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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior Software Engineer 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. You can also follow him on Twitter @az990tony.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson
Tim Ferris started the festivities with [The Grand Illusion: The Real Tim Ferriss speaks]. He claimed that for the past year, he outsourced the writing of his blog to a writer from India, and an editor from the Philippines. Given that his post was dated March 31, and he writes frequently about the benefits of outsourcing, it appeared like a legitimate post. However, Tim fessed up the following day, claiming that it was April 1 in Japan where he wrote it.
Guy Kawasaki wrote[April Fools' Stories You Shouldn't Believe]including my favorite #12 "Ruby on Rails cited Twitter as the centerpiece of its new 'Rails Can Scale' marketing program." Speaking of Twitter, Fellow IBM blogger Alan Lepofsky from our Lotus Notes team wrote[Great, now there is Twitter Spam]. It looked like a real post, but then I realized, ... everything on Twitter is spam!
Topics like energy consumption and global warming were fodder for posts and pranks.The post[Was Earth Hour a joke again?], argued thatthe preparation of "Earth Hour" last week in effect used up more energy than the hour of this annual "lights-off event" actually saved. This reminded me of John Tierney's piece in the New York Times ["How virtuous is Ed Begley, Jr.?"] where a scientist explains that it is more "green" for the environment to drive a car short distances than to walk:
If you walk 1.5 miles, Mr. Goodall calculates, and replace those calories by drinking about a cup of milk, the greenhouse emissions connected with that milk (like methane from the dairy farm and carbon dioxide from the delivery truck) are just about equal to the emissions from a typical car making the same trip. And if there were two of you making the trip, then the car would definitely be the more planet-friendly way to go.
Wayan Vota, my buddy over at OLPCnews, writes in his post[Windows XO Child Centric Development] that the "Sugar" operating environment on the innovative Linux-based XO laptops will soon be re-named the"Windows XO Operating System", with their new motto "Windows XO: A Child-Centric Operating Platform for Learning, Expression and Exploration." The mocked up photo of an XO laptop with the Windows XO logo was excellent!
The economists from Freakonomics explain in [And While You're at it, Toss the Nickel] that it costs the US Government 1.7 cents to produce each penny. The US government loses $50 million dollars each year making pennies. Each nickel costs 10 cents to produce. This one was dated March 31, so it could actually be true. Sad, but true.
My favorite, however, was EMC blogger Barry Burke's post["5773 > c"] explaining howtheir scientists were able to reduce latency on the EMC SRDF disk replication capability:
What the de-dupe team found is that there is a hidden feature within recent generations of this chip that allow a single bit, under certain circumstances, to represent TWO bits of information.
Still, almost 34% of the total bits transferred were in fact aligned double-zeros, far more than all other bit combinations - and most importantly, these were quite frequently byte-aligned, as required by this new-found capability. Makes sense, if you think about it - most of those 32- and 64-bit integers are used to store numbers that are relatively small (years, months, days, credit charges, account balances, etc.). So that's why the team decided to use this new two-fer bit to represent "00".
Mathematically, if you can transmit 34% of the data using half as many bits, you reduce the number of bits you have to transfer in total by 17%. Which, while not necessarily earth-shattering, is nothing to be ashamed of. On top of the SRDF performance enhancements delivered in 5772 (30% reduction in latency or 2x the distance), this new enhancement adds another 17% latency improvement (or ~1.4x more distance at the same latency). Combined with 5772, SRDF/S customers could see a 50% reduction in latency. And 5773 allows SRDF/A cycle times to be set below 5 seconds (with RPQ) - this new feature adds a little headroom to maximize bandwidth efficiency for the shortest possible RPO.
Again, this looked real, until I did the math. Start with the speed of light in a vacuum of space ("c" in BarryB's title) which is roughly 300,000 kilometers per second, or put into more understandable units, 300 kilometers per millisecond. However, light travels slower through all other materials, and for fiber optic glass it is only 200 kilometers per millisecond. Sending a block of data across 100km, and then getting a response back that it arrived safely, is a total round-trip distance of 200km, so roughly 1 millisecond. However, EMC SRDF often takes two or three round-trips per write, versus IBM Metro Mirror on the IBM System Storage DS8000 which has got this down to a single round-trip. The number of round-trips has a much bigger effect on latency than EMC's double-bit data compression technique. With IBM, you only experience about 1 millisecond latency per write for every 100km distance between locations, the shortest latency in the industry.
It is good that once a year, you should be skeptical of what you read in the blogosphere, and sometimes check the facts!
On StorageZilla, fellow blogger Mark Twomey introduces the latest entrant from EMC to the blogosphere,in his post [Polly Pearson's blog].
Although we share the same name, with the same exact spelling, I would like be the first to point out we are not related, at least as far as I know. Basing solely from her post[Welcome to my Blog - Part 1], sheis a year younger than I am, a lot better looking, majored in communications, and is not afraid to quit acrappy job for a much better job elsewhere. I on the other hand, majored in engineering, but agree wholeheartedly not to stick in a crappy situation. There is such a skills shortage out there in the IT industry,with a cap on U.S. [H-1B visas] at a paltry [65,000 this year]. If you don't like your IT job, you should be able toquit and find another one in the IT industry you are more passionate about.
