Last year in Beijing, China, one of my colleagues told me "When it rains here, cabs dry up". Normally, there are enough taxi cabs to handle normal conditions, but when it rains, people who normally walk now want to take a cab instead, and the demand goes up, resulting in being more difficult to find one when you need one.
I'm wrapping up my week here in Chicago, and it snowed yesterday. Cabs were scarce. I walked. Many others walked too, about half with umbrellas to protect themselves against the snowflakes.
Most systems are designed to handle typical average conditions. Taxi cabs in a city, for example, handle typicalamounts of traffic.
IT is different. In many cases, IT infrastructures are designed for the peaks, not the averages. Peaks can be where you need performance the most, and failure to design for peaks can be disastrous. As with any business decision, this represents a trade-off. Design for the average, and suffer through the peaks, or design for the peak, and be over-allocated and under-utilized most of the time otherwise.
The choice is yours.
technorati tags: IBM, Beijing, China, rain, taxi, cabs, Chicago, IT, average, peaks, over-allocated, under-utilized
I hope everyone had a good weekend!
Yesterday, I went to the Bodyworlds exhibition. Here the anatomy of real human cadavers are on display, in full detail, thanks to a process calledPlastination.This was a great way to present anatomy in a 3-D visual way that can be easily understood and appreciated.I was glad to see so many children were there, although I warn parents that some sections of the exhibit maybe a bit shocking. I heard people speaking French and German, and it was great that anyone can be fascinatedby the human body, without having to read or understand English.
In the exhibit, you got to see the bones, nerves, muscles, digestive tract and other organs.Some in action poses, like swinging a baseball bat or ice skating, while others were stretched into specific poses to help emphasize one part or another.
In some cases, they would show side by side healthy and unhealthy organs, for example, the lungs of someone that smokes tobacco cigarettes, compared to the lungs of a normal person. Quite a difference!
Visualization can be an effective way to understand and gain insight from information. Presenting information in a visually stunning manner can be challenging, but often worth the effort. It reminded me of Edward Tufte, who has written several books on this subject.
technorati tags: Bodyworlds, human, cadaver, Plastination, visualization, information, Edward Tufte
Today I'm sitting in an airport, delayed due to weather.
Dick Benton of Glasshouse Technologies has an article on SearchStorage.com titled Justifying your storage staffing.
The concept that there should be a linear "Storage Administrators per TB" rule-of-thumb has been around for a while.Back in 1992, I went to visit a customer in Germany who had FIVE storage admins for 90 GB (yes, GB, not TB) disk array.I told them they only needed 3 admins, but they cited German laws that prohibited "overtime" work on evenings and weekends.
Later, in 1996, I visited an insurance company in Ohio to talk about IBM Tivoli Storage Manager. They had TWO admins to manage 7TB on their mainframe, and another 45 people managing the 7TB across their distributed systems running Linux, UNIX, and Windows. My first question, why TWO? Only one would be needed for the mainframe, but they responded that they back each other up when one takes a 2-week vacation. My second question to the rest of the audience was... "When was the last time you guys took a 2-week vacation?"
Today, admins manage many TBs of storage. But TBs are turning out not to be a fair ruler to estimate the number of admins you need. It's a moving target, and other factors have more influence that sheer quantity of data.Let's take a look at some of those factors, which we call "the three V's":
- Variety of information types
In the beginning, there were just flat text files. In today's world, we have structured databases, semi-structured e-mail systems, hypertext documents, composite applications, audio and video formats that require streaming, and so on. Variety adds to the complexity of the environment. Different data requires different treatment, different handling, and perhaps even different storage technologies.
- Volume of data
Data on disk and tape is growing 60% year on year. It's growing on paper also. It's growing on film like photos and X-rays. The problem is not the amount, but the rate of growth. Imagine if population and traffic in your city or town increased 60% in one year, most likely people would suffer because most governments just aren't prepared for that level of growth.
- Velocity of change
Back in the 1950's and 1960's, people only had to make updates once a year, scheduling time during holidays. Now, people are making changes every month, sometimes every weekend. One customer we spoke with recently said they do about 8000 changes PER WEEKEND!
So, the key is that there is no simple rule-of-thumb. Fewer admins are need per TB on mainframe than distributed systems data. Fewer admins per TB are needed when you deploy productivity software, like IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center. Fewer admins per TB are needed when you deploy storage virtualization, like IBM SAN Volume Controller or IBM virtual tape libraries.
technorati tags: IBM, disk, storage, infrastructure, SearchStorage.com, Dick Benton, Glasshouse, variety, volume, velocity, storage+administrators, TB, GB, TotalStorage, Productivity Center, SAN Volume Controller, virtual tape library, mainframe, distributed, systems,
It is perhaps coincidence that I learned that two people have blogs today.
- Dinh Phan
Dinh Phan is an IBM Field Technical Sales Specialist (FTSS) for IBM System Storage for the Western region of United States. He contributes to the Solsie.com blog from Costa Mesa, California. While this blog is focused on Mobile technology, Dinh has told me he plans to contribute postings about storage. One posting I found heart-warming was about IBM's historic donation of technology.Find his blog entries at:http://solsie.com/
- Anil Gupta
Anil Gupta works as a Storage Engineer for Quantum providing services and field support in Seattle, Washington.Quantum is an IBM technology partner on tape systems.He'll be attending the upcoming Storage Networking World (SNW) conference in San Diego, and asks people to say Hello if you see him.Find his blog entries at: http://andirog.blogspot.com/
For that matter, I too plan to be at the SNW conference, so if you see me, stop and say Hello also.
technorati tags: IBM, bloggers, Dinh Phan, Anil Gupta, SNW, San Diego
The "corporate bloggers" from the various storage vendors often mention their opinions about IBM products. Sometimes, they say something nice, and other times they poke fun. It's good to read the various opinions. Most are well-thought and well-written.
