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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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( I cannot take credit for coining the new term "bleg". I saw this term firstused over on the [FreakonomicsBlog]. If you have not yet read the book "Freakonomics", I highly recommend it! The authors' blog is excellent as well.)
For this comparison, it is important to figure out how much workload a mainframe can support, how much an x86 cansupport, and then divide one from the other. Sounds simple enough, right? And what workload should you choose?IBM chose a business-oriented "data-intensive" workload using Oracle database. (If you wanted instead a scientific"compute-intensive" workload, consider an [IBM supercomputer] instead, the most recent of which clocked in over 1 quadrillion floating point operations per second, or PetaFLOP.) IBM compares the following two systems:
Sun Fire X2100 M2, model 1220 server (2-way)
IBM did not pick a wimpy machine to compare against. The model 1220 is the fastest in the series, with a 2.8Ghz x86-64 dual-core AMD Opteron processor, capable of running various levels of Solaris, Linux or Windows.In our case, we will use Oracle workloads running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.All of the technical specifications are available at the[Sun Microsystems Sun Fire X1200] Web site.I am sure that there are comparable models from HP, Dell or even IBM that could have been used for this comparison.
IBM z10 Enterprise Class mainframe model E64 (64-way)
This machine can run a variety of operating systems also, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). The E64 has four "multiple processor modules" called"processor books" for a total of 77 processing units: 64 central processors, 11 system assist processors (SAP) and 2 spares. That's right, spare processors, in case any others gobad, IBM has got your back. You can designate a central processor in a variety of flavors. For running z/VM and Linux operating systems, the central processors can be put into "Integrated Facility for Linux" (IFL) mode.On IT Jungle, Timothy Patrick Morgan explains the z10 EC in his article[IBM Launches 64-Way z10 Enterprise Class Mainframe Behemoth]. For more information on the z10 EC, see the 110-page [Technical Introduction], orread the specifications on the[IBM z10 EC] Web site.
In a shop full of x86 servers, there are production servers, test and development servers, quality assuranceservers, standby idle servers for high availability, and so on. On average, these are only 10 percent utilized.For example, consider the following mix of servers:
125 Production machines running 70 percent busy
125 Backup machines running idle ready for active failover in case a production machine fails
1250 machines for test, development and quality assurance, running at 5 percent average utilization
While [some might question, dispute or challenge thisten percent] estimate, it matches the logic used to justify VMware, XEN, Virtual Iron or other virtualization technologies. Running 10 to 20 "virtual servers" on a single physical x86 machine assumes a similar 5-10 percent utilization rate.
Note: The following paragraphs have been revised per comments received.
Now the math. Jon, I want to make it clear I was not involved in writing the press release nor assisted with thesemath calculations. Please, don't shoot the messenger! Remember this cartoon where two scientists in white lab coats are writing mathcalculations on a chalkboard, and in the middle there is "and then a miracle happens..." to continue the rest ofthe calculations?
In this case, the miracle is the number that compares one server hardware platform to another. I am not going to bore people with details like the number of concurrent processor threads or the differencesbetween L1 and L3 cache. IBM used sophisticated tools and third party involvement that I am not allowed to talk about, and I have discussed this post with lawyers representing four (now five) different organizations already,so for the purposes of illustration and explanation only, I have reverse-engineered a new z10-to-Opteron conversion factor as 6.866 z10 EC MIPS per GHz of dual-core AMD Opteron for I/O-intensive workloads running only 10 percent average CPU utilization. Business applications that perform a lot of I/O don't use their CPU as much as other workloads.For compute-intensive or memory-intensive workloads, the conversion factor may be quite different, like 200 MIPS per GHz, as Jeff Savit from Sun Microsystems points out in the comments below.
Keep in mind that each processor is different, and we now have Intel, AMD, SPARC, PA-RISC and POWER (and others); 32-bit versus 64-bit; dual-core and quad-core; and different co-processor chip sets to worry about. AMD Opteron processors come in different speeds, but we are comparing against the 2.8GHz, so 1500 times 6.866 times 2.8 is 28,337. Since these would be running as Linux guestsunder z/VM, we add an additional 7 percent overhead or 2,019 MIPS. We then subtract 15 percent for "smoothing", whichis what happens when you consolidate workloads that have different peaks and valleys in workload, or 4,326 MIPS.The end is that we need a machine to do 26,530 MIPS. Thanks to advances in "Hypervisor" technological synergy between the z/VM operating system and the underlying z10 EC hardware, the mainframe can easily run 90 percent utilized when aggregating multiple workloads, so a 29,477 MIPS machine running at 90 percent utilization can handle these 26,530 MIPS.
N-way machines, from a little 2-way Sun Fire X2100 to the might 64-way z10 EC mainframe, are called "Symmetric Multiprocessors". All of the processors or cores are in play, but sometimes they have to taketurns, wait for exclusive access on a shared resource, such as cache or the bus. When your car is stopped at a red light, you are waiting for your turn to use the shared "intersection". As a result, you don't get linear improvement, but rather you get diminishing returns. This is known generically as the "SMP effect", and in IBM documentsthis as [Large System Performance Reference].While a 1-way z10 EC can handle 920 MIPS, the 64-way can only handle30,657 MIPS. The 29,477 MIPS needed for the Sun x2100 workload can be handled by a 61-way, giving you three extraprocessors to handle unexpected peaks in workload.
But are 1500 Linux guest images architecturally possible? A long time ago, David Boyes of[Sine Nomine Associates] ran 41,400 Linux guest images on a single mainframe using his [Test Plan Charlie], and IBM internallywas able to get 98,000 images, and in both cases these were on machines less powerful than the z10 EC. Neitherof these were tests ran I/O intensive workloads, but extreme limits are always worth testing. The 1500-to-1 reduction in IBM's press release is edge-of-the-envelope as well, so in production environments, several hundred guest images are probably more realistic, and still offer significant TCO savings.
The z10 EC can handle up to 60 LPARs, and each LPAR can run z/VM which acts much like VMware in allowing multipleLinux guests per z/VM instance. For 1500 Linux guests, you could have 25 guests each on 60 z/VM LPARs, or 250 guests on each of six z/VM LPARs, or 750 guests on two LPARs. with z/VM 5.3, each LPAR can support up to 256GB of memory and 32 processors, so you need at least two LPAR to use all 64 engines. Also, there are good reasons to have different guests under different z/VM LPARs, such as separating development/test from production workloads. If you had to re-IPLa specific z/VM LPAR, it could be done without impacting the workloads on other LPARs.
