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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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The article starts out giving background history of the current mess we are in. Here is an excerpt:
"Throughout most of U.S. history, American high school students were routinely taught vocational and job-ready skills along with the three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic...
...But in the 1950s, a different philosophy emerged: the theory that students should follow separate educational tracks according to ability...
Ability tracking did not sit well with educators or parents, who believed students were assigned to tracks not by aptitude, but by socio-economic status and race. ...
...The backlash against tracking, however, did not bring vocational education back to the academic core. Instead, the focus shifted to preparing all students for college, and college prep is still the center of the U.S. high school curriculum..."
My father was a mechanical engineer who enjoyed fixing cars and woodworking on the weekends. I had plenty of "vocational training" growing up at home, no need for me to have this in school, allowing me to focus on getting ready for college.
Nicholas asks legitimate questions at this stage: "So what’s the harm in prepping kids for college? Won’t all students benefit from a high-level, four-year academic degree program?" His initial response is:
"... As it turns out, not really. For one thing, people have a huge and diverse range of different skills and learning styles. Not everyone is good at math, biology, history and other traditional subjects that characterize college-level work.
Not everyone is fascinated by Greek mythology, or enamored with Victorian literature, or enraptured by classical music. Some students are mechanical; others are artistic. Some focus best in a lecture hall or classroom; still others learn best by doing, and would thrive in the studio, workshop or shop floor..."
Hard to argue that people are different, and learn in different ways. Not everyone is meant for college.
"...And not everyone goes to college. The latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that about 68 percent of high school students attend college. That means over 30 percent graduate with neither academic nor job skills..."
Here is what I have most problems with. To think that the 30 percent of high schools students graduate, but do not go to college, have neither academic nor job skills? I disagree with this, as there are many jobs where the academic and job skill training they received in high school is more than adequate. Nicholas then doubled down:
"...But even the 68 percent aren't doing so well. Almost 40 percent of students who begin four-year college programs don’t complete them, which translates into a whole lot of wasted time, wasted money, and burdensome student loan debt. Of those who do finish college, one-third or more will end up in jobs they could have had without a four-year degree. The BLS found that 37 percent of currently employed college grads are doing work for which only a high school degree is required.
It is true that earnings studies show college graduates earn more over a lifetime than high school graduates. However, these studies have some weaknesses. For example, over 53 percent of recent college graduates are unemployed or under-employed. And income for college graduates varies widely by major – philosophy graduates don’t nearly earn what business studies graduates do. Finally, earnings studies compare college graduates to all high school graduates. But the subset of high school students who graduate with vocational training – those who go into well-paying, skilled jobs – the picture for non-college graduates looks much rosier.
Yet despite the growing evidence that four-year college programs serve fewer and fewer of our students, states continue to cut vocational programs..."
There are a lot of successful billionaires who did not complete four yeas of college: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Henry Ford, and Howard Hughes, just to name a few.
If you feel that the only purpose of attending high school or college is to get job-specific skills, then you are missing out on all the other aspects of those that teach you valuable life lessons, getting along with others, teamwork, communications, and other "soft skills" that aren't necessarily job-specific.
Teenagers entering college are still growing up, trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives, discovering new ideas, new ways of thinking, and networking with people of different backgrounds and cultures.
"...The U.S. economy has changed. The manufacturing sector is growing and modernizing, creating a wealth of challenging, well-paying, highly skilled jobs for those with the skills to do them. The demise of vocational education at the high school level has bred a skills shortage in manufacturing today, and with it a wealth of career opportunities for both under-employed college grads and high school students looking for direct pathways to interesting, lucrative careers. Many of the jobs in manufacturing are attainable through apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and vocational programs offered at community colleges. They don’t require expensive, four-year degrees for which many students are not suited..."
The skills shortage is real, but until employers are willing to pay people for what they're worth, the situation will not be resolved. The free market has a way to fix skills shortages. High demand raises salaries, and causes people to invest in high school and college education in part to vie for these positions. That is in part why medical doctors are paid so much.
"...The modern workplace favors those with solid, transferable skills who are open to continued learning. Most young people today will have many jobs over the course of their lifetime, and a good number will have multiple careers that require new and more sophisticated skills..."
