IBM had some big announcements today. The theme for today's announcement was "Protected Information", as there are many reasons to protect your most strategic asset, your information. Let's do a quick run-down of a few of them.
- IBM LTO generation 4
LTO 4 provides encryption at the drive level, and supports WORM cartridges similar to LTO 3. It continues the LTO consortium's strategy for higher capacity and faster performance. If you have LTO 1 or LTO 2, now is a good time to consider upgrading your tape technology. The combination of encryption and WORM protects your information against unauthorized access, and unethical tampering of the data. The support is from our largest automated tapelibrary (TS3500),to our smallest drives.
- TS7520 Virtualization Engine
The TS7520replaces the TS7510, providing enhanced Virtual Tape Library (VTL) capability. When you hear "storage virtualization" you often think disk, but IBM invented "tape storage virtualization" and this product continues that leadership.
- Support for Half-high LTO 3 drives
The TS3100 and TS3200 now support half-high LTO 3 drives, which means you can have twice the number of drives in each unit. LTO 4 drives can read and write to LTO 3 media, so this provides additional investment protection.
- IBM System Storage DR550 File System Gateway
This new offering provides much-needed CIFS and NFS access to the DR550, the worlds most flexible compliance-and-retention storage available. Already there is a large body of ISVs that support the DR550 today, and with this new gateway, the list is even longer. The DR550 provides encryption for both disk and tape data, as well as policy-based non-erasable, non-rewriteable enforcement, designed for compliance with government regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley Act, HIPAA, and many others.
- IBM System Storage SAN32B-3 switch
This is the first major deliverable from Brocade since their acquisition of McDATA. A powerful switch packs 4 Gbps support in a small 1U form factor. Start with 16 ports, then add in increments of 8 ports to a maximum of 32 ports.
I've provided all the links, so that you can delve deeply into all the data sheets.
technorati tags: IBM, Tape, TS3500, TS3310, TS3200, TS3100, TS7520, LTO4, LTO3, CIFS,NFS,LTO, Linear Tape Open, DR550, File System Gateway, SAN, switch, SAN32B-3, System Storage, SOX, HIPAA, compliance, regulation, compliance, archiving, retention
This Doonesbury cartoonabout Second Life reminded me about our September 20 event.
Registration for the "Meet the Storage Experts" event in Second Life will close this week fornext week's September 20 event. All IBMers, clients and IBM Business Partners are welcome to attend. We will focus this time on DS3000 and N series disk systems, tape systems,and IBM storage networking gear.
If you miss this one, we plan to have another one in November!
technorati tags: IBM, SecondLife, doonesbury, cartoon, avatar, storage, experts, September
Stephen2615 over at RupturedMonkey asksDo more SAN related issues happen with blade enclosures?
and shares some of his bad experiences related to HP Blades in B class enclosures. Others comment that they had similar experiences with their B class equipment.
The question is if this is unique or specific to these particular models, or if this affects all kinds of blade servers because of their very nature and architecture. Stephen indicates that they also have HP C class enclosures, but since they are still in test mode, cannot comment on them.
I have no experience with any of HP's blade servers, but I have worked closely with our IBM BladeCenter team to help make sure that our storage, and our SAN equipment, work well together with the BladeCenter, and more importantly, that problems can be diagnosed effectively.
When I asked why people feel they need to know the inner workings of storage, the overwhelming response was to help diagnose problems. This could include problems inplacing related data on a potentially single point of failure, problems with performance, and problems communicating with 1-800-IBM-SERV.
So, if you have encountered problems diagnosing SAN problems with BladeCenter, or find that setting up an IBM SAN with blade servers in general, I would be interested in hearing what IBM can do to make the situation better.[Read More]
IBM has bundled our midrange DS4000 disk with SAN networking switch in a convenient 42U-high rack, and nicknamed thisSAN-in-a-can
In SearchDataCenter.com, Matt Stanberry's article Sun rolls out data center Winnebago indicates Sun has taken IBM's SAN-in-a-can concept to the next level.
This is an interesting development. To understand it better, we need to go back to the 1930s. Malcolm McLean invented the shipping container in the 1930s in New Jersey, and later founded Sea-Land corporation. Rather than unpacking products from a ship, load onto a truck, then move those products onto a train, his innovation was to create a container that could be packed full of products, carried from ship, to truck, to train, without loading and unloading individual products as transportation means change. He named the size of his container "TEU".
