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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.
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:
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.
To learn more about a Top Gun class in your area, see the [Top Gun class schedule].
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!
technorati tags: IBM, Sales Training, Top Gun, Taipei, Taiwan, NAS, SONAS, disk, virtualization, unified+storage, SAN Volume Controller, SVC, Storwize V7000, Storwize V7000 Unified, Infrastructure Management, Tivoli Storage, Productivity Center, TPC, Unified Recovery Management, TSM, FlashCopy, FCM
This week I'm in Argentina, teaching IBM Business Partners and sales reps about the latest System Storage products. Encouraged by my success on my Digital IBMer tour last month in Europe, I decided to get a SIM chip for my smartphone here in Buenos Aires.
I did my homework. There are three major mobile service providers that offer pre-paid GSM-based SIM chips: Claro, Movistar, and Personal. I arrived on Sunday morning, but thanks to the local [blue laws], none of them were open. I was able to walk around and find retail outlets for each within blocks of my hotel.
All three offer voice and SMS text messaging, but online reviews indicated that Movistar offered the best data plan. I was there at 9:30am sharp, the moment the Movistar store opened Monday morning. The lovely young lady behind the counter was quite helpful. She put the SIM chip in my phone, but then told me it might be an hour or two before it was activated. I would receive an SMS text message welcoming me to the Movistar network. She provided my new 12-digit phone number, along with instructions on how to check my balance (*444) or call for technical assistance (*611).
(FTC Disclosure: even though I am not in the United States as I write this, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission rules require that I mention that this blog post is not intended as a paid or celebrity endorsement for any of the cellphone service providers mentioned. I work for IBM, and this post is based entirely on my personal experience.)
Why not just use international roaming available on my US plan? International roaming is quite expensive! I made the mistake of uploading three hi-res photos to Flickr last year in New Zealand to discover this the hard way. Here is a comparison chart:
(If your spouse or significant other threatens to leave you if you don't call her every day while out of the country, remind her that divorce attorneys are less expensive than these international roaming rates! Fortunately, all of my friends and family know this and are quite understanding if they don't here from me as often as they would like.)
The SIM chip cost only 30 pesos (about seven bucks). Normally, SIM chips come without credit, but their current promotion included 20 pesos credit for voice calls (enough for 7 minutes of talking), and 200 free SMS text messages.
Six hours later, my phone still was not yet activated. I returned to the store Monday afternoon to ask what was going on. She decided the chip must be bad, gave me a second one, and assigned me a new phone number. I would then have to wait again another hour or two for the welcome message.
Monday evening, a grey window pops up, "Bienvenidos a Movistar" so I thought it was activated, but it wasn't exactly the SMS text message the young lady told me would happen. Sure enough, neither *444 nor *611 worked, giving me voice responses that my phone is not yet activated, and please wait another hour.
Tuesday morning, I am back at the Movistar outlet. The young lady was not happy to see me. She confirmed my second chip was not yet activated, but felt she did nothing wrong. She insisted the problem was either with my phone, or with the Movistar main office, but that she did everything correctly by the book.
(I realize that the sales clerks at these outlet stores don't have a Ph.D. in digital telephony or electrical engineering. I was not angry, nor trying to blame her individually for all of the problems we encountered. Getting a smartphone manufactured in South Korea for the US market to work in Argentina is challenging enough. Given all the difficulties I had last month in Europe, I know it is not limited to Latin America.)
Either way, I told her, if we can't get my phone working, I would like my 30 pesos refunded and promised she would never see me again.
Her response was classic. She would rather not-see me-again because I was delighted with the Movistar service, rather than not-see me-again because we were unable to get it working. She offered to contact the main office to figure out what was going on, and that I should come back in an hour or two. She did not want to lose my business, nor have me go to one of her two main competitors. Now that's customer service!
Tuesday afternoon, I return. She now was instructed on how to do some basic problem determination. We put my new SIM chip into a test phone, and confirmed it was not my phone having problems. The chip did not work in the test phone either. She called the main office, and they were able to activate the chip in the test phone, and then she transferred the chip back to my phone. I asked her to please call my new phone number to confirm it was now working, and I was able to send a quick text message to confirm that was also working. The *444 indcated that my balance was now down to 19.29 pesos. Apparently, it cost me 71 centavos to receive her phone call.
(Just as we were wrapping up, a young man walks in with his phone wanting a SIM chip. None of the Movistar staff spoke English, he did not speak Spanish, but luckily I speak both fluently and was able to translate.