On a similar theme, over at DrunkenData, Jon Toigo's latest post asks if you are[Feeling Insecure About Your Job?]ScoreLogix’s Job Security Index has fallen in the United States, with a sharp drop specifically for IT jobs. Jon points out that while it might be easy to point out that a number went up or down, it is far more difficultto explain why it did so. He gives a good piece of career advice:
Want to keep your job? Play by the rules of the front office: demonstrate the value of what you do for the company from the standpoint of cost-savings, risk reduction and process improvement. Make yourself indispensable. If they don’t appreciate you then, you need to move on. You will always be hiding in your cubical and sweating a pink slip ...
So shine bright. Be remarkable. It is not always easy to communicate your value in a technical position to cluelessnon-technical managers. Certainly, writing a blog helps. Within IBM, there are over 3500 bloggers. Most postwithin the safe confines behind the firewall, but manage to generate ideas, present valid arguments, and get theconversation rolling with the right set of people that might be difficult otherwise in a company like IBM of over350,000 employees scattered around the world. A few of us daringly blog in full public, and carry the conversationto our clients, prospects, analysts, journalists, Business Partners, and others within the IT industry.
So, Polly Pearson from EMC, although we have never met in person, I too welcome you to the blogosphere!
My colleague, Marissa Benekos, is on location with her video camera in Orlando, Florida for theComputerWorld [Storage Networking World] conference.
The IT specialists from the IBM booth were excited at David Bricker's debut on YouTube.Here's the rest of the gang in this [video].
Here's Andy Monshaw, General Manager of IBM System Storage and keynote speaker at this SNW event, summarizingIBM's "Information Infrastructure" strategy in 60 seconds in this [Youtube video].
This last video is Clod Barrera talking about the importance of security. Clod is an IBM Distinguished Engineerand Chief Technical Strategist for IBM System Storage product line. Here is his[Youtube video]
It looks like Marissa is having a lot of fun taking these videos at the event.More videos, as we get them, will be posted to the [IBM videos channel].
And, it's not too late to sign up for IBM Tivoli's [Pulse 2008] conference that will be heldin Orlando, Florida, May 18-22, 2008. I'll be there Sunday and Monday only, in the Tivoli Storage track, so if you are planning to attend and wish to meet up with me while I am there, please send me a note!
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!
This week I'm in Los Angeles for the Systems Technology Conference (STC '08).We have over 1900 IT professionals attending, of which 1200 IBMers from North America, Latin America,and Asia Pacific regions, as well as another 350 IBM Business Partners. The rest, including me, are world wideor from other areas.
Last January, IBM reorganized its team to be more client-focused. Instead of focused on products, we are nowclient-centric, and have teams to cover our large enterprise systems through direct sales force, business systemsfor sales through our channel business partners, and industry systems for specific areas like deep computing,digital surveillance and retail systems solutions.
In addition to 788 sessions to attend these next four days, we had a few main tent sessions.My third line (my boss' boss' boss) David Gelardi presented Enterprise Systems. This is the group I am in.
Akemi Watanabe presented for Business Systems. Her native language is Japanese, so to do an entire talk inEnglish was quite impressive. Her focus is on SMB accounts, those customers with less than 1000 employeesthat are looking for easy-to-use solutions. She mentioned IBM's new [Blue Business Platform] which includesLotus Foundation Start, an Application Integration Toolkit, and the Global Application Marketplace.
Part of this process is the merger of System p and System i into "POWER" systems, and then offering both midrangeand enterprise versions of these that run AIX, i5/OS and Linux on POWER. It turns out that only 9 percent of ourSystem i customers are only on this platform. Another 87 percent have Windows, so it makes sense to offer i5/OSon BladeCenter, to consolidate Windows servers from HP, Dell or Sun over to IBM.
Meanwhile, IBM's strategy to support Linux has proven successful. 25 percent of x86 servers now run Linux. IBMhas 600 full-time developers for Linux, over 500 of which contributed to the latest 2.6 kernel development. Our ["chiphopper"] program has successfullyported over 900 applications. There are now over 6500 applications that run on Linux applications, on our strategic alliances with Red Hat (RHEL) and Novell (SUSE) distributions of Linux.
Her recommendation to SMB reps: learn POWER systems, BladeCenter, and Linux. I agree!
Mary Coucher presented Industry systems. In addition to the game chips for the Sony Playstation, Nintendo Wii,and Microsoft Xbox-360, this segment focuses on Digital Video Surveillance (DVS), Retail Solutions, Healthcare and Life sciences (HCLS), OEM and embedded solutions, and Deep computing. She mentioned our recently announcediDataPlex solution.
IBM is focused on "real-world-aware" applications, which includes traffic, crime, surveillance, fraud, andRFID enablement. These are streams of data that happen real-time, that need to be dealt with now, not later.
Most people know that IBM has the majority of the top 500 supercomputers, but few may not realize that IBMalso has delivered solutions to the top 100 green companies. IBM success is explained in more detail in this[Press Release].
The group split up to four different platform meetings: Storage, Modular, Power, and Mainframe. Barry Rudolphpresented for the Storage platform. He talked about the explosion in information, business opportunities,risk and cost management. IBM has shifted from being product-focused, to the stack of servers and storage,to our latest focus on solutions across the infrastructure. He mentioned our DARPA win for [PERCS] which stands for productive,easy-to-use, reliable computing system.
