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Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means... IBM Announcements!
IBM thought the week that everyone is watching IBM Watson compete against humans on Jeopardy! would be a good week to launch new storage products.
For more on this, see the [1Q2011 Storage Announcements page].
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Tonight PBS plans to air Season 38, Episode 6 of NOVA, titled [Smartest Machine On Earth]. Here is an excerpt from the station listing:
"What's so special about human intelligence and will scientists ever build a computer that rivals the flexibility and power of a human brain? In "Artificial Intelligence," NOVA takes viewers inside an IBM lab where a crack team has been working for nearly three years to perfect a machine that can answer any question. The scientists hope their machine will be able to beat expert contestants in one of the USA's most challenging TV quiz shows -- Jeopardy, which has entertained viewers for over four decades. "Artificial Intelligence" presents the exclusive inside story of how the IBM team developed the world's smartest computer from scratch. Now they're racing to finish it for a special Jeopardy airdate in February 2011. They've built an exact replica of the studio at its research lab near New York and invited past champions to compete against the machine, a big black box code -- named Watson after IBM's founder, Thomas J. Watson. But will Watson be able to beat out its human competition?"
Craig Rhinehart offers [10 Things You Need to Know About the Technology Behind Watson].
An artist has come up with this clever [unofficial poster].
Like most supercomputers, Watson runs the Linux operating system. The system runs 2,880 cores (90 IBM Power 750 servers, four sockets each, eight cores per socket) to achieve 80 [TeraFlops]. TeraFlops is the unit of measure for supercomputers, representing a trillion floating point operations. By comparison, Hans Morvec, principal research scientist at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) estimates that the [human brain is about 100 TeraFlops]. So, in the three seconds that Watson gets to calculate its response, it would have processed 240 trillion operations.
Several readers of my blog have asked for details on the storage aspects of Watson. Basically, it is a modified version of IBM Scale-Out NAS [SONAS] that IBM offers commercially, but running Linux on POWER instead of Linux-x86. System p expansion drawers of SAS 15K RPM 450GB drives, 12 drives each, are dual-connected to two storage nodes, for a total of 21.6TB of raw disk capacity. The storage nodes use IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS) to provide clustered NFS access to the rest of the system. Each Power 750 has minimal internal storage mostly to hold the Linux operating system and programs.
When Watson is booted up, the 15TB of total RAM are loaded up, and thereafter the DeepQA processing is all done from memory. According to IBM Research, "The actual size of the data (analyzed and indexed text, knowledge bases, etc.) used for candidate answer generation and evidence evaluation is under 1TB." For performance reasons, various subsets of the data are replicated in RAM on different functional groups of cluster nodes. The entire system is self-contained, Watson is NOT going to the internet searching for answers.
On ZDnet, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols welcomes our new [Linux Penguin Jeopardy overlords]. I have to say I share his enthusiasm!
The latest update to the IBM Storage channel on YouTube is fellow IBMer Bob Dalton presenting IBM Scale-Out Network Attached Storage (SONAS) at the NAB 2010 conference. Here is the quick [2-minute YouTube video].
For more videos, check out the [IBM Storage channel].
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Fellow master inventor and blogger Barry Whyte (IBM) recounts the past 20 years of history in IT storage from his perspective in a series of blog posts. They are certainly worth a read:
In his last post in this series, he mentions that the amazingly successful IBM SAN Volume Controller was part of a set of projects:
"IBM was looking for "new horizon" projects to fund at the time, and three such projects were proposed and created the "Storage Software Group". Those three projects became know externally as TPC, (TotalStorage Productivity Center), SanFS (SAN File System - oh how this was just 5 years too early) and SVC (SAN Volume Controller). The fact that two out of the three of them still exist today is actually pretty good. All of these products came out of research, and its a sad state of affairs when research teams are measured against the percentage of the projects they work on, versus those that turn into revenue generating streams."
But this raises the question: Was SAN File System just five years too early?
IBM classifies products into three "horizons"; Horizon-1 for well-established mature products, Horizon-2 was for recently launched products, and Horizon-3 was for emerging business opportunities (EBO). Since I had some involvement with these other projects, I thought I would help fill out some of this history from my perspective.
Back in 2000, IBM executive [Linda Sanford] was in charge of IBM storage business and presented that IBM Research was working on the concept of "Storage Tank" which would hold Petabytes of data accessible to mainframes and distributed servers.
In 2001, I was the lead architect of DFSMS for the IBM z/OS operating system for mainframes, and was asked to be lead architect for the new "Horizon 3" project to be called IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center (TPC), which has since been renamed to IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center.
