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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior Software Engineer for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2016, Tony celebrates his 30th year anniversary with IBM Storage. He is
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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Chris Evans over at Storage Architect posts aboutHardware Replacement Lifecycle Update, on how storage virtualization can helpwith storage hardware replacemement. He makes two points that I would like to comment on.
... indeed products such as USP, SVC and Invista can help in this regard. However at some stage even the virtualisation tools need replacing and the problem remains, although in a different place.
Knowing that replacement of technologies at all levels are inevitable, IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controlleris actually designed to allow cluster non-disruptive upgrade, which we announcedMay 2006.
The process is quite elegant. The SVC consists of one or more node-pairs, and can be upgraded while the systemis up and running by replacing nodes one at a time in a sequence of suspend and resume. All of the mapping tablesare loaded onto the new nodes from the rest of the still active nodes.
I was hoping as part of the USP-V announcement HDS would indicate how they intend to help customers migrate from an existing USP which is virtualising storage, but alas it didn't happen.
Unlike the SVC, once cannot just upgrade the USP in place and make it into a USP-V. While it might be possible tounplug external disk from the old USP, and re-plug into the new USP-V, what do you do about the internal disk data?I doubt you can just move drawers and trays of disk from the old to the new. The data has to be moved some other way.
Some have asked why not just put an SVC in front of both the old USP and the new USP-V and transfer the data that way.While SVC does support virtualizing the old USP device, IBM is still testing the new USP-V as a managed device, and so this solution is not yet available, and would only apply to the LUNs in the USP-V, not the volumes specifically formatted for System i or System z.
An alternative is to take advantage of IBM's Data Mobility Services, the result of our recentacquisition of SofTek. IBM can help you both mainframe and distributed systems data from any device, to any device.
In a typical four year lifecycle of storage arrays, it might take six months or so to fill up the box, and might takeas much as a year at the end to move the data out to other equipment. SVC can greatly reduce both of these, so that you can take immediate advantage of new equipment as soon as possible, and keep using it for close to the full four years,migrating weeks or days before your lease expires.
Last week, a writer for a magazine contacted us at IBM to confirm a quote that writing a Terabyte (TB) on disk saves 50,000 trees. I explained that this was cited from UC Berkeley's famousHow Much Information? 2003 study.
To be fair, the USA Today article explains that AT&T also offers "summary billing" as well as "on-line billing", but apparently neither of these are the default choice. I can understand that phone companies send out bills on paper because not everyone who has a phone has internet access, but in the case of its iPhone customers, internet access is in the palm of your hands! Since all iPhone customers have internet access, and AT&T knows which customers are using an iPhone, it would make sense for either on-line billing or summary billing to be the default choice, and let only those that hate trees explicitly request the full billing option.
Sending a box of 300 pages of printed paper is expensive, both for the sender and the recipient. This informationcould have been shipped less expensively on computer media, a single floppy diskette or CDrom for example. Forthose who prefer getting this level of detail, a searchable digitized version might be more useful to the consumer.
Which brings me to the concept of Information Lifecycle Management (ILM). You can read my recent posts on ILM byclicking the Lifecycle tab on the right panel, or my now infamous post from last year about ILM for my iPod.
His recollection of the history and evolution of ILM fairly matches mine:
The phrase "Information Lifecycle Management" was originally coined by StorageTek in early 1990s as a way to sell its tape systems into mainframe environments. Automated tape libraries eliminated most if not all of the concerns that disk-only vendors tout as the problem with manual tape. I began my IBM career in a product now called DFSMShsm which specifically moved data from disk to tape when it no longer needed the service level of disk. IBM had been delivering ILM offerings since the 1970s, so while StorageTek can't claim inventing the concept, we give them credit for giving it a catchy phrase.
EMC then started using the phrase four years ago in its marketing to sell its disk systems, including slower less-expensive SATA disk. The ILM concept helped EMC provide context for the many acquisitions of smaller companies that filled gaps in the EMC portfolio. Question: Why did EMC acquire company X? Answer: To be more like IBM and broaden its ILM solution portfolio.
Information Lifecycle Management is comprised of the policies, processes,practices, and tools used to align the business value of information with the mostappropriate and cost effective IT infrastructure from the time information isconceived through its final disposition. Information is aligned with businessrequirements through management policies and service levels associated withapplications, metadata, and data.
