This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to IBM Systems, storage and storage networking hardware, software and services.
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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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Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
IBM ProtecTIER TS7650G model DD6 supports File System Interface (FSI)
The IBM ProtecTIER Data Deduplication appliance (TS7620) and gateway (TS7650G) support three protocols used by major backup software products:
VTL - Virtual Tape Library. Originally, backup software products were designed exclusively to work with tape drives and libraries. To introduce disk-based storage and data deduplication, the easiest way was for disk-based systems to pretend to be a tape library. Hence, "Virtual Tape Library" acts just like a physical tape library.
OST - OpenStorage Technology API, a proprietary interface used exclusively by the Veritas NetBackup software to talk to disk-based backup repositories.
FSI - File System Interface, which are your familiar NAS interfaces like NFS and SMB (formerly known as CIFS). Some backup software like Commvault Simpana are optimized for NAS storage pools.
In the past, FSI was limited to the single-controller models. This is because having an active/active file system sharing was very complicated to implement.
In the new DD6 dual-controller model, you can now run two independent FSI instances, each controller owns its own set of files. To learn more, see the IBM Press Release [IBM ProtecTIER DD6 supports FSI].
IBM TS3000 System Console enhancements
The Tape Storage System Console (TSSC) is a console that allows administrators to manage up to 24 systems in tape libraries (such as TS3500 and TS4500) and virtual tape systems (such as TS7720T and TS7650G). The new features include:
Error-initiated problem reporting, often called "Call Home" support, with staged, error-specific data gathering for support
Automatic wellness checking
Remote services such as remote monitoring support and call-in capability with authenticated access through a modem or broadband, including file transfers and multiple connections with attached systems
IBM offers two sets of products for entry-level and midrange disk systems:
Storwize V7000 and V5000 products are optimized for random-access workloads like Virtual Machines (VMs), Databases, Email and other Online Transaction Processing (OLTP).
The DCS3860 and DCS3700 are optimized for sequential throughput, like video streaming, batch processing or big data analytics.
Prior to this announcement, the DCS3700 and DCS3860 supported 4TB and 6TB Nearline 7200 rpm drives, and 800GB and 1.6TB Solid-State Drives (SSD). Obviously, it doesn't make sense to offer SSD on sequential-oriented solutions. To align better with this worldview, IBM is discontinuing the SSD options, and adding a new 8TB Nearline drive option.
IBM Spectrum Control Advanced Edition and IBM Virtual Storage Center
Earlier in my career, I was the chief architect of what is now called IBM Spectrum Control. If you still have IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center (TPC) Standard Edition V4.x products, you can now migrate to IBM Spectrum Control Advanced Edition V5.2 by ordering a trade-up part number through Passport Advantage.
IBM Virtual Storage Center (VSC) Entry uses a per-TB pricing model. This is a discounted version of VSC "Classic" for those with four or fewer SAN Volume Controller (SVC) node pairs, and 500 TB or less managed storage capacity per enterprise.
I love Hollywood movies where the main character joins the [Witness Protection Program]! For those not familiar, this is when a person witnesses a horrible or obscene crime. To protect the witness from the criminals, the US Government would change your name, create a new identity, and move you to a new city until the trial is over. While this hides the witness from the bad guys, it also means losing touch with all your friends and family.
I mention this because every time IBM renames an existing product, modifies the code to meet IBM standards, translate to other international languages, and all the other activities needed to [assimilates the product into the IBM "Borg"], it is very similar to joining the Witness Protection Program.
(Internally, we refer to this renaming and assimilating as "blue-washing", not to be confused with the traditional definition of "bluewash" -- To tout a corporation's commitment to social responsibility, and to use this perception for public relations and economic gain; to present a humanitarian front in this manner, which IBM also does. See this article [Sesame Workshop and IBM Watson Team Up to Advance Early Childhood Education] for an example.)
Last November 2015, [IBM acquired Cleversafe] for $1.3 Billion US dollars because Cleversafe has the brand name recognition as the #1 Object Storage vendor the past two years in a row (2014 and 2015). Unfortunately, Cleversafe has "witnessed" a huge rise in obscene profits and revenues, and is now joining the "Witness Protection Program".
