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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Specialist for the IBM System Storage product line at the
IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2011, Tony celebrated his 25th year anniversary with IBM Storage on the same day as the IBM's Centennial. 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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IBM Storage Strategy for the Smarter Computing Era
I presented this session on Thursday morning. It is a session I give frequently at the IBM Tucson Executive Briefing Center (EBC). IBM launched [Smarter Computing initiative at IBM Pulse conference]. My presentation covered the role of storage in Business Analytics, Workload Optimized Systems, and Cloud Computing.
Layer 8: Cloud Computing and the new IT Delivery Model
Ed Batewell, IBM Field Technical Support Specialist, presented this overview on Cloud Computing. The "Layer 8" is a subtle reference to the [7-layer OSI Model] for networking protocols. Ed cites insights from the [2011 IBM Global CIO Survey]. Of the 3000 companies surveyed, 60 percent plan to use or deploy clouds. In USA, 70 percent of CIOs have significant plans for cloud within the next 3-5 years. These numbers are double the statistics gleamed from the 2009 Global CIO survey. Clouds are one of IBM's big four initiatives, expecting to generate $7 Billion USD annual revenues by 2015.
IBM is recognized in the industry as one of "Big 5" vendors (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Amazon round out the rest). As such, IBM has contributed to the industry a set of best practices known as the [Cloud Computing Reference Architect (36-page document)]. As is typical for IBM, this architecture is end-to-end complete, covering the three main participants for successful cloud deployments:
Consumers: the people and systems that use cloud computing services
Providers: the people, infrastructure and business operations needed to deliver IT services to consumers
Developers: the people and their development tools that create apps and platforms for cloud computing
IBM is working hard to eliminate all barriers to adoption for Cloud Computing. [Mirage image management] can patch VM images offline to address "Day 0" viruses. [Hybrid Cloud Integrator can help integrate new Cloud technologies to legacy applications. [IBM Systems Director VMcontrol] can manage VM images from z/VM on the mainframe, to PowerVM on UNIX servers, to VMware, Microsoft, Xen and KVM for x86 servers. IBM's [Cloud Service Provider Platform (CSP2)] is designed for Telecoms to offer Cloud Computing services. IBM CloudBurst is a "Cloud-in-a-Can" optimized stack of servers, storage and switches that can be installed in five days and comes in various "tee-shirt sizes" (Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large), depending on how many VMs you want to run.
Ed mentioned that companies trying to build their own traditional IT applications and environments, in an effort to compete against the cost-effective Clouds, reminded him of Thomas Thwaites' project of building a toaster from scratch. You can watch the [TED video, 11 minutes]:
An interesting project is [Reservoir] which IBM is working with other industry leaders to develop a way to seamlessly migrate VMs from one location to another, globally, without requiring shared storage, SAN zones or Ethernet subnets. This is similar to how energy companies buy and sell electricity to each other, as needed, or the way telecommunications companies allow roaming acorss each others networks.
IBM System Networking - Convergence
Jeff Currier, IBM Executive Consultant for the new IBM System Networking group, presented this session on Network Convergence. Storage is expected to grow 44x, from 0.8 [Zettabytes] in 2009, to 35 Zetabytes by the year 2020. The role of the network is growing in importance. IBM refers to this converged loss-less Ethernet network as "Convergence Enhanced Ethernet" (CEE), which Cisco uses the term "Data Center Ethernet" (DCE), and the rest of the industry uses "Data Center Bridging" (DCB).
To make this happen, we need to replace Spanning Tree Protocol [STP] that eliminates walking in circles in a multi-hop network configuration, with a new Layer 2 Multipathing (L2MP) protocol. The two competing for the title are Shortest Path Bridging (IEEE 802.1aq) and Transparent Interconnect of Lots of Links (IETF TRILL).
All roads lead to Ethernet. While FCoE has not caught on as fast as everyone hoped, iSCSI has benefited from all the enhancements to the Ethernet standard. iSCSI works in both lossy and lossless versions of Ethernet, and seems to be the preferred choice for new greenfield deployments for Small and Medium sized Businesses (SMB). Larger enterprises continue to use Fibre Channel (FCP and FICON), but might use single-hop FCoE from the servers to top-of-rack switches. Both iSCSI and FCoE scale well, but FCoE is considered more efficient.
IBM has a strategy, and is investing heavily in these standards, technologies, and core competencies.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and that means IBM announcements! Today we had a major launch, with so many products, services and offerings
that I can't fit them all into a single post, so I will split them up into several posts to give the attention they deserve. So, in this
post, I will focus on just the networking gear.
