Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect 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.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson )
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Last month, I presented at the "IBM Technical University" event in beautiful Atibaia, Brazil. Here is my recap of the event.
Marcelo Porto, IBM General Manager for Brazil and Client Unit Executive for Retail
What a great way to start a conference! Marcelo asked if everyone was comfortable? Everyone cheered in the affirmative.
He then said "Well, not for long. We will take you out of your comfort zone! You will disrupt yourself, and disrupt your companies. You will learn about new technologies and solutions that will make you very uncomfortable."
He explained how everything is virtual, specifically the three companies Airbnb, Waze, Uber. All of these three have new transformational business models, and he suggested all companies should follow suit.
He then said people need to be focused on four things:
Adopting an "agile attitude"
Act like you own the company
Don't cling to the past
Have the courage to re-invent yourself and your company
Frank Koja, IBM Vice President for Sales, Enterprise Systems Hardware
(Managers and business leaders could probably raise this percentage considerably if they talked to their employees before making decisions, but that's another blog post!)
Frank showed a video of an IBM client, Plenty of Fish (POF). This is a worldwide dating site with three million POF members in Brazil. They now process over 30,000 requests and/or messages per minute. FlashSystem connected to 30 servers makes that possible.
OpenPower consortium started with just 5 companies in 2014 for technology collaboration. Today, 250 members across 26 countries in six continents collaborate to make POWER technology as ubiquitous a commodity as Intel x86.
Frank then switched to "Business models" innovation. Out of the audience of about 800 people, only 10 raised their hands that have heard of Blockchain (he asked IBMers not to raise their hands, as all IBMers have heard of Blockchain!).
Frank feels that Blockchain is the most disruptive innovation since Internet banking. Blockchain affects supply chain, finance, insurance, shipping logistics, customs inspections, and government registrations.
A video showed a woman from Everledger, which uses Blockchain for shipping diamonds. IBM offers Blockchain on LinuxOne mainframe servers.
Hybrid Cloud is point of no return, including Local, Dedicated and Public clouds. Frank feels we need to cloudify all business processes.
Mauro Angelo, IBM Enterprise Strategy & Industry Solutions Director
Mauro explained that ideas are turned into inventions, and inventions are put to good use to bring forth innovations.
If your business is not cognitive you are a full era behind. Machine learning is not knew. IBM DeepBlue beat Grandmaster in Chess tournament back in 1997.
Mauro then focused on eight specific trends:
Systems of Engagement (SoE)
This is the combination of Mobile applications and Social business. IBM invited the first smartphone, the Simon, back in 1994. Apple's iPhone came later in 2007. Pokemon Go is example of augmented reality.
Cloud offers new service and location models. IBM [SoftLayer], [Bluemix], and [Kenexa] are a few examples.
There have been a lot of enhancements in this space, including Natural Language Processing (NLP), visual recognition, even smell recognition. Cognitive solutions can also identify the appropriate context, such as GPS location. And Cognitive solutions can interact with users to ask for clarifications. It can process "Big Data", the collection of non-structured data that normal Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) do not touch. Finally, they can learn, something often referred to as "Machine Learning".
In 2011, IBM Watson beat two humans at the TV show game Jeopardy! Today, [Dino, a toy from CogniToys] provides Watson-like capabilities to children.
Mauro got one for his daughter. She naturally interacts with toy. "How much does an elephant weigh?" she asks. "It depends on the elephant, but a fully grown elephant weighs more than 2,000 kilos" it responds. That's cool.
Wearables like Fitbit can track blood pressure, minutes of exercise, total steps walked. IBM helped Under Armour company develop an app in this space.
Eliminates middlemen or trusted third party (TTP). The hotel chain, Hilton, is testing out a robot called Pepper, which can use Blockchain to book tennis courts.
These are technologies thinner than a strand of hair, measured in nanometers. The focus is to develop stronger, lighter materials, and macromolecules for life sciences for medicine delivery.
Mass customization meets personalization and fast design prototypes. This is not just limited to plastic, but also metal, paper, wood, biomaterials, ceramics, food, and even cement.
Cement? That's right. A Chinese company prints houses using a cement 3D printer. In a country of over one billion people, this company has figured out how to build houses without human laborers.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Olli, a 12-person self-driving bus, is the brainchild of Local Motors. They are testing it out in National Harbor, and hope to roll it out to cities like Copenhagen, Miami, and Las Vegas.
Luis Liguori, IBM Distinguished Engineer and CTO for IBM Brazil
What does IBM mean by "Digital transformation?" What separates success from failure? Developed countries from less developed countries?
Is it culture? Whether people focus on the long term, or just the short term? Does the culture encourage you to foresee the future, and adapt accordingly? Does the culture encourage you to be brave and bold? Do you hide behind Business case return on investments (ROI)? Does your culture consider conflict to be good or bad? The answer: Good!
Does your company have a purpose? When humans no longer serve purpose, they die. The same is true for companies. He said the secret to success is the four "R's" -- Relevant, Resources, Reputation and Rigor.