My session was the first in the morning, at 8:30am, but managed to pack the room full of people. A few looklike they just rolled in from Brocade's special get-together in Casey's Irish Pub the night before.I presented how IBM's storage strategy for the information infrastructure fits into the greater corporate-wide themes.To liven things up, I gave out copies of my book[Inside System Storage: Volume I] to those who asked or answered the toughest questions.
Data Deduplication and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM)
IBM Toby Marek compared and contrasted the various data deduplication technologies and products available, andhow to deploy them as the repository for TSM workloads. She is a software engineer for our TSM software product,and gave a fair comparison between IBM System Storage N series Advanced Single Instance Storage (A-SIS), IBMDiligent, and other solutions out in the marketplace.If you are going to combine technologies, then it isbest to dedupe first, then compress, and finally encrypt the data. She also explained about the many cleverways that TSM does data reduction at the client side greatly reduces the bandwidth traffic over the LAN,as well as reducing disk and tape resources for storage. This includes progressive "incremental forever" backup for file selection, incremental backups for databases, and adaptive sub-file backup.Because of these data reduction techniques, you may not get as much benefit as deduplication vendors claim.
The Business Value of Energy Efficiency Data Centers
Scott Barielle did a great job presenting the issues related to the Green IT data center. He is part of IBM"STG Lab Services" team that does energy efficiency studies for customers. It is not unusual for his teamto find potential savings of up to 80 percent of the Watts consumed in a client's data center.
IBM has done a lot to make its products more energy efficient. For example, in the United States, most datacenters are supplied three-phase 480V AC current, but this is often stepped down to 208V or 110V with powerdistribution units (PDUs). IBM's equipment allows for direct connection to this 480V, eliminating the step-downloss. This is available for the IBM System z mainframe, the IBM System Storage DS8000disk system, and larger full-frame models of our POWER-based servers, and will probably be rolled out to someof our other offerings later this year. The end result saves 8 to 14 percent in energy costs.
Scott had some interesting statistics. Typical US data centers only spend about 9 percent of their IT budgeton power and cooling costs. The majority of clients that engage IBM for an energy efficiency study are not tryingto reduce their operational expenditures (OPEX), but have run out, or close to running out, of total kW ratingof their current facility, and have been turned down by their upper management to spend the average $20 million USDneeded to build a new one. The cost of electricity in the USA has risen very slowly over the past 35 years, andis more tied the to fluctuations of Natural Gas than it is to Oil prices.(a recent article in the Dallas News confirmed this:["As electricity rates go up, natural gas' high prices, deregulation blamed"])
Cognos v8 - Delivering Operational Business Intelligence (BI) on Mainframe
Mike Biere, author of the book [BusinessIntelligence for the Enterprise], presented Cognos v8 and how it is being deployed for the IBMSystem z mainframe. Typically, customers do their BI processing on distributed systems, but 70 percent of the world's business data is on mainframes, so it makes sense to do yourBI there as well. Cognos v8 runs on Linux for System z, connecting to z/OS via [Hypersockets].
There are a variety of other BI applications on the mainframe already, including DataQuant,AlphaBlox, IBI WebFocus and SAS Enterprise Business Intelligence. In addition to accessing traditional onlinetransaction processing (OLTP) repositories like DB2, IMS and VSAM, using the [IBM WebSphere ClassicFederation Server], Cognos v8 can also read Lotus databases.
Business Intelligence is traditionally query, reporting and online analytics process (OLAP) for the top 10 to 15 percent of the company, mostly executives andanalysts, for activities like business planning, budgeting and forecasting. Cognos PowerPlay stores numericaldata in an [OLAP cube] for faster processing.OLAP cubes are typically constructed with a batch cycle, using either "Extract, Transfer, Load" [ETL], or "Change Data Capture" [CDC], which playsto the strength of IBM System z mainframe batch processing capabilities.If you are not familiar with OLAP, Nigel Pendse has an article[What is OLAP?] for background information.
Over the past five years, BI is now being more andmore deployed for the rest of the company, knowledge workers tasked with doing day-to-day operations. Thisphenomenom is being called "Operational" Business Intelligence.
IBM Glen Corneau, who is on the Advanced Technical Support team for AIX and System p, presented the IBMGeneral Parellel File System (GPFS), which is available for AIX, Linux-x86 and Linux on POWER.Unfortunately, many of the questions were related to Scale Out File Services (SOFS), which my colleague GlennHechler was presenting in another room during this same time slot.
GPFS is now in its 11th release since its introducing in 1997. All of the IBM supercomputers on the [Top 500 list] use GPFS. The largest deployment of GPFS is 2241 nodes.A GPFS environment can support up to 256 file systems, each file system can have up to 2 billion filesacross 2 PB of storage. GPFS supports "Direct I/O" making it a great candidate for Oracle RAC deployments.Oracle 10g automatically detects if it is using GPFS, and sets the appropriate DIO bits in the stream totake advantage of GPFS features.
Glen also covered the many new features of GPFS, such as the ability to place data on different tiers ofstorage, with policies to move to lower tiers of storage, or delete after a certain time period, all conceptswe call Information Lifecycle Management. GPFS also supports access across multiple locations and offersa variety of choices for disaster recovery (DR) data replication.
Perhaps the only problem with conferences like this is that it can be an overwhelming["fire hose"] of information!
Continuing this week in Los Angeles, I went to some interesting sessions today at theSystems Technical Conference (STC08).
