Continuing this week's theme on Cloud Computing, Dynamic Infrastructure and Data Center Networking, IBM unveiled details of an advanced computing system that will be able to compete with humans on Jeopardy!
, America’s favorite quiz television show. Additionally, officials from Jeopardy!
announced plans to produce a human vs. machine competition on the renowned show.
For nearly two years, IBM scientists have been working on a highly advanced Question Answering (QA) system, codenamed "Watson" after IBM's first president, [Thomas J. Watson]. The scientists believe that the computing system will be able to understand complex questions and answer with enough precision and speed to compete on Jeopardy!Produced by Sony Pictures Television, the trivia questions on Jeopardy! cover a broad range of topics, such as history, literature, politics, film, pop culture, and science. It poses a grand challenge for a computing system due to the variety of subject matter, the speed at which contestants must provide accurate responses, and because the clues given to contestants involve analyzing subtle meaning, irony, riddles, and other complexities at which humans excel and computers traditionally do not. Watson will incorporate massively parallel analytical capabilities and, just like human competitors, Watson will not be connected to the Internet or have any other outside assistance.
If this all sounds familiar, you might remember some of the events that have led up to this:
- In 1984, the movie ["The Terminator"] introduced the concept of [Skynet], a fictional computer system developed by the militarythat becomes self-aware from its advanced artificial intelligence.
- In 1997, an IBM computer called Deep Blue defeated World Chess Champion [Garry Kasparov] in a famous battle of human versus machine. To compete at chess, IBM built an extremely fast computer that could calculate 200 million chess moves per second based on a fixed problem. IBM’s Watson system, on the other hand, is seeking to solve an open-ended problem that requires an entirely new approach – mainly through dynamic, intelligent software – to even come close to competing with the human mind. Despite their massive computational capabilities, today’s computers cannot consistently analyze and comprehend sentences, much less understand cryptic clues and find answers in the same way the human brain can.
- In 2005, Ray Kurzweil wrote [The Singularity is Near] referring to the wonders that artificial intelligence will bring to humanity.
The research underlying Watson is expected to elevate computer intelligence and human-to-computer communication to unprecedented levels. IBM intends to apply the unique technological capabilities being developed for Watson to help clients across a wide variety of industries answer business questions quickly and accurately.
For more details, read the IBM[Press Release].
technorati tags: IBM, Cloud Computing, Dynamic Infrastructure, Data Center Networking, Jeopardy, Watson, Sony, quiz show, Terminator, Skynet, Deep Blue, Garry Kasparov, Ray Kurzweil, Singularity, HCI, AI, artificial intelligence
It's Tuesday, which means IBM announcements, and today IBM made some major announcementsthat support a [Dynamic Infrastructure
]! I hinted at this yesterday, choosing the week's theme to be all about Cloud Computing and Alternative Sourcing. I will briefly highlight today's announcements related to storage here, and try to go into more detail over the next few weeks.
- Ethernet switches and routers
In support of Cloud Computing and Cloud Storage, IBM is now back in theEthernet networking business. This is part of storage as protocols likeiSCSI, CIFS and NFS are gaining prominence. Extending IBM's existing OEMrelationship with Brocade, there are four series:
- [c-series] - "c" for Compact, these are 1U high fixed port switches
- [g-series] - "g" for Pay-as-you-Grow using IronStack stacking technology to allow up to 8 switches to be
glommed, glued, er.. "gathered" together as a single virtual chassis.
- [m-series] - "m" for Multiprotocol Label Switching [MPLS] which supports routing between LAN and WAN networks over OC12 and OC48 lines.
- [s-series] - "s" for slots, the B08S has eight slots, and the B16S has sixteen slots, supporting up to 384 ports. These models support Power-over-Ethernet [PoE] that simplifies attaching Voice-over-IP (VoIP) telephones and IP-based surveillance cameras.
IBM announced it will strengthen its partnership with Juniper Networks, and continues to consider Cisco a strategic partner as well. To help customer position themselves for Cloud Computing and Cloud Storage,IBM also launches some new services:
- IBM System Storage DS5000 disk system
The IBM [DS5000] now supports self-encrypting disk drives, known also as "full-disk encryption" or FDE, for added security, and 8Gbps Fibre Channel (FC) ports for added performance. The DS5300 model in particular now supports up to 448 disk drives for added scalability.
- Comprehensive Data Protection Solution
IBM's [Data Protection Solution] shows off IBM's awesome synergy between servers, storage and software. Combining System x servers, Tivoli Storage Manager FastBack software, and DS5000, DS4000 or DS3000 series disk systems. The solution is designed to both Windows-based servers and their applications, offering bare metal restores, and application–level protection for Oracle, SQL, Exchange and SAP.
