Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Systems Client Experience Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2018, Tony celebrates his 32th year anniversary with IBM Storage. 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.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson )
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In the post [Flowing Workflow], the folks over at Eightbar point to the latest 3D work being done with IBM Lotus Sametime.
IBM Sametime is IBM's instant messaging facility, which has been extended to include Voice over IP (VOIP) capability similar to Skype, and now is being developed as a launch point for 3D impromptu meetings "in-world", similar to [Second Life].
With many companies facing hard times and considering travel restrictions for face-to-faceinternal meetings, an information infrastructure that adopts this technology might be a reasonable alternative.
Today we watched Barack Obama get inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States, and he reminded all Americans that the power and strength of this country comes through its diversity.To some extent, this is also what gives IBM its power and strength as well. While not quite the orator of President Obama, IBM's own CFO, Mark Loughridge, gave a rousing speech about IBM's 4Q08 and year-end financial results.
In 2008, IBM was not just successful because it had a wide diversity of servers and storage hardware products, but also a diversity of software, and a diversity of service offerings.And lastly, IBM sells to a diversity of clients in different industries, throughout a diversity of markets. While the current economic meltdown might have affected businesses focused on the US and other major markets, IBM did particularly well last year in growth markets, including the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
IBM's approach to invest in R&D and its nearly 400,000 employees for long-term success continues to pay off. Where "Cash is King", IBM can also afford all those acquisitions and strategic initiatives, positioning the company for a brighter future.
Where there are challenges, IBM finds opportunity.
Wrapping up this week's theme on ways to make the planet smarter, and less confusing, I present IBM's third annual [five in five]. These are five IBM innovations to watch over the next five years, all of which have implications on information storage. Here is a quick [3-minute video] that provides the highlights:
It's Thursday here at the [Data Center Conference] here in Las Vegas. Trying to keep up with all the sessions and activities has been quite challenging. As is often the case, there are more sessions that I want to attend than I physically am able to, so have to pick and choose.
Making the Green Data Center a Reality
The sixth and final keynote was an expert panel session, with Mark Bramfitt from Pacific Gas and Electric [PG&E], and Mark Thiele from VMware.
Mark explained PG&E's incentive program to help data centers be more energyefficient. They have spent $7 million US dollars so far on this, and he has requested another$50 million US dollars over the next three years. One idea was to put "shells" aroundeach pod of 28 or so cabinets to funnel the hot air up to the ceiling, rather than havingthe hot air warm up the rest of the cold air supply.
The fundamental disconnect for a "green" data center is that the Facilities team pay for the electricity, but it is the IT department that makes decisions that impact its use. The PG&E rebates reward IT departments for making better decisions. The best metric available is"Power Usage Effectiveness" or [PUE], which is calculated by dividing total energy consumed in the data center, divided by energy consumed by the IT equipment itself.Typical PUE runs around 3.0 which means for every Watt used for servers, storage or network switches, another 2 Watts are used for power, cooling, and facilities. Companies are tryingto reduce their PUE down to 1.6 or so. The lower the better, and 1.0 is the ideal.The problem is that changing the data center infrastructure is as difficult as replacingthe phone system or your primary ERP application.
While California has [Title 24], stating energy efficiency standards for both residential and commercial buildings, it does notapply to data centers. PG&E is working to add data center standards into this legislation.
The two speakers also covered Data Center [bogeymans], unsubstantiated myths that prevent IT departments fromdoing the right thing. Here are a few examples:
Power cycles - some people believe that x86 servers can typically only handle up to 3000 shutdowns, and so equipment is often left running 24 hours a day to minimize these. Most equipment is kept less than 5 years (1826 days), so turning off non-essential equipment at night, and powering it back on the next morning, is well below this 3000 limit and can greatly reduce kWh.
Dust - many are so concerned about dust that they run extra air-filters which impactsthe efficiency of cooling systems air flow. New IT equipment tolerates dust much betterthan older equipment.
Humidity - Mark had a great story on this one. He said their "de-humidifier" broke,and they never got around to fixing it, and they went years without it, realizing they didn't need to de-humidify.
The session wrapped up with some "low hanging fruit", items that can provide immediate benefit with little effort:
Cold-aisle containment--Why are so few data centers doing this?