IBM Converged Switch B32
The "Converged" part of this switch refers to Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE), which is just a lossless Ethernet that meets certain standards to allow Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) that are still being discussed between Brocade and Cisco. Thankfully, IBM demanded both Brocade and Cisco stick to open agreed-upon standards, and the rest of the world gets to benefit from IBM's leadership in keeping everything as open and non-proprietary as possible.
The B32 ("B" because it was made by Brocade) starts with 24 10Gb Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) ports, and then you can add eight Fibre Channel ports, for a total of 32 ports, hence the name B32. These are designed to be Top-of-Rack (TOR) switches. Basically, instead of having expensive optical cables for Ethernet and/or Fibre Channel out of each server, you have cheap twinax copper cables connecting the server's Converged Network Adapters (CNA) to this TOR switch, and then you can have the 10Gb Ethernet go to your regular Ethernet LAN, and your 8Gbps FC traffic go to your regular FC SAN. In other words, the CNA serves both the role of an Ethernet Network Interface Card (NIC) as well as a Fibre Channel Host Bus Adapter (HBA) card.
(You might see 8Gbps Fibre Channel represented as 8/4/2 or 2/4/8, this is just to remind you that these 8Gb FC ports can auto-negotiate down to 2Gbps and 4Gbps legacy hardware, but not 1Gbps. If you are still using 1Gbps FC, you need 4Gpbs SFP transceivers instead, shown often as 1/2/4 or 4/2/1.)
New SSN-16 module for Cisco directors and switches
When I present SAN gear to sales reps, I often get the question, "What is the difference between a switch and a director?" My quick and simple answer is that switches have fixed ports, but directors have slots that you can slide in different blades or expansion modules. The Cisco MDS9500 series are directors with slots, the three models provide a hint to their capacity. The last two digits represent the number of total slots, but the first two slots are already taken. In other words, model 9513 has 11 slots, model 9509 has seven slots, and model 9506 has four slots. You can have a 48-port blade in a slot, so in theory, you can have a maximum of 528 ports on the biggest model 9513.
However, if you want FCIP for disaster recovery, or I/O Acceleration (IOA) for remote e-vaulting tape libraries, you need a special 18/4 blade. This has 18 FC ports, four 1GbE ports and a special service processor that speaks FCIP or IOA. If you wanted two service processors for FCIP and two for IOA, you would need four of these blades, and that takes up slots that could have been used for 48-port blades instead. The solution? The new SSN-16 has sixteen 1GbE ports and four service processors, so with one slot, you can handle the FCIP and IOA processing that you previously used four cards, giving you three slots back to use with higher port-density cards.
Even better, you can put this new SSN-16 in the Cisco 9222i. The model 9222i is a "hybrid" switch with 22 fixed ports (18 FC ports, four fixed 1GbE ports, and a service processor, so basically the fixed port version of the 18/4 blade above), but it also has one slot! That one slot can be used for the SSN-16 to give you added FCIP or IOA capability.
For our mainframe clients, the FICON package includes four 24-port FICON blades and 96 SFP 4Gbps transceivers to fully populate them. Here is the IBM [Press Release].
Cisco Nexus 5000 series for IBM System Storage
The Cisco Nexus 5000 series is Cisco's entry into the Converged Enhanced Ethernet world, although Cisco sometimes refers to this as Data Center Ethernet (DCE), IBM will continue to use CEE when referring to either Brocade and Cisco gear. These are also Top-of-Rack aggregators that support CNA connections over cheaper twinax copper wires. Model 5010 has 10 ports that can be configured for either 1GbE or 10Gb CEE, 10 ports that are 10Gb CEE, and a slot for an expansion module. The Model 5020 has basically twice as much of everything, including two slots instead of one. Since 10Gb Ethernet does not auto-negotiate down to 1GbE, half the ports can be configured to run 1GbE instead. Frankly, that can be seen as wasting your precious Nexus ports with 1GbE connections, so you might find a 1GbE-to-10GbE aggregator that combines a dozen or more 1GbE to a few 10GbE links instead.
Today's announcement is that in addition to 10GbE and 4Gbps FC expansion modules, there is now an expansion module that supports 8Gbps Fibre Channel. Here is the IBM [Press Release].
Whether you choose Brocade or Cisco, nearly all of IBM System Storage disk and tape products can work today with Converged Enhanced Ethernet environments, either directly using iSCSI, NFS or CIFS, or using the FCoE methodology.
As you can see, it took me a whole post just to cover just our networking gear announcements, and I haven't even covered our disk, tape and cloud storage offerings. I'll get to these in later posts.