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This week I am in Orlando, Florida for the IBM Edge conference. Thursday evening after all the other sessions, we had a Free-for-All, a Q&A panel across all storage topics, moderated by Scott Drummond. The conference officially ends at noon tomorrow, but for many, this is the last session, as people fly out Friday morning. Here are the questions and the panel responses during the session.
When will IBM unify their storage management between Mainframe z/OS and the distributed systems platforms?
IBM offers a Change and Configuration Management Data Base (CCMDB) for this purpose with appropriate collectors from z/OS and distributed systems, but hasn't sold well.
When will IBM devices have RESTful interfaces?
Both IBM Systems Director and IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center (TPC) offer RESTful APIs. IBM Systems Director can manage z/VM and Linux on System z, as well as Power Systems and x86 based distributed systems. Since October 2008, IBM's Project Zero introduced RESTful interfaces to PHP and Groovy software running on WebSphere sMash environments. We have not heard much about this since 2008.
Will IBM TPC support NPIV on Power Systems?
TPC 5.1 has toleration support for this, showing the first port connection discovered, but not all connections, and we expect to retrofit this toleration to TPC 4.2.2 Fixpack 2. Hopefully, we will have full support in a future release.
We would like TPC for Replication to run on Linux for System z. We do not run z/OS at the disaster recovery site location.
Submit an IBM Request for Enhancement [RFE] for this. We have TPC for Replication on z/OS, as well as the distributed systems version that runs on Windows, Linux and AIX.
We have enhancements we would like to see for XIV and SONAS also, can we use the RFE process for this also?
Yes, submit the requirements for our review.
We heard the Statement of Direction that there would be storage integrated into the PureSystems. What exactly does that mean?
The PureSystems family of expert-integrated systems is based on a new chassis that has a front part, a midplane, and a back-part. All IBM System Storage products that support x86 and Power Systems can work with PureSystems. However, IBM does not yet offer storage that fits in the front part of the PureFlex chassis, but the Statement of Direction indicates that we intend to offer that option. Until then, the IBM Storwize V7000 is the storage of choice that can be put into the PureSystems rack, but outside the individual chasses.
We see some features like Real-Time Compression being put into the SAN Volume Controller (SVC), and other features put into the back-end devices. How are we supposed to make sense of this?
IBM's new pilot program, the SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center, to bring these all together. In general, we have design teams of system architects that determine which features go in which products, and prioritize accordingly.
We heard the IBM Executives during the opening session indicate that IBM's strategy involves supporting Big Data, but I haven't seen any storage that supports native Hadoop interfaces. Did I miss something?
First, I want to emphasize that Big Data is more than just MapReduce workloads. IBM offers Streams and BigInsights software to handle text, as well as Business Intelligence and Data Warehouse solutions for structured data. IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS) has a Shared-Nothing-Cluster (SNC) mode with Hadoop interfaces that runs twice as fast as Hadoop's native HDFS file system. The storage products we recommend for Big Data are the SONAS and the DCS3700 disk systems, as both are optimized for the sequential workloads Big Data represents.
Everytime we upgrade our SVC, we review the list for SDDPCM multi-pathing and see that we need to upgrade our back-end DS8000 microcode up to recommended levels. Can we get a list of combinations that work from other customers?
The advantage of storage hypervisors like SVC is that we can separate the multi-pathing driver from the back-end managed disk systems. You only need the SDDPCM to support the SVC, not the back-end devices. For the most part, SVC has not dropped support for any level of previously supported OS or multi-pathing software.
On SVC, when we migrate volumes (vDisks) from one storage pool to another, we would like to throttle this process during FlashCopy.
Yes, we had several requests like this, which is why we now recommend using Volume Mirorring to perform migrations. In fact the GUI wizard uses Volume Mirroring by default when migrations are performed. As for throttling, IBM has implemented "I/O Priority Manager" that offers Quality of Service classes for DS8000 and XIV Gen3, and might consider porting this to other products in our portfolio.
Sizing systems is an art. I just need to know if the DS8000 is running hot. Can we have the equivalent of "red lines" for our disk systems similar to automobile engines?
Storage Optimizer was added to TPC 4.2 to help in this area, identifying heat-maps for IBM DS8000, DS6000, DS5000, DS4000, SVC and Storwize V7000. We recommend you look at the performance violation reports.
How can we evaluate the characteristics of our workloads?