First, we confirmed his phone was still locked, and that he would need to contact his AT&T provider to get an unlock code. He should then come back with the unlock code and his passport to then buy the chip. He didn't understand why Movistar needed his passport for a pre-paid plan, so I had to explain to him at length Argentinian law, the Denied Parties List, the ongoing war against terror and drug trafficking, and how he would have to agree to their Terms and Conditions to use their service, even if there is no ongoing monthly service contract.
He thanked me, promised to return with both his unlock code and passport, and told me my English was "quite good"!)
The next step was to activate my data plan. For this, I would need to buy additional credit. Scratch cards to add credit to your pre-paid phone, referred to locally as "Tarjeta de Recarga", come in 20 and 30-peso denomnations, but are not sold at the Movistar outlet. Instead, the young lady told me to get one at any kiosk or corner convenience store.
As it turns out, not every convenience store offers these cards for Movistar, but after a few blocks, I was able to find one that did. The process is simple: call *444, follow the Spanish-language prompts, scratch off the back of the card, and enter the 16-digit code. I bought a 20-peso card (about $4.50 USD), followed the procedure, and got my confirmation text, indicating that I qualified for 10 extra pesos as a gift for being a new customer, so my new balance was now $49.29 pesos. Woo-hoo!
Now that my phone was armed with enough credit, all I had to do was send an SMS text message containing the word "Datos" to the Movistar phone number 2345. A text message response indicated my data plan was now active. I will have to do this every other day, as the plan is 1GB per 2-day period, but I have enough credit to last me the rest of the week here. To get my phone to detect the new status, I had to turn on data packet traffic, configure and validate the Access Point Name (APN) information, then reboot the phone.
The data plan service is based on the General Packet Radio Service [GPRS] protocol. GPRS is a best-effort service, resulting in variable throughput and latency that depends on the number of other users sharing the service concurrently. Speeds are comparable to dial-up rates, 56 to 114 Kbps.
For those of us spoiled on T-Mobile's 4G speeds in the USA, GPRS is terribly slow. But that's OK. I doubt I will go over the 1GB limit. Overall, I am quite pleased with my success. My phone is fully functional for the week, and all for less than the cost of a single glass of Malbec in the Hilton lobby bar!
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Fellow blogger and cartoon writer Scott Adams writes in his Dilbert Blog posts about the [Monte Hall problem].Monte Hall was the host of the American game show Let's Make a Deal. Here is an excerpt:
Mathematically, on your initial choice of doors, you have a 1/3 chance of picking the car, and 2/3 chance ofpicking a goat. But, after you make a choice, Monte knows which door(s) have goats behind them, and selectsone that exposes the goat. If you stay with your initial choice, you still have a 1/3 chance that you win acar, but if you change your mind and choose the other door, your odds double, you have a 2/3 chance of winning.This is not obvious at all to most people, so Scott points people to the [Wikipedia entry] that provides the math What does this have to do with storage? When you pick a disk system, you are hoping you pick the door with the car. You want a disk system that meets your performance requirements for your particular workload and easy to deploy, configure and manage, with a low total cost of ownership for the three, four or five years you plan to use it.However, with over forty different storage vendors, there are some doors that might have goats. Some vendorshave only 90 day warranties for their software, and I don't know any customers that replace their disk systems that often. It would be nice if everyone published all of their performance benchmarks so that you canchoose the right door with the car behind it, but sadly in the storage industry, not ever In other cases, people make their choices based on past decisions. Perhaps someone beforethem chose one vendor over another, and it seems simple enough just to stay with the originalchoice. It is amazing how often people stay with their company's original choice, what we call in the industry the "incumbent vendor", without exploring alternatives. So, if you bought an EMC, HDS or HP disk system in the last 90 days, it's not too late for you.Tell your local IBM rep that you are afraid you picked the door with the goat, and that you want to change your mind, and choose the other door and go with IBM instead. You will double your chances of being happier with your new choice!
What does this have to do with storage?
When you pick a disk system, you are hoping you pick the door with the car. You want a disk system that meets your performance requirements for your particular workload and easy to deploy, configure and manage, with a low total cost of ownership for the three, four or five years you plan to use it.However, with over forty different storage vendors, there are some doors that might have goats. Some vendorshave only 90 day warranties for their software, and I don't know any customers that replace their disk systems that often.
