Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2016, Tony celebrates his 30th 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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Wrapping up my coverage of the Data Center Conference 2009, the week ends with a celebration. This year we had six "Hospitality Suites" sponsored by various different vendors. Each suite has its own theme, decorations and entertainment. The first suite was VMware's "Cloud 9 Ultra Lounge" which offered blue cotton candy martinis. IBM is the leading reseller of VMware.
When the red martini liquid was poured on top of the blue cotton candy, the result was a nasty muddish brown grey color. The guy on the left chose to get the martini without the blue cotton candy. We joked that this is perhaps a good metaphor for cloud computing in general. It looks good on paper, until you actually put it all together and realize it does not look as blue and puffy as you were expecting. However, it tasted good!
Next suite was sponsored by Cisco, one of IBM's storage networking partners. Cisco also decorated in blue, as the guy Jake in the middle demonstrates.
Next suite was sponsored by Brocade, our supplier for IBM-branded networking gear. They went with a red-and-black color scheme. Sadly, many of my pictures inside involved straight jackets and unicycles, so not appropriate for this blog. However, it was easy to remember that they were talking about their "extraordinary networks". Makes you want to help out Brocade by contacting your nearest IBM storage sales rep and buy yourself a SAN768B or two.
Somewhere along the way, we picked up Hawaiian leis at the "Margaritaville" Hospitality Suite, compliments of sponsor APC by Schneider Electric. We had the best "Filet Mignon" appetizers at "Club Dedupe" by our competitor DataDomain, and some fun with my friends over at Computer Associates' "Top Gun" suite. Pictured at right are Paula Koziol with Christian Barrera from Argentina. A good time was had by all.
Well, I'm back in Tucson, and thought I would close out my coverage of this year's Data Center Conference 2009 with some pictures. These first few are from the Solution Showcase.
There were four stations at the IBM booth. I had the "Information Infrastructure" station, you can see here I had my blook (blog-based book) on display "Inside System Storage: Volume I", a solid-state drive (in clear plexiglas to show all the chips inside), and the GUI panel for XIV.
What really stole the show was the IBM Portable Mobile Data Center (PMDC), which is a shipping crate with a fully running data center inside. In the one shown here, we had iDataPlex servers connected to an IBM XIV Storage System. Here is David Bricker striking a pose.
Inside, Monica Martinez shows off the iDataPlex servers. These are 1U servers that are only half as deep as regular servers, so you can pack 84 servers in the floorspace of 42 traditional 1U servers.
Two of these fit into a 2U chassis to share a common power supply and fan set. The trouble with traditional 1U servers is that fans do not have enough radius, so putting wider 2U fans for two servers gives you much better airflow.
Monica Martinez, Ruth Weinheimer, and Tamara Rice.
Continuing my coverage of the Data Center Conference 2009, we had a keynote session on Wednesday, Dec 2 (Day 3) that focused on the key technologies to watch for the data center.
It seems like every session this week mentioned Cloud Computing. It is service- based, scalable and elastic both upwards and downwards, uses shared resources and internet standards, and can be metered by use. There are three focal points related to Cloud Computing:
Consuming Cloud Services offered by other providers
Developing cloud-enabled applications and solutions
Implementing an internal "Prviate Cloud"
The analyst used the term "service boundary" to distinguish between IaaS, PaaS and SaaS cloud service models. For those still confused, here is how I explain Cloud Computing, using that analogy of transportation as an example.
You buy a car to get around town. You need to have a drivers license, carry liability insurance, and have a place to park your vehicle. You get to pick the make, model and color. You need to come up with thousands of dollars up front, or arrange some form of financing for monthly payments. It could take days or weeks to purchase, as you test drive different ones, research online, and check out feature comparisons between car dealers. You can drive wherever you want, whenever you want.
The same is done in the data center, you buy servers, storage and network gear, build a data center floor to hold it all, and hire server, storage and network administrators to manage it.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
You rent a car from a local Car Rental Agency. You still need a drivers license and carry liability insurance, but often you can get the insurance for the days or weeks that you are renting the car. You have limited choices of make, model and color. You don't need thousands of dollars, just enough to cover the daily or weekly rate. The rental process can be done in minutes.