System Storage Productivity Center (SSPC) - Install and Configuration
Dominic Pruitt, an IBM IT specialist in our Advanced Technical Support team, presented SSPC and howto install and configure it. For those confused between the difference of TotalStorage ProductivityCenter and System Storage Productivity Center, the former is pure software that you install on aWindows or Linux server, and the latter is an IBM server, pre-installed with Windows 2003, TotalStorageProductivity Center software, TPCTOOL command line interface, DB2 Universal Database, the DS8000 Element Manager, SVC GUI and CIMOM, and [PuTTY] rLogin/SSH/Telnet terminal application software.
Of course, the problem with having a server pre-installed with a lot of software is that there is alwayssomeone that wants to customize it further. For those who just want to manage their DS8000 disk systems,for example, it is possible to uninstall the SVC GUI, CIMOM and PuTTY, and re-install them later when youchange your mind. As a general rule, it is not wise to mix CIMOMs on the same machine, as it might causeconflicts with TCP ports or Java level requirements, so if you want a different CIMOM than SVC, uninstallthe SVC CIMOM first. For those who have SVC, the SSPC replaces the SVC Master Console, so you can safelyturn off the SVC CIMOM on your existing SVC Master Consoles.
The base level is TotalStorage Productivity Center "Basic Edition", but you can upgrade the Productivity Centerfor Disk, Data and Fabric components with license keys. You can also run Productivity Center for Replication,but IBM recommends adding processor and memory to do this (IBM offers this as an orderable option).Whether you have the TotalStorage software or SSPC hardware, Productivity Center has a cool role-to-groups mapping feature.You can create user groups, either on the Windows server, the Active Directory, or other LDAP, and then map which roles should be assigned to users in each group.
Since Productivity Center manages a variety of different disk systems, it has made anattempt to standardize some terminology. The term "storage pool" refers to an extentpool on the DS8000, or a managed disk group on the SAN Volume Controller. Since the DS8000 can support both mainframe CKD volumes and LUNs for distributed systems, theterm "volume" refers to a CKD volume or LUN, and "disk" refers to the hard disk drive (HDD).
To help people learn Productivity Center, IBM offers single-day "remote workshops"that use Windows Remote Desktop to allow participants to install, customize and usethe software with no travel required.
IBM Integrated Approach to Archiving
Dan Marshall, IBM global program manager for storage and data services on our Global Technology Services team, presented IBM's corporate-wide integration to support archive across systems, software and services.One attendee asked me why I was there, given that "archive" is one of my areas of subject matter expertise that I present often at the Tucson Executive Briefing Center. I find it useful to watch others present the material, even material that I helped to develop, to see a different slant or spin on each talking point.
Archive is one area that brings all parts of IBM together: systems, software and services.Dan provided a look at archive from the services angle, providing an objective unbiasedview of the different software and systems available to solve specific challenges.
Encryption Key Manager (EKM) Design and Implementation
Jeff Ziehm, IBM tape technical sales specialist, presented IBM's EKM software, how it works in a tape environment, and how to deploy it in various environments. Since IBM is allabout being open and non-proprietary, the EKM software runs on Java on a variety ofIBM and non-IBM operating systems. IBM offers "keytool" command line interface (CLI) for the LTO4 and TS1120 tape systems, and "iKeyMan" graphical user interface (GUI) for theTS1120. Since it runs on Java, IBM Business Partners and technical support personneloften just [download and install EKM]onto their own laptops to learn how to use it.
Virtual Tape Update
We had three presenters at this one. First, Jeff Mulliken, formerly from Diligent and now a full IBM employee, presented the current ProtecTier softwarewith the HyperFactor technology, then Abbe Woodcock, IBM tape systems, compared Diligent with IBM's TS7520 and just-announced TS7530virtual tape libraries, and finally Randy Fleenor, IBM tape sales leader, presented IBM's strategy going forward in tape virtualization.
Let's start with Diligent. The ProtecTier software runs on any x86-64 server withat least four cores and the correct Emulex host bus adapter (HBA) cards. Using Red HatEnterprise Linux (RHEL) as a base, the ProtecTier software performs its deduplication entirely in-lineat an "ingest rate" of 400-450 MB/sec. This is all possible using 4GB memory-resident "dictionary table" that can map up to 1 PB of back end physical storage, which could represent as much as 25PB of "nominal" storage. Theserver is then point-to-point or SAN-attached to Fibre Channel disk systems.
As we learned yesterday from Toby Marek's session, there are four ways to performdeduplication:
full-file comparisons. Store only one copy of identical files.
fixed-chunk comparisons. Files are carved up into fixed-size chunks, and each chunkis compared or hashed to existing chunks to eliminate duplicates.
variable-chunk comparisons. Variable-length chunks are hashed or diffed to eliminate duplicate data.
content-aware comparisons. If you knew data was in Powerpoint format, for example,you could compare text, photos or charts against other existing Powerpoint files toeliminate duplicates.
IBM System Storage N series Advanced Single Instance Storage (A-SIS) uses fixed-chunkmethod, and Diligent uses variable-chunk comparisons. Diligent does this using "dataprofiling". For example, let's say most of my photographs are pictures of people, buildings, landscapes, flowers and IT equipment. When I back these up, the Diligentserver "profiles" each, and determines if any existing data have a similar profilethat might have at least 50 percent similar content. Diligent than reads in the data that is mostly likely similar, does a byte-for-byte ["diff" comparison], and creates variable-lengthchunks that are either identical or unique to sections of the existing data. Theunique data is compressed with LZH and written to disk, and the sequential series of pointer segments representing the ingested file is written in a separate section on disk.
