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This is my final post on my coverage of the 30th annual [Data Center Conference]. IBM was a Platinum sponsor, and there were over 2,600 attendees, of which 27 percent were IT Directors or higher. Two thirds of the companies have 5000 employees or more. Here is a recap of the last few sessions I attended.
Best Practices for Data Center consolidation
As if the conference co-chairs aren't already super-busy, here they are presenting one of the breakout sessions. In the 1990s, consolidation was done purely to reduce total cost of ownership (TCO). Today, there are a variety of other reasons, including issues with power and cooling, service level agreements, and security.
Of these, 25 percent plan to have more data centers in three years, and 47 percent plan to consolidate to fewer. The benefits to consolidation include economies of scale, staff reduction, reduced hardware facilities costs, and application retirement. Challenges include dealing with politics, building new facilities to replace the old ones, and bandwidth. Here were some of the primary reasons why data center consolidation projects fail:
Human Resources (HR) issues
Resources not freed available
Lack of Project Management skills
No rationalization at consolidated site
Interactive Polling Results
The last keynote session was Thursday morning. The conference co-chairs present the highlights of the interactive polling that was done during the week at this conference.
The first topic was social media. There was a lot of Twitter activity with hashtag #GartnerDC that I followed throughout the week. Most of the tweets seem to be from people who were not actually at the conference.
Some 45 percent of the attendees have implemented social media initiatives at their companies. What tooling are they using to accomplish this? There are some provided by the major ITSM vendors, tools specific for corporate social media such as Yammer, collaboration tools like Microsoft SharePoint and IBM's Lotus Connections, and public sites like Facebook and Twitter. Here were the poll results:
The next topic was focused on Mobile devices and Cloud Computing. For example, do companies store data in public cloud, or plan to in the future, for mobile devices?
One third of the attendees allow employees to bring their own tablet to work with full IT support. Only 18 percent allow employees to bring their own PC or laptop. Over 40 percent felt that their IT department was not yet ready to support smartphones.
What are the main drivers to adopt private cloud? Some are deploying private clouds as a way to defend their IT jobs from going to the public cloud. Here were the poll results:
What problems are companies trying to solve with cloud computing? Here were the poll results:
A majority of attendees that use VMware are exploring LInux KVM, such as Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) or Microsfot Hyper-V. What storage protocol are attendees using for their server virtualization? Here were the poll results:
The next topic was the process for IT service management. The top three were ITIL, CMMI and DevOps, with the majority using ITIL or ITIL in combination with something else. These are needed for release management, change management, performance management, capacity management and incident management. How collaborative is the relationship between IT operations and application development? Here were the poll results:
How well does IT operations contribute to business innovation? This year 38 percent were satisfied, and 33 percent unsatisfied. This was a big improvement over last year, that found 19 percent satisfied, 64 percent unsatisfied.
Building a Private Storage Cloud: Is It a Science Experiment?
While everyone understands the benefits of private and public cloud computing, there seems to be hesitation about hosted cloud storage. Some people have already adopted some form of cloud storage, and other plan to within 12 months. Here were the poll results:
The top three reasons for considering public cloud storage was to adopt lower-cost storage tier, to benefit from off-site storage, and staff constraints. The top concerns were security and performance.
The IT department will need to start thinking like a cloud provider, and perhaps adopt a hybrid cloud approach. What IT equipment can be re-used? What will the new IT operations look like in a Cloud environment? What were the primary use cases for cloud storage? Here were the poll results:
In addition to the major cloud providers (IBM, Amazon, etc.) there are a variety of new cloud storage startups to address these business needs.
So that wraps up my coverage of this conference. In addition to attending great keynote and breakout sessions, I was able to have great one-on-one discussions with clients at the Solution Showcase booth, during breaks and at meals. IBM's focus on Big Data, Workload-optimized Systems, and Cloud seems to resonate well with the analysts and attendees. I want to give special thinks to Lynda, Dana, Peggy, Hugo, David, Rick, Cris, Richard, Denise, Chloe, and all my colleagues, friends and family from Arizona for their support!
The keynote was led by Phil Tasker, IBM Business Unit Executive (BUE) for STG Education Programs in Growth Markets, then Joe Screnci, head of IBM Storage Sales for Australia. IBM is in the Top 10 Training Hall of Fame, and conducts over 40,000 classes worldwide, resulting in over 1.3 million student days of instructions. IBM Systems Lab and Training technical hosts over three dozen conferences like this one every year.
