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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Specialist for the IBM System Storage product line at the
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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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This week I'm in beautiful Guadalajara, Mexico teaching at our[System Storage Portfolio Top Gun class].We have all of our various routes-to-market represented here, including our direct sales force, our technicalteams, our online IBM.COM website sales, as well as IBM Business Partners.Everyone is excited over last week's IBM announcement of [4Q07 and full year 2007 results], which includesdouble-digit growth in our IBM System Storage business, led by sales of our DS8000, SAN Volume Controller and Tapesystems. Obviously, as an IBM employee and stockholder, I am biased, so instead I thought I would provide someexcerpts from other bloggers and journalists.
But what was striking in the company’s conference call on Thursday afternoon was the unhedged optimism in its outlook for 2008, given the strong whiff of recession fear elsewhere.
The questions from Wall Street analysts in the conference call had a common theme. Why are you so comfortable about the 2008 outlook? Now, that might just be professional churlishness, since so many of them have been so wrong recently about I.B.M. Wall Street had understandably thought, for example, that I.B.M.’s sales to financial services companies — the technology giant’s largest single customer category — would suffer in the fourth quarter, given the way banks have been battered by the mortgage credit crunch.
But Mr. Loughridge said that revenue from financial services customers rose 11 percent in the fourth quarter, to $8 billion. The United States, he noted, accounts for only 25 percent of I.B.M.’s financial services business.
The other thing that seems apparent is how much I.B.M.’s long-term strategy of moving up to higher-profit businesses and increasingly relying on services and software is working. Its huge services business grew 17 percent to $14.9 billion in the quarter. After the currency benefit, the gain was 10 percent, but still impressive. Software sales rose 12 percent to $6.3 billion.
Looking at IBM's business segments, it can be seen that they offer far more coverage of the technology space that those of the typical tech company:
IBM is just so big and diversified that there is little comparison between it and most other tech companies. IBM is a member of an elite group of companies like Cisco Systems (CSCO), Microsoft (MSFT), Oracle (ORCL) or Hewlett-Packard (HPQ).
IBM's wide international coverage and deep technological capabilities dwarf those of most tech companies. Not only do they have sales organizations worldwide but they have developers, consultants, R&D workers and supply chain workers in each geographic region. Their product mix runs from custom software to packaged enterprise software, hardware (mainframes and servers), semiconductors, databases, middleware technology, etc., etc. There are few tech companies that even attempt to support that many kinds and variations of products.
As color on the fourth quarter earnings announcement, there are a couple of observations that I would like to make. The first one speaks to IBM's international prowess. The company indicated that growth in the Americas was only 5%. International sales were a primary driver of IBM's good results. As an insight on the difference between IBM and most other tech companies, it is clear that nowadays, a tech company that isn't adept at selling internationally is going to be in trouble.
Terrific performance in a terrific year - no doubt a result of its strong global model. IBM operates in 170 countries, with about 65% of its employees outside US and about 30% in Asia Pacific. For fiscal 2007, revenues from Americas grew 4% to $41.1 billion (42% of total revenue), [EMEA] grew 14% to $34.7 billion (35%of total revenue), and Asia-Pacific grew by 11% to $19.5 billion (19.7% of total revenue). IBM sees growth prospects not just in [BRIC] but also countries like Malaysia, Poland, South Africa, Peru, and Singapore.
Thus far 2008–all two weeks of it–hasn’t been a pretty for the tech industry. Worries about the economy prevail. And even companies that had relatively good things to say like Intel get clobbered. It’s ugly out there–unless you’re IBM.
I am sure there will be more write-ups and analyses on this over the next coming weeks, and others will probably waituntil more tech companies announce their results for comparison.
It's Tuesday, and you know what that means-- IBM makes its announcements.
Today, IBM announced a variety of storage offerings, but I am going to just focus this poston just the new DR550 models. The DR550 is the leading disk-and-tape solution forstoring non-erasable, non-rewriteable (NENR) data. This type of data, often called fixed-contentor compliance data, was previously writtento Write-Once-Read-Only (WORM) optical media. However, Optical technology has not advanced as fastas magnetic recording, so disk and tape have taken over this role. While there are still a fewlaws on the books that mandate "optical media" as the storage solution, new laws like SEC 17a-4and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) allow for NENR solutions based on magnetic disk or tape instead.
As we had done for the IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC), the DR550 was based on "off the shelf"components. The File System Gateway (FSG) was based on System x server, the DR550 hardwarebased on System p server and DS4000 disk arrays, with "hardened" versions of the AIX,DS4000 Storage Manager and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) that we renamed the IBM SystemStorage Archive Manager (SSAM).
The DR550 is Ethernet-based, so it can be used with all IBM server platforms, from System xand BladeCenter, to System i, and System p, and even System z mainframe customers, as wellas non-IBM platforms from Sun, HP and others. There are two ways to get data stored ontothe DR550:
Sending archive objects via the SSAM archive API. This is an API based on the XBSA open standardthat many applications have coded to.
Writing files via standard CIFS and NFS protocols through the File System Gateway (FSG), an optional priced feature that you can have incorporated into the DR550.
Generally, business applications like SAP or Microsoft Exchange don't do this directly, but ratheryou have an "archive management application" that acts as the go-between broker. IBM offers IBM Content Manager, IBM CommonStore for eMail (Exchange and Lotus Domino), and IBM CommonStore for SAP.IBM also recently acquired FileNet and Princeton Softech that provide additional support. Third partyproducts like Zantaz and Symantec KVS Enterprise Vault have also passed System Storage Provencertification for the DR550. These go-between applications understand the underlying storagestructure of their respective applications, and can apply policies to extract database rows, individualemails, or other attachments, as appropriate, and either move or copy them into the DR550.
