Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2016, Tony celebrates his 30th year anniversary with IBM Storage. 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.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson )
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Well, it's Tuesday, and so it is "announcement day" again! Actually, for me it is Wednesday morning herein Mumbai, India, but since I was "press embargoed" until 4pm EDT in talking about these enhancements, I had to wait until Wednesday morning here to talk about them.
World's Fastest 1TB tape drive
IBM announced its new enterprise [TS1130 tape drive]and corresponding [TS3500 tape library support]. This one has a funny back-story. Last week while we were preparing the Press Release, we debated on whether we should compare the 1TB per cartridge capacity as double that of Sun's Enterprise T10000 (500GB), or LTO-4 (800GB). The problem changed when Sun announced on Monday they too had a 1TB tape drive, so now instead ofsaying that we had the "World's First 1TB tape drive", we quickly changed this to the "World's Fastest 1TB tape drive" instead. At 160MB/sec top speed, IBM's TS1130 is 33 percent faster than Sun's latest announcement. Sun was rather vague when they will actually ship their new units, so IBM may still end up being first to deliver as well.
While EMC and other disk-only vendors have stopped claiming that "tape is dead", these recent announcements from IBM and Sun indicate that indeed tape is alive and well. IBM is able to borrow technologies from disk, such as the Giant Magneto Resistive (GMR) head over to its tape offerings, which means much of the R&D for disk applies to tape, keeping both forms ofstorage well invested. Tape continues to be the "greenest" storage option, more energy efficient than disk, optical, film, microfiche and even paper.
On the LTO front, IBM enhanced the reporting capabilities of its[TS3310] midrange tape library. This includes identifying the resource utilization of the drives, reporting on media integrity, and improved diagnostics to support library-managed encryption.
IBM System Storage DR550
As a blended disk-and-tape solution, the [IBM System Storage DR550] easily replaces the EMC Centera to meet compliance storagerequirements. IBM announced that we have greatly expanded its scalability, being able to support both 1TBdisk drives, as well as being able to attach to either IBM or Sun's 1TB tape drives.
Massive Array of Idle Disks (MAID)
IBM now offers a "Sleep Mode" in the firmware of the [IBM System Storage DCS9550], which is often called "Massive Array of Idle Disks" (MAID) or spin-down capability. This can reduce the amount of power consumed during idle times.
That's a lot of exciting stuff. I'm off to breakfast now.
"The murals in restaurants are on par with the food in museums." --- Peter De Vries
The quote above applies to blogs as well. Those about competitive products of which the blogger has little to no hands-on experience tend to be terribly misleading or technically inaccurate. We saw this last month as Sun Microsystems' Jeff Savit tried to discuss the IBM System z10 EC mainframe.
This time, it comes from EMC bloggers discussing NetApp equipment, and by association, IBM System Storage N series gear.I was going to comment on the ridiculous posts by fellow bloggers from EMC about SnapLock compliance feature on the NetApp, but my buddies at NetApp had already done this for me, saving me the trouble.
The hysterical nature of writing from EMC, and the calm responses from NetApp, speak volumes about the culturesof both companies.
The key point is that none of the "Non-erasable, Non-Rewriteable" (NENR) storage out there are certified as compliant by any government agency on the planet. Governments just aren't in the business of certifying such things. The best you can get is a third-party consultant, such as [Cohasset Associates], to help make decisions that are best for each particular situation.
In addition to SnapLock on N series, IBM offers the [IBM System Storage DR550], WORM tape and optical systems, all of which have been deemed compliant to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC 17a-4] federal regulations by Cohasset Associates. For medical patient records and images like X-rays, IBM offers the Grid Medical Archive Solution [GMAS]designed to meet the requirements of the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act[HIPAA].For other government or industry regulations, consult with your legal counsel.
We have successfully arrived to Mumbai, India. Since this is my first time in India, I decidedto check out the town by going to the local McDonald's® restaurant. As a former software engineer of McDonald's, I love the food, and try to visit a McDonald's in every country I visit. Wikipedia calls our transportation an [Auto Rickshaw], but the locals called it a "tuk-tuk". This is not my first time in one, they have them in Thailand and Mexico as well.
We had the hotel identify the address of the closest McDonald's to our hotel. From past experienceI know that tuk-tuk drivers will suggest alternatives, in an effort to earn a larger fare, or to redirectto a preferred location where the driver might get special kick-backs. Our driver was no different.
The traffic was treacherous, the roadswere in roughshod condition, and sad looking stray dogs digging through piles of rubbish were everywhere. The local "Daily News and Analysis" newspaper this week estimates that there are over 70,000 stray dogs in Mumbai alone.What to do with all of these strays is a matter of controversy. In preparation for the Olympic games, China hasasked its restaurants to [take"dog" off their menus].Having lived in one of the poorest countries, and one of the richest, nothing surprises me anymore.
