IBM has bundled our midrange DS4000 disk with SAN networking switch in a convenient 42U-high rack, and nicknamed thisSAN-in-a-can.
In Sear This is an interesting development. To understand it better, we need to go back to the 1930s. Malcolm McLean invented the shipping container in the 1930s in New Jersey, and later founded Sea-Land corporation. Rather than unpacking products from a ship, load onto a truck, then move those products onto a train, his innovation was to create a container that could be packed full of products, carried from ship, to truck, to train, without loading and unloading individual products as transportation means change. He named the size of his container "TEU". TEU = 20 ft x 8.5 ft x 8.5 ft In 1966, the standard shape and size was adopted by International Organization for Standardization (ISO).Today, over 90% of freight containers are 1 or 2 TEU Sun's announcement is that they have packed up to 240 UNIX servers into a single TEU container. This can be dropped off at your facility, hook up your power and cooling, and start running. An alternative version is a disk-farm-in-a-can, having the TEU container filled with up to 2 PB of disk storage capacity.
This is an interesting development. To understand it better, we need to go back to the 1930s. Malcolm McLean invented the shipping container in the 1930s in New Jersey, and later founded Sea-Land corporation. Rather than unpacking products from a ship, load onto a truck, then move those products onto a train, his innovation was to create a container that could be packed full of products, carried from ship, to truck, to train, without loading and unloading individual products as transportation means change. He named the size of his container "TEU".
TEU = 20 ft x 8.5 ft x 8.5 ft
In 1966, the standard shape and size was adopted by International Organization for Standardization (ISO).Today, over 90% of freight containers are 1 or 2 TEU
Sun's announcement is that they have packed up to 240 UNIX servers into a single TEU container. This can be dropped off at your facility, hook up your power and cooling, and start running. An alternative version is a disk-farm-in-a-can, having the TEU container filled with up to 2 PB of disk storage capacity.Read More]
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For those of you worried about my mysterious absence on the blogosphere, I am getting better. Sorry for not posting much lately, I have had more serious issues to worry about. I am awaiting results on whether I have Dengue fever from Brazil, Avian flu from Thailand, Malaria from Kenya, or perhaps it is just food poisoning from the otherwise fabulous French cuisine I ate last week in the South Pacific. Well, I am back in town for a while, and hopefully will recover to full health, and have some time to reflect my thoughts on storage topics.
Speaking of which, a lot has happened while I was out. Let's take a quick look.
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Our industry is full of acronyms, and sometimes spelling out what words an acronym stands for is not enough to explain it fully.
It reminds me of an old story within IBM. A customer engineer (or "CE" for short) was repairing an air-cooled server, and found the failing part being a "FAN". Not knowing what this stood for, he looked up the acronym in the offical "IBM list of acronyms" and found that it stood for "Forced Air Network". Apparently, so many people did not realize that a FAN was just a "fan" that they needed to add an entry to remind people what this little motorized propeller was for.
This brings me to Tony Asaro's Fun with FAN blog entry which mentions yet another definition for FAN, that of "File Area Network". The concept is not new, but some developments this year help make it more a reality.
To join the rest of the world, new types of data set were created for the z/OS operating system, known as HFS and zFS. These held file systems in the sense we know them today, comparable in hierarchical organization of files on Windows, Linux and UNIX platforms. These could be linked and mounted together in larger hierarchical structures across the sysplex.
The concept of files and file systems is a fairly new concept. Prior to this, applications read and wrote directly in terms of blocks, typically fixed length multiples of 512 bytes. For a while, database management systems offered a choice, direct block access or file level access. The former may have offered slightly better performance, but the latter was easier to administer. Without file system, specialized tools were often required to diagnose and fix problems on block-oriented "raw logical" volumes.
This launched a "my file system is better than yours" war which continues today. The official standard is POSIX, but every file system tries to give some proprietary advantage by offering unique features. Sun's file system offers support for "sparse" files, which is ideal for certain mathematical processing of tables. Microsoft's NTFS offers biult-in compression, designed for the laptop user. IBM's JFS2 and Linux's EXT3 file systems support journaling, which tracks updates to file system structures in a separate journal to minimize data corruption in the event of a power outage, and thus speed up the re-boot process. Anyone who has ever waited for a "Scan Disk" or "fsck" process to finish knows what I'm talking about. Of course, if an application deviates from POSIX standards, and exploits some unique feature of a file system, it then limits its portability and market appeal.