It would be nice if everyone published all of their performance benchmarks so that you canchoose the right door with the car behind it, but sadly in the storage industry, not ever In other cases, people make their choices based on past decisions. Perhaps someone beforethem chose one vendor over another, and it seems simple enough just to stay with the originalchoice. It is amazing how often people stay with their company's original choice, what we call in the industry the "incumbent vendor", without exploring alternatives. So, if you bought an EMC, HDS or HP disk system in the last 90 days, it's not too late for you.Tell your local IBM rep that you are afraid you picked the door with the goat, and that you want to change your mind, and choose the other door and go with IBM instead. You will double your chances of being happier with your new choice!
In other cases, people make their choices based on past decisions. Perhaps someone beforethem chose one vendor over another, and it seems simple enough just to stay with the originalchoice. It is amazing how often people stay with their company's original choice, what we call in the industry the "incumbent vendor", without exploring alternatives.
So, if you bought an EMC, HDS or HP disk system in the last 90 days, it's not too late for you.Tell your local IBM rep that you are afraid you picked the door with the goat, and that you want to change your mind, and choose the other door and go with IBM instead.
You will double your chances of being happier with your new choice!Read More]
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Did you miss IBM Pulse 2013 this week? I wasn't there either, having scheduled visits with clients in Washington DC this week, only to have those meetings cancelled due to the [U.S. sequestration cuts].
Fortunately, there are plenty of videos and materials to review from the event. Here's a [12-minute video] interview between Laura DuBois, Program VP of Storage for industry analyst firm [IDC], and fellow IBM executive Steve "Woj" Wojtowecz, VP of Tivoli Storage and Networking Software.
(Update: Apparently, IBM had not secured re-distribution rights from IDC to post this video prior to my blog post. IBM now has full permission to distribute. My apologies for any inconvenience last week.)
The two discuss client opportunities and requirements for storage clouds and compute clouds. Client cloud storage requirements include backup and archive clouds, file storage clouds, and storage that supports compute cloud environments.
On a related note, IBM has published a Redbook on its latest addition to the SmartCloud Storage family. I have added [IBM SmartCloud Storage Access V1.1 Configuration Cookbook] to the right panel for "Featured IBM Redbooks".
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Did IBM XIV force EMC's hand to announce VMAXe? Let's take a stroll down memory lane.
In 2008, IBM XIV showed the world that it could ship a Tier-1, high-end, enterprise-class system using commodity parts. Technically, prior to its acquisition by IBM, the XIV team had boxes out in production since 2005. EMC incorrectly argued this announcement meant the death of the IBM DS8000. Just because EMC was unable to figure out how to have more than one high-end disk product, doesn't mean IBM or other storage vendors were equally challenged. Both IBM XIV and DS8000 are Tier-1, high-end, enterprise-class storage systems, as are the IBM N series N7900 and the IBM Scale-Out Network Attached Storage (SONAS).
In April 2009, EMC followed IBM's lead with their own V-Max system, based on Symmetrix Engenuity code, but on commodity x86 processors. Nobody at EMC suggested that the V-Max meant the death of their other Symmetrix box, the DMX-4, which means that EMC proved to themselves that a storage vendor could offer multiple high-end disk systems. Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) would later offer the VSP, which also includes some commodity hardware as well.
In July 2009, analysts at International Technology Group published their TCO findings that IBM XIV was 63 percent less expensive than EMC V-Max, in a whitepaper titled [COST/BENEFIT CASE FOR IBM XIV STORAGE SYSTEM Comparing Costs for IBM XIV and EMC V-Max Systems]. Not surprisingly, EMC cried foul, feeling that EMC V-Max had not yet been successful in the field, it was too soon to compare newly minted EMC gear with a mature product like XIV that had been in production accounts for several years. Big companies like to wait for "Generation 1" of any new product to mature a bit before they purchase.
To compete against IBM XIV's very low TCO, EMC was forced to either deeply discount their Symmetrix, or counter-offer with lower-cost CLARiiON, their midrange disk offering. An ex-EMCer that now works for IBM on the XIV sales team put it in EMC terms -- "the IBM XIV provides a Symmetrix-like product at CLARiiON-like prices."
(Note: Somewhere in 2010, EMC dropped the hyphen, changing the name from V-Max to VMAX. I didn't see this formally announced anywhere, but it seems that the new spelling is the officially correct usage. A common marketing rule is that you should only rename failed products, so perhaps dropping the hyphen was EMC's way of preventing people from searching older reviews of the V-Max product.)