Colocation providers need to meter individual clients' energy usage -- IBM offers the instrumentation and software to make this possible
Air flow management--Simply organizing cables under the floor tiles could help this.
Virtualization and Consolidation.
High-efficiency power supplies
Managing IT from a Business Service Perspective
The "other" future of the data center is to manage it as a set of integrated IT services,rather than a collection of servers, storage and switches.IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is widely-accepted as a set of best practices to accomplish this "service management" approach. The presenter from ASG Software Solutions presented their Configuration Management Data Base (CMDB) and application dependency dashboard. Theyhave some customers with as many as 200,000 configuration items (CIs) in their CMDB.
The solution looked similar to the IBM Tivoli software stack presented earlier this yearat the [Pulse conference].Both ASG and IBM "eat their own dog food", or perhaps more accurately "drink their own champagne", using these software products to run their own internal IT operations.
For many, the future of a "green" data center managed as a set of integrated service are years away, but the technologies and products are available today, and there is no reasonto postpone these projects any longer than necessary. For more about IBM's approach togreen data center, see [Energy EfficiencySolutions]. You can also take IBM's[IT Service Management self-assessment] to help determine whichIBM tools you need for your situation.
Continuing my coverage of the 27th annual[Data Center Conference], the weather here in Las Vegas has been partly cloudy,which leads me to discuss some of the "Cloud Computing" sessions thatI attended on Wednesday.
The x86 Server Virtualization Storm 2008-2012
Along with IBM, Microsoft is recognized as one of the "Big 5" of Cloud Computing. With theirrecent announcements of Hyper-V and Azure, the speaker presented pros-and-cons between thesenew technologies versus established offerings from VMware. For example, Microsoft's Hyper-Vis about three times cheaper than VMware and offers better management tools. That could beenough to justify some pilot projects. By contrast, VMware is more lightweight, only 32MB,versus Microsoft Hyper-V that takes up to 1.5GB. VMware has a 2-3 year lead ahead of Microsoft, and offers some features that Microsoft does not yet offer.
Electronic surveys of the audience offered some insight. Today, 69 percent were using VMware only, 8 percent had VMware plus other, including Xen-based offerings from Citrix,Virtual Iron and others. However, by 2010, the audience estimated that 39 percent would be VMware+Microsoft and another 23 percent VMware plus Xen, showing a shift away from VMware'scurrent dominance. Today, there are 11 VMware implementations to Microsoft Hyper-V, and thisis expected to drop to 3-to-1 by 2010.
Of the Xen-based offerings, Citrix was the most popular supplier. Others included Novell/PlateSpin,Red Hat, Oracle, Sun and Virtual Iron. Red Hat is also experimenting with kernel-based KVM.However, the analyst estimated that Xen-based virtualization schemes would never get past8 percent marketshare. The analyst felt that VMware and Microsoft would be the two dominant players with the bulk of the marketshare.
For cloud computing deployments, the speaker suggested separating "static" VMs from "dynamic" ones. Centralize your external storage first, and implement data deduplicationfor the OS load images. Which x86 workloads are best for server virtualization? The speaker offered this guidance:
The "good" are CPU-bound workloads, small/peaky in nature.
The "bad" are IO-intensive, those that exploit the features of native hardware
The "ugly" refers to workloads based on software with restrictive licenses and those not fully supported on VMs. If you have problems, the software vendor may not help resolve them.
Moving to the Cloud: Transforming the Traditional Data Center
IBM VP Willie Chiu presented the various levels of cloud computing.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provides the software application, operating system and hardware infrastructure, such as SalesForce.com or Google Apps. Either the software meets your needs or it doesn't, but has the advantage that the SaaS provider takes care of all the maintenance.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) provides operating system, perhaps some middleware like database or web application server, and the hardware infrastructure to run it on. The PaaS provider maintains the operating system patches, but you as the client must maintain your own applications. IBM has cloud computing centers deployed in nine different countries across the globe offering PaaS today.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provides the hardware infrastructure only. The client must maintain and patch the operating system, middleware and software applications. This can be very useful if you have unique requirements.
In one case study, Willie indicated that moving a workload from a traditional data center to the cloud lowered the costs from $3.9 million to $0.6 million, an 84 percent savings!
