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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior Software Engineer for the IBM Storage product line at the
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author of the Inside System Storage series of books. This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to storage and storage networking hardware, software and services. You can also follow him on Twitter @az990tony.
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Every year, I teach hundreds of sellers how to sell IBM storage products. I have been doing this since the late 1990s, and it is one task that has carried forward from one job to another as I transitioned through various roles from development, to marketing, to consulting.
This week, I am in the city of Taipei [Taipei] to teach Top Gun sales class, part of IBM's [Sales Training] curriculum. This is only my second time here on the island of Taiwan.
As you can see from this photo, Taipei is a large city with just row after row of buildings. The metropolitan area has about seven million people, and I saw lots of construction for more on my ride in from the airport.
The student body consists of IBM Business Partners and field sales reps eager to learn how to become better sellers. Typically, some of the students might have just been hired on, just finished IBM Sales School, a few might have transferred from selling other product lines, while others are established storage sellers looking for a refresher on the latest solutions and technologies.
I am part of the teach team comprised of seven instructors from different countries. Here is what the week entails for me:
Monday - I will present "Selling Scale-Out NAS Solutions" that covers the IBM SONAS appliance and gateway configurations, and be part of a panel discussion on Disk with several other experts.
Tuesday - I have two topics, "Selling Disk Virtualization Solutions" and "Selling Unified Storage Solutions", which cover the IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC), Storwize V7000 and Storwize V7000 Unified products.
Wednesday - I will explain how to position and sell IBM products against the competition.
Thursday - I will present "Selling Infrastructure Management Solutions" and "Selling Unified Recovery Management Solutions", which focus on the IBM Tivoli Storage portfolio, including Tivoli Storage Productivity Center, Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM), and Tivoli Storage FlashCopy Manager (FCM). The day ends with the dreaded "Final Exam".
Friday - The students will present their "Team Value Workshop" presentations, and the class concludes with a formal graduation ceremony for the subset of students who pass. A few outstanding students will be honored with "Top Gun" status.
These are the solution areas I present most often as a consultant at the IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson, so I can provide real-life stories of different client situations to help illustrate my examples.
The weather here in Taipei calls for rain every day! I was able to take this photo on Sunday morning while it was still nice and clear, but later in the afternoon, we had quite the downpour. I am glad I brought my raincoat!
Last week, on January 31, two of my colleagues retired from IBM. At IBM, retirements always happen on the last day of the month. Here is my memories of each, listed alphabetically by last name.
Mark Doumas retires after working 32 years with IBM. Mark was my manager for a few months in 2003. Back then, IBM was working on launching a variety of new products, including the IBM SAN File System (SFS), the IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC), a new release of Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM), and TotalStorage Productivity Center (TPC), which was later renamed to IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center.
Mark was manager of the portfolio management team, and I was asked to manage the tape systems portfolio. I am no stranger to tape, as one of my 19 patents is for the pre-migration feature of the IBM 3494 Virtual Tape Server (VTS). The portfolio included LTO and Enterprise tape drives, tape libraries and virtual tape systems. My job was to help decide how much of IBM's money we should invest in each product area. This was less of a technical role, and more of a business-oriented project management position
Portfolio management is actually part of a chain of project management roles. At the lowest level are team leads that manage individual features, referred to as line items of a release. Release managers are responsible for all the line items of a particular release. Product managers determine which line items will be shipped in which release, and often have to balance across three or more releases. Architects help determine which products in a portfolio should have certain features. Since I was chief architect for DFSMS and Productivity Center, stepping up to portfolio manager was naturally the next rung on the career ladder.
(Side note: If you were wondering why I was only a few months on the job, it was because I was offered an even better position as Technical Evangelist for SVC. See my 2007 blog post [The Art of Evangelism] for a humourous glimpse of the kind of trouble I got in with that title on my business card!)
While my stint in this role was brief, I am still considered an honorary member of the tape development team. Nearly every week I present an overview of our tape systems portfolio at the Tucson Executive Briefing Center, or on the road at conferences and marketing events.
This year, 2012, marks the 60th anniversary of IBM Tape, but I will save that for a future post!