This month, IBM introduced the IBM XIV Gen3 model 114. The analysts at ITG updated their analysis, as there are now more customers that have either or both products, to provide a more thorough comparison. Their latest whitepaper, titled [Cost/Benefit Case for IBM XIV Systems: Comparing Cost Structures for IBM XIV and EMC VMAX Systems], shows that IBM maintains its substantial cost savings advantage, representing 69 percent less Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) than EMC, on average, over the course of three years.
In response, EMC announced its new VMAXe, following the naming convention EMC established for VNX and VNXe. Customers cannot upgrade VNXe to VNX, nor VMAXe to VMAX, so at least EMC was consistent in that regard. Like the IBM XIV and XIV Gen3, the new EMC VMAXe eliminated "unnecessary distractions" like CKD volumes and FICON attachment needed for the IBM z/OS operating system on IBM System z mainframes. Fellow blogger Barry Burke from EMC explains everything about the VMAXe in his blog post [a big thing in a small package].
So, you have to wonder, did IBM XIV force EMC's hand into offering this new VMAXe storage unit? Surely, EMC sales reps will continue to lead with the more profitable DMX-4 or VMAX, and then only offer the VMAXe when the prospective customer mentions that the IBM XIV Gen3 is 69 percent less expensive. I haven't seen any list or street prices for the VMAXe yet, but I suspect it is less expensive than VMAX, on a dollar-per-GB basis, so that EMC will not have to discount it as much to compete against IBM.
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The comic combines the recent popularity in cookbooks to help parents get their children to eat morevegetables, such as Jessica Seinfeld's [Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food], with the popularity of the latest Batman movie, [The Dark Knight]. To be fair, I have not reviewed the recipe book,but certainly being the wife of comedian Jerry Seinfeld and mother of his children sufficiently qualifies her to write such a book. I did have the pleasure to see this movie at an IMAX movie theater in Hartford, CT a few weeks ago. I highly recommend it. (See also my friend Pam's awesome [review of this movie]).Some have argued the movie franchise has "gone dark" from the previous Batman movies and may not be appropriatefor children. Hiding vegetables in meals may not the right thing for children either.
In the comic, the young boy sees right through it, using the word "mojave" as the new slang for "deceive". In Arizona,Mojave refers to both the [desert in the northern part of the state], and the [Native American tribe] that live there. Butin this case, it refers to Microsoft's deceptive [Mojave Experiment].
Unlike IBM that repeatedly delivers unique and innovative new products to the marketplace, Microsoft pulls theold ["bait and switch"] routine. In a series of hiddencamera interviews, Microsoft asks skeptical people who have never used Microsoft Vista operating system their opinions.As expected, all express concerns of problems they have heard about Microsoft's new OS, from friends, colleagues or Apple television advertisements. On a scale of 0 (won't touch it) to 10 (can't wait to have it), the averageskeptic rated Vista with a paltry 4.4 score.
The Microsoft interviewers then show them the new "Microsoft Mojave" Operating System, and askthese same skeptics for their opinions, of which many (35 out of 140 by one account) express they like it, find this new OS usefuland intuitive. The interviewers then explain that this Mojave OS was nothing more than the existing Vista OS alreadyin the marketplace. The average rating for Mojave OS was a significantly higher 8.5 score.Just like hiding spinach in a meal to get your kids to eat it. They tricked you, and you saidyou liked it!
On ZDnet, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes takes Microsoft to task in his post [The “Mojave Experiment” - Just an exercise in guided clicking or does it highlight some of the problems with Windows Vista] and his follow-up post[Dissecting Microsoft’s Mojave Experiment]. His conclusion: He considers the marketing experiment cleverly devious, but the outcome of the experiment is vacuous.
Perhaps the key take-away is whom should prospective customers listen to when evaluating a new product. Microsoftis reasonable in feeling that customers should not base their opinions about Vista solely on lopsided Apple tele Nothing, of course, beats personal experience. If you want to try out one of IBM's latest products for yourself, please contact your local IBM Business Partner or IBM sales representative. technorati tags: IBM, Geek and Poke, Jessica Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld, Deceptively Delicious, The Dark Knight, IMAX, Batman, Mojave, Desert, Native American, tribe, Microsoft, Vista, Mojave Experiment, hidden camera, interview, ZDnet, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Apple
Nothing, of course, beats personal experience. If you want to try out one of IBM's latest products for yourself, please contact your local IBM Business Partner or IBM sales representative.