A few years ago, I was hosting clients for dinner in Tucson. The sales rep had brought his daughter and her roommate along, as there was a shooting at their college campus and classes were canceled for the week. The daughter asserted, "In 18 months, I will no longer have to learn anything again. I will be done with school." Her roommate chimed in, "Ha! I am a year ahead of you, and only six months away from that!"
I was the bearer of bad news. "Ladies," I said, "you will have to get used to learning new things the rest of your lives." The highest ranking client at the table overheard me, and she re-iterated, "Ladies, that is probably the best advice I have heard in awhile. I suggest you heed it carefully."
A big part of high school and college education is to teach you how to learn on your own. Learn to read, search out information, take measurements, gather data, make plans, and ask the right questions. These are skills that are useful in a wide variety of careers.
Nicholas concludes with:
"...Just a few decades ago, our public education system provided ample opportunities for young people to learn about careers in manufacturing and other vocational trades. Yet, today, high-schoolers hear barely a whisper about the many doors that the vocational education path can open. The “college-for-everyone” mentality has pushed awareness of other possible career paths to the margins. The cost to the individuals and the economy as a whole is high. If we want everyone’s kid to succeed, we need to bring vocational education back to the core of high school learning."
I agree the educational system in United States is broken, but I am not sure I agree with everything that Nicholas writes in this article.
Last week, I was in São Paulo, Brazil for IBM Systems Technical University. With over 12 million people, it is the most-populous city in the Americas. Our venue was the Club Med Lake Paradise resort on the outskirts of town. We had about 700 attendees.
We had several local speakers do the opening session. Here is my recap:
Marcelo Porto, IBM General Manager for Brazil
This year, IBM Brazil celebrates 100 year anniversary. This all happened because Valentim Boucas persuaded IBM then-President Thomas Watson, Sr. to approve the establishment of a Rio de Janeiro office for the sale of IBM machines beginning in 1917.
For 100 years now, IBM has thrived with a set of core values. In every era in the past, IBM systems have been perfect for the business needs at the time, from punch cards to personal computers. But what got us here won't get us there in the future. The biggest challenge to transformation is people and culture. We must break the chains that hold us to the past. IBM drives disruption.
To prepare for the future, Marcelo recommended the following. First, learn English, because the English language is the "API of Business". Second, keep a curious mind. Seek out new things to learn. The new world needs skills and expertise in a variety of areas. Third, watch the movie "Hidden Figures", starring the IBM mainframe computer.
IBM Watson computer now speaks and understands Brazilian Portuguese language. Groupo Fleury uses Watson for genomics research. MRV Engineering uses this for chatbots. Mae de deus Hospital uses this for Oncology, as cancer patients now dominate the percentage of patients there. Walmart uses Blockchain to focus on food safety.
IBM Watson is used at Pinacoteca de São Paulo Museum to offer "Voz de Arte", the ability to ask IBM Watson about each painting in handheld smartphone devices. An example of this was available in the Solution Center.
In addition to natural language processing (NLP), IBM Watson can also do image recognition, a task normally only humans could do.
Watson can validate signatures, perform facial recognition at different angles, and even identify shirts, pants and shoes of fashion models in photographs.
Companies and organizations that are unable to transform data into insights and business decisions will fail.
Mauro D'Angelo, IBM Strategy and Business Development for Brazil
Why are companies like Uber and Airbnb successful? Mauro felt that it was because they had a proper Cloud infrastructure combined with the right data architecture.
(In this case, "success" is based on company valuation, often billions of US dollars. However, many of these companies are not profitable, losing millions of dollars in an aggressive effort to gain customers and establish their platform. It might take 12 to 24 months before a new customer becomes profitable.)
The data explosion is driving digital transformation. Cognitive systems must understand natural language, reason, learn and interact with humans. Machine Learning is much like training a puppy. You need to reward good behavior and fix bad behavior, and be patient, as it takes a long time.
In USA, patients asking Doctors for a diagnosis get only 50 percent correct on first consultation. Often, additional doctors or additional tests are needed to finally get correct assessments. In Brazil, it is probably less than 50 percent. Hopefully, Watson will help improve this.
Watson can also detect emotional tone and personality in social media. Is a customer angry? This could help prioritize which customer issues to address first.