Jim is an IBM Fellow for IBM Systems and Technology Group. There are only 73 IBM Fellows currently working for IBM, and this is the highest honor IBM can bestow on an employee. He has been working with IBM since 1968 and now retires after 44 years! Jim was tasked with predicting the future of IT, and help drive strategic direction for IBM. Cost pressures, requirements for growth, accelerating innovation and changing business needs help influence this direction.
Many consider Jim one of the fathers of server virtualization. For those who think VMware invented the concept of running multiple operating systems on a single host machine, guess again! IBM developed the first server hypervisor in 1967, and introduced the industry's first [offical VM product on August 2, 1972] for the mainframe.
When I joined IBM in 1986, my first job was to work on what was then called DFHSM software for the MVS operating system. Each software engineer had unlimited access to his or her own VM instance of a mainframe for development and testing. This was way better than what we had in college, having to share time on systems for only a few minutes or hours per day. Today, DFHSM is now called the DFSMShsm component of DFSMS, an element of the z/OS operating system.
At various conferences like [SHARE] and [WAVV] we celebrated VM's 25th anniversary in 1997, and its 30th anniversary in 2002. Today, it is called z/VM and IBM continues to invest in its future. Last October, IBM announced [z/VM 6.2] release which provides Live Guest Relocation (LGR) to seemlessly move VM guest images from one mainframe to another, similar to PowerVM's Live Partition Mobility or VMware's VMotion.
Lately, it seems employees at other companies jump from job to job, and from employer to employer, on average every 4.1 years. According to [National Longitudinal Surveys] conducted by the [US. Government's Bureau of Labor Statistics], the average baby boomer holds 11 jobs. In contrast, it is quite common to see IBMers work the majority of their career at IBM.
The next time you have a tasty beverage in your hand, raise your glass! To Mark and Jim, you have earned our respect, and you both have certainly earned your retirement!
Continuing my coverage of the 30th annual [Data Center Conference]. here is a recap of Wednesday morning sessions.
A Data Center Perspective on MegaVendors
The morning started with a keynote session. The analyst felt that the eight most strategic or disruptive companies in the past few decades were: IBM, HP, Cisco, SAP, Oracle, Apple and Google. Of these, he focused on the first three, which he termed the "Megavendors", presented in alphabetical order.
Cisco enjoys high-margins and a loyal customer base with Ethernet switch gear. Their new strategy to sell UP and ACROSS the stack moves them into lower-margin business like servers. Their strong agenda with NetApp is not in sync with their partnership with EMC. They recently had senior management turn-over.
HP enjoys a large customer base and is recognized for good design and manufacturing capabilities. Their challenges are mostly organizational, distracted by changes at the top and an untested and ever-changing vision, shifting gears and messages too often. Concerns over the Itanium have not helped them lately.
IBM defies simple description. One can easily recognize Cisco as an "Ethernet Switch" company, HP as a "Printer Company", Oracle as a "Database Company', but you can't say that IBM is an "XYZ" company, as it has re-invented itself successfully over its past 100 years, with a strong focus on client relationships. IBM enjoys high margins, sustainable cost structure, huge resources, a proficient sales team, and is recognized for its innovation with a strong IBM Research division. Their "Smarter Planet" vision has been effective in supporting their individual brands and unlock new opportuties. IBM's focus on growth markets takes advantage of their global reach.
His final advice was to look for "good enough" solutions that are "built for change" rather than "built to last".
Chris works in the Data Center Management and Optimization Services team. IBM owns and/or manages over 425 data centers, representing over 8 million square feet of floorspace. This includes managing 13 million desktops, and 325,000 x86 and UNIX server images, and 1,235 mainframes. IBM is able to pool resources and segment the complexity for flexible resource balancing.
Chris gave an example of a company that selected a Cloud Compute service provided on the East coast a Cloud Storage provider on the West coast, both for offering low rates, but was disappointed in the latency between the two.
Chris asked "How did 5 percent utilization on x86 servers ever become acceptable?" When IBM is brought in to manage a data center, it takes a "No Server Left Behind" approach to reduce risk and allow for a strong focus on end-user transition. Each server is evaluated for its current utilization:
Amazingly, many servers are unused. These are recycled properly.