Whitepapers and other materials you might read from IBM, EMC, Sun/StorageTek, HP and others will all pretty much tell you what ILM is, consistent with this SNIA definition, why it is good for most companies, and how it is not just about buying disk and tape hardware. Software, services, and some discipline are needed to complete the implementation.
While the SNIA definition provides a vendor-independent platform to start the conversation, it can be intimidatingto some, and is difficult to memorize word for word.When I am briefing clients, especially high-level executives, they often ask for ILM to be explained in simpler terms. My simplified version is:
Information starts its life captured or entered as an "asset" ...
This asset can sometimes provide competitive advantage, or is just something needed for daily operations. Digital assets vary in business value in much the same way that other physical assets for a company might. Some assets might be declared a "necessary evil" like laptops, but are tracked to the n'th degree to ensure they are not lost, stolen or taken out of the building. Other assetsare declared "strategically important" but are readily discarded, or at least allowed to walk out the door each evening.
... then transitions into becoming just an "expense" ...
After 30-60 days, many of the pieces of information are kept around for a variety of reasons. However, if it isn'tneeded for daily operations, you might save some money moving it to less expensive storage media, throughless expensive SAN or LAN network gear, via less expensive host application servers. If you don't need instantaccess, then perhaps the 30 seconds or so to fetch it from much-less-expensive tape in an automated tape librarycould be a reasonable business trade-off.
... and ends up as a "liability".
Keeping data around too long can be a problem. In some cases, incriminating, and in other cases, just having toomuch data clogs up your datacenter arteries. If not handled properly within privacy guidelines, data potentially exposes sensitive personal or financial information of your employees and clients. Most regulations require certain data to be kept, in a manner protected against unexpected loss, unethical tampering, and unauthorized access, for a specific amount of time, after which it can be destroyed, deleted or shredded.
So ILM is not just a good idea to save a company money, it can keep them out of the court room, as well as help save the environment and not kill so many trees. Now that 100 percent of iPhone customers have internet access, and a goodnumber of non-iPhone customers have internet access at home, work, school or public library, it makes sense for companies to ask people to "opt-in" to getting their statements on paper, rather than forcing them to "opt-out".
Eventually hardware fails, ... ... eventually software works.
For a solid backup product, consider usingIBM Tivoli Storage Manager.I use it to protect all my data on my laptop. And when switching recently from my old Thinkpad T30 to my newThinkpad T60, used it to transfer my data over as well.[Read More]
In addition to creating the Dilbert cartoon, Scott Adams has a blog, which sometimes is quite serious,and other times quite funny. The anticipated 30x cost of "Flash Drives" for Enterprise disk systems reminded meof one of Scott's articles from November 2007 titled [Urge to Simplify].Here's an excerpt:
Now the casinos have people trained, like chickens hoping for pellets, to take money from one machine (the ATM), carry it across a room and deposit in another machine (the slot machine). I believe B.F. Skinner would agree with me that there is room for even more efficiency: The ATM and the slot machine need to be the same machine.
The casinos lose a lot of money waiting for the portly gamblers with respiratory issues to waddle from the ATM to the slot machines. A better solution would be for the losers, euphemistically called “players,” to stand at the ATM and watch their funds be transferred to the hotel, while hoping to somehow “win.” The ATM could be redesigned to blink and make exciting sounds, so it seems less like robbery.
I’m sure this is in the five-year plan. Longer term, people will be trained to set up automatic transfers from their banks to the casinos. People will just fly to Vegas, wander around on the tarmac while the casino drains their bank accounts, then board the plane and fly home. The airlines are already in on this concept, and stopped feeding you sandwiches a while ago.
Perhaps EMC can redesign its DMX-4 to "blink and make exciting sounds" as well. The Flash Drives were designedfor the financial services industry, so those disk systems could be directly connected to make transfers between the appropriate bank accounts.
The Harvard Extension School is running a course focused on virtual law with a Second Life component. Rebecca Nesson (’Rebecca Berkman’ in Second Life) is teaching the class. The lectures, which look fascinating, are available to at-large participants on Berkman Island [SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Berkman/113/70/24].
You can attend the lectures in Second Life on Monday evenings from 8:00-10:00pm EST (5:00-7:00pm SL time). Videos of past lectures are linked on the course’s web site, where you can also find the syllabus, a wiki, and more.