TEU = 20 ft x 8.5 ft x 8.5 ft
(twenty-foot equivalent unit)
In 1966, the standard shape and size was adopted by International Organization for Standardization (ISO).Today, over 90% of freight containers are 1 or 2 TEU
Sun's announcement is that they have packed up to 240 UNIX servers into a single TEU container. This can be dropped off at your facility, hook up your power and cooling, and start running. An alternative version is a disk-farm-in-a-can, having the TEU container filled with up to 2 PB of disk storage capacity.
technorati tags: IBM, DS4000, disk, SAN, SAN-in-a-can, Matt Stanberry, Malcom McLean, Sea-Land, TEU, twenty-foot-equivalent, ISO, standard, UNIX, facility
I'm in the Malev lounge at the Budapest Airport, waiting for my flight to return back to Tucson.
My buddy Marc Farley from EqualLogic points to a great InfoStorarticle by Ann Silverthorn titled The benefits of SANs for SMBs.
Back in the late 1980's and early 1990's, I was one of the architects for DFSMS on z/OS, and customers always asked, "What is the clip level?", in other words, how big does a customer have to be to take advantage of DFSMS. We worked it out that if you had more than 100GB of disk data, DFSMS is worthwhile. DFSMS is now just standard by default, as everyone now easily has more than 100GB of data.
Later, in the late 1990's, I worked on Linux for System z. Again, customers asked how many Linux guest images would justify deploying applications on a mainframe. We worked it out to about 10 images. 10 Linux logical partitions, or Linux guests under z/VM was enough to cost justify the entire investment.
So what is the "clip level" for SANs? How many servers does an SMB need to have to justify deploying a SAN? IBM announced the new BladeCenter S designed specifically for mid-sized companies, 100 to 1000 employees, typically running 25 to 45 servers. However, I suspect companies as small as 7-10 servers would probably benefit from deploying an FC or IP SAN.
What do you think? Send me a comment on how many servers should be the clip level.
technorati tags: IBM, Marc Farley, EqualLogic, Ann Silverthorn, SMB, SAN, IP, iSCSI, FC, Linux, DFSMS, z/OS, BladeCenter, Budapest
Well, we had another successful event in Second Life today.
Unlike our April 26 launch of our System Storage products for IBM Business Partners only, this time we decided this time to make it as a "Meet the Storage Experts" Q&A Panel format, and open up registration to everyone. Thesubject matter experts sat at the front of the room on four stools. We had six rows of chairs arrangedsemi-circularly.
Shown above, from left to right, are the avatars of our four experts:
- Steve Grillo
- IBM System Storage N series, focusing on recent N3000 disk system announcements
- Harold Pike (holding the microphone while speaking)
- IBM System Storage DS3000 and DS4000 series, focusing on recent DS3000 disk system announcements
- Eric Buckley
- IBM System Storage TS series, focusing on recent TS2230, TS3400 and TS7700 tape system announcements
- Pete Danforth
- IBM storage networking, focusing on recent IBM SAN256B director blade announcements
(you can read more about these products here:July announcements
While Eric was a veteran Second Lifer, having presented at our April event, the other three were trainedon how to raise their hand, speak into the microphone, sit on the stool, and so on. I want to thank allof our experts for putting in this effort!
The event was produced by Katrina H Smith. She did a great job, and made sure we were on top ofall the issues and tasks required to get the job done. Running a Second Life event is every bit ashard as running a real face-to-face event. We had several meetings to discuss venue details, placementof chairs, placement of product demos, audio/video recording, wall decorations, tee-shirt and coffee mug design, logistics, and so on.
I acted as moderator/emcee for the event. That is my back in the picture above. The process wassimple, modeled after the "Birds of a Feather" sessions at events like SHARE and the IBMStorage and Storage Networking Symposium. We threw out a list of topics the experts would cover,and people in the audience would "raise their left hand". I, as the moderator, would then walkover to each person, and hold out the microphone for them to ask the question. I would then repeat the question and ask the appropriate expert to provide an answer. We defined gestures onhow to "raise hand" and "put hand down" that we gave to each registered participant.
We had four dedicated "camera-avatars" in world to capture both video and screenshots.Our video editors are now working to edit "highlight videos" that we can use at future events, for training materials, and for our internal "BlueTube" online video system.
The room was filled with examples of each of our products, made into 3D objects that were dimensionallycorrect, and "textured" with photographs of the actual products. If you click on an object, you get a "notecard" that provided more information. Special thanks to Scott Bissmeyer for making all of theseobjects for us.
We made posters of each expert and placed them in all four corners of the room. On the bottom of each coffee mug was a picture of each of the experts, and if you walked under each of the posters, you were"dispensed" a coffee mug matching the expert shown in the poster.Participants could "Collect all Four!" When you bring the coffee mug up to takea sip, the picture on the bottom of the mug is exposed for all to see.And as a final give-away to the audience, we made a variety of event tee-shirts and polo-shirts.