For example, in 1996, the Kodak was ranked the 4th largest, it filed bankruptcy in 2012 because it was no longer relevant.
Consider Samsung. Samsung has lost its reputation with the latest "Samsung Galaxy Note7" fiasco of exploding batteries!
Airbnb is an example of Digital Transformation. Who knew that there were lots of people who wanted to rent out their bedrooms and bathrooms to strangers!
Luis feels that successful companies are either born digital, or transforming to digital. Industries are merging. Lines are blurring between industries. The latest acquisition between AT&T and Time Warner is an example.
Cognitive brings intelligence to decision making. For example, Watson health has been put to task to focus on Leukemia. In one case, Watson was able to [pinpoint a rare form of Leukemia] that had misdiagnosed and being treated incorrectly with little effect.
Why cognitive? Because human beings cannot read or remember as well as computers. There are thousands of peer-reviewed articles published every day. People are afraid to act to avoid mistakes. Computers are fearless.
Did you know that Brazil celebrates "Black Friday"? There is no "Thanksgiving" in Brazil, but retailers liked the idea of having people stand outside in the middle of the night to start their Christmas shopping! A few years ago, there were [a few problems], but in most recent years, it has shown to help [boost retail sales.] Based on these initial purchases, Watson can be used to help drive the rest of the Christmas retail season.
Watson can analyze personality based on social media writings. The world will be taken over by digital natives. The last century was focused inward, or "ego-centric", but in this 21st century, we will be focused outward, towards a complete "ecosystem".
Who are your competitors? Are they the companies that make products and services similar to yours? No! They are the companies that are competing for your customer's time and attention.
While I speak English and Spanish fluently, my Brazilian Portuguese is terribly rusty. We had several rooms with a pair of real-time translators. I presented the following:
Software Defined Storage -- Why? What? How?
The Pendulum Swings Back -- Understanding Converged and Hyperconverged Environments
IBM Spectrum Scale for File and Object Storage
IBM Storage integration with OpenStack
Introduction to IBM Cloud Object Storage System and its Applications (powered by Cleversafe)
IBM's Cloud Storage Options
All of my sessions were well received, and well attended!
Photo by Dominique Salomon,
IBM Certified IT Specialist
On Wednesday night, we had a nice pool-side reception. Beers, Caiparinhas, and Caiparoskies. Caiparinhas combine a sugarcane juice-based distilled alcohol called cachaça with muddled limes and added sugar. Caiparoskies combined vodka with muddled kiwi fruit.
(Many of the IBMers from United States skipped this event to get dinner early, so they could then come back in time to watch the third and final US Presidential Debate. Because of the time zone changes, this didn't start til 11:00pm, so they could have easily attended the event and had dinner, with plenty of time to spare!)
There was also a live band! This three part band had two guitarists and one lead singer. The lead singer also did maracas and drums while singing. They covered both English and Portuguese language songs.
Rodrigo Giaffredo, IBM Engagement Catalyst
Rodrigo gave the closing session. Wearing jeans and sneakers, he reminded me of the casual storytelling style of Jeff Jonas. He organized his stories around four points:
Consider the battle between Twitter vs. Pownce in 2007. Twitter won because it offered better ways to limit what you read, or who you communicate to, through methods like Hashtags, groups, etc.
Henry Ford disrupted transportation. He realized that Time and space is money. However, as he famously said "If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses!"
Today the challenge is processing data faster. The company that is able to process faster has economic advantage.
Strong ideas focus on user needs. Weak ideas are tactical and features. Consider the [Hippo Roller]. For centuries, African women and children carried water from far away wells either on their hands on or their heads. Much of it would fall out during the long walks. The Hippo Roller holds 90 liters (about 24 gallons) and rolls easily over rough terrain.
Rodrigo showed an graph. On the y-axis was "Importance" and the x-axis "Feasibility". Solutions in the upper right corner are obvious choices. Solutions in the upper left, important but not very feasible, are considered "big bets". Solutions in the lower right, feasible but not very important, he labeled "amenities".
Most designers, architects and developers know that the later the error is found, the more expensive it is to fix. A prototype is worth a thousand meetings.
Take the company Zappos, which sells shoes online over the Internet. The founder, Nick Swinmurn, tried to get investors, getting a typical response: "What are you drinking?" (In USA, we would ask what are you smoking, but this is the way the Brazilians say it.)
With no investors, Nick built a simple website, took pictures of shoes, and fulfilled orders by purchasing the shoes from local San Francisco retailers and shipping them to the clients.
Nick started this in 1999, and finally got some $20 Million USD in funding in 2004. His simple prototype allowed him to focus on post sales support. Zappos was recognized as having the best call center, moving his operations to Las vegas, NV.
Consider the challenges of urban mobility.
Both methods eventually result in a car, but the agile prototypes allow for more effective experimental milestones.
As for Zappos, its prototype proved successful. Amazon acquired them for $1.2 Billion USD in 2009.