The DR550 has built in support to move data from disk to tape, through policy-based automation behind the scenes. This is the key differentiator fromdisk-only solutions. Rather than filling up an EMC Centera, and watching it sit there idle burning energyfor five to seven years, or however long you are required to keep the data, you can instead use the disk for the most recent months worth of data on a DR550. The DR550 attaches to tapedrives or libraries, not just IBM TS1120 or LTO based models, but hundreds of systems from other vendorsas well. You can combine this with either rewriteable or WORM tape cartridge media, depending on yourcircumstances. This can be directly cabled, or through a SAN fabric environment. Storing the bulk ofthis rarely-referenced data on tape makes the DR550 substantially more affordable and more green thandisk-only alternatives.
Let's take a look at the specific models:
IBM System Storage DR550 DR1
The DR1 machine-type-model replaces the "DR550 Express" for small and medium size business workloads. This is a singleSystem p server with anywhere from 1 to 36 TB of raw disk capacity in a nice lockable 25U cabinet (see picture at left). On the original DR550 Express, the 25U cabinet was optional, but so many people opted for it, that wemade it standard feature. You can add the File System Gateway, which is a System x running Linuxwith NFS and CIFS protocols converted to SSAM API calls.
IBM System Storage DR550 DR2
The DR2 machine-type-model replaces the larger "DR550" for enterprise workloads. This can be either a single or dual node System p configuration, anywhere from 6 to 168 TB in raw disk capacity, in a lockable 36U cabinet. This also allows for an optional File System Gateway, and in the case of thedual node configuration, you can have two System p servers, and two System x servers with two Ethernetand two SAN switches for complete redundancy.
Common Information Model (CIM) and SMI-S interfaces have been added so that IBM Director can providea "single pane of glass" to manage all of the components of the DR550.
The system is based on high-capacity 750GB SATA drives, installed in half-drawer (eight drives, 6 TB)and full-drawer (16 drives, 12 TB) increments. Your choices will be 7+P RAID5 or 6+P+Q RAID6.Here is an Intel article that explains [RAID6 P+Q].In the future, as new disk technologies are introduced, the DR550 supports moving the disk datafrom old to new seamlessly, without disrupting the data retention policies enforcement.
For more information, here is a [6-page brochure] thathas specifications for both the DR1 and DR2 models.
Wrapping up my week on the Feb 12 announcements, I will finish off talking about thenew Half-High (HH) LTO4 drives available for our TS3100 and TS3200 tape libraries.
Small and medium sized business (SMB) clients are looking for small, affordable tapesystems. Tape is inherently green, using orders of magnitude less energy than disk,and is very scalable by simply purchasing more tape cartridges.
When IBM first announced them, the TS3100 supported one drive with 24 cartridges,and the TS3200 (see picture at left) supported two drives and 48 cartridges. Unlike disk, that mentions RAWcapacity and then lowers it to indicate usable capacity in RAID configurations, tapeis just the opposite. LTO4 cartridges have 800 GB raw capacity, but with an average of 2:1compression, can hold a usable 1.6 TB of data. LTO4 also supports WORM cartridges fornon-erasable, non-rewriteable (NENR) types of data, and encryption capability.
As a follow-on to our HH LTO3 drives, IBM is the first major storage vendor to offerthe new HH LTO4 drives in entry-level automation, which directly attach via 3Gbps SAS connections to your host servers. The HH models allows you to have two drives in the TS3100, and four drives in the TS3200.
You can mix and match, LTO3 and LTO4. Why would anyone do that? Well, the Linear Tape Open [LTO]consortium --made up of technology provider companies IBM, HP and Quantum--decided to support N-2 generation read, and N-1 generation read/write. So, anLTO3 can read LTO1 cartridges, and read/write LTO2 and LTO3 cartridges. TheLTO4 can read LTO2 cartridges, and read/write LTO3 and LTO4 cartridges. For SMBcustomers that still have some LTO1 cartridges they might want to read some day,mixing LTO3 and LTO4 is a viable combination.
Of course, IBM still offers full-high (FH) versions of LTO3 and LTO4, which offer a bit faster acceleration, back-hitch and rewind times than their HH counterparts, and also offer additional attachment choices of LVD Ultra160 SCSIand 4 Gbps Fibre Channel as well.
So, for SMB customers that are simply using their tape for backup and archive,and probably not driving maximum rated speeds, having twice as many slowerdrives might be just the right fit.
Yesterday, I asked if you were prepared for the future? The future is now. Today, IBM announced its["New Enterprise Data Center"] vision and strategy which spans software, hardware and services in dealing withthe latest challenges that our clients are faced with today, or will face sooner or later this century.
Here's an excerpt:
Align IT with business goals These changes demand that IT improve cost and service delivery, manage escalating complexity, and better secure the enterprise. And aligning IT more closely with the business becomes a primary goal. The new enterprise data center is an evolutionary new model for efficient IT delivery that helps provide the freedom to drive business innovation. Through a service oriented model, IT will be able to better manage costs, improve operational performance and resiliency, and more quickly respond to business needs. This approach will deliver dynamic and seamless access to IT services and resources, improving both productivity and satisfaction.
IBM's Vision for the New Enterprise Data Center The new enterprise data center can improve the integration of people, process, and technology in your business to help you improve efficiency and effectiveness. As you implement a new enterprise data center strategy, your infrastructure becomes open, efficient, and easy to manage. And your IT staff can move from a focus on fixing IT problems to solving business challenges. Ultimately your processes become standardized and efficient, focused on business needs rather than technology.
A lot was announced today, so I will give a quick recap now, and cover specific areas over the rest of the week.
IBM System z10 Enteprise Class
IBM introduces its most powerful mainframe. Before you think "Wait, that's a mainframe, that doesn't apply to me"stop to consider all that IBM has done to make the mainframe an "open system" without sacrificing security oravailability:
Open standard connectivity, including TCP/IP and now 6Gbps Infiniband and 10GbE Ethernet.
