A few years ago, I was the IBM portfolio manager for storage connected to BladeCenter solutions. I learned a lot about the BladeCenter design, and got to speak at various x86 server events.
My colleague John put together a nice webpage on storage for System x and BladeCenter servers:
IBM System Storage for System x
BladeCenterservers come in many flavors, including blades with Intel, AMD and POWER chipsets, and can be configured in Grid and SuperComputer configurations. Up to 14 blade servers can fit intoa single 7U-high chassis, making this twice as dense as standard 1U-high rack-mounted servers.
System x, the new "IBM Systems" name for our popular xSeries product line, support Intel and AMD chipsets. These come in both rack-mountedand tower configurations. These also are idea for clustered and SuperComputer configurations.[Read More]
Continuing this week's theme of New Year's Resolutions for the data center, today we'll talk about one that people don't always think about on a personal level, that is to hone your tools and skills.
A long time ago, I used to be a regular speaker at the SHARE user group conference. One of the most attended sessions was Sam Golob presenting the latest CBT Tape set of tools. Over time, this large collection of "mainframe shareware" was handed out on 3480 tape cartridges, then on CDs, and finally made downloadable off the web.Sam's main point, which I remember to this day, was that everyone who has a job should figure out what tools they use, keep those tools functioning properly, and learn to use them well.
Later, I took some cooking classes at a culinary school. Among other things, we learned:
- A sharp knife is safer and easier to use than a dull one, resulting in fewer accidents
- Knowing what you are doing is the difference between food that is "simply awful" to that which is "awfully simple" to prepare.
- A well trained chef can prepare most meals with just a sharp knife and wooden spoon.
This last point hits close to home, as many people like me have too many tools that they do not use often enough to know how to use them well. Do I really need my strawberry corer, garlic press, or a tray designed for the storage and delivery of deviled eggs?
The same could be said about software tools. What tools do you use in your job? Do you feel you know how to take full advantage of their power and capabilities?If you develop software, do you know all the features for your debugging tools? If you develop advertising or marketing materials, do you know all the features of your photo or video editing software? If you manage storage in a data center, do you know all the tools for managing your storage area network (SAN), disk systems, tape libraries, and reporting tools to identify all of your files and databases across your entire IT environment?I would not be surprised if you could replace a whole mess of tools with just one, such as the IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center.
For me, I resolve to learn how to better use Lotus Notes e-mail client, and perhaps the new Office 2007.
technorati tags: Sam Golub, SHARE, CBT, tape, disk, SAN, mainframe, cooking, tools, IBM, TotalStorage Productivity Center, Lotus Notes, Office 2007
Yesterday's announcement that IBM had acquired XIV to offer storage for Web 2.0 applicationsprompted a lot of discussion in both the media and the blogosphere. Several indicated thatit was about time that one of the major vendors stepped forward to provide this, and it madesense that IBM, the leader in storage hardware marketshare, would be the first. Others were perhaps confused on what is unique with Web 2.0 applications. What has changed?
I'll use this graphic to help explain how we have transitioned through three eras of storage.
- The first era: Server-centric
In the 1950s, IBM introduced both tape and disk systems into a very server-centric environment.Dumb terminals and dumb storage devices were managed entirely by the brains inside the server.These machines were designed for Online Transaction Processing (OLTP), everywhere from bookingflights on airlines to handling financial transfers.
- The second era: Network-centric
In the 1980s and 1990s, dumb terminals were replaced with smarter workstations and personalcomputers; and dumb storage were replaced with smarter storage controllers. Local Area Networks (LANs)and Storage Area Networks (SANs) allowed more cooperative processing between users, servers andstorage. However, servers maintained their role as gatekeepers. Users had to go through aspecific server or server cluster to access the storage they had access to. These servers continuedtheir role in OLTP, but also manage informational databases, file sharing and web serving.