Yes, TPC can do this.
When we are replacing non-IBM storage with IBM, we don't have good tools to evaluate the non-IBM equipment. What is IBM doing for this?
IBM's Disk Magic modeling tool can take inputs from a variety of sources, including iostat from the servers themselves. You can also install a 90-day trial of TPC to help with this.
We really like EMC's "Grab" program, does IBM have one also?
Updating the Host Attachment Kit (HAK) for AIX is quite painful for the SVC. We prefer the method employed for the XIV.
Thanks for the feedback.
For SVC, we need to correlate disk with VMware and VIOS. Can we get vSCSI information on VIOS?
TPC 5.1 has this support, and we believe it has been retrofitted to TPC 4.2.2 Fixpack 2, coming out this month.
Currently, with SVC, when volumes are part of a Global Mirror (GM) session, we need to cancel GM, expand the source volume, expand the target volume, then restart GM. We would like this to be fully automated and non-disruptive.
Sounds like a great requirement to submit for the RFE process.
Can we get an RSS Feed for the RFE community.
Yes, you can subscribe to it. You can also set up "Watch Lists".
Thanks to all of the IBM experts on the panel for their participation at this event!
Well, it's Wednesday, and you know what that means... IBM Announcements!
(Actually most IBM announcements are on Tuesdays, but IBM gave me extra time to recover from my trip to Europe!)
Today, IBM announced [IBM PureSystems], a new family of expert-integrated systems that combine storage, servers, networking, and software, based on IBM's decades of experience in the IT industry. You can register for the [Launch Event] today (April 11) at 2pm EDT, and download the companion "Integrated Expertise" event app for Apple, Android or Blackberry smartphones.
(If you are thinking, "Hey, wait a minute, hasn't this been done before?" you are not alone. Yes, IBM introduced the System/360 back in 1964, and the AS/400 back in 1988, so today's announcement is on scheduled for this 24-year cycle. Based on IBM's past success in this area, others have followed, most recently, Oracle, HP and Cisco.)
Initially, there are two offerings:
IBM PureFlex™ System
IBM PureFlex is like IaaS-in-a-box, allowing you to manage the system as a pool of virtual resources. It can be used for private cloud deployments, hybrid cloud deployments, or by service providers to offer public cloud solutions. IBM drinks its own champagne, and will have no problem integrating these into its [IBM SmartCloud] offerings.
To simplify ordering, the IBM PureFlex comes in three tee-shirt sizes: Express, Standard and Enterprise.
IBM PureFlex is based on a 10U-high, 19-inch wide, standard rack-mountable chassis that holds 14 bays, organized in a 7 by 2 matrix. Unlike BladeCenter where blades are inserted vertically, the IBM PureFlex nodes are horizontal. Some of the nodes take up a single bay (half-wide), but a few are full-wide, take up two bays, the full 19-inch width of the chassis. Compute and storage snap in the front, while power supplies, fans, and networking snap in the back. You can fit up to four chassis in a standard 42U rack.
Unlike competitive offerings, IBM does not limit you to x86 architectures. Both x86 and POWER-based compute nodes can be mixed into a single chassis. Out of the box, the IBM PureFlex supports four operating systems (AIX, IBM i, Linux and Windows), four server hypervisors (Hyper-V, Linux KVM, PowerVM, and VMware), and two storage hypervisors (SAN Volume Controller and Storwize V7000).
There are a variety of storage options for this. IBM will offer SSD and HDD inside the compute nodes themselves, direct-attached storage nodes, and an integrated version of the Storwize V7000 disk system. Of course, every IBM System Storage product is supported as external storage. Since Storwize V7000 and SAN Volume Controller support external virtualization, many non-IBM devices will be supported automatically as well.
Networking is also optimized, with options for 10Gb and 40Gb Ethernet/FCoE, 40Gb and 56Gb Infiniband, 8Gbps and 16Gbps Fibre Channel. Much of the networking traffic can be handled within the chassis, to minimize traffic on external switches and directors.
For management, IBM offers the Flex System Manager, that allows you to manage all the resources from a single pane of glass. The goal is to greatly simplify the IT lifecycle experience of procurement, installation, deployment and maintenance.