It is that simple: Understand, explore, prototype, and evaluate. IBM has adopted "Design Thinking" across its development organizations to better meet the needs of the marketplace.
Overall, it was a delightful event. It is nearly summer down in the Southern hemisphere, so a bit warm and humid. The attendees were all looking forward to a turn-around in the Brazilian economy, and the business opportunities that brings.
Well it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM announcements!
Today, IBM announced a few things related to storage.
IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management
This new member of the IBM Spectrum Storage family helps manage all of those snapshot and FlashCopy images made to support DevOps, data protection, disaster recovery, and Hybrid Cloud computing environments.
The software automates the creation and catalog the copy data on existing storage infrastructure, such as snapshots, vaults, clones, and replicas. This can be especially useful with Oracle, Microsoft SQL server, and other databases that are often copied to support application development, testing, and data protection.
Initially, the following storage devices are supported:
IBM storage systems running IBM Spectrum Virtualize™ Software V7.3, and later, including IBM SAN Volume Controller, IBM Storwize®, and IBM FlashSystem® V9000
Storage systems running IBM Spectrum Accelerate™ 11.5.3, and later, including IBM FlashSystem A9000, A9000R, and IBM XIV® and the Supermicro Hyperconverged Appliance
IBM SKLM is IBM's lead offering for creating and managing encryption keys used by various Flash, Disk, Tape and SAN products.
This software release enhances the separation of duties for better alignment with regulatory requirements, simplifying the administrative access, LDAP integration, and device certificate TrustStore management. Device-group key import and export improves the flexibility in key management across multiple organizations.
For those using Hardware Security Modules [HSM], this software now offers HSM-based backup and restore of the encryption key database.
IBM is also enhancing its support of the Key Management Interoperability Protocol [KMIP], an industry standard to support encryption keys and the products that use them. This release now supports integration with any KMIP-compliant device from any vendor, including the introduction of KMIP Opaque and Suite B profiles.
IBM Storage Networking MDS 9000 24/10-port SAN Extension Module
The new MDS 9000 24/10-port SAN Extension Module is supported on MDS 9700 Series Multilayer SAN Fabric Directors. It supports 24 Fibre Channel Ports (auto-negotiating 2/4/8/10/16 Gbps), eight (1/10) GbE Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) for long-distance replication, and two 40 GbE FCIP ports.
The modules support virtual SAN (VSAN), Hardware-based encryption to help secure sensitive traffic with Internet Protocol Security (IPsec), and hardware-based compression to dramatically enhance performance for both high-speed and low-speed links. This can help reduce costs for long-distance replication over expensive WAN infrastructure.
Two years ago, the folks at University of Toronto asked me to help their graduate students build a "Watson" running entirely on IBM SoftLayer to see if this would be a worthwhile class project. Needless to say, it was more difficult than they expected, but we managed to pull it off during that summer, able to answer a handful of simple questions from a single page corpus.
Last month, [Industry Leaders Establish Partnership on AI], combining the talents from Amazon, DeepMind/Google, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft, to form a non-profit to explore best practices and ethical questions related to Watson and other Artificial Intelligence applications.
Since data is at the core of any Artificial Intelligence, IBM is pleased to announce today that IBM Cloud Object Storage System is now available on IBM SoftLayer. This is based on the Cleversafe technology IBM acquired last year.
While other cloud service providers have offered data storage in the cloud, this new offering also allows hybrid configurations with geographically dispersed erasure coding. Unlike RAID which protects against the loss of one or two drives, erasure coding can protect against a larger number of concurrent failures. For example, using an Information Dispersal Algorithm of "7+5", where seven pieces of data are encoded on twelve independent disks, the system can lose up to five disk drives without losing any data.
Click graphic to view larger
Combining this with Geographically Dispersed Configuration across three or more sites means that you can lose an entire data center, four of the twelve disks, and still have instant full access to all of your data from eight drives at the other locations. In the graphic, you see two on-premise data centers combined with a third location in IBM SoftLayer.
Today, I met with Teresa Ferraro and Mike Buttrum from FirstRain in their Manhattan office in downtown New York City. IBM recently contracted FirstRain to provide IBMers like myself with analytics on publicly-available news to keep us informed for business meetings. Here's how IBMers can get the most out of this service.
Basically, FirstRain takes a list and generates the best summaries of publicly-available news that are most relevant. You can organize into different channels. Here I have seven channels.
Companies to watch refer to existing or prospective clients that I plan to be talking with soon. Some of my colleagues are assigned to specific clients, so they can set this up once and enjoy the news for the rest of the year. I, on the other hand, meet with different clients every week, so I will be updating this list on a frequent basis.
I have divided the Competitors between major ones, and smaller startups. Since I am often working with business partners and distributors, I made that a separate channel as well.
For product lines, I picked three: Data migration, Data storage solutions, and Software defined storage.
For conferences where I don't know which companies will attend, such as the IBM Technical University, I can set up information by territory. Here is one for Brazil.
