Yesterday's post [Software Programmers as Bees
]was not meant as "career advice", but certainly I got some interesting email as if it was.Orson Scott Card was poking fun at the culture clash between software programmers andmanagement/marketers, and I gave my perspective, having worked both types of jobs.
This is June. Many students are graduating from high school or college and lookingfor jobs. Some of these might be jobs just for the summer to make some spending money,and others mights be jobs like internships to explore different career paths. I found both programming and marketing are rewarding and interesting work, but each person is different.
There are a variety of ways to find out what your personality traits are,and then focus on those jobs or career paths that are best for those strengths. Hereis an online [Typology Test] based onthe work of psychologists Carl Jung and Isabel Myers-Briggs. The result is a four-letterscore that represents 16 possible personalities. For example, mine is "ENTP",which stands for "Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving". You can find out otherfamous people that match your personality type. For ENTP, I am lumped together withfellow master inventor Thomas Edison, fellow author Lewis Carrol (Alice in Wonderland), Cooking great Julia Child, Comedians George Carlin and Rodney Dangerfield (I get no respect!),movie director Alfred Hitchcock, and actor Tom Hanks.
USA Today had an article ["CEOsvalue lessons from teen jobs"] which offers some career advice from successful business people.Of course, what worked for them may not work for you, all based on different personality types. Hereis an excerpt of the advice I thought the most useful:
- "If you are committed, you will be successful." (unfortunately, the reverse is also true: if you are successful,you will be asked to move to a different job)
- "Tackle offbeat jobs. Challenge conventional wisdom within reason. Come into contact with people from all walks of life."
- "Show an interest, demonstrate you want to be on the job."
- "Never limit yourself. Look beyond to what needs to be done, or should be done. Then do it. Stretch. Go beyond what others expect."
- "Find a job that forces you to work effectively with people. No matter what you end up doing, dealing with others will be critical."
- "Bring your best to the table every day. Learn professional responsibility and how to handle difficult situations."
- "Listen carefully to what customers want."
Before IBM, I ran my own business. If you are thinking, "Maybe I will start my own business instead?" you might want to see this advice from Venture Capitalist [Guy Kawasaki on Innovation].While running your own business has advantages, like avoiding issues "working for the man", it has somedisadvantages as well. It is certainly not as easy as some people make it seem to be.
Of course, things are a lot different nowadays than they were when these CEOs were teenagers. And the pace ofchange does not seem to be slowing down any either. Here is a presentation on [SlideShare.net] that helps bring to focus the realities of globalization:
But in the future, you will not just be competing with other smart people around the globe.Which brings me to "the Singularity". The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) has [The Singularity - A Special Report], a whole issue of Spectrum Online devoted to this.Nick Carr offers his thoughts on this on his Rough Type blog in his post[What we talk about when we talk about singularity].
Whether you are a student looking for a job, or a seasoned professional willing to share some career advice,enter a comment below.
technorati tags: career advice, Carl Jung, Myers-Briggs, ENTP, USA Today, Thomas Edison, Guy Kawasaki, venture capitalist, Shift Happens, IEEE, Spectrum, Nick Carr, Rough Type, engineers
My theme this week was to focus on "Do-it-Yourself" solutions, such as the "open storage" concept presentedby Sun Microsystems, but it has morphed into a discussion on vendor lock-in. Both deserve a bit of furtherexploration.
There were several reasons offered on why someone might pursue a "Do-it-Yourself" course of action.
- Building up skills
In my post [Simply Dinners and Open Storage], I suggested that building a server-as-storage solution based on Sun's OpenSolaris operating system could serve to learn more about [OpenSolaris], and by extension, the Solaris operating system.Like Linux, OpenSolaris is open source and has distributions that run on a variety of chipsets, from Sun's ownSPARC, to commodity x86 and x86-64 hardware. And as I mentioned in my post [Getting off the island], a version of OpenSolaris was even shown to run successfully on the IBM System z mainframe.
"Learning by Doing" is a strong part of the [Constructivism] movement in education. TheOne Laptop Per Child [OLPC] uses this approach. IBM volunteers in Tucson and 40other sites [help young students build robots]constructed from [Lego Mindstorms]building blocks.Edward De Bono uses the term [operacy] to refer to the"skills of doing", preferred over just "knowing" facts and figures.
However, I feel OpenSolaris is late to the game. Linux, Windows and MacOS are all well-established x86-based operating systems that most home office/small office users would be familiar with, and OpenSolaris is positioning itself as "the fourth choice".
In my post[WashingtonGets e-Discovery Wakeup Call], I suggested that the primary motivation for the White House to switch from Lotus Notes over to Microsoft Outlookwas familiarity with Microsoft's offerings. Unfortunately, that also meant abandoning a fully-operational automated email archive system, fora manual do-it-yourself approach copying PST files from journal folders.
Familiarity also explains why other government employees might print out their emails and archive them on paperin filing cabinets. They are familiar with this process, it allows them to treat email in the same manner as they have treated paper documents in the past.
- Cost, Control and Unique Requirements
The last category of reasons can often result if what you want is smaller or bigger than what is availablecommercially. There are minimum entry-points for many vendors. If you want something so small that it is notprofitable, you may end up doing it yourself. On the other end of the scale, both Yahoo and Google ended up building their data centers with a do-it-yourself approach, because no commercial solutions were available atthe time. (IBM now offers [iDataPlex], so that has changed!)
While you could hire a vendor to build a customized solution to meet your unique requirements, it might turn outto be less costly to do-it-yourself. This might also provide some added control over the technologies and components employed. However, as EMC blogger Chuck Hollis correctly pointed out for[Do-it-yourself storage],your solution may not be less costly than existingoff-the-shelf solutions from existing storage vendors, when you factor in scalability and support costs.
Of course, this all assumes that storage admins building the do-it-yourself storage have enough spare time to do so. When was the last time your storage admins had spare time of any kind?Will your storage admins provide the 24x7 support you could get from established storage vendors? Will theybe able to fix the problem fast enough to keep your business running?
From this, I would gather that if you have storage admins more familiar with Solaris than Linux, Windows or MacOS,and select commodity x86 servers from IBM, Sun, HP, or Dell, they could build a solution that has less vendor lock-in than something off-the-shelf from Sun. Let's explore the fears of vendor lock-in further.
- The storage vendor goes out of business
Sun has not been doing so well, so perhaps "open storage" was a way to warn existing Sun storage customers thatbuilding your own may be the next alternative.The New York Times title of their article says it all:["Sun Microsystems Posts Loss and Plans to Reduce Jobs"]. Sun is a big company, so I don't expect them to close their doors entirely this year,but certainly fear of being locked-in to any storage vendor's solution gets worse if you fear the vendor might go out of business.
- The storage vendor will get acquired by a vendor you don't like
We've seen this before. You don't like vendor A, so you buy kit from vendor B, only to have vendor A acquire vendorB after your purchase. Surprise!
- The storage vendor will not support new applications, operating systems, or other new equipment
Here the fear is that the decisions you make today might prevent you from choices you want to make in the future.You might want to upgrade to the latest level of your operating system, but your storage vendor doesn't supportit yet. Or maybe you want to upgrade your SAN to a faster bandwidth speed, like 8 Gbps, but your storage vendordoesn't support it yet. Or perhaps that change would require re-writing lots of scripts using the existingcommand line interfaces (CLI). Or perhaps your admins would require new training for the new configuration.
- The storage vendor will raise prices or charge you more than you expect on follow-on upgrades
For most monolithic storage arrays, adding additional disk capacity means buying it from the same vendor as the controller. I heard of one company recently who tried to order entry-level disk expansion drawer, at a lower price, solely to move the individual disk drives into a higher-end disk system. Guess what? It didn't work. Most storage vendors would not support such mixed configurations.
