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
Continuing this week's theme of New Year's Resolutions
for the data center, today we'll talk about one that many people make for their own personal lives: staying on a budget.
Often, when faced with a tightening budgets, we try to make more use of what we already have. Tell someone they are only using 10 percent of their brain, and they immediatelybelieve you; but tell them they are only using 30 percent of their storage, and they ask for a whitepaper,magazine article, or clarification on how that percentage is calculated. I actually visiteda customer that was only using6 percent of the storage attached to their Windows servers!
So, to help those of you making data center resolutions to stay on budget, the terms to remember are "Reduce", "Reuse" and "Recycle".
- When people come to request storage, are they being reasonable about what they need today, or are they asking for what they might need over the next three years? They might need 50GB, but they ask for 100GB, in case they grow, and a year later, you find they have only 15GB of data on it. On the flipside, the person asks for what they need but some storage admins give out more, just so they don't have to be bothered so often when growth happens. Finally, I have seen this formalized into fixed size LUNs, all the disk is carved into big huge 100GB pieces, so if you need 20GB, here's one big enough with plenty of room to grow.
If you are going to keep on a budget, remember that storage today is 30% more expensive than storage next year. That is the average drop in both disk and tape on a dollar-per-MB basis. If there is any way to postpone giving out storage until it is actually needed, you can save a bundle of money. Timing is everything! In the event of a disaster, getting immediate replacement for disk can be very expensive, but if you can wait just two weeks, you can negotiate a better deal. I thought of this while going to the movie theatre yesterday. A "hot dog" and a bottle of water was $8.00, but if you are able to wait two hours and eat after the movie, you can get a much better meal for less.
- A lot of companies buy new storage because their existing storage isn't fast enough, or doesn't have the latest copy services. This can easily be solved with an IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC). The SVC can virtualize slower, functionless storage, and present to your application hosts virtual disks that are faster, and with all the latest disk-to-disk copy services like FlashCopy, Metro Mirror, and Global Mirror.
Chances are, you have unused disk capacity spread across all your storage today, but perhaps they are formatted into small LUNs. The SVC can combine the capacity, and let you carve up big LUNs at the sizes you need.This is like taking all those tiny pieces of soap in your shower and forming a new bar of soap, or taking all the crumbs at the bottom of your bread box, and making a new slice of bread. And, the virtual LUNs are dynamically expandable,so give out only the amount they need today, as it is simple to expand them to larger sizes later.
- Of my 13 patents, the first will always be my favorite, on a function called "RECYCLE" for the Data Facility Storage Management Subsystem Hierarchical Storage Manager (DFSMShsm) product, which is now a component of the IBM z/OS operating system. Basically, tapes could contain hundreds or thousands of files, such as backup versions or archive copies, and these expired on different dates. As a result, a tape would be written100 percent full, and then over time, decrease in valid data to 80, 60, 40, 20 until it hit 0 percent. In some cases, a single filecould hold an entire tape hostage. RECYCLE was able to read the valid data off tapes that were perhaps less than 20 percent full, and consolidate them onto fewer tapes. As a result, a whole bunch of tapes could be returned to the scratch pool, and reused immediately for other workloads. This also helps in moving to newer, higher capacity cartridges, such as the new 700GB cartridge that IBM co-developed with FujiFilm.(This RECYCLE function exists in our IBM Tivoli Storage Manager software, as well as our Virtual Tape Server, but is called "reclamation" instead, to avoid confusion on searches.)
When evaluating your use of tape, determine if you are making best use of the tapes you have now, and perhaps a RECYCLE (or reclamation) scheme may be in order. Fewer tapes can save money in many ways, such as reduced storage costs, and reduced courier costs to send the tapes offsite. Tape media can still be 10-20 times less expensive than disk, based on full capacity.
technorati tags: IBM, storage utilization,RECYCLE, Tivoli Storage Manager, SAN Volume Controller, SVC, tape, disk, FujiFilm, DFSMS, HSM, DFSMShsm, Virtual Tape Server, brains
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
'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.'
--- George Santayana
This last week of 2006 seems like a good time to recap the past year, and review the upcoming new year.That said, a good start is PC World's Top 21 Tech Screwups of 2006.
- Laptops made the news this year in a variety of ways. #1 was exploding batteries,and #6 were the stolen laptops that exposed private personal information. Someone I knowwas listed in one of these stolen databases, so this last one hits close to home. Securityis becoming a bigger issue now, and IBM was the first to deliver device-based encryptionwith the TS1120 enterprise tape drive.
- IBM makes the chips used in all the major game consoles: Microsoft's Xbox 360, Nintendo's Wii,and Sony's PlayStation 3. Being all based on IBM technology doesn'tmake the games interoperable or compatible, and in the case of Sony, it made #8 for being incompatible with their own PlayStation 2.Sadly, Nintendo's Wii had its own set of problems, and I found this parody of asafety video on YouTubeyou might enjoy.
- Microsoft had #5 (not understanding the holiday shopping season ends in December), #12 (not understanding people who use PCs prefer privacy), and #17 (not understanding how people useMP3 music players). At least they delivered their latest Xbox with minimal problems.As an engineer, taking on a market strategy role involved reading books and taking classeson marketing. I learned that it is all about understanding the marketplace well enoughso that your prospects "know, like, and trust" your company. Perhaps Microsoft should take a refresher course.
- A few companies showed off their brilliant customer service. Comcast is representedin a video on #7, and AOL in a taped phone conversation on #15. Many of our clients areafraid of vendor lock-in, and how difficult it might be to undo the deployment of new storagetechnology. Fortunately, IBM is committed to open standards, making it easier for our clientsto make the right choice and feel good about it.
Hopefully, we can all learn from the mistakes of others, and not repeat them in 2007.
technorati tags: IBM, tape, encryption, TS1120, privacy, security, game consoles, marketing
For those of us in the northern hemisphere, yesterday was this year's Winter Solstice
, representingthe shortest amount of daylight between sunrise and sunset. So today, I thought I would blog on my thoughtsof managing scarcity.
Earlier in my career, I had the pleasure to serve as "administrative assistant" to Nora Denzel for the week at a storage conference. My job was to make her look good at the conference, which if you know Nora, doesn't take much. Later, she left IBM to work at HP, and I gotto hear her speak at a conference, and the one thing that I remember most was her statement that thewhole point of "management" was to manage scarcity, as in not enough money in the budget,not enough people to implement change, or not enough resources to accomplish a task.(Nora, I have no idea where you are today, so if you are reading this, send me a note).
Of course, the flip-side to this is that resources that are in abundance are generallytaken for granted. Priorities are focused on what is most scarce. Let's examine some of theresources involved in an IT storage environment:
- Capacity - while everyone complains that they are "running out of space", the truth is that most external disk attached to Linux, UNIX, or Windows systems contain only 20-40% data. Many years ago, I visitedan insurance company to talk about a new product called IBM Tivoli Storage Manager. This company had 7TB of disk on their mainframe,and another 7TB of disk scattered on various UNIX and Windows machines. In the room were TWO storage admins for
the mainframe, and 45 storage admins for the distributed systems. My first question was "why so many people forthe mainframe, certainly one of you could manage all of it yourself, perhaps on Wednesday afternoons?" Their response was that they acted as eachother's backup, in case one goes on vacation for two weeks. My follow-up question to the rest of the audience was:"When was the last time you took two weeks vacation?" Mainframes fill their disk and tape storage comfortablyat over 80-90% full of data, primarily because they have a more mature, robust set of management software, likeDFSMS.
- Labor - by this I mean skilled labor able to manage storage for a corporation. Some companies I have visitedkeep their new-hires off production systems for the first two years, working only on test or development systemsonly until then. Of course, labor is more expensive in some countries than others. Last year, I was doing a whiteboard session on-site for a client in China, and the last dry-erase pen ran out of ink. I asked for another pen, and they instead sent someone to go re-fill it. I asked wouldn't it be cheaper just to buy another pen, and they said "No, labor is cheap, but ink is expensive." Despite this, China does complain that there is a shortage of askilled IT labor force, so if you are looking for a job, start learning Mandarin.
- Power and Cooling - Most data centers are located on raised floors, with large trunks of electrical power and hugeair conditioning systems to deal with all the heat generated from each machine. I have visited the data centers ofclients that are forced now to make decisions on storage based on power and cooling consumption, because the coststo upgrade their aging buildings are too high. Leading the charge is IBM, with technology advancements in chips, cards, and complete systems that use less power, and generate less heat. While energy is still fairly cheap in the grand scheme of things, fears ofGlobal Warmingand declining oil supplies, the costs ofpower and cooling have gotten some news lately. In 1956, Hubbert predicted US would reach peak oil supplies by1965-1970 (it happened in 1971), and this year Simmonsestimated that world-wide oil production began its decline already in 2005. Smart companies like Google have movedtheir server farms to places like Oregon in the Pacific Northwest for cheaper hydroelectric power.
- Bandwidth - Last year IBM introduced 4Gbps Fibre Channel and FICON SAN networking gear, along with the servers and storage needed to complete the solution. 4Gbps equates to about 400 MB/sec in data throughput. By comparison, iSCSI is typically run on 1Gbps Ethernet, but has so much overheads that you only get abour 80 MB/sec. Next year, we may see both 8 Gbps SAN, and 10 GbE iSCSI, to provide 800 MB/sec throughputs. My experience is that the SAN is not the bottleneck, instead people run out of bandwidth at the server or storage end first. They may not have a million dollars to buy the fastest IBM System p5 servers, or may not have enough host adapters at the storage system end.
- Floorspace - I end with floorspace because it reminds me that many "shortages" are temporary or artificially created. Floorspace is only in short supply because you don't want to knock down a wall, or build a new building, to handle your additional storage requirements.In 1997, Tihamer Toth-Fejel wrote an article for the National Space Society newsletter that estimated that ...Everybody on Earth could live comfortably in the USA on only 15% of our land area, with a population density between that of Chicago and San Francisco. Using agricultural yields attained widely now, the rest of the U.S. would be sufficient to grow enough food for everyone. The rest of the planet, 93.7% of it, would be completely empty.Of course, back in 1997 the world population was only 5.9 billion, and this year it is over 6.5 billion.
This last point brings me back to the concept of food, and I am not talking about doughnuts in the conference room, or pizza while making year-end storage upgrades. I'm talking aboutthe food you work so hard to provide for yourself and your family. The folks at Oxfam came up with a simpleanalogy. If 20 people sit down at your table, representing the world’s population:
- 3 would be served a gourmet, multi-course meal, while sitting at decorated table and a cushioned chair.
- 5 would eat rice and beans with a fork and sit on a simple cushion
- 12 would wait in line to receive a small portion of rice that they would eat with their hands while sitting on the floor.
So for those of you planning a special meal next Monday, be thankful you are one of the lucky three, and hopefulthat IBM will continue to lead the IT industry to help out the other seventeen.
Happy Winter Solstice!
technorati tags: IBM, Northern, Hemisphere, Winter, Solstice, Nora+Denzel, Oxfam, scarcity, Linux, UNIX, Windows, TSM, Tivoli+Storage+Manager, storage, admins, global+warming, climate+change, peak+oil, National+Space+Society, special, meal