Renaming Cleversafe software, pre-built appliance hardware, and related cloud services to [IBM Cloud Object Storage System] is like someone acquiring the Coca-Cola company and renaming their namesake soft drink product to "Brown Carbonated Sugar Liquid", which adults might shorten to "Bro-Carbo" and the kids would nickname "Sugar-Liq".
(FCC Disclosure: I work for IBM. This blog post can be considered a "paid celebrity endorsement" for IBM Storage products. I have no financial interest in the Coca-Cola Company, CBS Television, Paramount Pictures, or Warner Bros. I have no knowledge of any IBM's future plans in acquiring any beverage-based manufacturing or bottling companies. I use Coca-Cola® merely as a well-recognized brand for illustrative purposes.)
Honestly, I don't know if "IBM Cloud Object Storage System version 3.8" offers any new features over "Cleversafe 3.7", or if the numbering change was just to help avoid confusion with existing v3.7 clients.
The IBM 3592 Tape Controller Model C07 which provides FICON access for mainframe attachment did not meet the Restriction of Hazardous Substances [RoHS] directive. This is the directive to not have lead-based paint or other hazardous substances in the paint, plastic or other materials in IT equipment.
IBM had a tough business choice. Either fix it, or stop selling it. Our mainframe clients just don't use physical tape anymore. Instead, IBM offers IBM Virtual Tape Systems (TS7720, TS7720T and TS7740) as well as the IBM ProtecTIER TS7650G Mainframe Edition.
In journalism, this is called [burying the lede]. IBM has combined the world's fastest storage, IBM FlashSystem 900, with IBM FlashSystem® A9000/A9000R Software V12.0, based on IBM Spectrum Accelerate and XIV v11 software technology.
This new software has many of the features you love from IBM Spectrum Accelerate and XIV, but adds excellent data footprint reduction. First, we eliminate repeated patterns, then apply data deduplication, and finally apply advanced compression.
This combination works great for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, Virtual Machines for traditional applications, and even databases. Since this applies to all data, the models are priced based on their "effective capacity" based on 5.26x reduction. Different data dedupes or compresses at different rates. Your mileage may vary.
Two models were announced:
FlashSystem A9000 - This is an 8U rack-optimized solution that has three 2U x86 servers combined with a 2U drawer of FlashSystem 900 with a nice bezel on the front. This can fit into any standard 19 inch rack. Since FlashSystem offers 1.2TB, 2.9TB and 5.7TB IBM Microlatency modules, the FlashSystem A9000 is offered in 60TB, 150TB and 300TB effective capacities. Performance is at least 250 microsecond latency, up to 4.5 GB/sec throughput and 50,000 IOPS.
FlashSystem A9000R - The "R" on the end refers to "Rack". Instead of something that slides into an existing rack, the A9000R is a free-standing 19-inch wide rack with two to six flash enclosures. Each flash enclosure will have two x86 servers running the IBM FlashSystem A900R Software v12.0, and one FlashSystem 900 drawer. IBM offers both 150TB and 300TB effective capacity per flash enclosure, based on the 2.9TB and 5.7TB IBM Microlatency modules. Performance is at least 250 microseconds, up to 18 GB/sec throughput and 2 million IOPS.
Some have called these new models the "All-Flash" version of XIV, in much the same way that the FlashSystem V9000 is the all-Flash version of SVC. That is a reasonable analogy.
This week, I presented at the "IBM TechU Comes to You" event in beautiful Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This was a three-day event, so here is my recap of Day 3.
IBM Spectrum Control Family - The right products for your storage management needs
Mike Griese (IBM Spectrum Storage Evangelist) presented the IBM Spectrum Control family. There are now four editions of IBM Spectrum Control:
IBM Spectrum Control Based Edition -- comes included with specific IBM Storage products to provide Cloud APIs such as those required for VMware.
IBM Spectrum Control Standard Edition -- Includes "Based Edition" and adds monitoring, provisioning and troubleshooting for IBM and non-IBM storage devices. Also includes IBM Copy Services Manager for select IBM storage devices.
IBM Spectrum Control Advanced Edition --Includes "Standard Edition" and adds Spectrum Protect Snapshot to take application-aware snapshots, and the Storage Analytics Engine to optimize data placement.
IBM Spectrum Control Storage Insights -- A "Software-as-a-Service" subset of "Advanced Edition" for IBM storage products.
