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
Storage Networking World conference is over, and the buzz from the analysts appears to be focused onXiotech's low-cost RAID brick (LCRB) called Intelligent Storage Element, or ISE.
(Full disclosure: I work for IBM, not Xiotech, in case there weren't enough IBM references on this blog page to remindyou of that. I am writing this piece entirely from publicly available sources of information, and notfrom any internal working relationships between IBM and Xiotech. Xiotech is a member of the IBM BladeCenteralliance and our two companies collaborate together in that regard.)
Fellow blogger Jon Toigo in his DrunkenData blog posted [I’m Humming “ISE ISE Baby” this Week] and then a follow-up post[ISE Launches]. I looked up Xiotech's SPC-1benchmark numbers for the Emprise 5000 with both 73GB and 146GB drives, and at 8,202 IOPS per TB, does not seem to be as fast as IBM SAN VolumeControllers 11,354 IOPS per TB. Xiotech offers an impressive 5 year warranty (by comparison, IBM offers up to 4 years, and EMC I think is stillonly 90 days).Jon also wrote a review in [Enterprise Systems]that goes into more detail about the ISE.
Fellow blogger Robin Harris in his StorageMojo blog posted [SNW update - Xiotech’s ISE and the dilithium solution], feeling that Xiotech should win the "Best Announcement at SNW" prize. He points to the cool video on the[Xiotech website]. In that video, they claim 91,000 IOPS.Given that it took forty(40) 73GB drives (or 4 datapacs) in the previous example to get 8,202 IOPS for 1TB usable, I am guessing the 91,000 IOPS is probably 44 datapacs (440 drives) glommed together, representing 11TB usable.The ISE design appears very similar to the "data modules" used in IBM's XIV Nextra system.
Fellow blogger Mark Twomey from EMC in his StorageZilla blog posted[Xiotech: Industry second]correctly points out that Xiotech's 520-byte block (512 bytes plus extra for added integrity) was not the firstin the industry. Mark explains that EMC CLARiiON had this since the early 1990's, and implies in the title that this must have been the first in the industry, making Xiotech an industry second. Sorry Mark, both EMC and Xiotech were late to the game. IBM had been using 520-byte blocksize on its disk since 1980 with the System/38. This system morphed to the AS/400, and the blocksize was bumped up to 522 bytes in 1990, and is now called the System i, where the blocksize was bumped up yet again to 528 bytes in 2007.
While IBM was clever to do this, it actually means fewer choices for our System i clients, being only able to chooseexternal disk systems that explicitly support these non-standard blocksize values, such as the IBM System Storage DS8000and DS6000 series. (Yes, BarryB, IBM still sells the DS6000!) The DS6000 was specifically designed with the System i and smaller System z mainframes in mind, and in that niche does very well. Fortunately, as I mentioned in my February post [Getting off the island - the new i5/OS V6R1], IBM has now used virtualization, in the form of the VIOS logical partition, to allow i5/OS systems to attach to standard 512-byte block devices, greatly expanding the storage choices for our clients.
(Side note: SNW happens twice per year, so the challenge is having something new and fresh to talk about each time. While Andy Monshaw, General Manager of IBM System Storage, highlighted some of the many emerging technologies in his keynote address, IBM shipped on many of them prior to his last appearance in October 2007: thin provisioning in the IBM System Storage N series, deduplication in the IBM System Storage N series Advanced Single Instance Storage (A-SIS) feature, and Solid State Disk (SSD) drives in the IBM BladeCenter HS21-XM models. Of course, not everyone buys IBM gear the first day it is available, and IBM is not the only vendor to offer these technologies. My point is that for many people, these are still not yet deployed in their own data center, and so they are still in the future for them. However, since these IBM deliveries happened more than six months ago, they're old news in the eyes of the SNW attendees. While those who follow IBM closely would know that, others like[Britney Spears] may not.)
Back in the 1990s, when IBM was developing the IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC), we generically called the managed disk arrays that were being virtualized by the SVC as "low-cost RAID brick" or LCRB. The IBM DS3400 is a good example of this. However, as we learned, SVC is not just for LCRB, it adds value in front of all kinds of disk systems, including the not-so-low-cost EMC DMX and IBM DS8000 disk systems. ISE might make a reasonable back-end managed disk device for IBM SVC to virtualize. This gives you the new cool features of Xiotech's ISE, with IBM SVC's faster performance, more robust functionality and advanced copy services.