That Diligent can represent profiles for 1PB of data in as little as 4GB memory-residentdictionary is incredible. By comparison, 10TB data would require 10 million entries on a content-aware solution, and 1.25 billion entries for one based on hash-codes.
Abbe Woodcock presented the TS7530 tape system that IBM announced on Tuesday. It has some advantages over the current Diligent offering:
Hardware-based compression (TS7520 and Diligent use software-based compression)
1200 MB/sec (faster ingest rate than Diligent)
1.7PB of SATA disk (more disk capacity than Diligent)
Support for i5/OS (Diligent's emulation of ATL P3000 with DLT7000 tapes not supported on IBM's POWER systems running i5/OS)
Ability to attach a real tape library
NDMP backup to tape
tape "shredding" (virtual equivalent of degaussing a physical tape to erase all previously stored data)
Randy Fleenor wrapped up the session telling us IBM's strategy going forward with all of thevirtual tape systems technologies. Until then, IBM is working on "recipes" or "bundles", puttingDiligent software with specific models of IBM System x servers and IBM System Storage DS4000 disk systemsto avoid the "do-it-yourself" problems of its current software-only packaging.
Understanding Web 2.0 and Digital Archive Workloads
I got to present this in the last time slot of the day, just before everyone headed off to the [Westin Bonaventure hotel] for our big fancy barbecue dinner. Like my previous sessionon IBM Strategy, this session was more oriented toward a sales audience, but both garnereda huge turn-out and were well-received by the technical attendees.
This session was requested because these new applications and workloads are what is driving IBM to acquire small start-ups like XIV, deploy Scale-Out File Services (SOFS), and develop the innovative iDataPlex server rack.
The session was fun because it was a mix of explanation of the characteristics ofWeb 2.0 services; my own experience as a blogger and user of Google Docs, FlickR, Second Life andTivo; and an exploration in how database and digital archives will impact thegrowth in computing and storage requirements.
I'll expand on some of these topics in later blog posts.
I'm glad this is the final day of the IBM Systems Technical Conference (STC08) here in Los Angeles.While I enjoyed the conference, one quickly reaches saturation point with all the information presented.
XIV Architecture Overview
Before this conference, many of the attendees didn't understandIBM's strategy, didn't understand Web 2.0 and Digital archive workloads,and didn't understand why IBM acquired XIV to offer "yet another disk systemthat servers LUNs to distributed server platforms." Brian Shermanchanged all that!
Brian Sherman, IBM Advanced Technical Support (ATS), is part of the exclusive dedicated XIVtechnical team to install these boxes at client locations, so he is very knowledgeable with the technical aspects of the architecture. He presented what the current XIV-branded model that clients can purchase now in select countries, and what the IBM-branded model will change when available worldwide.
Those who missed my earlier series on XIV can find them here:
Beyond this, Brian gave additional information on how thin provisioning, storage pools, disk mirroring, consistency groups, management consoles, and microcode updates are implemented.
N series and VMware Deep Dive
Norm Bogard, IBM Advanced Technical Support, presented why the IBM N series makes such great disk storage for VMware
deployments. This wasclearly labeled as a "deep dive", so anyone who got lost in all of theacronyms could not blame Norm for misrepresentation.
IBM has been doing server virtualization for over 40 years, so it makes sense thatit happens to be the number one reseller of VMware offerings.VMware ESX server is a hypervisor that runs on x86 host, and provides an emulationlayer for "guest Operating Systems". Each guest can hvae one or more virtualdisks, which are represented by VMware as VMDK files. VMware ESX server acceptsread/write requests from the guests, and forwards them on to physical storage.Many of VMware's most exciting features requires storage to be external to thehost machine. [VMotion]allows guests to move from one host to another, [Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS)]allows a set of hosts to load-balance the guestsacross the hosts, and [High Availability (HA)] allows the guests on a failed hostto be resurrected on a surviving host. All of these require external disk storage.
ESX server allows up to 256 LUNs, attached via FCP and/or iSCSI, and up to 32 NFS mount points. Across LUNs, ESX server uses VMFS file system, which is a clusteredfile system like IBM GPFS that allows multiple hosts to access the same LUNs.ESX server has its own built-in native multipathing driver, and even provides FCP-iSCSIand iSCSI multipathing. In other words, you can have a LUN on an IBM System Storage N series thatis attached over both FCP and iSCSI, so if the SAN switch or HBA fails, ESX servercan failover to the iSCSI connection.
ESX server can use NFS protocol to access the VMDK files instead. While the default is only 8 NFS mount points, you can increase this to 32 mount points. NAS can takeadvantage of Link Aggregate Control Protocol [LACP] groups, what some call "trunking" or "EtherChannel". This is the ability to consolidate multiple streams onto fewer inter-switch Ethernet links, similar to what happens on SAN switches.For the IBM N series, IBM recommends a "fixed" path policy, rather than "most recently used".