If you are going to purchase additional storage capacity to an existing disk system, it should cost no more thanthe capacity price rate of your original purchase. IBM offers upgrades at the going market rate, but not all competitors are this nice. Some take advantage of the vendor lock-in, charging more for upgrades and pocketing the difference as profit.
Vendor lock-in represents the obstacles in switching vendors in the event the vendor goes out of business, failsto support new software or hardware in the data center, or charges more than you are comfortable with. These obstacles can make it difficult to switch storage vendors, upgrade your applications, or meet otherbusiness obligations. IBM SANVolume Controller and TotalStorage Productivity Center can help reduce or eliminate many of these concerns. IBMGlobal Services can help you, as much or as little, as you want in this transformation. Here are the four levelsof the do-it-yourself continuum:
|Let me figure it out myself||Tell me what to do||Help me do it||Do it for me|
|This is the self-service approach. Go to our website, download an [IBM Redbook], figure out whatyou need, and order the parts to do-it-yourself.||IBM Global Business Services can help understand your business requirementsand tell you what you need to meet them.||IBM Global Technology Services can help design, assemble and deploy asolution, working with your staff to ensure skill and knowledge transfer.||IBM Managed Storage Services can manage your storage, on-site at your location, or at an IBM facility. IBM provides a varietyof cloud computing and managed hosting services.|
So, if you are currently a Sun server or storage customer concerned about these latest Sun announcements, give IBM a call, we'll help you switch over!
technorati tags: do-it-yourself, OpenSolaris, Solaris, Sun, Linux, SPARC, Yahoo, Google, iDataPlex, x86, x86-64, x64, mainframe, EMC, Chuck Hollis, HP, Dell, SAN, monolithic, disk, storage, system, arrays, open storage, NYT, New York Times, vendor lock-in, IBM, Global Services, GBS, GTS, SVC, TotalStorage, Productivity Center, Managed Storage Services, cloud computing
Continuing this week's theme on "best of breed", some questions arise: How is this calculated or determined?How is one storage solution "better" than another? Which attributes weigh more heavily in the decision?
Some attributes are directly measurable, like storage performance. For this, gather up a list ofall the storage products you are interested in, go to the [Storage Performance Council website],determine whether SPC-1 or SPC-2more closely matches your application workload, and then choose the best product fromthe benchmarks, discarding any vendors that don't bother to have benchmarks posted.The new SPC-2 benchmark was created, in part, to address new workloads for the Media and Entertainmentindustry. (For a comparison of the two, see my post [SPC benchmarks for Disk System Performance])
However, other attributes, like "easy to manage", are not as straightforward to measure.One client compared the complexity of different solutions by counting the number of cables involved to connect the various parts of each solution. Only external cables were considered. All of the cables inside an IBM SystemStorage DS8000 would not be counted. By this measure, a single IBM System z10 EC mainframe connected to a single IBM DS8000 disk system over a few FICON cables would therefore be "less complicated" than a thousand x86 servers connectedvia FCP SAN switches to dozens of disk systems.
I thought of this when fellow IBM blogger Alan Lepofsky posted[Lenovo x300 versusMacbook Air commercial], pointing to this:
But counting cables only handles the hardware part of the interconnections. You have to also considerthe interconnections between the software, between users, and between IT administrators. It is not alwaysobvious where those connections are, and how to count them into consideration.
This month, IBM introduced the first "Management Complexity Factor" (MCF) for the Media andEntertainment industry. IBM MCF a result of IBM's acquisition of NovusCG, and is an essential part of"Storage Optimization Services" being offered by IBM. Here is an excerpt from the[IBM Press Release]:
"Media companies are facing a double-edged sword with the exponential rise in digital media storage needs, coupled with concerns about optimizing storage to be more efficient," said Steve Canepa, vice president of Media and Entertainment, IBM. "By quickly and cost-effectively analyzing the interconnected IT and storage environments that increasingly comprise media operations, MCF for Media helps our clients identify opportunities for improvement and align their IT and business strategies."
Since 1995, IBM has invested more than $18 billion on public acquisitions, making it the most acquisitive company in the technology industry, based on volume of transactions.
IBM has a strong global focus on the media and entertainment industry across all of its services and products, serving all the major industry segments -- entertainment, publishing, information providers, media networks and advertising.
For more information on IBM, please visit [www.ibm.com/media].
technorati tags: SPC, storage, performance, benchmarks, SPC-1, SPC-2, complexity, Steve Canepa, IBM, MCF, acquisitions
Forrester Research has new research findings titled [Consolidate Storage Vendors To Reduce Complexity
]. Here's an excerpt from their executive summary,
"Our survey data shows that over the past 12 months, more firms have bought their storage from a single vendor. While this might not be for everyone, it's worth serious consideration for your environment. Maybe you won't get the best price per gigabyte every time, but you'll probably save money in the long run because of simpler management, increased staff specialization, increased capacity utilization, and better customer service."
Dave Raffo, over at Storage Soup, comments on this in his post[Primary storage still means one vendor]. Here's an excerpt:
A Forrester survey of 170 companies ranging from SMBs to large enterprises in North America and Europe found that more than 80 percent bought their primary storage from one vendor over the last year. That includes 64 percent of the companies with more than 500 TB of raw storage.
The report, written by analyst Andrew Reichman, says using more than one primary storage vendor can make it more complex to manage, provision and support the storage environment. And while using multiple vendors can often bring better pricing, buying from one vendor can result in volume discounts.
“You may have tried to contain costs by forcing multiple incumbent vendors to continuously compete against each other, with price as the primary differentiator,” Reichman writes. “This strategy can reduce prices and limit vendor lock-in, but it can also lead to management complexity and poor capacity utilization.”
The report recommends keeping things simple by and using fewer vendors when possible. However, that advice comes with several caveats: buying all storage from one vendor means taking the bad with the good, and some vendors’ product families differ so much “they may as well come from different vendors.”
As if by coincidence, fellow blogger from EMC Chuck Hollis gives his reflections on this same topic. Here's an excerpt:
When it comes to buying storage (or any infrastructure technology, for that matter), there seem to be two camps:
- Best-of-breed (i.e. multivendor): -- buy what's best, get the best price, keep all the vendors on their toes, etc. etc.
- Single vendor: primarily use one vendor's offerings, and hold them accountable for the outcome.
If Chuck had said "multivendor" versus "single vendor", then that would have been a true dichotomy, but interestinglyhe equates best-of-breed with a multivendor approach. Let's consider two examples:
- Disk from one vendor, Tape from another
Here is a multivendor strategy, and if you have a clear idea of what best-of-breed means to you, then you couldpick the best disk in the market, and the best tape in the market. However, I don't think this keeps either vendor"on their toes", or helps you negotiate lower prices by threatening to switch to the other vendor. In shops likethis, the staffing usually matches, so there are disk administration and tape operations, with little or no overlap, andlittle or no interest in retraining to use a new set of gear. It is true that disk-based VTL could be used where real tape libraries are used, but this may not be enough to threaten your existing vendors that you will switch all your disk to tape, or all your tape to disk.
One could argue that the vendor that sells the besttape could be the exact same vendor that sells the best disk. In this case, your multivendor strategy would actuallywork against you, forcing you away from one of your best-of-breed choices.
- Disk and Tape from one vendor for some workloads, Disk and Tape from another vendor for other workloads
Here is a different multivendor strategy. Having disk and tape for the same vendor allows you to take advantageof possible synergies. The IT staff knows how to use the products from both vendors. This strategy does let you keep your vendors "on their toes". You can legitimately threaten to shift your budget from one vendor over another.However, whatever your definition of best-of-breed is, chances are the product from one vendor is, and the other vendor is not. Both meet some lowest common denominator, meeting some minimum set of requirements, which would allow you to swap out one for the other.
I guess I look at it differently. The equipment in your data center should be thought of as a team. Do your servers, storage and software work well together?