Next week, I'll be in South America in meetings with IBM Business Partners and storage sales reps.
I am still wiping the coffee off my computer screen, inadvertently sprayed when I took a sip while reading HDS' uber-blogger Hu Yoshida's post on storage virtualization and vendor lock-in.
HDS is a major vendor for disk storage virtualization, and Hu Yoshida has been around for a while, so I felt it was fair to disagree with some of the generalizations he made to set the record straight. He's been more careful ever since.
However, his latest post [The Greening of IT: Oxymoron or Journey to a New Reality] mentions an expert panel at SNW that includedMark O’Gara Vice President of Infrastructure Management at Highmark. I was not at the SNW conference last week in Orlando, so I will just give the excerpt from Hu's account of what happened:
"Later I had the opportunity to have lunch with Mark O’Gara. Mark is a West Point graduate so he takes a very disciplined approach to addressing the greening of IT. He emphasized the need for measurements and setting targets. When he started out he did an analysis of power consumption based on vendor specifications and came up with a number of 513 KW for his data center infrastructure....
The physical measurements showed that the biggest consumers of power were in order: Business Intelligence Servers, SAN Storage, Robotic tape Library, and Virtual tape servers....
Another surprise may be that tape libraries are such large consumers of power. Since tape is not spinning most of the time they should consume much less power than spinning disk - right? Apparently not if they are sitting in a robotic tape library with a lot of mechanical moving parts and tape drives that have to accelerate and decelerate at tremendous speeds. A Virtual Tape Library with de-duplication factor of 25:1 and large capacity disks may draw significantly less power than a robotic tape library for a given amount of capacity.
Obviously, I know better than to sip coffee whenever reading Hu's blog. I am down here in South America this week, the coffee is very hot and very delicious, so I am glad I didn't waste any on my laptop screen this time, especially reading that last sentence!
In that report, a 5-year comparison found that a repository based on SATA disk was 23 times more expensive overall, and consumed 290 times more energy, than a tape library based on LTO-4 tape technology. The analysts even considered a disk-based Virtual Tape Library (VTL). Focusing just on backups, at a 20:1 deduplication ratio, the VTL solution was still 5 times per expensive than the tape library. If you use the 25:1 ratio that Hu Yoshida mentions in his post above, that would still be 4 times more than a tape library.
I am not disputing Mark O'Gara's disciplined approach. It is possible that Highmark is using a poorly written backup program, taking full backups every day, to an older non-IBM tape library, in a manner that causes no end of activity to the poor tape robotics inside. But rather than changing over to a VTL, perhaps Mark might be better off investigating the use of IBM Tivoli Storage Manager, using progressive backup techniques, appropriate policies, parameters and settings, to a more energy-efficient IBM tape library.In well tuned backup workloads, the robotics are not very busy. The robot mounts the tape, and then the backup runs for a long time filling up that tape, all the meanwhile the robot is idle waiting for another request.
(Update: My apologies to Mark and his colleagues at Highmark. The above paragraph implied that Mark was using badproducts or configured them incorrectly, and was inappropriate. Mark, my full apology [here])
If you do decide to go with a Virtual Tape Library, for reasons other than energy consumption, doesn't it make sense to buy it from a vendor that understands tape systems, rather than buying it from one that focuses on disk systems? Tape system vendors like IBM, HP or Sun understand tape workloads as well as related backup and archive software, and can provide better guidance and recommendations based on years of experience. Asking advice abouttape systems, including Virtual Tape Libraries, from a disk vendor is like asking for advice on different types of bread from your butcher, or advice about various cuts of meat at the bakery.
The butchers and bakers might give you answers, but it may not be the best advice.
In his post on Rough Type titled ["McKinsey surveys the new software landscape"], Nick Carr discusses the growing acceptance in the marketplace for Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS.He summarizes the results of McKinsey's recent[Enterprise Software Customer Survey 2008].IBM is already well established as part of the Web 2.0 Big "5" (the other four are Google, Yahoo, Amazon and Microsoft), so it may not be much surprise that it introduced some new offerings focused on this emerging market.
For managed hosting, [IBM Managed Storage Services] hasbeen extended to support archive data through its entire lifecycle: supporting access, migration, non-erasablenon-rewriteable (NENR) protection, and expiration/destruction. This offering supports locating the storage onthe customer premises, a hosting center, or an IBM Service Deliver Center. IBM's blended disk and tape approachprovides a better alignment between information value and storage costs.