IBM recommends disabling SnapShot schedules, and setting the Snap reserve to 0 percent.Why? A snapshot of an ESX server datastore has the VMDK files of many guests, all of which would have had to quiesce or stop to make the data "crash consistent" for theSnapshot of the datastore to even make any sense. So, if you want to take Snapshots, itshould be something you coordinate with the ESX server and its guest OS images, and notscheduled by the N series itself.
If you are running NFS protocol to N series, you can turn off the "accesstime" updates. In normal file systems, when you read a file, it updates the"access time" in the file directory. This can be useful if you are looking forfiles that haven't been read in a while, such as software that migrates infrequentlyaccessed files to tape. Assuming you are not doing that on your N series, you might as well turnoff this feature, and reduce the unnecessary write activity to the IBM N series box.
ESX server can also support "thin provisioning" on the IBM N series. There isa checkbox for "space reserved". Checked means "thick provisioning" and uncheckedmeans "thin provisioning". If you decide to use "thin provisioning" with VMware,you should consider setting AutoSize to automatically increase your datastorewhen needed, and to auto-delete-snap your oldest snapshots first.
The key advantage of using NFS rather than FCP or iSCSI is that it eliminates theuse of the VMFS file system. IBM N series has the WAFL file system instead, andso you don't have to worry about VMFS partition alignment issue. Most VMDK aremisaligned, so the performance is sub-optimal. If you can align each VMDK to a32KB or 64KB boundary (depending on guest OS), then you can get better performance.WAFL does this for you automatically, but VMFS does not. For Windows guests, use "Windows PE" to configurecorrectly-aligned disks. For UNIX or Linux guests, use "fdisk" utility.
What Industry Analysts are saying about IBM
Vic Peltz gave a presentation highlighting the accolades from securities analysts, IT analysts, and newsagencies about IBM and IBM storage products. For example, analysts like that IBM offersmany of the exciting new technologies their clients are demanding, like "thin provisioning", RAID-6 double-drive protection,SATA and Solid State Disk (SSD) drive technology.Analysts also like that IBM is open to non-IBM heterogeneous environments. Whereas EMC Celerra gateways supportonly EMC disk, IBM N series gateways and IBM SAN Volume Controller support a mix of IBM and non-IBM equipment.
Analysts also like IBM's "datacenter-wide" approach to issues like security and "Green IT". Rather than focusingon these issues with individual point solutions, IBM attacks these challenges with a complete"end-to-end" solution approach. A typical 25,000 square foot data center consumes $2.6 million dollars USD in power andcooling today, and IBM has proven technologies to reduce this cost in half. IBM's DS8000 on average consume26.5 to 27.8 percent less electricity than a comparable EMC DMX-4 disk system. IBM's tape systemsconsume less energy than comparable Sun or HP models.
IBM iDataPlex product technical presentation
Vallard Benincosa, IBM Technical Sales Specialist, presented the recently-announced [IBM System x iDataPlex].This is designed for our clients that have thousands of x86 servers, that buy servers "racks at a time", tosupport Web 2.0 and digital archive workloads. The iDataPlex is designed for efficient power and cooling,rapid scalability, and usable server density.
iDataPlex is such a radical design departure, that it might be difficult to describe in words.Most racks take up two floor tiles, each tile is 2 foot by 2 foot square. In that space, a traditionalrack would have servers that were 19 inches wide slide in horizontally, with flashing lights and hot-swappabledisks in the front, and all the power supply, fans and networking connections in the back. Even with IBM BladeCenter,you have chassis in these racks, and then servers slide in vertically in the front, and all of the power supply, fanand networking connections in the back. To access these racks, you have to be able to open the door on boththe front and back. And the cooling has to go through at least 26.5 inches from the front of the equipment to the back.
iDataPlex turns the rack sideways. Instead of two feet wide, and four feet deep, it is four feet wide, and two feet deep.This gives you two 19 inch columns to slide equipment into, and the air only has to travel 15 inches from frontto back. Less distance makes cooling more efficient.
Next, iDataPlex makes only thing in the back the power cord, controlled by an intelligent power distribution unit (iPDU) so you can turnthe power off without having to physically pull the plug. Everything else is serviced from the front door.This means that the back door can now be an optional "Rear Door Heat Exchanger" [RDHX] that is filled with running water to makecooling the rack extremely efficient. Water from a cooler distirubtion unit (CDU) can power about threeto four RDHX doors.
Let's say you wanted to compare traditional racks with iDataPlex for 84 servers. You can put 42 "1U" serversin two racks each, each rack requires 10 kVA (kilo-volt-amps) so you give it two 8.6 kVA feeds each, that is fourfeeds, and at $1500-2000 dollars USD per month, will cost you $6000-8000. The iDataPlex you can fit 84 serversin one 20 kVA rack, with only three 8.6 kVA feeds, saving you $1500-2000 dollars USD per month.
Fans are also improved. Fan efficiency is based on their diameter, so small fans in 1U servers aren't as effective as iDataPlex's 2U fans, saving about 12-49W per server. Whereas typical 1U server racks spend 10-20percent of their energy on the fans, the iDataPlex spends only about 1 percent, saving 8 to 36 kWH per year per rack.
Each 2U chassis snaps into a single power supply and a bank of 2U fans. A "Y"power cord allows you to have one cord for two power supplies. A chassis can hold either two small server "flexnodes"or one big "flexnode". An iDataPlex rack can hold up to 84 small servers or 42 big servers. Since each "Y" cord can power up to four "flexnode" servers, you greatly reduce the number of PDU sockets taken,leaving some sockets available for traditional 1U switches.