To access storage, IBM offers N-port ID Virtualization (NPIV). Without NPIV, two Linux guest images could not accessthe same LUN through the same FCP port because this would confuse the Host Bus Adapter (HBA), which IBM calls "FICON Express" cards. For example, Linux guest 1 asks to read LUN 587 block 32 and this is sent out a specific port, to a switch, to a disk system. Meanwhile, Linux guest 2 asks to read LUN 587 block 49. The data comes back to the z10 EC with the data, gives it to the correct z/VM LPAR, but then what? How does z/VM know which of the many Linux guests to give the data to? Both touched the same LUN, so it is unclear which made the request. To solve this, NPIV assigns a virtual "World Wide Port Name" (WWPN), up to 256 of them per physical port, so you can have up to 256 Linux guests sharing the same physical HBA port to access the same LUN.If you had 250 guests on each of six z/VM LPARs, and each LPAR had its own set of HBA ports, then all 1500 guestscould access the same LUN.
Yes, the z10 EC machines support Sysplex. The concept is confusing, but "Sysplex" in IBM terminology just means that you can have LPARs either on the same machine or on separate mainframes, all sharing the same time source, whether this be a "Sysplex Timer" or by using the "Server Time Protocol" (STP). The z10 EC can have STP over 6 Gbps Infiniband over distance. If you wantedto have all 1500 Linux guests time stamp data identically, all six z/VM LPARs need access to the shared time source. This can help in a re-do or roll-back situation for Oracle databases to complete or back-out "Units of Work" transactions. This time stamp is also used to form consistency groups in "z/OS Global Mirror", formerly called "XRC" for Extended Remote Distance Copy. Currently, the "timestamp" on I/O applies only to z/OS and Linux and not other operating systems. (The time stamp is done through the CDK driver on Linux, and contributed back to theopen source community so that it is available from both Novell SUSE and Red Hat distributions.)To have XRC have consistency between z/OS and Linux, the Linux guests would need to access native CKD volumes,rather than VM Minidisks or FCP-oriented LUNs.
Note: this is different than "Parallel Sysplex" which refers to having up to 32 z/OS images sharing a common "Coupling Facility" which acts as shared memory for applications. z/VM and Linux do not participate in"Parallel Sysplex".
As for the price, mainframes list for as little as "six figures" to as much as several million dollars, but I have no idea how much this particular model would cost. And, of course, this is just the hardware cost. I could not find the math for the $667 per server replacement you mentioned, so don't have details on that.You would need to purchase z/VM licenses, and possibly support contracts for Linux on System z to be fully comparable to all of the software license and support costs of the VMware, Solaris, Linux and/or Windows licenses you run on the x86 machines.
This is where a lot of the savings come from, as a lot of software is licensed "per processor" or "per core", and so software on 64 mainframe processors can be substantially less expensive than 1500 processors or 3000 cores.IBM does "eat its own cooking" in this case. IBM is consolidating 3900 one-application-each rack-mounted serversonto 30 mainframes, for a ratio of 130-to-1 and getting amazingly reduced TCO. The savings are in the followingareas:
Hardware infrastructure. It's not just servers, but racks, PDUs, etc. It turns out to be less expensive to incrementally add more CPU and storage to an existing mainframe than to add or replace older rack-em-and-stack-emwith newer models of the same.
Cables. Virtual servers can talk to each other in the same machine virtually, such as HiperSockets, eliminatingmany cables. NPIV allows many guests to share expensive cables to external devices.
Networking ports. Both LAN and SAN networking gear can be greatly reduced because fewer ports are needed.
Administration. We have Universities that can offer a guest image for every student without having a majorimpact to the sys-admins, as the students can do much of their administration remotely, without having physicalaccess to the machinery. Companies uses mainframe to host hundreds of virtual guests find reductions too!
Connectivity. Consolidating distributed servers in many locations to a mainframe in one location allows youto reduce connections to the outside world. Instead of sixteen OC3 lines for sixteen different data centers, you could have one big OC48 line instead to a single data center.
Software licenses. Licenses based on servers, cores or CPUs are reduced when you consolidate to the mainframe.
Floorspace. Generally, floorspace is not in short supply in the USA, but in other areas it can be an issue.
Power and Cooling. IBM has experienced significant reduction in power consumption and cooling requirementsin its own consolidation efforts.
All of the components of DFSMS (including DFP, DFHSM, DFDSS and DFRMM) were merged into a single product "DFSMS for z/OS" and is now an included element in the base z/OS operating system. As a result of these, customers typically have 80 to 90 percent utilization on their mainframe disk. For the 1500 Linux guests, however, most of the DFSMS features of z/OS do not apply. These functions were not "ported over" to z/VM nor Linux on any platform.
Instead, the DFSMS concepts have been re-implemented into a new product called "Scale-Out File Services" (SOFS) which would provide NAS interfaces to a blendeddisk-and-tape environment. The SOFS disk can be kept at 90 percent utilization because policies can place data, movedata and even expire files, just like DFSMS does for z/OS data sets. SOFS supports standard NAS protocols such as CIFS,NFS, FTP and HTTP, and these could be access from the 1500 Linux guests over an Ethernet Network Interface Card (NIC), which IBM calls "OSA Express" cards.
Lastly, IBM z10 EC is not emulating x86 or x86-64 interfaces for any of these workloads. No doubt IBM and AMD could collaborate together to come up with an AMD Opteron emulator for the S/390 chipset, and load Windows 2003 right on top of it, but that would just result in all kinds of emulation overhead.Instead, Linux on System z guests can run comparable workloads. There are many Linux applications that are functionally equivalent or the same as their Windows counterparts. If you run Oracle on Windows, you could runOracle on Linux. If you run MS Exchange on Windows, you could run Bynari on Linux and let all of your Outlook Expressusers not even know their Exchange server had been moved! Linux guest images can be application servers, web servers, database servers, network infrastructure servers, file servers, firewall, DNS, and so on. For nearly any business workload you can assign to an x86 server in a datacenter, there is likely an option for Linux on System z.
Hope this answers all of your questions, Jon. These were estimates based on basic assumptions. This is not to imply that IBM z10 EC and VMware are the only technologies that help in this area, you can certainly find virtualization on other systems and through other software.I have asked IBM to make public the "TCO framework" that sheds more light on this.As they say, "Your mileage may vary."
For more on this series, check out the following posts:
If in your travels, Jon, you run into someone interested to see how IBM could help consolidate rack-mounted servers over to a z10 EC mainframe, have them ask IBM for a "Scorpion study". That is the name of the assessment that evaluates a specific clientsituation, and can then recommend a more accurate estimate configuration.