IBM PureApplication™ System
IBM PureApplication is like PaaS-in-a-box. Based on the IBM PureFlex infrastructure, the IBM PureApplication adds additional software layers focused on transactional web, business logic, and database workloads. Initially, it will offer two platforms: Linux platform based on x86 processors, Linux KVM and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL); and a UNIX platform based on POWER7 processors, PowerVM and AIX operating system. It will be offered in four tee-shirt sizes (small, medium, large and extra large).
In addition to having IBM's middleware like DB2 and WebSphere optimized for this platform, over 600 companies will announce this week that they will support and participate in the IBM PureSystems ecosystem as well. Already, there are 150 "Patterns of Expertise" ready to deploy from IBM PureSystem Centre, a kind of a "data center app store", borrowing an idea used today with smartphones.
By packaging applications in this manner, workloads can easily shift between private, hybrid and public clouds.
If you are unhappy with the inflexibility of your VCE Vblock, HP Integrity, or Oracle ExaLogic, talk to your local IBM Business Partner or Sales Representative. We might be able to buy your boat anchor off your hands, as part of an IBM PureSystems sale, with an attractive IBM Global Financing plan.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means! IBM announcements!
Today, I am in New York visiting clients. The weather is a lot nicer than I expected. Here is a picture of the Hudson River through some trees with leaves turning color. Something we don't see in Tucson! Our cactus and pine trees stay green year-round!
The announcements today center around the IBM PureSystems family of expert integrated systems. The PureFlex is based on Flex System components. The Flex System chassis is 10U high that hold 14 bays, consisting of 7 rows by 2 columns. Computer and Storage nodes fit in the front, and switches, fans and power supplies in the back. Here is a quick recap:
IBM Flex System Compute Nodes
The x220 Compute Node is a single-bay low-power 2-socket x86 server. The x440 Compute Node is a powerful double-bay (1 row, 2 columns). The p260 Compute Node is a single-bay server based on the latest POWER7+ CPU processor.
IBM Flex System Expansion Nodes
Do you remember those old movies where a motorcycle would have a sidecar that could hold another passenger, or extra cargo? IBM introduces "Expansion Nodes" for the x200 series single-bay Compute nodes. The idea here is that in a single column, you have one bay for the Compute node, and then on the side in the next bay (same column) you have an Expanions node. There are two choices:
Storage Expansion Node allows you to have eight additional drives
PCIe Expansion Node allows to to have four PCIe cards, which could include the SSD-based PCIe cards from IBM's recent acquisition, Texas Memory Systems.
There are times where one or two internal drives are just not enough storage for a single server, and these expanion nodes could just be the perfect solution for some use cases.
IBM Flex System V7000 Storage Node
I saved the best for last! The Flex System V7000 Storage Node is basically the IBM Storwize V7000 repackaged to fit into the Flex System chassis. This means that in the front of the chassis, the Flex System V7000 takes up four bays (2 rows by 2 columns). In the back of the chassis are the power supplies, fans and switches.
The new Flex System V7000 supports everything the Storwize V7000 does except the upgrade to "Unified" through file modules. For those who want to have Storwize V7000 Unified in their PureFlex systems, IBM will continue to offer the outside-the-chassis original Storwize V7000 that can have two file modules added for NFS, CIFS, HTTPS, FTP and SCP protocol support.
IBM Flex System Converged Network Switch
The Converged Network Switch provide Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) directly from the chassis. This eliminates the need for a separate "Top-of-Rack" switch, and allows the new Flex System V7000 Storage Node to externally virtualize FCoE-based disk arrays.
Patterns of Expertise for Infrastructure
The original patterns of expertise focused on the PureApplication Systems. Now IBM has added some for the Infrastructure on PureFlex systems.
IBM has sold over 1,000 Flex System and PureFlex systems, across 40 different countries around the world, since their introduction a few months ago in April! These latest enhancements will help solidify IBM's industry leadership,
New IBM PureData Systems help clients harness data for critical insights
Well it's Tuesday, and you know what that means! IBM Announcements! Actually, it is Wednesday, but I started writing this post yesterday, and had to do some additional research to finish.
This week, IBM introduced the newest member of the PureSystems family of expert integrated systems - IBM PureData System. The new systems are designed to help clients effectively harness the massive volume, variety and velocity of information being created every day. The result? They deliver critical insights to improve business results.
The new systems are available in three different models, each optimized specifically for different workloads.