The small "flexnode" server can have one 3.5 inch HDD, or two 2.5 inch HDD, either SAS or SATA, and the big "flexnode" can have twice these.If you need more storage, there is a 2U chassis that holds five 3.5 inch HDD or eight 2.5 inch HDD. These areall "simple-swappable" (servers must be powered down to pull out the drives). For hot-swappable drives, a 3Uchassis with twelve 3.5 inch SAS or SATA drives.
The small "flexnode" server has one [PCI Express] slot, the big servers have two. Thesecould be used for [Myrinet] clustering. With only 25W power,the PCI Express slots cannot support graphics cards.
The iDataPlex is managed using the "Extreme Cluster Administration Toolkit" [XCAT]. This is an open source project under Eclipse that IBM contributes to.
Finally was the concept of "pitch". This is the distance from the center of one "cold aisle" to the next "cold aisle".On typical data centers, a pitch is 9 to 11 tiles. With the iDataPlex it is only three tiles when using the RDHX doors, or six tiles without. Most data centers run out of power and cooling before they run out of floor space, so having more dense equipmentdoesn't help if it doesn't also use less electricity.Since the iDataPlex uses 40 percent less power and cooling, you can pack more racks persquare foot of an existing data center floor with the existing power and cooling available. That is what IBM calls "usable density"!
What Did You Say? Effective Questioning and Listening Techniques
Maria L. Anderson, IBM Human Resources Learning, gave this "professional development" talk. I deal with different clients every week, so I fully understand that there is a mix of art and science incrafting the right questions and listening to the responses.The focus was on howto ask better questions and improve the understanding and communication during consultative engagements. Thisinvolves the appropriate mix of closed and open-ended questions, exchanging or prefacing as needed. This wasa good overview of the ERIC technique (Explore, Refine, Influence, and Confirm).
Well, that wraps up my week here in Los Angeles.Special thanks to my two colleagues, Jack Arnold and Glenn Hechler, both from the Tucson Executive Briefing Center,who helped me prepare and review my presentations!
A faithful reader of this blog, Tom, sent me a link to Orson Scott Card's article titled[PROGRAMMERS AS BEES (or, how to kill a software company)]. "Is there any truth in this?" Tom asked?Having worked both sides of this fence as I approach my 22 year anniversary at IBM, I guess I can venturesome opinions on this piece. Let's start with this excerpt:
"The environment that nurtures creative programmers kills management and marketing types - and vice versa."
By this, he means "kills" in the UNIX sense, I imagine, and not the "Grand Theft Auto IV" sense.Different people solve problems differently. Some programmers have the luxury that theycan often focus on a single platform, single chipset, single OS, and so on, but Marketing types are tryingto come up with messaging that appeals to a broad audience, from people with business backgrounds to others with moretechnical backgrounds, and that can be more challenging. For programmers, "creative" is an adjective; formarketers, it's a noun.
"Programming is the Great Game. It consumes you, body and soul. When you're caught up in it, nothing else matters."
True. As a storage consultant, I find myself writing code a lot, from small programs, scripts, and even HTML codefor this blog. When you are in your zone, working on something, one can easily lose track of time.
"Here's the secret that every successful software company is based on: You can domesticate programmers the way beekeepers tame bees. You can't exactly communicate with them, but you can get them to swarm in one place and when they're not looking, you can carry off the honey. You keep these bees from stinging by paying them money. More money than they know what to do with. But that's less than you might think."
I have never tamed bees, but many of my friends who are still programmers are motivated by factors other thanmaximizing their income, such as: friendly co-workers, job security, casual attire, and interesting challenges. A few make more than they know what to do with, the rest have girlfriends"significant others" who solve that problem for them.
"One way or another, marketers get control. But...control of what? Instead of finding assembly lines of productive workers, they quickly discover that their product is produced by utterly unpredictable, uncooperative, disobedient, and worst of all, unattractive people who resist all attempts at management."
False. Either marketing had control in the first place (ala Apple, Inc.) or they never had. "Control of what?" is the key phrase here.
"The shock is greater for the coder, though. He suddenly finds that alien creatures control his life. Meetings, Schedules, Reports. And now someone demands that he PLAN all his programming and then stick to the plan, never improving, never tweaking, and never, never touching some other team's code."
True. But if you don't like surprises, perhaps software engineering is not the right career path for you.
"The hive has been ruined. The best coders leave. And the marketers, comfortable now because they're surrounded by power neckties and they have things under control, are baffled that each new iteration of their software loses market share as the code bloats and the bugs proliferate. Got to get some better packaging. Yeah, that's it."
This one depends. I've seen teams survive and manage, with junior programmers stepping up to backfill leadership roles, and other times, projects are scrapped, or started anew elsewhere. As for marketers, it doesn't take much to get one baffled, does it?
We have successfully arrived to Mumbai, India. Since this is my first time in India, I decidedto check out the town by going to the local McDonald's® restaurant. As a former software engineer of McDonald's, I love the food, and try to visit a McDonald's in every country I visit. Wikipedia calls our transportation an [Auto Rickshaw], but the locals called it a "tuk-tuk". This is not my first time in one, they have them in Thailand and Mexico as well.