1 to 19 percent
Workload is virtualized and moved to a new server.
20 to 39 percent
Use IBM's Active Energy Manager to monitor the server.
40 to 59 percent
Add more VMs to this virtualized server.
over 60 percent
Manage the workload balance on this server.
This approach allows IBM to achieve a 60 to 70 percent utilization average on x86 machines, with an ROI payback period of 6 to 18 months, and 2x-3x increase of servers-managed-per-FTE.
Storage is classified using Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) best practices, using automation with pre-defined data placement and movement policies. This allows only 5 percent of data to be on Tier-1, 15 percent on Tier-2, 15 percent on Tier-3, and 65 percent on Tier-4 storage.
Chris recommends adopting IT Service Management, and to shift away from one-off builds, stand-alone apps, and siloed cost management structures, and over to standardization and shared resources.
You may have heard of "Follow-the-sun" but have you heard of "Follow-the-moon"? Global companies often establish "follow-the-sun" for customer service, re-directing phone calls to be handled by people in countries during their respective daytime hours. In the same manner, server and storage virtualization allows workloads to be moved to data centers during night-time hours, following the moon, to take advantage of "free cooling" using outside air instead of computer room air conditioning (CRAC).
Since 2007, IBM has been able to double computer processing capability without increasing energy consumption or carbon gas emissions.
It's Wednesday, Day 3, and I can tell already that the attendees are suffering from "information overload'.
Continuing my coverage of the 30th annual [Data Center Conference]. Here is a recap of more of the Tuesday afternoon sessions:
IBM CIOs and Storage
Barry Becker, IBM Manager of Global Strategic Outsourcing Enablement for Data Center Services, presented this session on Storage Infrastructure Optimization (SIO).
A bit of context might help. I started my career in DFHSM which moved data from disk to tape to reduce storage costs. Over the years, I wouuld visit clients, analyze their disk and tape environment, and provide a set of recommendations on how to run their operations better. In 2004, this was formalized into week-long "Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) Assessments", and I spent 18 months in the field training a group of folks on how to perform them. The IBM Global Technology Services team have taken a cross-brand approach, expanding this ILM approach to include evaluations of the application workloads and data types. These SIO studies take 3-4 weeks to complete.
Over the next decade, there will only be 50 percent more IT professionals than we have today, so new approaches will be needed for governance and automation to deal with the explosive growth of information.
SIO deals with both the demand and supply of data growth in five specific areas:
Data reclamation, rationalization and planning
Virtualization and tiering
Backup, business continuity and disaster recovery
Storage process and governance
Archive, Retention and Compliance
The process involves gathering data and interview business, financial and technical stakeholders like storage administrators and application owners. The interviews take less than one hour per person.
Over the past two years, the SIO team has uncovered disturbing trends. A big part of the problem is that 70 percent of data stored on disk has not been accessed in the past 90 days, and is unlikely to be accessed at all in the near future, so would probably be better to store on lower cost storage tiers.
Storage Resource Management (SRM) is also a mess, with over 85 percent of clients having serious reporting issues. Even rudimentary "Showback" systems to report back what every individual, group or department were using resulted in significant improvement.
Archive is not universally implemented mostly because retention requirements are often misunderstood. Barry attributed this to lack of collaboration between storage IT personnel, compliance officers, and application owners. A "service catalog" that identifies specific storage and data types can help address many of these concerns.
The results were impressive. Clients that follow SIO recommendations save on average 20 to 25 percent after one year, and 50 percent after three to five years. Implementing storage virtualization averaged 22 percent lower CAPEX costs. Those that implemented a "service catalog" saved on average $1.9 million US dollars. Internally, IBM's own operations have saved $13 million dollars implementing these recommendations over the past three years.
Reshaping Storage for Virtualization and Big Data
The two analysts presenting this topic acknowledged there is no downturn on the demand for storage. To address this, they recommend companies identify storage inefficiencies, develop better forecasting methodologies, implement ILM, and follow vendor management best practices during acquisition and outsourcing.