Implementation of Incremental Forever Backup and Deduplication with Spectrum Protect
This was combination of an overview of IBM Spectrum Protect plus an update of the latest v7.1.5 release. For those who use alternative backup software like Veritas NetBackup or Commvault Simpana, I explained how to implement "Incremental Forever" backup, which has been shown repeatedly by analysts and studies as being far more efficient than traditional backup methods like Full+Incremental or Full+Differential.
For those who may be using an earlier version of IBM Tivoli Storage Manager, I presented the new "Dedupe 2.0" features, including the new concept of "Container Pools" that can either be "Directory Pools" on SAN or NAS-based disk storage, or "Cloud Pools" on object storage, like IBM Cleversafe or IBM SoftLayer.
Spectrum Control Storage Insights - Redefining storage management simplicity
Mike Griese presented the newest member of the IBM Spectrum Control. Storage Insights is a Software-as-a-Service offering, that was recently reduced in price: only $250 per month for the first 50TB. Increasing amounts of storage capacity monitored are tiered at lower and lower prices.
Real-time Compression in Database environment
When it comes to compression, should you compress at the database level, or in the storage device? Database management systems like IBM DB2 and Oracle DB offer row-level or page-level compression.
IBM Real-time Compression available in IBM XIV and all of the latest Spectrum Virtualize products: SAN Volume Controller, Storwize V7000, Storwize V7000 Unified, Storwize V5000, FlashSystem V9000, as well as any of these in the VersaStack converged system from IBM and Cisco.
IBM ran tests that compared volume with database uncompressed, database-based compression, compression on IBM Storwize V7000 with IBM Real-time Compression, and a test run that does both database and storage-based compression together. The results might surprise you!
I explained the pros and cons of each method of compression, and why you might choose one or the other.
Be Ready for Object Storage with CleverSafe
Eric Forestier (IBM Montpelier) presented a quick overview of IBM Cleversafe, then did a live demo of the PUT and GET features. For example, he used the Linux CURL command to upload a video file as an object in his IBM Cleversafe cluster back in France. Then he used a regular browser to stream the video back.
Was Dubai too far away for you to attend? Want to hear the latest technical information about IBM Storage, but not willing to wait until the big [IBM Edge Conference] this September? We will have several more "IBM TechU Comes to You" events in May and June.
This week, I presented at the "IBM TechU Comes to You" event in beautiful Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This was a three-day event, so here is my recap of Day 2.
Introducing the Spectrum Storage Suite
Mike Griese (IBM WW Spectrum Storage Software Evangelist) presented an overview of the IBM Spectrum Storage family of products, and the new IBM Spectrum Storage Suite license which drastically simplifies the TB-licensing of all six products into a single number.
Spectrum Scale - introduction, use cases, competitive advantages
I presented an overview of IBM Spectrum Scale v4.2.1 release. I covered our support for POSIX, NFS, SMB, Hadoop, OpenStack Swift and Amazon S3 interfaces.
IBM Spectrum Scale is an ideal solution to replace NetApp filers, EMC Isilon or DataDomain storage devices. Use cases include clustered NAS, Object store, and Hadoop repository for analytics.
IBM Spectrum Archive -- Integration with Spectrum Scale, and its Applications in CCTV and Media
This was another special request from the UAE team, and I had a lot of fun putting it together. I started talking about IBM's recent acquisitions in video technologies, including LiveStream and ClearLeap.
I then explained how Spectrum Scale works, and how Spectrum Archive works either separately, or in combination with Spectrum Scale.
A live demo was planned to show this all off, but sadly I had network, firewall and/or VPN issues that prevented me from attaching to my Tucson-based systems. I then wrapped up with client references that have successfully used IBM Spectrum Archive in this area.
IBM Virtual Storage Center - Prepare your existing storage for the future
Mike Griese presented IBM Virtual Storage Center, which combines the "Control Plane" product of IBM Spectrum Control Advanced Edition, with the "Data Plane" products under IBM Spectrum Virtualize.
Introduction to Object Storage and its Applications - Cleversafe
I presented the basics of object store, a radical new way of storing information and how it is different from block or file-based storage alternatives.
I then covered the features of IBM Cleversafe solutions, available as software, pre-built appliances, and in the Cloud. I wrapped up with practical use cases for Content Repository, Enterprise Collaboration, Active Archive, Storage as a Service, and Backup storage pool.