- Tivoli Storage Productivity Center
Last February, IBM previewed the renaming of TotalStorage Productivity Center to its new name,Tivoli Storage Productivity Center. Today, IBM announces [Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v4.1]. Some key changes include:
- Productivity Center for Fabric has been merged into Productivity Center for Disk
- Productivity Center for Replication is now integrated, but remains separately licensed
- Productivity Center can now feed input to IBM's Novus Storage Enterprise Resource Planner [SERP]
- TS7650 ProtecTIER Data Deduplication IP-based replication
IBM previews IP-based replication which allows the TS7650 appliance or TS7650G gateway to sendvirtual tape data over to a remote location. This is instead of having the underlying disk systemsperform the replication on its behalf. Having the TS7650 do the replication is preferred, as itcan maintain virtual cartridge integrity, when a virtual tape is unmounted the replication can beginat that point.
This is just a small subset of all the announcements. For more information, see this 28-pagepresentation [Manage the Explosion of Information with IBM Information Infrastructure].
technorati tags: IBM, Dynamic Infrastructure, Ethernet, switches, routers, Cloud Computing, Cloud Storage, Brocade, Juniper Networks, Cisco, IronStack, FCoE, FCoCEE, PoE, DS5000, FC, FDE, TSM, FastBack, TotalStorage, Tivoli, Storage, Productivity Center, Novus, SERP, TS7650, TS77650G, ProtecTIER, Information Infrastructure
This week's theme is alternative sourcing through Cloud Computing.
|I thoughtI would start off the week interviewing an owner at a Small or Medium-sized Business [SMB] that recently adopted this approach.|
Meet Fred, one of the new co-owners of my singles activities club, TucsonFun and Adventures, known affectionately as [TFA]. TFA recentlyadopted a new "Software-as-a-Service" [SaaS] for the company's Web site.
While the experience is still fresh in his mind, I thought this would be a goodopportunity to illustrate some of the concepts of alternative sourcing through Cloud Computing byusing a local example.
Give me some background on the company. How long has it been around? How many employees?
TFA has been in business since 1997, and has six employees, including an office manager, event planners and event coordinators.
How critical is "Web presence" to the business?
It's very important in several ways.First, the TFA staff plans 25 events per month, and our hundreds of members register for these events mostly through the Web site. Second, we have it connected to our bank accounts, so that it can process credit cards to collect the funds for renewals and event registrations.Third, it serves as a way to communicate upcoming events to our members, especially trips, so they can save the date on their own calendars. And fourth, the Web site serves as a "landing page"for all of our radio spots, newspaper ads, and other marketing efforts.
TFA had a Web site before, and now you have helped launch this new Web site. What motivated this change?
Our members were complaining about our 1999-era Web site. The pages were written in HTML, ASP (Active Service Page) and SQL (Structured Query Language) connected to a Microsoft SQL Server 2005 database. It was mostly text-based, with the only animation being text scrolling horizontally across the screen. The Web hostingprovider offered reliable access, but was located in New York state on East Coast time. If a member signed up for an event after 9pm or 10pm here in Tucson, it was marked as the next date, which could change the price of the event, or indicate the deadline was missed.If there were any changes to the pages or logic needed, or new columns required in the database, it gotexpensive. The TFA employees don't know how to program in ASP or SQL, so we hadto hire outside professionals each time.
Does this new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Web site address these problems you were trying to solve?
Yes. The new Web site is hosted by [Memberize] which provides a hosted membership management application. The TFA staff can nowmanage its membership, plan events, and communicate them with graphics, videos,and links to maps. They don't need to know ASP or SQL programming, because a built-in[WYSIWYG] editor is simple enough for anyone with standard word-processing skills. The database allowed the optionto add customized fields for each member we have in our club.
Was it difficult to switch over?
Not at all. Memberize gave us a 60-day free trial, and we needed all that time totransfer over our membership records, customize the style of the overall templatefor all pages, and then copy over the content from our old Web site. Wehad to transfer over our e-commerce service over, and contact GoDaddy to transfer the domain. The employee training required was fairly minimal.Cost-wise, it was only a few hundred dollars one-time setup fee, and then we pay a monthly fee,based on a tiered pricing structure based on the count of our active members.
How has the reaction been from your membership?
I've gotten a lot of positive feedback. The learning curve was minimal. Ourmembers found the new Web site intuitive and interactive. For example, thecalendar of events can be shown in a single month-at-a-glance format, with greendots showing the events you are signed up for.
And from your perspective, Fred, is the new Web site easy to administer?
Yes, I can now easily generate standard reports, and create my own ad-hoc reports as needed. This wasn't possible with the old system unless I hired an ASP programmer.
Hopefully, this provides some insight on how even the smallest SMB enterprises can adopt a Dynamic Infrastructure through alternative sourcing. Cloud Computing takes many forms, including Software-as-a-Service managed offerings.
technorati tags: IBM, SMB, SME, SaaS, Cloud Computing, Alternative Sourcing, TFA, Tucson, Arizona, Dynamic Infrastructure
Wrapping up this week's theme on Earth Day, I head back home. This is the fifth in a series.The rest of the series discussed [Geo-thermal energy
], [Hydro-electic power
], the [Green Leaf rating system
], and[Green Incentives
First, let's start with an excerpt from El Naccional, by cartoonist Quino:
© Quino, excerpted from El Naccional
|A fat boss and his thin female employee stand at the shore.|
"Ms. Benakis, I don't want to forget the emotion of the vastness of the ocean. Draft amemo regarding this for me to sign next Monday."
