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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor, Senior IT Architect and Event Content Manager for [IBM Systems for IBM Systems Technical University] events. With over 30 years with IBM Systems, Tony is frequent traveler, speaking to clients at events throughout the world.
Lloyd Dean is an IBM Senior Certified Executive IT Architect in Infrastructure Architecture. Lloyd has held numerous senior technical roles at IBM during his 19 plus years at IBM. Lloyd most recently has been leading efforts across the Communication/CSI Market as a senior Storage Solution Architect/CTS covering the Kansas City territory. In prior years Lloyd supported the industry accounts as a Storage Solution architect and prior to that as a Storage Software Solutions specialist during his time in the ATS organization.
Lloyd currently supports North America storage sales teams in his Storage Software Solution Architecture SME role in the Washington Systems Center team. His current focus is with IBM Cloud Private and he will be delivering and supporting sessions at Think2019, and Storage Technical University on the Value of IBM storage in this high value IBM solution a part of the IBM Cloud strategy. Lloyd maintains a Subject Matter Expert status across the IBM Spectrum Storage Software solutions. You can follow Lloyd on Twitter @ldean0558 and LinkedIn Lloyd Dean.
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Continuing my coverage of the 30th annual [Data Center Conference]. here is a recap of Wednesday morning sessions.
A Data Center Perspective on MegaVendors
The morning started with a keynote session. The analyst felt that the eight most strategic or disruptive companies in the past few decades were: IBM, HP, Cisco, SAP, Oracle, Apple and Google. Of these, he focused on the first three, which he termed the "Megavendors", presented in alphabetical order.
Cisco enjoys high-margins and a loyal customer base with Ethernet switch gear. Their new strategy to sell UP and ACROSS the stack moves them into lower-margin business like servers. Their strong agenda with NetApp is not in sync with their partnership with EMC. They recently had senior management turn-over.
HP enjoys a large customer base and is recognized for good design and manufacturing capabilities. Their challenges are mostly organizational, distracted by changes at the top and an untested and ever-changing vision, shifting gears and messages too often. Concerns over the Itanium have not helped them lately.
IBM defies simple description. One can easily recognize Cisco as an "Ethernet Switch" company, HP as a "Printer Company", Oracle as a "Database Company', but you can't say that IBM is an "XYZ" company, as it has re-invented itself successfully over its past 100 years, with a strong focus on client relationships. IBM enjoys high margins, sustainable cost structure, huge resources, a proficient sales team, and is recognized for its innovation with a strong IBM Research division. Their "Smarter Planet" vision has been effective in supporting their individual brands and unlock new opportuties. IBM's focus on growth markets takes advantage of their global reach.
His final advice was to look for "good enough" solutions that are "built for change" rather than "built to last".
Chris works in the Data Center Management and Optimization Services team. IBM owns and/or manages over 425 data centers, representing over 8 million square feet of floorspace. This includes managing 13 million desktops, and 325,000 x86 and UNIX server images, and 1,235 mainframes. IBM is able to pool resources and segment the complexity for flexible resource balancing.
Chris gave an example of a company that selected a Cloud Compute service provided on the East coast a Cloud Storage provider on the West coast, both for offering low rates, but was disappointed in the latency between the two.
Chris asked "How did 5 percent utilization on x86 servers ever become acceptable?" When IBM is brought in to manage a data center, it takes a "No Server Left Behind" approach to reduce risk and allow for a strong focus on end-user transition. Each server is evaluated for its current utilization:
Amazingly, many servers are unused. These are recycled properly.
1 to 19 percent
Workload is virtualized and moved to a new server.
20 to 39 percent
Use IBM's Active Energy Manager to monitor the server.
40 to 59 percent
Add more VMs to this virtualized server.
over 60 percent
Manage the workload balance on this server.
This approach allows IBM to achieve a 60 to 70 percent utilization average on x86 machines, with an ROI payback period of 6 to 18 months, and 2x-3x increase of servers-managed-per-FTE.
Storage is classified using Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) best practices, using automation with pre-defined data placement and movement policies. This allows only 5 percent of data to be on Tier-1, 15 percent on Tier-2, 15 percent on Tier-3, and 65 percent on Tier-4 storage.