At the end of the session, we asked everyone to click on the "Survey" kiosk near the exit door. We askedsix simple questions using SurveyMonkey.com that took only a fewminutes to process. We found asking questions immediately at the end of the event was the best way tocapture this feedback.
From a "Green" perspective, we had people registered from the following countries: US, India, Mexico,Australia, United Kingdom, Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Chile, China, Canada, and Venezuela. Second Lifeallows all these people who probably could not travel, or could not afford the time and expense to travel,to participate in a simulated face-to-face meeting without energy consumption of traditional travel methods.
More importantly, we got several leads for business. People often ask "Yes, but is there any businessassociated with this?" This time, there was, based on the answers to the questions, several avatars asked for a real sales call to follow-up on the products and offerings they were discussed.
With such a great success, we have already scheduled our next Second Life event, November 8. Mark your calendars! I'll postmore details on the registration process of the November event when available.
technorati tags: IBM, secondlife, meet, the, storage, experts, Steve Grillo, Harold Pike, Eric Buckley, Pete Danforth, Katrina Smith, Scott Bissmeyer, US, India, Mexico, Australia, UK, Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Chile, China, Canada, Venezuela, Green, business
I survived my first day at SNW Spring 2007
.This is my first time at SNW, but it is very much like many of the other conferences I have been to.It officially started Monday morning with pre-conferencetutorials and primer break-outsessions that covered storage fundamentals, but I didn't arrive until late Monday night due to highwind conditions at the Phoenix airport that delayed my travel.
Tuesday started out with main tent sessions. Ron Milton, VP of ComputerWorld that puts on this conference,and Vincent Franceschini, Chairman of the Board for SNIA, kicked off the event.It didn't take them long to get into the alphabet soup: ILM, ITIL, SMI-S, XAM, IMA, MMA, DDF,MF, DMF, IPSF, SSIF, and SRM.Several hundred people had "voting devices" so that they could participate in "informal" surveys.
Q1. What was the greatest need?
- 37% Storage Resource Management (SRM) tools
- 19% Storage Virtualization
- 19% Information Lifecycle Management (ILM)
- 14% Integration with other management tools
- 11% Compliance storage for regulations
Q2. What are people doing to address storage infrastructure complexity?
- 33% Deploying new SRM and SAN management tools
- 26% Adopting "Storage as a Service" methodology
- 22% Deploying new storage virtualization technologies
- 8% Hiring more staff
- 9% (complexity was not an issue)
The first keynote speaker was Cora Carmody, CIO of SAIC. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I did a lot of work with SAIC here in San Diego, and so IBM sent me to San Diego quite frequentlyfor face-to-face meetings with them. Her talk was cryptically titled "Jumbo Shrimp, InformationManagement, and the Mark of the Beast." Coming up with good titles is important. Some of herkey points:
- "Information management" was as much an oxymoron as "jumbo shrimp" or "military intelligence".(SAIC is a general contractor for the US Military, so this was especially funny).
- Computer data needs both "ownership" and "stewardship".
- Gartner analyst reports that 50% of digital information for a business resides in personal files onindividual PCs.
- PAN-StaRRs project is ingesting 10TB per week of astronomical data.
- TeraTEXT(R) project is a non-relational database that supports a large mix of structured and unstructured content.
- The next "Y2K" crisis for the USA is changing from 3-digit to 4-digit area codes for our telephone numbers.
- Battery size and life have not advanced as fast as we need
- There has been little progress in "User Interface" ease of use
- Formats and standards are picked for the most part by the winning vendors, and it is the silence of themarketplace that lets them get away with this.
- We are overly reliant on an inherently insecure medium.
- The "mark of the beast" refers to exciting new technologies based on "presence awareness". For example,some hotels now are able to check you into the hotel as you drive up in your car, based on your car's licenseplate. Some 24-hour gyms use your fingerprint as your entry credentials, eliminating the need to staff peopleat the front desk.
IBM's own Barry Rudolph, presented "Storage in an Age of Inconvenient Truths", dressed up like Oscar-winner andformer USA Vice President Al Gore. Barry's focus was on the growingconcern of over environmental Power and Cooling issues in the data center. According to IDC, the cost of power and cooling an individual server, over its lifetime, now exceeds its acquisition cost. Storage devices are not as bad as servers in this regard. Data centers now consume 1.2% of the worlds energy.