Wrapping up this week's theme on why the System z10 EC mainframe can replace so many older, smaller,underutilized x86 boxes.This was all started to help fellow bloggers Jon Toigo of DrunkenData and Jeff Savit from Sun Microsystemsunderstand our IBM press release that we put out last February on this machine with my post[Yes, Jon, there is a mainframe that can help replace 1500 x86 servers] and my follow uppost [Virtualization, Carpools and Marathons"].The computations were based on running 1500 unique workloads as Linux guests under z/VM, and notrunning them as z/OS applications.
My colleagues in IBM Poughkeepsierecommended these books to provide more insight and in-depth understanding. Looks like some interesting summer reading. I put in quotes thesections I excerpted from the synopsis I found for each.
"From Microsoft to IBM, Compaq to Sun to DEC, virtually every large computer company now uses clustering as a key strategy for high-availability, high-performance computing. This book tells you why-and how. It cuts through the marketing hype and techno-religious wars surrounding parallel processing, delivering the practical information you need to purchase, market, plan or design servers and other high-performance computing systems.
Microsoft Cluster Services ("Wolfpack")
IBM Parallel Sysplex and SP systems
DEC OpenVMS Cluster and Memory Channel
Tandem ServerNet and Himalaya
Intel Virtual Interface Architecture
Symmetric Multiprocessors (SMPs) and NUMA systems"
Fellow IBM author Gregory Pfister worked in IBM Austin as a Senior Technical Staff Member focused on parallel processing issues, but I never met him in person. He points out that workloads fall into regions called parallel hell, parallel nirvana, and parallel purgatory. Careful examination of machine designs and benchmark definitions will show that the “industry standard benchmarks" fall largely in parallel nirvana and parallel purgatory. Large UNIX machines tend to be designed for these benchmarks and so are particularly well suited to parallel purgatory. Clusters of distributed systems do very well in parallel nirvana. The mainframe resides in parallel hell as do its primary workloads. The current confusion is where virtualization takes workloads, since there are no good benchmarks for it.
"In these days of shortened fiscal horizons and contracted time-to-market schedules, traditional approaches to capacity planning are often seen by management as tending to inflate their production schedules. Rather than giving up in the face of this kind of relentless pressure to get things done faster, Guerrilla Capacity Planning facilitates rapid forecasting of capacity requirements based on the opportunistic use of whatever performance data and tools are available in such a way that management insight is expanded but their schedules are not."
Neil Gunther points out that vendor claims of near linear scaling are not to be trusted and shows a method to “derate” scaling claims. His suggested scaling values for data base servers is closer IBM's LSPR-like scaling model, than TPC-C or SPEC scaling. I had mentioned that "While a 1-way z10 EC can handle 920 MIPS, the 64-way can only handle 30,657 MIPS."in my post, but still people felt I was using "linear scaling". Linear scaling would mean that if a 1Ghz single-core AMD Opteron can do four(4) MIPS, and an one-way z10 EC can do 920 MIPS, than one might assume that 1GHz dual-core AMD could do eight(8) MIPS, and the largest 64-way z10 EC can do theoretically 64 x 920 = 58,880 MIPS. The reality is closer to 6.866 and 30,657 MIPS, respectively.
This was never an IBM-vs-Sun debate. One could easily make the same argument that a large Sun or HP system could replace a bunch of small 2-way x86 servers from Dell. Both types of servers have their place and purpose, and IBMsells both to meet the different needs of our clients. The savings are in total cost of ownership, reducing powerand cooling costs, floorspace, software licenses, administration costs, and outages.
I hope we covered enough information so that Jeff can go back about talking about Sun products, and I can go backto talk about IBM storage products.
"... firms don't have the detailed electricity consumption data they need to implement energy efficiency initiatives. What they have is an energy bill for a facility."
A common adage is that "you can't manage what you don't measure." IBM has beefed up the ability to measure andmonitor electricity usage, not just IBM servers and storage, but also non-IBM IT equipment and facilities infrastructurelike UPS, HVAC, lighting and security alarm systems.
Hitch Green IT to data centre refurbishment projects
"Energy savings alone don't constitute a business case to overhaul an existing data centre, undertake a refurbishment project or build a new Green Data Centre."
Either CIOs don't have the measurements of electricity to perform an ROI or cost/benefit analysis, or the facilitiesfolks that sense improvements are possible may not see the big picture compared to other business investments.Instead, IBM seeks to incorporate IT energy efficiency best practices into existing business plans for data center improvements.
Tackle corporate energy efficiency and emissions
"... a strategy discussion and corporate carbon diagnostic are the start point to stimulate demand. Not a cold sell on Green IT."
Project Big Green is more than just an IT project.IBM's Global Business Services consultants have transformed it into a Carbon Management Strategy encompassing employees, information, property, the supply chain, customers and products. For companies that are looking atreducing their carbon footprint overall, this approach makes a lot of sense.
Differentiate offerings by industry and country
"The inability to get more power into urban data centres has driven demand for energy efficiency by banks, telcos and outsourcers."
Different countries, and different industries, have different priorities.Europe, and in particular the UK, focuses on carbon emissions as much as energy costs due to mandatory emissions caps.For data centers in the largest cities, an increase in electrical supply may not be available, or be too expensive,and the time it takes to build a new data center elsewhere, typically 12-18 months, may not be soon enough to handlecurrent business growth rates. Energy efficiency projects can help buy them some time.
Plan for slow customer adoption
"IBM is developing the market for IT energy efficiency and carbon management services. And its very much an early stage market today."
IBM is frequently on the forefront of new technologies and emerging markets, so it is no surprise that we areused to dealing with slow customer adoption. The combination of high energy costs, tightening regulations and stakeholder pressure will drive the market. Larger companies and government organizations that have the meansto make these necessary changes will probably lead the adoption curve.
Prepare for investment barriers to IT energy efficiency
"With the low hanging fruit picked, IBM has found that there is an unwillingness to spend money on planting a new orchard."
IBM has helped IT clients with quick fixes offering rapid payback such as adjusting data center temperature and humidity to reduce energy consumption. But in the current economic environment, persuading firms to install variable speed fans with a 6-year payback is much tougher. Again, this is a matter of CIOs and other upper level management balancingfinancial investment decisions with some foresight and vision for the future.
Project Big Green launched back in May 2007, and last month IBM renewed its commitment with Project Big Green 2.0,continuing to enhance product and service offerings in support for this much needed area. And while the leadersin the G8 Summit will discuss a variety of topics, three top "green" issues on their agenda include rising energy costs, global climate change and controlling carbon emissions.
Well, it's Tuesday, and so it is "announcement day" again! Actually, for me it is Wednesday morning herein Mumbai, India, but since I was "press embargoed" until 4pm EDT in talking about these enhancements, I had to wait until Wednesday morning here to talk about them.