Chris recommends adopting IT Service Management, and to shift away from one-off builds, stand-alone apps, and siloed cost management structures, and over to standardization and shared resources.
You may have heard of "Follow-the-sun" but have you heard of "Follow-the-moon"? Global companies often establish "follow-the-sun" for customer service, re-directing phone calls to be handled by people in countries during their respective daytime hours. In the same manner, server and storage virtualization allows workloads to be moved to data centers during night-time hours, following the moon, to take advantage of "free cooling" using outside air instead of computer room air conditioning (CRAC).
Since 2007, IBM has been able to double computer processing capability without increasing energy consumption or carbon gas emissions.
It's Wednesday, Day 3, and I can tell already that the attendees are suffering from "information overload'.
Continuing my coverage of the 30th annual [Data Center Conference]. Here is a recap of the Tuesday morning sessions:
Wells Fargo: Data Center Lessons Learned from the Wachovia Acquisition
This was the next in their "Mastermind Interview" series. The analyst interviewed Scott Dillon, EVP and Head of Technology Infrastructure Services for Wells Fargo bank. Some 13 years ago, Wells Fargo merged with Norwest, and three years ago, Wells Fargo merged again, this time with Wachovia bank. Today, the new merged Wells Fargo manages 1.2 Trillion USD in assets, some 12,000 ATMs, and 9,000 branch offices within two miles of 50 percent of the US population.
On the technical side, Scott's team has to deal with 10,000 IT changes per month, spanning 85 discrete businesses that Wells Fargo is involved in. To help drive the consolidation, they formed a culture group called "One Wells Fargo".
Often, Wells Fargo and Wachovia used different applications for the same function. The consolidation team took the A-or-B-but-not-C approach, which means they would either choose the existing application that Wells Fargo was already using (A), or the one that Wachovia was already using (B), but not look for a replacement (C). They also wanted to avoid re-platforming any apps during the merger. This simplified the process of developing target operating models (TOMs).
Before each application cut-over, the consolidation team did dry-run, dress rehearsals and walkthroughs over the phone to ensure smooth success. They wanted a Wachovia account holder to be able to walk into the bank on one day, and then come back the next day as a Wells Fargo account holder, into the same branch office but now with Wells Fargo signage, with minimal disruption.
Wells Fargo also adopted a test-to-learn approach of choosing small test markets to see how well the transition would work before tackling larger, more complicated markets. For example, they started in Colorado, where Wells Fargo has a huge presence, but Wachovia had a small presence.
This was first and foremost a business merger, not just an IT merger. Each decision to 6-18 months to act on, and the IT team spent the last three years working every weekend to make this a reality.
A Satirical Look at Business and Technology
Comedian Bob Hirschfeld presented a light-hearted look at the IT industry. Bob actually attended sessions on Monday at this conference so his satire was exceptionally hard-hitting. He took jabs at the latest IT job requirements, padding on light poles, IBM Watson, social media's impact on dictators, various industry acronyms, virtualization, the various reasons why printer ink is so expensive, and the evil masterminds behind Powerpoint.
Storing Big Data takes a Village
Two analysts co-presented this session on the 12 dimensions of information management that revolve around the volume, variety and velocity of "Big Data".
In the past, it took a while to gather data, and a while to process the data, so annual, quarterly and monthly reports were common. Today, with high-velocity streams like Twitter, especially during cultural events or natural disasters, data is produced and analyzed quickly. It is important to sort the steady-state from the anomalies.
Myth 1: All data fits nicely into relational databases. The analysts feel the concept of putting everything into one big data base is dead. Some data sets are so complicated that traditional database joins would cause smoke to come out of the sides of the servers. Instead, new technologies have emerged, including NoSQL, Cassandra, Hadoop, Columnar databases, and In-memory databases. XML has helped to bring together disparate data formats.
Companies need to adapt to this new reality of Business Analytics. Here is a poll of the audience on how many are in what stage of adaptation:
Myth 2: Everyone will do Big Data with commodity hardware. Businesses want commmercial offerings that don't fail every day. (For example, instead of using open-source Hadoop, consider IBM's [InfoSphere BigInsights] commercial product based on Hadoop designed for the Enterprise).
