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 )
My books are available on Lulu.com! Order your copies today!
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Tony Pearson is not a medical doctor, and this blog does not reference any IBM product or service that is intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, prevention or monitoring of a disease or medical condition, unless otherwise specified on individual posts.
Today, IBM announced its latest [BladeCenter S] with integratedredundant SAN fabric and disk storage inside the chassis. The tag line is "Data Center Capability, without the Data Center!"
I've gotten a few calls on this today, so I thought it would be good to blog about. To understand what is new,you need to understand what we had in other BladeCenter chassis. In those other chassis, there were up to 14 bladeservers on the front, and switch modules for FCP and Ethernet on the back. The entire chassis was rack-mountedto be connected to external devices.
The BladeCenter S was announced a year ago.With the new "BladeCenter S" chassis, the storage can be included inside the chassis, as well as connecting tothe outside world. It is designed to be stand-alone, rather than rack-mounted, plugs into a standard 100v-240v office power outlet,and includes a dust filter in caseyou keep it close to the floor, under your desk for example.
Click graphic at left for 4-minute video introduction.
(Here's also a more detailed[7-minute video] with fellow IBM colleague Alex Yost.)
Here's what you can get with the BladeCenter S:
Up to six(6) server blades that can do the work of 25-45 traditional servers.
Up to two(2) storage blades, each can have six(6) SAS or SATA disk drive modules (DDMs)
Up to four(4) switch modules, with a variety to choose from
Shared KVM, DVD/CD burner, and USB port. You can designate which blade has access to these, useful forinstalling software, attaching external devices, and so on.
The blades use either Intel, AMD or POWER processors, so you can run Windows, Linux, AIX, and [IBM i] (the newname for i5/OS V6R1).
Back 20 years ago, I worked with people with System/36 and System/38 systems. They loved it. Everything inone package. This grew into the AS/400 server. Having everything in one package was such an advantage thatIBM extended this to include a few "x86 blades" to run Windows applications but share the storage and networkresources.
Now IBM has taken this one step further. The older models assumed the majority of applications run underIBM's OS/400 or i5/OS operating system, but this new BladeCenter S does not make that assumption. You canmix and match different blade servers as needed, and run the operating systems you need.
This is an ideal packaging for Small and Medium sized Business (SMB), remote branch offices, and retail stores.In fact, more than 4,000 retail stores plan to run their operations using BladeCenter S this holiday season! For moreon this announcement, see the [IBM Press Release].
As financial firms focus on costs, the IT departments will have an opportunity to consolidate their servers, networks and storage equipment. Consolidating disk and tape resources, implementing storage virtualization, and reducingenergy costs might get a boost from this crisis. Consolidating disparate storage resources to a big SoFS, XIV,DS8000 disk system, or TS3500 tape library might greatly help reduce costs.
Having mixed vendor environments that result from such mergers and acquisitions can be complicated to manage. Thankfully, IBM TotalStorage Productivity Centermanages both IBM and non-IBM equipment, based on open industry standards like SMI-S and WBEM.Merged companies might let go IT people with limited vendor-specific knowledge, but keep the ones familiar withcross-vendor infrastructure management skills and ITIL certification.
Comparing different vendor equipment
It seems that often times when there is a merger or acquisition, the two companies were using different storage gear from different vendors. IBM has made some incredible improvements over the past three years, in both performance enhancements and energy efficiency, but many companies with non-IBM equipment may not be aware of them.If there was ever a time to perform a side-by-side comparison between IBM and non-IBM equipment, here isyour chance.
For more on the impact of the financial meltdown on IT, see this InfoWorld[Special Report].
Well, it's Tuesday, and more IBM announcements were made today. Many of my colleagues are in Dallas, Texas for the[Storage Networking World conference], and hopefully I will get some feedback from them before the week is over.
Today, IBM made announcements for Storage Area Networking (SAN) gear and disk systems.
8 Gbps Longwave transceivers
IBM now offers 8 Gbps Longwave SFP transceivers on the[IBM System Storage SAN256B and SAN768B] directors, as well as the IBM System Storage SAN24B-4 Express, SAN40B-4, and SAN80B-4 switches (orderable as [machine type models] or [partnumbers] ).These transceivers support single mode fiber up to 10km in distance, comparedto the 50-75 meters supported by the Shortwave SFP transceivers.
Like theShortwave SFP transceivers we already have available, these Longwave transceivers have "N-2" support, which means they can support two generations back: auto-negotiate down to 4 Gbps and 2 Gbps speeds. If you still have 1 Gbps equipment, now is a good time to consider upgrading those, or keep a few 4 Gbps ports available that can auto-negotiate down to 1 Gbps speed.
Mainframe clients that sent data to a remote Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) location often used "channel extenders", which were special boxes used to minimize performance delays when transmitting FICON across long distances. This was especially helpful for z/OS Global Mirror (what we used to call XRC) as well as electronic vaulting to tape.
Now, this functionality can be part of the directors and routers, eliminating the need for separate equipment.This is available for the SAN768B and SAN256B directors, as well as SAN18B-R and SAN04B-R routers.