In 2002, I was asked to lead a team to port the "SANfs client" for SAN File System from Linux-x86 over to Linux on System z. How easy or difficult to port any code depends on how well it was written with the intent to be ported, and porting the "proof-of-concept" level code proved a bit too challenging for my team of relative new-hires. Once code written by research scientists is sufficiently complete to demonstrate proof of concept, it should be entirely discarded and written from scratch by professional software engineers that follow proper development and documentation procedures. We reminded management of this, and they decided not to make the necessary investment to add Linux on System z as a supported operating system for SAN file system.
In 2003, IBM launched Productivity Center, SAN File System and SAN Volume Controller. These would be lumped together with Horizon-1 product IBM Tivoli Storage Manager and the four products were promoted together as the inap
The SAN File System was the productized version of the "Storage Tank" research project. While the SAN Volume Controller used industry standard Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) to allow support of a variety of operating system clients, the SAN File System required an installed "client" that was only available initially on AIX and Linux-x86. In keeping with the "open" concept, an "open source reference client" was made available so that the folks at Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and Microsoft could port this over to their respective HP-UX, Solaris and Windows operating systems. Not surprisingly, none were willing to voluntarily add yet another file system to their testing efforts.
Barry argues that SANfs was five years ahead of its time. SAN File System tried to bring policy-based management for information, which has been part of DFSMS for z/OS since the 1980s, over to distributed operating systems. The problem is that mainframe people who understand and appreciate the benefits of policy-based management already had it, and non-mainframe couldn't understand the benefits of something they have managed to survive without.
(Every time I see VMware presented as a new or clever idea, I have to remind people that this x86-based hypervisor basically implements the mainframe concept of server virtualization introduced by IBM in the 1970s. IBM is the leading reseller of VMware, and supports other server virtualization solutions including Linux KVM, Xen, Hyper-V and PowerVM.)
To address the various concerns about SAN File System, the proof-of-concept code from IBM Research was withdrawn from marketing, and new fresh code implementing these concepts were integrated into IBM's existing General Parallel File System (GPFS). This software would then be packaged with a server hardware cluster, exporting global file spaces with broad operating system reach. Initially offered as IBM Scale-out File Services (SoFS) service offering, this was later re-packaged as an appliance, the IBM Scale-Out Network Attached Storage (SONAS) product, and as IBM Smart Business Storage Cloud (SBSC) cloud storage offering. These now offer clustered NAS storage using the industry standard NFS and CIFS clients that nearly all operating systems already have.
Today, these former Horizon-1 products are now Horizon-2 and Horizon-3. They have evolved. Tivoli Storage Productivity Center, GPFS and SAN Volume Controller are all market leaders in their respective areas.
Continuing my coverage of the annual [2010 System Storage Technical University], I participated in the storage free-for-all, which is a long-time tradition, started at SHARE User Group conference, and carried forward to other IT conferences. The free-for-all is a Q&A Panel of experts to allow anyone to ask any question. These are sometimes called "Birds of a Feather" (BOF). Last year, they were called "Meet the Experts", one for mainframe storage, and the other for storage attached to distributed systems. This year, we had two: one focused on Tivoli Storage software, and the second to cover storage hardware. This post provides a recap of the Storage Hardware free-for-all.
The emcee for the event was Scott Drummond. The other experts on the panel included Dan Thompson, Carlos Pratt, Jack Arnold, Jim Blue, Scott Schroder, Ed Baker, Mike Wood, Steve Branch, Randy Arseneau, Tony Abete, Jim Fisher, Scott Wein, Rob Wilson, Jason Auvenshine, Dave Canan, Al Watson, and myself, yours truly, Tony Pearson.What can I do to improve performance on my DS8100 disk system? It is running a mix of sequential batch processing and my medical application (EPIC). I have 16GB of cache and everything is formatted as RAID-5.
We are familiar with EPIC. It does not "play well with others", so IBM recommends you consider dedicating resources for just the EPIC data. Also consider RAID-10 instead for the EPIC data.How do I evaluate IBM storage solutions in regards to [PCI-DSS] requirements.
Well, we are not lawyers, and some aspects of the PCI-DSS requirements are outside the storage realm. In March 2010, IBM was named ["Best Security Company"] by SC Magazine, and we have secure storage solutions for both disk and tape systems. IBM DS8000 and DS5000 series offer Full Disk Encryption (FDE) disk drives. IBM LTO-4/LTO-5 and TS1120/TS1130 tape drives meet FIPS requirements for encryption. We will provide you contact information on an encryption expert to address the other parts of your PCI-DSS specific concerns.My telco will only offer FCIP routing for long-distance disk replication, but my CIO wants to use Fibre Channel routing over CWDM, what do I do?