-- "Yes, Mr. Morton"
"And date it as today."
-- "Yes, Mr. Morton"
On the flight home, I met Chris, a software engineer working for a small 60-person outsourcing firm in Costa Rica. He was from Vancouver, Canada but now lives in Costa Rica to avoid dealing with snow. He flies back to Canada several times per year to visit his friends and family.The irony is not lost on me that most of the tourists I met this week flew hundreds or thousands of miles to get here. The Freakonomics blog post [Did Celebrating Earth Day Make You Pollute More?] points to David Disalvo's article [Riding the Self-Regulation See Saw] and Ryan Sager'sarticle [The Al Gore’s Giant Fraggin’ Mansion Effect]. Both of these analyze environmentally moral behaviour.
The real question is whether the Earth Day lessons we learned this week from Costa Rica can apply to countries like the United States that aren't entirely focused on agriculture and tourism. Perhaps so, as Costa Rica is also home of a large [Intel plant in Heredia] that also providesa significant portion of Costa Rica's GDP.
- Alternative sources of energy, including geo-thermal and hydro-electric, can provide a majorityof needs of a country. Advances in technology to take advantage of these can be carried over to other countries.
- Separating our recyclables, and other efforts, are not just unique to Costa Rica. The best practices developed here can be passed on to other countries as well.
- As Costa Rica experiments with green incentives to help modify human behaviour, the ones thatseem most effective can be borrowed and re-used in other locations.
Hopefully, we've all learned something this week, and perhaps can act to reduce our energy consumption and environmental impact, throughout the year, not just on Earth Day. Let's strive to make this a Smarter Planet!
technorati tags: IBM, Costa Rica, El Naccional, Quino, GDP, Intel, Earth Day, Freakonomics, Al Gore
Continuing this week's theme on Earth Day, I am in San José, the capital of Costa Rica.
|Despite all the talk I heard about how great Costa Rica was, ranked 5th in the world as one of thegreenest countries, I had a hard time breathing the air in San José.Here's a picture I took from my hotel in Escazú, which overlooks the city. |
I have been to the [Top 5 smogiest cities in the world] --Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Cairo, New Dehli, and Shanghai-- and can say that San Jose,Costa Rica is nowhere near as bad as any of those, and more on par with cities in the United States, like Pittsburgh or Los Angeles.
Having a single government official in charge of both energy and environment means they can set pricesand provide incentives in one to benefit the other. Here are two examples:
Only 5 percent of the energy consumption of this county comes from oil. Despite having their own oilrepositories off-shore, the Costa Ricans have decided not to drill and ruin their pristine shoreline,but rather import from foreign sources.Gasoline prices are set high to include some of the environmental costs, about four dollars per gallon(800 Costa Rican Colones per liter). Cars can be converted to run on less expensive Propane orsugar cane Ethanol, but the conversions are cost-prohibitive for many.
Did it help? No, Traffic was like a parking lot. Part of this was the result of the main highway beingunder construction, forcing many people to take side streets.
Electricity is 13 US cents per KWh. My hotel in Escazu wanted an extra $8.50 US dollars per day to run theAir Conditioner. By comparison, my house in Tucson, Arizona is 1167 square feet, roughly five to six times the size of my hotel room, and my electricity bill is a flat 27 US dollars per month year round.
Did it help? No, most tourists just pay the extra cost. I tried one day with A/C, and the second day without, for scientific comparison, and decided to go without the rest of the time I was there. Perhaps being from Tucson, Arizona I can tolerate the 85-degree heat better than others.
So if incentives to conserve like high prices don't work, what will? I interviewed Alexandra,a local 24-year-old studying law at a nearby college:
- Once you get your law degree, will you move to another country, such as the United States? --There are already too many lawyers in your country.
- What about Japan or Asia, there is a shortage of lawyers there?-- No, I plan to stay here in my country. Costa Rica is beautiful, my friends and family are here, why would I leave?
- So why do you think the incentives don't work to help people conserve gasoline and electricity? --People have to earn a living, and are focused on getting things done. If it can be done in a way that helps the environment, great, but otherwise life continues.
- So will you specialize in "environmental" law? -- Not sure yet. Too early to say. Costa Rica is certainly leading the world in environmental protection, and much of this is through laws and tax schemes.
High prices don't serve well as incentives to reduce consumption, but perhaps national pride and working in an industry like agriculture or eco-tourism might.
technorati tags: IBM, Costa Rica, San Jose, Escazu, gasoline, electricity
Happy Earth Day everyone!