I also attend industry-oriented events, so I can pick those vertical markets that might be helpful with dinner conversations. In this example, I chose Energy, Electric Utilities and Gas Utilities.
Once you have your channels configured, you get your results in various sections:
Management Changes lists any changes in top C-level positions, who left the company, who got recently hired.
Key Developments indicates news like mergers and acquisitions and government regulations.
First Reads prioritizes the top six articles for your channel. You can access more, but these six will get you started as you have your morning coffee.
First Tweets gives you the six most relevant tweets, if those articles above were just "TL;DR"
A section on Business Influencers and Market Drivers is interesting to see who the big players are, and what topics are driving the most conversation. Here's an example from my Energy/Electric/Gas channel:
The Most Talked About section covers quotes and commentary about the most talked about companies in your channel.
With most news sources focused on politics, weather and celebrity gossip, it is nice to have a quicker, more focused approach to get the news I need to prepare for my client briefings. Special thanks to my hosts Teresa and Mike for their hospitality!
This week, I am in Las Vegas for [Edge 2016], IBM's Premiere IT Infrastructure conference of the year.
Day 4, the last day of the conference, is only a partial day, and many people opted to leave on Wednesday evening, or Thursday morning instead. The breakfast and lunch meals had fewer people than the previous days. Here is my recap of day 4 Thursday breakout sessions.
Building Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Next-Generation Workloads
Supermicro is more than happy to customize these, upgrading the CPU, RAM, disk or networking connectivity as needed. This solution is roughly half the price of Nutanix, and offers a better Next-Business-Day/9am-to-5pm support package .
The last time I was in Las Vegas, I presented this topic at [IBM Interconnect conference]. Back then, I was given only 20 minutes, was placed on the Solutions Expo showroom floor, competing with the noise and traffic of attendees going to lunch.
This time, it was much better, a large room, and a bigger-than-expected audience given that it was scheduled on Thursday morning.
Cloud storage comes in four flavors: persistent, ephemeral, hosted, and reference. The first two I refer to as "Storage for the Computer Cloud" and the latter two I refer to as "Storage as the Storage Cloud".
I also explained the differences between block, file and object access, and why different Cloud storage types use different access methods. I wrapped up the session covering the various storage solutions that IBM offers for all four Cloud Storage types.
IBM Storwize and IBM FlashSystem with VersaStack versus NetApp FlexPod
Norm Patten, part of the IBM Competitive Project Office Storage Team, presented a competitive comparison between VersaStack with IBM storage, versus FlexPod with NetApp storage.
Commodity Solid State Drives (SSD) and Shingled Magnetic Recording [SMR] offer low-cost, high-capacity storage.
However, they have their own set of problems, so IBM is developing software that can be included in IBM Spectrum Accelerate, Spectrum Scale, and Spectrum Virtualize to optimize their utility.
The concept of Log-Structured Array has been around since 1988. The IBM RAMAC Virtual Array back in the 1990s used it. NetApp's Write-Anywhere File System (WAFL) is an implementation of the [Log-Structured File System] general concept.
SALSA combines Log-Structured Array with enhancements borrowed from the IBM FlashSystem design, that I covered in my Monday and Wednesday presentations, to enhance write endurance by as much as 4.6 times!
This was an NDA session, so I cannot blog any of the details.
World-class Flash-optimized Data Reduction and Efficiency with IBM FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R
Tomer Carmeli, IBM Offering Manager for the A9000 and A9000R presented. He presented an overview of these models on Monday, so this session was focused on the data footprint reduction technologies.
Basically, it is a three step process. First, all "standard patterns" are removed. IBM has identified some 260 standard patterns that are 8KB in length, such as all zeros, all ones, or all spaces, and replaces these blocks immediately with a pattern token.
Second, [SHA-1] 20-byte hash codes are computed on 8KB pieces on a rolling 4KB alignment boundary. In other words, if a 64KB block of data is written, bytes 0-to-8KB are hashed an compared to existing hash codes. If no match, then bites 4KB-to-12KB are hashed, and so on. This approach nearly doubles the likelihood of finding duplicates. When a block match is found, the algorithm can replacing them with pointer and reference count.
Third, any unique data that still remains is compressed using Lempel-Ziv algorithm. This is done using the [Intel® QuickAssist]. This co-processor can compress data 20 times faster than software algorithms running on general-purpose x86 processors.
Do you want an estimate of how much "reduction ratio" you may achieve? IBM has developed two estimator tools to help. The first tool is a complete scan for data expected to be dedupe-friendly. It is a slow process, taking 8 hours per TB. This would be ideal for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or backup copies.
The second tool is the infamous [Comprestimator] that IBM has had for awhile to help estimate compression savings for IBM Spectrum Virtualize storage solutions like SVC, Storwize and FlashSystem V9000. This tool is very fast, looking at only a statistically-valid subset of the data.
The results of both tools are merged, and the result is within five percent accuracy. This allows IBM to offer guidance on which data to place on these new A9000 and A9000R models, as well as offer a "reduction ratio" guarantee.