Myth 3: Big Data is too big for backup. Certainly, traditional full-plus-incremental approaches fail to scale, but that is not the only option you have. Consider disk replication, snapshots, and integrated disk-and-tape blended solutions that adopt a more progressive backup methodology.
Capacity forecasting can be difficult with Big Data. Scale-out NAS systems, including IBM SONAS and the various me-too competitive offerings, were originally focused on High Performance Computing (HPC) and the Media & Entertainment (M&E) industries, are now ready for prime-time and appropriate for other use cases.
It's like the game of Clue, but instead of Professor Plum with the candlestick in the library, it was Chuck with the Cluster in the Closet. To avoid shadow IT creating huge Hadoop Clusters in your closets, encourage the use of Cloud Computing for "sandbox" projects. IBM, Amazon and others offer hosted MapReduce engines for this purpose.
What type of storage do you plan to use for Big Data? The top five, weighted from a list during a poll of the audience were: (78) traditional disk arrays, (71) Scale-out NAS, (46) pre-configured appliances, (30) Hadoop clusters, and (23) Cloud Storage.
Big Data is about doing things differently. Do your employees understand analytical techniques? Your company may need to start thinking about policies for capturing Big Data, storing it correctly, and analyzing it for insights and patterns needed to stay competitive.
It was good to mix reality with a bit of humor. Some of these conference attendees take themselves too seriously, and it is good to be reminded that IT is just part of the overall business operation.
Continuing my coverage of the 30th annual [Data Center Conference]. Here is a recap of some of the Tuesday afternoon sessions:
Brocade: Maximizing Your Cloud: How Data Centers Must Evolve
This was a session sponsored by Brocade to promote their concept of the "Ethernet Fabric". The first speaker, John McHugh, was from Brocade, and the second speaker was a client testimonial, Jamie Shepard, EVP for International Computerware, Inc.
John had an interesting take on today's network challenges. He feels that most LANs are organized for "North-South" traffic, referring to upload/downloads between clients and servers. However, the networks of tomorrow will need to focus on "East-West" traffic, referring to servers talking to other servers.
John was also opposed to integrated stacks that combine servers, storage and networking into a single appliance, as this prevents independent scaling of resources.
The Future of Backup is Not Backup
Primary data is growing at 40 to 60 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), but backup data is growing faster. Why? Because data that was not backed up before are now being backed up, including test data, development data, and mobile application data.
Backup costs are 19x more expensive than production software costs. There is an enormous gap in data protection because companies fail to factor this into their budgets. It is not uncommon for IT departments to use multiple backup tools, for example one tool for VMs, and another tool for servers, and a third product for desktops.
part of the problem is identifying who "buys" the backup software. The server team might focus on the operating systems supported. The storage team focuses on the disk and tape media supported. The application owners focus on the features and capabilities for backup that minimize impact to their application.
The analyst organized these issues into three "C's" of backup concerns: Cost, Capability and Complexity. Cost is not just the software license fee for the backup software, but the cost of backup media, courier fees, and transmisison bandwidth. Capability refers to the features and functions, and IT folks are tired of having to augment their backup solution with additional tools and scripts to compensate for lack of capability. Complexity refers to the challenges trying to get existing backup software to tackle new sources like Virtual Machines, Mobile apps, and so on.
Has everyone moved to a tape-less backup system? Polling results found that people are shifting back to tape, either in a tape-only environment, or to supplement their disk or disk-based virtual tape library (VTL). Here are the polling results:
The poll also showed the top three backup software vendors were Symantec, IBM and Commvault, which is consistent with marketshare. However, the analyst feels that by 2014, an estimated 30 percent of companies will change their backup softwar vendor out of frustration over cost, capability and/or complexity.
There are a lot new backup software products specific to dealing with Virtual Machines. Some are focused exclusively on VMware. When asked what tool people used to backup their VMs, the polling results showed the following. NOte that 20 percent for Other includes products from major vendors, like IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Virtual Environments, as the analyst was more interested in the uptake of backup software from startups.