This week I am in Costa Rica to celebrate[Earth Day] and promote IBM's [Smarter Planet strategy] to help solve the world's energy and environmental problems. This is thethird in the series. The first two posts were:
|Here in Costa Rica, they separate their recyclables, and encourage even the hotel guests from other countries to do the same. See my photo on the left for an example.|
This is more than most in the United States will do. We're lucky to get North Americans to just separate all recyclables in one bin separate from all trash in a second bin.
Leaving Arenal, I went to Escazu, a suburb of San Jose, the capital of this country. I met with Patrick, one of the owners of [Exclusive Excursions Travel
] that helped me organize the eco-tourism portion of this trip to Costa Rica.
Most people are familiar with the [star rating system] that rank most hotels from one star (budget class/economy) to five stars (deluxe/luxury). The nicest hotel I've been to was the [Burj Al Arab] in Dubai, which claims a seven star rating. For eco-tourism, there is a similar "Green Leaf" rating system. According to Patrick,the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo [ICT] (tourism board of Costa Rica) rates hotels from one leaf (adopting some measures, like separating recyclables shown above) to five leaves (entirely carbon neutral).This Green Leaf system seems more important to European and Canadian tourists, but those from United States may not even be aware of it.
The food at these hotels vary. The typical dish here for breakfast, lunch and dinner is the Casado, consisting of mostly rice and beans. I have found thatCosta Rica has come up with as many creative ways to combine rice and beans in various proportions as Starbucks® serve various combinations of coffee and milk.The locals might be accustomed to a steady diet of rice and beans for every meal of every day, but those of us from North America aren't! Not counting tourist flatulence, Costa Rica has[pledged to be carbon neutral by 2021], the country's 200th birthday.
Sadly, most folks in the United States don't categorize their hotels with a Green Leaf rating system, nor do they even bother to categorize their recyclables. I spent 18 months in the field doing Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) assessments for clients, and most didn't categorize their data either.So, the next time you have some combination of coffee and milk, whether its a Latte, Misto, Espresso, or Macchiato, remember that the coffee came from acountry trying to be more environmentally responsible, grown by a farmerwho eats a simple diet of rice and beans, and has no problem separating different categories of recyclables. Perhaps you will remember to separate your data, and store it on an information infrastructure based on an environmentally-responsible combination of SSD, FC, SATA and tape, to reduce your costs and minimize your carbon footprint.
We're all on this planet together.
technorati tags: IBM, Earth Day, Smarter Planet, Costa Rica, eco-tourism, Green Leaf, Casado, SSD, FC, SATA,tape[Read More]
This week's theme is Earth Day and the importance IBM has placed on energy and environmental conservation. I am traveling through Costa Rica, ranked by Forbes as the fifth greenest and [cleanest countries in the world
]. Europe was home to the top four in the survey of 149 countries, ledby Switzerland, and home to 14 of the top 20. Colombia came in ninth. United States was a pathetic 39th.
In yesterday's post, [Green Water for Green Energy], I covered geo-thermal energy with a visit to the hot springs.My next activity was a rafting trip down the Peñas Blancas and San Carlos rivers, heading towards Nicaragua, to discuss hydro-electric power. Half of the hydro-electric power in this country is driven directly by river flow, and the rest relies on stored water in lakes. Back in 2007, Costa Rica had a drought, and this affected the hydro-electric capacity, resulting in brown-outs and power outages. When more than 80 percent of your energy comes from this source, droughts can be devastating. Rain patterns for Costa Rica have a dry season from mid-December to April, lots of Rain in May and June, a "short summer" (called affectionately El Veranito) with little or no rain in July, and then more rain the rest of the year, averaging over 150 inches of rainfall per year.
This was billed as a "Safari Float" ride.The water level was low, "Class I", the slowest possible rating, giving our raft guide Pedro a chance to point out a variety of birds, monkeys, iguanas and crocodiles. Iguanas and Crocodiles are protected endangered species in Costa Rica, and are notsupposed to be killed for food or sport.
(Hint: don't bother, both taste like chicken)
Joining us in our raft is Pamela, the 9-year-old daughter of one of the employees of the rafting company, [Canoa Adventura
]. This wastheir version of take-your-daughter-to-work-day
, as her parents want her to learn the rafting business, and get accustomed around English-speaking tourists.
Along the way, we saw a bulldozer knocking down trees and scooping up the rich soil.Costa Ricans consider trees and soil as renewable resources, reducing the need to purchase foreign fossil-based oil for cooking and chemical fertilizers.The name of the country, Costa Rica, literally means "rich coast" in the Spanish language, and with a string of 112 volcanos, the silt has plenty of mineral content that is good for agriculture, from coffee and bananas, to sugar cane, oranges and African palm.
Midway down the river, we had an "energy stop" to rest from all the paddling. This involved a visit to Don Pedro's farm, he is 98 years old, has four daughters, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren, the youngest of which just born 15 days ago. We had coffee, [fried plantaines], and Yucca cake. We have Yucca in Arizona as well. If you've ever seen a [Yucca] plant, you would never think to eat it, but it is a staple here. To make cake, just grate the Yucca root, mix in enough milk and sugar, and bake in a pie tin. The result has a consistency similar to coconut macaroons.
