This week I am in Japan, so my week's theme will center around travel, speaking at conferences, and Japan itself. I first travelled to Japan in the late 1980s, to visit a college friend who was working for Ford Motor Company, on assignment in Japan as liasion to Mazda Corp.
Back then, the only Japanese phrase I knew was "Wakarimashta" which means "I know" or "I understand". If you only know one phrase in a foreign language, this possibly could be the worst to know.
My second trip, I was better prepared. I learned three "survival phrases":
sumimasen - "I'm sorry/excuse me"
These are great phrases to know individually, but even more powerful strung all together, to emphasize that you will begin speaking English, but at least with good reason (and perhaps a bit of irony.)
I've been to Japan many times since, and have picked up more of the language. When travelling to Japan, or anywhere for that matter, it is important to "pack light". I'll be gone for two weeks, but all I bring is a laptop bag and one carry-on piece of luggage.
I went on a trip to Prague (Czech Republic) with a female co-worker who brought FOUR pieces of luggage. One was just for shoes. Another piece was just for hair styling gel, make-up, face creams and finger nail polish. Today, the rules are different, and the TSA allows only a single quart-size plastic bag containing little jars of 3 ounces or less of liquids or gels. I didn't have any "quart-size" bags, so I used a smaller sandwich-size bag.
What does all this have to do with storage? I've helped many clients move data centers, and this involves moving their servers, their networks, and their storage. Servers and Networks are easy to move, but storage presents some challenges. In many cases, the entire company is shut down, the storage is moved, and then the company is operational again. Needless to say, it is best to do this over a weekend.
I tell clients to "pack light" and figure out what data they really need in the move. What do you really need to operate your business? Bring just that, the rest can arrive later.
This same concept applies for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery planning. What do you really need after a disaster occurs? Can you run your business for a few weeks on that data, until the rest of the data is restored? If you can't run your entire business on that data, can you run your most important parts of your business?
If you run a bank, perhaps keeping your ATM cash machines running is more important than making out new loans. In Japan, if a bank has any outages that impact their ATM machines, they put out a full page advertisement in the local papers to apologize for the inconvenience.
Business Continuity is one of the nine "Infrastructure Solutions" that IBM can help clients with. If you are interested in learning more on how IBM can help you with your Business Continuity, click here.
Today, in the US, is Martin Luther King day. There is a good post about this by Seth Godin.Dr. King had a vision for the future, and is most remembered by his speech that began: "I have a dream..."
IBM also has a vision for the future, and like Martin Luther King's speech, is startingto enable change. Last February 2006, IBM launched "Information on Demand", a visionthat involves bringing together our hardware, software, and services.
The impact has not gone unnoticed. Barron's featured IBM in an article titled "The New IBM".
I suspect bloggers helped get the word out. Here's a graph fromYahoo! Financeshowing the IBM stock price over the pastsix months. This blog started in September, when stock was in the low 80's, and now it is in thehigh 90's. I can't take all the credit, of course, as there are now over 3000 IBMers blogging, either inside thecompany, or externally to the rest of the world.
And the future continues to look bright.Greg over at IBMeye feels thatIBM stock poised for anotherstrong year.
If the analysts are right, 2007 is going to be a good year!
Stephen Colbert, of The Colbert Report, explains the name changes in recent mergers of the Telecommunications industry. A discussion on "changing names" and how that impacts storage seems like a good way to wrap up the week's theme on naming conventions.
Name changes are sometimes painful, but often times done for a purpose, such as to promote a family. In the US, when a man and woman marries, the woman often changes her family name to match her husband, and the kids all adopt the father's family name. I say "often" because there are times where the woman keeps her name, or adds to it in a hyphenated way. ABC News reported that a Man Fights to Take Wife's Name in Marriage. KipEsquire, a lawyer, writes about it in his blogA stitch in haste.
IT industry changes the names of products that people knew as something else. Other times, they re-use an existing name, when really it is or should be different from the original. Last year, I took on the job of helping transition from our brand "TotalStorage" to the "System Storage" product line under the new "IBM Systems" brand. I help decide what stays the same name or what changes, when it should change, and how to announce that change.
On the disk side, IBM renamed Fibre Array Storage Technology, or FAStT, which was pronounced exactly like "fast", to DS4000 series. This was a big improvement, as people couldn't seem to spell it properly, with variations like "FastT". Nor could people pronounce it properly, saying "fast-tee" instead. The advantage of "DS" is that it is both easy to spell, and easy to pronounce. The DS4000 series continues to be "fast", providing excellent performance for its midrange price category.
IBM's Enterprise Storage Server (ESS) line went from model E10, to F20, to 750 and 800. When IBM came out with its replacement, the IBM TotalStorage DS8000, some people asked why it wasn't named the ESS 900, for example. The DS8000 is quite different internally, new hardware design and implementation, but is highly compatible with the ESS line, and shares much of the same functionality from microcode. Last year, it was replaced by the IBM System Storage DS8000 Turbo. Again, newer hardware, so it was easy to justify the new name change from "TotalStorage" to "System Storage".
Renaming a product risks losing its certifications and awards. For example, IBM spent a lot of time and money getting the OS/390 operating system certified as a "UNIX" platform. When it was renamed to z/OS, IBM had to do it all over again. Learning from this experience, IBM decided not to rename the SAN Volume Controllerto a new designation like "DS5750", as it enjoys the "number one" spot on both the SPC-1 and SPC-2 performance benchmarks, and is recognized as the leader in the disk storage virtualization marketplace. Renaming this product would mean losing that collateral.