The US version of The Office (which does an excellent job of being almost as funny as the BBC version) is no stranger to life online. It’s fun to spot Kevin, Meredith, Creed, Roy, Pam all on MySpace, and Dwight has a blog. This week they dipped into Second Life. The very same week as CSI:NY; It’s all getting very mainstream.
Of course, the Office’s treatment of SL was as tongue-in-cheek as you’d expect…
Dwight:“Second Life is not a game. It is a Multi User Virtual Environment. It doesn’t have points or scores or winners or losers.”
Jim:“Oh, it has losers.”
Steve Nelson at Clear Ink, the team behind bringing the office into SL for the episode, has [written about the project] and carefully lists the locations and clothing used.
I watched this episode and loved how they were able to blend it in seamlessly without looking out of placeor awkward reference.
Cisco Systems Inc. has been staging virtual meetings between developers and channel partners in Second Life for more than a year, but this invitation was a first for me. So a presentation announcing the winners of a networking technology innovation contest -- inside a Second Life simulation -- seemed like the place to be.
I'm probably an SL noob (for newbie) by most standards, but I've spent enough time there to know most of the ways to move and how to search out islands and events.
In all, I would say the Cisco event sparked my interest in the SL virtual meeting format, but my attention was focused more on making things in SL work smoothly than on the material presented.
I've had some interesting conversations with event-coordinators looking for advice on setting up events in Second Life, so I suspect that is a good sign that this is still growing momentum.
We have some exciting webcasts in the upcoming weeks!
Smarter Enterprises Need Smarter Storage
In this [InformationWeek webcast], my IBM colleague Allen Marin will present a brief overview of IBM Smarter Storage for the enterprise with a focus on new high-end disk and Virtual Tape solutions.
Allen will take you through the recent enhancements [announced earlier this month], highlighting how the new capabilities can address the requirements of your mission-critical applications, as well as your evolving business analytics, and cloud initiatives.
Date: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 Time: 10:00 AM PDT / 10:00AM Arizona / 1:00 PM EDT Duration: 60 Minutes
[Register now!] All registrants will get the independent Clipper Group Report - "When Infrastructure Really Matters - A Focus on High-End Storage" - free!
Smarter Storage for Midsize Businesses
Businesses of all sizes are getting buried in the avalanche of data. Data is coming in at faster rates and in greater volumes. The value of data is increasing. Old processes and technologies aren't working. Midsize businesses have the same issues managing the rapid growth of data as large enterprises, but they don't have the same size budget or staff. They need advanced capabilities at an affordable price that are easy to implement.
Speakers for this webcast include Brian Truskowski, General Manager, IBM System Storage and Networking; Ed Walsh, Vice President of Market and Strategy, IBM System Storage; and Tommy Rickard, IBM Director, UK Storage Development.
Date: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 Time: 8:00 AM PST / 9:00AM Arizona / 11:00 AM EST Duration: 60 Minutes
[Register now!] Learn how new IBM Smarter Storage solutions can help midsize businesses tame the explosion of information and their IT budgets.
I hope you can find time in your busy schedule to participate in one or both of these webcasts.
Are you looking for new storage for 2014? Time to replace that old gear on your IT floor?
The decisions you make about your IT infrastructure affect everything -- from database and business analytics to cloud and virtualization. That's why it's more important than ever to choose wisely.
If you are currently running on storage from HP, HDS, EMC or one of IBM's many other competitors, you might want to take a fresh new look at IBM storage which...
performs faster with greater throughput and lower latency,...
and is easier to use, ...
AND costs less over the next three to five years!
Next week, on January 16, senior IBM executives will share news about breakthrough technologies, featuring Intel® processors, that enhance Smarter Computing servers and storage.
(This webcast will be available worldwide. I, myself, will be in Winnipeg, Canada, freezing my [tuque] off!)
In this webcast, you will learn how to improve decision support and data processing for your mission-critical applications, drive higher performance on analytics and increase agility and flexibility through scalable solutions.
I can't believe we got snow this week on Valentine's Day! It didn't last long on the ground here in Tucson, but there are still some white caps in our mountains. For those of you "trapped" by snow, or too much work, here are two upcoming events you can attend from your desk and computer!
IBM Oracle Virtual University 2012
Please join us for the fourth annual IBM Oracle Virtual University that runs "live" for 24 hours, then continues 'on-demand' replay through the remainder of 2012.
