Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Systems Client Experience Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 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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Today, fellow IBMer Ken Hannigan celebrated his 25th year anniversary with IBM, which inducts him into the IBM Quarter Century Club[QCC]. I was surprised to hear that there are over 900 QCC members currently residing in Arizona. In the past, QCC was shortly followed by retirement,but in these economic times, it marks a mid-point in one's career.
I met Ken back in 1988, I was working on DFHSM and he was part of theDFDSS team that moved from San Jose, California to Tucson, Arizona.Later, Ken and I would work in the same department as architects forthe DFSMS product that included DFSMShsm and DFSMSdss components.
Ken was then offered a chance to lead the effort to launch a new productfrom an internal project called Workstation Data Save Facility (WDSF) thatwas changed to Data Facility Distributed Storage Manager (DFDSM),then renamed to ADSTAR Distributed Storage Manager (ADSM), and finally tothe name it has today: [IBM Tivoli Storage Manager].
Over the years, Ken's had some interesting experiences. Two examples:
Saving the Democracy of Peru
During a hotly contested election in the Latin American country of Peru, there were technical problems with the ballot records. Management needed someone from Tucson to go, and my namewas floated around, since I spoke Spanish fluently. My schedule did not permit,so they sent Ken instead. Ken was able to recover the lost ballot information and avoid a revolution.
Assisted with the Technical team for a Major Motion Picture
Ken was part of the IBM technical team that helped [DreamWorks SKG] producethe movie [The Prince of Egypt],a major animated motion picture. IBM is heavily involved in the digital mediacommunity, and was instrumental in helping film-makers set up theirinformation infrastructure.
Ken has been one of my best friends over the past twenty years. I introduced him to hiswife, and was the best man at his wedding. It is quality people like Ken that makeworking at IBM so special.
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!
Over the past year and a half, I have been focused on explaining WHAT IBM System Storage was, and WHY IBM should be considered when making a storage purchase decision. Let's recapsome of IBM's accomplishments during this time:
Today, October 1, I switch over to HOW to get it done. In my new job role, I will be leading a seriesof projects and workshops on how to make your data center more green, how to get more value from the information you have, how to better protect your information from unauthorized access or unethical tampering, how to develop and deploya site-wide business continuity plan, and how to centralize your management using open industry standards.
I will still be in Tucson, but am moving from building 9032 over to 9070 to be closer to the rest of my team.
Of these, fellow blogger Marc Farley suggested for me "Tony Late for Dinner Pearson", which is fair, I guess, given that I often work late to make sure my blog posts are well written, and sometimes that means I am the last to leave the building.
Full Disclosure: I've known Marc for a while now, we have attended events together and even were co-speakers on a conference call for customers.
Perhaps more disturbing is that, for the most part, the storage blogosphere is entirely dominated by men. Where are the women bloggers for storage?
In an effort to deal with "Great Depression 2.0", US President Barack Obama invited IBM Chairman Sam Palmisano and dozen other CEOs to the White House yesterday to talk about the economic stimulus package.
Barack's response was insightful on his thoughts on this. Here are someexcerpts:
"A few moments ago, I met with some of the leading business executives in the country. And it was a sober meeting because these companies and the workers they employ are going through times more trying than any we've seen in a long, long while. ... And yet, even as we discussed the seriousness of this challenge, we left our meeting confident that we can turn our economy around. ... But these executives also understand that without wise leadership in Washington, even the best-run businesses can't do as well as they might. ... And that is why I hope to sign an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan into law in the next few weeks. And most of the money we're investing as part of this plan will get out the door immediately and go directly to job creation, generating or saving 3 (million) to 4 million new jobs. And the vast majority of these jobs will be created in the private sector because, as these CEOs well know, business, not government, is the engine of growth in this country. ... But even as this plan puts Americans back to work, it will also make the critical investments in alternative energy, in safer roads, better health care and modern schools that will lay the foundation for long-term growth and prosperity, and will invest in broadband and emerging technologies, like the ones imagined and introduced to the world by people like Sam and so many of the CEOs here today, because that's how America will retain and regain its competitive edge in the 21st century. ... We will invest in what works. Instead of politicians doling out money behind a veil of secrecy, decisions about where we invest will be made public on the Internet and will be informed by independent experts whenever possible. And we will launch a sweeping effort to root out waste, inefficiency and unnecessary spending in our government. And every American will be able to see how and where we spend taxpayer dollars, by going to a new website to [recovery.gov], because I firmly believe what Justice Louis Brandeis once said, that sunlight is the best disinfectant. ... In the end, the answer to our economic troubles rests less in my hands or in the hands of our legislators than it does with America's workers and the businesses that employ them. They are the ones whose efforts and ideas will determine our economic destiny, just as they always have. For in the end, it's businesses, large and small, that generate the jobs, provide the salaries and serve as the foundation on which the American people's lives and dreams depend. All we can do, those of us here in Washington, is to help create a favorable climate in which workers can prosper, businesses can thrive and our economy can grow."
I certainly find Sam's efforts and Barack's responsiveness encouraging.