On the ride back, we stopped at the famous "Iguana bridge" where we could see up close and personal a dozen or so of these huge lizards. Our guide Marcos fed them some papaya. Agreat way to appreciate bio-diversity in action!
technorati tags: IBM, Forbes, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Yucca[Read More]
This week, I am in Costa Rica to blog about "Earth Day" which officially is this Wednesday, April 22.
Fellow published author Thomas Friedman has a book titled[Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America] which serves as a call to action for Americans. His recent op-ed piece in the New York Times newspaper, titled [(No) Drill, Baby, Drill] is all about Costa Rica. Here is an excerpt:
"These days, visitors can still see amazing biodiversity all over Costa Rica — more than 25 percent of the country is protected area — thanks to a unique system it set up to preserve its cornucopia of plants and animals. Many countries could learn a lot from this system.
More than any nation I’ve ever visited, Costa Rica is insisting that economic growth and environmentalism work together. It has created a holistic strategy to think about growth, one that demands that everything gets counted. So if a chemical factory sells tons of fertilizer but pollutes a river — or a farm sells bananas but destroys a carbon-absorbing and species-preserving forest — this is not honest growth. You have to pay for using nature. It is called “payment for environmental services” — nobody gets to treat climate, water, coral, fish and forests as free anymore.
The process began in the 1990s when Costa Rica, which sits at the intersection of two continents and two oceans, came to fully appreciate its incredible bounty of biodiversity — and that its economic future lay in protecting it. So it did something no country has ever done: It put energy, environment, mines and water all under one minister.
“In Costa Rica, the minister of environment sets the policy for energy, mines, water and natural resources,” explained Carlos M. Rodríguez, who served in that post from 2002 to 2006. In most countries, he noted, “ministers of environment are marginalized.” They are viewed as people who try to lock things away, not as people who create value. Their job is to fight energy ministers who just want to drill for cheap oil.
But when Costa Rica put one minister in charge of energy and environment, “it created a very different way of thinking about how to solve problems,” said Rodríguez, now a regional vice president for Conservation International. “The environment sector was able to influence the energy choices by saying: ‘Look, if you want cheap energy, the cheapest energy in the long-run is renewable energy. So let’s not think just about the next six months; let’s think out 25 years.’ ”
As a result, Costa Rica hugely invested in hydro-electric power, wind and geo-thermal, and today it gets more than 95 percent of its energy from these renewables. In 1985, it was 50 percent hydro, 50 percent oil. More interesting, Costa Rica discovered its own oil five years ago but decided to ban drilling — so as not to pollute its politics or environment! What country bans oil drilling?
Rodríguez also helped to pioneer the idea that in a country like Costa Rica, dependent on tourism and agriculture, the services provided by ecosystems were important drivers of growth and had to be paid for. Right now, most countries fail to account for the “externalities” of various economic activities. So when a factory, farmer or power plant pollutes the air or the river, destroys a wetland, depletes a fish stock or silts a river — making the water no longer usable — that cost is never added to your electric bill or to the price of your shoes.
Costa Rica took the view that landowners who keep their forests intact and their rivers clean should be paid, because the forests maintained the watersheds and kept the rivers free of silt — and that benefited dam owners, fishermen, farmers and eco-tour companies downstream. The forests also absorbed carbon."
|I start my visit at Arenal, where there is a hydro-electric dam at Lake Arenal that produces electricity, a large volcano, and natural hot springs.I found [more stats on Costa Rica's energy consumption] that provide more details.|
At left is a photo I took of the Volcano Arenal. This is just one of the 112 volcanoes in thecountry.
At the [Springs Resort and Spa], they have clear (chlorinated) swimming pools maintained at three different temperatures. I asked our guide,Alan, if the pools were being heated from the electricity generated from the dam at the lake.No, they use green water for green energy. Taking advantage of "geo-thermal" energy, the natural hot springs are run through a [Heat Exchanger], to heat the pools. The waters do not mix, keeping the clean water clean. The process is similar to IBM's [Rear Door Heat eXchanger].
|Why don't people just soak directly in the green water directly? Alan responded, "You can certainly enjoy soaking in the green water, but I recommend you buy some storage, which will cost you extra, as a souvenir."|
The storage, shown here at right, holds cash and credit cards with a water-tight seal. Normal pool water won'teffect cash or credit cards, and I have certainly seen people pay for food and drinks with soggy dollars in other places. This water is literally green, and perhaps not for everyone. How green is it? Think watered-down version of [split-pea soup] and you will have a close approximation.I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but am going to need some industrial-strength scum-and-lime remover to clean the glass face of my waterproof watch when I get back home.