Last December IBM acquired Arsenal Digital, which offers a remote "Enterprise Email Archive" service, supporting retention policies that can apply per user,per group, or even my message, as needed. This service provides fast user access to email archives, as well as e-discovery search. The search is not just for the email body text, but supports over 370different attachment types as well. Deduplication technology is used to reduce the actual amount of storage needed by 80percent. All of this with the security and comfort of knowing that these email archives are encrypted and protected in a disaster recovery class datacenter managed by IBM.Blocks and Files presents their thoughts on this in the article["IBM storing data and mail in the cloud"].
The Radicati Group has published some interesting statistics about email archive in[Volume 4, Issue 3]. Here's an excerpt:
"In 2007, a typical corporate email account receives about 18 MB of data per day. This number is expected to grow to over 28 MB by 2011. Today, there is no way to effectively manage these messages, but with the help of an archiving solution.
Today, the worldwide percentage of corporate mailboxes protected by archiving solutions is estimated to be around 14%, however it is growing at a fast pace, and is expected to reach over 70% by 2011.
A survey of 102 corporate organizations worldwide, showed that 68% of large businesses view compliance as their top security concern in 2007."
For those who are actually providing these services to others, over the cloud, then you might want to use the new[IBM System x iDataPlex].Compared to traditional server environments, the iDataPlex provides five times the computing power by doubling the number of servers per rack, but with 40 percent less energy consumption. Thanks to clevercooling technology, the system can run in standard office "room temperature" environments. You cancustomize with a mix of compute, network and storage nodes to meet your application requirements.In addition to Web 2.0 and SaaS workloads, the iDataPlex can be useful for financial risk analysis,high performance computing, and even batch processing.
Whether you are looking to contract out for SaaS, or to provide a service to others over the cloud, IBM can help!
Tim Ferris started the festivities with [The Grand Illusion: The Real Tim Ferriss speaks]. He claimed that for the past year, he outsourced the writing of his blog to a writer from India, and an editor from the Philippines. Given that his post was dated March 31, and he writes frequently about the benefits of outsourcing, it appeared like a legitimate post. However, Tim fessed up the following day, claiming that it was April 1 in Japan where he wrote it.
Guy Kawasaki wrote[April Fools' Stories You Shouldn't Believe]including my favorite #12 "Ruby on Rails cited Twitter as the centerpiece of its new 'Rails Can Scale' marketing program." Speaking of Twitter, Fellow IBM blogger Alan Lepofsky from our Lotus Notes team wrote[Great, now there is Twitter Spam]. It looked like a real post, but then I realized, ... everything on Twitter is spam!
Topics like energy consumption and global warming were fodder for posts and pranks.The post[Was Earth Hour a joke again?], argued thatthe preparation of "Earth Hour" last week in effect used up more energy than the hour of this annual "lights-off event" actually saved. This reminded me of John Tierney's piece in the New York Times ["How virtuous is Ed Begley, Jr.?"] where a scientist explains that it is more "green" for the environment to drive a car short distances than to walk:
If you walk 1.5 miles, Mr. Goodall calculates, and replace those calories by drinking about a cup of milk, the greenhouse emissions connected with that milk (like methane from the dairy farm and carbon dioxide from the delivery truck) are just about equal to the emissions from a typical car making the same trip. And if there were two of you making the trip, then the car would definitely be the more planet-friendly way to go.
Wayan Vota, my buddy over at OLPCnews, writes in his post[Windows XO Child Centric Development] that the "Sugar" operating environment on the innovative Linux-based XO laptops will soon be re-named the"Windows XO Operating System", with their new motto "Windows XO: A Child-Centric Operating Platform for Learning, Expression and Exploration." The mocked up photo of an XO laptop with the Windows XO logo was excellent!
The economists from Freakonomics explain in [And While You're at it, Toss the Nickel] that it costs the US Government 1.7 cents to produce each penny. The US government loses $50 million dollars each year making pennies. Each nickel costs 10 cents to produce. This one was dated March 31, so it could actually be true. Sad, but true.
My favorite, however, was EMC blogger Barry Burke's post["5773 > c"] explaining howtheir scientists were able to reduce latency on the EMC SRDF disk replication capability:
What the de-dupe team found is that there is a hidden feature within recent generations of this chip that allow a single bit, under certain circumstances, to represent TWO bits of information.