Schools have not changed since the days of Aristotle. Mauro showed a picture of a school taken in 1934, and a picture of the same classroom, taken recently, showing it is nearly the same. Students want to learn anytime, anywhere, and from any channel.
At Georgia Tech University, a professor told his engineering students that there were nine "Teacher Assistants" (TAs) available to help answer questions online. One of these was [Jill Watson], which was the IBM Watson computer responding to the students. The students could not tell that Jill was not human!
In traditional schools, a teacher may reach only 50 to 60 students. Compare this to [Khan Academy] that offers video instruction that have had over 1.3 million views!
Frank Koja, IBM Systems Vice President for Brazil
When you buy something over the internet, what is your decision criteria? Often, it is lowest cost. Digital transformation often requires re-invention.
Trust beats risk. The new IBM z14 mainframe focuses on trust, with end-to-end encryption, Blockchain and Machine Learning. zHyperLink drastically improves the connection between mainframe and IBM DS8880 storage. IBM is helping over 400 clients adopting Blockchain.
The FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R models are 30x faster than traditional disk systems, and more dense, able to consolidate 20 racks down to one.
The new "PowerAI" bundle combines together a complete offering for Machine Learning and Deep Learning (ML/DL) for Power systems, taking advantage of GPU and NVlink capabilities.
The "waitless" world has arrived.
This was a good start for the conference. The three speakers of the opening session were passionate of what they were talking about, and people were excited to learn more as the week progressed.
Last week, I was in São Paulo, Brazil for IBM Systems Technical University.
Luciana and Marilia
While I speak Spanish fluently, my Brazilian Portuguese is a bit rusty, so I was asked to present in English language, and let these two real-time translators, Luciana and Marilia, speak on my behalf.
A big challenge is that English is a terse language, but Brazilian Portuguese is more verbose. It takes more syllables, and thus more time, to perform real-time translation. I have learned to pause at the end of each sentence to give a chance for my translators to catch up.
Servers (2 syllables)
Servidores (4 syllables)
Storage (2 syllables)
Armazenamento (6 syllables)
In this table, you can see that some technical terms take more syllables in Brazilian Portuguese than English. Often, I heard the local speakers just say "Servers" or "Storage" for convenience.
Here is my recap of breakout sessions on Day 1.
IBM Storage Trends and Directions
Alcides Bertazi, IBM Executive IT Specialist, presented the latest in Storage Trends and Directions.
Introduction to Object Storage and its Applications
This session had three sections. First, I covered an overview of what "Object Storage" was in general, how this differs from traditional block or file storage approaches.
Second, I explained what is unique and different of IBM Cloud Object Storage System, formerly called DsNet from Cleversafe. IBM acquired Cleversafe in 2015.
Third, I explained the various applications, use cases and industries that can take advantage of Object Storage.
IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management for Beginners
Eduardo Tomaz, IBM Client Technical Sales for Software Defined Storage solutions, presented an overview of IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management (CDM), the newest member of the IBM Spectrum Storage family.
IBM Spectrum Protect Update
Rosane Lagnor, IBM Certified IT Specialist - Storage Consultant Lab Services, and her two colleagues co-presented this session on the latest of IBM Spectrum Protect. The review went chronologically, from v7.1.4 introduced in late 2015, all the way to v8.1.1 release, the latest generally available.
(Note: IBM just announced v8.1.2 but is not generally available yet in Brazil.)
I managed to understand the local speakers in their native Brazilian Portuguese language. In many cases, the charts were in English language, so I was able to read in English what I may not have understood was spoken.
Last week, I was in São Paulo, Brazil for IBM Systems Technical University.
Instead of separate physical rooms for each breakout session, this event had "virtual rooms". One speaker called it the "Software Defined Stage". Basically, there were five "rooms" in the main ballroom, and another eight rooms in a second ballroom.
Rather than blasting out each speaker's voice over loudspeakers, each speaker spoke softly into a headset microphone. All attendees wore headsets. Rooms 1 through 4 offered real-time translation, so attendees could chose to hear in English or Brazilian Portuguese.
In the other 13 "rooms", local speakers spoke in Brazilian Portuguese, but you still had to wear headsets to avoid speaking louder than the speaker next to you. For many of these, the charts were written in English.