IBM XIV, DS8000 and DS5000 all support FC-based long distance replication across CWDM. However, if you don't have dark fiber, and your telco won't provide this option, you may need to re-negotiate your options.My DS4800 sometimes reboots repeatedly, what should I do.
This was a known problem with microcode level 760.28, it was detecting a failed drive. You need to replace the drive, and upgrade to the latest microcode.Should I use VMware snapshots or DS5000 FlashCopy?
VMware snapshots are not free, you need to upgrade to the appropriate level of VMware to get this function, and it would be limited to your VMware data only. The advantage of DS5000 FlashCopy is that it applies to all of your operating systems and hypervisors in use, and eliminates the consumption of VMware overhead. It provides crash-consistent copies of your data. If your DS5000 disk system is dedicated to VMware, then you may want to compare costs versus trade-offs.Any truth to the rumor that Fibre Channel protocol will be replaced by SAS?
SAS has some definite cost advantages, but is limited to 8 meters in length. Therefore, you will see more and more usage of SAS within storage devices, but outside the box, there will continue to be Fibre Channel, including FCP, FICON and FCoE. The Fibre Channel Industry Alliance [FCIA] has a healthy roadmap for 16 Gbps support and 20 Gbps interswitch link (ISL) connections.What about Fibre Channel drives, are these going away?
We need to differentiate the connector from the drive itself. Manufacturers are able to produce 10K and 15K RPM drives with SAS instead of FC connectors. While many have suggested that a "Flash-and-Stash" approach of SSD+SATA would eliminate the need for high-speed drives, IBM predicts that there just won't be enough SSD produced to meet the performance needs of our clients over the next five years, so 15K RPM drives, more likely with SAS instead of FC connectors, will continue to be deployed for the next five years.We'd like more advanced hands-on labs, and to have the certification exams be more product-specific rather than exams for midrange disk or enterprise disk that are too wide-ranging.
Ok, we will take that feedback to the conference organizers.IBM Tivoli Storage Manager is focused on disaster recovery from tape, how do I incorporate remote disk replication.
This is IBM's Unified Recovery Management, based on the seven tiers of disaster recovery established in 1983 at GUIDE conference. You can combine local recovery with FastBack, data center server recovery with TSM and FlashCopy manager, and combine that with IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Replication (TPC-R), GDOC and GDPS to manage disk replication across business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) locations.IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Replication only manages the LUNs, what about server failover and mapping the new servers to the replicated LUNs?
There are seven tiers of disaster recovery. The sixth tier is to manage the storage replication only, as TPC-R does. The seventh tier adds full server and network failover. For that you need something like IBM GDPS or GDOC that adds this capability.All of my other vendor kit has bold advertising, prominent lettering, neon lights, bright colors, but our IBM kit is just black, often not even identifying the specific make or model, just "IBM" or "IBM System Storage".
IBM has opted for simplified packaging and our sleek, signature "raven black" color, and pass these savings on to you.Bring back the SHARK fins!
We will bring that feedback to our development team. ("Shark" was the codename for IBM's ESS 800 disk model. Fiberglass "fins" were made as promotional items and placed on top of ESS 800 disk systems to help "identify them" on the data center floor. Unfortunately, professional golfer [<a hrefWhere is Infiniband?
Like SAS, Infiniband had limited distance, about 10 to 15 meters, which proved unusable for server-to-storage network connections across data center floorspace. However, there are now 150 meter optical cables available, and you will find Infiniband used in server-to-server communications and inside storage systems. IBM SONAS uses Infiniband today internally. IBM DCS9900 offers Infiniband host-attachment for HPC customers.We need midrange storage for our mainframe please?
In addition to the IBM System Storage DS8000 series, the IBM SAN Volume Controller and IBM XIV are able to connect to Linux on System z mainframes.We need "Do's and Don'ts" on which software to run with which hardware.
IBM [Redbooks] are a good source for that, and we prioritize our efforts based on all those cards and letters you send the IBM Redbooks team.The new TPC v4 reporting tool requires a bit of a learning curve.
The new reporting tool, based on Eclipse's Business Intelligence Reporting Tool [BIRT], is now standardized across the most of the Tivoli portfolio. Check out the [Tivoli Common Reporting] community page for assistance.An unfortunate side-effect of using server virtualization like VMware is that it worsens management and backup issues. We now have many guests on each blade server.
IBM is the leading reseller of VMware, and understands that VMware adds an added layer of complexity. Thankfully, IBM Tivoli Storage Manager backups uses a lightweight agent. IBM [System Director VMcontrol] can help you manage a variety of hypervisor environments.
This was a great interactive session. I am glad everyone stayed late Thursday evening to participate in this discussion.
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