Still, almost 34% of the total bits transferred were in fact aligned double-zeros, far more than all other bit combinations - and most importantly, these were quite frequently byte-aligned, as required by this new-found capability. Makes sense, if you think about it - most of those 32- and 64-bit integers are used to store numbers that are relatively small (years, months, days, credit charges, account balances, etc.). So that's why the team decided to use this new two-fer bit to represent "00".
Mathematically, if you can transmit 34% of the data using half as many bits, you reduce the number of bits you have to transfer in total by 17%. Which, while not necessarily earth-shattering, is nothing to be ashamed of. On top of the SRDF performance enhancements delivered in 5772 (30% reduction in latency or 2x the distance), this new enhancement adds another 17% latency improvement (or ~1.4x more distance at the same latency). Combined with 5772, SRDF/S customers could see a 50% reduction in latency. And 5773 allows SRDF/A cycle times to be set below 5 seconds (with RPQ) - this new feature adds a little headroom to maximize bandwidth efficiency for the shortest possible RPO.
Again, this looked real, until I did the math. Start with the speed of light in a vacuum of space ("c" in BarryB's title) which is roughly 300,000 kilometers per second, or put into more understandable units, 300 kilometers per millisecond. However, light travels slower through all other materials, and for fiber optic glass it is only 200 kilometers per millisecond. Sending a block of data across 100km, and then getting a response back that it arrived safely, is a total round-trip distance of 200km, so roughly 1 millisecond. However, EMC SRDF often takes two or three round-trips per write, versus IBM Metro Mirror on the IBM System Storage DS8000 which has got this down to a single round-trip. The number of round-trips has a much bigger effect on latency than EMC's double-bit data compression technique. With IBM, you only experience about 1 millisecond latency per write for every 100km distance between locations, the shortest latency in the industry.
It is good that once a year, you should be skeptical of what you read in the blogosphere, and sometimes check the facts!
You could buy 10 liters of gasoline in Venezuela with this coin.
I'm back from South America, and am now in Chicago, Illinois. I'm having breakfast at the Starbucksdowntown, and thought I would make a post before all of my meetings today.
On this trip, I met with IBM Business Partners and sales reps from Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. While I have visited thefirst three countries on past trips, this was my first time to Caracas, Venezuela. I grew up in La Paz, Bolivia, and speak Spanish fluently, so had no problemgetting around and holding discussions with everyone. While my friends in the US are oftensurprised I speak multiple languages, it doesn't surprise anyone I visit in other countries.If you are going to have worldwide job responsibilities for a global company that does businessin over 180 countries, the least you could do is learn a few additional languages. I suspect themajority of the 350,000 IBM employees speak at least two languages, the exceptions being mostly the 50,000 orso employees that live in the United States.
I flew on American Airlines from Tucson to Dallas to Caracas, and was only slightly delayed as a resultof all of the flight cancellations that happened earlier that week. Some companies designate a single "official airline" for their employees to use. That makessense if all of your employees are located in a single city, and that city is the hub for yourdesignated airline.IBM is too big, too spread out, and sells technology to nearly every airline to make sucha designation. Instead, IBM tries to spread its business out to multiple carriers, although all ofmy colleagues seems to have their own personal favorites. Mine are American Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
While other people were upset over the delays, I found American Airlines did a great job keeping me informed,and all their employees I talked to seemed to be handling the situation fairly well. If youfly on American, I recommend you sign up for "text message" notifications. I did this for everyleg of my trip, and was kept up to date on times, gates and status. Very helpful!American Airlines even started their own corporate blog: [AA Conversation] (Special thanks to my friend[Paul Gillen] for pointing this out)
(I read somewhere that if you are going to travel anywhere, you need to remember to bringboth your sunscreen and your sense of humor, otherwise you are going to get burned. Goodadvice! Trust me, you don't even know how bad it can really be until you travel in the third world.)
Anyhoo, last week, IBM Venezuela celebrated its 70th anniversary. That's right, IBM has been doingbusiness in Venezuela for the past 70 years. Also last week, IBM put out its impressive [1Q08 quarterly results],including 10 percent growth for IBM System Storage product line worldwide, comparing what IBM earned this first quarter to what IBM earned the first quarter of last year. For just the Latin American countries,the growth for IBM System Storage was 20 percent!There are a lot of oil and gas companies in Venezuela. With a barrel of oil selling at more than$117 US dollars, these companies are looking to spend their newly earned profits on IBM systems, software and services.