Unix System Services. Yes, z/OS is certified to provide UNIX interfaces for today's applications.
HFS and zFS file systems that can be mounted, shared, and used by traditional z/OS applications and JCL.
Linux and Java. Many of today's largest websites are run on mainframes behind the scenes.
Extreme bandwidth. The z10 EC handles up to 336 FICON channels (4Gbps) for large data processing workloads
The z10 EC is as powerful as 1,500 x86 (such as Intel or AMD) servers, but consumes 85 percent less floorspace and85 percent less energy. (They should put a "green" stripe down the front of this box just to remind everyone how energy efficient this server really is!) For more on the z10 EC, see the[Press Release].
Enhanced IBM System Storage DS8000
With the XIV acquisition taking the role as the best place to put unstructured files for Web 2.0 applications,the IBM DS8000 can focus on its core strength, managing databases and online transactions for the mainframe.There's enough here to justify its own post, so I will cover this later.
IT Service Management Center for z (ITSMCz)
Trust me, I don't make up these acronyms. IT Service Management are the policies and procedures for managingan IT environment, such as following the best practices documented in the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL).In the past, IBM tools have focused on Linux, UNIX and Windows on distributed servers, but today ITSMCz bringsall of that to the mainframe! (or perhaps more correct to say "brings the mainframe to all that"!)
IT Transformation & Optimization - Infrastructure Strategy and Planning services
I don't make up the names of our service offerings either. However, one thing is clear, it is time for peopleto re-evaluate their current data center, and come up with a new plan. The average data center is 15 years old.According to Gartner Group, more than 70 percent of the world's "Global 1000" organizations will have to make significant modifications to their data centers in the next five years. IBM can help, and is rolling outa new set of services specifically to help clients make this transition, to better align their IT to their business strategies.
Economic Stimulus Package
IBM borrowed this idea from the U.S. government. IBM Global Financing is offering special terms and ratesfor new equipment installed by December 31 this year.
Want to learn more? Read this 15-page[IBM's Vision]white paper.
It's been a while since I've talked about [Second Life].
The latest post on eightbar[Spimes, Motes and Data centers]discusses IBM's use of virtual world technology to analyze data centers in three dimensions.New World Note asks[What's The Point Of 3D Data Centers?]One would think that a simple monitoring tool based on a two-dimensional floor plan would be enough to evaluate a data center.
Enter Michael Osias, IBM (a.k.a Illuminous Beltran in Second Life). Some of the leading news sites havebegun to notice some 3D data centers that he has helped pioneer. UgoTrade writes up an article aboutMichael and the media attention in [The Wizard of IBM's 3DData Centers].
Of course, in presenting these "Real Life/Second Life" (RL/SL) interactive technologies, IBM is sometimes the target of ridicule. Why? Because IBM is 10 years ahead of everyone else. So, are there aspects of a data center where 3D interfaces makes sense? I think there is.
IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center has an awesome "topology viewer" that shows what servers are connectedto which switches, to which disk systems and tape libraries. This is all done in a 2D diagram, generated dynamicallywith data discovered through open standard interfaces, similar to what you might draw manually with toolslike Visio. Imagine, however, howmore powerful if it were a 3D viewer, with virtual equipment mapped to the physical location of each pieceof hardware on the data center floor, including the position on the rack and location on the data center floor.
Designing computer room air conditioning (CRAC) systems is actually a three dimensional problem. Cold air isfed underneath the raised floor, comes up through strategically placed "vent" tiles, taken in the front ofeach rack. Hot air comes out the back of each rack, and hopefully finds ceiling duct intake to get cooled again.The temperature six inches off the floor is different than the temperature six feet off the floor, and 3Dmonitor tools could be helpful in identifying "hot spots" that need attention. In this case "spimes" representsensors in the 3D virtual world, able to report back information to help diagnose problems or monitor events.
After many people left the mainframe in favor of running a single application per distributed server, the pendulumhas finally swung back. Companies are discovering the many benefits of changing this behavior. "Re-centralization" is the task at hand. Thanks to virtualization of servers, networks and storage, sharing common resources canonce again claim the benefits of economies of scale. In many cases, servers work together in collective unitsfor specific applications that might benefit better if consolidated together onto the same equipment.
IBM's "New Enterprise Data Center" vision recognizes that people will need to focus on the management aspectsof their IT infrastructure, and 3D virtual world technologies might be an effective way to getthe job done.
A [recent survey] conductedby Fleishman-Hillard Researchindicates that the majority of disk-only customers are now lookingat adding tape back into their infrastructure. Here are some excerpts:
"Over two thirds of surveyed businesses said they were lookingto add tape storage back into their overall network infrastructure and of those respondents, over80-percent plan to add tape storage solutions within the next 12 months.The survey, which was taken in the fourth quarter of 2007, focused on the views of morethan 200 network administrators and mid-level tech specialists at mid-size to large companiesthroughout the United States.
The integration of tape storage into a tiered information infrastructure is highly strategic forcustomers, due to its low cost of ownership, low energy consumption and portability for dataprotection, said Cindy Grossman, Vice President of Tape Storage Systems, IBM. LTO tapetechnology is a perfect choice for enterprise and mid-sized customer with its proven reliability, highcapacity, high performance and ability to address data security with built-in encryption and dataretention requirements for the evolving data center.
According to the survey, 58-percent of the respondents use a combination of disk and tapefor long term archiving, 24-percent use tape exclusively, and 18-percent employ a disk-onlyapproach. In this group, 68-percent of the current disk-only users plan to start using tape for longtermarchiving, and over half (58-percent) plan to add tape for short-term data protection.The survey findings suggest that disk-only users may be experiencing a bit of buyer sremorse, said David Geddes, senior vice president at Fleishman-Hillard Research, who oversawthe study. We found that a wide majority of companies that employ purely disk-basedapproaches are looking to quickly include tape in their backup and archiving strategies."