- The third era: Information-centric
Today, we are entering a third era. Servers are no longer the gatekeepers. Smart workstationsand personal computers are now supplemented with even more intelligent handheld devices, Blackberryand iPhones, for example. Storage is more intelligent too, with some being able to offer file sharingand web serving directly, without the need of an intervening server. The roles of servers have changed,from gatekeepers, to ones that focuses on crunching the numbers, and making information presentableand useful.
Sam Palmisano, CEO and chairman of IBM, first introduced this in March 2006 as the [Globally Integrated Enterprise],but the concept applies to organizations of all sizes, from large multi-nationals to the local [Mom and Pop shops].
Here is where Web 2.0 applications, digital media and archives fits in. These are focused on unstructured data that don't require relational database management systems. So long as the useris authorized, subscribed and/or has made the appropriate payment, she can access the information. With the appropriate schemes in place, information can now be mashed-up in a variety of ways, combined with other information that can render insights and help drive new innovations.
Of course, we will still have databases and online transaction processing to book our flights andtransfer our funds, but this new era brings in new requirements for information storage, and newarchitectures that help optimize this new approach.
technorati tags: IBM, XIV, Web2.0, server-centric, network-centric, information-centric, OLTP, database, disk, tape, systems, dumb terminal, workstations, storage controller, LAN, SAN, digital media, archive, servers, handheld, devices, file sharing, web serving, insight, innovation
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]
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]
Happy New Year!
This year I resolve to be more consistent in my blogging, and my goal is to give you one to five entries per week, every week, based on the advice from Glenn Wolsey, Jennette Banks, and others.On some weeks, I will have a running theme, so rather than super-long entries to cover everything I can think of on a topic, make the entries short and readable. This week is a good time to review last year's "New Year's Resolutions" and to make new ones for 2007. I will discuss actions that companies can adopt for their data centers.
A common resolution is to lose weight, as in this Dilbert comic. Last year, I resolved to lose weight in 2006, and am delighted with myself that I lost eight pounds. When people ask for the secret of my success, I whisper in their ear "Eat less, exercise more." In general, people (and companies) know what to do, but just don't do it, which Pfeffer and Sutton document in their book The Knowing-Doing Gap. In my case, it involved lifestyle change: I exercised at a gym three times per week in Tucson, with a personal trainer, and revamped my diet.
Not everyone subscribes to the "eat less exercise more" philosophy. For example, Ric Watson argues in his blog that you can eat fewer calories, but eat more in actual volume, by choosing the right foods. This brings up the issues of "metrics" that most data centers are familiar with. Last year, I read the book "You: On a Diet" which explains that it is better to focus on "waist reduction" as measured in inches around your mid-section at the belly button, than "weight reduction" as measured in pounds. This year, I resolve to get down to 35 inches by the end of 2007.
The problem with measuring "weight" is that you are weighing bones, muscle and fat. A person can gain ten pounds of muscle, lose ten pounds of fat, and the scale would indicate no progress. The same problem occurs in data centers. How many TB of data do you have? Storage admins can easily tell you, but can they tell how much of this is bone (data needed for operating infrastructure), muscle (data used in daily operations that generates revenue) or fat (obsolete or orphaned data)?
We at IBM often state that "Information Lifecycle Management (ILM)" is more lifestyle change than a "fad diet". Figuring out what data you should capture in the first place, where to place it, when to move it, and when to get rid of it, is more important that just buying different tiers of storage hardware. So, for those looking to make new data center resolutions, I suggest the following actions:
- Re-evaluate the metrics you now use, and determine if they are helpful in making decisions and taking action.
- Come up with new ones that are more focused to solve the issues you face.
- Consider storage infrastructure software, such as IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center, to help you gather the information about your SAN, disk and tape systems, calculate the metrics, and automate the appropriate actions.