Over lunch, I heard Tony Asaro from ESG present "The Need for Highly Virtualized Storage Systems withina Virtualized Data Center." His concern is that there is still a "heavy touch" required to manage storage.Without virtualization, your data center is less than the sum of its parts. Although IBM has been doingstorage virtualization since 1974, Tony mentioned that most storage vendors were "late to the party".He argues that "internal virtualization" inside storage arrays is not enough, you need "external virtualization"(like the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller) to virtualize your entire infrastructure.What storage administrators would like is for storage to have consumer levels of "ease of use", and today'snon-virtualized storage environments are nowhere near that.
"The great advantage [the telephone] possesses over every other form of electrical apparatus consists in the fact that it requires no skill to operate the instrument."
- Alexander Graham Bell, 1878
I attended a few break-out sessions in the afternoon.
- Ralph Wescott, Pacific Northwest National Library
Ralph presented "Crisis of Capacity" which covered the drastic actions he had to take to handle power and coolingin their expanding data center during their summer months, where temperatures peak up to 105 degrees. This included creating "hot" and "cold" aisles onhis raised floor by re-organizing the perforated floor tiles, and doing a better job standardizing how cables areconnected to the back of racks and up through the ceiling to maximize airflow. An amp-meter on each power strip was used to measure the powerused at each rack, which allowed them to better prioritize their efforts. Their Air Conditioning unit was only 12inches from the concrete floor, and raising it to 18 inches greatly reduced noise and vibration. Adding a second AC unit made a world of difference. Finally, they eliminatedKVMs, because people who use KVMs break other parts of thedata center. His rule of thumb: the cooling requirements will be 50% of the rated power requirements for equipment.
- Terry Yoshi, Intel internal IT department, as a member of the SNIA's end user council
Terry presented "Taming the SAN Complexity". The problem with "complexity" as a concept is that it is very subjective, difficult to quantify, and therefore difficult to manage. He presented complexity in four areas:Organizational structure of the company as a whole; skill sets required of the IT staff; business process andprocedures; and technology. Dealing with complexity is a battle between Old School (because we've always doneit this way) and New School (because it is new and different technology). Storage Area Networks are inherentlya "shared resource", and the increased complexity is a direct result of the low reliability of the componentsand devices it is composed of. People should focus on the "Total Cost of Ownership" (TCO) for a SAN, and not just the initial acquisitionprice of SAN gear.He was not a fan of the "dual/multiple" vendor strategy that many companies employto reduce costs. His suggestion that things should be tried out first on your "test SAN" caused some chuckles,as few have such a thing. Finally, he suggested not only documenting "Best Practices" and "Best Known Methods"but also things that have been found not to work, his do-not-try-this-at-home list.
- Tony Antony, Cisco marketing manager for Optical products
This was an overview of the technologies available for long distance connections for disaster recovery,business continuity, and resilience. He covered three levels.
His rule of thumb: one buffer credit for every kilometer at 2Gbps speed (for every 2km at 1Gbps).
- IP - Fibre Channel of IP (FCIP) offers the greatest "global" distance but forces people into asynchronous mirroring.
- SONET/SDH - SONET is what we call it in the USA, and SDH is what it is called in other countries. This provides state-to-state or "out-of-region" distances, which is ideal to meet certain government regulations for homeland defense. He suggests this is offered when dark fiber or DWDM is not available.
- DWDM/CWDM - this is using a prism to run multiple colors of light through a single fiber optic cable. CWDM ischeaper, but only handles 8 signals per cable. DWDM can handle 32 to 160 signals per cable, but is more expensive.
The day ended at the "Expo". I hung out at the IBM booth to help answer questions and network with others.
technorati tags: IBM, SNW, Ron Milton, ComputerWorld, Vincent Franceschini, SNIA, SAIC, Barry Rudolph, Al Gore, Inconvenient Truth, presence awareness, Tony Asaro, ESG, Alexander Graham Bell, Ralph Wescott, Pacific Northwest National Library, Terry+Yoshi, Intel
Continuing on my theme of storage area networking, today I thought I would coverstorage networking at home.
Before the PC, corporate end-users had dumb terminals (displays) connected to mainframes (servers) thatwere then connected to external disk and tape (storage devices). This was all done with direct cable connections,then later through networks. The PC solved this by putting the display, server and storage into one unit, makingit more accessible to smaller businesses and individuals.
Many years ago, Microsoft started out with the vision "A PC on every desktop".The primary reason we even have networks is while everyone might have had their own PC, not everyone had their own printer. (Printers used to be part of IBM's storage division, which we explained as "storage on PAPER"!)Maybe if Microsoft's vision was "A PC and printer on every desktop", history might have turned up different.