Fortunately, I speak the Castellano dialect of Spanish that is spoken here in Costa Rica,and this will allow me to continue to gather more information about how Costa Rica leads the way in being more energy efficient and environmentally responsible.
technorati tags: IBM, Earth Day, Rear Door Heat eXchanger, geo-thermal,hydro-electric[Read More]
Earlier this week, EMC announced its Symmetrix V-Max, following two trends in the industry:
- Using Roman numerals. The "V" here is for FIVE, as this is the successor to the DMX-3 and DMX-4. EMC might have gotten the idea from IBM's success with the XIV (which does refer to the number 14, specifically the 14th class of a Talpiot program in Israel that the founders of XIV graduated from).
- Adding "-Max", "-Monkey" or "2.0" at the end of things to make them sound more cool and to appeal to a younger, hipper audience. EMC might have gotten this idea from Pepsi-Max (... a taste of storage for the next generation?)
I took a cue from President Obama and waited a few days to collect my thoughts and do my homework before responding.Special thanks to fellow blogger ChuckH in giving me a [handy list of reactions] for me to pick and choose from. It appears that EMC marketing machine feels it is acceptable for their own folks to claim that EMC is doing something first, or that others are catching up to EMC, but when other vendors do likewise, then that is just pathetic or incoherent. Here are a few reactions already from fellow bloggers:
This was a major announcement for EMC, addressing many of the problems, flaws and weaknesses of the earlier DMX-3 and DMX-4 deliverables. Here's my read on this:
- More ports
Now you can have as many FCP ports (128) as an IBM System Storage DS8300, although the maximum number of FICON ports is still short, and no mention of ESCON support. The Ethernet ports appear to be 1Gb, not the new 10GbE you might expect.
- Support for System z mainframe
V-Max adds some new support to catch up with the DS8000, like Extended Address Volumes (EAV). EMC is still not quite there yet. IBM DS8000 continues to be the best, most feature-rich storage option if you have System z mainframe servers.
- Improved Performance
Both the IBM DS8000 and HDS USP-V beat the DMX-4 in performance, and in some cases the DMX-4 even lost to the IBM XIV, so EMC had to do something about it. EMC chooses not to participate in industry-standard performance benchmarks like those from the [Storage Performance Council], which limits them to vague comparisons against older EMC gear. I'll give EMC engineers the benefit of the doubt and say that now V-Max is now "comparably as fast as HDS and IBM offerings".
- Getting "V" in the name
The "V" appears to be for the roman number five, not to be confused with external heterogeneous storage virtualization that HDS USP-V and IBM SVC provide. There is no mention of synergy with EMC's failed "Invista" product, and I see no support for attaching other vendors disk to the back of this thing.
- Switch to Intel processor
Apple switched its computers from PowerPC to Intel-based, and now EMC follows in the same path. There are some custom ASICs still in V-Max, so it is not as pure as IBM's offerings.
- Modular, XIV-like Scale-out Architecture
Actually, the packaging appears to follow the familiar system bays and storage bays of the DMX-4 and DMX-4 950 models, but architecturally offers XIV-like attachment across a common switch network between "engines", EMC's term for interface modules.
- Non-disruptive data migration
IBM's SoFS, DR550 and GMAS have this already, as does as anything connected behind an IBM SAN Volume Controller.
A long time ago, IBM used to have midrange disk storage systems called "FAStT" which stood for Fibre Array Storage Technology, so this might have given EMC the idea for their "Fully Automated Storage Tiering" acronym. The concept appears similar to what IBM introduced back in 2007 for the Scale-Out-File Services [SofS] which not only provides policy-based placement, movement and expiration on different disk tiers, includes tape tiers as well for a complete solution. I don't see anything in the V-Max announcement that it will support tape anytime soon.
And what ever happend to EMC's Atmos? Wasn't that supposed to be EMC's new direction in storage?
- Zero-data loss Three-site replication
IBM already calls this Metro/Global Mirror for its IBM DS8000 series, but EMC chose to call it SRDF/EDP for Extended Distance Protection.
- Ease of Use
The most significant part of the announcement is that EMC is finally focusing on ease-of-use.In addition to reducing the requirement for "Bin File" modifications, this box has a redesigned user interface to focus on usability issues. For past DMX models, EMC customers had to either hire EMC to do tasks for them that were just to difficult otherwise, or buy expensive software like their EMC Control Center to manage. EMC willcontinue to sell DMX-4 boxes for a while, as they are probably supply-constrained on the V-Max side, but I doubt they will retro-fit these new features back to DMX-3 and DMX-4.
When IBM announced its acquisition of XIV over a year ago now, customers were knocking down our doors to get one. This caught two particular groups looking like a [deer in headlights]:
- EMC Symmetrix sales force: Some of the smarter ones left EMC to go sell IBM XIV, leaving EMC short-handed and having to announce they [were hiring during their layoffs]. Obviously, a few of the smart ones stayed behind, to convince their management to build something like the V-Max.
