Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Systems Client Experience Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2018, Tony celebrates his 32th 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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This week is Thanksgiving holiday in the USA, so I thought a good theme would be things I am thankful for.
I'll start with saying that I am thankful EMC has finally announcedAtmos last week. This was the "Maui" part of the Hulk/Maui rumors we heard over a year ago. To quickly recap, Atmos is EMC's latest storage offeringfor global-scale storage intended for Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads. Atmos can be sold as just software, or combined with Infiniflex,EMC's bulk, high-density commodity disk storage systems. Atmos supports traditionalNFS/CIFS file-level access, as well as SOAP/REST object protocols.
I'm thankful for various reasons, here's a quick list:
It's hard to compete against "vaporware"
Back in the 1990s, IBM was trying to sell its actual disk systems against StorageTek's rumored "Iceberg" project. It took StorageTek some four years to get this project out,but in the meantime, we were comparing actual versus possibility. The main feature iswhat we now call "Thin Provisioning". Ironically, StorageTek's offering was not commercially successful until IBM agreed to resell this as the IBM RAMAC Virtual Array (RVA).
Until last week, nobody knew the full extent of what EMC was going to deliver on the many Hulk/Maui theories. Severalhinted as to what it could have been, and I am glad to see that Atmos falls short of those rumored possibilities. This is not to say that Atmos can't reach its potential, and certainly some of the design is clever, such as offering native SOAP/REST access.
Instead, IBM now can compare Atmos/Infiniflex directly to the features and capabilities of IBM's Scale Out File Services [SoFS], which offers a global-scale multi-site namespace with policy-based data movement, IBM System Storage Multilevel Grid Access Manager[GAM] that manages geographical distrubuted information,and IBM [XIV Storage System] that offers high-density bulk storage.
Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads justify new storage architectures
When I presented SoFS and XIV earlier this year, I mentioned they were designed forthe fast-growing Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads that were unique enough to justify their own storage architectures. One criticism was that SoFS appeared to duplicate what could be achieved with dozens of IBM N series NAS boxes connected with Virtual File Manager (VFM). Why invent a new offering with a new architecture?
With the Atmos announcement, EMC now agrees with IBM that the Web 2.0 and DigitalArchive workloads represent a unique enough "use case" to justify a new approach.
New offerings for new workloads will not impact existing offerings for existing workloads
I find it amusing that EMC is quickly defending that Atmos will not eat into its DMXbusiness, which is exactly the FUD they threw out about IBM XIV versus DS8000 earlier this year. In reality, neither the DS8000 nor the DMX were used much for Web 2.0 andDigital Archive workloads in the past. Companies like Google, Amazon and others hadto either build their own from piece parts, or use low-cost midrange disk systems.
Rather, the DS8000 and DMX can now focus on the workloads they were designed for,such as database applications on mainframe servers.
Cloud-Oriented Storage (COS)
Just when you thought we had enough terminology already, EMC introduces yet another three-letter acronym [TLA]. Kudos to EMC for coining phrases to help move newconcepts forward.
Now, when an RFP asks for Cloud-oriented storage, I am thankful this phrase will help serve as a trigger for IBM to lead with SoFS and XIV storage offerings.
Digital archives are different than Compliance Archives
EMC was also quick to point out that object-storage Atmos was different from theirobject-storage EMC Centera. The former being for "digital archives" and the latter for"compliance archives". Different workloads, Different use cases, different offerings.
Ever since IBM introduced its [IBM System Storage DR550] several years ago, EMC Centera has been playing catch-up to match IBM'smany features and capabilities. I am thankful the Centera team was probably too busy to incorporate Atmos capabilities, so it was easier to make Atmos a separate offering altogether. This allows the IBM DR550 to continue to compete against Centera's existingfeature set.
Micro-RAID arrays, logical file and object-level replication
I am thankful that one of the Atmos policy-based feature is replicating individualobjects, rather than LUN-based replication and protection. SoFS supports this forlogical files regardless of their LUN placement, GAM supports replication of files and medical images across geographical sites in the grid, and the XIV supports this for 1MBchunks regardless of their hard disk drive placement. The 1MB chunk size was basedon the average object size from established Web 2.0 and DigitalArchive workloads.
I tried to explain the RAID-X capability of the XIV back in January, under muchcriticism that replication should only be done at the LUN level. I amthankful that Marc Farley on StorageRap coined the phrase[Micro-RAID array] to helpmove this new concept further. Now, file-level, object-level and chunk-level replication can be considered mainstream.
Much larger minimum capacity increments
The original XIV in January was 51TB capacity per rack, and this went up to 79TB per rack for the most recent IBM XIV Release 2 model. Several complained that nobody would purchase disk systems at such increments. Certainly, small and medium size businessesmay not consider XIV for that reason.
I am thankful Atmos offers 120TB, 240TB and 360TB sizes. The companies that purchasedisk for Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads do purchase disk capacity in these large sizes. Service providers add capacity to the "Cloud" to support many of theirend-clients, and so purchasing disk capacity to rent back out represents revenue generating opportunity.
Renewed attention on SOAP and REST protocols
IBM and Microsoft have been pushing SOA and Web Services for quite some time now.REST, which stands for [Representational State Transfer] allows static and dynamic HTML message passing over standard HTTP.SOAP, which was originally [Simple Object Access Protocol], and then later renamed to "Service Oriented Architecture Protocol", takes this one step further, allowingdifferent applications to send "envelopes" containing messages and data betweenapplications using HTTP, RPC, SMTP and a variety of other underlying protocols.Typically, these messages are simple text surrounded by XML tags, easily stored asfiles, or rows in databases, and served up by SOAP nodes as needed.
