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Day5 - The Last Few Sessions for Data Center Conference 2008
This wraps up my week in Las Vegas for the 27th Annual [Data Center Conference]. This conference follows the common approach of ending at noon on Friday, so that attendees can get home to their families for the weekend, or start their weekend in Las Vegas early to watch the 50th annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
I attended the last few sessions. Here is my recap:
Where, When and Why do I need a Solid-State Drive?
The internet provides transport of digital data between any devices. All other uses have evolved from this aim. Increasing data storage on any node on the Web therefore increases the possibilities at every other point. We are just now beginning to recognize the implications of this. The two speakers co-presented this session to cover how Solid State Disk (SSD) may participate.
Some electronic surveys of the audience provided some insight. Only 12 percent are deploying SSD now. 59 percent are evaluating the technology. A whopping 89 percent did not understand SSD technology, or how it would apply to their data center. Here is the expected time linefor SSD adoption:
17 percent - within 1 year
60 percent - around 3 years from now
21 percent - 5 years or later
The main reasons cited for adopting SSD were increasing IOPS, reducing power and floorspace requirements, and expanding global networks. Here's a side-by-side comparison between HDD and SSD:
Disk array with 120 HDD, 73GB drives
Disk array with 120 SSD, 32GB drives
Per 73GB drive
Per 32GB drive
100MB/sec per drive
Read 250 MB/sec per drive Write 170 MB/sec per drive
300 IOPS per drive
35,000 IOPS per drive
12 Watts per drive
2.4 Watts per drive
However, the cost-per-GB for SSD is still 25x over traditional spinning disk, andthe analysts expected SSD to continue to be 10-20x for a while. For now, they estimatethat SSD will be mostly found in blade servers, enterprise-class disk systems, andhigh-end network directors.
The speakers gave examples such as Sun's ZFS Hybrid, and other products from NetApp,Compellent, Rackable, Violin, and Verari Systems.
Taking fear out of IT Disaster Recovery Exercises
The analyst presented best practices for disaster recovery testing with a "Pay Now or Pay Later"pre-emptive approach. Here were some of the suggestions:
Schedule adequate time for DR exercises
Build DR considerations into change control procedures and project lifecycle planning
Document interdependencies between applications and business processes
Bring in the "crisis team" on even the smallest incidents to keep skill sharp
Present the "State of Disaster Recovery" to Senior Management annually
The speaker gave examples of different "tiers" for recovery, with appropriate RPO and RTOlevels, and how often these should be tested per year. A survey of the audience found that70 percent already have a tiered recovery approach.
In addition to IT staff, you might want to consider inviting others to the DR exerciseas reviewers for oversight, including: Line of Business folks, Facilities/Operations, Human Resources, Legal/Compliance officers, even members of government agencies.
DR exercises can be performed at a variety of scope and objectives:
Tabletop Test - IBM calls these "walk-throughs", where people merely sit around the table and discuss what actions they would take in the event of a hypothetical scenario. This is a good way to explore all kinds of scenarios from power outages, denial of service attacks, or pandemic diseases.
Checklist Review - Here a physical inventory is taken of all the equipment needed at the DR site.
Stand-alone Test - Sometimes called a "component test" or "unit test", a single application is recovered and tested.
End-to-End simulation - All applications for a business process are recovered for a full simulation.
Full Rehearsal - Business is suspended to perform this over a weekend.
Production Cut-Over - If you are moving data center locations, this is a good time to consider testing some procedures. Other times, production is cut-over for a week over to the DR site and then returned back to the primary site.
Mock Disaster - Management calls this unexpectedly to the IT staff, certain IT staff are told to participate, and others are told not to. This helps to identify critical resources, how well procedures are documented, and members of the team are adequately cross-trained.
For exercise, set the appropriate scope and objectives, score the results, and then identifyaction plans to address the gaps uncovered. Scoring can be as simple as "Not addressed","Needs Improvement" and "Met Criteria".
Full Speed Ahead for iSCSI
The analyst presented this final session of the conference. He recognized IBM's early leadership in this area back in 1999, with the IP200i disk system. Today, there are many storage vendors that provide iSCSI solutions, the top three being:
23 percent - Dell/EqualLogic
15 percent - EMC
14 percent - HP/LeftHand Networks
This protocol has been mostly adopted for Windows, Linux and VMware, but has been largelyignored by the UNIX community. The primary value proposition is to offer SAN-like functionality at lower cost. When using the existing NICs that come built-in on most servers, iSCSI canbe 30-50 percent less expensive than FC-based SANs. Even if you install TCP-Offload-Engine (TOE) cards into the servers, iSCSI can still represent a 16-19 percent cost savings. ManyIBM servers now have TOE functionality built-in.
Since lower costs are the primary motivator, most iSCSI deployments are on 1GbE. The new10Gbps Ethernet is still too expensive for most iSCSI configurations. For servers runninga single application, 2 1GbE NICs is sufficient. For servers running virtualization with multiple workloads might need 4 or 5 NICs (1GbE), or consider 2 10GbE NICs if 10Gbps is available.
The iSCSI protocol has been most successful for small and medium sized businesses (SMB) lookingfor one-stop shopping. Buying iSCSI storage from the same vendor as your servers makes a lot of sense: EqualLogic with Dell servers, LeftHand software with HP servers, and IBM's DS3300 or N series with IBM System x servers.The average iSCSI unit was 10TB for about $24,000 US dollars.
Security and Management software for iSCSI is not as fully developed as for FC-based SANs.For this reason, most network vendors suggest having IP SANs isolated from your regular LAN.If that is not possible, consider VPN or encryption to provide added security.Issues of security and management imply that iSCSI won't dominate the large enteprise data center. Instead, many arewatching closely the adoption of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), based on revised standardsfor 10Gbps Ethernet. FCoE standards probably won't be finalized till mid-2009, with productsfrom major vendors by 2010, and perhaps taking as much as 10 percent marketshare by 2011.
I hope you have enjoyed this series of posts. In addition to the sessions I attended, theconference has provided me with 67 presentations for me to review. Those who attended couldpurchase all the audio recordings and proceedings of every session for $295 US dollars, and those who missed the event can purchase these for $595 US dollars. These are reasonable prices, when you realize that the average Las Vegas visitor spends 13.9 hours gambling, losing an average of $626 US dollars per visit. The audio recordings and proceedings can provide more than 13.9 hours of excitement for less money!