Before the merger between Brocade and McDATA, IBM offered SAN18B-R routers from Brocade, and SAN04M-R routers from McDATA. The former had 16 Fibre Channel (FC) ports and two Ethernet ports, and the latter was less expensive with just four ports.Brocade came up with a clever replacement for both. The [IBMSystem Storage SAN04B-R] router comes by default withtwo active FC ports and two Ethernet ports, but also with 14 additional FC ports inactive. A "High Performance Extension" feature activates these additional ports, bringing the SAN04B-R up to the SAN18B-R level, and allows it to support the FICON Accelerator feature above.
So, instead of having specialized channel extenders at both primary and secondary sites, you can havea director with FICON Accelerator at the primary site, sending FICON over Ethernet to a 1U-high router (also running the FICON Accelerator) at the secondary site, whichcan greatly reduce costs. The FICON Accelerator can in some cases double the amount of data transfer throughput,but of course, your mileage may vary.
On the disk side, the [IBMSystem Storage DS3000 series] disk systems have been enhanced, withsupport for 450GB high-speed 15K RPM SAS drives, RAID-6 double-drive protection, more FlashCopy point-in-time copies,and more partitions.On the DS3000, "storage partitions" is what the rest of the industry calls "LUN masking". A storage partition allowsyou to isolate a set of LUNs to only be seen by a single host server, or host cluster that shares the same set ofLUNs. Some clients felt that the default of four partitions was too low, so now up to 32 partitions can be configured.(This is not to be confused with "Logical Partitions" that isolate processor and cache resources available on theIBM System Storage DS8000 and other high-end storage disk systems.)
IBM also extended the Operating System support.The DS3000 series now supports Solaris, either on x86 or SPARC-based servers. The DS3300 iSCSI support now supportsLinux on POWER. The DS3400 allows support of IBM i (the new name for i5/OS V6R1) through the VIOS feature.
The [IBMSystem Storage DCS9900] is a bigger, faster version of the DCS9550. Like the DCS9550, the DCS9900 is designedfor high performance computing (HPC) workloads. The DCS9550 supported up to 960TB in two frames, with 2.8 GB/sec throughput,and an optional disk spin-down capability.The new DCS9900 can support up to 1.2 PB in two frames, with 5.6 GB/sec throughput, but no spin-down capability.
So whether your data center is filled with System z mainframes, or other open systems, IBM has a solution for you.
Lakota Industries made news with the introduction of its [Sarah-Cuda Hunting Bow], named after moose-huntingU.S. Vice President nominee and Governor of Alaska [Sarah Palin]. This has all the same features as their other high-end hunting bows, but is lighter, smaller and available in Pink Camo. This "pink-it-and-shrink-it" move was designed to broaden the market share of hunting bows by reaching out to the needs of women hunters.
Not to be outdone, today, at the Storage Networking World Conference, IBM announced the new IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller Entry Edition [SVC EE].
The new SVC Entry Edition, available in Flamingo Pink* or traditional Raven Black.
* RPQ required. Default color is Raven Black.
You might be thinking: "Wait! IBM SVC is already the leading storage virtualization product among SMB clients today,why introduce a less expensive model?" With the global economy in the tank, IBM thought it would be nice to help outour smaller SMB clients with this new option.
This new offering is actually a combination of new software (SVC 4.3.1) and new hardware (2145-8A4). Here are thekey differences:
by usable capacity managed, up to 8 PB
by number of disk drives, up to 60 drives
2145-4F2, 8F2, 8F4, 8G4, 8A4
1, 2, 3 or 4 node-pairs, depending on performance requirements
only one node-pair needed
FlashCopy, Metro Mirror and Global Mirror, licensed by subset of capacity used
FlashCopy, Metro Mirror and Global Mirror, but with simplified licensing
The SVC EE is not a "dumbed-down" version of the SVC Classic. It has all the features and functions of theSVC Classic, including thin provisioning with "Space-efficient volumes", Quality of Service (QoS) performance prioritization for more important applications, point-in-time FlashCopy, and both synchronous and asynchronous disk mirroring (Metro and Global Mirror).
While IBM has not yet have SPC-1 benchmarks published, IBM is positioning the SVC EE as roughly 60 percent of the performance, at 60 percent of the list price, compared to a comparable SVC Classic 2145-8G4 configuration. The SVC Classic is already one of the fastest disk systems in the industry. By comparison, the SVC EE is twice as fast as the original SVC 2145-4F2 introduced five years ago.If you outgrow the SVC EE, no problem! The 2145-8A4 can be used in traditional SVC Classic mode, and the SVC EE software can be converted into the SVC Classic software license for upgrade purposes, protecting your originalinvestment!
For those considering an HP EVA 4400 or EMC CX-4 disk system, you might want to look at combining an SVC EE with [IBM System Storage DS3400] disk. The combination offers more features and capabilities, and helps reduce your IT costs at the same time.
And if you are worried you can't afford it right now, IBM Global Financing is offering a ["Why Wait?" world-wide deferral of interest and payments] for 90 days, so you don't have to make your first payment until 2009, applicable to all IBM System Storage products, including the SVC EE, SVC Classic and DS3400 disk systems.
Continuing this week's theme on dealing with the global economic meltdown, recession and financial crisis, I found a great video that recaps IBM CEO Sam Palmisano's recommendations to being more competitive in thisenvironment.
In a recent speech to business leaders, Sam outlined what he sees as the four most importantsteps to thriving in the global economy. The highlights can be seen here in this [2-minute video]on IBM's "Forward View" eMagazine.