From: Tuesday, February 21, 6:00 am US Eastern Time EST (6:00 pm China Time)
To: Wednesday, February 22, 6:00 am EST
This is a great educational event for IBM and Business Partner sales & technical teams who sell IBM Oracle solutions or have Oracle solutions installed in their account. It is for anyone who is new to or interested in the IBM Oracle Alliance as well as experienced sales & technical people who need all the latest on the IBM/Oracle co-opetition relationship for 2012 and beyond.
This VIRTUAL on-line event will cover key topics around the IBM Oracle Alliance. I am one of the speakers and will cover IBM System Storage offerings as they relate to Oracle software.
This is a chance for sellers to hear an update on what's new, unique and available to sell in 2012. The goal of this session is to help enable you to sell more IBM products and services with Oracle solutions in 2012! Learn where to go for help to better understand these solutions, close more deals and reach your targets.
Even through economic challenges, storage requirements have continued to grow along with the information explosion.
Join us for this informative webcast and hear from Jon Toigo, CEO and Managing Principal of Toigo Partners, as he discusses six cutting-edge storage technologies that are ready for prime time and can help transform your data center.
Date: Tuesday, February 28
Time: 1:00 pm EST, 12"00 pm CST, 10:00 am PST
The featured speaker is fellow blogger Jon Toigo, CEO and Managing Principal, Toigo Partners, an outspoken technology consumer advocate and vendor watchdog whose articles, columns, and blog posts on [DrunkenData.com] are enjoyed by over a million readers per month.
Here are some upcoming events related to IBM Storage!
If you sell IBM and/or Oracle solutions, please join me for IBM Oracle Virtual University 2013!
A few weeks ago, I recorded a session on IBM Storage: Overview, Positioning and How to Sell that will be available on demand starting tomorrow, February 26th, at the IBM Oracle Virtual University 2013.
It's one of 65 new sessions that will help IBM to surround Oracle applications with IBM infrastructure, services and industry solutions. Oracle software, after all, runs best on IBM hardware. Other highlights of Oracle Virtual University include a live executive State of the Alliance session with Q&A, Oracle keynote, updates by Oracle product managers, sessions on PureSystems, Selling IBM into an Oracle environment, Cloud, and much more.
There will be live technical teams on hand throughout launch day to answer your questions in real time, so I hope you can carve out 30 minutes or more on February 26th to take advantage of these available resources.
After helping launch the first Pulse back in 2008, I have sadly not been back since. Last year, I was invited to attend as a last-minute replacement for another speaker, but I was busy [having emergency surgery].
This year's [Pulse 2013] conference looks amazing. It will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Guest Speaker Payton Manning, NFL 4-time MVP football player, and Carrie Underwood, 6-time Grammy award winner, join IBM's Software Group executives and experts on how IBM Tivoli can help optimize your IT infrastructure.
Sadly, once again, I will not be there at Pulse. This time, I will be on the East Coast visiting clients instead, but my on-premise correspondent, Tom Rauchut, has informed me that he will be there. Hopefully, he will provide me something to write about.
Later in March, I will be in Brussels, Belgium for the Storage Expo. This is held March 20-21, at the Brussels-Expo venue. I will be presenting several topics each day, as well as visit clients in the area. This event comes on behalf of IBM Belgium in association with IBM Business Partner IRIS-ICT.
If you plan to participate in any of these events, let me know!
Last week, US President Barack Obama declared September 2011 as "National Preparedness Month". Here is an excerpt of the press release:
Whenever our Nation has been challenged, the American people have responded with faith, courage, and strength. This year, natural disasters have tested our response ability across all levels of government. Our thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives have been impacted by recent storms, and we will continue to stand with them in their time of need. This September also marks the 10th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, which united our country both in our shared grief and in our determination to prevent future generations from experiencing similar devastation. Our Nation has weathered many hardships, but we have always pulled together as one Nation to help our neighbors prepare for, respond to, and recover from these extraordinary challenges.
In April of this year, a devastating series of tornadoes challenged our resilience and tested our resolve. In the weeks that followed, people from all walks of life throughout the Midwest and the South joined together to help affected towns recover and rebuild. In Joplin, Missouri, pickup trucks became ambulances, doors served as stretchers, and a university transformed itself into a hospital. Local businesses contributed by using trucks to ship donations, or by rushing food to those in need. Disability community leaders worked side-by-side with emergency managers to ensure that survivors with disabilities were fully included in relief and recovery efforts. These stories reveal what we can accomplish through readiness and collaboration, and underscore that in America, no problem is too hard and no challenge is too great.