We've Got a New World in Our View
Robert Rosier, CEO of iTricity, presented their "IaaS" offering. "iTricity" was coined from the concept of "IT as electricity". iTricity is the largest Cloud Computing company in continental Europe, hosting 2500 servers with 500TB of disk storage across three locations in the Netherlands and Germany.
Those attendees I talked to that were at this conference before commented that this year's focus on virtualization and cloud computing is noticeably more than in previous years. For more on this, read this 12-page whitepaper:[IBM Perspective on Cloud Computing]
Continuing this week's coverage of the 27th annual [Data Center Conference] I attended some break-out sessions on the "storage" track.
Effectively Deploying Disruptive Storage Architectures and Technologies
Two analysts co-presented this session. In this case, the speakers are using the term "disruptive" in the [positive sense] of the word, as originally used by Clayton Christensen in hisbook[The Innovator's Dilemma], andnot in the negative sense of IT system outages. By a show of hands,they asked if anyone had more storage than they needed. No hands went up.
The session focused on the benefits versus risks of new storage architectures, and which vendors they felt would succeed in this new marketplace around the years 2012-2013.
By electronic survey, here were the number of storage vendors deployed by members of the audience:
14 percent - one vendor
33 percent - two vendors, often called a "dual vendor" strategy
24 percent - three vendors
29 percent - four or more storage vendors
For those who have deployed a storage area network (SAN), 84 percent also have NAS, 61 percent also have some form or archive storage such as IBM System Storage DR550, and 18 percent also have a virtual tape library (VTL).
The speaker credited IBM's leadership in the now popular "storage server" movement to the IBM Versatile Storage Server [VSS] from the 1990s, the predecessor to IBM's popular Enterprise Storage Server (ESS). A "storage server" is merely a disk or tape system built using off-the-shelf server technology, rather than customized [ASIC] chips, lowering thebarriers of entry to a slew of small start-up firms entering the IT storage market, and leading to newinnovation.
How can a system designed for now single point of failure (SPOF) actually then fail? The speaker convenientlyignored the two most obvious answers (multiple failures, microcode error) and focused instead on mis-configuration. She felt part of the blame falls on IT staff not having adequate skills to deal with the complexities of today's storage devices, and the other part of the blame falls on storage vendors for making such complicated devices in the first place.
Scale-out architectures, such as IBM XIV and EMC Atmos, represent a departure from traditional "Scale-up" monolithic equipment. Whereas scale-up machines are traditionally limited in scalability from their packaging, scale-out are limited only by the software architecture and back-end interconnect.
To go with cloud computing, the analyst categorized storage into four groups: Outsourced, Hosted, Cloud, and Sky Drive. The difference depended on where servers, storage and support personnel were located.
How long are you willing to wait for your preferred storage vendor to provide a new feature before switching to another vendor? A shocking 51 percent said at most 12 months! 34 percent would be willing to wait up to 24 months, and only 7 percent were unwilling to change vendors. The results indicate more confidence in being able to change vendors, rather than pressures from upper management to meet budget or functional requirements.
Beyond the seven major storage vendors, there are now dozens of smaller emerging or privately-held start-ups now offering new storage devices. How willing were the members of the audience to do business with these? 21 percent already have devices installed from them, 16 percent plan to in the next 12-24 months, and 63 percent have no plans at all.
The key value proposition from the new storage architectures were ease-of-use and lower total cost of ownership.The speaker recommended developing a strategy or "road map" for deploying new storage architectures, with focus on quantifying the benefits and savings. Ask the new vendor for references, local support, and an acceptance test or "proof-of-concept" to try out the new system. Also, consider the impact to existing Disaster Recovery or other IT processes that this new storage architecture may impact.
Tame the Information Explosion with IBM Information Infrastructure
Susan Blocher, IBM VP of marketing for System Storage, presented this vendor-sponsored session, covering theIBM Information Infrastructure part of IBM's New Enterprise Data Center vision. This was followed by BradHeaton, Senior Systems Admin from ProQuest, who gave his "User Experience" of the IBM TS7650G ProtecTIER virtual tape library and its state-of-the-art inline data deduplication capability.