Let's take a look at Apple's latest offerings shown at MacWorld 2007 in San Francisco, as well as how rivals battle for connected world at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2007 in Las Vegas.Blogger Wax Banks argues that these announcements mean"the era of the personal computer is coming to an end".
Disclaimer: IBM has close business relationships with both Apple and Microsoft and others,providing the chips inside some of their products. I discuss them here not only becauseI am trying to get you to buy their products, and let IBM benefit indirectly from their success, but because they are newsworthy, and relevant to the topic at hand.
My take on all this...
- MacWorld 2007
- Apple CEO Steve Jobs presented the Apple TV. You can watch the MacWorld 2007 keynote presentation, orsee Zayne Humphrey's summary in a series of photos, or read Glenn Wolsey's take.
The "Apple TV" is not a TV at all, but rather a server, one that lets your television (your dumb terminal)access the video, audio and photos stored on your Mac or iPod (the storage device), all through a home network.(Sound familiar?)
Apple changed their name from "Apple Computer, Inc." to just "Apple, Inc." to signal a subtle but significant change,namely, that they want to be invited to next year's Consumer Electronics Show!Seeking Alpha offersNine Ways Apple Changed the Face of Consumer Electronics.Uber-blogger Steve Rubel weighs in on why the iPhone is a game changer, but the Apple TV is not.
- Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2007
- Mr. Wargo, director of industry analysis at the Consumer Electronics Association, the organiser of CES, said: "One of the other major themes of this year is the services and content that feed the networked home."
Bill Gates from Microsoft gave the keynote, and this is probably his last appearance, as he is retiring in 2008,as we are reminded by thisfunny video, to move on to bigger, and better things. It is perhaps fitting that his retirement aligns with the end of the era for the PC.
Microsoft unveiled their Microsoft Windows Home Server, again a server that connects your television (dumb terminal) with your PC or Zune (storage device)all through your home network. (Sound familiar, again?)
Whereas Apple above pretty much shunned the gaming community, Microsoft embraced it with their internet-enabled Xbox360.Microsoft sold 10.4 million of these last year, which was 400 million more than they projected.
Our SAN technology partner Cisco wants to get in on this "home networking craze", as written about inInfoWorld andCnet.
the consumer electronics industry is taking clues from IBM's mainframe business. Not the first time this has happened, and probably not the last.
I already access photos and audio with my Tivo, from both my Mac AND my PC,so not much new here for me. Getting my home network connected was one of mytech highlights of 2006 and organizing my audio content was done withILM for my iPod.
Bypassing the PC, by being able to have your television, handheld or phone access data directly will greatlyincrease the demand for storage from businesses that provide information and content, and for storage networking technology in the home. It will be interesting how this all plays out in 2007.
technorati tags: IBM, storage, Mac, PC, SAN, home network, Microsoft, Bill Gates, Apple TV, MacWorld, Consumer Electronics, Show, era, keynote, Tivo
Continuing on my theme of storage area networking, today I thought I would coverthe concept of convergence. This is the notion of disparate things that come together.
Convergence plays a big role in Apple's new iPhone.ExpatJane has a nicecollection of news articles.Gizmodo has a two part hands-on experience of the iPhone hereand here. Seth Godin opines that theiPhone is not for everyone.
I would fall into the "not for me" category, at least at this time. The iPhone is GSM-capable phone with the ability to store 4GB or 8GB of music, photos and video, and has incorporated a 2 megapixel camera. Currently, I have separate components:
- A cell phone that is GSM plus CDMA, with features like "speakerphone" which I use quite a lot, but NO camera.
- A 7 megapixel camera, also very small, with removable memory cards.
- A 60GB iPod, with music and photos. My model is older and doesn't handle videos.
Since I visit government agencies, research and development labs, and other places that don't allow cameras, I have to either chose a cell phone that does not have camera capability in it, or have a camera phone that I leave behind in the car or at the front desk. I have chosen to get cell phones with NO camera. So, NOT having a camera is a primary feature I look for, but this is getting harder and harder these days. I don't know if Apple plans to have a non-camera version of their iPhone, but that would be a deal-breaker for me.
I do carry a separate camera, and where it is permissible, use it separately. This is especially useful if you do a lot of whiteboard or flipchart presentations, and want to capture what you have written for later. (For a great example of how effectively whiteboards can be used, check out these videos from UPS.)A picture is worth a thousand words, and is easier to convey an idea with pictures, especially in countries that may not speak English. Last month, I got a 7 megapixel camera to replace my 5 megapixel. For my work, 2 megapixel as found in the iPhone is not detailed enough.