The two competing NAS file systems are also different. Common Internet File System (CIFS) was developed initially by IBM and Microsoft to provide interoperability between DOS, Windows and OS/2. Meanwhile, Network File System (NFS) was the darling of nearly every UNIX and Linux distribution, and even has clients on operating platforms as diverse as MacOS, i5/OS, and z/OS. Today, nearly every platform supports one or both of these standards.
Bottom line, file systems are here to stay. Any slight advantages to use raw logical volumes for databases and applications are losing out to the robust set of file system utilities that can be used across a broad set of platforms and applications.Read More]
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Chris Anderson, of Wired magazine, wrote a great article called The Long Tail.
This article became a book by the same name published earlier this year, and I just discovered it on a recent visit to Second Life. A lot of IBMers are now alsoSecond Lifers, and I suspect it is just a matter of time before we are conductingour customer briefings there, and getting our year-end bonuses paid directly in Linden bucks.(Those of you not familiar with Second Life can watch this 3-minute video fromthe folks at Text100)
Anyways, the Long Tail describes the new economy of entertainment thanks to digitalstorage. Here are some of the key insights.
This has incredible implications for the storage industry. For one, content providers are going to dig deep into their archives to digitize and deliver "long tail" offerings. If they don't have a deep archive, many will start to build one. Second, the need to search through that large volume of content will become more critical. Classifying and indexing with the appropriate tags and metadata will be an important task.
technorati tags: Chris Anderson, Wired, magazine, IBM, Secondlife, Linden bucks, Text100, Long Tail, Robbie+Vann-Adibe, eCast, NetFlix, iTunes, Amazon, Tap Room, Barnes Noble, deep, archive, metadata, tags
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On SearchStorage.com, my buddy Tony Asaro recaps the latest Storage Acquisition Frenzy.
It has always been the case in fast pace technology areas that you can't tell the players without a program card, andthis is especially true for storage.
When analyzing each acquistion move, you need to think of what is driving it. What are the motives?Having been in the storage business 20 years now, and seen my share of acquisitions, both from within IBM,as well as competition, I have come up with the following list of motives.
I hope that provides some insight.[Read More]
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On his "Data Storage - Dullness becomes Mainstream" blog, Chris Evans is
amazed athow low they can go!.He compares the latest 100GB Toshiba 1.8" drive designed for portable music players, to the size andweight of older technology, like the IBM 3380 Direct Access Storage Device (DASD).
Chris couldn't find the dimensions of the 3380, so I thought I would provide the missing detail.The IBM 3380 History Archivesprovides a nice summary:
At least take a backup first.Read More]
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Last week, in my posting on Toshiba's latest 1.8" drive, Robert Pearson asks:
You may not be the right person to ask but I am asking everyone so "How do you see hybrid disk drives?"
(For the record, I am not immediately related to Robert. At onepoint, "Pearson" was the 12th most common surname in the USA, but now doesn't even make the Top 100.)
Robert, I would like to encourage you and everyone else to ask questions, don't worry if I am the wrong person to ask, asprobably I know the right person within IBM. Some people have called me the "Kevin Bacon" of Storage,as I am often less than six degrees away from the right person, having worked in IBM Storage for over 20 years.
For those not familiar with hybrid drives, there is a good write-up in Wikipedia.
Unfortunately, most of the people I would consult on this question, such as those from Market Intelligence or Research, are on vacation for the holidays, so, Robert, I will have to rely on my trusted 78-card Tarot deck and answer you with a five-card throw.
technorati tags: Robert Pearson, Kevin Bacon, IBM, storage, Tarot, card, deck, Hermit, Four-of-Cups, Coupling Facility, Chariot, SAN Volume Controller, SVC, SPC-1, SPC-2, benchmarks, Texas Memory Systems, Eight-of-Pentacles, World, Hybrid, SATA[Read More]
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For those of us in the northern hemisphere, yesterday was this year's Winter Solstice, representingthe shortest amount of daylight between sunrise and sunset. So today, I thought I would blog on my thoughtsof managing scarcity.