To deal with new challenges like virtualization and Big Data, companies must decide to keep, replace or supplement their SRM tools, and build a scalable infrastructure.
One suggestion to get upper management to accept new technologies like data deduplication, thin provisioning, and compression is to refer to them as "Green" technologies, as they help reduce energy costs as well. Thin provisioning can help drive up storage utilization to rates as high as you dare, typically 60 to 70 percent is what most people are comfortable with.
A poll of the audience found that top three initiatives for 2012 are to implement data deduplication, 10Gb Ethernet, and Solid-State drives (SSD).
The analysts explained that there are two different types of cloud storage. The first kind is storage "for" the cloud, used for cloud compute instances (aka Virtual Machines), such as Amazon EBS for EC2. The second kind is storage "as" the cloud, storage as a data service, such as Amazon S3, Azure Blob and AT&T Synaptic.
The analysts feel that cloud storage deployments will be mostly private clouds, bursting as needed to public cloud storage. This creates the need for a concept called "Cloud Storage Gateways" that manage this hybrid of some local storage and some remote storage. IBM's SONAS Active Cloud Engine provides long-distance caching in this manner. Other smaller startups include cTera, Nasuni, Panzura, Riverbed, StorSimple, and TwinStrata.
A variation of this are "storage gateways" for backup and archive providers as a staging area for data to be subsequently sent on to the remote location.
New projects like virtualization, Cloud computing and Big Data are giving companies a new opportunity to re-evaluate their strategies for storage, process and governance.
Over on the Tivoli Storage Blog, there is an exchange over the concept of a "Storage Hypervisor". This started with fellow IBMer Ron Riffe's blog post [Enabling Private IT for Storage Cloud -- Part I], with a promise to provide parts 2 and 3 in the next few weeks. Here's an excerpt:
"Storage resources are virtualized. Do you remember back when applications ran on machines that really were physical servers (all that “physical” stuff that kept everything in one place and slowed all your processes down)? Most folks are rapidly putting those days behind them.
In August, Gartner published a paper [Use Heterogeneous Storage Virtualization as a Bridge to the Cloud] that observed “Heterogeneous storage virtualization devices can consolidate a diverse storage infrastructure around a common access, management and provisioning point, and offer a bridge from traditional storage infrastructures to a private cloud storage environment” (there’s that “cloud” language). So, if I’m going to use a storage hypervisor as a first step toward cloud enabling my private storage environment, what differences should I expect? (good question, we get that one all the time!)
The basic idea behind hypervisors (server or storage) is that they allow you to gather up physical resources into a pool, and then consume virtual slices of that pool until it’s all gone (this is how you get the really high utilization). The kicker comes from being able to non-disruptively move those slices around. In the case of a storage hypervisor, you can move a slice (or virtual volume) from tier to tier, from vendor to vendor, and now, from site to site all while the applications are online and accessing the data. This opens up all kinds of use cases that have been described as “cloud”. One of the coolest is inter-site application migration.
A good storage hypervisor helps you be smart.
Application owners come to you for storage capacity because you’re responsible for the storage at your company. In the old days, if they requested 500GB of capacity, you allocated 500GB off of some tier-1 physical array – and there it sat. But then you discovered storage hypervisors! Now you tell that application owner he has 500GB of capacity… What he really has is a 500GB virtual volume that is thin provisioned, compressed, and backed by lower-tier disks. When he has a few data blocks that get really hot, the storage hypervisor dynamically moves just those blocks to higher tier storage like SSD’s. His virtual disk can be accessed anywhere across vendors, tiers and even datacenters. And in the background you have changed the vendor storage he is actually sitting on twice because you found a better supplier. But he doesn’t know any of this because he only sees the 500GB virtual volume you gave him. It’s 'in the cloud'."
"Let’s start with a quick walk down memory lane. Do you remember what your data protection environment looked like before virtualization? There was a server with an operating system and an application… and that thing had a backup agent on it to capture backup copies and send them someplace (most likely over an IP network) for safe keeping. It worked, but it took a lot of time to deploy and maintain all the agents, a lot of bandwidth to transmit the data, and a lot of disk or tapes to store it all. The topic of data protection has modernized quite a bit since then.