As for the picture above, that is a one-thousand Bolivares coin, worth about 47 US cents atthis week's official exchange rate. As with many Latin American countries going through [years of high inflation], Venezuela was tired of all those zeros on their money. For example, a cheeseburger, freedom fries and a Cokeat McDonald's would set you back 20,000 Bolivares.This year the Venezuelan governmentcreated a new currency called "Bolivares Fuertes" (VEF), lopping off the last three zeros.So, the coin above would be replaced by a new coin with a big "1" on it instead, and an old 2000 Bolivares billwould be replaced by a new 2 Bolivares Fuertes bill. Unfortunately,I had to give all my new Venezuelan money back at the airport upon leaving, but they let me keep the coinabove, since it is old money, as a souvenir so that I could use it as a ball mark for playing golf.
(The term Bolivares is named after Simon Bolivar who was born in Caracas. He is famous throughoutSouth America, and was, and I am not making this up, the first president of Colombia, the secondpresident of Venezuela, the first president of Bolivia, and the sixth president of Peru. Here isthe [Wikipedia article] to learn more.)
Gasoline costs a mere 100 old Bolivares per liter.For those who don't do metric, gasoline therefore costsless than 18 cents per gallon. By comparison, in the USA, the average today was $3.47 US dollarsper gallon, of which 18.4 cents of this is Federal tax. That's right, we pay more just in taxes forgasoline than los venezolanos pay for it all.
The side effect of cheap gas is bad traffic. Everybody in Venezuela drives their own car, and nobody thinksabout the price of gasoline, carpooling, or taking public transportation, acting much like Americans used to, up until a few years ago. With some of the gridlock we faced, it might have been faster (but not safer)to walk there instead.
Which makes me wonder if American Airlines fills up their airplanes with fuel at these lower prices when theypick up people in Caracas to take them back to the United States. In 2002, fuel represented 10 percentof the average airline's operating expenses, but today it is now 25 percent. That is a drastic increase!
The same is happening in data centers. In the past, electricity was so cheap, and such a small percentof the total IT budget, nobody gave it much thought. But as the usage of electricity increased, andthe cost per KWh went up, this has a multiplying effect, and the growth in power and cooling costs isgrowing four times faster than the average IT hardware budget increase.
Fellow blogger and cartoon writer Scott Adams writes in his Dilbert Blog posts about the [Monte Hall problem].Monte Hall was the host of the American game show Let's Make a Deal. Here is an excerpt:
"The set up is this. Game show host Monte Hall offers you three doors. One has a car behind it, which will be your prize if you guess that door. The other two doors have goats. In other words, you have a 1/3 chance of getting the car.
You pick a door, but before it is opened to reveal what is behind it, Monte opens one of the doors you did NOT choose, which he knows has a goat behind it. And he asks if you want to stick with your first choice or move to the other closed door. One of those two doors has a car behind it. Monte knows which one but you don’t."
Mathematically, on your initial choice of doors, you have a 1/3 chance of picking the car, and 2/3 chance ofpicking a goat. But, after you make a choice, Monte knows which door(s) have goats behind them, and selectsone that exposes the goat. If you stay with your initial choice, you still have a 1/3 chance that you win acar, but if you change your mind and choose the other door, your odds double, you have a 2/3 chance of winning.This is not obvious at all to most people, so Scott points people to the [Wikipedia entry] that provides the mathematicaldetails.
What does this have to do with storage?
When you pick a disk system, you are hoping you pick the door with the car. You want a disk system that meets your performance requirements for your particular workload and easy to deploy, configure and manage, with a low total cost of ownership for the three, four or five years you plan to use it.However, with over forty different storage vendors, there are some doors that might have goats. Some vendorshave only 90 day warranties for their software, and I don't know any customers that replace their disk systems that often.
(It was pointed out to me that it was unfair in my last week's post about[Xiotech'slow cost RAID brick], that I singled out EMC offering minuscule 90day warranties for the software needed to run their disk systems. I apologize. I have sincelearned that HDS and HP also shaft their clients with 90 day warranties. Apparently thereare a lot of vendors out there who lack confidence in the quality of their software!)
It would be nice if everyone published all of their performance benchmarks so that you canchoose the right door with the car behind it, but sadly in the storage industry, not everyoneparticipates with industry-standard benchmarks like the[Storage Performance Council].
In other cases, people make their choices based on past decisions. Perhaps someone beforethem chose one vendor over another, and it seems simple enough just to stay with the originalchoice. It is amazing how often people stay with their company's original choice, what we call in the industry the "incumbent vendor", without exploring alternatives.