Earlier in my career, I had the pleasure to serve as "administrative assistant" to Nora Denzel for the week at a storage conference. My job was to make her look good at the conference, which if you know Nora, doesn't take much. Later, she left IBM to work at HP, and I gotto hear her speak at a conference, and the one thing that I remember most was her statement that thewhole point of "management" was to manage scarcity, as in not enough money in the budget,not enough people to implement change, or not enough resources to accomplish a task.(Nora, I have no idea where you are today, so if you are reading this, send me a note).
Of course, the flip-side to this is that resources that are in abundance are generallytaken for granted. Priorities are focused on what is most scarce. Let's examine some of theresources involved in an IT storage environment:
This last point brings me back to the concept of food, and I am not talking about doughnuts in the conference room, or pizza while making year-end storage upgrades. I'm talking aboutthe food you work so hard to provide for yourself and your family. The folks at Oxfam came up with a simpleanalogy. If 20 people sit down at your table, representing the world’s population:
Happy Winter Solstice!
technorati tags: IBM, Northern, Hemisphere, Winter, Solstice, Nora+Denzel, Oxfam, scarcity, Linux, UNIX, Windows, TSM, Tivo
Continuing this week's theme of recap for 2006, I thought it would be good to look back at the various videos made available on the internet.
Happy New Year!
This year I resolve to be more consistent in my blogging, and my goal is to give you one to five entries per week, every week, based on the advice from Glenn Wolsey, Jennette Banks, and others.On some weeks, I will have a running theme, so rather than super-long entries to cover everything I can think of on a topic, make the entries short and readable. This week is a good time to review last year's "New Year's Resolutions" and to make new ones for 2007. I will discuss actions that companies can adopt for their data centers.
A common resolution is to lose weight, as in this Dilbert comic. Last year, I resolved to lose weight in 2006, and am delighted with myself that I lost eight pounds. When people ask for the secret of my success, I whisper in their ear "Eat less, exercise more." In general, people (and companies) know what to do, but just don't do it, which Pfeffer and Sutton document in their book The Knowing-Doing Gap. In my case, it involved lifestyle change: I exercised at a gym three times per week in Tucson, with a personal trainer, and revamped my diet.
Not everyone subscribes to the "eat less exercise more" philosophy. For example, Ric Watson argues in his blog that you can eat fewer calories, but eat more in actual volume, by choosing the right foods. This brings up the issues of "metrics" that most data centers are familiar with. Last year, I read the book "You: On a Diet" which explains that it is better to focus on "waist reduction" as measured in inches around your mid-section at the belly button, than "weight reduction" as measured in pounds. This year, I resolve to get down to 35 inches by the end of 2007.
The problem with measuring "weight" is that you are weighing bones, muscle and fat. A person can gain ten pounds of muscle, lose ten pounds of fat, and the scale would indicate no progress. The same problem occurs in data centers. How many TB of data do you have? Storage admins can easily tell you, but can they tell how much of this is bone (data needed for operating infrastructure), muscle (data used in daily operations that generates revenue) or fat (obsolete or orphaned data)?
We at IBM often state that "Information Lifecycle Management (ILM)" is more lifestyle change than a "fad diet". Figuring out what data you should capture in the first place, where to place it, when to move it, and when to get rid of it, is more important that just buying different tiers of storage hardware. So, for those looking to make new data center resolutions, I suggest the following actions:
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Continuing this week's theme of New Year's Resolutions for the data center, today we'll talk about one that many people make for their own personal lives: staying on a budget.
Often, when faced with a tightening budgets, we try to make more use of what we already have. Tell someone they are only using 10 percent of their brain, and they immediatelybelieve you; but tell them they are only using 30 percent of their storage, and they ask for a whitepaper,magazine article, or clarification on how that percentage is calculated. I actually visiteda customer that was only using6 percent of the storage attached to their Windows servers!