While Americans like to celebrate the accomplishments of individual musicians, athletes or executives, it is actually bands that compete against other bands, sports teams that compete against other sport teams, and companies that compete against other companies. Teamwork in the data center is not just for the people who work there, but also for the IT equipment. Just as a new incoming athlete may not get along well with teammates, shiny new equipment may not get along with your existing gear. Conversely, your existing infrastructure may not let the talents or features of your new equipment shine through.
Putting together the best parts from different teams might serve as a great diversion for those who enjoy["fantasy football"], it may not be the best approach for the data center. Instead, focus on managing your data center as a team, perhaps with theuse of IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center to minimize the heterogeneity of your different equipment. Pick an ITvendor that sells "team players" for your servers, storage and software, with broad support for interoperability and compatibility.
technorati tags: Forrester Research, Dave Raffo, Andrew Reichman, EMC, Chuck Hollis, fantasy football, IBM, TotalStorage, Productivity Center
The "Storage Symposium Mexico - 2008" conference was a great success this week!
Day 1 - The plan was for me to arrive for the Wednesday night reception. Eachattendee was given a copy of my latest book[Inside System Storage: Volume I] and I was planning to sign them. I thought perhaps we should have a "book signing" tablelike all of the other published authors have.
Things didn't go according to plan. Thunderstorms at the Mexico City airport forced our pilot to find an alternate airport. Nearby Acapulco airport was the logical choice, but was full from all the otherflights, so the plane ended up in a tiny town called McAllen, Texas. I did not arrive until the morning of Day 2,so ended up signing the books throughout Thursday and Friday, during breaks and meals, wherever they couldfind me!
Special thanks to fellow IBMer Ian Henderson who picked me up from the airport at such an awkward hour anddrive me all the way to Cuernavaca!
Day 2 - The event venue is the beautiful Japanese-theme[Camino Real Sumiya Hotel] in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
|All of us, IBMers, Business Partners and clients alike, all donned black tee-shirtswith a white eightbar logo for a group photo with one of those "wide lens" cameras. While we werebeing assembled onto the bleachers, I took this quick snapshot of myself and some of the guys behind me.|
I was original scheduled to be first to speak, but with my flight delays, was moved to a time slot after lunch.After a big Mexican lunch, the conference coordinators were afraid the attendees might fall asleep,a Mexican tradition called [siesta], so I wasinstructed to WAKE THEM UP! Fortunately, my topic was Information Lifecycle Management, a topicI am very passionate about, since my days working on DFSMS on the mainframe. With 30percent reduction in hardware capital expenditures, 30 percent reduction in operational costs, and typical payback periods between 15 to 24 months, the presentation got everyone's attention.
|Of course, a lot happens outside of the formal meetings. We had a Japanese theme dinner, where we woreJapanese Hachimaki [headbands]with the eightbar logo. For those not familiar with Japanese culture, hachimaki are worn today not so much for the practical purpose to catch the perspiration but rather for mental stimulation to express one's determination. Some students wear hachimaki when they study to put themselves in the right spirit and frame of mind.|
Shown here are presenters Mike Griese (Infrastructure Management with IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center),Dave Larimer (Backup and Storage Management with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager), myself, and John Hamano(Unified Storage with IBM System Storage N series).
Day 3 - Wrapping up the week, I presented two more times.
First, I covered IBM Disk Virtualization with IBM SAN Volume Controller. One interesting question was if the SAN Volume Controller could be made to looklike a Virtual Tape Library. I explained that this was never part of the original design, but that if you wantto combine SVC with a VTL into a combined disk-and-tape blended solution, consider using theIBM product called Scale-Out File Services[SoFS] which I covered in my post[Moredetails about IBM clustered scalable NAS].
|During one of the breaks, I took a picture of the behind-the-scenes staff that put this together. They had created these huge blocks representing puzzle pieces, emphasizing how IBM is one of the few ITvendors that can bring all the pieces together for a complete solution.|
Shown hereare Mike Griese (presenter), Cyntia Martinez, Claudia Aviles, Cesar Campos (IBM Business Unit Executive forSystem Storage in Mexico), and Claudia Lopez. Each day the staff wore matching shirts so that it was easyto find them.
Later, I covered Archive and Compliance Solutions to highlight our complete end-to-end set of solutions.When asked to compare and contrast the architectures of the IBM System Storage DR550 with EMC Centera, I explainedthat the DR550 optimizes the use of online disk access for the most recent data. For example, if you aregoing to keep data for 10 years, maybe you keep the most recent 12 months on disk, and the rest is moved,using policy-based automation, to a tape library for the remaining nine years. This means that the disk insidethe DR550 is always being used to read and write the most recent data, the data you are most likely to retrievefrom an archive system. Data older than a year is still accessible, but might take a minute or two for the tapelibrary robot to fetch.The EMC Centera, on the other hand, is a disk-only solution. It offers no option to move older data to tape,nor the option to spin-down the drives to conserve power. It fills up after the same 12 months or so, and then you get towatch it the remaining nine years, consuming electricity and heating your data center.
I don't know about you, butI have never seen anyone purposely put in "space heaters" into their data center, but certainly a full EMC Centeradoes little else. Both devices use SATA drives and support disk mirroring between locations, but IBM DR550 offers dual-parity RAID-6, and supports encryption of the data on both the disk and the tape in the DR550. EMC Centerastill uses only RAID-5, and has not yet, as far as I know, offered any level of encryption. IBM System StorageDR550 was clocked at about three times faster than Centera at ingesting new archive objects over a 1GbE Ethernet connection.
|This last photo is me and fellow IBMer Adriana Mondragón. She was one of my students in the [System Storage Portfolio Top Gun class],last February in Guadalajara, Mexico.She graduated in the top 10 percent of her group, earning her the prestigious titleof "Top Gun" storage sales specialist.|
The conference wrapped up with a Mexican lunch with a traditional Mariachi band. I took pictures, but figured you allalready know what [Mariachi players] look like, and I didn't wantto detract from the otherwise serious tone of this blog post! This was the first System Storage Symposium in Mexico, butbased on its success, we might continue these annually.
technorati tags: IBM, Storage Symposium, Mexico, Cuernavaca, McAllen, Texas, Ian Henderson, Camino Real, Sumiya, Hachimaki, Mike Griese, Dave Larimer, John Hamano, SVC, VTL, SOFS, NAS, TSM, TotalStorage, Productivity Center, Cyntia Martinez, Claudia Aviles, Cesar Campos, Claudia Lopez, archive, compliance, DR550, NENR, EMC, Centera, SATA, RAID-5, RAID-6, encryption, Adriana Mondragon, Top Gun, Guadalajara,
There is a difference between improving "energy efficiency" versus reducing "power consumption".
Let's consider the average 100 watt light bulb, of which 5 watts generate the desired feature (light), and 95 percent generated as undesired waste (heat). In this case, it would be 5 percent efficient. If you delivered a new light bulb that generated 3 watts of light for only 30 watts of energy, then you would have an offering that was more energy efficient (10 percent instead of 5 percent) and use 70 percent less power (30 watts instead of 100 watts). This new "dim bulb" would not be as bright as the original, but has other desirable energy qualities.
Nearly all of the output of data center equipment results in heat.In The Raised Floor blog [It's Too Darn Hot!], Will Runyon explains how IBM researcher Bruno Michel in Zurich has developed new ways to cool chips with water shot through thousands of nozzles, much like capillaries in the human body. This is just one of many developments that are part of IBM's [Project Big Green]
But what if the desired feature is heat, and the undesired feature is light?In the case of Hasbro's toy[Easy-Bake Oven],a 100W incadescent light bulb is used to bake small cakes. This is generating 95W of desired heat, and onlywasting 5 percent as light (unused inside the oven). That makes this little toy 95 percent energy efficient, butconsumes as much energy as any other 100W light bulb lamp or fixture in your house. With manufacturing switchingfrom incadescent to compact flourescent bulbs, this toy oven may not be around much longer.
