Often, when looking at disk storage it is easy to focus on comparisons to other disk storage, but disruptive technologies cross boundaries. Already we have seen Flash Memory drives on the IBM BladeCenter, replacing traditional disk drives internal to each blade server. They are smaller than regular disk drives, but big enough to hold the operating system to boot from.
The New York Times has an article by John Markoff, Redefining the Architecture of Memory that talks about IBM's research on "Racetrack Memory".The article is a good read, but here are some interesting excerpts:
Now, if an idea that Stuart S. P. Parkin is kicking around in an I.B.M. lab here is on the money, electronic devices could hold 10 to 100 times the data in the same amount of space.
Currently the flash storage chip business is exploding. Used as storage in digital cameras, cellphones and PCs, the commercially available flash drives with multiple memory chips store up to 64 gigabytes of data.
However, flash memory has an Achilles’ heel. Although it can read data quickly, it is very slow at storing it. That has led the industry on a frantic hunt for alternative storage technologies that might unseat flash.
Mr. Parkin’s new approach, referred to as “racetrack memory,” could outpace both solid-state flash memory chips as well as computer hard disks, making it a technology that could transform not only the storage business but the entire computing industry.
But ultimately, the technology may have even more dramatic implications than just smaller music players or wristwatch TVs, said Mark Dean, vice president for systems at I.B.M. Research.“Something along these lines will be very disruptive,” he said. “It will not only change the way we look at storage, but it could change the way we look at processing information. We’re moving into a world that is more data-centric than computing-centric.”
This technology has the potential to break some of the physical limitations that are currently worrying disk drive designers. I look forward to see how this plays out.
technorati tags: IBM, Stuart Parkin, Mark Dean, racetrack, memory, storage, disk, flash, disruptive technology
I was in Raleigh this week, in business meetings, and had dinner last night at a Japanese Tepanyaki restaurant. The man next to me was dining alone, and said he worked for Cisco, a big company, "Had you heard of it?" he asked. Of course, I told him, I work for IBM, and IBM and Cisco have a strong working relationship, using each others products in both directions. He said he understood why they would use IBM, but why would IBM buy anything from them, and then he said, "Oh yes, your cafeteria".
At this point we realized he was talking about SYSCO, the food company, not Cisco, the storage networking technology partner. We both had a good laugh.
Which brings me to think of other "mis-heard" or "mis-interpreted" items that might have caught people off guard because they sounded similarly.
- zFS versus ZFS
Some things are case-sensitive. Lower case zFS is the hierarchical file system for the z/OS mainframe environment, which was originally called "episode" file system that IBM acquired from TransArc. z/OS supports two file systems, HFS and zFS. Meanwhile, ZFS is one of the file systems available for Sun Solaris. Apple Mac OS is switching from its own HFS, different than the z/OS version, over the Sun's ZFS.
- packs versus PACS
Older mainframers call disk volumes "packs". This started in the days where disks were "removable" and you can pack and unpack them into the drive unit.
PACS on the other hand refers to the "Picture Archive and Communication System" application environment used by hospitals and medical facilities to storage and share X-ray, Cardiology and Radiology images. Today, modern medical equipment are called "modalities" and directly connect to NAS storage via NFS or CIFS protocols. The images are immediately digitized and sent to disk, then tape, for long-term archive storage. IBM's Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS) is designed specifically for this environment.
- rack versus RAC
Perhaps my favorite was when someone asked a high-level executive at a conference if their storage product supported Oracle RAC, and the response was that it supported anyone's rack, so long as it met the 19 inch standard. Everyone burst out laughing, and he probably had to be explained what was going on afterward.
Oracle RAC refers to Real Application Cluster, allowing multiple Oracle servers to work together as a system. A "rack" is just the powered shelf, typically 19" wide, and typically 25U or 42U tall, that allows modular servers, storage or network gear be placed together in a data center. A "U" is 1.75 inches, the thickness of a "two-by-four" piece of lumber. If you have ever used a 3.5 inch or 5.25 inch floppy diskette, then you already know the 2U and 3U sizes.