Integration between IBM Spectrum Scale and Cleversafe
This was a fun session.
I presented an overview of IBM Spectrum Scale which provides volume, file and object-level storage interfaces on data that can span various flash, hybrid and spinning disk storage devices.
I gave a quick recap of Cleversafe for those who missed my earlier session.
I then showed how files can be migrated from IBM Spectrum Scale to either Cleversafe on-premises, Cleversafe in the Cloud on IBM SoftLayer, or LTFS-enabled tape using Spectrum Archive, or to any combination of disk, tape, object storage, Cleversafe and Cloud through IBM Spectrum Protect HSM and Space Management features.
Tuesday evening I went out to dinner with the z Systems team. Earlier in my career, I was the chief architect of DFSMS, the storage management element of z/OS operating system, so I continue to have close ties with the folks from Poughkeepsie.
Was Dubai too far away for you to attend? Want to hear the latest technical information about IBM Storage, but not willing to wait until the big [IBM Edge Conference] this September? We will have several more "IBM TechU Comes to You" events in May and June.
This week, I presented at the "IBM TechU Comes to You" event in the beautiful [Kempinski hotel], part of the [Mall of the Emirates] on the famous Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This was a three-day event, so here is my recap of Day 1.
Marlin Maddy (IBM Systems Lab Services) acted as emcee to kick off this event. We had about 150 attendees. Louise Hemond-Wilson (IBM Distinguished Engineer) and Glenn Anderson (IBM Systems Lab services) presented similar to last week in Atlanta. See my blog post [Atlanta Day 1 Recap] for an overview.
Software Defined Storage - What is it, How can it help?
Mike Griese (IBM WW Spectrum Storage Software Evangelist) presented his viewpoint on Software Defined Storage. His focus was on what we call "software-based" or "software-deployed" storage solutions. These are solutions that are basically software deployed on industry-standard servers, such as x86 or OpenPower, that provide a choice of server vendor.
(In Atlanta, Clod Barrera, Jeff Barnett, and I presented back-to-back sessions on Software Defined Storage (SDS). See my blog post [Atlanta Day 1 Recap] for an overview of those three sessions.)
The key difference between "Software-Deployed" storage and "Software-Controlled" storage is that the former is ideal to reduce costs by using commodity, off-the-shelf servers, but may not have all of the OpenStack, VMware or Microsoft APIs needed to effectively manage the solution as part of a large data center or Cloud facility.
If, however, you are deploying Software-deployed storage in Remote Office/Branch Office locations, Test/Dev departments, or similar small deployments, that may not be an issue.
All Flash is not Equal -- Contrasting difference between IBM FlashSystem and SSD
This was a special request by the local UAE team, because many FlashSystem presentations focus on the product, but don't explain the underlying technology, specifically what differentiates IBM FlashSystem from substantially slower competitive alternatives like EMC XtremIO and PureStorage that are based instead on fallible commodity Solid State Drives (SSD).
By working closely with our chip vendor, Micron, IBM was able to improve the write endurance of these Multi-level cell (MLC) chips by 9.4x, and reduce write amplification by 45 percent.
I explained IBM's clever asymmetrical wear-level balancing, heat segregation, read disturb mitigation, voltage level shifting, and health binning, all of which contribute to the performance and reliability of this solution. IBM's innovative Error Correcting Code provides LDPC-like correction strength but at much faster BCH-like latency speed.
This was such a popular session that I have been asked to present again at the upcoming IBM TechU events in San Francisco, Chicago and Boston.
How to combine advantage of storage virtualization & Flash performance (Turbocompression effect)
Dominique Salomon (IBM Certified IT Specialist Storage from Montpelier, France) presented Turbocompression, the benefits of combining IBM Real-time Compression (RtC) with Easy Tier sub-volume automated tiering.
Sometimes two things just go well together. Chocolate and Peanut Butter, Bacon and Maple Syrup, Peaches and Cream, are just a few pairings that come to mind.
Initially, when IBM introduced RtC, it did not allow Easy Tier on the same compressed volumes, in an effort to avoid conflicts. Then in a later release, IBM lifted the restriction, allowing them to apply to the same volumes. The results were surprising, both benefit each other. IBM has taken this further, using Easy Tier information to enhance compression algorithms on an extent by extent basis.