A client asked me why I bother to attend other sessions, when I probably know most of the material they present. I explained that I can always learn from others. I can honestly say that I learned something new and useful at every session I attended.
This week, I am in Las Vegas for [Edge 2016], IBM's Premiere IT Infrastructure conference of the year. Here is my recap of Day 3 Wednesday.
Become your own Storage Consultant
Gary Graham, IBM Field Technical Specialist for Storage, and Brian Pioreck, IBM Client Technical Specialist for Storage, co-presented this session. This session explained how to use IBM's 30-day free trial of IBM Spectrum Control Storage Insights, a cloud-based services offering.
(Note: 15 years ago, I was the chief architect of version 1 of what we now call IBM Spectrum Control. I am pleased to see how well this product has evolved over the years.)
Storage Insights provides a reporting-only subset of the popular IBM Spectrum Control Standard and Advanced editions. It reports on IBM storage devices, as well as any non-IBM devices that are virtualized behind IBM Spectrum Virtualize products like SAN Volume Controller (SVC), Storwize, and FlashSystem V9000.
If you are a storage administrator, consider trying this out for 30 days, get some immediate results. Since it is cloud-based, you only need a Windows, Linux or AIX system to install a "collector" on site. This collector sends data up to the Cloud at one of IBM SoftLayer facilities. The installation process takes only 30 minutes, and you can download the code from the Internet.
If you find Storage Insights valuable, helping you reclaim some unused space, or provide other insight that saves your company money, consider buying the service, for only 250 US Dollars per 50 TB monitored. If you want more than just monitoring and reporting, consider one of the on-premise solutions like IBM Spectrum Control Standard, or IBM Spectrum Control Advanced edition, which provide provisioning and configuration capabilities as well.
Enhance your Security posture with At-Rest Encryption using the latest IBM Spectrum Virtualize
All of the IBM Spectrum Virtualize products support Data-at-Rest Encryption. For direct-attached storage, the 12Gb SAS controller performs hardware-assisted encryption.
For SAN-attached storage via FCP, FCoE or iSCSI back-end devices, IBM uses the [AES-NI instruction set] that comes included in certain Intel CPU processors.
Last November 2015, [IBM acquired Cleversafe] for $1.3 Billion US dollars because Cleversafe has the brand name recognition as the #1 Object Storage vendor the past two years in a row (2014 and 2015). On July 1 of this year, the transformation was complete, and their flagship product was officially renamed to the IBM Cloud Object Storage System, which some abbreviate informally as IBM COS.
Since then, IBM has been busy integrating IBM COS into the rest of the storage portfolio. I explained how IBM COS can be used for all kinds of static-and-stable data, but not suited for frequently changed data, such as Virtual machines or Databases.
Object storage can be access via NFS or SMB NAS-protocols using a gateway product, like IBM Spectrum Scale, or those from third-party partners like Ctera, Avere, Nasuni or Panzura. It can also be used as an alternative to tape for backup copies, and is already supported by the major backup software like IBM Spectrum Protect, Commvault Simpana, or Veritas NetBackup.
A few years ago, I explained to a client that Converged and Hyperconverged were like a pendulum swinging back. Over the past few decades, we have gone from internal disk, to externally attached disk, to SAN and LAN networks.
Each time, we gained more flexibility, greater connectivity and longer distances. Then I explained that Converged and Hyperconverged is like going backwards, the pendulum swinging back to the days of internal and direct-attached storage. The analogy was a hit, and thus this session was born!
IBM offers multiple Converged Systems. IBM PureSystems, PureData, PurePower and PureApplication solutions offer racks of compute, storage and network gear. Last year, IBM collaborated with Cisco to create VersaStack, a converged system that combines Cisco's x86 blade servers and switches with IBM FlashSystem and Storwize products.
IBM also offers Hyperconverged solutions. IBM Spectrum Accelerate allows the compute, storage and network functions run on 3 to 15 VMware ESXi hosts to form a cluster. The cluster can then make iSCSI-based volumes available to other virtual machines running on these same hosts. The volumes can also be made available to servers outside the cluster, such as bare metal servers or other Hypervisors. This is available as software-only, or you can get pre-built system called the Supermicro Hyperconvergence Appliance.
IBM Spectrum Scale provides a clustered file system that allows the compute, storage and network functions to run on 3 to 16,000 machines. Formerly called General Parallel File System (GPFS), IBM Spectrum Scale has been around for over 18 years. Over 200 of the world's largest "Top 500" supercomputers run IBM Spectrum Scale today.
IBM Spectrum Virtualize and IBM Storwize Birds-of-a-Feather
Barry Whyte, fellow blogger and IBM Master Inventor, presented an overview of the latest features, and where IBM is headed in 2017 for the IBM Spectrum Virtualize family of products. Barry now works in Advanced Technical Skills for Storage Virtualization Asia/Pacific Region.
The group then moved to another room offering delicious food and drink, as Eric Stouffer, IBM Director, Storwize Offering Manager and Business Line Exec, presented the future areas that IBM is consider for this product family.