Next was Clod Barrera, Distinguished Engineer and Chief Technical Strategist for the IBM System Storage product line. He covered future trends in storage as they relate to IBM's Smarter COmputing initiative.
Storage for the Clouds
Clod Barrera presented this break-out session on Cloud Storage. He covered why clouds matter, the various types and purposes of cloud, technology and architectures, and where IBM is headed to support this trend.
Storage for Cloud computing was $1 Billion USD business in 2010, and is expected to grow 32 percent CAGR through, compared to 3.8 percent for non-cloud storage. Clod estimates that 10 to 15 percent of all storage will be in cloud deployments by 2015. Of this storage, analysts expect 50 percent in private clouds, and the other 50 percent in public clouds. For private clouds, clients are looking to "Cloudify" their existing IT infrastructures. For public clouds, the projects are mostly green field.
IBM is also looking to the "arms dealer" of choice for Telcos and other companies looking to launch their own Cloud Services. IBM has a Cloud Services Provider Platform (CSP2) specifically to provide all the tools and technologies needed to make this possible.
Last month, IBM launched several new solutions for Cloud. The IBM Starter Kit for Cloud will help existing IT environments adopt cloud technologies. The IBM Service Agility Accelerator for Cloud is available for more advanced deployments. IBM Service Delivery Manager (ISDM) integrates a collection of software to provide complete integrated service management. IBM CloudBurst provides an integrated hardware-and-software stack for both x86 and POWER chipsets.
Multi-tenancy is also a big issue, and this varies depending on deployment model: IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS. Multi-tenancy is needed to help divide up management tasks, and to ensure that shared resources are paid for and meet SLA requirements accordingly.
Clod feels there are good reasons to use high performance, transactional SAN storage for VMware environments, versus NAS which many people consider simpler to deploy. IBM is also active in open standards, including SNIA's Cloud Data Management Interface [CDMI].
Journey to the Private Cloud
Gary Luke from Brocade provided this session on IBM's SAN384B-2 and SAN768B-2 SAN directors. Brocade is one of IBM's suppliers for SAN switches, and thanks to TRILL being adopted last August by IETF, supports multi-hop FCoE configurations! However, Gary did not talk about FCoE, but rather native FCP and FICON support in these new directors.
According to VMware, only 30 percent of x86 workloads are virtualized by any hypervisor. Gary feels that server virtualization and the use of Solid-State Drives (SSD) in disk arrays are driving existing 8 Gbps SAN to upgrade to 16 Gbps. Gary feels that Fibre-Channel based SANs are best positioned to handle unpredictable peaks in a 24-by-7 world.
The SAN384B-2 can house up to 256 ports (8 Gbps) or 192 ports (16 Gbps) in four slots, 9U chassis. The SAN768B-2 can handle twice these, in a 12U chassis. The nice thing about the 16Gbps ports is that they can auto-negotiate down to 10, 8, 4 and 2 Gbps. This is far better than typical N-2 support, often referred to as the speeds supported, such as 4/2/1 and 8/4/2. An upcoming FOS release will allow people with previous generation SAN384B-1/SAN768B-1 directors to move their 8Gbps blades over to the new SAN384B-2/SAN768B-2 generation models.
Since most CWDM and DWDM only support maximum 10 Gbps FC and 10GbE, Brocade's 16Gbps can automatically drop down to 10 Gbps for direct attachment to CWDM/DWDM, rather than having a step-down box normally required.
A major advancement is the change from copper to optical "Inter-Chassis Links" (ICL). Unlike Inter-switch links (ISL) that use up SAN ports on each box, the ICL is faster, more efficient and does not consume ports. Normally, clients would connect two directors together, but now you can connect up to six chassis together! For example, you can have four SAN368B-2 connected to your host servers, ICL attached to two SAN768B-2, that are then connected to your disk and tape storage devices. The fiber optic ICL allow for up to 50 meters distance. Combining six chassis together would allow the complex to support over 3,000 ports (8 Gbps) or 2,300 ports (16 Gbps).
The SAN384B-2 and SAN768B-2 supports "virtual SAN" logical switches, traffic isoliation (TI) zones, fabric-assigned WWNNs, and fabric-based QoS.
Lastly, Brocade offers a free utility called [SANhealth] that will gather data from your b-type, m-type and even Cisco MDS-based SAN. The data can then be sent to Brocade for analysis, and Brocade will then email back some nice Visio graphs, spreadsheets and other analysis results on the health of your SAN.