Fast forward to today. Modernization has come from three different sources – the server hypervisor, the storage hypervisor and the unified recovery manager. The end result is a data protection environment that captures all the data it needs in one coordinated snapshot action, efficiently stores those snapshots, and provides for recovery of just about any slice of data you could want. It’s quite the beautiful thing."
At this point, you might scratch your head and ask "Does this Storage Hypervisor exist, or is this just a theoretical exercise?" The answer of course is "Yes, it does exist!" Just like VMware offers vSphere and vCenter, IBM offers block-level disk virtualization through the SAN Volume Controller(SVC) and Storwize V7000 products, with a full management support from Tivoli Storage Productivity Center Standard Edition.
SVC has supported every release of VMware since the 2.5 version. IBM is the leading reseller of VMware, so it makes sense for IBM and VMware development to collaborate and make sure all the products run smoothly together. SVC presents volumes that can be formatted for VMFS file system to hold your VMDK files, accessible via FCP protocol. IBM and VMware have some key synergies:
Management integration with Tivoli Storage Productivity Center and VMware vCenter plug-in
VAAI support: Hardware-assisted locking, hardware-assisted zeroing, and hardware-assisted copying. Some of the competitors, like EMC VPLEX, don't have this!
Space-efficient FlashCopy. Let's say you need 250 VM images, all running a particular level of Windows. A boot volume of 20GB each would consume 5000GB (5 TB) of capacity. Instead, create a Golden Master volume. Then, take 249 copies with space-efficient FlashCopy, which only consumes space for the modified portions of the new volumes. For each copy, make the necessary changes like unique hostname and IP address, changing only a few blocks of data each. The end result? 250 unique VM boot volumes in less than 25GB of space, a 200:1 reduction!
Support for VMware's Site Recovery Manager using SVC's Metro Mirror or Global Mirror features for remote-distance replication.
Data center federation. SVC allows you to seamlessly do vMotion from one datacenter to another using its "stretched cluster" capability. Basically, SVC makes a single image of the volume available to both locations, and stores two physical copies, one in each location. You can lose either datacenter and still have uninterrupted access to your data. VMware's HA or Fault Tolerance features can kick in, same as usual.
But unlike tools that work only with VMware, IBM's storage hypervisor works with a variety of server virtualization technologies, including Microsoft Hyper-V, Xen, OracleVM, Linux KVM, PowerVM, z/VM and PR/SM. This is important, as a recent poll on the Hot Aisle blog indicates that [44 percent run 2 or more server hypervisors]!
Join the conversation! The virtual dialogue on this topic will continue in a [live group chat] this Friday, September 23, 2011 from 12 noon to 1pm EDT. Join me and about 20 other top storage bloggers, key industry analysts and IBM Storage subject matter experts to discuss storage hypervisors and get questions answered about improving your private storage environment.
Continuing my coverage of the Data Center 2010 conference, Monday I attended four keynote sessions.
The first keynote speaker started out with an [English proverb]: Turbulent waters make for skillful mariners.
He covered the state of the global economy and how CIOs should address the challenge. We are on the flat end of an "L-shaped" recovery in the United States. GDP growth is expected to be only 4.7 percent Latin America, 2.3 percent in North America, 1.5 percent Europe. Top growth areas include 8.0 percent India and 8.6 percent China, with an average of 4.7 growth for the entire Asia Pacific region.
On the technical side, the top technologies that CIOs are pursuing for 2011 are Cloud Computing, Virtualization, Mobility, and Business Intelligence/Analytics. He asked the audience if the "Stack Wars" for integrated systems are hurting or helping innovation in these areas.
Move over "conflict diamonds", companies now need to worry about [conflict minerals].
He proposed an alternative approach called Fabric-Based Infrastructure. In this new model, a shared pool of servers is connected to a shared pool of storage over an any-to-any network. In this approach, IT staff spend all of their time just stocking up the vending machine, allowing end-users to get the resources they need.
Crucial Trends You Need to Watch
The second speaker covered ten trends to watch, but these were not limited to just technology trends.