technorati tags: IBM, Geek and Poke, Jessica Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld, Deceptively Delicious, The Dark Knight, IMAX, Batman, Mojave, Desert, Native American, tribe, Microsoft, Vista, Mojave Experiment, hidden camera, interview, ZDnet, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Apple[Read More]
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Well it's already Tuesday here in Australia. Many people here have asked me what my secrets are for dealing withJet Lag, as many Aussies (and Kiwis) travel across time zones for business. While Sydney is 17 hours "ahead" of Arizona right now, my body feels like it is 7 hours of time zones "behind". If you do nothing, your body will naturally adjust, about one time zone per day, which is completely unacceptable for most week-long business trips.Since I have been traveling for IBM since 1989, I have read a lot on this, and tried a lot of things, and here's what works for me.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, consult a doctor if you have any questions
About 3-5 days before returning, go back to the "Before the Trip" process and start alternating meals again. Follow the process and act as if returning home is a new trip to deal with jet lag in the reverse direction.
Well this is what works for me, I don't take "melatonin" or other drugs that have been found useful for jet lag in hamsters. I welcome comments on what works for you.
Well, I am back from Las Vegas, and had a pleasant [US Memorial Day] holiday yesterday.
Today is Tuesday, and that means more IBM announcements! IBM announced that the DCS9900 now supports an intermix of SAS and SATA drives. The DCS9900 is purpose-built specifically for the High The system is a combination of 4U controllers and 3U expansion drawers. The controllers handle either FC or Infiniband attachment to host servers. The expansion drawers hold up to 60 drives each. With the new features of intermix, the following drives are supported: The DCS9900 groups the drives into sets of 10, in RAID-6 ranks of 8+2P. IBM supports either 5, 10 or 20 expansion drawers to make a complete system. The maximum configuration would be 1200 drives of the 1000GB SATA drives, for a total of 1.2 PB in two frames. Each rank must be all the same type and capacity drive, but you can mix different types within the entire system. The DCS9900 supports "Sleep Mode", an implementation of Massive Array of Idle Disks [MAID] technology, whereby each RAID rank can be either awake and spinning, or in energy-efficient standby mode. This makes for a more "green" storage system for data that is not accessed frequently. For more details on the DCS9900, check out the[Announcement Letter].
The system is a combination of 4U controllers and 3U expansion drawers. The controllers handle either FC or Infiniband attachment to host servers. The expansion drawers hold up to 60 drives each. With the new features of intermix, the following drives are supported:
The DCS9900 groups the drives into sets of 10, in RAID-6 ranks of 8+2P. IBM supports either 5, 10 or 20 expansion drawers to make a complete system. The maximum configuration would be 1200 drives of the 1000GB SATA drives, for a total of 1.2 PB in two frames. Each rank must be all the same type and capacity drive, but you can mix different types within the entire system.
The DCS9900 supports "Sleep Mode", an implementation of Massive Array of Idle Disks [MAID] technology, whereby each RAID rank can be either awake and spinning, or in energy-efficient standby mode. This makes for a more "green" storage system for data that is not accessed frequently.
For more details on the DCS9900, check out the[Announcement Letter].Read More]
No post today. I will be joining the majority of IBMers in Tucson for "Days of Caring" held annually bythe [United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona].IBM has been doing this for years, and we are joined by volunteers from other local businesses, including HealthNet, Wells Fargo bank, Texas Instruments, KVOA local NBC affiliate, 94.9 MixFM radio, and others.
The "days" involve a kick-off last week (Sep 19) and two days of helping local charities (Sep 24 and 27).We are split into teams and are assigned out to help fix up old buildings, clean out gutters, re-paintwalls. My team will be sorting canned goods at the local[Community Food Bank], and assembling boxes of items to begiven out to needy families.Read More]
This week I am in Orlando, Florida for the IBM Edge conference. This is the last day, so it ends early for people who want to get home to their
That's it folks. Next week, I am spending time with my research buddies at the Almaden Research Center near San Jose, California, and then it is off to Moscow, Russia to kick off a series of IBM events called "Edge Comes to You" (ECTY).
The ECTY conferences will be a smaller subset of the Edge conference here in Orlando, but offered in other countries for those who were unable to travel to the United States.