All of this was done under Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA), preventing me from blogging any details. Back in 2003, Las Vegas started a marketing campaign ["What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas"]. Coincidentally, this is the same year IBM introduced the IBM SAN Volume Controller, the first product in the IBM Spectrum Virtualize family.
This was a long day, but was pleased with the large audiences I had at my sessions.
This week, I am in Las Vegas for [Edge 2016], IBM's Premiere IT Infrastructure conference of the year. Here is my recap of breakout sessions on Day 2.
Introducing IBM FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R: Grid Architecture Designed for the Hybrid Cloud
Tomer Carmeli, IBM Offering Manager for the A9000 and A9000R presented. Both models offer data-at-rest encryption, snapshots, remote mirroring, and data footprint reduction, assuming 5.26:1, a combination of pattern removal, data deduplication and hardware-assisted Real-time compression.
The A9000 is an 8U high pod that can fit into existing racks. It comes in 60TB, 150TB and 300TB effective capacity.
The A9000R includes its own 42U rack. The rack is organized as two to six "grid elements" combined with two InfiniBand switches. Grid elements come in 150TB and 300TB effective capacities, giving you up to a whopping 1.8 PB in a single rack!
Similar to the IBM XIV and IBM Spectrum Accelerate offerings, the A9000 and A9000R support Hyper-Scale features. Hyper-Scale Manager lets you manage up to 144 devices on a single pane of glass. Hyper-Scale Mobility lets you move volumes (LUNs) non-disruptively from one device to another.
Different data compresses or dedupes at different ratios. Your mileage may vary. Unless you are evaluating a JBOF (just a bunch of flash) device, there is a great difference between raw, usable, and effective capacity. Raw capacity can be calculated by the size of each chip, times the number of chips. Usable capacity factors out RAID, and any spare capacity set aside for RAID rebuild and garbage collection. Effective capacity indicates the amount of information that can be stored by taking advantage of data footprint reduction technologies, such as compression or data deduplication.
IBM offers three options:
Measured Estimate -- IBM has a set of data reduction estimator tools that can scan your existing data, and estimate your reduction ratio, within 5 percent accuracy.
Competitive Match -- If a competitor had run their own set of estimator tools, IBM might be able to match the reduction ratio, without repeating the analysis, by just reviewing the competitor results.
"Sight unseen" -- without analyzing your actual data, reduction ratio is determine by the type of data (DB2, Oracle, SQL server, etc.), based on experience with similar data at other data centers.
Both A9000 and A9000R models are published at 250 microsecond latency, about 30 times faster than traditional spinning disk, although some workloads actually can run even faster than that. Assuming 5.26:1 reduction, these sell for about $1.50 per effective GB.
Flash Primer - Ready to move from disk storage?
Patricia Crowell, IBM Worldwide FlashSystem Enablement manager, presented. She presented an interesting time line:
First Solid-State Drive (SSD)
First Flash card, such as for digital cameras
First USB stick
Flash used in specialized IT appliances
Flash for the enterprise - Microsoft and UCSD paper on SSD
In 2012, Microsoft Research and University of California San Diego published ["The Bleak Future of NAND Flash Memory"], 8 pages, by Laura M. Grupp, John D. Davis, and Steven Swanson. Here is an excerpt:
"The technology trends we have described put SSDs in an unusual position for a cutting-edge technology: SSDs will continue to improve by some metrics (notably density and cost per bit), but everything else about them is poised to get worse. This makes the future of SSDs cloudy: While the growing capacity of SSDs and high IOP rates will make them attractive in many applications, the reduction in performance that is necessary to increase capacity while keeping costs in check may make it difficult for SSDs to scale as a viable technology for some applications"
IBM disagreed with this bleak assessment, announced it was investing $1 billion US Dollars into this technology, acquired Texas Memory Systems, and has deployed flash throughout its product line. For the past three years, IBM has been the #1 vendor for Flash storage systems.
Patricia offered the following example. What would it take to run 20 million IOPS? Here's a comparison:
Disk systems 15K rpm
Disk systems 7200 rpm
How to migrate from SONAS to IBM Spectrum Scale/ESS using Active File Manager
Paul Schena, IBM Senior IT Specialist, presented his experiences migrating existing SONAS data to new IBM Spectrum Scale or Elastic Storage Server (ESS) deployments. SONAS is going End-of-Service (EOS) on April 30, 2018, so it is never too soon to start this migration.
Paul gave two different methodologies. The first used Active File Management (AFM):
Setup an IBM Spectrum Scale "Gateway Node" in "Independent-Writer" AFM mode. Paul recommends 10 threads per gateway node.
Issue an AFM pre-fetch, disabling the "cache eviction" feature to ensure data remains. AFM transfers the directory structure, file data including sparse files, Access Control Lists (ACL), extended attributes.
Define your exports with no-root-squash and move your user mounts to the new systems
Once all the data is moved, convert the cache filesets to regular filesets
Define your quotas, export settings, ILM policies and rules
Decommision the SONAS
The second used Robocopy and Rsync, which may be required if there is high-latency, long-distance connection that prevents proper AFM connections:
Configure IBM Spectrum Scale CES servers to appropriate NFS and/or SMB protocols
Use Robocopy and/or Rsync as appropriate to move the data to the new system
Decommision the SONAS
Having it all: Hybrid Cloud Storage Services for Block, Power and Backup
Clint Parish, Director of Enterprise Solutions and Services for VSS, and Marc The'berge, Business Development for Supermicro, co-presented this session.
VSS offers POWER8-based Cloud services. They consider themselves "boutique" with POWER8 servers, able to run AIX, IBM i and Linux on POWER applications, but not at the scale and size of larger x86-based clouds like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure.
For IBM i, they attach to IBM Storwize V7000. For AIX and Linux on POWER, they use IBM Storwize V7000 and/or Supermicro Hyperconverged Appliance, a pre-built system based on IBM Spectrum Accelerate.
Supermicro offers three "tee-shirt sizes", their small systems have six nodes, medium with 9 nodes, and large with 15 nodes. Unlike other Hyperconverged systems, the ones from Supermicro include a rack, and are pre-cabled with all the necessary Ethernet switches necessary to make a complete solution.
To offer backup services, VSS uses IBM Spectrum Protect with the Supermicro appliances.
In the evening, we were treated with a concert with Train, known for songs like "Meet Virginia", "Hey Soul Sister", "Calling all Angels" and "Drops of Jupiter". They played all of these, plus covered some songs by Led Zeppelin, Journey, Queen and Aerosmith,
This week, I am in Las Vegas for [Edge 2016], IBM's Premiere IT Infrastructure conference of the year. Here is my recap of breakout sessions for Monday, Sep 19, 2016:
How do you storage a Zettabyte? IBM and Microsoft Know...
A [Zettabyte] is a million Petabytes, or a billion Terabytes, of data. Most clients I deal with have less than 10 PB of centralized storage in their data center, but there are a few that have much larger data repositories.
Ed Childers, IBM STSM and manager for Tape and LTFS development, and Aaron Ogus, Microsoft Architect, discussed different solutions developed by IBM and Microsoft. IBM's solution has been productized, and is available as IBM Spectrum Scale and IBM Spectrum Archive. Microsoft's solution is not productized, but is being "operationalized" to be used within Microsoft's Azure Cloud.
Not surprisingly, to be able to store a Zettabyte of data, you have to be creative and cost-effective with storage media. The current winner is magnetic tape, which continues to be 20 times less expensive than disk. IBM developed the Linear Tape File System (LTFS) and then shared it with other leading IT vendors. Ed also covered some future storage media developments, from using Macro-molecular strands of DNA, to Phase Change Memory (PCM).
All Flash is not Created Equal - Contrasting IBM FlashSystem with Solid State Drives (SSD)
Many IBM FlashSystem presentations focus on the product, but don't explain the underlying technology, specifically what differentiates IBM FlashSystem from substantially slower competitive alternatives like EMC XtremIO and PureStorage that are based instead on fallible commodity Solid State Drives (SSD).
By working closely with our chip vendor, Micron, IBM was able to improve the write endurance of these Multi-level cell (MLC) chips by 9.4x, and reduce write amplification by 45 percent.
I explained IBM's clever asymmetrical wear-level balancing, heat segregation, read disturb mitigation, voltage level shifting, and health binning, all of which contribute to the performance and reliability of this solution. IBM's innovative Error Correcting Code provides LDPC-like correction strength but at much faster BCH-like latency speed.
This was a popular session. Despite being moved to a much larger room, they still had to turn people away, so I will be repeating this session on Wednesday, 11:00am.
Real-time Compression: Bendingo and Adelaide Bank's Perspective
James Harris, Senior Storage Systems Specialist for [Bendingo and Adelaide Bank], presented his success story with the use of Real-time Compression. Oracle RAC databases got 60-70 percent savings. SQL databases got 70-80 percent savings. VMware VMFS datastores average 50 percent savings. For IBM i, he is getting 60-70 percent savings for SYSBAS, and over 70 percent savings of the rest of his IBM i production data.
As a result, the bank has not had to make any Capital Expenditures (CAPEX) for disk for 2-3 years since they started compressing in 2014.
Storage Options for Big Data and Analytics: IBM FlashSystem or Traditional Disk Systems?
Eric Sperley, IBM Software Defined Storage Architect, presented the basics of Hadoop and the Hadoop File System (HDFS), then explained how IBM Spectrum Scale, when combined with the right tiers of flash and disk technology, could be used to optimize an environment for big data analytics.
The Solutions EXPO is open all day, for people to visit the booths in between sessions. I stopped in for the evening reception. This is a great way to catch up on the latest products, re-connect with some clients or colleagues that I haven't seen in person for awhile, and meet new friends.
Shown here is Angie Welchert, who just started working for IBM a few years ago! I took her around to introduce her to some IBM executives at the Solutions EXPO.
This week, I am in Las Vegas for [Edge 2016], IBM's Premiere IT Infrastructure conference of the year.
General Session - Outthink Status Quo
This week's motto is "Outthink the Status Quo.. Before the Status Quo disrupts your business!
Tom Rosamilia, IBM Senior VP for IBM Systems (and my fifth-line manager), kicked off the event. There are about 5,500 people at this event. He mentioned that just like a picture is worth a thousand words, "a prototype is worth a thousand meetings."
He showed a video of our client "Plenty of Fish" [POF], which is a dating site. They have 100 million members, of which 4 million access their site every day. IBM FlashSystem paid for itself, with an ROI payback period of 2 months.
Jason Pontin, Editor in Chief and Publisher of [MIT Technology Review], mentioned three major areas to watch:
Explosive innovation in Artificial Intelligence (AI), including IBM Watson, machine learning, etc.
Pervasive computing, including augmented reality or virtual reality, what IBM calls Internet of Things (IoT)
Re-writing life, directly editing genomes for healthcare and agriculture
Jason feels there are two major challenges for humans. First, what is the "future of work"? People are no longer working for the same company for their entire career. Rather, they come and go, moving in and out of companies. Second, how will we deliver food and water to the 9.6 billion population expected to exist by 2050, with added challenge of climate change. Ed Walsh, IBM General Manager for Storage and Software Defined Infrastructure, presented next. Last year, I was asked to throw my hat in the ring to be the next General Manager of IBM Storage. I was up against some strong competition, and in the end upper management selected Ed Walsh instead. He is a good choice, and I support his efforts.
Matt Cadieux, CIO for [Red Bull Racing], presented on the IT challenges of designing, building and racing Formula One racing cars. They have 21 races per year, and each race has slightly different specifications, forcing Red Bull Racing to break down and rebuild their cars for each race.
Michael Lawley, Senior IT Vice President for [HealthPlan Services], explained how his business grew 300 percent in the past four years. Their workloads are very "spiky", so it is good that they can scale up or down their IT infrastructure 3-4x as needed, within minutes.
Jacob Yundt, CIO for University of Pittsburgh Medical Center [UPMC], explained the importance of genomics as the next frontier of medicine. Genomics allows for more accurate cancer determinations, which helps target specific treatments. They moved from x86-based clusters to those based on Power LC models from IBM. For analytics, they chose IBM Power8 S822L servers with Elastic Storage Server (ESS) and the Hadoop Transparency Layer.
Lastly, Terri Virnig hosted two technology partners to the stage for some major announcements. First, Jim Totton from Red Hat, announced that RHEV v4 (based on Linux KVM) is announced for POWER platform. Secondly, Scott Gnau, CTO for [Hortonworks], announced that Hortonworks will run on the POWER platform, as part of IBM and Hortonworks Open Data Platform [ODP] initiative.
Trends & Directions: The Future of Storage in the Cloud and Cognitive Era
Eric Herzog, IBM Vice President, Product Marketing and Management Software Defined Infrastructure, served as emcee for this session.
Ed Walsh, IBM General Manager for IBM Storage and Software Defined Infrastructure, marveled at IBM's "storied history in storage innovation". He suggests clients should modernize and transform their business with IBM broadest storage portfolio in the IT industry.
Clod Barrera, IBM Engineer and the Chief Technical Strategist for IBM Systems Storage, explained that in the past 60 years of disk systems, areal density has improved by a factor of one billion. Unfortunately, that is slowing down, and we won't see such improvements anymore.
Bina Hallman, IBM Vice President, Software Defined Storage Solutions Offering Management, hosted a panel of clients, including:
Bob Osterlin, from [Nuance], that has 5-10 PB of data using IBM Spectrum Scale for voice recognition software.
Rich Spurlock, from [Cobalt Iron], that provides Backup-as-a-Service using IBM Spectrum Protect. Their clients experience an 80 percent reduction in operating expenditures (OPEX) using Spectrum Protect.
Moshe Perez, from [RR Media], that provides television channel distribution like ESPN and BBC to other countries. They use IBM Spectrum Accelerate to handle the demand peaks, such as the Olympics.
Mike Kuhn, IBM Vice President for Storage Solutions Offering Management, also hosted a panel of clients, including:
Kevin Muha, from [UPMC], managing 13 PB of storage, across a variety of IBM storage devices, including 700 TB of FlashSystem V9000.
Bill Reed, CTO for [Arizona State Land Department], that uses VersaStack with IBM FlashSystem V9000 for geographic information system [GIS] applications. They manage over 9.2 million acres to help fund K-12 schools in Arizona.
Owen Morley, from Plenty of Fish [POF] dating website, evaluated nearly every flash device in the market, and chose IBM FlashSystem. "The one metric that matters is Latency!"
These were the two main keynote sessions on Monday morning. During the rest of the week there will be over 285 storage-related breakout sessions, dozens of labs, and 7 panels.