My translators, Luciana and Marilia, explained to me the advantage of this approach. When speakers use English language, those who prefer must hear the real-time translation wore the "headphone of shame" which advertised to all others that an attendee's English proficiency was poor.
Sometimes, those who did not understand English well would not wear their headsets, nod or laugh with other attendees, but fail to understand the message. By forcing everyone to wear headsets, there is no stigma associated, and everyone can discreetly select the language they prefer to listen in.
Here is my recap for the breakout sessions on Day 2:
In this presentation, I gave an overview of interest in Cloud technologies, including OpenStack and RESTful APIs to manage server and storage resources. I then covered IBM Hybrid Cloud Storage configurations in five categories:
Cold storage for data infrequently accessed
Backup and Snapshot storage
Disaster Recovery storage
Daily Operations and Reporting
Special thanks to Chris Vollmar and Brian Sherman for their help in preparing this presentation.
Data Optimization: How to verify your data is being used efficiently
It is hard to believe that it was over 15 years ago that I was the chief architect for the software we now call IBM Spectrum Control. There are a variety of editions and bundles for this product, but my focus on this talk was on the advanced storage analytics found in IBM Virtual Storage Center and IBM Spectrum Control Advanced Edition.
I covered three use cases:
What storage tier to put your workload in, and how to move existing data into a faster or slower tier to meet business requirements and IT budgets.
For steady state environments, how to re-balance storage pools within a single tier to keep things even for optimal performance.
When it is time to decommission storage, how to transform volumes from one storage pool to another without downtime or outages.
Special thanks to Bryan Odom for his help in preparing this presentation.
IBM Hyperconverged Systems powered by Nutanix: Technical Overview
Ricardo Matinata, IBM Senior Technical Staff Member for Linux, KVM and Cloud on POWER, presented the latest IBM CS models for POWER systems that are pre-installed with Nutanix software running their Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV) to run Linux on POWER application virtual machines.
Managing Risks with Thin Provisioning, Compression, and Data Deduplication
This session had four parts. First, an overview of "Data Footprint Reduction" technologies, like compression, data deduplication, space-efficient snapshots and thin provisioning.
Second, a look at how these technologies can get storage administrators in trouble. Much like airlines selling more tickets than seats on the airplane, storage administrators may over-provision based on data reduction estimates, and then suddenly run out of storage capacity.
Third, an overview of IBM FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R products, often referred to as "A9000/R" to cover both as a family. These models offer data footprint reduction for all data.
Finally, I explain how the Hyper-Scale Manager GUI can help with reporting and analytics to avoid these risks. This GUI is available for the FlashSystem A9000/R, as well as XIV Gen3 and Spectrum Accelerate software clusters.
Special thanks to Rivka Matosevich for her help in preparing this presentation.
The Right Flash for the Right Workload
Fabiano Gomes, IBM Client Technical Specialist, presented IBM's portfolio of All-Flash Arrays, from FlashSystem and DS8000F to Elastic Storage Server and Storwize V7000F and V5000F models. Each of these have their own characteristics, which might favor one over the others for particular workloads and use cases.
The day was capped off with a nice evening reception at the pool bar. Bartenders were serving Caiparinhas, a Brazilian cocktail traditionally made sugar cane liquor, sugar and lime, but in this case offered in other flavors, such as pineapple or passion fruit.
Last week, I was in São Paulo, Brazil for IBM Systems Technical University.
Did the resort ask these two security guards to dress up as clowns? No, it turns out these were clowns dressed up as security guards! On other days, they were dressed in drag as housewives, or as Jamaican Rastafari in dreadlocks and tie-dyed tee shirts. Some of the attendees enjoyed their comic relief.
Here is my recap of Day 3 breakout sessions:
Demystifying Transparent Cloud Tiering for DS8000 and DFSMShsm
Ricardo Alan, IBM Client Technical Specialist, covered this recently announced synergy between DS8000 firmware and DFSMShsm, a part of the z/OS operating system for IBM Z mainframes.
(Historical note: I started my career as a software engineer for DFHSM, which was later renamed DFSMShsm, working my way up to lead architect for DFSMShsm, and later as chief architect for DFSMS overall. A good portion of my 19 patents are related to these products.)