As for my iPod, I enjoy that I can carry 60GB of music and photos. When I go on vacations, I can bring my camera and iPod, and connect the two, transferring and viewing the pictures that I take. I can easily free up 5-10 GB of space on my iPod for photos in preparation for a trip, then replace that with music when I am back at home. I also use my iPod as a remote disk drive for my laptop on business trips. Again, the 4GB and 8GB may not be enough for what I need.
Printers were never converged into Personal Computers, but they did have their own convergence. I have a multi-function printer/scanner/fax machine. I used to have separate printer, scanner and fax machines, but now the technology is so inexpensive that it got all combined into one solution.
The same is happening for Storage Area Networking gear.
- Thanks to Fibre Channel, switches and directors can handle both SCSI commands (FCP) and CCW commands (FICON). This allows the mainframe and distrbuted systems to converge their traffic onto a single network, and is less expensive than trying to maintain one network for the mainframes, and another for the distributed platforms.
- On the SCSI side, there are now switches that let you have pluggable ports of different flavors. For example, you can have some ports be Fibre Channel to receive FCP, and other ports to be Ethernet to carry iSCSI. iSCSI is a protocol co-developed between IBM and Cisco to carry SCSI commands over Ethernet. Since most computers already have Ethernet "network interface cards" and most buildings are already wired with an Ethernet infrastructure, this provides a less expensive alternative to Fibre Channel.
- Routers, and combination Router/Switches, can send all the FCP/FICON/iSCSI traffic over various long distances to remote data centers, using either iFCP or FCIP protocols. This is a less expensive alternative to dropping your own private "dark fiber" between the two locations, which often involves negotiating access rights to dig trenches through other people's property.
Which brings me back to Apple's iPhone. One device can make calls, watch video, and download webpages all because the networks have converged into sending all data in "packets". The network just routes packets from one place to another. It doesn't care that a packet is a voice packet, a video packet or a webpage packet. It doesn't matter.
This convergence then lets the convenience of a handheld device serve as the conduit for doing business, potentially replacing the credit card.IBM helped Visa and Nokia join forces to use cell phones as wallets. According to the article...
"Users can pay for groceries and other purchases by swiping a phone over a reader that electronically communicates with a microchip on the phone. Phone owners confirm the purchase with the push of a button and the deal is complete.
The platform is the result of many years of trials around the world and will enable mobile contactless payments, remote payments, person-to-person payments, and mobile coupons."
Now that's convergence I can get excited about!
technorati tags: IBM, SAN, Apple, iPhone, GSM, CDMA, iPod, UPS, whiteboard, FCP, FICON, SCSI, iSCSI, Ethernet, iFCP, FCIP, dark fiber, Visa, Nokia, Cisco , convergence
Continuing this week's theme on Storage Area Networks, today I thought I would talkabout the various terms we use for our equipment.
One area of confusion are the adjectives "entry-level", "midrange" and "enterprise-class".What do these mean? Well, as in the case of disk and tape, these three are all relative terms that are a combination of "small, medium, large" as well as "good, better, best".
- Entry-level switches are typically only a maximum of 8-16 ports.Ports can connect the switch to a server, a storage device, or another switch.These are sometimes called "edge" switches, as they might be found in the mostremote sections of an office campus, remote branches, or other isolated areasoutside the primary data center.
- Midrange switches typically have a maximum of 32-64 ports.More ports on a single switch means fewer switches (and fewer cables) to manage.
- These are called "directors" to distinguish them from entry-level and midrange offerings.Directors have a maximum of 140-528 ports, and because so many devices or switches can beconnected to them, they need to be extremely reliable. Directors are designed for 24x7operation, with the ability to make most upgrades and configuration changes while the boxis running (often referred to as "non-disruptive upgrades"). Availability is typically better than "five nines", or 99.999 percent, which means that the box will be up 99.999 percent of the time, or conversely, will be down lessthan 5 minutes per year.
If you are asking yourself "which size is right for my company?" or "is my company big enoughfor a director?" you are asking the wrong questions! Instead, determine a SAN configurationthat meets your workload, and then decide the components for that design.
McData coined a phrase called "core/edge" design that is considered today as "Best Practice" throughout the industry.A good write-up can be found here at SearchStorage.com. Basically, you put your big beefy "core" directors in the center of the room, and then surround it with midrange switches, that then these connect to "edge" switches, that then connect to the servers and storage near them. As you grow, this design can easilyscale to grow with you.
So, if you need help implementing a SAN for the first time, or upgrading the one you have,call IBM, we can help!
technorati tags: IBM, SAN, switches, directors, entry-level, midrange, enterprise, non-disruptive, McData
This week I was in Dallas, Texas, teaching at the "System Storage Portfolio Top Gun" class.