Preparedness is a shared responsibility, and my Administration is dedicated to implementing a "whole community" approach to disaster response. This requires collaboration at all levels of government, and with America's private and nonprofit sectors. Individuals also play a vital role in securing our country. The National Preparedness Month Coalition gives everyone the chance to join together and share information across the United States. Americans can also support volunteer programs through www.Serve.gov, or find tools to prepare for any emergency by visiting the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Ready Campaign website at [www.Ready.gov] or [www.Listo.gov].
In the last few days, we have been tested once again by Hurricane Irene. While affected communities in many States rebuild, we remember that preparedness is essential. Although we cannot always know when and where a disaster will hit, we can ensure we are ready to respond. Together, we can equip our families and communities to be resilient through times of hardship and to respond to adversity in the same way America always has -- by picking ourselves up and continuing the task of keeping our country strong and safe.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2011 as National Preparedness Month. I encourage all Americans to recognize the importance of preparedness and observe this month by working together to enhance our national security, resilience, and readiness.
IBM has several webinars to help you prepare for upcoming disasters.
Today, September 8, at 4pm EDT, IBM is hosting a [CloudChat on Business Resilience] will focus on resiliency and continuity in the cloud—a timely topic considering the recent weather events on the East Coast of the U.S. This chat will include Richard Cocchiara, IBM Distinguished Engineer and CTO, IBM Business Continuity and Resiliency Services (@RichCocchiara1) and Patrick Corcoran, Global Business Development, IBM Business Continuity and Resiliency Services (@PatCorcoranIBM).
Don't think you can afford Disaster Recovery planning? Next week, September 13, I will be joined with a few other experts on freeing up much needed funds from your tight IT budget, by being more efficient. The Webinar [Taming Data Growth Made Easy] is part of IBM's "IT Budget Killer" series.
Lastly, on September 21, IBM will have the Webinar [Planning for Disaster Recovery in a Power Environment: Best Practices to Protect Your Data]. This will cover principal lessons learned from disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the World Trade Center, local and regional considerations for Disaster Recovery Planning, planning Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs), and best practices for automation, mirroring and multiple Site Operational Efficiencies. A customer case study from University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) will help reinforce the concepts, with a discussion on how a major hospital ensures Business Continuity via Contingency Planning using IBM Power Systems. The speakers in clude Steve Finnes, World Wide Offering Manager for IBM Power Systems, Vic Peltz, Consulting IT Architect for WW Business Continuance Technical Marketing, and Rick Haverty, Director of IT Infrastructure at University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC).
Hopefully, you will find these webinars useful and informative!
An exciting new addition to the IBM storage line, the Storwize V7000 is a very versatile and solid choice as a midrange storage device. This session will cover a technical overview of the controller as well as its positioning within the overall IBM storage line.
xST04 - XIV Implementation, Migration and Optimization
Attend this session to learn how to integrate the IBM XIV Storage System in your IT environment. After this session, you should understand where the IBM XIV Storage system fits, and understand how to take full advantage of the performance capabilities of XIV Storage by using the massive parallelism of its grid architecture. You will learn how to migrate data onto the XIV and hear about real world client experiences.
xST05 - IBM's Storage Strategy in the Smarter Computing Era
Want to understand IBM's storage strategy better? This session will cover the three key themes of IBM's Smarter Computing initiative: Big Data, Optimized Systems, and Cloud. IBM System Storage strategy has been aligned to meet the storage efficiency, data protection and retention required to meet these challenges.
IBM offers encryption in a variety of ways. Data can be encrypted on the server, in the SAN switch, or on the disk or tape drive. This session will explain how encryption works, and explain the pros and cons with each encryption option.
sAC01 - IBM Information Archive for email, Files and eDiscovery
IBM has focused on data protection and retention, and the IBM Information Archive is the ideal product to achieve it. Come to this session to discuss archive solutions, compliance regulations, and support for full-text indexing and eDiscovery to support litigation.
sGE04 - IBM's Storage Strategy in the Smarter Computing Era
Want to understand IBM's storage strategy better? This session will cover the three key themes of IBM's Smarter Computing initiative: Big Data, Optimized Systems, and Cloud. IBM System Storage strategy has been aligned to meet the storage efficiency, data protection and retention required to meet these challenges.
sSM03 - IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center – Overview and Update
IBM's latest release of IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center is v4.2.2, a storage resource management tool that manages both IBM and non-IBM storage devices, including disk systems, tape libraries, and SAN switches. This session will give an overview of the various components of Tivoli Storage Productivity Center and provide an update on what's new in this product.
sSN06 - SONAS and the Smart Business Storage Cloud (SBSC)
Confused over IBM's Cloud strategy? Trying to figure out how IBM Storage plays in private, hybrid or public cloud offerings? This session will cover both the SONAS integrated appliance and the Smart Business Storage Cloud customized solution, and will review available storage services on the IBM Cloud.
sTA01 - Tape Storage Reinvented: What's New and Exciting in the Tape World?