IaaS providers have their own data centers, so you don't need your own. They can rent you floorspace and equipment on a monthly basis. Your server, storage and network administrators manage these remotely. Your OS choices are limited to the types of hardware available, typically x86 servers, SAN and NAS storage.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
You take a taxi. Since you are not driving, you do not need a drivers license nor need liability insurance. The vehicle is typically a yellow four-door sedan. You don't need thousands of dollars, just enough to cover the ride, often metered by the distance traveled. Getting a taxi takes minutes, just a matter of calling the cab company, or hailing one streetside. Depending on the cab company, you can tell the taxi driver where to go, how to get there, and that you are in a hurry.
PaaS providers have data centers with servers, storage and networking gear. Your options are often Linux or Windows with some middleware web serving and database already running. You may still need some of your own server, storage and network admins to manage things remotely. Usage is metered, you pay for bandwidth, CPU and storage used. Typical rates for Cloud Storage, for example, is 25 cents per GB per month.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
You take public transportation, like the subway. You are not driving, so no need for license or insurance. The vehicle holds hundreds of passengers, and you have no options on the make, model or color. You only need enough to cover the cost of the ticket, which is often based on the distance traveled. You have to get to the subway station nearest you, and it takes you to the subway station nearest your eventual destination, so other forms of transportation may be required if this does not completely meet your requirements.
SaaS providers offer you the application already running in their data center on their servers. You are charged per employee per month that uses this application. You won't need server, storage or network administrators, but you might need your own software developers to customize the application, or compensate for its lack of functionality with surrounding applications if it does not exactly meet your needs. Google Gmail and IBM LotusLive are two examples of this.
Virtualization for Availability and Business Continuity
No surprise here, virtualization has proven quite useful to improve both high availability and continuous operations within the data center, as well as multiple site configurations for disaster recovery and business continuity. P-to-V is used to refer to the concept of running applications on physical servers at the primary location, but have these as virtual servers under VMware or Hyper-V at the disaster site secondary location to minimize the cost of standby equipment.
Reshaping the Data Center
Data Center facilities design is going modular, with design for server/storage/network "pod" and contained "power zones".
IT for Green
This is not making the IT department itself more environment-friendly, but using IT to make the entire company more environment-friendly, including using sensors to monitor input and output, reduce carbon footprint and monitor energy consumption per employee.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is changing the way employees use IT services. Rather than having to maintain a full OS and application stack on each employees PC, using VDI and browser-based applications can help centralize and take back control, minimizing help desk costs.
Business Intelligence and Operational Analytics is taking off. In the past, decision support systems were limited to just the highest levels of executives and analysts that work for them, but now the technology is reaching a broader portion of the company, allowing knowledge workers to have more information to make better business decisions. We have seen this transition from employees working off fixed rules of thumb that apply to all situations, to decisions supported by market data, to now a more predictive analysis.
FLASH memory (Solid State Drives, SSD)
Solid State Drives and advances in memory will impact the storage world in the data center, much as it has in consumer electronics.
Reshaping the Server
This last prediction seemed far-fetched. The analyst felt that we will begin to see server components to be separated between CPU, memory and I/O support, so that you can seemlessly add or remote each from running servers. Some of this has happened with blade servers, with some components shraed by multiple servers that are hot-swappable.
Certainly, an interesting list of technologies to watch.
This week several IBM executives will present at the 28th Annual Data Center Conference here in Las Vegas. Here is a quick recap:
Steve Sams: Data Center Cost Saving Actions Your CFO Will Love
A startling 78 percent of today's data centers were built in the last century, before the "dot com" era and the adoption of high-density blade servers. IBM Vice President of Global Site and Facility Services, Steve Sams, presented actions that can help extend the life of existing data centers, help rationalize the infrastructure across the company, and design a new data center that is flexible and responsive to changing needs.
