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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior Software Engineer 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. You can also follow him on Twitter @az990tony.
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I am back from lovely Taipei. The IBM Top Gun class went well. Here are a few pictures of things I found interesting while I was there.
On the first day of class, I asked for some coffee. Our lovely class assistant, Ashley, brought me a cup with an interesting paper filter hanging on the edge. I have since learned that there are two drinks never to order in Taiwan: coffee and wine. If you enjoy either, you won't here. Instead, I drank the local "Taiwan Beer" and various types of tea.
Our class was on the 14th floor of the building, and there was this warning sign posted in the elevator. I have no idea what Chinese characters say, but we found the cartoon depictions of elevator dangers amusing. We interpreted the lower left corner to mean "Don't let your evil twin sister push you out of a moving elevator!"
I have to say that the variety of food was excellent. One night, we had dinner at a [Spanish Tapas] restaurant. The Spanish had a settlement on Taiwan island, known as Formosa back then, until driven out by the Dutch in 1642. We also had a traditional Chinese lunch, with dumplings, pickled cabbage, and "Lion's Head" soup.
From the classroom floor, we could see the Taipei 101 building, considered the third [tallest skyscraper in the world]. This wasn't here the last time I was in Taiwan.
On the last day, we were treated to some [Bubble tea], a specialty drink that originated in Taiwan in the 1980's. The straw was unusually thick, about twice as thick as a normal straw. We quickly figured out why. It was so that we could slurp up the brown floating things at the bottom. We didn't realize this until after the first sip. These floaties were actually Boba Tapioca pearls. The tea itself was delicious and sweet.
Special thanks to Joe Ebidia for managing the class, his assistant Ashley, and our local support team Justin and Stewart. I would also like to thank the staff at the Sherwood Hotel.
IBM has announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Texas Memory Systems, Inc. (TMS), a privately held Houston, Texas-based company with about 100 employees, that focuses on solid-state flash optimized systems and solutions, including the RamSan family of external rack-mounted storage, as well as PCIe cards for internal storage that fit inside servers.
I've mentioned Solid-State Drive storage quite a few times over the past few years in this blog, which included some great interactions with my friends over at Texas Memory Systems. Here's a quick look:
In my now infamous blog post [Hybrid, Solid State and the future of RAID], I resort to a deck of [Tarot cards] in an effort to fight [writer's block] responding to query about combining solid-state with spinning disk. In the original post, I poked fun at Texas Memory Systems having the slogan "World's Fastest Storage". Woody Hutsell, then VP of marketing for Texas Memory Systems, explained that the reason that TMS did not have faster benchmark results was because it did not have a million dollars to buy the fastest IBM UNIX server.
In my post [Good News and Bad News], I mentioned that Texas Memory Systems has an impressive SPC benchmark result. The Storage Performance Council [SPC] publishes the benchmarking industry standard by which all block-based storage devices are measured. It looks like the TMS performance test department finally got the million-dollar IBM server they needed for this.
My colleagues in marketing were not amused, afraid that mentioning small companies like TMS would give them a huge boost in marketing awareness, above and beyond what TMS could do on their own modest marketing budget, similar to the [Colbert Bump]. I could call it the Pearson Bump. If you first heard of Texas Memory Systems from my blog, or bought TMS products based on my discussion, please post a comment below!
IBM made history as the first major storage vendor to [break the 1 million IOPS barrier with Solid State Disk]. The project was known as "Quicksilver", and was able to demonstrate that a product like SAN Volume Controller with Solid-State Drives (SSD) can indeed provide a significant boost in performance to external disk arrays. The IBM 2145-CF8 and 2145-CG8 models allow up to four SSD in each node. I was asked not to blog the entire month of August, so that our upcoming September announcements would get more notice, but I couldn't resist covering Quicksilver. The original post had mentioned Texas Memory Systems, but were later removed to avoid the "Pearson Bump".
In my post [Day 2 IBM Storage University - Solutions Expo - TMS After-party], I mentioned that I attended the TMS after-party. Texas Memory Systems had just been qualified as Solid-State Drive (SSD) storage behind the IBM SAN Volume Controller, and the two products work extremely well together for IBM Easy Tier, the sub-volume automated tiering capability to optimize storage performance. I was able to catch up with my friend Erik Eyberg, and meet CEO and Founder Holly Frost.
Nearly half (43 percent) of IT decision makers say they have plans to use SSD technology in the future or are already using it in their datacenter. Solid-state can refer to both volatile Random Access Memory (RAM) and non-volatile Flash, and Texas Memory Systems has built solutions around both types. The survey question referred to non-volatile Flash Solid-State Drives (SSD) that do not require a battery to keep the data from fading away after the power goes out. Nearly all storage in the datacenter has volatile Random Access Memory (RAM).
Speeding delivery of data was the motivation behind 75 percent of respondents who plan to use or already use SSD technology. I would have thought this would have been 100 percent, but the other options included reduced energy consumption, and improved drive reliability, which are both also true with Solid-State Drives.