This very informative session will keep you up to date with the latest tape developments. These include the TS3500 tape library connector Model SC1 (Shuttle). The shuttle enables extreme scalability of over 300,000 tape cartridges in a single library image by interconnecting multiple tape libraries with a unique, high speed transport system. The world's fastest tape drive, the TS1140 3592-E07, will also be presented. The performance and functionality of the new TS1140 as well as the new 4TB tape media will be discussed. Also, the IBM System Storage Linear Tape File System (LTFS), including the Library Edition, will be presented. LTFS allows a disk-like, drag-and-drop interface for tape. This is a not-to-be-missed session for all you tape lovers out there!
In December, I will be going to Gartner's Data Center Conference in Las Vegas, but the agenda has not been finalized, so I will save that for another post.
I hope everyone enjoyed the French Open in Second Life! Here are some upcoming events:
Rational Software Development Conference comes to Second Life
As part of its commitment to the developer community, IBM is broadening the experience for conference visitors and avatars visiting IBM CODESTATION, in the virtual world of Second Life. During RSDC this year, visitors can view the General Sessions, catch Rational product demonstrations, interact with Rational experts, and learn about the first CODESTATION "Coder's Challenge" kicking off in July.
For Rational Software Development Conference (RSDC) information and registration, running June 10-14:here
Virtual Technical Briefing in Second Life: Web 2.0
Join IBM developerWorks in Second Life for a virtual Web 2.0 Briefing on June 21, 2007 at 12:30 pm EDT/ 9:30 am PDT. During this briefing from IBM developerWorks you'll see presentations on Web 2.0 technologies, a flash demo of associated hot technologies and have a chance to have your questions answered by IBM experts.
In the last two years Web 2.0 has created one of the most remarkable growth surges in Web application history. The transition of consumer Web sites from isolated information silos to sources of shared content and functionality, make the Web a true computing platform serving web applications to end-users. Now it's time to take the lessons learned from that success and see how it can bring value to you and your business.
Based on our success for our April 26 event, we decided to have the next event in September. More details to follow,but we plan to have it open to customers, analysts and business partners. If you are interested in participating, now is a good time to get your avatar in second life up and running. If you need "System Storage", "IBM Business Partner" logo clothing for your avatar, send me a note.
Every September, IBM Tucson spends a Wednesday or Saturday to help out local non-profit charities. The event is orgnaized the the local United Way. My first one was packing boxes of food for the [Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona] on September 12, 2001, the day after the [tragic events in New York and Washington DC]. The mindless activity of putting a bottle, bag or can into one box after another helped us cope with the shock and awe that week.
So, it seemed fitting on the 10th anniversary of that event to go back to the Community Food Bank and help pack boxes of food. The facility received nearly $200,000 in donations in response to the [shooting of US Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords]. Her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, suggested that dontaions go in part to the Tucson Community Food Bank, and with the money they were able to expand operations, dedicating a portion as the [Gabrielle Giffords Family Assistance Center] to bring together food handouts with the [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for food stamps, and the Women with Infant Children (WIC) program. One-stop assistance!
This year, nearly 500 Tucson IBMers to complete 22 projects at 17 nonprofit agencies. We were not alone, we were joined by volunteers from Bank of America, Texas Instruments, Tucson Medical Center, Geico Insurance, University of Arizona, Cox Cable TV, Desert Diamond Casinos, The Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa, the Arizona Lottery, Community Partnership of Southern Arizona (CPSA), Pizza Hut, Arizona Daily Star, 94.9 MixFM Radio, BizTucson, and News 4 Tucson (our local NBC affiliate).