While we all joke that it is just a matter of time before our employers make us ride stationary bicycles attached to generators to power our monstrous data centers, 23-year old student Daniel Sheridan designeda see-saw for kids in Africa to play on that generates electricity for nearby schools. [Dan won the "mostinnovative product" at the Enterprise Festival].
Another approach is to improve efficiency by converting previously undesirable outcomes to desirable. Brian Bergstein has a piece in Forbes titled["Heat From Data Center to Warm a Pool"].Here's an excerpt:
"In a few cases, the heat produced by the computers is used to warm nearby offices. In what appears to be a first, the town pool in Uitikon, Switzerland, outside Zurich, will be the beneficiary of the waste heat from a data center recently built by IBM Corp. (nyse: IBM) for GIB-Services AG.
As in all data centers, air conditioners will blast the computers with chilly air - to keep the machines from exceeding their optimum temperature of around 70 degrees - and pump hot air out.
Usually, the hot air is vented outdoors and wasted. In the Uitikon center, it will flow through heat exchangers to warm water that will be pumped into the nearby pool. The town covered the cost of some of the connecting equipment but will get to use the heat for free."
I see a business opportunity here. Next to every data center lamenting about their power and cooling, build a state-of-the-art fitness center for the employees and nearby townspeople. Exercise on a stationary bicyclegenerating electricity, while your kids play on the see-saw generating electricity, and then afterwards thewhole family can take a dip in the heated swimming pool. And if the company subscribes to the notion of a Results-Oriented Work Environment [ROWE],it could encourage its employees to take "fitness" breaks throughout the day, rather than having everyone there in the early morning or late evening hours, leveling out the energy generated.
Laugh now, but this could actually work!
technorati tags: IBM, energy, efficiency, power, consumption, electricity, Daniel Sheridan,Will Runyon, Bruno Michel, Hasbro, Easy-Bake Oven, heat, stationary, bicycle, generator, Brian Bergstein, Forbes, Uitikon, Switzerland, Zurich, see-saw, swimming, pool, ROWE
Yesterday marked the first day of Spring here in the Northern hemisphere, and often this means it is timefor some "Spring cleaning". This is a great time to re-evaluate all of your stuff and clean house.
In the bits-vs-atoms discussion, Annie Leonard has a quick [20-minute video] about the atoms side of stuff,from extraction of natural resources, production, distribution, consumption, to final disposal.
On the bits side of things, the picture is much different.
We don't really extract information,rather we capture it, and lately that process is done directly into digital formats, from digital photography, digital recording of music, and so on. A lot of medical equipmentnow take X-rays and other medical images directly into digital format. By 2011, it is estimated that as much as 30 percent of all storage will be for holding medical images.
Production refers to the process of combining raw materials and making them into something useful. The sameapplies to information, there are a variety of ways to make information more presentable. In the Web 2.0 world, these are called Mashups, combiningraw information in a manner that are more usable.Fellow IBM blogger Bob Sutor discusses IBM's latest contribution, SMash, in his post[Secure Mashups via SMash].
According to Tim Sanders, 90 percent of business information is distributed by email, but less than 10 percentof employees are formally trained to distribute information correctly. Here's a quick 3-minute trailerto his "Dirty Dozen" rules of how to do email properly.
I have not watched the DVD that this trailer is promoting, but I certainly agree with the overall concept.
This week I also had the pleasure to hear [Art Mortell], author ofthe book The Courage to Fail: Art Mortell's Secrets to Business Success. He gave an inspirational talk about how to deal with our stressful lives. One key pointwas that stress often came from our own expectations. This is certainly true on how we consume information.Often times our expectations determine how well we read, watch or listen to information being presented.Sometimes information is factually correct, but presented in such a boring manner that it is just toodifficult to consume.
John Windsor on YouBlog takes this one step further, asking [Are you predictable?]He makes a strong case on why presenting in a predictable manner can actually hurt your chances of communication.
And finally, there is disposal. We are all a bunch of digital pack-rats. With atoms, you eventuallyrun out of closet space, with bits the problem is not as obvious, and often can be resolved by spendingyour way out of it. On average, companies are expanding their storage capacity by 57 percent every year. Thatworked well when dollar-per-GB prices of disk dropped to match, but now technology advancements are slowing down. Diskwill not be dropping in price as fast as you need, and now might be a good time to re-evaluate your"Keep everything forever" strategy.
Consider "Spring cleaning" to be an excellent excuse to evaluate the data you have on your disk systems.Should it be on disk? Will it be accessed often enough to justify that cost? Does it need immediateonline access times, or can waiting a minute or two for a tape mount from an automated library be sufficient?Does it represent business value?
I have been to customers that have discovered a lot of "orphan data" on their disk systems. This isdata that does not belong to anyone currently working at the company. Maybe the owners of the data retired,were laid off, or even fired, but nobody bothered to clean up their files after they left the company.
I've also seen a lot of "stale data" on disk, data that has not be read or written in the past 90 days.Are you spending 13-18 watts of energy to spin each disk drive just to contain data nobody ever looks at?
In some cases, orphan or stale data represents business value, and need to be kept around for businessor legal reasons. Perhaps some government regulation requires you to retain this information for someyears. In that case, rather than deleting it, move it to tape, perhaps using theIBM System Storage DR550 to protect it for the time required and handle its eventual disposal.
Certainly something to think about, while you snap the ears off those chocolate bunnies, watching yourkids run around looking for eggs. Enjoy your weekend!
technorati tags: Spring, cleaning, Annie Leonard, Bob+Sutor, IBM, SMash, Tim Sanders, email ettiquette, orphan, stale, data, compliance, retention, DR550
Jon Toigo over at DrunkenData writes in his post[A Wink and a Nod
] about thebenefits of the new IBM System z10 Enterprise Class mainframe. Here's an excerpt about storage:
"The other key point worth making about this scenario is that storage behind a z10 must conform to IBM DASD rules. That means no more BS standards wars between knuckle-draggers in the storage world who continue to mitigate the heterogeneous interoperability and manageability of distributed systems storage using proprietary lock in technologies designed as much to lock in the consumer and lock out the competition as to deliver any real value. That has got to be worth something."
For z/OS and TPF operating systems, disk must support CCW commands over ESCON or FICON connections, or NFS commandsover the Local Area Network. However, most of the workloads that are being ported over from x86 platforms willprobably be running Linux on System z images, and as such Linux supports both CCW and SCSI protocols, the latterover native FCP connections through a Storage Area Network (SAN) or via iSCSI over the Local Area Network. Many SAN directors support both FCP and FICON, and the z10 also supports both 1Gbps and 10Gbps Ethernet, so you may not have to invest in any new networking gear.
The best part is that you may not have to migrate your data. The IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller is supported for Linux on System z, and with "image mode" you can leave the data in its original format on its original disk array. Many file systems are now supported by Linux, including Windows NTFS with the latest NTFS-3G driver.
If your data is already on NAS storage, such as the IBM System Storage N series disk systems, then the IBM z10can access it directly, from z/OS, z/VM or Linux.
Have lots of LTO tape data? Linux on System z supports LTO as well.
Jon continues his rant with a question about porting Microsoft Windows applications. Here's another excerpt:
"For one, what do we do with all the Microsoft servers. There is no Redmond-sanctioned approach to my knowledge for virtualizing Microsoft SQL Server or Exchange Server in a mainframe partition."
Yes, it is possible to run Windows on a mainframe through emulation, but I feel that's the wrong approach. Instead, the focus should be on running "functionally equivalent" programs on the native mainframe operating systems, and again Linuxis often the best choice for this. Switching from Windows to Linux may not be "Redmond-sanctioned", but it getsthe job done.
Instead of SQL Server, consider something functionally equivalent like IBM's DB2 Universal Database, or perhaps an open source database like MySQL, PostgreSQL or Apache Derby. Well-written applications use standard SQL calls, so ifthe application does not try to use unique, proprietary features of MS SQL Server, you are in good shape.