Some companies are considering Cloud Computing for backup. This is one area where having the cloud service provider at a distance is an actual advantage for added protection. A poll asking whether some or most data is backed up to the Cloud, either already today, or plans for the near future within the next 12 or 24 months, showed the following:
In addition to backup service providers, there are now several startups that offer file sharing, and some are adding "versioning" to this that can serve as an alternative to backup. These include DropBox, SugarSync, iCloud, SpiderOak and ShareFile.
The final topic was Snapshot and Disk Replication. These tend to be hardware-based, so they may not have options for versioning, scheduling, or application-aware capabilities normally associated with backup software. Space-efficient snapshots, which point unchanged data back to the original source, may not provide full data protection that disparate backup copies would provide. Here were polling results on whether snapshot/replication was used to augment or replace some or most of their backups:
Some of his observations and recommendations:
Maintenance is more expensive than acquisition cost. Don't focus on the tip of the iceberg. Some backup software is more efficient for bandwidth and media which will save tons of money in the long run.
Try to optimize what you have. He calls this the "Starbuck's effect". If you just need one coffee, then paying $4.50 for a cup makes sense. But if you need 100 coffees, you might be better off buying the beans.
Design backups to meet service level agreements (SLAs). In the past, backup was treated as one-size-fits-all, but today you can now focus on a workload by workload basis.
Be conservative in adopting new technologies until you have your backup procedures in place to handle data protection.
Backup is for operational recovery, not long-term retention of data. A poll showed two-thirds of the audience kept backup versions for longer than 60 days! Re-evaluate how long you keep backups, and how many versions you keep. If you need long-term retention, use archive process instead.
Recovery testing is a dying art. Practice recovery procedures so that you can do it safely and correctly when it matters most.
The analyst had a series of awesome pictures of large structures, the pyramids of Giza, the Chrysler building, and so on, and how they would look without their foundations in place. Backup is a foundation and should be treated as such in all IT planning purposes.
IT is evolving, but some basic needs like networking and backup procedures don't change. As companies re-evaluate their IT operations for Big Data, Cloud Computing and other new technologies, it is best to remember that some basic needs must be met as part of those evaluations.
Continuing my coverage of the 30th annual [Data Center Conference]. Here is a recap of the other Monday morning keynote sessions:
Driving Innovation to Achieve Dramatic Improvements
What is Innovation? It is a process that starts with one or more ideas, that results in change, that creates value. Easier said than done!
Innovation drives business growth. The analyst indicated that the IT infrastructure can either be in the way to impede business growth, neutral to enable growth, or contributing to business growth. Companies often find downtime as an inhibitor to business growth. The analyst gave these typical numbers.
Unplanned downtime (hours per year)
Planned Downtime (hours per year)
A big inhibitor to change is "cultural inertia", which states that the way things are prevent what they could be. Change requires both rewards and measures. Employees are often uncomfortable with change. Motivation should be with carrots not sticks.
(I often joke that the only people who are comfortable with change are babies with soiled diapers and prisoners on death row!)
The impedence to change is further amplified by leadership because what got them into their positions was their history of success, and often leaders perpetuate what worked for them in the past.
"There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all."
--- Peter Drucker
Nothing lasts forever, and companies should not try to avoid the inevitable. Innovators need to see themselves as change agents. the analyst feels that less than 10 percent of IT will adopt innovation to enact dramatic change. The analyst took a poll of the audience asking: Why isn't your IT Infrastructure and Operations more innovative? Over 800 attendees responded. Here were the results:
The analyst suggests treating Innovation like a team sport, with small 2-5 person teams. Search for breakthrough opportunities by setting audacious goals to inspire innovative thinking. What approach are most people doing today? Here are some polling results:
The analyst suggest it is more important to establish a culture of innovation first, and process second. Skunkworks projects are back in favor. IT folks should avoid the worship of so-called "best practices" as a reason to avoid change in trying something different. To think "outside-the-box" you need to get outside the box, or office, or cubicle, or wherever you work that prevents you from interacting with your internal or external customers. Customers can bring great insights on new approaches to take.