While disk provides online data access and availability, tape provides additional data protectionand security, lower total cost of ownership (TCO), lower energy consumption (Tape is more "green"),and can be an important part of a long term data retention and compliance strategy.
Disk is more costly, more energy hungry, and some data, although it must be retained, may seldom, if ever be looked at, so why keep it spinning?
Speaking of TCO, in a recent 5-year TCO analysis by the Clipper Group titled[“Disk and Tape Square Off Again”]stored 2.4PB of data long term on SATA disk and on an LTO tape library, the disk system was:23:1 more costly, used 290 times the amount of energy than tapeEven with a data dedupe system like IBM System Storage N series, disk was still 5 times more costly than the tape system.
The Linear Tape Open (LTO) consortium --consisting of IBM, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Quantum-- just released its "LTO-5" plans. With 2:1 compression,you will be able to pack up to 3TB of data on a single tape cartridge. And while dollar-per-GB declinefor disk is slowing down to 25-30 percent per year, tape continues to decline at a healthy 40 percent rate, so the price gap between diskand tape will actually widen even further over the next few years.
I figured I need to say something about "green" on this special holiday (and yes, I am partially Irish, andthe majority of my siblings have bright red hair and freckles as it runs through my family)
Last week, I had the pleasure to meet [Dr. Jia Chen]. She has a PhDin nanotechnology and works in IBM's Watson Research Center. She is recognized as one of the top 35 scientistsunder 35 years of age by MIT, top 15 of the "Nano 50", and one of the top 80 in the National Academy of Engineering.
The two of us presented to clients at the BMW Performance Center in Greenville, SC, on the topic of the "Green" IT data center. She covered all of the advancements IBM is making on the server side, and I coveredall the things on the storage side.
The BMW Performance center is part "briefing conference location" and part "driving school". Everyone had a greattime watching the crazy stunts of the professional drivers skidding and spinning on a closed course. Some hadthe opportunity to actually drive or ride in the cars themselves.
BMW is introducing its own "energy efficiency initiative" with their [X3 Hybrid] vehicle,which will be manufactured in Greenville, SC plant.
Yesterday marked the first day of Spring here in the Northern hemisphere, and often this means it is timefor some "Spring cleaning". This is a great time to re-evaluate all of your stuff and clean house.
In the bits-vs-atoms discussion, Annie Leonard has a quick [20-minute video] about the atoms side of stuff,from extraction of natural resources, production, distribution, consumption, to final disposal.
On the bits side of things, the picture is much different.
We don't really extract information,rather we capture it, and lately that process is done directly into digital formats, from digital photography, digital recording of music, and so on. A lot of medical equipmentnow take X-rays and other medical images directly into digital format. By 2011, it is estimated that as much as 30 percent of all storage will be for holding medical images.
Production refers to the process of combining raw materials and making them into something useful. The sameapplies to information, there are a variety of ways to make information more presentable. In the Web 2.0 world, these are called Mashups, combiningraw information in a manner that are more usable.Fellow IBM blogger Bob Sutor discusses IBM's latest contribution, SMash, in his post[Secure Mashups via SMash].
According to Tim Sanders, 90 percent of business information is distributed by email, but less than 10 percentof employees are formally trained to distribute information correctly. Here's a quick 3-minute trailerto his "Dirty Dozen" rules of how to do email properly.
I have not watched the DVD that this trailer is promoting, but I certainly agree with the overall concept.
This week I also had the pleasure to hear [Art Mortell], author ofthe book The Courage to Fail: Art Mortell's Secrets to Business Success. He gave an inspirational talk about how to deal with our stressful lives. One key pointwas that stress often came from our own expectations. This is certainly true on how we consume information.Often times our expectations determine how well we read, watch or listen to information being presented.Sometimes information is factually correct, but presented in such a boring manner that it is just toodifficult to consume.
John Windsor on YouBlog takes this one step further, asking [Are you predictable?]He makes a strong case on why presenting in a predictable manner can actually hurt your chances of communication.
And finally, there is disposal. We are all a bunch of digital pack-rats. With atoms, you eventuallyrun out of closet space, with bits the problem is not as obvious, and often can be resolved by spendingyour way out of it. On average, companies are expanding their storage capacity by 57 percent every year. Thatworked well when dollar-per-GB prices of disk dropped to match, but now technology advancements are slowing down. Diskwill not be dropping in price as fast as you need, and now might be a good time to re-evaluate your"Keep everything forever" strategy.
Consider "Spring cleaning" to be an excellent excuse to evaluate the data you have on your disk systems.Should it be on disk? Will it be accessed often enough to justify that cost? Does it need immediateonline access times, or can waiting a minute or two for a tape mount from an automated library be sufficient?Does it represent business value?
I have been to customers that have discovered a lot of "orphan data" on their disk systems. This isdata that does not belong to anyone currently working at the company. Maybe the owners of the data retired,were laid off, or even fired, but nobody bothered to clean up their files after they left the company.
I've also seen a lot of "stale data" on disk, data that has not be read or written in the past 90 days.Are you spending 13-18 watts of energy to spin each disk drive just to contain data nobody ever looks at?
In some cases, orphan or stale data represents business value, and need to be kept around for businessor legal reasons. Perhaps some government regulation requires you to retain this information for someyears. In that case, rather than deleting it, move it to tape, perhaps using theIBM System Storage DR550 to protect it for the time required and handle its eventual disposal.
Certainly something to think about, while you snap the ears off those chocolate bunnies, watching yourkids run around looking for eggs. Enjoy your weekend!