Since the 1970s, mainframe clients were able to move less active data from expensive disk storage to lower cost tape media. DFSMShsm would be read data sets into the mainframe processor, chop them up into 16KB blocks, and then write them out to tape, often through an automated tape library.
Transparent Cloud Tiering introduces an alternative option. DFSMShsm now identifies which tracks of data need to be re-located, sends the request to IBM DS8000 storage device, and the IBM DS8000 sends the tracks as objects to the Cloud. Any application that references these data sets would automatically trigger a recall to bring the data back from the Cloud.
This feature is available for the DS8870 and DS8880 models, using the existing Ethernet ports already installed. No additional hardware is required. Enhancements to DFSMShsm will be rolled out via SPEs on z/OS releases. Initially, the system uses OpenStack Swift object protocol, but IBM has plans to support Amazon S3 protocol as well.
Data Migration Challenges and Solutions with IBM Enterprise Storage
Sidney Varoni Jr. presented this session on data migration methods. Data is migrated for three reasons. First, to re-balance across multiple storage arrays. If you bring in a new storage array, you often want to move data from older arrays to balance the workload.
The second reason is to get rid of old hardware altogether, you need to migrate the data to new hardware. With Dell acquisition of EMC, for example, many clients are using tools like TDMF to move data off of EMC and onto IBM DS8000 storage systems. IBM DS8000 storage systems are faster, easier to use and less expensive to operate from a total cost of ownership (TCO) than comparable capacity of EMC VMAX devices.
The third reason is to migrate from one data center to another. The average data center was built 10-15 years ago, and many no longer meet the needs and requirements of newer IT operations. Some clients are building new data centers, while others are moving their data to co-location facilities.
NVMe Over Fabrics: The next evolution in high performance for SSD interfaces is NVMe
Waner Dall Averde, Territory Representative from Brocade, presented this session on NVMe and NVMe Over Fabric (NVMeOF). As a joke, he showed this chart in Japanese.
(Fun Fact: The first Japanese immigrants arrived in Brazil in 1908. Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside Japan. Source: Wikipedia)
For the past 20 years, the Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) served as the communication mechanism to send SCSI commands to SAS and SATA disk devices.
Unfortunately, AHCI is now the bottleneck between faster servers and faster Non-Volatile Memory such as Flash and Solid State Drive (SSD) storage devices. It only supports a handful of commands on a single command queue.
NVMe offers a replacement for the SCSI command set. It can support up to 64,000 commands on as many as 64,000 parallel command queues. Designed for 32 Gbps PCIe bus speeds, it is faster than traditional 6 Gbps and 12 Gbps SAS connections, reducing latency by 200 microseconds.
Unfortunately, PCIe cables are limited to just a few inches. PCIe Gen 1 supported 15 inches, PCIe Gen 2 supported 12 inches, and PCIe Gen 3 only 8 inches. To provide greater distances, NVMeOF allows the NVMe command set to be carried over long-distance networks, such as Ethernet, Infiniband or Fibre Channel.
Brocade Gen5 (16 Gbps) and Gen6 (32 and 128 Gbps) Fibre Channel switches and directors already support NVMeOF, and are designed to allow co-existence between NVMe and SCSI commands for smooth transition in mixed environments. Clients can buy their networking gear directly from IBM.
IBM Power Systems Flash Cache Acceleration
Petra Bührer, IBM Offering Manager for Power Systems software, explained recent the performance enhancement called "Flash Cache Acceleration".
This is a feature on POWER8 servers running AIX 7.1 TL4 SP2, AIX 7.2 TL0 SP0 – or higher. By using internal or direct-attach SSD, the operating system can cache most active blocks of data from external storage systems.
While this is certified for use with Oracle, it supports only single-instance databases. Oracle RAC and other active/active configurations are not supported at this time.
The Secret to IBM Disk Encryption - Deep Dive
As if Mo McCullough, one of the event coordinators for this conference, was not busy enough with keeping the conference going, he also gave technical presentations.
With the excitement over the IBM z14 end-to-end encryption announcement, there has been increased demand for everything related to encryption and security.
Unfortunately, I had to leave for the airport before the "Closing Session". The Club Med Lake Paradise resort was 60-90 minutes away from the GRU airport, and rush hour traffic in a city of 12 million people can get really bad.