Clod Barrera is an IBM Distinguished Engineer and Chief Technical Strategist for IBM System Storage. He predicts that by 2015, 10 percent of the servers and storage purchases, as well as 25 percent of the network gear purchases, will be related to Cloud deployments. Cloud Storage is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32 percent through 2015, compared to only 3.8 percent growth for non-Cloud storage.
Cloud Computing is allowing companies to rethink their IT infrastructure, and reinvent their business. Clod presented an interesting chart on the "Taxonomy" of storage in Cloud environments. On the left he had examples of Storage that was part of a Cloud Compute application. On the right he had storage that was accessed directly through protocols or APIs. Under each he had several examples for transactional data, stream data, backups and archives.
Clod feels the only difference between Private and Public clouds is a matter of ownership. In private clouds, these are owned by the company that uses them via their private Intranet network. Public clouds are owned by Cloud Service providers and are accessed over the public Internet. Clod presented IBM's strategy to deliver Cloud at five levels:
Private Cloud: on-site equipment, behind company firewall, managed by IT staff
Managed Private Cloud: on-site equipment, behind company firewall, managed by IBM or other Cloud Service provider
Hosted Private Cloud: dedicated, off-premises equipment, located and managed by IBM or other Cloud Service Provider, and access through VPN
Shared Cloud Services: shared, off-premises equipment, located at IBM or other Cloud Service Provider, managed by IBM or Cloud Service provider, and access through VPN. The facility is intended for enterprises only, on a contractual basis, and will be auditable for compliance to government regulations, etc.
Public Cloud: shared, off-premises equipment, located and managed by IBM or other Cloud Service provider, targeted to offer cloud compute and storage resources, with standardized platforms of operating systems and middleware, for individuals, small and medium sized businesses.
As with storage in traditional data center deployments, storage in clouds will be tiered, with Tier 0 being the fastest tier, to Tier 4 for "deep and cheap" archive storage. IBM SONAS is an example of Cloud-ready storage that can help make these tiers accessible through standard Ethernet protocols. Cloud Service providers will use metering and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to offer different rates for different tiers of storage in the cloud.
Clod wrapped up his session explaining IBM's Cloud Computing Reference Architecture (CCRA). This is an all-encompassing diagram that shows how all of IBM's hardware, software and services fit into Cloud deployments.
In his last post in this series, he mentions that the amazingly successful IBM SAN Volume Controller was part of a set of projects:
"IBM was looking for "new horizon" projects to fund at the time, and three such projects were proposed and created the "Storage Software Group". Those three projects became know externally as TPC, (TotalStorage Productivity Center), SanFS (SAN File System - oh how this was just 5 years too early) and SVC (SAN Volume Controller). The fact that two out of the three of them still exist today is actually pretty good. All of these products came out of research, and its a sad state of affairs when research teams are measured against the percentage of the projects they work on, versus those that turn into revenue generating streams."
But this raises the question: Was SAN File System just five years too early?
IBM classifies products into three "horizons"; Horizon-1 for well-established mature products, Horizon-2 was for recently launched products, and Horizon-3 was for emerging business opportunities (EBO). Since I had some involvement with these other projects, I thought I would help fill out some of this history from my perspective.
Back in 2000, IBM executive [Linda Sanford] was in charge of IBM storage business and presented that IBM Research was working on the concept of "Storage Tank" which would hold Petabytes of data accessible to mainframes and distributed servers.
In 2001, I was the lead architect of DFSMS for the IBM z/OS operating system for mainframes, and was asked to be lead architect for the new "Horizon 3" project to be called IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center (TPC), which has since been renamed to IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center.
In 2002, I was asked to lead a team to port the "SANfs client" for SAN File System from Linux-x86 over to Linux on System z. How easy or difficult to port any code depends on how well it was written with the intent to be ported, and porting the "proof-of-concept" level code proved a bit too challenging for my team of relative new-hires. Once code written by research scientists is sufficiently complete to demonstrate proof of concept, it should be entirely discarded and written from scratch by professional software engineers that follow proper development and documentation procedures. We reminded management of this, and they decided not to make the necessary investment to add Linux on System z as a supported operating system for SAN file system.
In 2003, IBM launched Productivity Center, SAN File System and SAN Volume Controller. These would be lumped together with Horizon-1 product IBM Tivoli Storage Manager and the four products were promoted together as the inappropriately-named [TotalStorage Open Software Family]. We actually had long meetings debating whether SAN Volume Controller was hardware or software. While it is true that most of the features and functions of SAN Volume Controller is driven by its software, it was never packaged as a software-only offering.