Best Practices for Managing Data Growth and Reducing Storage Costs
The analyst explained why everyone should be looking at deploying a formal "data archiving" scheme. Not just for "mandatory preservation" resulting from government or industry regulations, but also the benefits of "optional preservation" to help corporations and individual employees be more productive and effective.
Before there were only two tiers of storage, expensive disk and inexpensive tape. Now, with the advent of slower less-expensive SATA disks, including storage systems that emulate virtual tape libraries, and others that offer Non-Erasable, Non-Rewriteable (NENR) protection, IT administrators now have a middle ground to keep their archive data.
New software innovation supports better data management. The speaker recalled when "storage management" was equated to "backup" only, and now includes all aspects of management, including HSM migration, compliance archive, and long term data preservation. I had a smile on my face--IBM has used "storage management" to refer to these other aspects of storage since the 1980s!
The analyst felt the best tool to control growth is the "Delete" the data no longer needed, but felt that nobody uses Storage Resource Management (SRM) tools needed to make this viable. Until then, people willchose instead to archive emails and user files to less expensive media.The speaker also recommended looking into highly-scalable NAS offerings--such as IBM's Scale-Out File Services (SoFS), Exanet, Permabit, IBRIX, Isilon, and others--when fast access to files is worth the premium price over tape media.The speaker also made the distinction between "stub-based" archiving--such as IBM TSM Space Manager, Sun's SAM-FS, and EMC DiskXtender--from "stub-less" archive accomplished through file virtualization that employes a global namespace--such as IBM Virtual File Manager (VFM), EMC RAINfinity or F5's ARX.
She made the distinction between archives and backups. If you are keeping backups longer than four weeks, they are not really backups, are they? These are really archives, but not as effective. Recent legal precedent no longer considers long-term backup tapes as valid archive tapes.
To deploy a new archive strategy, create a formal position of "e-archivist", chose the applications that will be archived and focus on requirements first, rather than going out and buying compliance storage devices. Try to get users to pool their project data into one location, to make archiving easier. Try to have the storage admins offer a "menu" of options to Line-of-Business/Legal/Compliance teams that may not be familiar with subtle differences in storage technologies.
While I am familiar with many of these best practices already, I found it useful to see which competitiveproducts line up with those we have already within IBM, and which new storage architectures others find mostpromising.
I did not register soon enough to get into the MGM Grand itself, so I am staying at a Hiltonat the other end of the Las Vegas strip, but am able to hop on the "Monorail" to get to the MGM,just in time for the breakfast and first welcome session.
This conference has a familiar set up: six keynote sessions, 62 break-out sessions, and fourtown hall meetings. Thanks to electronic survey devices on the seats, speakers were able to gatherreal-time demographics. A large portion of attendees, including myself, are attending this conference for theirfirst time. Here's my recap of the first three keynote sessions:
The Future of Infrastructure and Operations: The Engine of Cloud Computing
How much do companies spend just to keep current? As much as 70 percent! The speaker noted thatthe best companies can get this down to 10 to 30 percent, leaving the rest of the IT budget to facilitate transformation. He predicts that companies are transforming their data centers fromsprawled servers to virtualization, towards a fully automated, service-oriented, real-time infrastructure.
Whereas the original motivation for IT virtualization was to reduce costs, companies now recognizethat they greatly improve agility, the ability to rapidly provision resources for new workloads, and that this will then lead to opportunites for alternative sourcing, such as cloud computing.
The operating system is becoming commoditized, focusing attention instead to a new concept: the"Meta OS". VMware's Virtual Data Center and Microsoft's Azure Fabric Controller are just two examples.Currently, analysts estimate only about 12 percent of x86 workloads are running virtualized, but thatthis could be over 50 percent by 2012.In this same time frame, year 2012, storage Terabytes is expected to increase 6.5x fold, and WAN bandwidthgrowing 35 percent per year.
Virtualization is not just for business applications. There are opportunities to eliminate the mostcostly part of any business: the Personal Computer, poster child of the skyrocketing costs of the client/server movement. Remote hosting of applications, streaming of applications,software as a service (SaaS) and virtual machines for the desktop can greatly reduce costs of customizedPC images and help desk support.