Virtualization is just beginning - even though IBM has had server virtualization since 1967 and storage virtualization since 1974, the speaker felt that adoption of virtualization is still in its infancy. Ten years ago, average CPU utilization for x86 servers of was only 5-7 percent. Thanks to server virtualization like VMware and Hyper-V, companies have increased this to 25 percent, but many projects to virtualized have stalled.
Big Data is the elephant in the room - storage growth is expected to grow 800 percent over the next 5 years.
Green IT - Datacenters consume 40 to 100 times more energy than the offices they support. Six months ago, Energy Star had announced [standards for datacenters] and energy efficiency initiatives.
Unified Communications - Voice over IP (VoIP) technologies, collaboration with email and instant messages, and focus on Mobile smartphones and other devices combines many overlapping areas of communication.
Staff retention and retraining - According to US Labor statistics, the average worker will have 10 to 14 different jobs by the time they reach 38 years of age. People need to broaden their scope and not be so vertically focused on specific areas.
Social Networks and Web 2.0 - the keynote speaker feels this is happening, and companies that try to restrict usage at work are fighting an uphill battle. Better to get ready for it and adopt appropriate policies.
Legacy Migrations - companies are stuck on old technology like Microsoft Windows XP, Internet Explorer 6, and older levels of Office applications. Time is running out, but migration to later releases or alternatives like Red Hat Linux with Firefox browser are not trivial tasks.
Compute Density - Moore's Law that says compute capability will double every 18 months is still going strong. We are now getting more cores per socket, forcing applications to re-write for parallel processing, or use virtualization technologies.
Cloud Computing - every session this week will mention Cloud Computing.
Converged Fabrics - some new approaches are taking shape for datacenter design. Fabric-based infrastructure would benefit from converging SAN and LAN fabrics to allow pools of servers to communicate freely to pools of storage.
He sprinkled fun factoids about our world to keep things entertaining.
50 percent of today's 21-year-olds have produced content for the web. 70 percent of four-year-olds have used a computer. The average teenager writes 2,282 text messages on their cell phone per month.
This year, Google averaged 31 billion searches per month, compared 2.6 billion searches per month in 2007.
More video has been uploaded to YouTube in the last two months than the three major US networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) have aired since 1948.
Wikipedia averages 4300 new articles per day, and now has over 13 million articles.
This year, Facebook reached 500 million users. If it were a country, it would be ranked third. Twitter would be ranked 7th, with 69% of their growth being from people 32-50 years old.
In 1997, a GB of flash memory cost nearly $8000 to manufacture, today it is only $1.25 instead.
The computer in today's cell phone is million times cheaper, and thousand times more powerful, than a single computer installed at MIT back in 1965. In 25 years, the compute capacity of today's cell phones could fit inside a blood cell.
See [interview of Ray Kurzweil] on the Singularity for more details.
The Virtualization Scenario: 2010 to 2015
The third keynote covered virtualization. While server virtualization has helped reduce server costs, as well as power and cooling energy consumption, it has had a negative effect on other areas. Companies that have adopted server virtualization have discovered increased costs for storage, software and test/development efforts.
The result is a gap between expectations and reality. Many virtualization projects have stalled because there is a lack of long-term planning. The analysts recommend deploying virtualization in stages, tackle the first third, so called "low hanging fruit", then proceed with the next third, and then wait and evaluate results before completing the last third, most difficult applications.
Virtualization of storage and desktop clients are completely different projects than server virtualization and should be handled accordingly.
Cloud Computing: Riding the Storm Out
The fourth keynote focus on the pros and cons of Cloud Computing. First they start by defining the five key attributes of Cloud: self-service, scalable elasticity, shared pool of resources, metered and paid per use, over open standard networking technologies.
In addition to IaaS, PaaS and SaaS classifications, the keynote speaker mentioned a fourth one: Business Process as a Service (BPaaS), such as processing Payroll or printing invoices.
While the debate rages over the benefits between private and public cloud approaches, the keynote speaker brings up the opportunites for hybrid and community clouds. In fact, he felt there is a business model for a "cloud broker" that acts as the go-between companies and cloud service providers.