So, to help those of you making data center resolutions to stay on budget, the terms to remember are "Reduce", "Reuse" and "Rec If you are going to keep on a budget, remember that storage today is 30% more expensive than storage next year. That is the average drop in both disk and tape on a dollar-per-MB basis. If there is any way to postpone giving out storage until it is actually needed, you can save a bundle of money. Timing is everything! In the event of a disaster, getting immediate replacement for disk can be very expensive, but if you can wait just two weeks, you can negotiate a better deal. I thought of this while going to the movie theatre yesterday. A "hot dog" and a bottle of water was $8.00, but if you are able to wait two hours and eat after the movie, you can get a much better meal for less. Chances are, you have unused disk capacity spread across all your storage today, but perhaps they are formatted into small LUNs. The SVC can combine the capacity, and let you carve up big LUNs at the sizes you need.This is like taking all those tiny pieces of soap in your shower and forming a new bar of soap, or taking all the crumbs at the bottom of your bread box, and making a new slice of bread. And, the virtual LUNs are dynamically expandable,so give out only the amount they need today, as it is simple to expand them to larger sizes later. When evaluating your use of tape, determine if you are making best use of the tapes you have now, and perhaps a RECYCLE (or reclamation) scheme may be in order. Fewer tapes can save money in many ways, such as reduced storage costs, and reduced courier costs to send the tapes offsite. Tape media can still be 10-20 times less expensive than disk, based on full capacity.
If you are going to keep on a budget, remember that storage today is 30% more expensive than storage next year. That is the average drop in both disk and tape on a dollar-per-MB basis. If there is any way to postpone giving out storage until it is actually needed, you can save a bundle of money. Timing is everything! In the event of a disaster, getting immediate replacement for disk can be very expensive, but if you can wait just two weeks, you can negotiate a better deal. I thought of this while going to the movie theatre yesterday. A "hot dog" and a bottle of water was $8.00, but if you are able to wait two hours and eat after the movie, you can get a much better meal for less.
Chances are, you have unused disk capacity spread across all your storage today, but perhaps they are formatted into small LUNs. The SVC can combine the capacity, and let you carve up big LUNs at the sizes you need.This is like taking all those tiny pieces of soap in your shower and forming a new bar of soap, or taking all the crumbs at the bottom of your bread box, and making a new slice of bread. And, the virtual LUNs are dynamically expandable,so give out only the amount they need today, as it is simple to expand them to larger sizes later.
When evaluating your use of tape, determine if you are making best use of the tapes you have now, and perhaps a RECYCLE (or reclamation) scheme may be in order. Fewer tapes can save money in many ways, such as reduced storage costs, and reduced courier costs to send the tapes offsite. Tape media can still be 10-20 times less expensive than disk, based on full capacity.
Continuing this week's theme of New Year's Resolutions for the data center, today we'll talk about one that people don't always think about on a personal level, that is to hone your tools and skills.
A long time ago, I used to be a regular speaker at the SHARE user group conference. One of the most attended sessions was Sam Golob presenting the latest CBT Tape set of tools. Over time, this large collection of "mainframe shareware" was handed out on 3480 tape cartridges, then on CDs, and finally made downloadable off the web.Sam's main point, which I remember to this day, was that everyone who has a job should figure out what tools they use, keep those tools functioning properly, and learn to use them well.
Later, I took some cooking classes at a culinary school. Among other things, we learned:
This last point hits close to home, as many people like me have too many tools that they do not use often enough to know how to use them well. Do I really need my strawberry corer, garlic press, or a tray designed for the storage and delivery of deviled eggs?
The same could be said about software tools. What tools do you use in your job? Do you feel you know how to take full advantage of their power and capabilities?If you develop software, do you know all the features for your debugging tools? If you develop advertising or marketing materials, do you know all the features of your photo or video editing software? If you manage storage in a data center, do you know all the tools for managing your storage area network (SAN), disk systems, tape libraries, and reporting tools to identify all of your files and databases across your entire IT environment?I would not be surprised if you could replace a whole mess of tools with just one, such as the IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center.Read More]
Last week, Paul Weinberg of eChannelLine.com asks Is this the year of the SAN (again)?So, I thought this week I would cover my thoughts and opinions on storage networking. We oftenfocus on servers or storage devices, and forget that the network in between is an entire worldon itself.