PureData System for Transactions. Optimized for transactional processing workloads such as e-commerce and built to handle large volumes of transactions with flexibility, availability, scalability and integrity. Basically, this is IBM DB2 pureScale and InfoSphere Optim features running on Linux-x86 nodes. The system comes in small, medium and large tee-shirt sizes, and can support over 100 databases. If you have DB2 applications, these can work with PureData unchanged. If your applications are based on Oracle databases, these can work with minimal changes to use PureData systems.
PureData System for Analytics. Powered by Netezza technology, this data warehouse system features built-in database analytics to quickly explore and analyze large amounts of sturctured information. This is the beefed-up version of the Netezza TwinFin 1000. IBM DB2® Analytics Accelerator for z/OS® V3.1 (IDAA) supports both the new IBM PureData System for Analytics N1001 and existing IBM Netezza 1000 systems as accelerators.
PureData System for Operational Analytics. Capable of delivering actionable insights concurrently to more than 1,000 business operations, supporting real-time decision making for businesses. This is the follow-on product to the IBM Smart Analytics System 7700 based on POWER7 nodes. This uses IBM Storwize V7000 disk systems inside.
PureData System joins the PureSystems family which also includes the PureFlex System and PureApplication System, [both announced last April]. PureSystems provide built-in expertise, integration by design and simplification through the system lifecyle, helping businesses reduce complexity, accelerate value and improve IT economics.
In a related announcement, Andy Monshaw was recently named IBM General Manager, PureFlex. Some of you readers may remember that Andy Monshaw was previously the General Manager for IBM System Storage several years ago, and was my second line manager, and I am glad to welcome him back!
Those that prefer to work with one-stop shopping of an IT Supermarket, with companies like IBM, HP and Dell who offer a complete set of servers, storage, switches, software and services, what we call "The Five S's".
Those that perfer shopping for components at individual specialty shops, like butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers, hoping that this singular focus means the products are best-of-breed in the market. Companies like HDS for disk, Quantum for tape, and Symantec for software come to mind.
My how the IT landscape for vendors has evolved in just the past five years! Cisco starts to sell servers, and enters a "mini-mall" alliance with EMC and VMware to offer vBlock integrated stack of server, storage and switches with VMware as the software hypervisor. For those not familiar with the concept of mini-malls, these are typically rows of specialty shops. A shopper can park their car once, and do all their shopping from the various shops in the mini-mall. Not quite "one-stop" shopping of a supermarket, but tries to address the same need.
("Who do I call when it breaks?" -- The three companies formed a puppet company, the Virtual Computing Environment company, or VCE, to help answer that question!)
Among the many things IBM has learned in its 100+ years of experience, it is that clients want choices. Cisco figured this out also, and partnered with NetApp to offer the aptly-named FlexPod reference architecture. In effect, Cisco has two boyfriends, when she is with EMC, it is called a Vblock, and when she is with NetApp, it is called a FlexPod. I was lucky enough to find this graphic to help explain the three-way love triangle.
Did this move put a strain on the relationship between Cisco and EMC? Last month, EMC announced VSPEX, a FlexPod-like approach that provides a choice of servers, and some leeway for resellers to make choices to fit client needs better. Why limit yourself to Cisco servers, when IBM and HP servers are better? Is this an admission that Vblock has failed, and that VSPEX is the new way of doing things? No, I suspect it is just EMC's way to strike back at both Cisco and NetApp in what many are calling the "Stack Wars". (See [The Stack Wars have Begun!], [What is the Enterprise Stack?], or [The Fight for the Fully Virtualized Data Center] for more on this.)
(FTC Disclosure: I am both an employee and shareholder of IBM, so the U.S. Federal Trade Commission may consider this post a paid, celebrity endorsement of the IBM PureFlex system. IBM has working relationships with Cisco, NetApp, and Quantum. I was not paid to mention, nor have I any financial interest in, any of the other companies mentioned in this blog post. )
Last month, IBM announced its new PureSystems family, ushering in a [new era in computing]. I invite you all to check out the many "Paterns of Expertise" available at the [IBM PureSystems Centre]. This is like an "app store" for the data center, and what I feel truly differentiates IBM's offerings from the rest.
The trend is obvious. Clients who previously purchased from specialty shops are discovering the cost and complexity of building workable systems from piece-parts from separate vendors has proven expensive and challenging. IBM PureFlex™ systems eliminate a lot of the complexity and effort, but still offer plenty of flexibility, choice of server processor types, choice of server and storage hypervisors, and choice of various operating systems.