We had the hotel identify the address of the closest McDonald's to our hotel. From past experienceI know that tuk-tuk drivers will suggest alternatives, in an effort to earn a larger fare, or to redirectto a preferred location where the driver might get special kick-backs. Our driver was no different.
The traffic was treacherous, the roadswere in roughshod condition, and sad looking stray dogs digging through piles of rubbish were everywhere. The local "Daily News and Analysis" newspaper this week estimates that there are over 70,000 stray dogs in Mumbai alone.What to do with all of these strays is a matter of controversy. In preparation for the Olympic games, China hasasked its restaurants to [take"dog" off their menus].Having lived in one of the poorest countries, and one of the richest, nothing surprises me anymore.
My IBM colleague, Curtis Neal, decided to join me for this adventure. Finally, after about 20 minutes, our driver parks the tuk-tuk. He told us the restaurant is only aboutthree blocks away by foot, he would allow us to treat him to lunch, and then he will take us back to the hotel.While we appreciated his fantastic imagination, we told him we just wanted to be taken one-way to the restaurant, to drop us off at the front door, and we would find another tuk-tuk for the return.
After a bit of argument, we settled on being left only one block away, and we would walk the rest.While we could not see exactly where the restaurant was when we got out, he at least pointed us in the right direction.
The problem was that we approached the restaurant from behind, and came up to its equivalent of a "drive thru" window,ordered our food, and then went to the second window to pick up our order. We were eating on the street. It was not until I decided to take this photo of the restaurant, that we discovered there was an entire seating area upstairs, and around the cornerthe main entrance!
There were plenty of tuk-tuks picking up and dropping people off, so we have no idea why ourprevious driver was unwilling to take us the entire distance.
Cows are sacred here in India, so thereare no beef-based hamburgers to choose from. My choices for sandwiches were:
Since my nutritionist asked me to avoid carbs and fried foods, I chose the McChicken with cheese combo meal with fries and a Coke.
Getting back was also a challenge. While we had no problem haling a tuk-tuk, we had no idea the address of ourhotel, and our driver had no idea where it was. We ended up driving around the city until we found a differenthotel, asked them if they knew where it was, and then eventually getting to our hotel. This is something I shouldhave planned for in advance, getting a card with the hotel details on it before leaving.
While it might seem like a simple trip, Curtis and I probably learned more about India this way than spending a week inside the comforts of our hotel.
I was warned that this musical would be nearly three hours long, that the singing and dialogue would be in Hindi language, and there would be no English subtitles. I don't speak Hindi, and would not be able to understand a single word the actors said.
How bad could it be?
Despite the fact that there were nearly 20 members in the cast, the story jumps back and forth in both place and time, with some dream sequences thrown in for cinematic effect, I was able to understand quite a bit. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie! Perhaps its a sign of a good movie that you can understand most of it purely from the visual aspects.
The same can be said for presentations that you give in foreign countries. Both in Japan and India, I had plenty of visuals to complement the text on the page, and the words that I spoke. Shawn over at [Anecdote] blog points to this greatpresentation by Garr Reynolds, author of [Presentation Zen]. The slide deck below has some key takeaways and quotes from Dr. John Medina's latest book "Brain Rules" that apply to presentations.
The comic combines the recent popularity in cookbooks to help parents get their children to eat morevegetables, such as Jessica Seinfeld's [Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food], with the popularity of the latest Batman movie, [The Dark Knight]. To be fair, I have not reviewed the recipe book,but certainly being the wife of comedian Jerry Seinfeld and mother of his children sufficiently qualifies her to write such a book. I did have the pleasure to see this movie at an IMAX movie theater in Hartford, CT a few weeks ago. I highly recommend it. (See also my friend Pam's awesome [review of this movie]).Some have argued the movie franchise has "gone dark" from the previous Batman movies and may not be appropriatefor children. Hiding vegetables in meals may not the right thing for children either.
Unlike IBM that repeatedly delivers unique and innovative new products to the marketplace, Microsoft pulls theold ["bait and switch"] routine. In a series of hiddencamera interviews, Microsoft asks skeptical people who have never used Microsoft Vista operating system their opinions.As expected, all express concerns of problems they have heard about Microsoft's new OS, from friends, colleagues or Apple television advertisements. On a scale of 0 (won't touch it) to 10 (can't wait to have it), the averageskeptic rated Vista with a paltry 4.4 score.
The Microsoft interviewers then show them the new "Microsoft Mojave" Operating System, and askthese same skeptics for their opinions, of which many (35 out of 140 by one account) express they like it, find this new OS usefuland intuitive. The interviewers then explain that this Mojave OS was nothing more than the existing Vista OS alreadyin the marketplace. The average rating for Mojave OS was a significantly higher 8.5 score.Just like hiding spinach in a meal to get your kids to eat it. They tricked you, and you saidyou liked it!
Perhaps the key take-away is whom should prospective customers listen to when evaluating a new product. Microsoftis reasonable in feeling that customers should not base their opinions about Vista solely on lopsided Apple televisioncommercials. Apple, Inc. is one of Microsoft's primary competitors. I feel, however, that if you have friends or colleagues who have shared with you their hands-on experiences, that indeed should have much higher weighting.
Nothing, of course, beats personal experience. If you want to try out one of IBM's latest products for yourself, please contact your local IBM Business Partner or IBM sales representative.