I believe Mr. Weinberg is basing this on the idea that in 2007, over 50 percent of disk will beattached over SAN, edging out the alternative: Direct Attached Storage (DAS). But perhaps 50 percentis the wrong number to focus on. In 2007, The United Nations estimates thatcities will surpass rural areas, with just over 50 percent of theworld's population. Does that make this the "Year of the City"? Of course not.
Instead, I prefer to use the methodology that Malcolm Gladwell uses in his book, The Tipping Point.(I have read this book and highly recommend it!)Gladwell indicates that the tipping point happens at the start of the epidemic, not when it is half over.Isn't it better to celebrate the sweet 16 debutante ball when young ladies have completed their years of training and preparation, and are ready to be introduced to the rest of the world, rather than after they are thirty-something, married with children.
Let's explore some of the history. Stuart Kendric has a nice 7-page summary on theHistory & Plumbing of SANs.
IBM announced the first SAN technology calledEnterprise Systems Connection (ESCON) way back in September 1990. This allowed multiplemainframe servers to connect to multiple storage systems over equipment called "ESCON Directors" that directedtraffic from point A to point B. Before this, mainframes sent "ChannelCommand Words" or CCWs, across parallel "bus and tag" copper cables. ESCON was serial overfiber optic wiring. SANs solved two problems: first, it reduced the "rat's nest" of cables between many serversand many storage systems, and second, it extended the distance between server and storage device.
For distributed systems running UNIX or Windows, the CCW-equivalent over parallel cables was called Small ComputerSystem Interface (SCSI). The SCSI command had over 1000 command words, so for its Advanced Technology (AT) personal computers (PC AT), IBM introduced a subset of SCSI commands called ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment). ATA drives supportedfewer commands, ran at slower speeds, and were manufactured with a less rigorous process. Today ATA drives are about 55 percent the cost per MB as comparable SCSI drives.
Anyone who has ever opened their PC and found flat ribbon cable with eight or sixteen wires in parallel, can understand that the same issues applied externally. Parallel technologies arelimited to distance and speed, as all the bits have to arrive at the end of the wire at approximately thesame time. Direct attach schemes with every server attaches directly to every storage device were also problematic.Imagine 100 servers connected to 100 storage devices, that would be 10,000 wires!
So, a new technology standard was developed, called Fibre Channel, ratified in 1994.The spelling of "Fibre" was intentionally made different than "Fiber" on purpose. "Fibre" is a protocol thatcan travel over copper or glass wires. "Fiber" represents the glass wiring itself.
Fibre Channel is amazingly versatile. For today's Linux, UNIX and Windows servers, it can carry SCSI commands, and the combination of SCSI over FC is called Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP). For the mainframe servers, it can carry CCW commands. Running CCW over Fibre Channel is called FICON. This convergence allows mainframes and distributed systems to share a common Fibre Channel network, using the same set of switches and directors.
We saw the use of SANs explode in the marketplace over the past 10 years, and then cool down with a series of mergers and acquisitions. Last year, Brocade announced it was acquiring rival McData, so we will be down to two major players, Cisco and Brocade.
So, IMHO, I think we are well past the "Year of the SAN".
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Today, January 16, IBM launches its latest disk system, the DS3000 series.
There are actually three products in the DS3000 series:
With this announcement, IBM provides entry-level storage at the "less-than-$5000" price point, withsupport for intermix of 10K and 15K RPM drives, and scalable up to 14.4 TB capacity.This would be ideal storage for HP, Dell, IBM System x and BladeCenter servers.
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Wrapping up my week's theme of "diversity", with posts on a diverse set of topics,today I will suggest ways to spendyour time while you are walking 10,000 steps per day, as recommended by the authorsof the book "You: On a Diet".
(If you thought this was about the 10,000 steps it might take to implement a storage solution, you should switch over to IBM as your storage vendor. For example, the DS3200 and DS3400 can beimplemented in as little as SIX steps. That's pretty cool.)
Blogs like Lifehacker are an excellent resource for neat littletips and tricks to help you throughout your day, like how to use your iPod, cell phone or computer better, for example. These suggestions are based on the idea that you can walk your 10,000 steps with access to an iPod and cell phone.
Well, that's three suggestions. The next time you complain that there is no time to walk, you now have no excuse.Read More]