So, if you bought an EMC, HDS or HP disk system in the last 90 days, it's not too late for you.Tell your local IBM rep that you are afraid you picked the door with the goat, and that you want to change your mind, and choose the other door and go with IBM instead.
You will double your chances of being happier with your new choice!
There is a difference between improving "energy efficiency" versus reducing "power consumption".
Let's consider the average 100 watt light bulb, of which 5 watts generate the desired feature (light), and 95 percent generated as undesired waste (heat). In this case, it would be 5 percent efficient. If you delivered a new light bulb that generated 3 watts of light for only 30 watts of energy, then you would have an offering that was more energy efficient (10 percent instead of 5 percent) and use 70 percent less power (30 watts instead of 100 watts). This new "dim bulb" would not be as bright as the original, but has other desirable energy qualities.
Nearly all of the output of data center equipment results in heat.In The Raised Floor blog [It's Too Darn Hot!], Will Runyon explains how IBM researcher Bruno Michel in Zurich has developed new ways to cool chips with water shot through thousands of nozzles, much like capillaries in the human body. This is just one of many developments that are part of IBM's [Project Big Green]
But what if the desired feature is heat, and the undesired feature is light?In the case of Hasbro's toy[Easy-Bake Oven],a 100W incadescent light bulb is used to bake small cakes. This is generating 95W of desired heat, and onlywasting 5 percent as light (unused inside the oven). That makes this little toy 95 percent energy efficient, butconsumes as much energy as any other 100W light bulb lamp or fixture in your house. With manufacturing switchingfrom incadescent to compact flourescent bulbs, this toy oven may not be around much longer.
While we all joke that it is just a matter of time before our employers make us ride stationary bicycles attached to generators to power our monstrous data centers, 23-year old student Daniel Sheridan designeda see-saw for kids in Africa to play on that generates electricity for nearby schools. [Dan won the "mostinnovative product" at the Enterprise Festival].
Another approach is to improve efficiency by converting previously undesirable outcomes to desirable. Brian Bergstein has a piece in Forbes titled["Heat From Data Center to Warm a Pool"].Here's an excerpt:
"In a few cases, the heat produced by the computers is used to warm nearby offices. In what appears to be a first, the town pool in Uitikon, Switzerland, outside Zurich, will be the beneficiary of the waste heat from a data center recently built by IBM Corp. (nyse: IBM) for GIB-Services AG.
As in all data centers, air conditioners will blast the computers with chilly air - to keep the machines from exceeding their optimum temperature of around 70 degrees - and pump hot air out.
Usually, the hot air is vented outdoors and wasted. In the Uitikon center, it will flow through heat exchangers to warm water that will be pumped into the nearby pool. The town covered the cost of some of the connecting equipment but will get to use the heat for free."
I see a business opportunity here. Next to every data center lamenting about their power and cooling, build a state-of-the-art fitness center for the employees and nearby townspeople. Exercise on a stationary bicyclegenerating electricity, while your kids play on the see-saw generating electricity, and then afterwards thewhole family can take a dip in the heated swimming pool. And if the company subscribes to the notion of a Results-Oriented Work Environment [ROWE],it could encourage its employees to take "fitness" breaks throughout the day, rather than having everyone there in the early morning or late evening hours, leveling out the energy generated.
[Earth Day] is celebrated in many countries on April 22, which marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Others celebrate this on the March equinox.
IBM has finally aggregated everything that we are doing around "Green" initiatives onto a single[IBM Green] landing page. This has everything from IBM's own activities as well as what we sell to our clients.
Also, to mark this occasion, IBM held an internal contest for employees to make videos about Earth Day,the environment, and IT's role in making the situation better. The grand prize winner, and 10 secondprize winners, are available on this [IBM Green Contest - YouTube channel].Of these, I liked "New Life for Old Silicon" (shown here on the left).
IBM also developed [Power Up, the Game], which is theEarth Day Network's "official" game for today's festivities. It's a 3-D game created by IBM Research to help save a fictitious planet - the goal being to help students learn about ecology and climate change. This game is also hoped to motivate young students to get interested in math, scienceand technology.Eightbar has a great post [PowerUp - A serious game out inthe wild] discussing this.Here's also a 3-minute[the making of "Power Up, the game" video] to geta behind-the-scenes look.The game is a downloadable Windows client that then connects to the main servers to run.
"Our survey data shows that over the past 12 months, more firms have bought their storage from a single vendor. While this might not be for everyone, it's worth serious consideration for your environment. Maybe you won't get the best price per gigabyte every time, but you'll probably save money in the long run because of simpler management, increased staff specialization, increased capacity utilization, and better customer service."