In my discussion last November on [Microsoft Exchange email server], I mentioned that Bynari makes a functionally equivalent email server on Linux that works with your existing Microsoft Outlook clients. Your end-users wouldn't know you migrated to a mainframe! (well, they might notice their email runs faster)
So if your data center has three or more racks of Sun, Dell or HP "pizza box" or "blade" x86 servers, chances are you can migrate the processing over to a shiny new IBM z10 EC mainframe, save some money in the process, without too much impact to your existing Ethernet, SAN or storage system infrastructure. IBM can even help you dispose of the oldx86 machines so that their toxic chemicals don't end up in any landfill.
technorati tags: Jon Toigo, DrunkenData, IBM, z10, CCW, ESCON, FICON, SCSI, FCP, iSCSI, SAN Volume Controller, SVC, N series, NAS, NFS, NTFS, SAN, LAN, Ethernet, z/OS, TPF, z/VM, Linux, DB2, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Apache Derby, Microsoft, Windows
Last week, I covered backup issues in [Deduplicationversus Best Practice for Backups
]. This week, I thought I would cover issues with email.
At IBM, our standard is to have a limit of 200MB per user mailbox. A few of us get exceptions and have up to500MB limit because of the work we do. By comparison, my personal Gmail account is now up to 6500MB. Whenthis limit is exceeded, you are unable to send out any mail until it is brought down below the limit, and a request to be "re-enabled for send" is approved, a situation we call "mail jail".
The biggest culprit are attachments. Only 10 percent of emails have attachments, but those that do take up 90percent of the total space! People attach a 15MB presentation or document, and copy the world ondistribution list. Everyone saves their notes with these attachments, and soon, the limits are blown. Not surprisingly, deduplication has been cited as a "killer app" to address email storage, exactly for this reason.If all the users have their mailboxes all stored on the same deduplication storage device, it might find theseduplicate blocks, and manage to reduce the space consumed.
A better practice would be to avoid this in the first place. Here are the techniques I use instead:
- Point to the document in a database
We are heavy users of Lotus Notes databases. These can be encrypted and controlled with Access Control Lists (ACL)that determine who can create or read documents in each database. Annually, all the database ACLs are validatedso that people can confirm that they continue to have a need-to-know for the documents in each database. Sendinga confidential document as a "document link" to a database entry takes only a few bytes, and all the recipientsthat are already on the ACL have access to that document.
- Point to the document on a web page
If the document is available on an internal or external website, just send the URL instead of attaching the file.Again, this takes only a few bytes. We have websites accessible only to all internal employees, websites thatcan be accessed only by a subset of employees with special permissions and credentials based on their job role, and websites that are accessible to our IBM Business Partners.
In my case, if I happen to have a blog posting that answers a question or helps illustrate an idea, I will sendthe "permalink" URL of that blog post in my email.
- Point to the document on shared NAS file system
Internally, IBM uses a "Global Storage Architecture" (GSA) based on IBM's Scale-Out File Services [SoFS] with everyone getting initially 10GB of disk space to store files, with the option to request more if needed. The system has policy-based support for placing and migrating older data to tape to reduce actual disk usage, and combines a clustered file system with a global name space.
My SoFS space is now up to 25GB, and I store a lot of presentationsand whitepapers that are useful to others. A URL with "ftp://" or "http://" is all you need to point to a filein this manner, and greatly reduces the need for attachments. I can map my space as "Drive X:" on my Windows system,or as a NFS mount point on my Linux system, which allows me to easily drag files back and forth.
Departments that don't need to offer "worldwide access" use NAS boxes instead, such as the IBM System Storage N series.
Pointing to files in a shared space, rather than as attachments in email, may take some getting used to. I've hada few recipients send me requests such as "can you send that as an attachment (not a URL)" because they plan toread it on the airplane or train, where they won't have online connectivity.
This all relates to new ways for employees to collaborate. Shawn from Anecdote writes in the post[Fostering a Collaboration Culture]:
"Have you invested in the latest and greatest in collaboration technology but still feel people are still not collaborating? How many Microsoft Sharepoint servers and IBM Quickplaces remain relatively untouched or only used by the organization's technorati? I think it's a big problem because this narrow view of collaboration starts to get the concept a bad name: "yeah, we did collaboration but no one used it." And then there the issue of the vast amount of money wasted and opportunities lost. We can't afford to loose faith in collaboration because the external environment is moving in a direction that mandates we collaborate. The problems we face now and into the future will only increase in complexity and it will require teams of people within and across organizations to solve them."
Well, sending pointers instead of attachments works for me, and has kept me out of "mail jail" for quite some timenow.
technorati tags: IBM, deduplication, email, mailbox, Gmail, attachment, Lotus, Notes, database, URL, Permalink, GSA, NAS, SoFS, disk, Anecdote
It's been a while since I've talked about [Second Life
The latest post on eightbar[Spimes, Motes and Data centers]discusses IBM's use of virtual world technology to analyze data centers in three dimensions.New World Note asks[What's The Point Of 3D Data Centers?]One would think that a simple monitoring tool based on a two-dimensional floor plan would be enough to evaluate a data center.
Enter Michael Osias, IBM (a.k.a Illuminous Beltran in Second Life). Some of the leading news sites havebegun to notice some 3D data centers that he has helped pioneer. UgoTrade writes up an article aboutMichael and the media attention in [The Wizard of IBM's 3DData Centers].
Of course, in presenting these "Real Life/Second Life" (RL/SL) interactive technologies, IBM is sometimes the target of ridicule. Why? Because IBM is 10 years ahead of everyone else. So, are there aspects of a data center where 3D interfaces makes sense? I think there is.
- Topology Viewer
IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center has an awesome "topology viewer" that shows what servers are connectedto which switches, to which disk systems and tape libraries. This is all done in a 2D diagram, generated dynamicallywith data discovered through open standard interfaces, similar to what you might draw manually with toolslike Visio. Imagine, however, howmore powerful if it were a 3D viewer, with virtual equipment mapped to the physical location of each pieceof hardware on the data center floor, including the position on the rack and location on the data center floor.
- Temperature Flow
Designing computer room air conditioning (CRAC) systems is actually a three dimensional problem. Cold air isfed underneath the raised floor, comes up through strategically placed "vent" tiles, taken in the front ofeach rack. Hot air comes out the back of each rack, and hopefully finds ceiling duct intake to get cooled again.The temperature six inches off the floor is different than the temperature six feet off the floor, and 3Dmonitor tools could be helpful in identifying "hot spots" that need attention. In this case "spimes" representsensors in the 3D virtual world, able to report back information to help diagnose problems or monitor events.
- Server consolidation
After many people left the mainframe in favor of running a single application per distributed server, the pendulumhas finally swung back. Companies are discovering the many benefits of changing this behavior. "Re-centralization" is the task at hand. Thanks to virtualization of servers, networks and storage, sharing common resources canonce again claim the benefits of economies of scale. In many cases, servers work together in collective unitsfor specific applications that might benefit better if consolidated together onto the same equipment.
IBM's "New Enterprise Data Center" vision recognizes that people will need to focus on the management aspectsof their IT infrastructure, and 3D virtual world technologies might be an effective way to getthe job done.
technorati tags: secondlife, eightbar, spimes, motes, 3D, data center, virtual world, IBM, TotalStorage, Productivity Center, CRAC, re-centralization, New Enterprise Data Center
Yesterday, I asked if you were prepared for the future? The future is now. Today, IBM announced its["New Enterprise Data Center"
] vision and strategy which spans software, hardware and services in dealing withthe latest challenges that our clients are faced with today, or will face sooner or later this century.