- IBM DS8000 sales force: If clients are not happy with their existing EMC Symmetrix, why don't they just buy an IBM DS8000 instead? What does XIV have that DS8000 doesn't?
Let me contrast this with the situation Microsoft Windows is currently facing.
|I am often asked by friends to help them pick out laptops and personal computers. I use Linux, Windows and MacOS, so have personal experience with all three operating systems.|
Linux is cheaper, offers the power-user the most options for supporting older, less-powerfulequipment, but I wouldn't have my Mom use it. While distributions like Ubuntu are makinggreat strides, it is just too difficult for some people.
MacOS is nice, I like it, it works out of the box with little or no customization and an intuitive interface. However, some of my friends don't make IBM-level salaries, and have to watch their budget.
In their "I'm a PC" campaign, Microsoft is fighting both fronts. Let's examine two commercials:
- In the first commercial, a young eight-year-old puts together a video from pictures oftoy animals and some background music.The message: "Windows is easier to use than Linux!" If they really wanted to send this message, they should have shown senior citizens instead.
- In the second commercial, a young college student is asked to find a laptop with 17 inchscreen, and a variety of other qualifications, for under $1000 US dollars. The only modelat the Apple store below this price had a 13 inch screen, but she finds a Windows-based system that had this size screen and met all the other qualifications. The message: "Windows-based hardware from a variety of competitors are less expensive than hardware from Apple!"
Both Microsoft and Apple charge a premium for ease-of-use.In the storage world, things are completely opposite. Vendors don't charge a premium forease-of-use. In fact, some of the easiest to use are also the least expensive.
- If you just have Windows and Linux, you can get some entry level system likethe IBM DS3000 series, only a few features, and can be set up in six simple steps.
- Next, if you have a more interesting mix of operating systems, Linux, Windows and some flavorsof UNIX like IBM AIX, HP-UX or Sun Solaris, then you might want the features and functionsof more pricier midrange offerings. More options means that configuration and deploymentis more difficult, however.
- Finally, if you are serious Fortune 500 company, running your mission critical applications on System z or System i centralized systems in a big data center, that you might be willing to pay top dollar for the most feature-rich offerings of an Enterprise-class machine.Thankfully you have an army of highly-trained staff to handle the highest levels of complexity.
IBM's DS8000, HDS USP-V and EMC's Symmetrix are the key players in the Enterprise-classspace. They tried to be ["all things to all people"], er.. perhaps all things to allplatforms. All of the features and functions came at a price, not just in dollars, butin complexity and difficulty. You needed highly skilled storage admins using expensive storage management software, or be willing to hirethe storage vendor's premium services to get the job done.
Alan Cooper wrote a book that would change that mindset, titled[The Inmates Are Running the Asylum: Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity]. This book showed why the situation had gotten out ofhand, and to demand better ease-of-use from all vendors. It was required reading for anyone working in or with IBM's "User Centered Design" teams.I highly recommend this book.
IBM recognized this trend early. IBM's SVC, N series and now XIV all offer ease-of-use withenterprise-class features and functions, at lower total cost of ownership than traditional enterprise-class systems. IBM is not the only one, of course, as smaller storage start-ups like 3PAR,Pillar Data Systems, Compellent, and to some extent Dell's EqualLogic all recognized thisand developed clever offerings as well.
While IBM's XIV may not have been the first to introduce a modular, scale-out architectureusing commodity parts managed by sophisticated ease-of-use interfaces, its success might have been the kick-in-the-butt EMC needed to follow the rest of the industry in this direction.
technorati tags: IBM, DS8000, XIV, SVC, EMC, Symmetrix, V-Max, DMX-3, DMX-4, Chuck Hollis, HDS, USP-V, FCP, FICON, ESCON, storage+virtualization, FAStT
Did you miss your chance to attend Storage Networking World last week? IBM has some upcoming conferences that might be of interest to you.
- IBM Systems Conference 2009
In this inaugural event, IBM executives, developers and industry experts reveal the latest innovations, trends and directions. In the span of three full days, you will hear and see technologies demonstrated that are needed to transform and respond effectively in these economic times.
There will be three tracks:
- IBM Systems -- Including storage, mainframe, POWER and x86 systems
- Solutions for a Dynamic Infrastructure
- Professional Development -- including negotiation skills, project management and TCO analysis
The[IBM Systems Conference] will be held May 18-21, 2009 in Orlando, Florida.
- IBM System Storage and Storage Networking Symposium
If the above conference is too broad, we have a more storage-specificconference. The [IBM System Storage and Storage Networking Symposium] brings IBM storage developers, architects, technical experts, solution providers and customer speakers together in one place to show you how to address the growing challenge of managing and securing retention managed data. You'll also learn about the latest IBM System Storage™ portfolio product announcements.
I have spoken at these perhaps 12 of the last 14 years. The list of presenters has not yet finalized, so I do not yet know if I will actually be there this year.
Two exciting things are new this year. First, instead of being in San Diego or Las Vegas, it will be held in Chicago, Illinois instead!Secondly, you get a two-for-one with the [IBM System x and BladeCenter Technical Conference]. That's right, they are co-located there in Chicago so that you can attend sessions from both! Perhaps you spend 80 percent of your time on storage, and 20 percent on x86 servers, or 80 percent servers and 20 percent storage, now you can register for one price, and decide when you get there.
If you act soon, you can save money with the early-registration discount by May 31.
Hopefully, this will give you enough time to plan and make travel arrangements!
technorati tags: IBM, conference, Olrando, storage, storage networking, symposium, BladeCenter, Chicago
Well, it is Tuesday, and that means IBM announcements. This week many of my colleagues are attending Storage Networking World [SNW
] conference. Normally, the most exciting announcements are reserved for the weeks these conferences are held, but IBM apparently made an exception this week.
- New Factory configurations for XIV
The first announcement is for new [factory configurations] for the IBM XIV disk system. In the past, you could only order a partial 6-module or a full 15-module rack. Today, IBM announced that there will also be 9-, 10-, 11-, 12-, 13- and 14-module configurations orderable as well.
Some FUD out in the blogosphere led some to believe that these partial configurations had to be made full 15 modules within 12 months. That is false. You can order any of these partial rack configurations and leave them as is until you need more capacity. There is no obligation to buy more capacity with these partial rack configurations.
- IBM N series N6060 configurations
This second announcement indicates that the N6060 supports[672 drives]. The N6060 is the latest midrange model of IBM N series unified storage.
If you are asking "What is a 672 drive?" don't feel stupid. It actuallyrefers to the number of external drives that can be attached to the N6060. Previously, it was mis-reported that the N6060 could support as many as 840 drives, but this was not correct, and this announcement is to fixthat typo.
- IBM Passport Advantage Sub-Capacity Licensing
This last announcement today relates to IBM Passport Advantage[sub-capacity licensing].Pricing products is always a challenge. You want to come up with a pricing methodology such that people who get the most use pay the most, and those who get less pay less, in a manner that everyone thinks is fair. With commodities, it is simple to price rice by the pound, or fabric by the yard, but what about IT solutions?
Some of the IBM software is based on number of processors used, so that people who have the software running on multiple machines, or machines with multiple cores, should pay more because they are getting more value. This makes sense if this software is the only thing running on that server, but today you can also have server virtualization and are running many guest operating systems, each with different applications. The solution is to use "sub-capacity" licensing. If you have a quad-core processor server, but have four guest operating systems using 25 percent of this, then each OS should only pay for one processor's worth of licensing. Since different processors have different clock speeds, IBM has standardized the calculations to a mythical "Processor Value Unit" or PVU, with a corresponding IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT).
Initially, this will cover specific versions of Citrix Xen Server, Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware, but IBM has made as a "statement of direction" that it will extend this sub-capacity licensing and ILMT support to IBM PowerVM capability for its POWER systems.
I have often heard clients complain that their third party software vendor does not support these hypervisors. Sometimes, this means the third party vendor will not fix or provide assistance if the problem occurs in this environment, and other times, it is that the pricing does not favor this environment, you get charged for all the processors, even if your slice of the processor is much smaller.
If you are at SNW this week, stop by and say "Hi" to my fellow IBM collegues for me.
technorati tags: IBM, SNW09, XIV, N6060, PVU, ILMT, Citrix, Xen, Hyper-V, VMware, ILMT
I am proud to announce that fellow IBMer Carlos Pratt has launched a new IBM storage blog[GreenSpeed
I'd like to expand a bit on how I know Carlos. Back in 1999 I was asked to lead a team at IBM Tucson to install Linux on our local z800 mainframe, and run tests to confirm that all of our IBM disk and tape storage offerings attached successfully. I was, at the time, lead architect for DFSMS on OS/390 and management felt that my knowledge of the S/390 instruction set was all that was needed to pull this off. My team was a collection of people from a variety of other hardware and software teams, and Carlos came over from the Disk Performance test team.
Needless to say, there were some challenges. The port of Red Hat and SUSE Linux over to the mainframe required special device drivers, and in some cases, we actually needed to make changes to the Linux kernel. While it was over 100 degrees outside, we were in the test lab wearing jackets with a refrigerator thermometer hanging on the wall to monitor our ice cold working conditions.
And of course, we had our internal skeptics. At the time, Linux was only a few percentage points of marketshare, and a few unenlightened souls did not see any reason to invest in support for a new operating system until it was more established. People with a "Wait-and-See" attitude don't last long at IBM. Fortunately, smarter heads prevailed, and now that Linux is well established as the operating system of the future, we can all look back and say "I told you so!"
Carlos was a "get things done" kind of guy. Working with frequent patches to the Linux kernel, device drivers under development, and a team fairly new to this new operating system, Carlos was able to provide the driving force to get our tests done.
So, please check out Carlos' new blog!
technorati tags: IBM, Carlos Pratt, Linux, Red Hat, SUSE