My IBM colleague, Curtis Neal, decided to join me for this adventure. Finally, after about 20 minutes, our driver parks the tuk-tuk. He told us the restaurant is only aboutthree blocks away by foot, he would allow us to treat him to lunch, and then he will take us back to the hotel.While we appreciated his fantastic imagination, we told him we just wanted to be taken one-way to the restaurant, to drop us off at the front door, and we would find another tuk-tuk for the return.
After a bit of argument, we settled on being left only one block away, and we would walk the rest.While we could not see exactly where the restaurant was when we got out, he at least pointed us in the right direction.
The problem was that we approached the restaurant from behind, and came up to its equivalent of a "drive thru" window,ordered our food, and then went to the second window to pick up our order. We were eating on the street. It was not until I decided to take this photo of the restaurant, that we discovered there was an entire seating area upstairs, and around the cornerthe main entrance!
There were plenty of tuk-tuks picking up and dropping people off, so we have no idea why ourprevious driver was unwilling to take us the entire distance.
Cows are sacred here in India, so thereare no beef-based hamburgers to choose from. My choices for sandwiches were:
Since my nutritionist asked me to avoid carbs and fried foods, I chose the McChicken with cheese combo meal with fries and a Coke.
Getting back was also a challenge. While we had no problem haling a tuk-tuk, we had no idea the address of ourhotel, and our driver had no idea where it was. We ended up driving around the city until we found a differenthotel, asked them if they knew where it was, and then eventually getting to our hotel. This is something I shouldhave planned for in advance, getting a card with the hotel details on it before leaving.
While it might seem like a simple trip, Curtis and I probably learned more about India this way than spending a week inside the comforts of our hotel.
Well, the weather here has turned awful, so I better turn off my computer to avoid lightning-strike damage.
For those looking for something to do to enjoy the "4th of July" US Independence day holiday tomorrow, thereis the [Team America: Sing-a-long at Tucson's Loft Cinemaat 6pm, you can still see the fireworks after the show is over. I did this last year and it was a lot of fun.
Also, you can check out the IBM Wimbledon build on Second Life. Here's the SLURL:[http://slurl.com/secondlife/IBM%207/133/180/23].Several IBMers will be "in world" at this virtual location on 4th of July. For all of my readers looking to check out Second Life, see what IBM can do, or talk to people who are familiar with this technology, here's your chance.
As for me, I'll be spending my "long weekend" in an airplane. Here's my travel schedule.
July 7-11: Tokyo, Japan - business meetings with IBM sales reps
July 13-18: Mumbai, India - business meetings with IBM business partners
If you will be at any of these locations on any of these dates and want to meet up, please let me know.You can click on the "send e-mail to Tony Pearson" button on the right panel of my blog.
(I was hoping that while I was in Asia, I could stop over and visit the schools I helped in Nepal and my friends at the Open Learning Exchange [OLE Nepal] as part of the One Laptop PerChild [OLPC Nepal] program, but I did not get all my ducks lined up for this with the appropriate travel approvals, visas and logistics. My apologies to Bryan, Sulochan and the rest of the team. Perhaps next year!)
Based on this success, and perhaps because I am also fluent in Spanish, I was asked to help with Proyecto Ceibal, the team for OLPC Uruguay. Normally theXS school server resides at the school location itself, so that even if the internet connection is disrupted or limited, the school kids can continue to access each other and the web cache content until internet connection is resumed.However, with a diverse developmentteam with people in United States, Uruguay, and India, we first looked to Linux hosting providers that wouldagree to provide free or low-cost monthly access. We spent (make that "wasted") the month of May investigating.Most that I talked to were not interested in having a customized Linux kernel on non-standard hardware on their shop floor, and wanted instead to offer their own standard Linux build on existing standard servers, managed by theirown system administrators, or were not interested in providing it for free. Since the XS-163 kernel is customizedfor the x86 architecture, it is one of those exceptions where we could not host it on an IBM POWER or mainframe as a virtual guest.
This got picked up as an [idea] for the Google's[Summer of Code] and we are mentoring Tarun, a 19-year-old student to actas lead software developer. However, summer was fast approaching, and we wanted this ready for the next semester. In June, our project leader, Greg, came up with a new plan. Build a machine and have it connected at an internet service provider that would cover the cost of bandwidth, and be willing to accept this with remote administration. We found a volunteer organization to cover this -- Thank you Glen and Vicki!