A Forrester survey of 170 companies ranging from SMBs to large enterprises in North America and Europe found that more than 80 percent bought their primary storage from one vendor over the last year. That includes 64 percent of the companies with more than 500 TB of raw storage.
The report, written by analyst Andrew Reichman, says using more than one primary storage vendor can make it more complex to manage, provision and support the storage environment. And while using multiple vendors can often bring better pricing, buying from one vendor can result in volume discounts.
“You may have tried to contain costs by forcing multiple incumbent vendors to continuously compete against each other, with price as the primary differentiator,” Reichman writes. “This strategy can reduce prices and limit vendor lock-in, but it can also lead to management complexity and poor capacity utilization.”
The report recommends keeping things simple by and using fewer vendors when possible. However, that advice comes with several caveats: buying all storage from one vendor means taking the bad with the good, and some vendors’ product families differ so much “they may as well come from different vendors.”
As if by coincidence, fellow blogger from EMC Chuck Hollis gives his reflections on this same topic. Here's an excerpt:
When it comes to buying storage (or any infrastructure technology, for that matter), there seem to be two camps:
Best-of-breed (i.e. multivendor): -- buy what's best, get the best price, keep all the vendors on their toes, etc. etc.
Single vendor: primarily use one vendor's offerings, and hold them accountable for the outcome.
If Chuck had said "multivendor" versus "single vendor", then that would have been a true dichotomy, but interestinglyhe equates best-of-breed with a multivendor approach. Let's consider two examples:
Disk from one vendor, Tape from another
Here is a multivendor strategy, and if you have a clear idea of what best-of-breed means to you, then you couldpick the best disk in the market, and the best tape in the market. However, I don't think this keeps either vendor"on their toes", or helps you negotiate lower prices by threatening to switch to the other vendor. In shops likethis, the staffing usually matches, so there are disk administration and tape operations, with little or no overlap, andlittle or no interest in retraining to use a new set of gear. It is true that disk-based VTL could be used where real tape libraries are used, but this may not be enough to threaten your existing vendors that you will switch all your disk to tape, or all your tape to disk.
One could argue that the vendor that sells the besttape could be the exact same vendor that sells the best disk. In this case, your multivendor strategy would actuallywork against you, forcing you away from one of your best-of-breed choices.
Disk and Tape from one vendor for some workloads, Disk and Tape from another vendor for other workloads
Here is a different multivendor strategy. Having disk and tape for the same vendor allows you to take advantageof possible synergies. The IT staff knows how to use the products from both vendors. This strategy does let you keep your vendors "on their toes". You can legitimately threaten to shift your budget from one vendor over another.However, whatever your definition of best-of-breed is, chances are the product from one vendor is, and the other vendor is not. Both meet some lowest common denominator, meeting some minimum set of requirements, which would allow you to swap out one for the other.
I guess I look at it differently. The equipment in your data center should be thought of as a team. Do your servers, storage and software work well together?
While Americans like to celebrate the accomplishments of individual musicians, athletes or executives, it is actually bands that compete against other bands, sports teams that compete against other sport teams, and companies that compete against other companies. Teamwork in the data center is not just for the people who work there, but also for the IT equipment. Just as a new incoming athlete may not get along well with teammates, shiny new equipment may not get along with your existing gear. Conversely, your existing infrastructure may not let the talents or features of your new equipment shine through.
Putting together the best parts from different teams might serve as a great diversion for those who enjoy["fantasy football"], it may not be the best approach for the data center. Instead, focus on managing your data center as a team, perhaps with theuse of IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center to minimize the heterogeneity of your different equipment. Pick an ITvendor that sells "team players" for your servers, storage and software, with broad support for interoperability and compatibility.
The "Storage Symposium Mexico - 2008" conference was a great success this week!
Day 1 - The plan was for me to arrive for the Wednesday night reception. Eachattendee was given a copy of my latest book[Inside System Storage: Volume I] and I was planning to sign them. I thought perhaps we should have a "book signing" tablelike all of the other published authors have.
Things didn't go according to plan. Thunderstorms at the Mexico City airport forced our pilot to find an alternate airport. Nearby Acapulco airport was the logical choice, but was full from all the otherflights, so the plane ended up in a tiny town called McAllen, Texas. I did not arrive until the morning of Day 2,so ended up signing the books throughout Thursday and Friday, during breaks and meals, wherever they couldfind me!