Cloud computing not only reduces per costs per use, but provides a lower barrier of entry and somemuch needed elasticity.Draw a line anywhere along the application-to-hardware software/hardware stack, and you can define acloud computing platform/service. About 65 percent of the attendees surveyed indicated that they were already doing something with CloudComputing, or were planning to in the next four years.
To help get there, the speaker felt that Value-added Resellers (VAR) and System Integrators (SI) wouldevolve into "service brokers", providing Small and Medium sized Businesses (SMB) "one throat to choke" in mixedmultisourced operations. The term "multisource" caught me a bit off-guard, referring to having someworkloads run internally (insourced) while other workloads run out on the Cloud (outsourced). Largerenterprises might have a "Dynamic Sourcing Team", a set of key employees serving as decision makers, employing both business and IT skills to determine the best sourcing for each application workload.
What are the biggest obstacles to getting there? The speaker felt it was the IT staff. People and cultureare the most difficult to change. The second are lack of appropriate metrics. Here were the survey resultsof the attendees:
41 percent had metrics for infrastructure economic attributes
49 percent had metrics for qualities of service (QoS)
12 percent had metrics to measure agility, speed of resource provisioning
The Data Center Scenario: Planning for the Future
This second keynote had two analyst "co-presenters". The focus was on the importance of having a documented Data Center strategy and architecture. Unfortunately, most Data Centers "happen on their own", with a majoroverhaul every 5 to 10 years. The speakers presented some "best practices" for driving this effort.
The first issue was to identify tiers of criticality, similar to those by the[Uptime Institute]. In their example, the most criticalworkloads would have perhaps recovery point objectives (RPO) of zero, and recover time objectives of lessthan 15 minutes. This is achievable using synchronous mirroring with fully automation to handle the failover.
The second issue was to recognize that many applications were designed for local area networks (LAN), butmany companies have distributed processing over a wide area network (WAN). Latency over these longer distancescan kill distributed performance of these applications.
The third issue was that different countries offer different levels of security, privacy and law enforcement.Canada and Ireland, for example, had the lowest risk, countries like India had medium risk, and countries likeChina and Russia had the highest risk, based on these factors.
The speakers suggested the following best practices:
Get a better understanding of the costs involved in providing IT services
Centralize applications that are not affected by latency, but regionalize those that are affected toremote locations to minimize distance delays.
Work towards a "lights out" data center facility, with operations personnel physically separated fromdata center facilities.
For the unfortunate few that are trying to stretch out more life from their existing aging data centers,the speakers offered this advice:
Build only what you need
Decommission orphaned servers and storage, which can be 1 to 12 percent of your operations
Target for replacement any hardware over five years old, not just to reduce maintenance costs, butalso to get more energy-efficient equipment.
Consider moving test workloads, and as much as half of your web servers, off UPS and onto the nativeelectricity grid. In the event of an outage, this reduces UPS consumption.
Implement power-capping and load-shedding, especially during peak times.
Enacting these changes can significantly improve the bottom line. Archaic data centers, those typically over 10 years old with power usage effectiveness (PUE) over 3.0 can cost over twice as much as a moreefficient data center. To learn more about PUE as a metric, see the Green Grid's whitepaper[Data Center power efficiency metrics:PUE and DCiE].
While virtualization can help with these issues, it also introduces new problems, such as VM sprawl anddealing with antiquated licensing schemes of software companies.
The Four Traits of the World's Best-Performing Business Leaders
Best-selling author Jason Jennings presented his findings in researching his various books:
It's Not the Big That Eat the Small... It's the Fast That Eat the Slow : How to Use Speed as a Competitive Tool in Business
Less Is More : How Great Companies Use Productivity As a Competitive Tool in Business
Think Big, Act Small
Hit the Ground Running : A Manual for New Leaders
Jason identified the best companies and interviewed their leaders, including such companies as Koch Industries, Nucor Steel, and IKEA furniture. The leaders he interviewed felt a calling to serveas stewards of their companies, not just write mission and vision statements, and be willingto let go of projects or people that aren't working out.