A poll of the audience found the top concerns inhibiting cloud adoption were security, privacy, regulatory compliance and immaturity. Some 66 percent indicated they plan to spend more on private cloud in 2011, and 20 percent plan to spend more on public cloud options. He suggested six focus areas:
Test and Development
Prototyping / Proof-of-Concept efforts
Web Application serving
SaaS like email and business analytics
Select workloads that lend themselves to parallelization
The session wrapped up with some stunning results reported by companies. Server provisioning accomplished in 3-5 minutes instead of 7-12 weeks. Reduced cost of email by 70 percent. Four-hour batch jobs now completed in 20 minutes. 50 percent increase in compute capacity with flat IT budget. With these kind of results, the speaker suggests that CIOs should at least start experimenting with cloud technologies and start to profile their workloads and IT services to develop a strategy.
That was just Monday morning, this is going to be an interesting week!
Here I am, day 11 of a 17-day business trip, on my last leg of the trip this week, in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. I have been flooded with requests to give my take on EMC's latest re-interpretation of storage virtualization, VPLEX.
I'll leave it to my fellow IBM master inventor Barry Whyte to cover the detailed technical side-by-side comparison. Instead, I will focus on the business side of things, using Simon Sinek's Why-How-What sequence. Here is a [TED video] from Garr Reynold's post
[The importance of starting from Why].
Let's start with the problem we are trying to solve.
Problem: migration from old gear to new gear, old technology to new technology, from one vendor to another vendor, is disruptive, time-consuming and painful.
Given that IT storage is typically replaced every 3-5 years, then pretty much every company with an internal IT department has this problem, the exception being those companies that don't last that long, and those that use public cloud solutions. IT storage can be expensive, so companies would like their new purchases to be fully utilized on day 1, and be completely empty on day 1500 when the lease expires. I have spoken to clients who have spent 6-9 months planning for the replacement or removal of a storage array.
A solution to make the data migration non-disruptive would benefit the clients (make it easier for their IT staff to keep their data center modern and current) as well as the vendors (reduce the obstacle of selling and deploying new features and functions). Storage virtualization can be employed to help solve this problem. I define virtualization as "technology that makes one set of resources look and feel like a different set of resources, preferably with more desirable characteristics.". By making different storage resources, old and new, look and feel like a single type of resource, migration can be performed without disrupting applications.
Before VPLEX, here is a breakdown of each solution:
Non-disruptive tech refresh, and a unified platform to provide management and functionality across heterogeneous storage.
Non-disruptive tech refresh, and a unified platform to provide management and functionality between internal tier-1 HDS storage, and external tier-2 heterogeneous storage.
Non-disruptive tech refresh, with unified multi-pathing driver that allows host attachment of heterogeneous storage.
New in-band storage virtualization device
Add in-band storage virtualization to existing storage array
New out-of-band storage virtualization device with new "smart" SAN switches
SAN Volume Controller
HDS USP-V and USP-VM
For IBM, the motivation was clear: Protect customers existing investment in older storage arrays and introduce new IBM storage with a solution that allows both to be managed with a single set of interfaces and provide a common set of functionality, improving capacity utilization and availability. IBM SAN Volume Controller eliminated vendor lock-in, providing clients choice in multi-pathing driver, and allowing any-to-any migration and copy services. For example, IBM SVC can be used to help migrate data from an old HDS USP-V to a new HDS USP-V.
With EMC, however, the motivation appeared to protect software revenues from their PowerPath multi-pathing driver, TimeFinder and SRDF copy services. Back in 2005, when EMC Invista was first announced, these three software represented 60 percent of EMC's bottom-line profit. (Ok, I made that last part up, but you get my point! EMC charges a lot for these.)
Back in 2006, fellow blogger Chuck Hollis (EMC) suggested that SVC was just a [bump in the wire] which could not possibly improve performance of existing disk arrays. IBM showed clients that putting cache(SVC) in front of other cache(back end devices) does indeed improve performance, in the same way that multi-core processors successfully use L1/L2/L3 cache. Now, EMC is claiming their cache-based VPLEX improves performance of back-end disk. My how EMC's story has changed!