Can you believe it was hotter and more humid in Dallas than in Tucson? I am glad to be home.
For those unfamiliar with Top Gun classes, it is our top level sales training, typically 4 to 4.5 days long. This year, I have taught Top Gun classes in USA, China, Mexico, Thailand, and Brazil.
The class is open to IBM sales, IBM Business Partners, ibm.com telesales, field support and our technology partners.
We have several more classes for 2006, in Canada and the USA. For more information, read here www.ibm.com[Read More]
This week I'm in beautiful Guadalajara, Mexico teaching at our[System Storage Portfolio Top Gun class
].We have all of our various routes-to-market represented here, including our direct sales force, our technicalteams, our online IBM.COM website sales, as well as IBM Business Partners.Everyone is excited over last week's IBM announcement of [4Q07 and full year 2007 results
], which includesdouble-digit growth in our IBM System Storage business, led by sales of our DS8000, SAN Volume Controller and Tapesystems. Obviously, as an IBM employee and stockholder, I am biased, so instead I thought I would provide someexcerpts from other bloggers and journalists.
New York Times [I.B.M. Posts Strong Preliminary Results] said "The fourth quarter usually is the best time of the year for IBM Corp., but rarely does it look this good." When the final results were posted last Thursday, Steve Lohr wrote[IBM - A Separate Reality?]. Here'san excerpt:
But what was striking in the company’s conference call on Thursday afternoon was the unhedged optimism in its outlook for 2008, given the strong whiff of recession fear elsewhere.
The questions from Wall Street analysts in the conference call had a common theme. Why are you so comfortable about the 2008 outlook? Now, that might just be professional churlishness, since so many of them have been so wrong recently about I.B.M. Wall Street had understandably thought, for example, that I.B.M.’s sales to financial services companies — the technology giant’s largest single customer category — would suffer in the fourth quarter, given the way banks have been battered by the mortgage credit crunch.
But Mr. Loughridge said that revenue from financial services customers rose 11 percent in the fourth quarter, to $8 billion. The United States, he noted, accounts for only 25 percent of I.B.M.’s financial services business.
The other thing that seems apparent is how much I.B.M.’s long-term strategy of moving up to higher-profit businesses and increasingly relying on services and software is working. Its huge services business grew 17 percent to $14.9 billion in the quarter. After the currency benefit, the gain was 10 percent, but still impressive. Software sales rose 12 percent to $6.3 billion.
Trade Radar poses the question[IBM Beats -- but is itrepresentative of entire tech sector?]. Here's an excerpt:
Looking at IBM's business segments, it can be seen that they offer far more coverage of the technology space that those of the typical tech company:
IBM is just so big and diversified that there is little comparison between it and most other tech companies. IBM is a member of an elite group of companies like Cisco Systems (CSCO), Microsoft (MSFT), Oracle (ORCL) or Hewlett-Packard (HPQ).
IBM's wide international coverage and deep technological capabilities dwarf those of most tech companies. Not only do they have sales organizations worldwide but they have developers, consultants, R&D workers and supply chain workers in each geographic region. Their product mix runs from custom software to packaged enterprise software, hardware (mainframes and servers), semiconductors, databases, middleware technology, etc., etc. There are few tech companies that even attempt to support that many kinds and variations of products.
As color on the fourth quarter earnings announcement, there are a couple of observations that I would like to make. The first one speaks to IBM's international prowess. The company indicated that growth in the Americas was only 5%. International sales were a primary driver of IBM's good results. As an insight on the difference between IBM and most other tech companies, it is clear that nowadays, a tech company that isn't adept at selling internationally is going to be in trouble.
Sramana Mitra opines [IBM Also Looks Safe]. Here's an excerpt:
Terrific performance in a terrific year - no doubt a result of its strong global model. IBM operates in 170 countries, with about 65% of its employees outside US and about 30% in Asia Pacific. For fiscal 2007, revenues from Americas grew 4% to $41.1 billion (42% of total revenue), [EMEA] grew 14% to $34.7 billion (35%of total revenue), and Asia-Pacific grew by 11% to $19.5 billion (19.7% of total revenue). IBM sees growth prospects not just in [BRIC] but also countries like Malaysia, Poland, South Africa, Peru, and Singapore.
Meanwhile, Dan Farber and Larry Dignan from ZDnet write[IBM’s alternate universe: Big Blue sees great 2008]. Here'san excerpt:
Thus far 2008–all two weeks of it–hasn’t been a pretty for the tech industry. Worries about the economy prevail. And even companies that had relatively good things to say like Intel get clobbered. It’s ugly out there–unless you’re IBM.