Jasonindicated a 2007 Gallup poll on the American workplace indicates that 70 percent of employees do notfeel engaged in their jobs.The focus of these leaders isto hire people with the right attitudes, rather than the right aptitudes, and give those people with the knowledge and the right to make business decisions. If done well,employees will think and act as owners, and hold themselves accountable for their economic results. Jason found cases where 25-year-olds were givenresponsibility to make billion-dollar decisions!
I found his talk inspiring! The audience felt motivated to do their jobs better, and be more engagedin the success of their companies.
These keynote sessions set the mood for the rest of the week. I can tell already that the speakers willtoss out a large salad of buzzwords and IT industry acronyms. I saw several people in the audience confusedon some of the terminology, and hopefully they will come over to IBM booth 20 at the Solutions Expofor straight talk and explanation.
This week is Thanksgiving holiday in the USA, so I thought a good theme would be things I am thankful for.
I'll start with saying that I am thankful EMC has finally announcedAtmos last week. This was the "Maui" part of the Hulk/Maui rumors we heard over a year ago. To quickly recap, Atmos is EMC's latest storage offeringfor global-scale storage intended for Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads. Atmos can be sold as just software, or combined with Infiniflex,EMC's bulk, high-density commodity disk storage systems. Atmos supports traditionalNFS/CIFS file-level access, as well as SOAP/REST object protocols.
I'm thankful for various reasons, here's a quick list:
It's hard to compete against "vaporware"
Back in the 1990s, IBM was trying to sell its actual disk systems against StorageTek's rumored "Iceberg" project. It took StorageTek some four years to get this project out,but in the meantime, we were comparing actual versus possibility. The main feature iswhat we now call "Thin Provisioning". Ironically, StorageTek's offering was not commercially successful until IBM agreed to resell this as the IBM RAMAC Virtual Array (RVA).
Until last week, nobody knew the full extent of what EMC was going to deliver on the many Hulk/Maui theories. Severalhinted as to what it could have been, and I am glad to see that Atmos falls short of those rumored possibilities. This is not to say that Atmos can't reach its potential, and certainly some of the design is clever, such as offering native SOAP/REST access.
Instead, IBM now can compare Atmos/Infiniflex directly to the features and capabilities of IBM's Scale Out File Services [SoFS], which offers a global-scale multi-site namespace with policy-based data movement, IBM System Storage Multilevel Grid Access Manager[GAM] that manages geographical distrubuted information,and IBM [XIV Storage System] that offers high-density bulk storage.
Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads justify new storage architectures
When I presented SoFS and XIV earlier this year, I mentioned they were designed forthe fast-growing Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads that were unique enough to justify their own storage architectures. One criticism was that SoFS appeared to duplicate what could be achieved with dozens of IBM N series NAS boxes connected with Virtual File Manager (VFM). Why invent a new offering with a new architecture?
With the Atmos announcement, EMC now agrees with IBM that the Web 2.0 and DigitalArchive workloads represent a unique enough "use case" to justify a new approach.
New offerings for new workloads will not impact existing offerings for existing workloads
I find it amusing that EMC is quickly defending that Atmos will not eat into its DMXbusiness, which is exactly the FUD they threw out about IBM XIV versus DS8000 earlier this year. In reality, neither the DS8000 nor the DMX were used much for Web 2.0 andDigital Archive workloads in the past. Companies like Google, Amazon and others hadto either build their own from piece parts, or use low-cost midrange disk systems.
Rather, the DS8000 and DMX can now focus on the workloads they were designed for,such as database applications on mainframe servers.
Cloud-Oriented Storage (COS)
Just when you thought we had enough terminology already, EMC introduces yet another three-letter acronym [TLA]. Kudos to EMC for coining phrases to help move newconcepts forward.
Now, when an RFP asks for Cloud-oriented storage, I am thankful this phrase will help serve as a trigger for IBM to lead with SoFS and XIV storage offerings.
Digital archives are different than Compliance Archives
EMC was also quick to point out that object-storage Atmos was different from theirobject-storage EMC Centera. The former being for "digital archives" and the latter for"compliance archives". Different workloads, Different use cases, different offerings.
Ever since IBM introduced its [IBM System Storage DR550] several years ago, EMC Centera has been playing catch-up to match IBM'smany features and capabilities. I am thankful the Centera team was probably too busy to incorporate Atmos capabilities, so it was easier to make Atmos a separate offering altogether. This allows the IBM DR550 to continue to compete against Centera's existingfeature set.