Here's an excerpt:
Align IT with business goals
These changes demand that IT improve cost and service delivery, manage escalating complexity, and better secure the enterprise. And aligning IT more closely with the business becomes a primary goal. The new enterprise data center is an evolutionary new model for efficient IT delivery that helps provide the freedom to drive business innovation. Through a service oriented model, IT will be able to better manage costs, improve operational performance and resiliency, and more quickly respond to business needs. This approach will deliver dynamic and seamless access to IT services and resources, improving both productivity and satisfaction.
IBM's Vision for the New Enterprise Data Center
The new enterprise data center can improve the integration of people, process, and technology in your business to help you improve efficiency and effectiveness. As you implement a new enterprise data center strategy, your infrastructure becomes open, efficient, and easy to manage. And your IT staff can move from a focus on fixing IT problems to solving business challenges. Ultimately your processes become standardized and efficient, focused on business needs rather than technology.
A lot was announced today, so I will give a quick recap now, and cover specific areas over the rest of the week.
- IBM System z10 Enteprise Class
IBM introduces its most powerful mainframe. Before you think "Wait, that's a mainframe, that doesn't apply to me"stop to consider all that IBM has done to make the mainframe an "open system" without sacrificing security oravailability:
- Open standard connectivity, including TCP/IP and now 6Gbps Infiniband and 10GbE Ethernet.
- Unix System Services. Yes, z/OS is certified to provide UNIX interfaces for today's applications.
- HFS and zFS file systems that can be mounted, shared, and used by traditional z/OS applications and JCL.
- Linux and Java. Many of today's largest websites are run on mainframes behind the scenes.
- Extreme bandwidth. The z10 EC handles up to 336 FICON channels (4Gbps) for large data processing workloads
The z10 EC is as powerful as 1,500 x86 (such as Intel or AMD) servers, but consumes 85 percent less floorspace and85 percent less energy. (They should put a "green" stripe down the front of this box just to remind everyone how energy efficient this server really is!) For more on the z10 EC, see the[Press Release].
- Enhanced IBM System Storage DS8000
With the XIV acquisition taking the role as the best place to put unstructured files for Web 2.0 applications,the IBM DS8000 can focus on its core strength, managing databases and online transactions for the mainframe.There's enough here to justify its own post, so I will cover this later.
- IT Service Management Center for z (ITSMCz)
Trust me, I don't make up these acronyms. IT Service Management are the policies and procedures for managingan IT environment, such as following the best practices documented in the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL).In the past, IBM tools have focused on Linux, UNIX and Windows on distributed servers, but today ITSMCz bringsall of that to the mainframe! (or perhaps more correct to say "brings the mainframe to all that"!)
- IT Transformation & Optimization - Infrastructure Strategy and Planning services
I don't make up the names of our service offerings either. However, one thing is clear, it is time for peopleto re-evaluate their current data center, and come up with a new plan. The average data center is 15 years old.According to Gartner Group, more than 70 percent of the world's "Global 1000" organizations will have to make significant modifications to their data centers in the next five years. IBM can help, and is rolling outa new set of services specifically to help clients make this transition, to better align their IT to their business strategies.
- Economic Stimulus Package
IBM borrowed this idea from the U.S. government. IBM Global Financing is offering special terms and ratesfor new equipment installed by December 31 this year.
Want to learn more? Read this 15-page[IBM's Vision
technorati tags: IBM, New Enterprise Data Center, vision, strategy, z10 EC, mainframe, Enterprise Class, Jim Stallings, Linux, UNIX, Windows, z/OS, ITSMCz, Gartner, DS8000, infrastructure, services, economic stimulus package
Many people have asked me if there was any logic with the IBM naming convention of IBM Systems branded servers. Here's your quick and easy cheat sheet:
- System x -- "x" for cross-platform architecture. Technologies from our mainframe and UNIX servers were brought into chips that sit next to the Intel or AMD processors to provide a more reliable x86 server experience. For example, some models have a POWER processor-based Remote Supervisor Adapter (RSA).
- System p -- "p" for POWER architecture.
- System z -- "z" for Zero-downtime, zero-exposures. Our lawyers prefer "near-zero", but this is about as close as you get to ["six-nines" availability] in our industry, with the highest level of security and encryption, no other vendor comes close, so you get the idea.
But what about the "i" for System i? Officially, it stands for "Integrated" in that it could integrate different applications running on different operating systems onto a [COMMON
] platform. Options were available to insert Intel-based processor cards that ran Windows, or attach special cables that allowed separate System x servers running Windows to attach to a System i. Both allowed Windows applications to share the internal LAN and SAN inside the System i machine. Later, IBM allowed [AIX on System i
] and [Linux on Power
] operating systems to run as well.
From a storage perspective, we often joked that the "i" stood for "island", as most System i machines used internal disk, or attached externally to only a fewselected models of disk from IBM and EMC that had special support for i5/OS using a special, non-standard 520-byte disk block size. This meant only our popular IBM System Storage DS6000 and DS8000 series disk systems were available. This block size requirement only applies to disk. For tape, i5/OS supports both IBM TS1120 and LTO tape systems. For the most part,System i machines stood separate from the mainframe, and the rest of the Linux, UNIX and Windows distributed serverson the data center floor.
Often, when I am talking to customers, they ask when will product xyz be supported on System z or System i?I explained that IBM's strategy is not to make all storage devices connect via ESCON/FICON or support non-standard block sizes, but rather to get the servers to use standard 512-byte block size, Fibre Channel and other standard protocols.(The old adage applies: If you can't get Mohamed to move to the mountain, get the mountain to move to Mohamed).
On the System z mainframe, we are 60 percent there, allowing three of the five operating systems (z/VM, z/VSE and Linux) to access FCP-based disk and tape devices. (Four out of six if you include [OpenSolaris for the mainframe])But what about System i? As the characters on the popular television show [LOST] would say: It's time to get off the island!
Last week, IBM announced the new [i5/OS V6R1 operating system] with features that will greatly improve the use of external storage on this platform. Check this out:
- POWER6-based System i 570 model server
Our latest, most powerful POWER processor brought to the System i platform. The 570 model will be the first in the System i family of servers to make use of new processing technology, using up to 16 (sixteen!) POWER6 processors (running at 4.7GHZ) in each machine.The advantage of the new processors is the increased commercial processing workload (CPW) rating, 31 percent greater than the POWER5+ version and 72 percent greater than the POWER5 version. CPW is the "MIPS" or "TeraFlops" rating for comparing System i servers.Here is the[Announcement Letter].
- Fibre Channel Adapter for System i hardware
That's right, these are [Smart IOAs], so an I/O Processor (IOP) is no longer required! You can even boot the Initial Program Load (IPL) direclty from SAN-attached tape.This brings System i to the 21st century for Business Continuity options.
- Virtual I/O Server (VIOS)
[VirtualI/O Server] has been around for System p machines, but now available on System i as well. This allows multiplelogical partitions (LPARs) to access resources like Ethernet cards and FCP host bus adapters. In the case of storage, the VIOS handles the 520-byte to 512-byte conversion, so that i5/OS systems can now read and write to standard FCP devices like the IBM System Storage DS4800 and DS4700 disk systems.
- IBM System Storage DS4000 series
Initially, we have certified DS4700 and DS4800 disk systems to work with i5/OS, but more devices are in plan.This means that you can now share your DS4700 between i5/OS and your other Linux, UNIX and Windowsservers, take advantage of a mix of FC and SATA disk capacities, RAID6 protection, and so on.
- IBM PowerVM
To call [IBM PowerVM] the "VMware for the POWER architecture" would not do it quite justice. In combination with VIOS, IBM PowerVM is able to run a variety of AIX, Linux and i5/OS guest images.The "Live Partition Mobility" feature allows you to easily move guest images from one system to another, while they are running, just like VMotion for x86 machines.
And while we are on the topic of x86, PowerVM is also able to represent a Linux-x86 emulation base to run x86-compiled applications. While many Linux applications could be re-complied from source code for the POWER architecture "as is", others required perhaps 1-2 percent modification to port them over, and that was too much for some software development houses. Now, we can run most x86-compiled Linux application binaries in their original form on POWER architecture servers.