In one example, an 85,000 square foot datacenter in Lexington had reached 98 percent capacity based on power/cooling requirements. They estimated it would take $53 million US dollars to either upgrade the facility or build a new facility to meet projected growth. Instead, IBM was able to consolidate servers six-to-one, an 85 percent reduction. IBM also was able to make changes to the cooling equipment, redirect airflow and changed out the tiles, re-oriented the servers for more optimal placement, and implement measurement and management tools. The end result? The facility now has eight times the compute capability and enjoys 15 percent headroom for additonal growth. All this for only 1.5 million US dollar investment, instead of 53 million.
IBM builds hundreds of data centers for clients large and small. In addition to the "Portable Modular Data Center"(PMDC) shipping container on display at the Solution Showcase, IBM offers the "Scalable Modular Data Center", a turn-key system with a small 500 to 2500 square foot size for small customers. For larger deployments, the "Enterprise Modular Data Center" offers standardized deployments in 5000 square foot increments. IBM also offers "High Density Zones" which can be perfect way to avoid a full site retrofit.
Helene Armitage: IT-wide Virtualization
Helene is IBM General Manager of the newly formed IBM System Software division. A smarter planet will require more dynamic infrastructures, which is IBM's approach to helping clients through the virtualization journey. The virtualization of resources, workloads and business processes will require end-to-end management. To help, IBM offers IBM Systems Director.
Helene indicated that there are four stages of adoption:
Physical consolidation - VMware and Hyper-V are the latest examples of running many applications on fewer physical servers. Of course, IBM has been doing this for decades with mainframes, and has had virtualization on System i and System p POWER systems as well. A quick survey of the audience found that about 20 percent were doing server virtualization on non-x86 platforms (for example, PowerVM or System z mainframe z/VM)
Pools of resources - SAN Volume Controller is an example solution to manage storage as a pool of disparate storage resources. Supercomputers manage pools of servers.
Integrated Service Management - in the past, resources were managed by domain, resulting in islands of management. Now, with IBM Systems Director, you can manage AIX, IBM i, Linux and Windows servers, including non-IBM servers running Linux and Windows.
Service management can provide monitoring, provisioning, service catalog, self-service, and business-aligned processes.
Cloud computing - Helene agreed that not everyone will get to this stage. Some will adopt cloud computing, whether public, private or some kind of hybrid, and others may be fine at stage 3.
For those clients that want assistance, IBM offers three levels of help:
Help me decide what is best for me
Help me implement what I have decided to do
Help me manage and run my operations
With IBM's compelling vision for the future, best of breed solutions, leadership in management software, extensive experience in services, and solid business industry knowledge, it makes sense to tap IBM to help with your next IT transformation.
Jeff Garten, a professor of International Trade at the Yale School of Management covered the Post-Crisis Global Economy. How well did the world's governments do? Here was his "scorecard" of the five "R's":
Jeff gives world governments an "A", pumping about $20 trillion US dollars onto the world stage to stave off the worst impacts.
Jeff gives an "I" (Incomplete). Not quite an "F" as government regulations just have not been adopted to address situations like this.
Jeff gives this one an "I" also. The major inbalance is US borrowing so much from China, and China keeping its currency artificially low.
Jeff gives this a "B". Banks and other financial services have changed the way they do business and have taken some corrective actions on their own, often because strings attached to bailout funds.
Jeff gives this one a "C+", in that he is not hopeful for a quick recovery. Economists have five recovery models. A quick recovery has a "V" shape. A slower full recovery has a "U" shape. Some recoveries have premature upticks followed by a second crash, representing a "W" shape. Japan still has not recovered from their crash from last decade, like an "L" shape. Jeff feels that the United States will probably have a "reverse J" where it looks like a slow "U" shaped recovery over the next three years, but we never get back to our original prominence.
Jeff did not give the impression the worst was over. Rather, he felt there were still problems ahead, banks are still carrying a lot of bad debt and real estate industry may take a while to recover. He feels the era of a dollar-centric world that started circa 1945 is over, and that the dollar will continue to decline for several decades. Replacing this will be a combination of the Euro, Japanese Yen and Chinese Yuan.
What can we look forward to? There is a definite shift to Asia and other large emerging markets like Brazil. The "Global Commons" like food and energy are under severe stress. Global rules will go under a sort of remission. A resurgence of National governments to protect citizens is underway. Finally, there will be a return of Industrial policy.