I am sure there are many other examples of similar sounding terms and phrases. If you have any to contribute, post a comment below!
technorati tags: IBM, Sysco, Cisco, zFS, Transarc, episode, Sun, Solaris, Apple, Mac, OSX, HFS, rack, Oracle, RAC, 25U, 42U, floppy, diskette, pack, PACS, X-ray, cardiology, radiology, modality
Today I spoke at the IBM Think Green Roadshow in Phoenix, Arizona. This is justone of a 15-city tour to help make people aware of Green data center issues.Here is the schedule forthe remaining cities. Contact your local IBM rep for details.
Victor Ferreira was our moderator and host. He is the site level executive for the2000 IBM employees in the Phoenix area, and manages the Public Sector for our Westernregion.
The first speaker was Dave McCoy, IBM principal in our Data Center services group.He explained IBM's Project Big Green and the Energy Efficiency Initiative, and wentinto details on how IBM can act as general contractor to design, plan and build theideal Green Data Center for you. IBM can also retrofit existing buildings, with new technologies like stored cooling, optimized airflow assessments, and modulardata center floorspace. While not related to energy, but still important to ourenvironment was IBM Asset Recovery Services, where IBM can take all those old PCmonitors, keyboards and other outdated equipment and refurbish or melt down to recapture useful metals and plastics, and disposing the rest in an environmentally-friendly,non-toxic manner.
I was the second speaker, covering "How to get it done". While Dave covered the issuesand technologies available, I explained how to put it all into practice. This includesIT systems assessments, health audits, and thermal profiling. Using server and storagevirtualization, you can increase resource utilization and reduce energy waste. IBM's CoolBlueproduct line, which includes the IBM PowerExecutive software to monitor your IT environment, and the "Rear Door Heat Exchanger" that uses chilled water to remove asmuch as 60% of the heat coming out of the back of a server rack, greatly reducing hot-spotson the data center floor, and allowing you to run the entire room at warmer, less-expensivetemperatures.
On the server side, I covered IBM's System z mainframe and the BladeCenter as examples of how innovative technologies can be used to run more applications with less energy. The newSystem p570 based on the energy-intelligent POWER6 processor has twice the performance for the same amountof power as its POWER5 predecessor. On thestorage side, I explained how Information Lifecycle Management (ILM), storage virtualization,and the use of a blended disk and tape environment can greatly reduce energy costs.
Reps from our many technology partners Eaton, APC, Schneider Electric, Liebert, and Anixter werethere to support this event.
The session ended with a Q&A Panel, with Dave McCoy, myself, and Greg Briner from IBM GlobalFinancing. IBM is able to offer creative "project financing" that can often times match theactual monthly savings, resulting in net zero cost to your operational budget, with payback periods as little as 2.5 years.
To learn more about IBM's efforts to help clients create "Green" data centers, clickGreen Data Center.
technorati tags: IBM, Green Data Center, Project Big Green, Energy Efficiency Initiative, Eaton, APC, Scheider Electric, Liebert, Anixter, BladeCenter, POWER6, p570, ILM, disk, tape, Dave McCoy, Greg Briner, Victor Ferreira, Phoenix, Arizona
Forrester Research has a paper that discusses how Storage Providers Are Divided Into Generalists And Specialists
. The studyfocuses on the buying behaviour of enterprises in North America. Here is an excerpt of their executive summary:
To get beyond the simple statistics of vendor popularity, we looked at the number and combinations of vendors with which enterprises work. Many were customers of one or two storage providers, but the rest were customers of up to six storage providers. More than one-third were customers of systems vendors only, bypassing storage specialists.
Comparisons between solutions vendors and storage component vendors are not new. One could argue that this can be compared to supermarkets and specialty shops.
- Supermarkets offer everything you need to prepare a meal. You can buy your meat, bread, cheese,and extras all with one-stop shopping. In a sense, IBM, HP, Sun and Dell are offering this to clients who prefer this approach. Not surprisingly, the two leaders in overall storage hardware,IBM and HP, are also the two best to offer a complete set of software, services, servers and storage.