Micro-RAID arrays, logical file and object-level replication
I am thankful that one of the Atmos policy-based feature is replicating individualobjects, rather than LUN-based replication and protection. SoFS supports this forlogical files regardless of their LUN placement, GAM supports replication of files and medical images across geographical sites in the grid, and the XIV supports this for 1MBchunks regardless of their hard disk drive placement. The 1MB chunk size was basedon the average object size from established Web 2.0 and DigitalArchive workloads.
I tried to explain the RAID-X capability of the XIV back in January, under muchcriticism that replication should only be done at the LUN level. I amthankful that Marc Farley on StorageRap coined the phrase[Micro-RAID array] to helpmove this new concept further. Now, file-level, object-level and chunk-level replication can be considered mainstream.
Much larger minimum capacity increments
The original XIV in January was 51TB capacity per rack, and this went up to 79TB per rack for the most recent IBM XIV Release 2 model. Several complained that nobody would purchase disk systems at such increments. Certainly, small and medium size businessesmay not consider XIV for that reason.
I am thankful Atmos offers 120TB, 240TB and 360TB sizes. The companies that purchasedisk for Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads do purchase disk capacity in these large sizes. Service providers add capacity to the "Cloud" to support many of theirend-clients, and so purchasing disk capacity to rent back out represents revenue generating opportunity.
Renewed attention on SOAP and REST protocols
IBM and Microsoft have been pushing SOA and Web Services for quite some time now.REST, which stands for [Representational State Transfer] allows static and dynamic HTML message passing over standard HTTP.SOAP, which was originally [Simple Object Access Protocol], and then later renamed to "Service Oriented Architecture Protocol", takes this one step further, allowingdifferent applications to send "envelopes" containing messages and data betweenapplications using HTTP, RPC, SMTP and a variety of other underlying protocols.Typically, these messages are simple text surrounded by XML tags, easily stored asfiles, or rows in databases, and served up by SOAP nodes as needed.
It's hard to show leadership until there are followers
IBM's leadership sometimes goes unnoticed until followerscreate "me, too!" offerings or establish similar business strategies. IBM's leadership in Cloud and Grid computing is no exception.Atmos is the latest me-too product offering in this space, trying pretty muchto address the same challenges that SoFS and XIV were designed for.
So, perhaps EMC is thankful that IBM has already paved the way, breaking throughthe ice on their behalf. I am thankful that perhaps I won't have to deal with as much FUD about SoFS, GAM and XIV anymore.
Well it's Tuesday, and ["election day"] here in the USA, and again IBM has more announcements.
IBM announced [IBM Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager v1.0] (TKLM) to manage encryption keys. This provides a graphical interface to manage encryption keys, including retention criteria when sharing keys with other companies.
TKLM is supported on AIX, Solaris, Windows, Red Hat and SUSE Linux. IBM plans to offer TKLM forz/OS in 2009. TKLM can be used with Firefox or Internet Explorer web browser. This will include the Encryption Key Manager (EKM) that IBM offered initially to support encryption keys for the TS1120, TS1130, and LTO-4 drives.
While this is needed today for tape, IBM positions this software to also manage the encryption keys for "Full Drive Encryption" (FDE) disk drive modules (DDM) in IBM disk systems in 2009.
This is page 34 of Sequoia Capital's[56-slide presentation] about the current financial meltdown. In the past, IT spending tracked closely to the rest of the economy, but the latest downturn has not yet reflected in IT spend.
The rest of the deck is worth going through, with interesting stats presented in a clear manner.
For a while now, IBM has been trying to explain to clients that focusingon just storage hardware acquisition costs is not enough. You need toconsider the "Total Cost of Ownership" or TCO of a purchase decision.For active data, a 3-5 year TCO assessment can give you a better comparison of costs between IBM and competitive choices. For long-term archive retention, 7-10 year TCO assessment may be necessary.
Now, IBM has a cute [2-minute video] that brings anappropriate analogy to help IT and non-IT executives understand.