The SAN File System was the productized version of the "Storage Tank" research project. While the SAN Volume Controller used industry standard Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) to allow support of a variety of operating system clients, the SAN File System required an installed "client" that was only available initially on AIX and Linux-x86. In keeping with the "open" concept, an "open source reference client" was made available so that the folks at Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and Microsoft could port this over to their respective HP-UX, Solaris and Windows operating systems. Not surprisingly, none were willing to voluntarily add yet another file system to their testing efforts.
Barry argues that SANfs was five years ahead of its time. SAN File System tried to bring policy-based management for information, which has been part of DFSMS for z/OS since the 1980s, over to distributed operating systems. The problem is that mainframe people who understand and appreciate the benefits of policy-based management already had it, and non-mainframe couldn't understand the benefits of something they have managed to survive without.
(Every time I see VMware presented as a new or clever idea, I have to remind people that this x86-based hypervisor basically implements the mainframe concept of server virtualization introduced by IBM in the 1970s. IBM is the leading reseller of VMware, and supports other server virtualization solutions including Linux KVM, Xen, Hyper-V and PowerVM.)
To address the various concerns about SAN File System, the proof-of-concept code from IBM Research was withdrawn from marketing, and new fresh code implementing these concepts were integrated into IBM's existing General Parallel File System (GPFS). This software would then be packaged with a server hardware cluster, exporting global file spaces with broad operating system reach. Initially offered as IBM Scale-out File Services (SoFS) service offering, this was later re-packaged as an appliance, the IBM Scale-Out Network Attached Storage (SONAS) product, and as IBM Smart Business Storage Cloud (SBSC) cloud storage offering. These now offer clustered NAS storage using the industry standard NFS and CIFS clients that nearly all operating systems already have.
Today, these former Horizon-1 products are now Horizon-2 and Horizon-3. They have evolved. Tivoli Storage Productivity Center, GPFS and SAN Volume Controller are all market leaders in their respective areas.
Continuing my coverage of the Data Center Conference, held Dec 1-4 in Las Vegas, an analyst presented the challenges of managing the rapid growth in storage capacity. Administrators ability to manage storage is not keeping up with the growth. His recommendations:
Aim to just meet but not exceed service level agreements (SLAs)
Revisit past IT decisions. This includes evaluating your SAN to NAS ratio.
Embrace new technologies when they are effective, this includes cloud storage, solid state drives, and interconnect technologies like FCoCEE.
Follow vendor management best practices, update your vendor "short list".
A survey of the audience found:
20 percent have a single external storage vendor
39 percent have two external storage vendors
18 percent have three external storage vendors
23 percent have four or more external storage vendors
Throughout the industry, storage vendors are following IBM's example of using commodity hardware parts. This is because custom ASICs are expensive, and changes take a minimum of three months development time. Software-based implementations can be updated more quickly.
In terms of technologies deployed of SAN, NAS, Compliance Archive (such as the IBM Information Archive), and Virtual Tape Library (VTL) such as the IBM TS7650 ProtecTIER data deduplications solution, here was the survey of the audience:
8 percent: SAN only
14 percent: SAN and NAS
23 percent: SAN, NAS and Compliance Archive
9 percent: SAN and VTL
14 percent: SAN, NAS and VTL
32 percent: SAN, NAS, Compliance Archive and VTL
Cost reduction techniques including thin provisioning, compression, data deduplication, Quality of Service tiers, and archiving. To reduce power and cooling requirements, switch from FC to SATA disk wherever possible, and move storage out of the data center, such as on tape cartridges or cloud storage.
For emerging technologies, the following survey:
16 percent have already implemented a new emerging technology (IBM XIV, Pillar, 3PAR, etc.)
30 percent plan to do so in 12-24 months
4 percent plan to do so in 24-48 months
50 percent have no plans, and will continue to stick with traditional storage technologies
As for adopting Cloud storage, here was the survey:
14 percent already have
31 percent plan to use Cloud storage in 12-24 months
13 percent plan to use Cloud storage in 24-48 months
42 percent have no plans to adopt Cloud storage
My take-away from this is that many companies are still "exploring" into different options available to them. Fortunately, IBM offers a broad portfolio of complete end-to-end solutions to make acquiring the right mix of technologies that are optimized for your workloads possible.