This is especially true for small and medium sized businesses (SMB). The Register writesIBM and HP the most loved x86 server vendors of all, beating out other solution providers Dell and Sun.
IBM and HP are also the leaders in tape.While Forrester reports that many large enterprises in North America prefer to buy diskfrom storage specialists, others have found that customers prefer to buy their tape from solution providers. Recently, Byte and Switch reports thatLTO Hits New Milestones,where the LTO consortium (IBM, HP, and Quantum) have collectively shipped over 2 million LTO tape drives, and over 80 million LTO tape cartridges. Perhaps this is because tape is part of an overallbackup, archive or space management solution, and customers trust a solution vendor overa storage specialist.
Where possible, IBM brings synergy between its servers and storage. For example, we justannounced the IBM BladeCenter Boot Disk System, a 2U high unit that supports up to 28 blade servers, ideal for applications running under Windows or Linux, and helping to reduce the energy consumption for thoseinterested in a "Green" data center.
- Specialty shops
- Some people prefer buying their meat at the slaughterhouse, bread at the French pastry shop, andso on. Storage specialists focus on just storage, leaving the rest of the solution, like servers,to be purchased separately from someone else. Storage vendors like NetApp, EMC, HDS and othersoffer storage components to customers that like to do their own "system integration", or to thosethat are large enough to hire their own "systems integrator".
Storage specialists recognize that not everybody is a "specialty shop" shopper.HDS has done well selling their disk through solution vendorslike HP and Sun. EMC sells its gear through solution vendor Dell.
Interestingly, I have met clients who prefer to buy IBM System Storage N series from IBM, becauseIBM is a solution vendor, and others that prefer to buy comparable NetApp equipment directly fromNetApp, because they are a storage component vendor.
I mostly buy my groceries at a supermarket, buthave, on occasion, bought something from the local butcher, baker or candlestick maker. And if you are ever in Tucson, you might be able to find Mexican tamalessold by a complete stranger standing outside of a Walgreens pharmacy, the ultimate extreme of specialization. You can get a dozen tamales for tenbucks, and in my experience they are usually quite good. Theoretically, if you get sick, or they don't taste right, you have no recourse, and will probably never see that stranger again to complain to.(And no, before I get flamed, I am not implying any major vendor mentioned above is like this tamale vendor)
Of course, nothing is starkly black and white, and comparisons like this are just to help provide context and perspective,but if you are looking to have a complete IT solutionthat works, from software and servers to storage and financing, come to the vendor you can trust, IBM.
technorati tags: IBM, EMC, HP, Dell, Sun, NetApp, HDS, BladeCenter, boot, disk, storage, system, blade, server, LTO, Ultrium, tape, drive, cartridge, shipments, Mexican, tamales, Walgreens
The smart people at the University of Pittsburgh
manage five campuses and over 33,000 students, andneeded to create an enterprise storage solution that would give it three key benefits. Of course, they turnedto IBM, the number one overall storage hardware vendor, to deliver.
- A new storage infrastructure with the capacity to grow with the University of Pittsburgh as needed
- Improved system reliability with reduced downtime, and availability 24/7/365
- A significantly more manageable storage solution that could lower costs and provide better system efficiency through virtualization
As a result, IBM shipped its 25,000th high-end disk storage system, in this case two IBM System Storage DS8300 models, along with storage virtualization, and other related hardware, software and services, to provide a complete end-to-end solution.
Here is what Jinx Walton, Director of Computing Services and Systems Development at the University of Pittsburgh, had to say about it...
"The University of Pittsburgh supports large enterprise systems, and the number and complexity of new systems continue to grow. To effectively manage these systems it was necessary to identify an enterprise storage solution that would leverage our existing investments in storage, make allocation of storage flexible and responsive to project needs, provide centralized management, and offer the reliability and stability we require. The integrated IBM storage solution met these requirements"
You can read the details in the official IBM press release.
technorati tags: IBM, University, Pittsburgh, DS8300, Jinx Walton, SVC, SAN Volume Controller, services, Productivity Center, software