While some might be familiar with mashups that combine public Web 2.0 sources of information, enterprise mashups go one step further, integrating withthe "information infrastructure" of your data center. It's not just enough to deliver theright information to the right person at the right time, it has to bein the right format, in a manner that can be readily understood andacted upon. Enterprise mashups can help.
Last month, HP and Oracle jointly announced their new "Exadata Storage Server".This solution involves HP server and storage paired up with Oracle software, designed for Data Warehouse andBusiness Intelligence workloads (DW/BI).
I immediately recognized the Exadata Storage Server as a "me too" product, copying the idea from IBM's [InfoSphere Balanced Warehouse]which combines IBM servers, IBM storage and IBM's DB2 database software to accomplish this, but from a singlevendor, rather than a collaboration of two vendors.The Balanced Warehouse has been around for a while. I even blogged about this last year, in my post[IBMCombo trounces HP and Sun] when IBM announced its latest E7100 model. IBM offers three different sizes: C-class for smaller SMB workloads, D-class for moderate size workloads, and E-class for large enterprise workloads.
One would think that since IBM and Oracle are the top two database software vendors, and IBM and HP are the toptwo storage hardware vendors, that IBM would be upset or nervous on this announcement. We're not. I would gladlyrecommend comparing IBM offerings with anything HP and Oracle have to offer. And with IBM's acquisition of Cognos,IBM has made a bold statement that it is serious about competing in the DW/BI market space.
But apparently, it struck a nerve over at EMC.
Fellow blogger Chuck Hollis from EMC went on the attack, and Oracle blogger Kevin Closson went on the defensive.For those readers who do not follow either, here is the latest chain of events:
When it comes to blog fights like these, there are no clear winners or losers, but hopefully, if done respectfully,can benefit everyone involved, giving readers insight to the products as well as the company cultures that produce them.Let's see how each side fared:
Chuck implies that HP doesn't understand databases and Oracle doesn't understand server and storage hardware, socobbling together a solution based on this two-vendor collaboration doesn't make sense to him. The few I know who work at HP and Oracle are smart people, so I suspect this is more a claim againsteach company's "core strengths". Few would associate HP with database knowledge, or Oracle with hardware expertise,so I give Chuck a point on this one.
Of course, Chuck doesn't have deep, inside knowledge of this new offering, nor do I for that matter, and Kevin is patient enough to correct all of Chuck's mistaken assumptions and assertions. Kevin understands that EMC's "core strengths" isn't in servers or databases, so he explains things in simple enough terms that EMC employees can understand, so I give Kevin a point on this one.
If two is bad, then three is worse! How much bubble gum and bailing wire do you need in your data center? The better option is to go to the one company that offers it all and brings it together into a single solution: IBM InfoSphere Balanced Warehouse.
Continuing this week's theme on dealing with the global economic meltdown, recession and financial crisis, I found a great video that recaps IBM CEO Sam Palmisano's recommendations to being more competitive in thisenvironment.
In a recent speech to business leaders, Sam outlined what he sees as the four most importantsteps to thriving in the global economy. The highlights can be seen here in this [2-minute video]on IBM's "Forward View" eMagazine.
As financial firms focus on costs, the IT departments will have an opportunity to consolidate their servers, networks and storage equipment. Consolidating disk and tape resources, implementing storage virtualization, and reducingenergy costs might get a boost from this crisis. Consolidating disparate storage resources to a big SoFS, XIV,DS8000 disk system, or TS3500 tape library might greatly help reduce costs.
Having mixed vendor environments that result from such mergers and acquisitions can be complicated to manage. Thankfully, IBM TotalStorage Productivity Centermanages both IBM and non-IBM equipment, based on open industry standards like SMI-S and WBEM.Merged companies might let go IT people with limited vendor-specific knowledge, but keep the ones familiar withcross-vendor infrastructure management skills and ITIL certification.
Comparing different vendor equipment
It seems that often times when there is a merger or acquisition, the two companies were using different storage gear from different vendors. IBM has made some incredible improvements over the past three years, in both performance enhancements and energy efficiency, but many companies with non-IBM equipment may not be aware of them.If there was ever a time to perform a side-by-side comparison between IBM and non-IBM equipment, here isyour chance.
For more on the impact of the financial meltdown on IT, see this InfoWorld[Special Report].