I am sure there will be more write-ups and analyses on this over the next coming weeks, and others will probably waituntil more tech companies announce their results for comparison.
technorati tags: IBM, Guadalajara, Mexico, Top Gun, 4Q07, results, DS8000, SAN Volume Controller, SVC, Tape, optimism, confidence, Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, EMEA, BRIC
An interesting blog in "Channel Advisor" relates to the lack of trust in the storage industry:Education — Trust: Key To Survival In Today's IT World
and offers some advice to vendors and channel distributions.
I can't stress enough how important is credibility in a highly-competitive marketplace.[Read More]
Registration is now open for our next "Meet the Storage Experts" event in Second Life. All IBMers, clients and IBM Business Partners are welcome to attend. We will focus this time on DS3000 and N series disk systems, tape systems,and IBM storage networking gear.
technorati tags: IBM, meet, experts, Virtual World, Real Storage, SecondLife, DS3000, disk, tape, SAN, Brocade
Last week, Paul Weinberg of eChannelLine.com asks Is this the year of the SAN (again)?
So, I thought this week I would cover my thoughts and opinions on storage networking. We oftenfocus on servers or storage devices, and forget that the network in between is an entire worldon itself.
I believe Mr. Weinberg is basing this on the idea that in 2007, over 50 percent of disk will beattached over SAN, edging out the alternative: Direct Attached Storage (DAS). But perhaps 50 percentis the wrong number to focus on. In 2007, The United Nations estimates thatcities will surpass rural areas, with just over 50 percent of theworld's population. Does that make this the "Year of the City"? Of course not.
Instead, I prefer to use the methodology that Malcolm Gladwell uses in his book, The Tipping Point.(I have read this book and highly recommend it!)Gladwell indicates that the tipping point happens at the start of the epidemic, not when it is half over.Isn't it better to celebrate the sweet 16 debutante ball when young ladies have completed their years of training and preparation, and are ready to be introduced to the rest of the world, rather than after they are thirty-something, married with children.
Let's explore some of the history. Stuart Kendric has a nice 7-page summary on theHistory & Plumbing of SANs.
IBM announced the first SAN technology calledEnterprise Systems Connection (ESCON) way back in September 1990. This allowed multiplemainframe servers to connect to multiple storage systems over equipment called "ESCON Directors" that directedtraffic from point A to point B. Before this, mainframes sent "ChannelCommand Words" or CCWs, across parallel "bus and tag" copper cables. ESCON was serial overfiber optic wiring. SANs solved two problems: first, it reduced the "rat's nest" of cables between many serversand many storage systems, and second, it extended the distance between server and storage device.
For distributed systems running UNIX or Windows, the CCW-equivalent over parallel cables was called Small ComputerSystem Interface (SCSI). The SCSI command had over 1000 command words, so for its Advanced Technology (AT) personal computers (PC AT), IBM introduced a subset of SCSI commands called ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment). ATA drives supportedfewer commands, ran at slower speeds, and were manufactured with a less rigorous process. Today ATA drives are about 55 percent the cost per MB as comparable SCSI drives.
Anyone who has ever opened their PC and found flat ribbon cable with eight or sixteen wires in parallel, can understand that the same issues applied externally. Parallel technologies arelimited to distance and speed, as all the bits have to arrive at the end of the wire at approximately thesame time. Direct attach schemes with every server attaches directly to every storage device were also problematic.Imagine 100 servers connected to 100 storage devices, that would be 10,000 wires!
So, a new technology standard was developed, called Fibre Channel, ratified in 1994.The spelling of "Fibre" was intentionally made different than "Fiber" on purpose. "Fibre" is a protocol thatcan travel over copper or glass wires. "Fiber" represents the glass wiring itself.
Fibre Channel is amazingly versatile. For today's Linux, UNIX and Windows servers, it can carry SCSI commands, and the combination of SCSI over FC is called Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP). For the mainframe servers, it can carry CCW commands. Running CCW over Fibre Channel is called FICON. This convergence allows mainframes and distributed systems to share a common Fibre Channel network, using the same set of switches and directors.
We saw the use of SANs explode in the marketplace over the past 10 years, and then cool down with a series of mergers and acquisitions. Last year, Brocade announced it was acquiring rival McData, so we will be down to two major players, Cisco and Brocade.
So, IMHO, I think we are well past the "Year of the SAN".
technorati tags: IBM, SAN, storage, disk, United Nations, population, tipping point, Malcolm Gladwell, ESCON, SCSI, FCP, FICON, ATA, Brocade, McData, Cisco, Linux, UNIX, Windows