If you don't know where to start with ILM, certainly IBM can point you to the right solutions,best practices, techniques, and whitepaper.
technorati tags: Glenn Wosley, Jennette Banks, New Years resolutions, weight reduction, Diet, ILM, Information Lifecycle Management, IBM, TotalStorage Productivity Center
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]
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
In case you haven't noticed, IBM System Storage makes most of their announcements on Tuesdays. IBM announced a lot today, so here is a quick run-down.
- Cisco storage networking products
IBM continues to resell Cisco switches and directors, but now can offer these with a 1-year IBM warranty.
The entry-level Cisco 9124offers 8 to 24 ports. For IBM BladeCenter, IBM now offers the Cisco10-port and 20-port modules that slide into the back of the chassis, and are functionally equivalent to the 9124.The original BladeCenter came with a 16-port module with 14 internal, but only 2 external, which severely hamperedbandwidth connectivity to external storage. These new modules provide more external ports to relieve that constraint.
The midrange Cisco9200switches have two models, both with 16 fixed ports, with the option for a blade that can provide 12, 24 or 48 additional ports. The 9216A has 16 FCP ports, and the 9216i has 14 FCP ports, and 2 GbE ports to act as a router, such as toconnect to a remote location for business continuity using Metro Mirror or Global Mirror.
The enterprise-class Cisco 9500directors can support up to 528 ports.
- TS3400 Tape Library
The new TS3400library is a small entry-level size library, supporting the enterprise-class TS1120 drive, providing interoperabilitywith the larger tape libraries, with all the support for tape encryption.
In addition to Linux, Unix, and WIndows, the TS1120 can now be connected to System i servers. In the past, the only IBMtape available to System i were the LTO models. There are a lot of businesses that need to comply with government regulations that are looking for tape encryption, and now IBM has made it accessible to more clients.
- 300GB drives at 15K RPM
The DS8000 can now support new drives with 300GB capacity at 15,000 RPM (15K). These can be up to 30 percent faster than the 10,000 RPM drives for typical workloads.
IBM continues its market leadership with these new set of features and offerings!
technorati tags: IBM, SAN, Cisco, 9124, BladeCenter, warranty, 9200, 9216i, 9216A, 9500, TS3400, TS1120, LTO, DS8000, disk,tape,15K, RPM
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
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
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
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
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
I am in Toronto, Canada. It is a lot cold and rainy here, worse than last week in Seoul, Korea.This looks like a slow news week, so slow that the only news here in Canada is the possibility of anew 5-dollar coin. I thought I would make this week's theme about enterprise applications.
IBM doesn't make these applications anymore, we have decided to focus on our core strength, to be the best IT platform to run other people's applications. This means being the best IT systems, software and services company. However, many of the companies that make enterprise applications are both cooperate and compete against parts of IBM, what we call "coopetition".
Let's take a look at some acronyms in this space:
"Enterprise Resource Planning" represents all the basic applications that business need to run theirbusiness, including: finance, accounting, human resources, and manufacturing. The focus here is to streamline operations and make the workforce more productive. Before IBM, I ran my ownsoftware development company, Pearson Kurath Systems, and we developed ERP applications for clients oneby one, customized to their industry requirements.
"Customer Relationship Management" or sometimes "Client Relationship Management" help companies identifyand retain their customer base. Focus here is to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.
"Supply Chain Management" help track supply and just-in-time inventory demand, sharing the information withkey suppliers and distributors. The focus is to manage inventories down to nothing, and improve speed to get products out to market.
"Business to Business" refer to procurement, purchase orders, and collecting payments over the internet.One of my pet peeves are acronyms that use "2" to mean "to" and "4" to mean "for".
"Human Capital Management" deals with managing costs of Human Resources (HR) and coordinating servicesfrom outside organizations.
"Knowledge Management" refers to sharing and collaborating information. This is not just email and instant messaging, but also online calendaring, experience repositories, client case studies, and anecdotes.
This week I will cover applications that address these, and how they relate to storage.
technorati tags: IBM, coopetition, enterprise, applications, ERP, CRM, SCM, B2B, HCM, KM