We found a location, so the request to me sounded simple enough: put together a PC from commodity parts that meet the requirements of the customizedLinux kernel, the latest release being called [XS-163]. The server would have two disk drives, three Ethernet ports, and 2GB of memory; and be installed with the customized XS-163 software, SSHD for remote administration, Apache web server, PostgreSQL database and PHP programming language.Of course, the team wanted this for as little cost as possible, and for me to document the process, so that it could be repeated elsewhere. Some stretch goals included having a dual-boot with Debian 4.0 Etch Linux for development/test purposes, an alternative database such as MySQL for testing, a backup procedure, and a Recover-DVD in case something goes wrong.
Some interesting things happened:
The XS-163 is shipped as an ISO file representing a LiveCD bootable Linux that will wipe your system cleanand lay down the exact customized software for a one-drive, three-Ethernet-port server. Since it is based on Red Hat's Fedora 7 Linux base, I found it helpful to install that instead, and experiment moving sections of code over.This is similar to geneticists extracting the DNA from the cell of a pit bull and putting it into the cell for a poodle. I would not recommend this for anyone not familiar with Linux.
I also experimented with modifying the pre-built XS-163 CD image by cracking open the squashfs, hacking thecontents, and then putting it back together and burning a new CD. This provided some interesting insight, but in the end was able to do it all from the standard XS-163 image.
Once I figured out the appropriate "scaffolding" required, I managed to proceed quickly, with running versionsof XS-163, plain vanilla Fedora 7, and Debian 4, in a multi-boot configuration.
The BIOS "raid" capability was really more like BIOS-assisted RAID for Windows operating system drivers. This"fake raid" wasn't supported by Linux, so I used Linux's built-in "software raid" instead, which allowed somepartitions to be raid-mirrored, and other partitions to be un-mirrored. Why not mirror everything? With two160GB SATA drives, you have three choices:
No RAID, for a total space of 320GB
RAID everything, for a total space of 160GB
Tiered information infrastructure, use RAID for some partitions, but not all.
The last approach made sense, as a lot of of the data is cache web page images, and is easily retrievable fromthe internet. This also allowed to have some "scratch space" for downloading large files and so on. For example,90GB mirrored that contained the OS images, settings and critical applications, and 70GB on each drive for scratchand web cache, results in a total of 230GB of disk space, which is 43 percent improvement over an all-RAID solution.
While [Linux LVM2] provides software-based "storage virtualization" similar to the hardware-based IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC), it was a bad idea putting different "root" directories of my many OS images on there. With Linux, as with mostoperating systems, it expects things to be in the same place where it last shutdown, but in a multi-boot environment, you might boot the first OS, move things around, and then when you try to boot second OS, it doesn'twork anymore, or corrupts what it does find, or hangs with a "kernel panic". In the end, I decided to use RAIDnon-LVM partitions for the root directories, and only use LVM2 for data that is not needed at boot time.
While they are both Linux, Debian and Fedora were different enough to cause me headaches. Settings weredifferent, parameters were different, file directories were different. Not quite as religious as MacOS-versus-Windows,but you get the picture.
During this time, the facility was out getting a domain name, IP address, subnet mask and so on, so I testedwith my internal 192.168.x.y and figured I would change this to whatever it should be the day I shipped the unit.(I'll find out next week if that was the right approach!)
Afraid that something might go wrong while I am in Tokyo, Japan next week (July 7-11), or Mumbai, India the following week (July 14-18), I added a Secure Shell [SSH] daemon that runs automaticallyat boot time. This involves putting the public key on the server, and each remote admin has their own private key on their own client machine.I know all about public/private key pairs, as IBM is a leader in encryption technology, and was the first todeliver built-in encryption with the IBM System Storage TS1120 tape drive.
To have users have access to all their files from any OS image required that I either (a) have identical copieseverywhere, or (b) have a shared partition. The latter turned out to be the best choice, with an LVM2 logical volumefor "/home" directory that is shared among all of the OS images. As we develop the application, we might findother directories that make sense to share as well.
For developing across platforms, I wanted the Ethernet devices (eth0, eth1, and so on) match the actual ports they aresupposed to be connected to in a static IP configuration. Most people use DHCP so it doesn't matter, but the XSsoftware requires this, so it did. For example, "eth0" as the 1 Gbps port to the WAN, and "eth1/eth2" as the two 10/100 Mbps PCI NIC cards to other servers.Naming the internet interfaces to specific hardware ports wasdifferent on Fedora and Debian, but I got it working.