One new approach, born in the Cloud and now coming to the Enterprise is the concept of [DevOps], which consists of promoting collaboration between the "Appplication Development" half of IT, with the "Operations" half. If you never had heard of DevOps before, you are not alone, most of the attendees at this conference hadn't either. Here are the poll results:
Some companies have instituted a "Fresh Eyes" program, asking new-hires and early-tenure employees questions like: What surprised you the most when you joined the company? Was there anything that didn't make sense to you? Do you have any ideas to improve the way we do things?
"In a time of crisis we all have the potential to morph up to a new level and do things we never thought possible"
– Stuart Wilde
Why wait for a crisis?
Facebook: Efficient Infrastructure at a Massive Scale
Frank Frankovsky, the Director of Hardware and Design and Supply Chain at Facebook, was sitting right next to me in the audience. I didn't know this until it was his turn to speak, and he jumps up and walks to the stage! For those who live under a rock and/or are over 40 years old, Facebook is a social media site that allows people to maintain personal profiles, share photos, news and messages, play games, and create groups to organize events. They now support over 800 million accounts, a healthy percentage of the 1.9 billion people on the internet today.
Started in 2004, Facebook was originally hosted on standard server and storage hardware in colocation facilities. Facebook saved 38 percent costs by bringing their operations in-house, building their own servers from parts, and using no third-party software. Facebook has the advantage of owning their entire software stack, leveraging open source as much as possible. They even re-wrote their own PHP compiler, which they pronounce "Hip-Hop", short for high-performance-PHP.
Facebook can stand up a new data center in less than 10 months, from breaking ground to serving users. Most of Facebook's data centers sport a PUE less than 1.5, but their newest one in Prineville, Oregon is down to an amazing 1.07 level for a 7.5 Megawatt facility! How did they do it? Here are a few of their tricks:
Use Scale-Out architecture. Having lots of small servers, scattered in various data centers, allows them to survive a server failure, as well as having the luxury to shut down a datacenter when needed for maintenance reasons.
Free Cooling. Instead of air-conditioning, they pump in cold air from the outside, and send the heated exhaust back outdoors. Frank does not believe servers should be treated like humans, so their data centers run uncomfortably hot. The 50-year climate data is used to determine data center locations that have the optimal "free cooling" opportunities.
Eliminate UPS and PDU energy losses. Rather than running 480 VAC power through UPS that represent a 6 to 12 percent loss, and then PDU that introduce another 3 percent loss getting down to 208 or 120 VAC, Frank's team builds servers that feed direclty off the 480 VAC from the power company. For backup power, they use 48VDC batteries. One set of batteries can backup six racks of servers.
Target 6 to 8 KW per rack. Low-density racks are easier to keep cool.
Build their own IT equipment. Rather than buying commercially-available servers, Frank's team builds 1.5 U servers based on Intel "Westmere" chipset. 1.5U allows for larger fan radius than standard 1U pizza box format. (IBM's iDataPlex uses 2U fans for the same reason!) Facebook has a "Vanity free" design philosophy, so no fancy plastic bezels. In most cases, the covers are left off. Most (65 percent) of their servers are web front-ends. They plan new IT equipment based on Intel's "Sandy Bridge" chipset.
Use SATA drives. They buy the largest SATA drives available, directly from manufacturers, in direct-attach storage (DAS) in their servers. Data is organized in a Hadoop cluster, and they have developed their own internal "Haystack" for photo storage. Despite the floods in Thailand, Facebook has secured all the SATA disk they plan to buy for 2012 from their suppliers.
Use Solid-State drives. Their Database tier uses 100 percent Solid-State drives.
Frank is also a founder for the [Open Compute Project], which takes an "Open source" approach to IT hardware.
Facebook does not bother with hypervisors. Instead, they have adapted their own software to make full use of the CPU natively. This eliminates the "I/O Tax" penalty associated with VMware and other hypervisors.
Of course, not everyone owns their entire software stack, and can build their own servers! It was nice to hear how a company without such limitations can innovate to their advantage.