World's Fastest 1TB tape drive
IBM announced its new enterprise [TS1130 tape drive]and corresponding [TS3500 tape library support]. This one has a funny back-story. Last week while we were preparing the Press Release, we debated on whether we should compare the 1TB per cartridge capacity as double that of Sun's Enterprise T10000 (500GB), or LTO-4 (800GB). The problem changed when Sun announced on Monday they too had a 1TB tape drive, so now instead ofsaying that we had the "World's First 1TB tape drive", we quickly changed this to the "World's Fastest 1TB tape drive" instead. At 160MB/sec top speed, IBM's TS1130 is 33 percent faster than Sun's latest announcement. Sun was rather vague when they will actually ship their new units, so IBM may still end up being first to deliver as well.
While EMC and other disk-only vendors have stopped claiming that "tape is dead", these recent announcements from IBM and Sun indicate that indeed tape is alive and well. IBM is able to borrow technologies from disk, such as the Giant Magneto Resistive (GMR) head over to its tape offerings, which means much of the R&D for disk applies to tape, keeping both forms ofstorage well invested. Tape continues to be the "greenest" storage option, more energy efficient than disk, optical, film, microfiche and even paper.
On the LTO front, IBM enhanced the reporting capabilities of its[TS3310] midrange tape library. This includes identifying the resource utilization of the drives, reporting on media integrity, and improved diagnostics to support library-managed encryption.
IBM System Storage DR550
As a blended disk-and-tape solution, the [IBM System Storage DR550] easily replaces the EMC Centera to meet compliance storagerequirements. IBM announced that we have greatly expanded its scalability, being able to support both 1TBdisk drives, as well as being able to attach to either IBM or Sun's 1TB tape drives.
Massive Array of Idle Disks (MAID)
IBM now offers a "Sleep Mode" in the firmware of the [IBM System Storage DCS9550], which is often called "Massive Array of Idle Disks" (MAID) or spin-down capability. This can reduce the amount of power consumed during idle times.
That's a lot of exciting stuff. I'm off to breakfast now.
The focus on square footage resulted in higher density. This reminds me of the classicIBM commercial ["The Heist"] where Gil panics that the roomful of servers are missing, and Ned explains that it was all consolidated ontoa single IBM server.
I suspect few people picked up on the fact that the acronym for["new enterprise datacenter"] spells "Ned", ourdonut-eating hero in these series of videos.
Costs in the data center are proportional to power usage rather than space.
Power efficiency is more of a behavior problem than it is a technology problem.
This is definitely a step in the right direction. Both servers and storage systems consume a large portionof the energy on the data center floor. IBM Tivoli Usage and Accounting Manager can includeenergy consumption as part of the chargeback calculations.
(Note: The following paragraphs have been updated to clarify the performance tests involved.)
This time, IBM breaks the 1 million IOPS barrier, achieved by running a test workload consisting of a 70/30 mix of random 4K requests. That is 70 percent reads, 30 percent writes, with 4KB blocks. The throughput achieved was 3.5x times that obtained by running the identical workload on the fastest IBM storage system today (IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller 4.3),
and an estimated EIGHT* times the performance of EMC DMX. With an average response time under 1 millisecond, this solution would be ideal for online transaction processing (OLTP) such as financial recordings or airline reservations.
(*)Note: EMC has not yet published ANY benchmarks of their EMC DMX box with SSD enterprise flash drives (EFD). However, I believe that the performance bottleneck is in their controller and not the back-end SSD or FC HDD media, so I have givenEMC the benefit of the doubt and estimated that their latest EMC DMX4 is as fast as an[IBMDS8300 Turbo] with Fibre Channel drives. If or when EMC publishes benchmarks, the marketplace can make more accurate comparisons. Your mileage may vary.
IBM used 4 TB of Solid State Disk (SSD) behind its IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) technology to achieve this amazing result. Not only does this represent a significantly smaller footprint, but it uses only 55 percent of the power and cooling.
The SSD drives are made by [Fusion IO] and are different than those used by EMC made by STEC.
The SVC addresses the one key problem clients face today with competitive disk systems that support SSD enterprise flash drives: choosing what data to park on those expensive drives? How do you decide which LUNs, which databases, or which files should be permanently resident on SSD? With SVC's industry-leading storage virtualization capability, you are not forced to decide. You can move data into SSD and back out again non-disruptively, as needed to meet performance requirements. This could be handy for quarter-end or year-end processing, for example.
Earlier this year, IBM launched its[New Enterprise Data Center vision]. The average data center was built 10-15 years ago,at a time when the World Wide Web was still in its infancy, some companies were deploying their first storage areanetwork (SAN) and email system, and if you asked anyone what "Google" was, they might tell you it was ["a one followed by a hundred zeros"]!
Full disclosure: Google, the company, justcelebrated its [10th anniversary] yesterday, and IBM has partnered with Google on a varietyof exciting projects. I am employed by IBM, and own stock in both companies.
In just the last five years, we saw a rapid growth in information, fueled by Web 2.0 social media, email, mobile hand-held devices, and the convergenceof digital technologies that blurs the lines between communications, entertainment and business information. This explosion in information is not just "more of the same", but rather a dramatic shift from predominantly databases for online transaction processing to mostly unstructured content. IT departments are no longer just the"back office" recording financial transactions for accountants, but now also take on a more active "front office" role. For a growing number of industries, information technology plays a pivotal role in generating revenue, making smarter business decisions, and providing better customer service.
IBM felt a new IT model was needed to address this changing landscape, so IBM's New Enterprise Data Center vision has these five key strategic initiatives:
Highly virtualized resources
Business-driven Service Management
Green, Efficient, Optimized facilities
In February, IBM announced new products and features to support the first two initiatives, including the highlyvirtualized capability of the IBM z10 EC mainframe, and and related business resiliency features of the [IBM System Storage DS8000 Turbo] disk system.
In May, IBM launched its Service Management strategic initiative at the Pulse 2008 conference. I was there in Orlando, Florida at the Swan and Dolphin resort to present to clients. You can read my three posts:[Day 1; Day 2 Main Tent; Day 2 Breakout sessions].
In June, IBM launched its fourth strategic initiative "Green, Efficient and Optimized Facilities" with [Project BigGreen 2.0], which included the Space-Efficient Volume (SEV) and Space-Efficient FlashCopy (SEFC) capabilitiesof the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) 4.3 release. Fellow blogger and IBM master inventor Barry Whyte (BarryW) has three posts on his blog about this:[SVC 4.3.0Overview; SEV and SEFCdetail; Virtual Disk Mirroring and More]
Some have speculated that the IBM System Storage team seemed to be on vacation the past two months, with few pressreleases and little or no fanfare about our July and August announcements, and not responding directly to critics and FUD in the blogosphere.It was because we were holding them all for today's launch, taking our cue from a famous perfume commercial:
"If you want to capture someone's attention -- whisper."
My team and I were actually quite busy at the [IBM Tucson Executive Briefing Center]. In between doing our regular job talking to excited prospects and clients,we trained sales reps and IBM Business Partners, wrote certification exams, and updated marketing collateral. Fortunately, competitors stopped promotingtheir own products to discuss and demonstrate why they are so scared of what IBM is planning.The fear was well justified. Even a few journalists helped raise the word-of-mouth buzz and excitement level. A big kiss to Beth Pariseau for her article in [SearchStorage.com]!
(Last week we broke radio silence to promote our technology demonstration of 1 million IOPS using Solid StateDisk, just to get the huge IBM marketing machine oiled up and ready for today)
Today, IBM General Manager Andy Monshaw launchedthe fifth strategic initiative, [IBM Information Infrastructure], at the[IBM Storage and Storage Networking Symposium] in Montpellier, France. Montpellier is one of the six locations of our New Enterprise Data Center Leadership Centers launched today. The other five are Poughkeepsie, Gaithersburg, Dallas, Mainz and Boebligen, with more planned for 2009.
Although IBM has been using the term "information infrastructure" for more than 30 years, it might be helpful to define it for you readers:
“An information infrastructure comprises the storage, networks, software, and servers integrated and optimized to securely deliver information to the business.”
In other words, it's all the "stuff" that delivers information from the magnetic surface recording of the disk ortape media to the eyes and ears of the end user. Everybody has an information infrastructure already, some are just more effective than others. For those of you not happy with yours, IBM hasthe products, services and expertise to help with your data center transformation.
IBM wants to help its clients deliver the right information to theright people at the right time, to get the most benefits of information, while controlling costs and mitigatingrisks. There might be more than a dozen ways to address the challenges involved, but IBM's Information Infrastructure strategic initiative focuses on four key solution areas:
Last, but not least, I would like to welcome to the blogosphere IBM's newest blogger, Moshe Yanai, formerly the father of the EMC Symmetrix and now leading the IBM XIV team. Already from his first poston his new [ThinkStorage blog], I can tell he is not going to pullany punches either.
This post will focus on Information Compliance, the fourth and final part of the four-part series this week.I have received a few queries on my choice of sequence for this series: Availability, Security, Retention andCompliance.
Why not have them in alphabetical order? IBM avoids alphabetizing in one language, because thenit may not be alphabetized when translated to other languages.
Why not have them in a sequence that spells outan easy to remember mnemonic, like "CARS"? Again, when translated to other languages, those mnemonics no longerwork.
Instead, I worked with our marketing team for a more appropriate sequence, based on psychology and the cognitive bias of [primacy and recency effects].
Here's another short 2-minute video, on Information Compliance
Full disclosure: I am not a lawyer. The following will delveinto areas related to government and industry regulations. Consultyour risk officer or legal counsel to make sure any IT solution is appropriatefor your country, your industry, or your specific situation.
IBM estimates there are over 20,000 regulations worldwide related to information storage and transmission.
For information availability, some industry regulations mandate a secondary copy a minimum distance away toprotect against regional disasters like hurricanes or tsunamis.IBM offers Metro Mirror (up to 300km) and Global Mirror (unlimited distance) disk mirroring to support theserequirements.
For information security, some regulations relate to privacy and prevention of unauthorized access. Twoprominent ones in the United States are:
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996
HIPAA regulates health care providers, health plans, and health care clearinghouses in how they handle the privacy of patient's medical records. These regulations apply whether the information is on film, paper, or storedelectronically. Obviously, electronic medical records are easier to keep private. Here is an excerpt froman article from [WebMD]:
"There are very good ways to protect data electronically. Although it sounds scary, it makes data more protected than current paper records. For example, think about someone looking at your medical chart in the hospital. It has a record of all that is happening -- lab results, doctor consultations, nursing notes, orders, prescriptions, etc. Anybody who opens it for whatever reason can see all of this information. But if the chart is an electronic record, it's easy to limit access to any of that. So a physical therapist writing physical therapy notes can only see information related to physical therapy. There is an opportunity with electronic records to limit information to those who really need to see it. It could in many ways allow more privacy than current paper records."
GLBA regulates the handling of sensitive customer information by banks, securities firms, insurance companies, and other financial service providers. Financial companies use tape encryption to comply with GLBA when sending tapes from one firm to another. IBM was the first to deliver tape drive encryption withthe TS1120, and then later with LTO-4 and TS1130 tape drives.
For information retention, there are a lot of regulations that deal with how information is stored, in some casesimmutable to protect against unethical tampering, and when it can be discarded. Two prominent regulations inthe United States are:
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) 17a-4 of 1997
In the past, the IT industryused the acronym "WORM" which stands for the "Write Once, Read Many" nature of certain media, like CDs, DVDs,optical and tape cartridges. Unfortunately, WORM does not apply to disk-based solutions, so IBM adopted the languagefrom SEC 17a-4 that calls for storage that is "Non-Erasable, Non-Rewriteable" or NENR. This new umbrella term applies to disk-based solutions, as well as tape and optical WORM media.
SEC 17a-4 indicates that broker/dealers and exchange members must preserve all electronic communications relating to the business of their firmm a specific period of time. During this time, the information must not be erased or re-written.
Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of 2002
SOX was born in the wake of [Enron and other corporate scandals]. It protects the way that financial information is stored, maintained and presented to investors, as well as disciplines those who break its rules. It applies onlyto public companies, i.e. those that offer their securities (stock shares, bonds, liabilities) to be sold to the publicthrough a listing on a U.S. exchange, such as NASDAQ or NYSE.
SOX focuses on preventing CEOs and other executives from tampering the financial records.To meet compliance, companies are turning to the [IBM System Storage DR550] which providesNon-erasable, Non-rewriteable (NENR) storage for financial records. Unlike competitive products like EMC Centera thatfunction mostly as space-heaters on the data center floor once they filled up, the DR550 can be configured as a blended disk-and-tape storage system, so that the most recent, and most likely to be accessed data, remains on disk, but the older, least likely to be accessed data, is moved automatically to less expensive, more environment-friendly "green" tape media.
Did SOX hurt the United States' competitiveness? Critics feared that these new regulations would discourage newcompanies from going public. Earnst & Young found these fears did not come true, and published a study [U.S. Record IPO Activity from 2006 Continues in 2007]. In fact, the improved confidence that SOX has given investors has given rise to similarlegislation in other parts of the world: Euro-Sox for the European Union Investor Protection Act, and J-SOX Financial Instruments and Exchange Law for Japan.
For those who only read the first and last paragraphs of each post, here is my recap:Information Compliance is ensuring that information is protected against regional disasters, unauthorizedaccess, and unethical tampering, as required to meet industry and government regulations. Such regulationsoften apply if the information is stored on traditional paper or film media, but can often be handled more cost-effectively when stored electronically. Appropriate IT governance can help maintain investor confidence.
Last week, I presented IBM's strategic initiative, the IBM Information Infrastructure, which is part of IBM's New Enterprise Data Center vision. This week, I will try to get around to talking about some of theproducts that support those solutions.
I was going to set the record straight on a variety of misunderstandings, rumors or speculations, but I think most have been taken care of already. IBM blogger BarryW covered the fact that SVC now supports XIV storage systems, in his post[SVC and XIV],and addressed some of the FUD already. Here was my list:
Now that IBM has an IBM-branded model of XIV, IBM will discontinue (insert another product here)
I had seen speculation that XIV meant the demise of the N series, the DS8000 or IBM's partnership with LSI.However, the launch reminded people that IBM announced a new release of DS8000 features, new models of N series N6000,and the new DS5000 disk, so that squashes those rumors.
IBM XIV is a (insert tier level here) product
While there seems to be no industry-standard or agreement for what a tier-1, tier-2 or tier-3 disk system is, there seemed to be a lot of argument over what pigeon-hole category to put IBM XIV in. No question many people want tier-1 performance and functionality at tier-2 prices, and perhaps IBM XIV is a good step at giving them this. In some circles, tier-1 means support for System z mainframes. The XIV does not have traditional z/OS CKD volume support, but Linux on System z partitions or guests can attach to XIV via SAN Volume Controller (SVC), or through NFS protocol as part of the Scale-Out File Services (SoFS) implementation.
Whenever any radicalgame-changing technology comes along, competitors with last century's products and architectures want to frame the discussion that it is just yet another storage system. IBM plans to update its Disk Magic and otherplanning/modeling tools to help people determine which workloads would be a good fit with XIV.
IBM XIV lacks (insert missing feature here) in the current release
I am glad to see that the accusations that XIV had unprotected, unmirrored cache were retracted. XIV mirrors all writes in the cache of two separate modules, with ECC protection. XIV allows concurrent code loadfor bug fixes to the software. XIV offers many of the features that people enjoy in other disksystems, such as thin provisioning, writeable snapshots, remote disk mirroring, and so on.IBM XIV can be part of a bigger solution, either through SVC, SoFS or GMAS that provide thebusiness value customers are looking for.
IBM XIV uses (insert block mirroring here) and is not as efficient for capacity utilization
It is interesting that this came from a competitor that still recommends RAID-1 or RAID-10 for itsCLARiiON and DMX products.On the IBM XIV, each 1MB chunk is written on two different disks in different modules. When disks wereexpensive, how much usable space for a given set of HDD was worthy of argument. Today, we sell you abig black box, with 79TB usable, for (insert dollar figure here). For those who feel 79TB istoo big to swallow all at once, IBM offers "capacity on demand" pricing, where you can pay initially for as littleas 22TB, but get all the performance, usability, functionality and advanced availability of the full box.
IBM XIV consumes (insert number of Watts here) of energy
For every disk system, a portion of the energy is consumed by the number of hard disk drives (HDD) andthe remainder to UPS, power conversion, processors and cache memory consumption. Again, the XIV is a bigblack box, and you can compare the 8.4 KW of this high-performance, low-cost storage one-frame system with thewattage consumed by competitive two-frame (sometimes called two-bay) systems, if you are willing to take some trade-offs. To getcomparable performance and hot-spot avoidance, competitors may need to over-provision or use faster, energy-consuming FC drives, and offer additional software to monitor and re-balance workloads across RAID ranks.To get comparable availability, competitors may need to drop from RAID-5 down to either RAID-1 or RAID-6.To get comparable usability, competitors may need more storage infrastructure management software to hide theinherent complexity of their multi-RAID design.
Of course, if energy consumption is a major concern for you, XIV can be part of IBM's many blended disk-and-tapesolutions. When it comes to being green, you can't get any greener storage than tape! Blended disk-and-tapesolutions help get the best of both worlds.
Well, I am glad I could help set the record straight. Let me know what other products people you would like me to focus on next.
Well, this has been an interesting two weeks. On week 1, I focused on IBM's strategy and four keysolutions areas: Information Availability, Information Security, Information Retention, and InformationCompliance. On week 2, I focused on individual products, their attributes, features and functions.Which week drew more blog traffic? You guessed it--week 1. Apparently, people want to know more aboutsolutions to their challenges and problems, and not just see what piece part components are available.
While IBM had switched over to solution-selling a while ago, some of our competitors are still inproduct-selling mode, and try to frame all competitive comparisons on a product-by-product basis.In my post[Supermarkets and Specialty Shops], I drew the analogy that the IT supermarkets (IBM, HP, Sun and Dell) are focusedon selling solutions, but the IT specialty shops (HDS, EMC, and others) are still focused on products.
Certainly, the transition from product-focused to solution-focused is not an easy one. As the IT industry matures, more and more clients are looking to buy solutions from theirvendors. What does it take to change behaviour of newly acquired employees, recently hired sales reps, and business partners, many of whom come from product-centric cultures, to match this dramatic shift in the marketplace? Let's take a look at change in other areas of the world.
On the[Freakonomics blog], Stephen Dubner discusses how clever people in Israel have figured out a way to get people to clean up after their pets in public places. This is a problem in many countries. Here we see an old idea, the [carrot-and-stick] approach, combined with newinformation technology. Here's an excerpt:
"In order to keep a city’s streets clean of dog poop, require dog owners to submit DNA samples from their pets when they get licenses; then use that DNA database to trace any left-behind poop and send the dogs’ owners stiff fines.
Well, it took three years but the Israeli city of Petah Tikva has actually put this plan to work:
The city will use the DNA database it is building to match feces to a registered dog and identify its owner.
Owners who scoop up their dogs’ droppings and place them in specially marked bins on Petah Tikva’s streets will be eligible for rewards of pet food coupons and dog toys.
But droppings found underfoot in the street and matched through the DNA database to a registered pet could earn its owner a municipal fine."
Sometimes, if enough people change, then changing behaviours of the few remaining becomes much easier. DanLockton on his Architectures of Control blog posts about the[London Design Festival - Greengaged]. This year, the festival focused on behavior changes for a greener environment, ecodesign and sustainable issues in design.Here's an excerpt and corresponding 5-minute YouTube video:
Lea argued three important points relevant to behaviour change:
Behaviour change requires behaviour (i.e. the behaviour of others: social effects are critical, as we respond to others’ behaviour which in turn affects our own; targeting the ‘right’ people allows behaviour to spread)
Behaviour and motivation are two different things: To change behaviour, you need to understand and work with people’s motivations - which may be very different for different people.
Desire is not enough: lots of people desire to behave differently, but it needs to be very easy for them to do it before it actually happens."
Of course, tax and government regulations can heavily influence behaviour and decisions. Since today is[International Talk Like a Pirate Day], I thought I would finish this post off with this interesting piece on Google barges. Some companies, like IBM and Google, seem more adaptable to changing behaviour and trying out fresh new ideas.Will Runyon over on the Raised Floor blog, has a post about Google's patent for[Data center barges on the sea]:"The idea is to use waves to power the data centers, ocean water to cool them, and a moored distance of seven miles or more to avoid paying taxes."
Arrr! Now that's what I call a new way of looking at things!
Well, it's Tuesday again, and that means more IBM announcements!
Storage Area Network (SAN)
IBM and Cisco announced [three new blades] for the Cisco MDS 9500 seriesdirectors: 24-port 8 Gbps, 48-port 8 Gbps, and 4/44 blended. The 4/44blended has 4 of the faster 8 Gbps ports, and 44 of the 4 Gpbs ports,so that you can auto-negotiate down to 1 Gbps for your older gear, andstill take advantage of the faster 8 Gbps speeds during the transition.
On the Brocade side, IBM announced the newIBM System Storage Data Center Fabric Manager [DCFM] V10 software. This replaces the products formerly known as BrocadeFabric Manager and McData Enterprise Fabric Connection Manager (EFCM).This software can support up to 24 distinct fabrics, up to 9000 ports,including a mix of FCP, FICON, FCIP and iSCSI protocols.
(On a related note, I heard that Microsoft is planning to rename "Windows Vista" to "Windows 7" next year! Like we say here in Tucson,if it ends in "-ista" it is going to fail in the marketplace! Perhaps EMC should rename their storage virtualization product to "In-7"?).
IBM System Storage DR550
IBM announced today that it now supports [RAID 6 onthe DR550] compliance and retention storage system.
There are a few RAID-5 based EMC Centera customers out there who have notyet switched over to the IBM DR550, and now this might be just the littlenudge they need. For long-term retention of regulatory compliance data,RAID-5 doesn't cut it, you need an advanced RAID scheme, such as RAID-6, RAID-DP or RAID-X.
The DR550 provides non-erasable, non-rewriteable (NENR) storage supportto keep retention-managed data on disk and tape media. It supports 1 TBSATA disk drives and 1TB tape cartridges to provide high capacity at lowcost and "green" low energy consumption.
IBM System Storage N series
Several of our disk systems got improved and enhanced. Let's start withthe IBM System Storage N series[hardware and software] enhancements. IBM now offers high-speed 450GB 15K RPM drives. These are Fibre Channel (FC) drives for the EXN4000 expansion drawers, and Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) drives for the entry-levelN3300 and N3600 models.
The "gateway" models now support a variety of functions that were formerlyonly available on the appliance models. This includes Advanced Single Instance Storage (A-SIS), Disk Sanitization, and FlexScale.
A-SIS is IBM's "other" deduplication function, and I talked about this in my post [A-SIS Storage Savings Estimator Tool]. Disk Sanitization will physicallywrite ones and zeros over existing data to eliminate it, what IBM sometimes calls "Data Shredding".
The last feature, FlexScale, might be new for many. It is software toenable to use of the "Performance Accelerator Module" (PAM). The PAM isa PCI-Express card with 16GB on-board RAM that acts as a secondary cachebehind main memory of the N series controller. Depending on the model,you can have one to five of these cards fit into the controller itself,boosting random read performance, metadata access, and write block destage.
IBM System Storage DS5000
IBM's latest entry into the DS family has been hugely successful.In addition to Linux, Windows and AIX, the DS5000 now supports [Novell Netware and Sun Solaris] operating systems.
For infrastructure management, IBM has enhanced the Remote Support Manager [RSM]that supports DS3000 and DS4000 has been extended to support DS5000 as well. This software can monitor up to 50 disk systems, will e-mail alerts to IBM when something goes wrong, and allow IBM to dial in via modem to get more diagnostic information to improve service to the client. Also, the IBM System Storage Productivity Center [SSPC]which now supports the DS8000 and SAN Volume Controller (SVC) has been extended to also support the DS5000.
IBM XIV Storage System
In addition to 1-year and 3-year maintenance agreements, IBM now offers[2-year, 4-year and 5-year] software maintenance agreements.
RFID labels for IBM tape media
IBM 3589 (20-pack of LTO cartridges) and IBM 3599 (20-pack of 3592 cartridges for TS1100 series)now offer [RFID labels]. These labels match the volume serial (VOLSER) with a 216-bit unique identifier and 256 bits of user-defined content. This can help with tape inventory,and to prevent people from walking out of the building with a tape cartridge stuffed in their jacket.
32GB memory stick
While not technically part of the IBM System Storage matrix of offerings, Lenovo announced their new[Essential Memory Key] which holds 32GB of memory and workswith both USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 protocols.
I wish I could say this is it for the IBM announcements for October, given that this is the last Tuesday of the month, but there are three days left, so there might be just a few more!
There's some good discussion in the comments section over at Robin Harris' StorageMojo blog for hispost [Building a 1.8 Exabyte Data Center].To summarize, a student is working on a research archive and asked Robin Harris for his opinion. The archive will consist of 20-40 million files averaging 90 GB in size each, for a total of 1800 PB or 1.8 EB. By comparison, anIBM DS8300 with five frames tops out at 512TB, so it would take nearly 3600 of these to hold 1.8 EB. While this might seem like a ridiculous amount of data, I think the discussion is valid as our world is certainly headed in that direction.
IBM works with a lot of research firms, and the solution is to put most of this data on tape, with just enough disk for specific analysis. Robin mentions a configurion with Sun Fire 4540 disk systems (aka Thumper). Despite Sun Microsystems' recent [$1.7 Billion dollar quarterly loss], I think even the experts at Sun would recommend a blended disk-and-tape solution for this situation.
Take for example IBM's Scale Out File Services [SoFS] which today handles 2-3 billion files in a single global file system, so 20-40 million would present no problem. SoFS supports a mix of disk and tape, with built-in movement, so that files that were referenced would automatically be moved to disk when needed, and moved back to tape when no longer required, based on policies set by the administrator. Depending on the analysis, you may only need 1 PB or less of disk to perform the work, which can easily be accomplished with a handful of disk systems, such as IBM DS8300 or IBM XIV, for example.
The rest would be on tape. Let's consider using the IBM TS3500 with [S24 High Density] frames. A singleTS3500 tape library with fifteen of these HD frames could hold 45PB of data, assuming 3:1 compression on 1TB-size 3592 cartridges. You wouldneed 40 (forty) of these libraries to get to the full 1800 PB required, and these could hold even more as higher capacity cartridges are developed. IBM has customers with over 40 tape libraries today (not all with these HD frames, of course), but the dimensions and scale that IBM is capable lies within this scope.
(For LTO fans, fifteen S54 frames would hold 32PB of data, assuming 2:1 compression on 800GB-size LTO-4 cartridges.so you would need 57 libraries instead of 40 in the above example.)
This blended disk-and-tape approach would drastically reduce the floorspace and electricity requirements when compared against all-disk configurations discussed in the post.
People are rediscovering tape in a whole new light. ComputerWorld recently came out with an 11-page Technology Brief titled [The Business Value of Tape Storage],sponsored by Dell. (Note: While Dell is a competitor to IBM for some aspects of their business, they OEM their tape storage systems from IBM, so in that respect, I can refer to them as a technology partner.) Here are some excerpts from the ComputerWorld brief:
For IT managers, the question isnot whether to use tape, but whereand how to best use tape as part of acomprehensive, tiered storage architecture.In the modern storage architecture,tape plays a role not onlyin data backup, but also in long-termarchiving and compliance.
“Long-term archiving is the primaryreason any company shoulduse tape these days,” says MikeKarp, senior analyst at EnterpriseManagement Associates in Boulder,Colo. Companies are increasinglylikely to use disk in conjunctionwith tape for backup, but for long-termarchiving needs, tape remainsunbeatable.
After factoring inacquisition costs of equipment andmedia, as well as electricity and datacenter floor space, Clipper Groupfound that the total cost of archivingsolutions based on SATA disk, theleast expensive disk, was up to 23times more expensive than archivingsolutions involving tape. Calculatingenergy costs for the competing approaches,the costs for disk jumpedto 290 times that of tape.
“Tape isalways the winner anywhere costtrumps anything else,” says Karp.No matter how the cost is figured,tape is less expensive.
Beyond IT familiarity with tape,analysts point to other reasons whyorganizations will likely keep tapein their IT storage infrastructures.Energy savings, for example, is themost recent reason to stick withtape. “The economics of tape arepretty compelling, especially whenyou figure in the cost of power,”Schulz says.
So, whether you are planning for an Exabyte-scale data center, or merely questioning the logic of a disk-for-everything storage approach, you might want to consider tape. It's "green" for the environment, and less expensive on your budget.
I helped set up the IBM booth at the Solutions Center, third floor, where we will have variousproducts on display, as well as subject matter experts to handle all the questions.
I also went ahead and got my conference badge. While most of my cohorts have purple badges, limiting them to the Solution Centers area, I have a red badge, so that I can attend the variouskeynote and break-out sessions this week.
In keeping with our "green" theme, we have all been given matching light green shirts, and these are 70 percent Bamboo cloth, and 30 percent cotton. They are very comfortable,and sustainable! If you see me, come up and just feel my shirt, go ahead, I won't mind!
Tomorrow, the fun begins with the keynote speakers!
Well, it's Wednesday, day three at the [Data Center Conference] here in Las Vegas, Nevada. Unlike other conferencesthat concentrate all of their keynote sessions at the front of the agenda,this conference spread them out over several days. They had three on Tuesday, two more Wednesday, and the last one on Thursday. Here are my thoughts on the two keynote sessions on Wednesday.
Top 10 Disruptive Technologies affecting the Data Center
The analyst presented his "top ten" technologies to watch:
Storage Virtualization - I was glad this made top of the list!
Cloud Computing - IBM was recognized for its leadership in this space. Cloud computing brings together new models of acquisition, billing, access, and deployment of new technology.
Servers: Beyond Blades - Currently, distributed servers have fixed CPU, memory and I/O capability, as manufactured at the factory, but what if you can re-assign these resources dynamically? New technologies mightmake this possible.
Virtualization for desktops - not just hosted virtual desktops, the speaker proposed having"portable personalities" that an employee might carry around on a CDrom or USB memory stick, andthen use whatever computer equipment was nearby.
Enterprise Mashups - You know analysts have too much time on their hands when they come up withtheir own eight-layer reference architecture for enterprise adoption of Web 2.0 technologies.
Specialized Systems - These are sometimes called heterogeneous systems, hybrids, or application-specific appliances. Unlike general purposes servers, these are more difficult to re-purpose as your needs change. However, if done right, can provide better performance for specific workloads.
Social Software and Social Networking - A survey of the audience found 18 percent were alreadyusing Mashups in the enterprise, but 65 percent haven't looked at this at all. Because traditionalhierarchically-organized companies can't re-structure their employees fast enough, the use ofsocial software to develop "virtual teams" and "communities of interest" can be an effective wayto get the "wisdom of crowds" from your employees. Rather than just installing this kind of software, the speaker felt it was better to just "plant seeds" and let social networks grow withinthe enterprise.
Unified Communications - Do you use different providers or software for cell phone, land line, wi-fi, internet, Instant Messaging (IM), audio conferencing, video conferencing, and email? The promise of Unified Communications is to bring this all together.
Zones and Pods - In the 1990s, traditional design for data centers tried to anticipate growthover the next 15-20 years, and build accordingly. These did not foresee all the changes in IT.The new best practice is a "pod approach" where you only build what you need for the next 5 to 7years, with the architecture to expand as needed. A traditional 9000-square-foot data center thatsupports 150 "watts-per-square-foot" would cost over $20 million to build, and over $1 million inelectricity every year. A pod alternative might cost less than $12 million to build, and nearlycut electricity costs in half.
Green IT - rapid "green" improvements are being demanded on IT operations, not just forpolitical correctness, but also for cost savings. A survey of the audience found 7 percentwilling to pay a premium price for green solutions, and another 26 percent willing to pay aslightly higher price for green features and attributes.
Don McMillan, Computer Engineer turned Stand Up Comic
Don gave a hilarious look at the IT industry. While most comics that are often hired to entertainthe audience have only a layman's knowledge of what we do, Don has a masters degree in ElectricalEngineering from Stanford and worked at a variety of IT companies, including AT&T Bell Labs andVLSI Technology. You can see more of his bio on his[Technically Funny] Web site.
Here's Don in a [four-minute video] demonstrating the kind of observational humor he performs.
It's good to see a bit of humor at IT conferences. With the pressures of IT staff and managementto manage explosive growth with shrinking budgets, the attendees appreciated the mix of serious with the not-so-serious.