In a bit of competition, our team, Team B, of 14 IBMers, competed against another team, Team A, of 20 people. Despite having fewer people, we were able to pack 746 boxes, representing 20,000 pounds of food, beating out Team A which only packed 18,000 pounds. (I have chosen not to identify anyone on Team A, no need to rub their noses in it. This was all for a good cause.)
Each box contained cereal, canned evaporated milk, canned vegetables and fruits, fruit juice, rice, and dry beans. My job on the assembly line was to put two half-gallon jugs of grape juice in the box and move it down the line.
What lessons can a team of people learn from an activity like this?
When you put a bunch of efficiency experts from IBM on a task, they will self-organize and self-manage for optimum performance, just as we don on our regular day jobs.
No matter what you plan in advance, individual personalities and strengths surface, encouraging minor adjustments to process and procedures to be more efficient.
In an assembly line process, where each person has to wait for the person before them to finish their assigned task, it becomes obvious who is not pulling their fair share of the work. In this manner, everyone holds everyone else accountable for their output.
This was a great day for a good cause. The Community Food Bank qualifies for the Arizona [Working Poor Tax Credit] program. For every dollar the Community Food Bank receives, they can give 10 dollars of food to someone in need.
Special thanks to Greg Kishi for being our team leader for this event, and to Carol Tribble for taking these photographs.
While many are just becoming familiar with the end-user interfaces of Web 2.0, from blogs and wikis to FaceBook and FlickR, fewer may be familiar with the "information infrastructure" of servers and storagebehind the scenes.
Last year, I bought an XO laptop under the One Laptop Per Child [OLPC] foundation's Give-1-Get-1 program and posted my impressions on this blog. One in particular, my post[Printingon XO laptop with CUPS and LPR] showed how to print from the XO laptop over to a network-attached printer.This caught the attention of the OLPC development team, who asked me tohelp them with another project as a volunteer. Before accepting, I had to learn what skills they were really looking for, especially since I do notconsider myself an expert in neither printing nor networking.
(Unlike a regular 9-to-5 job where most people just try to look busy for eight hours a day, doingvolunteer work means being ready to ["roll up your sleeves"] and actuallyaccomplish something. This applies to any kind of volunteer work, from hammering nails for [Habitat for Humanity] to sorting cans at the [Community Food Bank].Best Buy uses the phrase "Results Oriented Work Environment" [ROWE] to describetheir latest program, modeled in part after the mobile workforce policies of Web2.0-enlightened companiesIBM and Sun, but that is perhaps a topic for another blog post!)
Apparently, to support a school full of students with XO laptops, it would be nice to have a few serversthat provide support to manage the class lesson plans, make reading materials and other content available,and keep track of results. What they need is an "information infrastructure"! They decided on two specific servers:
School Server -- this would run a popular class management system called [Moodle]
Library Server -- a server for a digital library collection, based on Fedora Commons[16-minute video]
In keeping with OLPC philosophy to use free and open source software[FOSS], both servers are based on the [LAMP] platform. LAMP is an acronym for thecombined software bundle of Linux, Apache, MySQL and a Programming language like PHP. The "XS" team working onthe school server wanted me to build a LAMP server and install Moodle to help test the configuration, determinewhat other software is required, and perhaps develop a backup/recovery scenario. Basically, they needed someone with Linux skills to put some hardware and software together.
(I am no stranger to Linux. Back in the 1990s, I was part of the Linux for S/390 team, led the effort to createthe infamous "compatible disk layout" (CDL) that allows z/OS to access ESCON and FICON-attached Linux volumes,took my LPI certification exam, and led a team to validate FCP drivers for our disk and tape storage systems. For an IBMer to volunteer foran Open Source community project, you have to take an "open source" class and get management approval to reviewfor any possible "conflicts of interest". I got this all taken care of, and accepted to help the XS team.)
Building a test environment is similar to baking a cake. You have a recipe, utensils, and ingredients. Here'sa bit of description of each of the ingredients:
Like Windows, the Linux operating system comes in different flavors to run on handhelds, desktops and servers. For servers, IBM tends to focus on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and SUSE Linux Eneterprise Server (SLES). However, the XS team decidedinstead to use [Fedora 7], a community-supported version from Red Hat. Earlier versions of Fedora were known as "Fedora Core", but apparently with version 7, the word "Core" has been dropped. Fedora 7 can be used in either desktop or server mode.