So now, EMC announces VPLEX, which sports a blend of SVC-like and Invista-like characteristics. Based on blogs, tweets and publicly available materials I found on EMC's website, I have been able to determine the following comparison table. (Of course, VPLEX is not yet generally available, so what is eventually delivered may differ.)
Scalable, 1 to 4 node-pairs
One size fits all, single pair of CPCs
SVC-like, 1 to 4 director-pairs
Works with any SAN switches or directors
Required special "smart" switches (vendor lock-in)
SVC-like, works with any SAN switches or directors
Broad selection of IBM Subsystem Device Driver (SDD) offered at no additional charge, as well as OS-native drivers Windows MPIO, AIX MPIO, Solaris MPxIO, HP-UX PV-Links, VMware MPP, Linux DM-MP, and comercial third-party driver Symantec DMP.
Limited selection, with focus on priced PowerPath driver
Invista-like, PowerPath and Windows MPIO
Read cache, and choice of fast-write or write-through cache, offering the ability to improve performance.
No cache, Split-Path architecture cracked open Fibre Channel packets in flight, delayed every IO by 20 nanoseconds, and redirected modified packets to the appropriate physical device.
SVC-like, Read and write-through cache, offering the ability to improve performance.
Space-Efficient Point-in-Time copies
SVC FlashCopy supports up to 256 space-efficient targets, copies of copies, read-only or writeable, and incremental persistent pairs.
Like Invista, No
Remote distance mirror
Choice of SVC Metro Mirror (synchronous up to 300km) and Global Mirror (asynchronous), or use the functionality of the back-end storage arrays
No native support, use functionality of back-end storage arrays, or purchase separate product called EMC RecoverPoint to cover this lack of functionality
Limited synchronous remote-distance mirror within VPLEX (up to 100km only), no native asynchronous support, use functionality of back-end storage arrays
Provides thin provisioning to devices that don't offer this natively
Like Invista, No
SVC Split-Cluster allows concurrent read/write access of data to be accessed from hosts at two different locations several miles apart
I don't think so
PLEX-Metro, similar in concept but implemented differently
Non-disruptive tech refresh
Can upgrade or replace storage arrays, SAN switches, and even the SVC nodes software AND hardware themselves, non-disruptively
Tech refresh for storage arrays, but not for Invista CPCs
Tech refresh of back end devices, and upgrade of VPLEX software, non-disruptively. Not clear if VPLEX engines themselves can be upgraded non-disruptively like the SVC.
Heterogeneous Storage Support
Broad support of over 140 different storage models from all major vendors, including all CLARiiON, Symmetrix and VMAX from EMC, and storage from many smaller startups you may not have heard of
Invista-like. VPLEX claims to support a variety of arrays from a variety of vendors, but as far as I can find, only DS8000 supported from the list of IBM devices. Fellow blogger Barry Burke (EMC) suggests [putting SVC between VPLEX and third party storage devices] to get the heterogeneous coverage most companies demand.
Back-end storage requirement
Must define quorum disks on any IBM or non-IBM back end storage array. SVC can run entirely on non-IBM storage arrays
HP SVSP-like, requires at least one EMC storage array to hold metadata
SVC 2145-CF8 model supports up to four solid-state drives (SSD) per node that can treated as managed disk to store end-user data
Invista-like. VPLEX has an internal 30GB SSD, but this is used only for operating system and logs, not for end-user data.
In-band virtualization solutions from IBM and HDS dominate the market. Being able to migrate data from old devices to new ones non-disruptively turned out to be only the [tip of the iceberg] of benefits from storage virtualization. In today's highly virtualized server environment, being able to non-disruptively migrate data comes in handy all the time. SVC is one of the best storage solutions for VMware, Hyper-V, XEN and PowerVM environments. EMC watched and learned in the shadows, taking notes of what people like about the SVC, and decided to follow IBM's time-tested leadership to provide a similar offering.
EMC re-invented the wheel, and it is round. On a scale from Invista (zero) to SVC (ten), I give EMC's new VPLEX a six.