IBM's "other disk systems" the N series posed another set of challenges. The current DS line already has entry-level (DS3000), midrange (DS4000) and enterprise-class (DS6000 and DS8000) products. The OEM agreement that IBM has with Network Appliance (NetApp) resulted in a new set of entry-level, midrange, and enterprise-class products. But these didn't fit nicely into the DS3000-to-DS8000 continuum. Instead, IBM decided to go with N series, using N3000 for entry-level, N5000 for midrange, and N7000 for enterprise-class. These are different than the numbers used by NetApp for their comparable, but not identical, offerings.
On the tape side, IBM decided to name the tape drives TS1000 and TS2000 range, tape libraries and automation with a TS3000 range, and tape virtualization to the TS7000 range. A lot of tape products already had 3000 numbering that had to change to fit this new scheme. This is why IBM's popular 3592 tape drive was renamed to the TS1120. The replacement to the 3494 Virtual Tape Server was named TS7700 Virtualization Engine.
Obviously, you can't change the names of products that are currently in the field, but what about existing software with minor updates? IBM decided to leave "TotalStorage Produtivity Center" under the "TotalStorage" brand until it has a significant version upgrade. Many people say "TPC" as a convenient acronym when referring to this product, but TPC is a registered trademark of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) to refer to its "Tournament Players Club".
How can anyone confuse "managing storage" with "playing golf"? One activity is full of frustration that takes years or decades to master, involving the need to understand a variety of equipment and techniques to use each properly to accomplish your goals; and the other is an enjoyable activity, immediately productive in front of a single pane of glass managing all of your DAS, SAN and NAS storage, from reporting on your files and databases to managing storage networks and tape libraries.
Enjoy the weekend!
technorati tags: Stephen Colbert, Colbert Report, Telecommunications industry, KipEsquire, IBM, FAStT, DS4000, DS3000, DS8000, OS/390, UNIX, z/OS, SAN Volume Controller, N series, TS1120, TS7700, TotalStorage Productivity Center, TPC, PGA, Golf[Read More]
Last week, Paul Weinberg of eChannelLine.com asks Is this the year of the SAN (again)?So, I thought this week I would cover my thoughts and opinions on storage networking. We oftenfocus on servers or storage devices, and forget that the network in between is an entire worldon itself.
I believe Mr. Weinberg is basing this on the idea that in 2007, over 50 percent of disk will beattached over SAN, edging out the alternative: Direct Attached Storage (DAS). But perhaps 50 percentis the wrong number to focus on. In 2007, The United Nations estimates thatcities will surpass rural areas, with just over 50 percent of theworld's population. Does that make this the "Year of the City"? Of course not.
Instead, I prefer to use the methodology that Malcolm Gladwell uses in his book, The Tipping Point.(I have read this book and highly recommend it!)Gladwell indicates that the tipping point happens at the start of the epidemic, not when it is half over.Isn't it better to celebrate the sweet 16 debutante ball when young ladies have completed their years of training and preparation, and are ready to be introduced to the rest of the world, rather than after they are thirty-something, married with children.
Let's explore some of the history. Stuart Kendric has a nice 7-page summary on theHistory & Plumbing of SANs.
IBM announced the first SAN technology calledEnterprise Systems Connection (ESCON) way back in September 1990. This allowed multiplemainframe servers to connect to multiple storage systems over equipment called "ESCON Directors" that directedtraffic from point A to point B. Before this, mainframes sent "ChannelCommand Words" or CCWs, across parallel "bus and tag" copper cables. ESCON was serial overfiber optic wiring. SANs solved two problems: first, it reduced the "rat's nest" of cables between many serversand many storage systems, and second, it extended the distance between server and storage device.
For distributed systems running UNIX or Windows, the CCW-equivalent over parallel cables was called Small ComputerSystem Interface (SCSI). The SCSI command had over 1000 command words, so for its Advanced Technology (AT) personal computers (PC AT), IBM introduced a subset of SCSI commands called ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment). ATA drives supportedfewer commands, ran at slower speeds, and were manufactured with a less rigorous process. Today ATA drives are about 55 percent the cost per MB as comparable SCSI drives.
Anyone who has ever opened their PC and found flat ribbon cable with eight or sixteen wires in parallel, can understand that the same issues applied externally. Parallel technologies arelimited to distance and speed, as all the bits have to arrive at the end of the wire at approximately thesame time. Direct attach schemes with every server attaches directly to every storage device were also problematic.Imagine 100 servers connected to 100 storage devices, that would be 10,000 wires!
So, a new technology standard was developed, called Fibre Channel, ratified in 1994.The spelling of "Fibre" was intentionally made different than "Fiber" on purpose. "Fibre" is a protocol thatcan travel over copper or glass wires. "Fiber" represents the glass wiring itself.
Fibre Channel is amazingly versatile. For today's Linux, UNIX and Windows servers, it can carry SCSI commands, and the combination of SCSI over FC is called Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP). For the mainframe servers, it can carry CCW commands. Running CCW over Fibre Channel is called FICON. This convergence allows mainframes and distributed systems to share a common Fibre Channel network, using the same set of switches and directors.
We saw the use of SANs explode in the marketplace over the past 10 years, and then cool down with a series of mergers and acquisitions. Last year, Brocade announced it was acquiring rival McData, so we will be down to two major players, Cisco and Brocade.
So, IMHO, I think we are well past the "Year of the SAN".