- BladeCenter JS22 Express
The POWER6-based [JS22 Express blade] can run i5/OS, taking advantage of PowerVM and VIOS to access all of the BladeCenterresources. The BladeCenter lets you mix and match POWER and x86-based blades in the same chassis, providing theultimate in flexibility.
Now that's exciting!
technorati tags: IBM, System x, System p, System i, System z, island, COMMON, AIX, Linux, POWER, POWER6, Windows, EMC, DS6000, DS8000, TS1120, LTO, ESCON, FICON, 520-byte, z/VM, z/VSE, z/OS, z/TPF, OpenSolaris, mainframe, LOST, CPW, x86, VMware, VMotion, BladeCenter, JS22, i5/OS, V6R1, PowerVM, VIOS, LPAR, DS4700, DS4800, LTO, disk, SAN, tape, storage
While many are just becoming familiar with the end-user interfaces of Web 2.0, from blogs and wikis to FaceBook and FlickR, fewer may be familiar with the "information infrastructure" of servers and storagebehind the scenes.
Last year, I bought an XO laptop under the One Laptop Per Child [OLPC] foundation's Give-1-Get-1 program and posted my impressions on this blog. One in particular, my post[Printingon XO laptop with CUPS and LPR] showed how to print from the XO laptop over to a network-attached printer.This caught the attention of the OLPC development team, who asked me tohelp them with another project as a volunteer. Before accepting, I had to learn what skills they were really looking for, especially since I do notconsider myself an expert in neither printing nor networking.
(Unlike a regular 9-to-5 job where most people just try to look busy for eight hours a day, doingvolunteer work means being ready to ["roll up your sleeves"] and actuallyaccomplish something. This applies to any kind of volunteer work, from hammering nails for [Habitat for Humanity] to sorting cans at the [Community Food Bank].Best Buy uses the phrase "Results Oriented Work Environment" [ROWE] to describetheir latest program, modeled in part after the mobile workforce policies of Web2.0-enlightened companiesIBM and Sun, but that is perhaps a topic for another blog post!)
Apparently, to support a school full of students with XO laptops, it would be nice to have a few serversthat provide support to manage the class lesson plans, make reading materials and other content available,and keep track of results. What they need is an "information infrastructure"! They decided on two specific servers:
- School Server -- this would run a popular class management system called [Moodle]
- Library Server -- a server for a digital library collection, based on Fedora Commons[16-minute video]
In keeping with OLPC philosophy to use free and open source software[FOSS
], both servers are based on the [LAMP
] platform. LAMP is an acronym for thecombined software bundle of Linux, Apache, MySQL and a Programming language like PHP. The "XS" team working onthe school server wanted me to build a LAMP server and install Moodle to help test the configuration, determinewhat other software is required, and perhaps develop a backup/recovery scenario. Basically, they needed someone with Linux skills to put some hardware and software together.
(I am no stranger to Linux. Back in the 1990s, I was part of the Linux for S/390 team, led the effort to createthe infamous "compatible disk layout" (CDL) that allows z/OS to access ESCON and FICON-attached Linux volumes,took my LPI certification exam, and led a team to validate FCP drivers for our disk and tape storage systems. For an IBMer to volunteer foran Open Source community project, you have to take an "open source" class and get management approval to reviewfor any possible "conflicts of interest". I got this all taken care of, and accepted to help the XS team.)
Building a test environment is similar to baking a cake. You have a recipe, utensils, and ingredients. Here'sa bit of description of each of the ingredients:
Like Windows, the Linux operating system comes in different flavors to run on handhelds, desktops and servers. For servers, IBM tends to focus on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and SUSE Linux Eneterprise Server (SLES). However, the XS team decidedinstead to use [Fedora 7], a community-supported version from Red Hat. Earlier versions of Fedora were known as "Fedora Core", but apparently with version 7, the word "Core" has been dropped. Fedora 7 can be used in either desktop or server mode.
[Apache] is web server software, and half of all web servers on the internet use it. It competes head-on against Micorosofts Internet Information Services (IIS) serverprovided in Windows 2003. The Apache name is partly from thefact that its origins were "a patchy" variant of the NCSA HTTPd 1.3 codebase. Thepopular [IBM HTTP Server] is poweredby Apache, with added support to the rest of the IBM WebSphere software portfolio. The XS team chose Apache v2as the web server platform.
[MySQL] is a relational database management system (RDBMS) software, similar to commercial products like IBM DB2 Universal Database, Oracle DB, or Microsoft SQL Server. The SQL stands for Structured Query Language, developed by IBM in the early 1970s as a standard languageto update and query database tables. MySQL comes in two flavors, MySQL Enterprise for commercial use, and MySQLCommunity, which is community-supported. There are over 10 million instances of MySQL running websites on the internet, which helps explain why Sun Microsystems agreed to acquire MySQL AB company last month.The XS team decided on MySQL 5.0 as the database platform.
To make HTML pages dynamic, including the possibility to add or query database contents, requires programming.A variety of web scripting languages were developed, all starting with the letter "P" to claim to be the programming part of the LAMP platform, including [PHP], Perl, and Python. Later, new programming language frameworks have been developed that do not start with the letter "P", like [Ruby on Rails]. PHP is short for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor which explains that it pre-processes HTML during web serving,looking for special tags indicating PHP code, allowing programming logic to insert HTML content, such as information extracted from a database.While Python is the language that runs the Sugar interface on the XO laptops, the XS team decided onPHP v5 as the programming language for the server.
As for utensils, you only need a few utilities
- A simple text editor: I go old-school and use the classic "vi" (to learn this editor, see the["Cheat Sheet" method] on IBM Developerworks)
- secure socket shell (SSH): this allows you to access one server from another
- browser access to the internet: when you encounter problems, get error messages, or whatever, it pays to know how to search for things with Google
As for a recipe, the Moodle website spells out some unique details and parameters. For the base LAMP platform,I chose to follow the book [Fedora 7 Unleashed] that has specific chapters on setting up SSH, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Squid and so on. The resultingconfiguration looks like this:
Here were the sequence of events:
- I took an old PC that I wasn't using anymore, backed up the Windows system, and installed Linux on top. Thebook above had a Fedora 7 DVD on the back jacket, but I used the [OLPC LiveCD] that had some values pre-configured.
- Set the IP address static. I set mine to 192.168.0.77 which nobody sees except my other systems.
- My school server is "headless" which means it does not have its own keyboard, video or mouse. It also runs only to Linux run level 3, command line interface only, no graphics.I was able toshare using a KVM switch], but this meant having to remember something on one screen while I was switching over to the other. My Windows XP system has mybrowser connection to the internet to follow instructions or read error messages, so I need that up all thetime. To get around this, on my Windows XP system,I generated SSH public and private keys, copied the public key over to my new Linux system, and used [OpenSSH for Windows] to connect over. Now, on one screen,I have my Windows XP Firefox browser, and a separate command line window that is accessing my Linux schoolserver.
- With SSH up and running, I can now use "vi" to edit files, and issue commands to install or activatethe remaining software. First up, Apache. I got this working, and from Windows XP, verified that going to"http://192.168.0.77" showed the Apache test screen.
- I installed PHP, and tested it with a simple short index.php file.
- I installed MySQL, setup the base "installation databases", and created a test database. Here is whereyou might want to set a password for the MySQL root user, but I chose to do that later for now.
- I installed Moodle. It was smart enough to check that Apache, PHP, and MySQL were operational, andapparently I missed a few special "PHP" modules that had to be linked in. I was able to find them, downloadthem, and get them installed.
- I brought up Moodle, created a "class category" of SCIENCE and a new class "Chemistry 101", and it allworked.
- I also activated Squid, which is a web proxy cache server that stores web pages for faster access.