Tim Ferris started the festivities with [The Grand Illusion: The Real Tim Ferriss speaks]. He claimed that for the past year, he outsourced the writing of his blog to a writer from India, and an editor from the Philippines. Given that his post was dated March 31, and he writes frequently about the benefits of outsourcing, it appeared like a legitimate post. However, Tim fessed up the following day, claiming that it was April 1 in Japan where he wrote it.
Guy Kawasaki wrote[April Fools' Stories You Shouldn't Believe]including my favorite #12 "Ruby on Rails cited Twitter as the centerpiece of its new 'Rails Can Scale' marketing program." Speaking of Twitter, Fellow IBM blogger Alan Lepofsky from our Lotus Notes team wrote[Great, now there is Twitter Spam]. It looked like a real post, but then I realized, ... everything on Twitter is spam!
Topics like energy consumption and global warming were fodder for posts and pranks.The post[Was Earth Hour a joke again?], argued thatthe preparation of "Earth Hour" last week in effect used up more energy than the hour of this annual "lights-off event" actually saved. This reminded me of John Tierney's piece in the New York Times ["How virtuous is Ed Begley, Jr.?"] where a scientist explains that it is more "green" for the environment to drive a car short distances than to walk:
If you walk 1.5 miles, Mr. Goodall calculates, and replace those calories by drinking about a cup of milk, the greenhouse emissions connected with that milk (like methane from the dairy farm and carbon dioxide from the delivery truck) are just about equal to the emissions from a typical car making the same trip. And if there were two of you making the trip, then the car would definitely be the more planet-friendly way to go.
Wayan Vota, my buddy over at OLPCnews, writes in his post[Windows XO Child Centric Development] that the "Sugar" operating environment on the innovative Linux-based XO laptops will soon be re-named the"Windows XO Operating System", with their new motto "Windows XO: A Child-Centric Operating Platform for Learning, Expression and Exploration." The mocked up photo of an XO laptop with the Windows XO logo was excellent!
The economists from Freakonomics explain in [And While You're at it, Toss the Nickel] that it costs the US Government 1.7 cents to produce each penny. The US government loses $50 million dollars each year making pennies. Each nickel costs 10 cents to produce. This one was dated March 31, so it could actually be true. Sad, but true.
My favorite, however, was EMC blogger Barry Burke's post["5773 > c"] explaining howtheir scientists were able to reduce latency on the EMC SRDF disk replication capability:
What the de-dupe team found is that there is a hidden feature within recent generations of this chip that allow a single bit, under certain circumstances, to represent TWO bits of information.
Still, almost 34% of the total bits transferred were in fact aligned double-zeros, far more than all other bit combinations - and most importantly, these were quite frequently byte-aligned, as required by this new-found capability. Makes sense, if you think about it - most of those 32- and 64-bit integers are used to store numbers that are relatively small (years, months, days, credit charges, account balances, etc.). So that's why the team decided to use this new two-fer bit to represent "00".
Mathematically, if you can transmit 34% of the data using half as many bits, you reduce the number of bits you have to transfer in total by 17%. Which, while not necessarily earth-shattering, is nothing to be ashamed of. On top of the SRDF performance enhancements delivered in 5772 (30% reduction in latency or 2x the distance), this new enhancement adds another 17% latency improvement (or ~1.4x more distance at the same latency). Combined with 5772, SRDF/S customers could see a 50% reduction in latency. And 5773 allows SRDF/A cycle times to be set below 5 seconds (with RPQ) - this new feature adds a little headroom to maximize bandwidth efficiency for the shortest possible RPO.
Again, this looked real, until I did the math. Start with the speed of light in a vacuum of space ("c" in BarryB's title) which is roughly 300,000 kilometers per second, or put into more understandable units, 300 kilometers per millisecond. However, light travels slower through all other materials, and for fiber optic glass it is only 200 kilometers per millisecond. Sending a block of data across 100km, and then getting a response back that it arrived safely, is a total round-trip distance of 200km, so roughly 1 millisecond. However, EMC SRDF often takes two or three round-trips per write, versus IBM Metro Mirror on the IBM System Storage DS8000 which has got this down to a single round-trip. The number of round-trips has a much bigger effect on latency than EMC's double-bit data compression technique. With IBM, you only experience about 1 millisecond latency per write for every 100km distance between locations, the shortest latency in the industry.
It is good that once a year, you should be skeptical of what you read in the blogosphere, and sometimes check the facts!
There is a difference between improving "energy efficiency" versus reducing "power consumption".
Let's consider the average 100 watt light bulb, of which 5 watts generate the desired feature (light), and 95 percent generated as undesired waste (heat). In this case, it would be 5 percent efficient. If you delivered a new light bulb that generated 3 watts of light for only 30 watts of energy, then you would have an offering that was more energy efficient (10 percent instead of 5 percent) and use 70 percent less power (30 watts instead of 100 watts). This new "dim bulb" would not be as bright as the original, but has other desirable energy qualities.
Nearly all of the output of data center equipment results in heat.In The Raised Floor blog [It's Too Darn Hot!], Will Runyon explains how IBM researcher Bruno Michel in Zurich has developed new ways to cool chips with water shot through thousands of nozzles, much like capillaries in the human body. This is just one of many developments that are part of IBM's [Project Big Green]
But what if the desired feature is heat, and the undesired feature is light?In the case of Hasbro's toy[Easy-Bake Oven],a 100W incadescent light bulb is used to bake small cakes. This is generating 95W of desired heat, and onlywasting 5 percent as light (unused inside the oven). That makes this little toy 95 percent energy efficient, butconsumes as much energy as any other 100W light bulb lamp or fixture in your house. With manufacturing switchingfrom incadescent to compact flourescent bulbs, this toy oven may not be around much longer.