EMC blogger Chuck Hollis has a post about the various categories that industry analyst IDC used for external controller-based disk in their most recentQ4 Storage Scorecard.I agree with Chuck that it is good to have independent analysts that take an objective look across all storage vendors to provide the facts on various makes and models. Both IBM and EMC took marketshare in 4Q, so we cancongratulate ourselves and each other for the efforts needed to make this happen.
Chuck mentions that while EMC and HDS high-end boxes are similar, perhaps IBM's "DS" series is different enough to question putting it in the same "high-end" category. It's not clear if Chuck is poking fun at the fact that theIBM DS family spans multiple categories; or an admission thatthe IBM DS8300 Turbo is faster than the EMC DMX-3 and HDS USP offerings. Perhaps we need a new categorycalled "super high-end"?
IDC doesn't publish their data by price band, but we can infer from the products in each how they decidedwhich products were grouped into which categories. Let's examine the entire IBM DS family in the various categories.
- Entry Level
Our newest offering is the IBM System Storage DS3000 series. Some analysts call this category "low end", but IBM prefers using "entry level". These have an attractivelow acquisition price, very easy to set up, and are intended for the Intel and AMD servers, such as IBMBladeCenter, System x, as well as servers from HP and Dell. Disk arrays in this category typically have listprices below $50,000 USD.
Our midrange offering is the IBM System Storage DS4000 series. These are designed for Linux, UNIX and Windows based workloads.Some call these server platforms "open systems", or sometimes "distributed systems". The DS4000 systems are rack-optimized modularunits, providing plenty of options and trade-offs between price and performance for price-sensitive customers.The "high end" model of the DS4000 series is the DS4800, and has very impressive performance characteristics.Disk arrays in this category typically have list prices in the $50,000 to $299,000 USD range.
- Enterprise Class
IBM System Storage DS6000 seriesis one of our enterprise class offerings. DS6000 offers mainframe attachment comparable to what EMC DMX or HDS USP offer for their "enterprise class" or "high end" models, but uses substantially less power and in a much more compact modular rack-optimized packaging. Disk arrays in this category typically have list prices at $300,000 USD and above.
- Super High End
Perhaps IBM and EMC can work together to petition IDC to adopt this as a new category, based on performance,rather than list price. Is the storage marketplace ready for a fourth category?As Chuck mentioned on his blog, IBM is #1 for mainframe disk storage, and perhaps it is because the IBM System Storage DS8000 Turbo series does so well on most mainframe workloads. No offering from EMC or HDS meet or beat the SPC benchmarks for the DS8000 Turbo. You can see the results in the Executive Summary or read the Full Report.
Thanks to IBM's innovative Adaptive ReplacementCache algorithm, IBM DS8000 performance shines best handling read-intensive random-access workloads that mainframes do most often. These types of workload are modeled by the SPC-1 benchmark. In cases of write-intensive, sequential processing, the differences are less substantial, as disk arrays from all manufacturers drop down to the native performance capabilities of the 10K and 15K RPM drives.
I'll give you a real example. Not long ago, I waspart of a team to help resolve a performance bottleneck on-site at the customer location. The customer had an interesting "composite application" where data was processed on AIX platform (IBM System p), which passed the data to a Linux partition running on the IBM System z mainframe,which in turn used Java SQL to post updates to a DB2 database on z/OS partition, which then wrote out through FICON adapters to an HDS USP device. IBM and HDS worked together to help the customer figure out why they weregetting disappointing throughput and response times. IBM brought in experts on AIX, TCP/IP, Java, Linux, z/OS and FICON. HDS had their experts too, and tried to improve performance by quadrupling the storage capacity, and spreading the data out across more spindles. That didn't work. As it turns out, HDS disk just couldn't deliver the performance required. The software and mainframe were all well tuned. They replaced the HDS withan IBM DS8000 array, and it met all the service level requirements. Problem solved.
The problem with having this new "super high end" category, of course, is that only IBM plays in it, so it wouldn'toffer the marketplace much of a comparison. For now, we'll just have to settle for being the fastest in the samecategory as EMC DMX and HDS USP.
Storage is a competitive marketplace.Both EMC and HDS are reputable companies that make quality products that attach to IBM System z mainframe servers. Not all workloads are mission-critical or performance-sensitive. For less critical workloads, perhaps you may find EMC or HDS performance is "good enough".
But if performance is important to you, you should consider IBM on your list of vendors for your next purchase decision. Let IBM help you prove it to yourself, running your specific workloads side by side with your existing equipment.
technorati tags: IBM, EMC, Chuck Hollis, IDC, Q4, storage, disk,scorecard, z/OS, AIX, Linux, Java, DB2, HDS, USP, DMX, SPC, benchmarks, mainframe, System Storage, DS3000, DS4000, DS6000, DS8000, DS8300, Turbo