While it was a stretch goal to develop a backup method, one that could perform Bare Machine Recovery frommedia burned by the DVD, it turned out I needed to do this anyways just to prevent me from losing my work in case thingswent wrong. I used an external USB drive to develop the process, and got everything to fit onto a single 4GB DVD. Using IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) for this seemed overkill, and [Mondo Rescue] didn't handle LVM2+RAID as well as I wanted, so I chose [partimage] instead, which backs up each primary partition, mirrored partition, or LVM2 logical volume, keeping all the time stamps, ownerships, and symbolic links in tact. It has the ability to chop up the output into fixed sized pieces, which is helpful if you are goingto burn them on 700MB CDs or 4.7GB DVDs. In my case, my FAT32-formatted external USB disk drive can't handle files bigger than 2GB, so this feature was helpful for that as well. I standardized to 660 GiB [about 692GB] per piece, sincethat met all criteria.
The folks at [SysRescCD] saved the day. The standard "SysRescueCD" assigned eth0, eth1, and eth2 differently than the three base OS images, but the nice folks in France that write SysRescCD created a customized[kernel parameter that allowed the assignments to be fixed per MAC address ] in support of this project. With this in place, I was able to make a live Boot-CD that brings up SSH, with all the users, passwords,and Ethernet devices to match the hardware. Install this LiveCD as the "Rescue Image" on the hard disk itself, and also made a Recovery-DVD that boots up just like the Boot-CD, but contains the 4GB of backup files.
For testing, I used Linux's built-in Kernel-based Virtual Machine [KVM]which works like VMware, but is open source and included into the 2.6.20 kernels that I am using. IBM is the leadingreseller of Vmware and has been doing server virtualization for the past 40 years, so I am comfortable with thetechnology. The XS-163 platform with Apache and PostgreSQL servers as a platform for [Moodle], an open source class management system, and the combination is memory-intensive enough that I did not want to incur the overheads running production this manner, but it wasgreat for testing!
With all this in place, it is designed to not need a Linux system admin or XS-163/Moodle expert at the facility. Instead, all we need is someone to insert the Boot-CD or Recover-DVD and reboot the system if needed.
Just before packing up the unit for shipment, I changed the IP addresses to the values they need at the destination facility, updated the [GRUB boot loader] default, and made a final backup which burned the Recover-DVD. Hopefully, it works by just turning on the unit,[headless], without any keyboard, monitor or configuration required. Fingers crossed!
So, thanks to the rest of my team: Greg, Glen, Vicki, Tarun, Marcel, Pablo and Said. I am very excited to bepart of this, and look forward to seeing this become something remarkable!
I was warned that this musical would be nearly three hours long, that the singing and dialogue would be in Hindi language, and there would be no English subtitles. I don't speak Hindi, and would not be able to understand a single word the actors said.
How bad could it be?
Despite the fact that there were nearly 20 members in the cast, the story jumps back and forth in both place and time, with some dream sequences thrown in for cinematic effect, I was able to understand quite a bit. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie! Perhaps its a sign of a good movie that you can understand most of it purely from the visual aspects.
The same can be said for presentations that you give in foreign countries. Both in Japan and India, I had plenty of visuals to complement the text on the page, and the words that I spoke. Shawn over at [Anecdote] blog points to this greatpresentation by Garr Reynolds, author of [Presentation Zen]. The slide deck below has some key takeaways and quotes from Dr. John Medina's latest book "Brain Rules" that apply to presentations.
Once again it's Tuesday, which means IBM announcement day!
Today IBM announced [two new DS3400 SAN Express Models]. These two new models will replace the IBM System Storage DS3400 SAN Express Kit model 41U and 42U to be withdrawn from marketing today. The DS3000 series of scalable, flexible, and affordable storage solutions support IBM System x, System p, and BladeCenter servers.
Two new IBM System Storage DS3400 SAN Express Kits are being introduced that provide the parts needed to setup and configure a SAN with the exception of a SAN switch that can be ordered separately. The IBM System Storage DS3400 SAN Express Kits contain Emulex EZPilot software that enables automated installation and configuration of the SAN components. IBM System Storage DS3400 SAN Express Kits models 41S and 42S and Emulex EZPilot software work in conjunction with the IBM TotalStorage SAN16B-2 Express Model Switch which comes with eight ports and eight 4 Gbps SFPs. The EZPilot software can support configurations with either one or two SAN16B-2 switches.
The 41S is a single-controller model DS3400 with two HBA cards and four cables. The 42S is the dual-controller model with two HBA cards and eight cables.
Thirteen months ago, fellow IBM blogger Bob Sutor suggested the potential for avatars to [move from one virtual world to another].I thought this was far, far in the future myself, but this week, IBM and Linden Labs, the makersof Second Life, successfully teleported an avatar from SecondLife over to OpenSim. Here is the[Press Release].
If you are thinking there is no business value here, consider that Cisco has this incredible [11-minute demonstration video] that haspresenters in one city on the stage at another city.
Well, my job is done here in Tokyo, and my team is off next to Mumbai, India. This of course will takethe bulk of tomorrow in airplanes and airports, and not be as easy as teleporting in the metaverse!