 1953 as a way to speed up searches. For example, if you want to look up a word in the dictionary, knowing the first letter of the word makes it much quicker, because you can thumb directly to that section. A hash code was intended to give a more even distribution, so that if a million words are stored in a "hash code dictionary" then you would calculate the hash code, then look up only that section of words associated with that specific hash code number.
A problem arises when you generate "hash codes" for storage. It is possible for two different pieces of data to resolve to the same hash code. When an application tries to write a piece of data, and it resolves to a hash code that already exists, that is called a collision. One response is to either compare the incoming data to the data that is already stored, confirm they are identical, but that can be time consuming. The other response is to just assume they are identical, and reject the secondary copy, a process often referred to as "de-duplication".
What's the chance of getting a collision for data that is really different? Let's take for example the famousBirthday paradox. Suppose the coat check room assigned the hanger based on your birthday (month and day). How may coats before you run the risk of having two people turn in coats with the same birthday? After only 23 people, the likelihood is 50%. At 60 people, it goes up to 99%.
For this reason, IBM does not offer content-addressable storage. For non-erasable, non-rewriteable storage, the IBM System Storage DR550 requires the application to give each object a name, and that name is then used to storage the data, eliminating the possibility that data might accidently be thrown away.
I got an interesting email from a new blogger asking me for advice on how frequently to post entries.I am probably not the right person to ask, as I blog whenever a thought comes to mind that I think otherswould enjoy reading, and sometimes that means several times a day, and other times only a few per month.I actually have a day job, busy doing other things, and blogging is just now part of my general set of activities.My focus is quality not quantity.
With that in mind, I was delightfully surprised that this blog was ranked among theTop 10 Storage Blogs by Network World, which explains my recent spike in traffic.
I shared the news with my 72-year-old father, and he exclaimed "There are actually 10 or more blogsto cover the IT storage industry?" He couldn't understand why the world would read more than two or three. I personally track thirty-five of them, and I suspect there are hundredsothers out there. Of these, some blog quite regularly, while others do not, so I am in good company. Deni Connor, the author who selected these top 10, gave a nice general complement tothe entire list of blogs:
The blogs written by storage company executives can be surprisingly vendor-agnostic, though the analysts and consultants still tend to pull fewer punches.
And this was my goal as well, to enlighten and entertain, in a fair and balanced manner, that adds value to the blogosphere, rather than just repeat the IBM press releases of each day. If you are just looking for "announcements" there is an RSS feed for IBM System Storage you cansubscribe to.
Not surprisingly, two of the blog entries that Deni mentions are the ones I get the most comments on:
ILM for my iPod tried to explain Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) into laymen terms that everyone could understand. As an engineer-turned-marketeer, explaining technology and concepts into laymen terms is something I find myself doing a lot to help others grasp what is otherwise rather complex industry we are in. Not surprisingly, many IBMers were not aware they were eligible for discounts on Apple products like the iPod, and thanked me for pointing them to this.
Aperi is "Viagra" for SMI-S which has now become my infamous blog entry within the halls of IBM. I chose this term over "steroids" given the various scandals involving famous athletes that were going on at the time. To this day,if you search Google for "Tony Pearson" AND "Viagra" you get this blog entry at the top of the list. Oneco-worker overheard that I had "used Viagra" only to later find out they were referring to the fact that I "used Viagra as a metaphor in the title of a blog entry". And that was the real issue, not that I used the term in a popular vernacular that might not translate well into other languages, or that I failed to attribute this as a trademark that belonged to its respective manufacturer, but that it was in the title itself, and thus the URL became "aperi_is_viagra_for_smi" when published in newspapers and press releases. I have since learned to be more careful when phrasing the titles of my blog entries.
I began my year-end vacation today, but like exercising at the gym, I will try to keep up with my blogging over these next two weeks. Especially for those readers out there doing end-of-year storage infrastructure changes. This blog is for you.[Read More]