The combination improves performance while reducing total cost of ownership, and is available on all of the latest Spectrum Virtualize products: SAN Volume Controller, Storwize V7000, Storwize V7000 Unified, Storwize V5000, FlashSystem V9000, as well as any of these in the VersaStack converged system from IBM and Cisco.
DS8880 IBM Newest Disk Storage System
Maurice "Mo" McCullough (IBM Lab Services and Training) presented the latest DS8000 models, the DS8884 and DS8886. IBM is number #1 in storage attached to the mainframe, with 42 percent marketshare, and this is because IBM's investment in this platform, beating out HDS, EMC and HPE.
Each country and culture is different, but in many of the Islamic countries, it is considered inappropriate to serve alcoholic drinks at the after-hours reception. Instead, we had our sponsors serve juice and coffee. IBM does business in over 170 countries, and I have been to nearly half of them, so we know how to adjust and adapt to each and every unique situation.
Was Dubai too far away for you to attend? Want to hear the latest technical information about IBM Storage, but not willing to wait until the big [IBM Edge Conference] this September? We will have several more "IBM TechU Comes to You" events in May and June. To learn more, or to register for one of these, check out the [IBM Technical Events in 2016] landing page. I have negotiated [special discounts] for upcoming events in the United States for those who read this blog!
Last week, I was in Atlanta for the "IBM TechU Comes to You" event at the beautiful Marriott Marquis hotel. This was a three-day event, so here is my recap of Day 3.
Troubleshooting SAN Performance Issues
Jim Blue (IBM SAN Central) did a great job presenting best practices for resolving performance issues in your Storage Area Network (SAN). This was an advanced technical session intended for SAN administrators, with more level of detail than I am used to.
IBM's Cloud Storage Options
What do all IBM Storage products have in common? They can all be used in Cloud deployments. All of them. Really! No exceptions. I did a short 20-minute version of this in Las Vegas last February for InterConnect conference. Here in Atlanta, I expanded this to a full hour version.
(Whenever IBM Storage is sold into a Cloud deployment, IBM counts this as "IBM Cloud revenue" instead of "IBM Systems Storage revenue". Total IBM Cloud revenues (public,private and hybrid) for the first quarter of 2016 increased 34 percent--up 36 percent adjusting for currency--thanks to this clever way of counting money. See the [IBM 1Q 2016 Results] for more details.)
When I was first asked to cover "Cloud Storage", I asked "What do YOU mean by Cloud Storage?" as different people have different notions of what that is. Their response "You tell US what Cloud Storage is!" So, I came up with a four category taxonomy, and for each category, I explain which protocols of block, file or object provide the best fit, and which IBM Storage products we lead with in each area.
Optimizing Performance with IBM Spectrum Virtualize
IBM Spectrum Virtualize is the software that runs on IBM SAN Volume Controllers, Storwize, FlashSystem V9000, and all of these can be part of a VersaStack solution from IBM and Cisco. John Wilkinson from the IBM Hursley Lab that develops the IBM Spectrum Virtualize software gave a great presentation on how to optimize performance with these offerings.
A good part of his session was discussing the new "Distributed RAID" feature. Rather than having a dedicated SPARE drive that becomes a bottleneck during a RAID rebuild, the spare drive space is interspersed and rotated among all the drives, so that rebuilds can occur in parallel, much like the distributed RAID-10 in the IBM XIV storage system.
Using IBM Spectrum Control to manage IBM Spectrum Scale
Brian Sherman presented the latest synergy between Spectrum Control and Spectrum Scale, two products in our IBM Spectrum Storage family. In past releases, Spectrum Control was focused almost exclusively on SAN-based storage, with some support for IBM N series and NetApp filers. Now, IBM Spectrum Control provides a range of features to help manage IBM Spectrum Scale deployments, both at the file and object level.
At the end of the last day of this conference, people left early. Atlanta traffic is worse than Los Angeles or Boston. Rather than fly back home to Tucson, only to fly out again to Dubai, I stayed in Atlanta to fly directly to Dubai for my next speaking gig.
Did you miss Atlanta? Want to hear the latest technical information about IBM Storage, but not willing to wait until the big [IBM Edge Conference] this September? We will have several more "IBM TechU Comes to You" events in May and June. To learn more, or to register for one of these, check out the [IBM Technical Events in 2016] landing page. I have negotiated [special discounts] for those who read this blog!