This wraps up my week in Las Vegas for the 27th Annual [Data Center Conference]. This conference follows the common approach of ending at noon on Friday, so that attendees can get home to their families for the weekend, or start their weekend in Las Vegas early to watch the 50th annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
I attended the last few sessions. Here is my recap:
I hope you have enjoyed this series of posts. In addition to the sessions I attended, theconference has provided me with 67 presentations for me to review. Those who attended couldpurchase all the audio recordings and proceedings of every session for $295 US dollars, and those who missed the event can purchase these for $595 US dollars. These are reasonable prices, when you realize that the average Las Vegas visitor spends 13.9 hours gambling, losing an average of $626 US dollars per visit. The audio recordings and proceedings can provide more than 13.9 hours of excitement for less money!
technorati tags: LSC27, Las Vegas,Rodeo,SSD, IOPS, HDD, Sun, ZFS, Disaster Recovery, RPO, RTO, iSCSI, IBM, IP200i, Dell, EqualLogic, EMC, HP, LeftHand Networks, NetApp, Compellent, Rackable, Violin, Verari Systems, DS3300, N series, System x, FCoE[Read More]
Continuing my coverage of last week's Data Center Conference 2009, held Dec 1-4 in Las Vegas, I find some of the best sessions are those "user experiences" by the CIO or IT directors that successfully completed a project and showed the benefits and pitfalls. Matt Merchant, CTO of General Electric (GE), gave an awesome presentation on tapping Cloud Storage to reduce their backup and archive costs. They were concerned over their lack of e-Discovery tools, the high fixed cost and large administrator personnel load of their Veritas NetBackup software environment, the possibility of corrupted tape media, new compliance and regulatory issues, and the risk of moving unencrypted cartridges to remote vaulting facilities like Iron Mountain. I found it interesting their backup/archive approach is that backups are re-classified as archive after they are 35 days old.
General Electric had a long list of requirements:
The end result? They now have Cloud-based backups and archive for their GE Corp, NBC Universal and GE Asset Management divisions running at only 32 cents per GB/month, representing a 40-60 percent savings over their previous methods. This includes backups of their external Web sites, archives of their digital and production assets, RMAN backups including development/staging databases. They plan to add out-of-region compliance archive in 2010. They also plan to monetize their intellectual property by offering "CloudStorage Manager" as a software offering for others.
Continuing my coverage of last week's Data Center Conference 2009, my last breakout session of the week was an analyst presentation on Solid State Drive (SSD) technology. There are two different classes of SSD, consumer grade multi-level cell (MLC) running currently at $2 US dollars per GB, and Enterprise grade single-level cell (SLC) running at $4.50 US dollars per GB. Roughly 80 to 90 percent of the SSD is used in consumer use cases, such as digital cameras, cell phones, mobile devices, USB sticks, camcorders, media players, gaming devices and automotive.
While the two classes are different, the large R&D budgets spent on consumer grade MLC carry forward to help out enterprise grade SLC as well. SLC means there is a single level for each cell, so each cell can only hold a single bit of data, a one or a zero. MLC means the cell can hold multiple levels of charge, each representing a different value. Typically MLC can hold 3 to 4 bits of data per cell.
Back in 1997, SLC Enterprise Grade SSD cost roughly $7870 per GB. By 2013, Consumer Grade 4-bit MLC is expected to be only 24 cents per GB. Engineers are working on trade-offs between endurance cycles and retention periods. FLASH management software is the key differentiator, such as clever wear-leveling algorithms.
SSD is 10-15 times more expensive than spinning hard disk drives (HDD), and this price difference is expected to continue for a while. This is because of production volumes. In 4Q09, manufacturers will manufacturer 50 Exabytes of HDD, but only 2 Exabytes of SSD. The analyst thinks that SSD will only be roughly 2 percent of the total SAN storage deployed over the next few years.
How well did the audience know about SSD technology?
SSD does not change the design objectives of disk systems. We want disk systems that are more scalable and have higher performance. We want to fully utilize our investment. We want intelligent self-management similar to caching algorithms. We want an extensible architecture.
What will happen to fast Fibre Channel drives? Take out your Mayan calendar. Already 84mm 10K RPM drives are end of life (EOL) in 2009. The analyst expects 67mm and 70mm 10K drives will EOL in 2010, and that 15K will EOL by 2012. A lot of this is because HDD performance has not kept up with CPU advancements, resulting in an I/O bottleneck. SSD is roughly 10x slower than DRAM, and some architectures use SSD as a cache extension. The IBM N series PAM II card and Sun 7000 series being two examples.
Let's take a look at a disk system with 120 drives, comparing 73GB HDD's versus 32GB SSD's.
There are various use cases for SSD. These include internal DAS, stand-alone Tier 0 storage, replace or complement HDD in disk arrays, and as an extension of read cache or write cache. The analyst believes there will be mixed MLC/SLC devices that will allow for mixed workloads. His recommendations: