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I survived my first day at SNW Spring 2007.This is my first time at SNW, but it is very much like many of the other conferences I have been to.It officially started Monday morning with pre-conferencetutorials and primer break-outsessions that covered storage fundamentals, but I didn't arrive until late Monday night due to highwind conditions at the Phoenix airport that delayed my travel.
Tuesday started out with main tent sessions. Ron Milton, VP of ComputerWorld that puts on this conference,and Vincent Franceschini, Chairman of the Board for SNIA, kicked off the event.It didn't take them long to get into the alphabet soup: ILM, ITIL, SMI-S, XAM, IMA, MMA, DDF,MF, DMF, IPSF, SSIF, and SRM.Several hundred people had "voting devices" so that they could participate in "informal" surveys.
Q1. What was the greatest need?
37% Storage Resource Management (SRM) tools
19% Storage Virtualization
19% Information Lifecycle Management (ILM)
14% Integration with other management tools
11% Compliance storage for regulations
Q2. What are people doing to address storage infrastructure complexity?
33% Deploying new SRM and SAN management tools
26% Adopting "Storage as a Service" methodology
22% Deploying new storage virtualization technologies
8% Hiring more staff
9% (complexity was not an issue)
The first keynote speaker was Cora Carmody, CIO of SAIC. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I did a lot of work with SAIC here in San Diego, and so IBM sent me to San Diego quite frequentlyfor face-to-face meetings with them. Her talk was cryptically titled "Jumbo Shrimp, InformationManagement, and the Mark of the Beast." Coming up with good titles is important. Some of herkey points:
"Information management" was as much an oxymoron as "jumbo shrimp" or "military intelligence".(SAIC is a general contractor for the US Military, so this was especially funny).
Computer data needs both "ownership" and "stewardship".
Gartner analyst reports that 50% of digital information for a business resides in personal files onindividual PCs.
PAN-StaRRs project is ingesting 10TB per week of astronomical data.
TeraTEXT(R) project is a non-relational database that supports a large mix of structured and unstructured content.
The next "Y2K" crisis for the USA is changing from 3-digit to 4-digit area codes for our telephone numbers.
Battery size and life have not advanced as fast as we need
There has been little progress in "User Interface" ease of use
Formats and standards are picked for the most part by the winning vendors, and it is the silence of themarketplace that lets them get away with this.
We are overly reliant on an inherently insecure medium.
The "mark of the beast" refers to exciting new technologies based on "presence awareness". For example,some hotels now are able to check you into the hotel as you drive up in your car, based on your car's licenseplate. Some 24-hour gyms use your fingerprint as your entry credentials, eliminating the need to staff peopleat the front desk.
IBM's own Barry Rudolph, presented "Storage in an Age of Inconvenient Truths", dressed up like Oscar-winner andformer USA Vice President Al Gore. Barry's focus was on the growingconcern of over environmental Power and Cooling issues in the data center. According to IDC, the cost of power and cooling an individual server, over its lifetime, now exceeds its acquisition cost. Storage devices are not as bad as servers in this regard. Data centers now consume 1.2% of the worlds energy.
Over lunch, I heard Tony Asaro from ESG present "The Need for Highly Virtualized Storage Systems withina Virtualized Data Center." His concern is that there is still a "heavy touch" required to manage storage.Without virtualization, your data center is less than the sum of its parts. Although IBM has been doingstorage virtualization since 1974, Tony mentioned that most storage vendors were "late to the party".He argues that "internal virtualization" inside storage arrays is not enough, you need "external virtualization"(like the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller) to virtualize your entire infrastructure.What storage administrators would like is for storage to have consumer levels of "ease of use", and today'snon-virtualized storage environments are nowhere near that.
"The great advantage [the telephone] possesses over every other form of electrical apparatus consists in the fact that it requires no skill to operate the instrument." - Alexander Graham Bell, 1878
I attended a few break-out sessions in the afternoon.
Ralph presented "Crisis of Capacity" which covered the drastic actions he had to take to handle power and coolingin their expanding data center during their summer months, where temperatures peak up to 105 degrees. This included creating "hot" and "cold" aisles onhis raised floor by re-organizing the perforated floor tiles, and doing a better job standardizing how cables areconnected to the back of racks and up through the ceiling to maximize airflow. An amp-meter on each power strip was used to measure the powerused at each rack, which allowed them to better prioritize their efforts. Their Air Conditioning unit was only 12inches from the concrete floor, and raising it to 18 inches greatly reduced noise and vibration. Adding a second AC unit made a world of difference. Finally, they eliminatedKVMs, because people who use KVMs break other parts of thedata center. His rule of thumb: the cooling requirements will be 50% of the rated power requirements for equipment.
Terry Yoshi, Intel internal IT department, as a member of the SNIA's end user council
Terry presented "Taming the SAN Complexity". The problem with "complexity" as a concept is that it is very subjective, difficult to quantify, and therefore difficult to manage. He presented complexity in four areas:Organizational structure of the company as a whole; skill sets required of the IT staff; business process andprocedures; and technology. Dealing with complexity is a battle between Old School (because we've always doneit this way) and New School (because it is new and different technology). Storage Area Networks are inherentlya "shared resource", and the increased complexity is a direct result of the low reliability of the componentsand devices it is composed of. People should focus on the "Total Cost of Ownership" (TCO) for a SAN, and not just the initial acquisitionprice of SAN gear.He was not a fan of the "dual/multiple" vendor strategy that many companies employto reduce costs. His suggestion that things should be tried out first on your "test SAN" caused some chuckles,as few have such a thing. Finally, he suggested not only documenting "Best Practices" and "Best Known Methods"but also things that have been found not to work, his do-not-try-this-at-home list.
Tony Antony, Cisco marketing manager for Optical products
This was an overview of the technologies available for long distance connections for disaster recovery,business continuity, and resilience. He covered three levels.
IP - Fibre Channel of IP (FCIP) offers the greatest "global" distance but forces people into asynchronous mirroring.
SONET/SDH - SONET is what we call it in the USA, and SDH is what it is called in other countries. This provides state-to-state or "out-of-region" distances, which is ideal to meet certain government regulations for homeland defense. He suggests this is offered when dark fiber or DWDM is not available.
DWDM/CWDM - this is using a prism to run multiple colors of light through a single fiber optic cable. CWDM ischeaper, but only handles 8 signals per cable. DWDM can handle 32 to 160 signals per cable, but is more expensive.
His rule of thumb: one buffer credit for every kilometer at 2Gbps speed (for every 2km at 1Gbps).
The day ended at the "Expo". I hung out at the IBM booth to help answer questions and network with others.
Continuing my coverage of SNW Spring 2007, Ron and Vincent kicked off Wednesday main tent sessions with more survey questions:
Q1. How secure is your storage network?
27% Redundant, 100% able to withstand physical failures
28% Able to withstand hackers, but not physical failures
37% Weak on both fronts
Q2. What was the cause of most downtime in last 12 months?
1% Natural disasters
13% Network outages
14% Server failures
9% Telecom provider outage
22% IT resource upgrades
33% Human error
Thornton May, futurist and columnist for ComputerWorld, presented "Storage 3.0: What Comes After, What Comes Next."I have seen several "futurists" present at conferences like this. They all feel the need to explain what their job is, and what it takes to be one. This time, Thornton indicated he was "ridiculously well-travelled, amazingly well-connected, pathologically observant, and brutally honest." His insights:
At current rates, in 15 years every molecule on earth will have its own IP address.
"What's NOT good enough changes." -- Clayton Christensen
Gabriel Broner, General Manager of the newly created "Storage Solutions" division of Microsoft, presented "The Drive to Unified Storage". The people sitting around me asked "What does Microsoft have to do with storage?" He defined "Unified Storage" the way we use it for IBM Sytstem Storage N series "a storage unit that provides both file and block level protocol support." Microsoft is using "e-mail" as the model for data access, identifying the need to have "off-line" copies on your PC or laptop that are synced up with "on-line" sources. Features that were typically only available for high-end applications are now being made available to the masses, like "Volume Snapshot" capability in Windows Vista. On the home front, Microsoft recognizes that typically one person acts as the "IT manager" for the family.
Their survey of storage spend of Fortune 1000 companies. It was not clear if this was for Windows environments, or how the data was collected. These numbers don't match what we hear from our UNIX or mainframe customers.
Microsoft is implementing application changes, such as Office 2007, to simplify storage issues. Storage virtualization is the key for the future, he says, stating that Microsoft's "iSCSI target" software support makes files look like block-oriented volumes. Virtualization is now mainstream, and deploying software on standard hardware is the new storage business model. The end goal is to simplify provisioning, device and resource management, without reducing functionality, narrowing the gap between general IT tasks and specific storage tasks.
Craig Lau, NBC Olympic coverage, presented their success story. Look at the number of "hours" of TV Olympic coverage over the years:
1996 Atlanta -- 175 hours
2000 Sydney -- 441 hours
2004 Athens -- 1210 hours
NBC now is able to deliver 70 hours of TV programs per day, shown across their seven channels (NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, Brave, USA Network, Telemundo, and HD-tv). The Olympics in Torino, Italy generated 25,000 tapes in 17 days. Their 100,000 tape Olympic repository is starting to deteriorate, and they need to consider conversion to digital format. Their challenge was that footage was difficult to find and producers needed immediate access to time sensitive/critical content.
Their solution was Digital Asset Management, automating indexing and logging, using an IP-based workflows that reduces the number of people at the Olympics location, and allowing content to be sent back to USA for remote editing.The facilities at Torino involved:
2850 people, most hired just the week prior to the Olympic event
250TB of disk storage
135 High-Definition cameras
212 Video Tape Recorders
4000 hours of content on 1700 tapes
NBC is frustrated by the lack of compatability and interoperability in the video format industry. They have been testing MPEG-1 (1.5 Mbps) formats, and plan to deploy a new system using 1080i for the upcoming 2008 Olympics in Beijing. With the new system, they can index footage by athlete, by event, and by human emotional reaction. They can review and edit footage within 30-45 seconds of live coverage, allowing rough edits to be documented as "Edit Decision Lists" that can be e-mailed or put on USB key for others to review.
Although I missed Anil Gupta's "Blogger Event" on Monday, several bloggers did stop by to visit me at the IBMbooth.
SNW wrapped up Thursday. As is often the case, a lot of people have left already.
I saw two presentations worth discussing here in this blog.
Angus MacDonald, CEO of Mathon Systems,presented "Litigation Readiness: How prepared are you for the demands of eDiscovery?"
The process of eDiscovery is to take a large volume of data and get the small bits of relevance, as it relatesto a case, investigation or litigation. In 2004, there were 64 billion emails per day, and this is expected to be 103 billion by 2008. There are growing concerns about the "spoliation" of evidence, which I thought was a typo,until I looked it up. He encouraged everyone to check out the Electronic Discovery Reference Model, which is trying to standardize the wayIT and legal communication with each other.
The problem is often miscommunication over semantics and terminology. For example, in eDiscovery, the term"production" describes the delivery of relevant documents to a judge or opposing party. This may involve printingthem out on paper, delivering them electronically in their original format, or converting to a more standardelectronic format like Adobe PDF. The judge or opposing party reserves the right to request how they want thedocuments produced. Of course, in any format other than the original format, authenticity needs to be affirmed.
He gave two example lawsuits related to this.
In Zubulake v. UBS Warburg, Zubulake was awarded $29 million because UBS stored old emails on backup tapes, rather than an archiving system, and could not locate seven of these backup tapes. This is not the first time I have seen some IT department, or some legal department, think that keeping backups of email repositories for many years is the same as keeping an "archive".
In Coleman Holdings v. Morgan Stanley, Coleman was awarded $1.45 billion because the judge felt that Morgan Stanley failed to do proper eDiscovery. This was after they tried to reconstruct their email system from 5000 old backup tapes.
Angus suggests identifying the types of documents most often requested, and start planning from there.In an interesting twist, the CEO/CFO/CIO might go to jail if the IT department doesn't do something correctly, so perhaps IT managers will now get the respect/funding/technology they need to get the job done.
Bruce Kornfeld, Compellent Technologies, presented "Building Systems that Scale: Imagining the one Petabyte per Admin management ratio."
Bruce did a good job staying generic, and not mentioning his company's products too much. Specifically, Compellentmakes a frame similar to what IBM used to call the "SAN Integration Server". Back in 2003, IBM introduced the SAN Volume Controller, which had no disk, and the "SAN Integration Server" which had controller + disk. What IBM learned was that customers prefer the diskless model, minimizing the amount of disk that has to be purchased from the original vendor, and instead opting to have the freedom to choose any vendor they like for the managed capacity.
An interesting feature of the Compellent solution is that they chop up the virtual disk into 2MB pieces, and allow these pieces to be moved automatically from high-speed (FC) to low-speed (SATA) disk, based on their reference frequency. This is similar to HSM, but at the block level, rather than the file level.
Every advantage Bruce listed for his box already exists from IBM: improved capacity planning, improved performance, ease of data migration, flexible volumes, and a single pane of glass GUI administration tool.
Perhaps more interesting were the questions from the audience:
Q1. Do you have any customers that have 1PB of your solution? No, we have several in the 200-500TB range.
Q2. You only have a single two-node cluster, can we have more clusters? No, that is all we support, but if you need that you would have to go to one of the major storage vendors (like IBM).
Q3. Do we have to buy Compellent storage to go with the Compellent controllers? Yes, it is designed so it is an integrated solution. If you need to virtualize your existing storage, you have to go to one of the major storage vendors (like IBM).
Q4. Having data migrate automatically from FC to SATA behind the scenes lowers performance and raises the risk of disk failure? Our box is designed for inactive data, so performance is not an issue.
Q5. How do you protect against double-disk failures? We don't, and these would be even more detrimental to our solution than traditional solutions. Other vendors offer RAID6, but we don't have that yet.
It was a fun week, and good to see people I have communicated with, but never met in person.
Yesterday morning, the entire country of Colombia suffered their worst black-out (power outage) in 22 years. 98% of the country was out for 4 1/2 hours.This is just 5 months after an outage that hit 25% of the country, December 7, 2006.Ironically, this one happened the week I am here explaining the need for Business Continuity plans to IBM Business Partners from Argentina, Peru, Velenzuela, Ecuador and Colombia. As is oftenthe case, people often need a real example to recognize the need for planning is important.
It reminded me of the Northeast Black-out of 2003 that impacted USA and Canada. I was speaking to a crowd of 800 people at the SHARE conference in Washington D.C. when it happened, and hundreds of pagers and cell-phones went off all at the same time. Although we were outside the effected area and had plenty of lighting, we ended up canceling therest of my talk, and many people left immediately to help execute their business continuity plans.Of course, terrorism was immediately assumed, but a final report showed that it was initiated in Ohiodue to overgrown trees, and then propagated due to a software bug to hundreds of other plants.
According to this morning's Bogota newspaper, "El Tiempo", nobody knows the root cause of yesterday's outage. Immediately, the country's leftist rebels were blamed, but now the leading theory is that it was initiated byoperator error (a technician touching something he shouldn't have), and then propagated by a faulty distribution system.
Another example of the need for a robust and resilient infrastructure, and appropropriate business continuity plans.
"Information is moving—you know, nightly news is one way, of course, but it's also moving through the blogosphere and through the Internets." --- George W. Bush
As multinational companies transition to becomeglobally integrated enterprises, information is going to move across nationalboundaries. Laws that pertain to how data is stored and access need to be addressed.
Jon W Toigo over at DrunkenData.com discusses an Interesting proposal on Google Censorship. The New York Sun reports that NYC comptroller, Williams Thompson Jr. istargeting both Google and Yahoo over theirpolicies of abiding the local laws in each country they do business in.The proposal includes asking Google to fight local laws, publicize when Google complies withlocal laws, and publicize when local governments ask Google to comply with their laws. While Toigo focuses on Google, this issue applies to Yahoo, Microsoft, and many other companies that do business in multiple countries.
I admire when government officials use diplomacy to influence the policy of other governments, andwhen individuals act to influence the policies of those who govern them, but Thompson isdoing neither.In this matter, Thompson is trying to influence thepolicies of another government outside his jurisdiction, as a manager of investments in companies that do business there.Investors have two choices when trying to influence how companies do business.
Stop investing in those companies
Purchase shares, and vote your portion of the shares.
It appears Thompson is exercising the latter, proposing that this issue be brought to shareholder vote via proxy.There can only be two results from such a vote, either:
Shareholders vote for it, and Google changes the way it does business in this and other countries, possibly stops doing business in countries that don't appreciate hegemony.
Shareholders vote against it, and Google continues to do a great balancing act, complying with laws and their owncorporate culture
Did we forget that we have censorship in the USA as well? Would Thompson's proposalsapply to the rules and regs that our own government requires?
IBM does business in most, not all, countries on this planet. In the countries we don't do business in, we havegood reason not to. For the countries we do, we comply with all the laws that apply in each case.When I travel to these countries, including some of the countries specifically targeted by this proposal, I must abide by their laws. No exceptions.
The world is shrinking, and technologies now allow companies to become globally integrated. Before writing"The World Is Flat", Thomas Friedman wrote a book titled The Lexus and TheOlive Tree, which covers all the various issues related to conflicts between global companies and the countriesand cultures they do business in.
This reminds me of the wisdom of the Prime Directiveintroduced in the late 1960s on the popular TV show "Star Trek". The concept was simple, honor the sovereigntyof other cultures, on other worlds, and play by their rules when you are on their planet.I say "wisdom" in that it took me years to truly appreciate this idea.Initially, I considered this just a plot device to introduce conflict each time the captain and crew of thestarship "Enterprise" visits a new location, and discovers a culture different than their own. But over the years, as I have traveled to many countries, I began to see and understandthe wisdom of the "Prime Directive", and it applies as much now, in real life, as it did back then in the futuristic 1960s TV show.
Who are we to say that our way of doing things is the one and only way to do them?
The results are finally in. IBMer Wolfgang Singer was awarded "Top Speaker" award for his NAS and iSCSI tutorial at last year's Orlando 2006 conference. Here he is receiving the awardfrom SNIA Executive Director Leo Leger.
Of course, NAS and iSCSI technologies have been around for a while, but they are still new formany customers, which is why tutorials like this are so important.
Yesterday, IBM announced a variety of new storage offerings. Our theme this time around was "Policies and Performance". Here's a quick recap.
IBM offers new appliance and gateway models of its popular "unified storage" IBM System Storage N series disk systems.The N5300 appliance has two models. A10 for the single-controller, and A20 for the dual-controller model. The N5600 gateway also has two models. G10 for the single-controller, and G20 for the dual-controller model.A new EXN4000 disk expansion drawer is 3U high, and can hold up to 14 disks. It can support 1Gbps, 2Gpbs and 4Gpbs speeds.In addition to all this new "performance", we offer a new "policy" called the Advanced Single Instance Storage feature for the N5000 and N7000 series, which provides de-duplication at the block level. This can be particularly useful if you are using your N series for e-mail, document publishing, databases, backups or archives.
SAN Volume Controller
A technology refresh with the new 8G4 model. Like its predecessor, the 8F4, this new model has 8GB of cache per node, and is fitted with 4Gpbs SAN attachment ports. The difference is that the 8G4 is based on our successfulIBM System x3550 server.This baby screams, so I look forward to seeing the updated SPC-1 and SPC-2 performance benchmark ratings.The new SVC 4.2 software provides additional authentication policies for more granular administration support, andmulti-destination FlashCopy (one source copied to up to 16 destination copies at the same time).
The DS8000 series now supports having third and fourth expansion frames. This was actually already available via RPQ, but now it can be directly ordered.This means that you can now hold up to half a Petabyte in a single disk system.
IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center v3.3 offers policy and performance-based guidance in configuring disk system volumes, specification of paths between hosts and disk systems during storage provisioning, policy-based specification of zone membership, configuration analysis capabilities, configuration change management, extended tape management, and both content-sensitive and scalable enterprise-wide reports. There is also a version specifically designedto manage disk replication on System z platforms.
Deep Computing Storage
The IBM System Storage DCS9550 Storage System comes in a 4U controller and 3U disk expansion drawers. It is designed for High Performance Computing (HPC) such as genome medical research, government research and rich media applications.
Our clients tell us they need performance to meet their dynamic business demands, and policies to help them manage the ever growing size of their storage infrastructure. We listened!
This week I was in Palm Springs in meetings with clients, prospects, business partners and IBM sales reps.
Tuesday consisted of "outdoor meetings", but the high winds caused some people to arrive late, and others to land in the various sand traps and water hazards. A "welcome reception" event allowed everyone to socialize and get to know the IBM experts and executives. Two of my colleagues, Mike Stanek and Dave Wyatt, were with me also in Australia last week, and so the three of us were discussing recovery from jet lag.
Wednesday was organized as a main tent event, where everyone met into one large room to hear our strategy,latest set of offerings, and customer testimonials. This was done indoors, of course, which was a good thing as the winds were now gusting up to 50 miles per hour, knocking over windmills and making the local news.
Here's a quick sample from the testimonials:
An insurance company virtualized their IBM DS8000, DS4000, ESS 800 and EMC DMX3 high-end disk with theIBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller and got higher availability and performance. Data migrationefforts that used to take six(6) hours of admin time now took less than one hour, and with no system downtime.They have a total of 350TB virtualized under SVC now, but plan to extend this for a variety of other projects.
A bank presented their success using "Global Mirror" (IBM's asynchronous two-site replication disk mirroring capability).Their previous "business continuity" plan was called 2-20-24 for 2 sites that were 20 miles apart and recovery time objective (RTO) of 24 hours. With the events of Hurricane Katrina, this was considered inadequate, and a new2-200-6 plan was requested, across 200 miles with a recovery time objective of only 6 hours. The chose to deploythis one application at a time, to learn and grow by experience in each phase. They started with Microsoft Exchange e-mail application running under VMware on BladeCenter servers, and wereable to recover remotely within 1 hour. They are now looking to refine and automate the recovery process, perhapswith IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center for Replication and Geographically Dispersed Open Clusters (GDOC).
A healthcare provider presented their success with tiered storage, managing a 475TB mix of IBM DS8000, DS6000,DS4000 and HP EVA disk arrays. The key was having centralized storage management from IBM, which allowedthem to shrink provisioning time from 3 weeks average, to now 96% of their storage provisioning requests are completedin less than 1 week. Moving data between storage tiers was non-disruptive, and the significantcosts savings greatly justified the change in "mindset" that required some training on the new environment.
Thursday we offered a series of "workshops" on specific topics. These were interactive sessions to discuss installation, design and deployment of various solutions. The event ended early enough so that people couldreturn home, or go to the practice range, which reminded me of this inspiring video on How to play golf as well as Tiger Woods.
The event got great reviews, and I look forward to the next one. Until then, enjoy the weekend!
Last week, I opined that Monday's IDC announcement "IBM #1 in combined disk and tape storage hardwaresales for 2006" was in part because of a resurgence of interest in tape, with four specific examples. There was a lot of reaction and reflection fromboth sides.
On the one side...
EMC blogger Mark Twomey at Storagezilla admits that perhapsTape Isn't Dead after all,is perhaps the best place to put long-term archive data, but not for backup? EMC's "creative marketing types" put out this Fun With Tape video that I found amusing. (It asks for a first name,last name, and e-mail address, which are then embedded into the resulting video itself, and perhaps forwarded to your nearest EMC sales rep, so answer according to your wishes for privacy).
The "mummy wrapped in tape media" seems to be a common theme, and shows up again in LiveVault'svideo with John Cleese, which makes the same argument asthe EMC video above, namely: switch your backups from tape to disk because we are a disk-only vendor.
... and on the other side
JWT over at DrunkenData asks Which is greener, disk or tape?Tape is, of course, by a long shot, and an essential part of IBM's Big Green initiative, a project to invest$1US Billion dollars per year for data centers to be more efficient for power and cooling.
Sun/StorageTek blogger Randy Chalfant questions the Death of Tape, and argues thatdisk-only solutions suffer from atrophy.The results he posts from a survey of 200 customers are similar to those we've seen with customers using IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center, our software to help evaluate data usage, and identify misuse, in your data center.
To my readers in the USA, United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, China and Japan, and a few other countries, Happy Father's Day!
Back in the late 1980's and early 1990's, I was one of the architects for DFSMS on z/OS, and customers always asked, "What is the clip level?", in other words, how big does a customer have to be to take advantage of DFSMS. We worked it out that if you had more than 100GB of disk data, DFSMS is worthwhile. DFSMS is now just standard by default, as everyone now easily has more than 100GB of data.
Later, in the late 1990's, I worked on Linux for System z. Again, customers asked how many Linux guest images would justify deploying applications on a mainframe. We worked it out to about 10 images. 10 Linux logical partitions, or Linux guests under z/VM was enough to cost justify the entire investment.
So what is the "clip level" for SANs? How many servers does an SMB need to have to justify deploying a SAN? IBM announced the new BladeCenter S designed specifically for mid-sized companies, 100 to 1000 employees, typically running 25 to 45 servers. However, I suspect companies as small as 7-10 servers would probably benefit from deploying an FC or IP SAN.
What do you think? Send me a comment on how many servers should be the clip level.
Use more efficient disk media, such as high-capacity SATA disk drives
Both are great recommendations, but why limit yourself to what EMC offers? Your x86-based machines are only a subset of your servers,and disk is only a subset of your storage. IBM takes a more holistic approach, looking at the entire data center.
VMware is a great product, and IBM is its top reseller. But in addition to VMware, there are other solutions for the x86-based servers, like Xen and Microsoft Virtual Server. IBM's System p, System i, and System z product lines all support logical partitioning.
To compare the energy effectiveness of server virtualization, consider a metric that can apply across platforms. For example, for an e-mail server, consider watts per mailbox. If you have, say, 15,000 users, you can calculate how many watts you are consuming to manage their mailboxes on your current environment, and compare that with running them on VMware, or logical partitions on other servers. Some people find it surprising that it is often more cost-effective, and power-efficient, to run workloads on mainframe logical partitions (LPARs) than a stack of x86 servers running VMware.
More efficient Media
SATA and FATA disks support higher capacities, and run at slower RPM speeds, thus using fewer watts per terabyte.A terabyte stored on 73GB high-speed 15K RPM drives consumes more watts than the same terabyte stored using 500GB SATA.Chuck correctly identifies that tape is more power-efficient than disk, but then argues that paper is more power-efficient than tape. But paper is not necessarily more efficient than tape.
ESG analyst Steve Duplessie divides up data betweenDynamic vs. Persistent. The best place to put dynamic data is on disk, and here is where evaluation of FC/SAS versus SATA/FATA comes into play.Persistent data, on the other hand, can be stored on paper, microfiche, optical or tape media. All of these shelf-resident media consume no electricity, nor generate any heat that would require additional cooling.
A study by scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory titled High-Tech Means High-Efficiency: The Business Case for Energy Management in High-Tech Industries indicates thatData centers consume 15 to 100 times more energy per square foot than traditional office space. Storing persistent data in traditional office space can save a huge amount of energy. Steve Duplessie feels the ratio of dynamic to persistent data is 1:10 today, but is likely to grow to 1:100 in the near future, raising the demand for energy-efficient storage of persistent data ever more important to our environment.
Data centers consume nearly 5000 Megawatts in the USA alone, 14000 Megawatts worldwide. To put that in perspective, the country of Hungary I was in last week can generate up to 8000 Megawatts for the entire country (and they were using 7400 Megawatts last week as a result of their current heat wave, causing them grave concern).
Back in the 1990's, one of the insurance companies IBM worked with kept data on paper in manila folders, and armiesof young adults in roller skates were dispatched throughout the large warehouses of shelves to get the appropriate folder in response to customer service inquiries. Digitizing this paper into electronic format greatly reduced the need for this amount of warehouse space, as well as improved the time to retrieve the data.
A typical file storage box (12 inch x 12 inch x 18 inch) containing typed pages single-spaced, double-sided, 12 point font could hold perhaps 100MB. The same box could hold a hundred or more LTO or 3592 tape cartridges, each storing hundreds of GB of information. That's a million-to-one improvement of space-efficiency, and from a watts-per-TB basis, translates to substantial improvement in standard office air conditioning and lighting conditions.
To learn more about IBM's Project Big Green, watch thisintroductory video which used Second Life for the animation.
Chris Evans over at Storage Architect posts aboutHardware Replacement Lifecycle Update, on how storage virtualization can helpwith storage hardware replacemement. He makes two points that I would like to comment on.
... indeed products such as USP, SVC and Invista can help in this regard. However at some stage even the virtualisation tools need replacing and the problem remains, although in a different place.
Knowing that replacement of technologies at all levels are inevitable, IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controlleris actually designed to allow cluster non-disruptive upgrade, which we announcedMay 2006.
The process is quite elegant. The SVC consists of one or more node-pairs, and can be upgraded while the systemis up and running by replacing nodes one at a time in a sequence of suspend and resume. All of the mapping tablesare loaded onto the new nodes from the rest of the still active nodes.
I was hoping as part of the USP-V announcement HDS would indicate how they intend to help customers migrate from an existing USP which is virtualising storage, but alas it didn't happen.
Unlike the SVC, once cannot just upgrade the USP in place and make it into a USP-V. While it might be possible tounplug external disk from the old USP, and re-plug into the new USP-V, what do you do about the internal disk data?I doubt you can just move drawers and trays of disk from the old to the new. The data has to be moved some other way.
Some have asked why not just put an SVC in front of both the old USP and the new USP-V and transfer the data that way.While SVC does support virtualizing the old USP device, IBM is still testing the new USP-V as a managed device, and so this solution is not yet available, and would only apply to the LUNs in the USP-V, not the volumes specifically formatted for System i or System z.
An alternative is to take advantage of IBM's Data Mobility Services, the result of our recentacquisition of SofTek. IBM can help you both mainframe and distributed systems data from any device, to any device.
In a typical four year lifecycle of storage arrays, it might take six months or so to fill up the box, and might takeas much as a year at the end to move the data out to other equipment. SVC can greatly reduce both of these, so that you can take immediate advantage of new equipment as soon as possible, and keep using it for close to the full four years,migrating weeks or days before your lease expires.
Seth Godin has an interesting post titled Times a Million.He recounts how many people determine the fuel savings of higher-mileage cars to be only $300-$900 per year,and that this is not enough to motivate the purchase of a more-efficient vehicle, such as a hybrid orelectric car. Of course, if everyone drove more efficient vehicles, the benefits "times a million" wouldbenefit everyone and the world's ecology.
When I discuss storage-related concepts, many executives mistakenly relate them to the one area of information technologythey know best: their laptop. Let's take a look at some examples:
Information Lifecycle Management
Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) includes classifying data by business value, and then using this to determineplacement, movement or deletion. If you think about the amount of time and effort to review the files on yourindividual laptop, and to manually select and move or delete data, versus the benefits for the individual laptopowner, you would dismiss the concept. Most administrative tasks are done manually on laptops, because automatedsoftware is either unavailable or too expensive to justify for a single owner.
In medium and large size enterprises, automated software to help classify, move and delete data makes a lot of sense.Executives who decide that ILM is not for their data center, based on their experiences with their laptop, are losingout on the "times a million" effect.
Laptops have various controls to minimize the use of battery, and these controls are equally available when pluggedin. Many users don't bother turning off the features and functions they don't need when plugged in, because theyfeel the cost savings would only amount to pennies per day.
Times a million, energy savings do add up, and options to reduce the amount used per server, per TB of data stored, not only save millions of dollars per year, but can also postpone the need to build a new data center, or upgrade the electrical systems in your existing data center.
Backup and Disaster Recovery planning
I am not surprised how many laptops do not have adequate backup and disaster recovery plans. When executives thinkin terms of the time and effort to backup their data, often crudely copying key files to CDrom or USB key, and worryingabout the management of those copies, which copies are the latest, and when those copies can be destroyed, theymight reject deploying appropriate backup policies for others.
Times a million, the collected data stored on laptops could easily be half of your companies emails and intellectual property. Products like IBM Tivoli Storage Manager can manage a large number of clients with a few administrators,keeping track of how many copies to keep, and how long to keep them.
So, next time you are looking at technology or solutions for your data center, don't suffer from "Laptop Mentality". Focus instead on the data center as a whole.
Some people find it surprising that it is often more cost-effective, and power-efficient, to run workloads on mainframe logical partitions (LPARs) than a stack of x86 servers running VMware.
Perhaps they won't be surprised any more. Here is an article in eWeek that explains how IBM isreducing energy costs 80% by consolidating 3,900 rack-optimized servers to 33 IBM System z mainframe servers, running Linux, in its own data centers. Since 1997, IBM has consolidated its 155 strategic worldwide data center locations down to just seven.
I am very pleased that IBM has invested heavily into Linux, with support across servers, storage, software andservices. Linux is allowing IBM to deliver clever, innovative solutions that may not be possible with other operating systems. If you are in storage, you should consider becoming more knowledgeable in Linux.
The older systems won't just end up in a landfill somewhere. Instead, the details are spelled out inthe IBM Press Release:
As part of the effort to protect the environment, IBM Global Asset Recovery Services, the refurbishment and recycling unit of IBM, will process and properly dispose of the 3,900 reclaimed systems. Newer units will be refurbished and resold through IBM's sales force and partner network, while older systems will be harvested for parts or sold for scrap. Prior to disposition, the machines will be scrubbed of all sensitive data. Any unusable e-waste will be properly disposed following environmentally compliant processes perfected over 20 years of leading environmental skill and experience in the area of IT asset disposition.
Whereas other vendors might think that some operational improvements will be enough, such as switching to higher-capacity SATA drives, or virtualizing x86 servers, IBM recognizes that sometimes more fundamental changes are required to effect real changes and real results.
Stephen over at RupturedMonkey discusses the challenges of recruiting storage administrators:
There has been a Storage Admin job advertised for many months but no one wants it. Why? It's offering VERY good money but the word has got around the company has poor management practices and most people don't last for more than 6 months. So, with the shortage of good SAN people, good money and conditions, what can that company do to recruit someone? ...
This leads me to the thought that has anyone ever thought about the standards that storage administrators should follow? Can an employer look up a web site to find questions to ask prospective employees? More often than not, they are recruiting because the previous one left so how can companies know what they are getting.
There is actually a great standard called Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) that applies not just to storage administrators, but other IT personnel such as network administrators and server administrators. Here's a quick web-site about ITIL History:
ITIL History can be traced back to the late 1980’s when the British government determined that the level of IT service quality provided to them was not sufficient enough. The Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA), now called the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), was tasked with developing a framework for efficient and financially responsible use of IT resources within the British government and the private sector.
The goal was to develop an approach that would be vendor-independent and applicable to organizations with differing technical and business needs. This resulted in the creation of the ITIL.
This standard spread from the UK to other governments in Europe, and is now being adopted worldwide by government agencies, non-profit organizations and commercial enterprises. IBM, of course, has been involved along the way, encouraging this set of best practices to take hold.
ITIL provides a common vocabulary that puts everyone in the IT industry on the same page, with the ultimate goal of helping companies run their IT organizations more efficiently.
ITIL provides recommendations, or best practices, for managing the way IT provides services to the rest of the organization, in the same way you would the rest of your business, with a defined set of processes.
While ITIL does a great job of describing what needs to be done, it doesn’t describe how to get it done. It doesn’t tell you how to take those best practices and implement them with real-life tools and technology. It’s not prescriptive.
The general process is now referred to as "IT Service Management", and the seven ITIL books are managed by the IT Service Management forum (ITSMf).
ITIL is vendor-independent. You can learn ITIL disciplines at one IT shop, and carry those skills with you when you go to another IT shop that has completely different gear. A common vocabulary would allow employers to post jobs in a consistent manner, and ask questions to those interviewing for the job. You can be ITIL-trained, and even ITIL-certified. IBM offers this training.
Of course, specific skills on how to use specific software to configure storage devices, request change control approvals, or define SAN zones, are useful, but often can be picked up on the job, reading the vendor manuals on the specifics. Of course, you can use IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center, which would allow someone to manage a variety of disk, tape and SAN fabric gear from one interface, greatly reducing the learning curve.