[Apache] is web server software, and half of all web servers on the internet use it. It competes head-on against Micorosofts Internet Information Services (IIS) serverprovided in Windows 2003. The Apache name is partly from thefact that its origins were "a patchy" variant of the NCSA HTTPd 1.3 codebase. Thepopular [IBM HTTP Server] is poweredby Apache, with added support to the rest of the IBM WebSphere software portfolio. The XS team chose Apache v2as the web server platform.
[MySQL] is a relational database management system (RDBMS) software, similar to commercial products like IBM DB2 Universal Database, Oracle DB, or Microsoft SQL Server. The SQL stands for Structured Query Language, developed by IBM in the early 1970s as a standard languageto update and query database tables. MySQL comes in two flavors, MySQL Enterprise for commercial use, and MySQLCommunity, which is community-supported. There are over 10 million instances of MySQL running websites on the internet, which helps explain why Sun Microsystems agreed to acquire MySQL AB company last month.The XS team decided on MySQL 5.0 as the database platform.
To make HTML pages dynamic, including the possibility to add or query database contents, requires programming.A variety of web scripting languages were developed, all starting with the letter "P" to claim to be the programming part of the LAMP platform, including [PHP], Perl, and Python. Later, new programming language frameworks have been developed that do not start with the letter "P", like [Ruby on Rails]. PHP is short for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor which explains that it pre-processes HTML during web serving,looking for special tags indicating PHP code, allowing programming logic to insert HTML content, such as information extracted from a database.While Python is the language that runs the Sugar interface on the XO laptops, the XS team decided onPHP v5 as the programming language for the server.
As for utensils, you only need a few utilities
A simple text editor: I go old-school and use the classic "vi" (to learn this editor, see the["Cheat Sheet" method] on IBM Developerworks)
secure socket shell (SSH): this allows you to access one server from another
browser access to the internet: when you encounter problems, get error messages, or whatever, it pays to know how to search for things with Google
As for a recipe, the Moodle website spells out some unique details and parameters. For the base LAMP platform,I chose to follow the book [Fedora 7 Unleashed] that has specific chapters on setting up SSH, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Squid and so on. The resultingconfiguration looks like this:
Here were the sequence of events:
I took an old PC that I wasn't using anymore, backed up the Windows system, and installed Linux on top. Thebook above had a Fedora 7 DVD on the back jacket, but I used the [OLPC LiveCD] that had some values pre-configured.
Set the IP address static. I set mine to 192.168.0.77 which nobody sees except my other systems.
My school server is "headless" which means it does not have its own keyboard, video or mouse. It also runs only to Linux run level 3, command line interface only, no graphics.I was able toshare using a KVM switch], but this meant having to remember something on one screen while I was switching over to the other. My Windows XP system has mybrowser connection to the internet to follow instructions or read error messages, so I need that up all thetime. To get around this, on my Windows XP system,I generated SSH public and private keys, copied the public key over to my new Linux system, and used [OpenSSH for Windows] to connect over. Now, on one screen,I have my Windows XP Firefox browser, and a separate command line window that is accessing my Linux schoolserver.
With SSH up and running, I can now use "vi" to edit files, and issue commands to install or activatethe remaining software. First up, Apache. I got this working, and from Windows XP, verified that going to"http://192.168.0.77" showed the Apache test screen.
I installed PHP, and tested it with a simple short index.php file.
I installed MySQL, setup the base "installation databases", and created a test database. Here is whereyou might want to set a password for the MySQL root user, but I chose to do that later for now.
I installed Moodle. It was smart enough to check that Apache, PHP, and MySQL were operational, andapparently I missed a few special "PHP" modules that had to be linked in. I was able to find them, downloadthem, and get them installed.
I brought up Moodle, created a "class category" of SCIENCE and a new class "Chemistry 101", and it allworked.
I also activated Squid, which is a web proxy cache server that stores web pages for faster access.
Another idea was to activate Samba, to provide CIFS file and print sharing, but I decided to put this off.
I got all of this done last Saturday, start to finish. Now the fun begins. We are going to run throughsome tests, document the procedures, and try to get a system up and running in a remote school in Nepal. Fornow, I have only one XO laptop to simulate what the student sees, and one laptop that can represent eithera teacher's Windows-based laptop, or run QEMU and emulate a second XO laptop.For tuning, I might go through the procedures mentioned on IBM Developerworks "Tuning LAMP"[Part 1, Part 2,Part 3].
For those in the server or storage industry that need to understand Web 2.0 information infrastructure better,building a LAMP server like this can be quite helpful.