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, I am back from Las Vegas, and had a pleasant [US Memorial Day] holiday yesterday.
Today is Tuesday, and that means more IBM announcements! IBM announced that the DCS9900 now supports an intermix of SAS and SATA drives. The DCS9900 is purpose-built specifically for the High-Performance-Computing (HPC) and Video Broadcasting industries.
The system is a combination of 4U controllers and 3U expansion drawers. The controllers handle either FC or Infiniband attachment to host servers. The expansion drawers hold up to 60 drives each. With the new features of intermix, the following drives are supported:
7200 RPM SATA drives in 500, 750 and 1000 GB capacities
15K RPM SAS drives in 146, 300 and 450 GB capacities
The DCS9900 groups the drives into sets of 10, in RAID-6 ranks of 8+2P. IBM supports either 5, 10 or 20 expansion drawers to make a complete system. The maximum configuration would be 1200 drives of the 1000GB SATA drives, for a total of 1.2 PB in two frames. Each rank must be all the same type and capacity drive, but you can mix different types within the entire system.
The DCS9900 supports "Sleep Mode", an implementation of Massive Array of Idle Disks [MAID] technology, whereby each RAID rank can be either awake and spinning, or in energy-efficient standby mode. This makes for a more "green" storage system for data that is not accessed frequently.
Recently, IBM and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) [launched an effort] using IBM's World Community Grid "virtual supercomputer" to allow laboratory tests on drug candidates for drug-resistant influenza strains and new strains, such as H1N1 (aka "swineflu"), in less than a month.
Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch will use [World Community Grid] to identify the chemical compounds most likely to stop the spread of the influenza viruses and begin testing these under laboratory conditions. The computational work adds up to thousands of years of computer time which will be compressed into just months using World Community Grid. As many as 10 percent of the drug candidates identified by calculations on World Community Grid are likely to show antiviral activity in the laboratory and move to further testing.
According to the researchers, without access to World Community Grid's virtual super computing power, the search for drug candidates would take a prohibitive amount of time and laboratory testing.
This reminded me of an 18-minute video of Larry Brilliant at the 2006 Technology, Entertainment and Design [TED] conference. Back in 2006, Larry predicted a pandemic in the next three years, and here it is 2009 and we have the H1N1 virus.
His argument was to have "early detection" and "early response" to contain worldwide diseases like this.
A few months after Larry's "call to action" in 2006, IBM and over twenty major worldwide public health institutions, including the World Health Organization [WHO] and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], [announced the Global Pandemic Initiative], a collaborative effort to help stem the spread of infectious diseases.
One might think that with our proximity to Mexico that the first cases would have been the border states, such as Arizona, but instead there were cases as far away as New York and Florida. The NYT explains in an article [Predicting Flu With the Aid of (George) Washington] that two rival universities, Northwestern University and Indiana University, both predicted that there would be about 2500 cases in the United States, based on air traffic control flight patterns, and the tracking data from a Web site called ["Where's George"] which tracks the movement of US dollar bills stamped with the Web site URL.
The estimates were fairly close. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [H1N1 Flu virus tracking page], there are currently 3009 cases of H1N1 in 45 states, as of this writing.
This is just another example on how an information infrastructure, used properly to provide insight, make predictions, and analyze potential cures, can help the world be a smarter planet. Fortunately, IBM is leading the way.
The track sessions were aligned by job role. Here are all the tracks:
Track A: CIO
Track B: Enterprise Architecture professional
Track C: Application Development & Program Management professional
Track D: Information & Knowledge Management professional
Track E: Sourcing & Vendor Management professional
Track F: Business Process & Applications professional
Track G: IT Infrastructure & Operations professional
Track H: Security & Risk professional
Track I: Technology Product Management & Marketing professional
As an IBM consultant, I deal with all of these different kinds of professionals, so I thought I would try to attend a variety of sessions this week. Here are my notes from a few of these:
Transforming IT for Lean Times: Organizational Structure
The Forrester analyst presented the concept of "Lean IT". This is not just a process to make IT skinny or marginal through commoditization. Rather, it is to meet business needs through differentiated services. Gone is the "one-size fits all" mentality. Lean IT can be used to streamline IT capabilities to enable employees to get their jobs done. Continuous improvement is done through a series of "Rapid Improvement Events" (RIE), a methodology known as "Kaizen Blitz".The focus is to reduce waste, including rework, firefighting, meetings, unnecessary reports and paperwork, working groups, and task forces. A common mistake is to reorganize departments before understanding the fundamental requirements, or make every employee use the same PC just to simplify the job of IT.
Traditionally, IT departments had three jobs. The first is Utility, to keep the lights on and systems running. The second is Productivity, to enhance existing systems and applications. The third is Innovation and Business Transformation.The problem has been that many IT leaders have been "IT Supply Managers" ensuring there is adequate supply of these. Instead, the Forrester analyst suggests redefining the role to one of "Demand Broker". Some companies have already done this. The CIO manages the demand for IT from Business Units, Business Processes, Information Workers, as well as suppliers, business partners and customers. As a demand broker, the CIO could then use these demands to optimize and prioritize IT resources.
Why Tech will lead Economic Recovery
The current 5.7 percent drop in IT spending in 2009 during this global financial meltdown is actually similar to the drop in ITspending in 2001-2003. However, the Forrester analyst anticipates that IT spending will bounce back in 2010.His reasoning came from looking at past IT spending trends since the 1950s. He found four clear sequencesconsisting of 6-10 years of growth and investment in IT, followed by 6-10 years of refinement and digestionwhere business leaders try to make the most use of these investments. The four sequences of investment and growth are:
1976-1985 personal computing, empowering individual productivity
1992-2000 network computing, enabling e-business and the internet boom
2008-2016 smart computing, optimizing business results through flexible and responsive IT that incorporates awareness and analytics to solve new business problems.
He argued that this trend was already starting to show itself. There was an uptick in IT spending in 2008 before the financial melt-down, and he feels this is why the tech industry sector will drive the economic recovery in 2010. The top five industries that will lead the adoption of smart computing will be: Government, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Utilities, Education, and Personal Services. These represent 54 percent of IT spending in the US, and also represent a large portion of the US stimulus package.
Smart Computing can be summarized as the "Four A's":
Awareness - instrumentation like RFID chips, sensors and video surveillance
Analysis - intelligent recognition of patterns and finding anomalies
Alternatives - identifying alternative responses
Actions - dealing with threats or capturing opportunity
Smart computing in these industries reflects the need for more vertically-aligned industry-specific solutions.IBM is well-positioned in this area, having both the hardware, software and services for smart computing, as well as deep industry-specific expertise. Other industry-specific vendors, like General Electric and Siemens, have the vertical alignment, and are working to adopt smart computing. Meanwhile, Oracle/Sun and Microsoft are also investing in smart computing, and have the potential to develop more vertically-aligned industry-specific solutions. Other IT vendors will have a choice to make: stay horizontal or go vertical.
ERP's Evolving Landscape: Impact for Application Professionals
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software vendors are consolidating, with
the average ERP deployment 10 years old, triggering many to re-evaluate how
well the promises of ERP match the reality. On the positive side, ERP promised to reduce the total number of applications, provide somefinancial stability and integration, and for the most part the Forresteranalyst felt these promises were mostly met. However, in deploying newcapabilities, lowering TCO or establishing a partnership between vendorand client, ERP vendors got low marks.
Customers are now demanding more end-to-end solutions, especially withmore industry-specific functionality. Technologyadvances should be used to boost the business value. For example,ERP lags in SaaS adoption. Frequent upgrades to meet regulatory requirementscould drive stronger interest in SaaS deployments of ERP.
Customers would also like the end-user experience with the ERP to bemore role-based, with actionable insight and intelligent responses related to the user's job responsibilities. Hybrid ERP solutions that span deploymentacross on-premises, SaaS and managed hosting services might be neededto ease this transition.
What You Should Know Before Signing a Contract with a Disaster Recovery Services provider
This session was less about RTO or RPO, and more about broader considerations.The leading disaster recovery service providers are IBM Business Continuityand Resiliency Services [BCRS], SunGard, ICM/UK, and HP. The Forrester analyst did not think HP was treating this as strategically as they could,and often are behind the scenes through other business partners.
Will this [oligopoly] continue? Theanalyst thinks there will be an increase in the number of disaster recovery service providers. Contenders includeTelcos like Qwest, AT&T, BT, and Verizon Business; SMB-focused firms like i365 and Venyu;and cloud computing IaaS providers like SAVVIS.
So what should you consider when putting out an RFP? Here were a few suggestions:
Make sure there are schedules for all of your platforms (x86, Unix, System i and System z)
Identify all fees, including "declaration fee" and "occupancy fee"
Costs of Disaster Recovery test exercises, including how many, and their duration in days.
How quickly you can access their facility after you declare the disaster
Whether the provider has alternative Data Centers, depending on the scope of the regional disaster
Evolving the 4 P's of Marketing to Grow Revenue in Emerging Markets
I was in IBM marketing for seven years. For those without marketing backgrounds, the 4 P's of marketing are product, promotion, placement and pricing. There is no "global" audience, eachcountry, region or locale has unique characteristics, and requires go-to-market (GTM) strategiesbe tailored to each situation. For example, in Russia, decision makers are more influenced byWeb sites and Industry magazines; in Europe, they are more influenced by peers and word-of-mouth;and in Latin America, direct sales force are most influential. In many countries, blogs are more influential than they are in the United States.
Companies of all sizes can do the right things. For example, IBM translates its materials into 31different languages. Meanwhile, 50-person [LogMeIn] has 17 million users because they have localized their offering, and even allow online purchase in local currencies. Third party consultants that knowthe local region may be needed to break into new geographies.
Certainly the opportunity is there. Worldwide, there are an estimated 9 million small businesses,and another 630,000 medium size businesses. These SMBs employ 22 percent of the workforce in Russia, 55 percentin Europe, and 80 percent in Japan.To reach them, you may need to explore new channels,such as government agencies, academia, non-government organizations (NGO), and trade associations.The traditional supply chain of vendor, distributor and reseller may need be redefined as a demandnetwork, with co-marketing programs, peer-to-peer relationships and shared knowledge resources.
IBM collaborated with the International Finance Corporation [IFC] tocreate the [SME Toolkit], a resource and online communityfor small and medium enterprises, translated and localized into several languages. IBM also workedwith Chinese government to select Wuxi, China as the location for its Cloud Computing center as partof the [Wuxi Tai Hu New Town Science and Education Industrial Park].
This was a great week! Lot's to digest and think about.
Bob Moffat, IBM Senior VP and Group Executive who leads IBM's world-renown Systems and Technology Group, and Cris Espinosa, System x and BladeCenter platform sales specialist, one of the many employees like me at the bottom of same Systems and Technology Group.
Here'sBob Moffatholding an IBM BladeCenter HS22 blade server.A lot of the IBM executives were on hand to help show off IBM's strategy and vision, and highlight how to deploy IBM systems that are the right fit for today.
This is Ira Chavis, IBM consulting IT specialist, who covers how to manage and reduce energy usage today withIBM Energy Efficiency offerings.
Here is Casey Bell, our liaison for the conference, and Angela Reese, who presented Tivoli's latest appliances:
IBM Tivoli Foundations Application Manager
IBM Tivoli Foundations Service Manager
These are IBM servers pre-installed with IBM Tivoli software to help monitor applications and provide service desk support. These are part of our IBM Express initiative that focus solutions aimed for medium sized businesses. By offering them as appliances, rather than just software, these can be deployed in only an hour in most situations.
And here I am, Tony Pearson, IBM certified Dynamic Infrastructure solutions expert, covering servers, storage and networking systems that help to improve service, reduce costs and manage risk. IBM offers flexible systems, software and services to match a wide diversity of business needs, designed for today's challenges and tomorrow's opportunities.
This was a long day, and looks to be a long week ahead.
Well, I have arrived safely in Las Vegas, and the [Forrester IT Forum 2009 conference] started today at noon, with a Welcome Reception at the Technology Showcase. As a platinum sponsor, IBM has a booth manned by several subject matter experts, on the fourth floor of the Sands Expo, between the Venetian and Palazzo hotels.
On the left side, we have Paula Koziol and our [Kaon Interactive] 3D touch-screen.
On the right side, we have Ira Chavis and Cris Espinosa, and a rack of some of IBM's latest offerings.
I'm here all week to blog about this event. When I am not in sessions, I will probably hang out at the Technology Showcase with my colleagues above. If you are in Las Vegas, and want to connect, please contact me.