It's hard to show leadership until there are followers
IBM's leadership sometimes goes unnoticed until followerscreate "me, too!" offerings or establish similar business strategies. IBM's leadership in Cloud and Grid computing is no exception.Atmos is the latest me-too product offering in this space, trying pretty muchto address the same challenges that SoFS and XIV were designed for.
So, perhaps EMC is thankful that IBM has already paved the way, breaking throughthe ice on their behalf. I am thankful that perhaps I won't have to deal with as much FUD about SoFS, GAM and XIV anymore.
Wrapping up this week's theme of thankfulness, I am thankful for theOne Laptop Per Child [OLPC] and their Get-One-Give-One (G1G1)offer.
Last November, I was one of the first to [sign up for the G1G1],and when mine arrived December 24, I posted initial observations in this[OLPC series].Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of helping out teams in Nepal and Uruguay,collaborating with developers in France, India and the United States. Giving back to othershas been a richly rewarding experience for me. I made some new friends, built up newprofessional contacts, and learned some new tricks as well.
Last year's G1G1 offer was limited to US and Canada, but this year, the OLPC have enlisted [Amazon.com] and made the offer available worldwide. You can choose to either give a single laptop for $199 USD, or get two laptops, get one for yourself or your family, and give the other to someone like Zimi, for $399 USD.
I'm thankful I did. Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers in the USA!
During the Republican primaries, Mitt Romney promised Michigan he wouldbring back all those jobs back to the Auto Industry, while his opponent,John McCain, told the audience that those jobs are gone forever, time tostart learning new skills. Mitt won the state, but lost the nomination,and perhaps this snapped him back to reality. Mitt now has a new prescription for what ails the US Auto industry--straight talk that he should have been saying during his campaign,telling people what they should hear, rather than what they wanted to hear.
Gaurav takes this argument one step further, referring to IBM's amazingturn-around back in 1993. Whereas the US Auto Industry has pushed backagainst inevitable globalization, IBM has embraced it, re-inventing itself into aGlobally Integrated Enterprise [GIE] and helping our clients do the same.I've been working for IBM since 1986, so I remember the pre-1993 IBM and how different it is now in the post-1993 era.
The marketplace has responded positively. Since 2004, more than 5,000 companies worldwide have replaced their HP, Sun, and EMC products with energy-efficient IBM Systems: Servers and Storage. Companies have invested in IBM's servers and storage to tackle their most challenging business objectives and to help reduce sprawling data center costs for labor, energy and real estate.This announcement was part of IBM's[Press Release]for its Migration Factory offering. The Migration Factory includes competitive server assessments, migration services, and other resources to help customers achieve energy and space savings and lower their cost of ownership.
Earlier this month, IBM's Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano recently outlined the possibilities of a smarter planet to the Council on Foreign Relations.Steve Lohr of the New York Times weighs in with his article [I.B.M. Has Tech Answer for Woes of Economy], and Dr. Fern Halper of Hurwitz & Associates gives her take over at [IT-Director.com].
Transcontinental flights and the[Travel Channel] have made the world smaller.Thomas Friedman argued the world has also become "flatter",thanks to advances in computers and global communication, in his 2005 book[The World is Flat].Now, IBM recognizes that InformationTechnology (I.T.) can help us solve the financial meltdown, global warming, and other major problems the world is now faced with.
How? First, our world is becoming instrumented. Sensors, RFID tags and other equipmentare now inexpensive and readily available to be placed wherever they are needed. Second, our world is becoming more interconnected. We are closely approaching two billion internet users andfour billion mobile subscribers, andthese can connect to the trillions of RFID tags, sensors and other instrumentation. Third,our world needs to get more intelligent. Not just US auto workers learning new skills,but all these instruments providing information that can be acted on with intelligentalgorithms. Algorithms can help with automobile traffic in large cities, enhance energyexploration, or improve healthcare.
Well, I'm back from my vacation from Bali and Singapore, and am glad to seethat my fellow blogger BarryB [aka Storage Anarchist] also had a chance to take a break to exotic locations.
Next Thursday, in the USA, is [Thanksgiving holiday], so this will give me a chance to catch up on my email and read everyone's blog posts and product announcements.
The following week, December 2-5, I'll be attending the 27th annual [Data Center Conference] at the MGM Grand hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. IBM is a Premier and Platinum sponsor for this event.Look for me in one of the many break-out sessions, one-on-oneexecutive meetings, or IBM's "booth 20" at the solution center. Our team will be showingoff IBM's XIV, SVC and TotalStorage Productivity Center offerings, aswell as explaining IBM Information Infrastructure and the rest of theNew Enterprise Data Center strategy.
Well it's Tuesday, and ["election day"] here in the USA, and again IBM has more announcements.
IBM announced [IBM Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager v1.0] (TKLM) to manage encryption keys. This provides a graphical interface to manage encryption keys, including retention criteria when sharing keys with other companies.
TKLM is supported on AIX, Solaris, Windows, Red Hat and SUSE Linux. IBM plans to offer TKLM forz/OS in 2009. TKLM can be used with Firefox or Internet Explorer web browser. This will include the Encryption Key Manager (EKM) that IBM offered initially to support encryption keys for the TS1120, TS1130, and LTO-4 drives.
While this is needed today for tape, IBM positions this software to also manage the encryption keys for "Full Drive Encryption" (FDE) disk drive modules (DDM) in IBM disk systems in 2009.