Special thanks to fellow IBMer Ian Henderson who picked me up from the airport at such an awkward hour anddrive me all the way to Cuernavaca!
All of us, IBMers, Business Partners and clients alike, all donned black tee-shirtswith a white eightbar logo for a group photo with one of those "wide lens" cameras. While we werebeing assembled onto the bleachers, I took this quick snapshot of myself and some of the guys behind me.
I was original scheduled to be first to speak, but with my flight delays, was moved to a time slot after lunch.After a big Mexican lunch, the conference coordinators were afraid the attendees might fall asleep,a Mexican tradition called [siesta], so I wasinstructed to WAKE THEM UP! Fortunately, my topic was Information Lifecycle Management, a topicI am very passionate about, since my days working on DFSMS on the mainframe. With 30percent reduction in hardware capital expenditures, 30 percent reduction in operational costs, and typical payback periods between 15 to 24 months, the presentation got everyone's attention.
Of course, a lot happens outside of the formal meetings. We had a Japanese theme dinner, where we woreJapanese Hachimaki [headbands]with the eightbar logo. For those not familiar with Japanese culture, hachimaki are worn today not so much for the practical purpose to catch the perspiration but rather for mental stimulation to express one's determination. Some students wear hachimaki when they study to put themselves in the right spirit and frame of mind.
Shown here are presenters Mike Griese (Infrastructure Management with IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center),Dave Larimer (Backup and Storage Management with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager), myself, and John Hamano(Unified Storage with IBM System Storage N series).
Day 3 - Wrapping up the week, I presented two more times.
First, I covered IBM Disk Virtualization with IBM SAN Volume Controller. One interesting question was if the SAN Volume Controller could be made to looklike a Virtual Tape Library. I explained that this was never part of the original design, but that if you wantto combine SVC with a VTL into a combined disk-and-tape blended solution, consider using theIBM product called Scale-Out File Services[SoFS] which I covered in my post[Moredetails about IBM clustered scalable NAS].
During one of the breaks, I took a picture of the behind-the-scenes staff that put this together. They had created these huge blocks representing puzzle pieces, emphasizing how IBM is one of the few ITvendors that can bring all the pieces together for a complete solution.
Shown hereare Mike Griese (presenter), Cyntia Martinez, Claudia Aviles, Cesar Campos (IBM Business Unit Executive forSystem Storage in Mexico), and Claudia Lopez. Each day the staff wore matching shirts so that it was easyto find them.
Later, I covered Archive and Compliance Solutions to highlight our complete end-to-end set of solutions.When asked to compare and contrast the architectures of the IBM System Storage DR550 with EMC Centera, I explainedthat the DR550 optimizes the use of online disk access for the most recent data. For example, if you aregoing to keep data for 10 years, maybe you keep the most recent 12 months on disk, and the rest is moved,using policy-based automation, to a tape library for the remaining nine years. This means that the disk insidethe DR550 is always being used to read and write the most recent data, the data you are most likely to retrievefrom an archive system. Data older than a year is still accessible, but might take a minute or two for the tapelibrary robot to fetch.The EMC Centera, on the other hand, is a disk-only solution. It offers no option to move older data to tape,nor the option to spin-down the drives to conserve power. It fills up after the same 12 months or so, and then you get towatch it the remaining nine years, consuming electricity and heating your data center.
I don't know about you, butI have never seen anyone purposely put in "space heaters" into their data center, but certainly a full EMC Centeradoes little else. Both devices use SATA drives and support disk mirroring between locations, but IBM DR550 offers dual-parity RAID-6, and supports encryption of the data on both the disk and the tape in the DR550. EMC Centerastill uses only RAID-5, and has not yet, as far as I know, offered any level of encryption. IBM System StorageDR550 was clocked at about three times faster than Centera at ingesting new archive objects over a 1GbE Ethernet connection.
This last photo is me and fellow IBMer Adriana Mondragón. She was one of my students in the [System Storage Portfolio Top Gun class],last February in Guadalajara, Mexico.She graduated in the top 10 percent of her group, earning her the prestigious titleof "Top Gun" storage sales specialist.
The conference wrapped up with a Mexican lunch with a traditional Mariachi band. I took pictures, but figured you allalready know what [Mariachi players] look like, and I didn't wantto detract from the otherwise serious tone of this blog post! This was the first System Storage Symposium in Mexico, butbased on its success, we might continue these annually.