While we all joke that it is just a matter of time before our employers make us ride stationary bicycles attached to generators to power our monstrous data centers, 23-year old student Daniel Sheridan designeda see-saw for kids in Africa to play on that generates electricity for nearby schools. [Dan won the "mostinnovative product" at the Enterprise Festival].
Another approach is to improve efficiency by converting previously undesirable outcomes to desirable. Brian Bergstein has a piece in Forbes titled["Heat From Data Center to Warm a Pool"].Here's an excerpt:
"In a few cases, the heat produced by the computers is used to warm nearby offices. In what appears to be a first, the town pool in Uitikon, Switzerland, outside Zurich, will be the beneficiary of the waste heat from a data center recently built by IBM Corp. (nyse: IBM) for GIB-Services AG.
As in all data centers, air conditioners will blast the computers with chilly air - to keep the machines from exceeding their optimum temperature of around 70 degrees - and pump hot air out.
Usually, the hot air is vented outdoors and wasted. In the Uitikon center, it will flow through heat exchangers to warm water that will be pumped into the nearby pool. The town covered the cost of some of the connecting equipment but will get to use the heat for free."
I see a business opportunity here. Next to every data center lamenting about their power and cooling, build a state-of-the-art fitness center for the employees and nearby townspeople. Exercise on a stationary bicyclegenerating electricity, while your kids play on the see-saw generating electricity, and then afterwards thewhole family can take a dip in the heated swimming pool. And if the company subscribes to the notion of a Results-Oriented Work Environment [ROWE],it could encourage its employees to take "fitness" breaks throughout the day, rather than having everyone there in the early morning or late evening hours, leveling out the energy generated.
I am still wiping the coffee off my computer screen, inadvertently sprayed when I took a sip while reading HDS' uber-blogger Hu Yoshida's post on storage virtualization and vendor lock-in.
HDS is a major vendor for disk storage virtualization, and Hu Yoshida has been around for a while, so I felt it was fair to disagree with some of the generalizations he made to set the record straight. He's been more careful ever since.
However, his latest post [The Greening of IT: Oxymoron or Journey to a New Reality] mentions an expert panel at SNW that includedMark O’Gara Vice President of Infrastructure Management at Highmark. I was not at the SNW conference last week in Orlando, so I will just give the excerpt from Hu's account of what happened:
"Later I had the opportunity to have lunch with Mark O’Gara. Mark is a West Point graduate so he takes a very disciplined approach to addressing the greening of IT. He emphasized the need for measurements and setting targets. When he started out he did an analysis of power consumption based on vendor specifications and came up with a number of 513 KW for his data center infrastructure....
The physical measurements showed that the biggest consumers of power were in order: Business Intelligence Servers, SAN Storage, Robotic tape Library, and Virtual tape servers....
Another surprise may be that tape libraries are such large consumers of power. Since tape is not spinning most of the time they should consume much less power than spinning disk - right? Apparently not if they are sitting in a robotic tape library with a lot of mechanical moving parts and tape drives that have to accelerate and decelerate at tremendous speeds. A Virtual Tape Library with de-duplication factor of 25:1 and large capacity disks may draw significantly less power than a robotic tape library for a given amount of capacity.
Obviously, I know better than to sip coffee whenever reading Hu's blog. I am down here in South America this week, the coffee is very hot and very delicious, so I am glad I didn't waste any on my laptop screen this time, especially reading that last sentence!
In that report, a 5-year comparison found that a repository based on SATA disk was 23 times more expensive overall, and consumed 290 times more energy, than a tape library based on LTO-4 tape technology. The analysts even considered a disk-based Virtual Tape Library (VTL). Focusing just on backups, at a 20:1 deduplication ratio, the VTL solution was still 5 times per expensive than the tape library. If you use the 25:1 ratio that Hu Yoshida mentions in his post above, that would still be 4 times more than a tape library.
I am not disputing Mark O'Gara's disciplined approach. It is possible that Highmark is using a poorly written backup program, taking full backups every day, to an older non-IBM tape library, in a manner that causes no end of activity to the poor tape robotics inside. But rather than changing over to a VTL, perhaps Mark might be better off investigating the use of IBM Tivoli Storage Manager, using progressive backup techniques, appropriate policies, parameters and settings, to a more energy-efficient IBM tape library.In well tuned backup workloads, the robotics are not very busy. The robot mounts the tape, and then the backup runs for a long time filling up that tape, all the meanwhile the robot is idle waiting for another request.
(Update: My apologies to Mark and his colleagues at Highmark. The above paragraph implied that Mark was using badproducts or configured them incorrectly, and was inappropriate. Mark, my full apology [here])
If you do decide to go with a Virtual Tape Library, for reasons other than energy consumption, doesn't it make sense to buy it from a vendor that understands tape systems, rather than buying it from one that focuses on disk systems? Tape system vendors like IBM, HP or Sun understand tape workloads as well as related backup and archive software, and can provide better guidance and recommendations based on years of experience. Asking advice abouttape systems, including Virtual Tape Libraries, from a disk vendor is like asking for advice on different types of bread from your butcher, or advice about various cuts of meat at the bakery.
The butchers and bakers might give you answers, but it may not be the best advice.
You could buy 10 liters of gasoline in Venezuela with this coin.
I'm back from South America, and am now in Chicago, Illinois. I'm having breakfast at the Starbucksdowntown, and thought I would make a post before all of my meetings today.
On this trip, I met with IBM Business Partners and sales reps from Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. While I have visited thefirst three countries on past trips, this was my first time to Caracas, Venezuela. I grew up in La Paz, Bolivia, and speak Spanish fluently, so had no problemgetting around and holding discussions with everyone. While my friends in the US are oftensurprised I speak multiple languages, it doesn't surprise anyone I visit in other countries.If you are going to have worldwide job responsibilities for a global company that does businessin over 180 countries, the least you could do is learn a few additional languages. I suspect themajority of the 350,000 IBM employees speak at least two languages, the exceptions being mostly the 50,000 orso employees that live in the United States.