However, for those who were not using SSD today, the major factor was cost, according to 71 percent of respondents. On a Dollar-per-GB basis, Solid-State Drives continue to be anywhere from 10 to 25 times more expensive spinning disk. Last year's tsunami in Japan, and the floods in Thailand, have caused spinning disk prices to rise to cover component shortages, thereby shrinking the price gap between SSD and spinning disk.
Nearly half (48 percent) say they plan on increasing storage investments in the area of virtualization, cloud (26 percent) and flash memory/solid state (24 percent) and analytics (22 percent).
Earlier this week, Jon Erickson from Forrester Reserch, and Chris Saul from IBM, co-presented a webcast on the economic impact of using SAN Volume Controller for storage virtualization. The event was co-sponsored by IBM, InformationWeek, and UBM TechWeb, The Global Leader in Business Technology Media, a Division of UBM LLC. Jon spoke first, covering the cost savings and financial benefits of using SAN Volume Controller in your environment. His analysis shows a payback period of only 18 months!
Chris Saul (IBM) then covered the latest features introduced last June for SAN Volume Controller v6.4 release. Many of these features are available on older hardware models of SAN Volume Controller. One of the most exciting features is Real-time Compression.
If you missed the webcast, you can listen to the [Replay]. There is also a [whitepaper] if you prefer that format.
The Real-time Compression benefits can vary by the type of data compressed. Some data compresses only 20% savings. Other data compresses 80% or more. The best way to find out how much Compression would benefit your environment is to run the [IBM Comprestimator Tool] that runs against your own data!
If you are constantly battling out-of-space conditions, and would like to make extra room on your existing storage devices, your dreams have come true!
Well it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means! IBM Announcements!
For nearly 50 years, IBM has been leading the IT industry with its mainframe servers. Today, IBM announced its 12th generation mainframe in its [System z product family], the IBM zEnterprise EC12, or zEC12 for short. I joined IBM in 1986, and my first job was to work on DFHSM for the MVS operating system. The product is now known as DFSMShsm as part of the Data Facility Storage Management System, and the operating systems went through several name changes: MVS/ESA, OS/390, and lately z/OS. I was the lead architect for DFSMS up until 2001. I then switched to be part of the team that brought Linux to the mainframe. Both of these experiences come in handy as I deal with mainframe storage clients at the Tucson Executive Briefing Center.
Let's take a look at some recent developments over the past few years.
In the 9th and 10th generations (IBM System z9 and z10, respectively), IBM introduced the concept of a large "Enterprise Class", and a small "Business Class" to offer customer choice. These were referred to as the EC and BC models.
For the 12th generation, IBM kept the name "zEnterprise", but went back to the "EC" to refer to Enterprise Class. Rather than offer a separate "small" Business Class version, the zEC12 comes in 60 different sub-capacity levels. Many software vendors charge per core, or per [MIPS], so offering sub-capacity means that some portion of the processors are turned off, so the software license is lower. The top rating for the zEC12 is 78,000 MIPS. (I would have thought by now that we would have switched over to BIPS by now!)
If you currently have a z10 or z196, then it can be upgraded to zEC12. The zEC12 can attach to up to four zBX model 003 frames that can run AIX, Microsoft Windows and Linux-x86. If you currently have zBX model 002 frames, these can be upgraded to model 003.
The key enhancements reflect the three key initiatives:
Operational Analytics - Most analytics are done after-the-fact, but IBM zEnterprise can enable operational analytics in real-time, such as fraud detection while the person is using the credit card at a retail outlet, or online websites providing real-time suggestions for related products while the person is still adding items to their shopping card. Operational analytics provides not just the insight, but in a timely manner that makes it actionable. There is even work in place to [certify Hadoop on the mainframe].
Security and Resiliency - IBM is famous for having the most secure solutions. With industry-leading EAL5+ security rating, it beats out competitive offerings that are typically only EAL4 or lower. IBM has a Crypto Express4S card to provide tamper-proof co-processing for the system. IBM introduces the new "zAware" feature, which is like "Operational Analytics" pointed inward, evaluating all of the internal processes, error logs and traces, to determine if something needs to be fixed or optimized.
Cloud Agile - When people hear the phrase "Cloud Agile" they immeidately think of IBM System Storage, but servers can be Cloud Agile also, and the mainframe can run Linux and Java better, faster, and at a lower cost, than many competitve alternatives.
With all of the distractions this week, from the Republican National Convention in Florida, to the Tropical Storm Isaac that hit New Orleans on the 7th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I thought I would continue this week's theme on the IBM zEnterprise EC12.
Processing an insurance claim: $56 U.S. dollars (USD) with mainframes, versus $92 USD with distributed servers.
Processing a mobile subscriber: $18.26 USD with mainframes, versus $26.12 USD with distributed servers.
IT cost for an ATM machine: $572 USD with mainframes, versus $1021 USD with distributed servers.
In the whitepaper [Total Economic Impact of IBM System z], Forrester Research interviews the executives of five existing mainframe clients, and through in-depth analysis of their deployments, is able to present a "composite" company with an IT-staff of 4,500 employees. The result is impressive: deploying an IBM System z had an ROI of 199 percent. That is a payback period of less than five months!
A finish this post with a quick [6-minute Youtube video], featuring my colleage, Nick Sardino. Nick and I have worked together in the past at various conferences and conventions.