- Another idea was to activate Samba, to provide CIFS file and print sharing, but I decided to put this off.
I got all of this done last Saturday, start to finish. Now the fun begins. We are going to run throughsome tests, document the procedures, and try to get a system up and running in a remote school in Nepal. Fornow, I have only one XO laptop to simulate what the student sees, and one laptop that can represent eithera teacher's Windows-based laptop, or run QEMU and emulate a second XO laptop.For tuning, I might go through the procedures mentioned on IBM Developerworks "Tuning LAMP"[Part 1, Part 2,Part 3].
For those in the server or storage industry that need to understand Web 2.0 information infrastructure better,building a LAMP server like this can be quite helpful.
technorati tags: XO, OLPC, XS, Moodle, Fedora Commons, LAMP, Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Squid, CIFS, Samba, OpenSSH, vi, QEMU, IBM, FOSS,LPI, CDL, S/390, RHEL, SLES
An astute reader, Andrea, asked me the following:
Are you covering the business impact of the internet failure across Asia, the Middle East and North Africa? The outage has brought business in those regions to a standstill. This disaster shines a direct spotlight on the vulnerability of technology and serves as a reminder of the ever increasing importance of protecting business critical information.
Disaster recovery needs to be a critical element of every technology plan. We don’t yet know the financial impact of this wide spread internet failure, but the companies with disaster recovery plans in place, were likely able to failover their entire systems to servers based in other regions of the world.
When I first heard of this outage, I am thinking, so a few million people don't have access to FaceBook and YouTube, what's the big deal? We in the U.S.A. are in the middle of a [Hollywood writer's strike] and don't have fresh new television sitcoms to watch! Yahoo News relays the typical government's response:[Egypt asks to stop film, MP3 downloads during Internet outage], presumably so that real business can take priority over what little bandwidth is still operational. Fellow IBM blogger "Turbo" Todd Watson pokes fun at this, in his post[Could Someone Please Get King Tutankhamun On The Phone?].Like us suffering here in America, perhaps our brothers and sisters in Egypt and India may getre-acquainted with the joys of reading books.
However, the [Internet Traffic Report-Asia] shows how this impacted various locations including: Shanghai, Mumbai, Tokyo, Tehran, and Singapore. In some cases, you have big delays in IP traffic, in other cases, complete packet loss, depending on where each country lies on the["axis of evil"].This is not something just affecting a few isolated areas, the impact is indeed worldwide. This would be a goodtime to talk about how computer signals are actually sent.
- Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing [DWDM]
DWDM takes up to 80 independent signals, converts each to a different color of light, and sends all the colors down a single strand of glass fiber. At the receiving end, the colors are split off by a prism,and each color is converted back to its original electrical signal.
- Course Wavelength Division Multiplexing [CWDM]
Similar DWDM, but only eight signals are sent over the glass fiber. This is generally cheaper, becauseyou don't need highly tuned lasers.
Wikipedia has a good article on [Submarine Communications Cable],including a discussion on how repairs are made when they get damaged or broken.It is important to remember that lost connectivity doesn't mean lost data, just lack of access to the data. Thedata is still there, you just can't get to it right now. For some businesses, that could be disruptive to actualoperations. In other cases, it means that backups or disk mirroring is suspended, so that you only have yourlocal copies of data until connectivity is resumed.
ABC News had this report:[Conspiracy theories emerge after internet cables cut]. Of course, Al Qaeda practiced their bombing skills in their own backyard, from embassies inAfrica to the [USS Cole], before taking it toNew York and Washington. Here's an excerpt:
When two cables in the Mediterranean were severed last week, it was put down to a mishap with a stray anchor.
Now a third cable has been cut, this time near Dubai. That, along with new evidence that ships' anchors are not to blame, has sparked theories about more sinister forces that could be at work.
For all the power of modern computing and satellites, most of the world's communications still rely on submarine cables to cross oceans.
It gets weirder. In his blog Rough Type, Nick Carr's[Who Cut the Cables?] reportsnow a fourth cable has been cut, in a different location than the other two cable locations. If the people cuttingthe cables are looking to see how much impact this would have, they will probably be disappointed. Nick Carrrelates how resilient the whole infrastructure turned out to be:
Though India initially lost as much as half of its Internet capacity on Wednesday, traffic was quickly rerouted and by the weekend the country was reported to have regained 90% of its usual capacity. The outage also reveals that the effects of such outages are anything but neutral; they vary widely depending on the size and resources of the user.
IBM does have a large outsourcing, help-desk and R&D presence in these areas. Al Jazeera reports[India wrestles with internet outage]:
Outsourcing firms, such as Infosys and Wipro, and US companies with significant back-office and research and development operations in India, such as IBM and Intel, said they were still trying to asses how their operations had been impacted, if at all.
Whether it is man-made or natural disaster, every business should have a business continuity plan. If you don't have one, or haven't evaluated it in a while, perhaps now is a good time to do that. IBM can help.
technorati tags: internet, outage, Asia, Middle East, North Africa, Egypt, India, Iran, DWDM, CWDM, submarine communications cable, Al Jazeera, disaster, business continuity, IBM
I got the following comment on my earlier post [A Recap of Storage Industry Acquisitions
], Reuben wrote:
According to Gartner data (from 2005!), host-based storage accounts for 34 percent of the overall market for external storage, with the remaining 66 percent going to "fabric-attached" (network) storage, expect this share to grow from 66 percent to 77 percent by 2007.What is the current reality? SAN vs. NAS, FC vs iSCSI?
IBM subscribes to a lot of data from different analysts, they all have their methods for collecting this data, from taking surveys of customers to reviewing financial results of each vendor. While theymight not agree entirely, there are some common threads that lead one to believe they represent "reality". Hereare some numbers from an IDC December 2007 report:
|Worldwide Disk Storage||2007 Petabytes||Percentage||2006-2011 CAGR|
While the 32/68 split is similar to the 34/66 split you mentioned before, you can see that external growth isgrowing faster, so internal host-based storage will drop to 25 percent by 2011, with external storage growing to 75 percent, very close to the 77 predicted. Looking at just the externaldisk storage, there are basically three kinds: DAS (direct cable attachment), NAS (file level protocols suchas NFS, CIFS, HTTP and FTP), and SAN (block-level protocols like FC, iSCSI, ESCON and FICON):
|Worldwide External Disk Storage||2007 Petabytes||Percentage||2006-2011 CAGR|
At these rates, fabric-attached (SAN and NAS) will continue to dominate the storage landscape.Looking more closely now at the block-oriented protocols.
|Worldwide External Disk Storage||2007 Petabytes||Percentage||2006-2011 CAGR|
|Fibre Channel (FC)||1733||83||48|
At these rates, iSCSI will overtake FC by 2011. IBM System Storage N series, DS3300 and XIV Nextraall support iSCSI attachment.
Jon Toigo over at DrunkenData offers some additional data from ex-STKer:[Fred Moore Outlook on Storage 2008]. I met Fredat a conference. He had left STK back in 1998, and started his own company called Horison. NeitherJon nor Fred cite the sources of his statistics, but the following comment leads me to assume hehasn't been paying attention closely to the tape market:
With the demise of STK, who will be the leader in the tape industry?
Depending on how old you are, you might remember exactly where you were when a significant eventoccurred, for example the[Space Shuttle Challenger
]explosion. For many IBMers, it was the day our friends at Sun Microsystems announced they were [puttingour lead tape competitor out of its misery
]. I was in New York that day, but there was still someconfetti on the floor in the halls of the IBM Tucson lab when I got home a few days later. IBM hasbeen the number one market share leader in tape for over the past four years.
technorati tags: Gartner, IDC, host-based, fabric-attached, NAS, iSCSI, SAN, FC, ESCON, FICON, NFS, CIFS, internal, external, disk, systems, storage, DrunkenData, Fred Moore, STK, Sun, confetti, Challenger