I flew on American Airlines from Tucson to Dallas to Caracas, and was only slightly delayed as a resultof all of the flight cancellations that happened earlier that week. Some companies designate a single "official airline" for their employees to use. That makessense if all of your employees are located in a single city, and that city is the hub for yourdesignated airline.IBM is too big, too spread out, and sells technology to nearly every airline to make sucha designation. Instead, IBM tries to spread its business out to multiple carriers, although all ofmy colleagues seems to have their own personal favorites. Mine are American Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
While other people were upset over the delays, I found American Airlines did a great job keeping me informed,and all their employees I talked to seemed to be handling the situation fairly well. If youfly on American, I recommend you sign up for "text message" notifications. I did this for everyleg of my trip, and was kept up to date on times, gates and status. Very helpful!American Airlines even started their own corporate blog: [AA Conversation] (Special thanks to my friend[Paul Gillen] for pointing this out)
(I read somewhere that if you are going to travel anywhere, you need to remember to bringboth your sunscreen and your sense of humor, otherwise you are going to get burned. Goodadvice! Trust me, you don't even know how bad it can really be until you travel in the third world.)
Anyhoo, last week, IBM Venezuela celebrated its 70th anniversary. That's right, IBM has been doingbusiness in Venezuela for the past 70 years. Also last week, IBM put out its impressive [1Q08 quarterly results],including 10 percent growth for IBM System Storage product line worldwide, comparing what IBM earned this first quarter to what IBM earned the first quarter of last year. For just the Latin American countries,the growth for IBM System Storage was 20 percent!There are a lot of oil and gas companies in Venezuela. With a barrel of oil selling at more than$117 US dollars, these companies are looking to spend their newly earned profits on IBM systems, software and services.
As for the picture above, that is a one-thousand Bolivares coin, worth about 47 US cents atthis week's official exchange rate. As with many Latin American countries going through [years of high inflation], Venezuela was tired of all those zeros on their money. For example, a cheeseburger, freedom fries and a Cokeat McDonald's would set you back 20,000 Bolivares.This year the Venezuelan governmentcreated a new currency called "Bolivares Fuertes" (VEF), lopping off the last three zeros.So, the coin above would be replaced by a new coin with a big "1" on it instead, and an old 2000 Bolivares billwould be replaced by a new 2 Bolivares Fuertes bill. Unfortunately,I had to give all my new Venezuelan money back at the airport upon leaving, but they let me keep the coinabove, since it is old money, as a souvenir so that I could use it as a ball mark for playing golf.
(The term Bolivares is named after Simon Bolivar who was born in Caracas. He is famous throughoutSouth America, and was, and I am not making this up, the first president of Colombia, the secondpresident of Venezuela, the first president of Bolivia, and the sixth president of Peru. Here isthe [Wikipedia article] to learn more.)
Gasoline costs a mere 100 old Bolivares per liter.For those who don't do metric, gasoline therefore costsless than 18 cents per gallon. By comparison, in the USA, the average today was $3.47 US dollarsper gallon, of which 18.4 cents of this is Federal tax. That's right, we pay more just in taxes forgasoline than los venezolanos pay for it all.
The side effect of cheap gas is bad traffic. Everybody in Venezuela drives their own car, and nobody thinksabout the price of gasoline, carpooling, or taking public transportation, acting much like Americans used to, up until a few years ago. With some of the gridlock we faced, it might have been faster (but not safer)to walk there instead.
Which makes me wonder if American Airlines fills up their airplanes with fuel at these lower prices when theypick up people in Caracas to take them back to the United States. In 2002, fuel represented 10 percentof the average airline's operating expenses, but today it is now 25 percent. That is a drastic increase!
The same is happening in data centers. In the past, electricity was so cheap, and such a small percentof the total IT budget, nobody gave it much thought. But as the usage of electricity increased, andthe cost per KWh went up, this has a multiplying effect, and the growth in power and cooling costs isgrowing four times faster than the average IT hardware budget increase.
[Earth Day] is celebrated in many countries on April 22, which marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Others celebrate this on the March equinox.
IBM has finally aggregated everything that we are doing around "Green" initiatives onto a single[IBM Green] landing page. This has everything from IBM's own activities as well as what we sell to our clients.
Also, to mark this occasion, IBM held an internal contest for employees to make videos about Earth Day,the environment, and IT's role in making the situation better. The grand prize winner, and 10 secondprize winners, are available on this [IBM Green Contest - YouTube channel].Of these, I liked "New Life for Old Silicon" (shown here on the left).
IBM also developed [Power Up, the Game], which is theEarth Day Network's "official" game for today's festivities. It's a 3-D game created by IBM Research to help save a fictitious planet - the goal being to help students learn about ecology and climate change. This game is also hoped to motivate young students to get interested in math, scienceand technology.Eightbar has a great post [PowerUp - A serious game out inthe wild] discussing this.Here's also a 3-minute[the making of "Power Up, the game" video] to geta behind-the-scenes look.The game is a downloadable Windows client that then connects to the main servers to run.
Last week's focus was on tape libraries, both virtual and real, leading up to our IBM announcement ofacquiring Diligent Technologies. I was focused on HDS blogger Hu Yoshida's post about his conversation with Mark,who was on an expert panel about these topics. Mark discovered that of the top energy consumersin his datacenter, his tape library was in the top five, a surprising result. Hu suggested that switching to a VTL with deduplicationtechnology was a potential alternative, and I pointed to a whitepaper from the Clipper Group that suggested otherwise.
My response was that perhaps Highmark's choice of backup software was poorly written, or that they had set it up with thewrong parameters, and just changing hardware might not be the right answer. I went too far given that I didn't know which software they had, which parameters theywere using, or which tape technology was involved. This came across wrong. I meant to poke fun at Hu's response.I did not mean to imply that Mark and his staff hadmade poor choices, or that they should automatically reject Hu's advice to consider other hardware alternatives.
I have discussed the situation with Mark, and agree that I should know his situation better before offeringsuggestions of my own.
My session was the first in the morning, at 8:30am, but managed to pack the room full of people. A few looklike they just rolled in from Brocade's special get-together in Casey's Irish Pub the night before.I presented how IBM's storage strategy for the information infrastructure fits into the greater corporate-wide themes.To liven things up, I gave out copies of my book[Inside System Storage: Volume I] to those who asked or answered the toughest questions.
Data Deduplication and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM)
IBM Toby Marek compared and contrasted the various data deduplication technologies and products available, andhow to deploy them as the repository for TSM workloads. She is a software engineer for our TSM software product,and gave a fair comparison between IBM System Storage N series Advanced Single Instance Storage (A-SIS), IBMDiligent, and other solutions out in the marketplace.If you are going to combine technologies, then it isbest to dedupe first, then compress, and finally encrypt the data. She also explained about the many cleverways that TSM does data reduction at the client side greatly reduces the bandwidth traffic over the LAN,as well as reducing disk and tape resources for storage. This includes progressive "incremental forever" backup for file selection, incremental backups for databases, and adaptive sub-file backup.Because of these data reduction techniques, you may not get as much benefit as deduplication vendors claim.
The Business Value of Energy Efficiency Data Centers
Scott Barielle did a great job presenting the issues related to the Green IT data center. He is part of IBM"STG Lab Services" team that does energy efficiency studies for customers. It is not unusual for his teamto find potential savings of up to 80 percent of the Watts consumed in a client's data center.
IBM has done a lot to make its products more energy efficient. For example, in the United States, most datacenters are supplied three-phase 480V AC current, but this is often stepped down to 208V or 110V with powerdistribution units (PDUs). IBM's equipment allows for direct connection to this 480V, eliminating the step-downloss. This is available for the IBM System z mainframe, the IBM System Storage DS8000disk system, and larger full-frame models of our POWER-based servers, and will probably be rolled out to someof our other offerings later this year. The end result saves 8 to 14 percent in energy costs.
Scott had some interesting statistics. Typical US data centers only spend about 9 percent of their IT budgeton power and cooling costs. The majority of clients that engage IBM for an energy efficiency study are not tryingto reduce their operational expenditures (OPEX), but have run out, or close to running out, of total kW ratingof their current facility, and have been turned down by their upper management to spend the average $20 million USDneeded to build a new one. The cost of electricity in the USA has risen very slowly over the past 35 years, andis more tied the to fluctuations of Natural Gas than it is to Oil prices.(a recent article in the Dallas News confirmed this:["As electricity rates go up, natural gas' high prices, deregulation blamed"])
Cognos v8 - Delivering Operational Business Intelligence (BI) on Mainframe
Mike Biere, author of the book [BusinessIntelligence for the Enterprise], presented Cognos v8 and how it is being deployed for the IBMSystem z mainframe. Typically, customers do their BI processing on distributed systems, but 70 percent of the world's business data is on mainframes, so it makes sense to do yourBI there as well. Cognos v8 runs on Linux for System z, connecting to z/OS via [Hypersockets].
There are a variety of other BI applications on the mainframe already, including DataQuant,AlphaBlox, IBI WebFocus and SAS Enterprise Business Intelligence. In addition to accessing traditional onlinetransaction processing (OLTP) repositories like DB2, IMS and VSAM, using the [IBM WebSphere ClassicFederation Server], Cognos v8 can also read Lotus databases.
Business Intelligence is traditionally query, reporting and online analytics process (OLAP) for the top 10 to 15 percent of the company, mostly executives andanalysts, for activities like business planning, budgeting and forecasting. Cognos PowerPlay stores numericaldata in an [OLAP cube] for faster processing.OLAP cubes are typically constructed with a batch cycle, using either "Extract, Transfer, Load" [ETL], or "Change Data Capture" [CDC], which playsto the strength of IBM System z mainframe batch processing capabilities.If you are not familiar with OLAP, Nigel Pendse has an article[What is OLAP?] for background information.
Over the past five years, BI is now being more andmore deployed for the rest of the company, knowledge workers tasked with doing day-to-day operations. Thisphenomenom is being called "Operational" Business Intelligence.
IBM Glen Corneau, who is on the Advanced Technical Support team for AIX and System p, presented the IBMGeneral Parellel File System (GPFS), which is available for AIX, Linux-x86 and Linux on POWER.Unfortunately, many of the questions were related to Scale Out File Services (SOFS), which my colleague GlennHechler was presenting in another room during this same time slot.
GPFS is now in its 11th release since its introducing in 1997. All of the IBM supercomputers on the [Top 500 list] use GPFS. The largest deployment of GPFS is 2241 nodes.A GPFS environment can support up to 256 file systems, each file system can have up to 2 billion filesacross 2 PB of storage. GPFS supports "Direct I/O" making it a great candidate for Oracle RAC deployments.Oracle 10g automatically detects if it is using GPFS, and sets the appropriate DIO bits in the stream totake advantage of GPFS features.
Glen also covered the many new features of GPFS, such as the ability to place data on different tiers ofstorage, with policies to move to lower tiers of storage, or delete after a certain time period, all conceptswe call Information Lifecycle Management. GPFS also supports access across multiple locations and offersa variety of choices for disaster recovery (DR) data replication.
Perhaps the only problem with conferences like this is that it can be an overwhelming["fire hose"] of information!