Continuing this week's theme on Business Continuity, I will use this post to discuss this week'sIBM solid state disk announcement
.This new offering provides a new way to separate programs from data, to help minimizedowntime and outages normally associated with disk drive failures.
Until now, the method most people used to minimize the amount of data on internalstorage was to use disk-less servers with Boot-Over-SAN, however, not all operating systems, and not all disk systems, supported this.
In April, the BladeCenter HS21 XM blade server introduced the option to have oneIBM 4GB Flash Memory Device that used the USB2.0 protocol. The 4GB drive can be usedto boot 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Linux, such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES)), but not Windows. Linux is incredibly small operating system. You can bootversions from a USB key/thumbdrive (64MB) or CD (700MB) image, so it makes sense that a 4GB flash drive based on USB protocol was a good fit for Linux.
Windows, however, is not supported, because of the small 4GB size and USB protocol limitations. For Windows, you would add a SAS drive, you boot from this hard drive, and use the 4GB Flash drive for data only.
So what's new this time? Here's a quick recap of July 17 announcement. For the IBM BladeCenter HS21 XM blade servers, new models of internal "disk" storage:
- Single drive model
A single 15.8GB solid-state disk drive, based on SATA protocol. In addition to theLinux operating systems mentioned above, the capacity and SATA protocols allowsyou to boot 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 2003 Server R2, with plans in placeto other platforms in the future, such as VMware. I am able to run my laptop Windows with only 15GB of C: drive, separating my data to a separate D: partition, so this appears to be a reasonable size.
- Dual drive model
The dual drive fits in the space of a single 2.5-inch HDD drive bay.You can combine these in either RAID 0 or RAID 1 mode.
- RAID 0 gives you a total of 31.6GB, but is riskier. If you lose either drive,you lose all your data. Michael Horowitz of Cnet covers the risks of RAID zerohere andhere.However, if you are just storing your operating system and application, easily re-loadable from CD or DVD in the case of loss, then perhaps that is a reasonable risk/benefit trade-off.
- RAID 1 keeps the capacity at 15.8GB, but provides added protection. If you loseeither drive, the server keeps running on the surviving drive, allowing you to schedule repair actions when convenient and appropriate. This would be the configuration I would recommend for most applications.
Until recently, solid state storage was available at a price premium only. Flash prices have dropped 50% annually while capacities have doubled. This trend is expected to continue through 2009.
According to recent studies from Google and Carnegie Mellon, hard drives fail more oftenthan expected. By one account, conventional hard disk drives internal to the server account for as much as 20-50% of component replacements.IBM analysis indicates that the replacement rate of a solid state drive on a typical blade server configuration is only about 1% per year, vs. 3% or more mentionedin the these studies for traditional disk drives.
Flash drives use non-volatile memory instead of moving parts, so less likely to break down during high external environmental stress conditions, like vibration and shock, or extreme temperature ranges (-0C° to +70°C) that would make traditional hard disks prone to failure.This is especially important for our telecommunications clients, who are always looking for solutions that are NEBS Level 3 compliant.
Last year, I mentioned that flash drives could provide only a limited number of write and erase cycles, but today's new advances in wear-leveling algorithms have nearly eliminated this limitation.
As with any SATA drive, performance depends on workload.Solid state drives perform best as OS boot devices, taking only a few secondslonger to boot an OS than from a traditional 73GB SAS drive. Flash drives also excel in applications featuring random read workloads, such as web servers. For random and sequential write workloads, use SAS drives instead for higher levels of performance.
Part of IBM's Project Big Green, these flash drives are very energy efficient. Thanks to sophisticated power management software, the power requirement of the solid state drive can be 95 percent better than that of a traditional 73GB hard disk drive. These 15.8GB drives use only 2W per drive versus as much as 10W per 2.5” hard drive and 16W per 3.5” hard drive. The resulting power savings can be up to 1,512 watts per server rack, with 50% heat reduction.
So, even though this is not part of the System Storage product line, I am very excitedfor IBM. To find out if this will work in your environment, go to the IBM Server Provenwebsite that lists compatability with hardware, applications and middleware, or review the latest Configuration and Options Guide (COG).
technorati tags: IBM, Business, Continuity, solid, state, flash, disk, drive, announcement, blade, server, BladeCenter, H21, XM, 4GB, Flash, Memory, Device, USB2.0, Linux, RedHat, RHEL, Novell, SUSE, SLES, Windows, Project, Big Green, SATA, SAS, energy, efficient, efficiency, performance, NEBS, telecommunications, boot-over-SAN, Google, Carnegie Mellon, study, Vmware
Continuing this week's theme on Business Continuity, I thought I would explore more on the identification of scenarios to help drive appropriate planning. As I mentioned in my last post
, this should be done first.
A recent post in Anecdote talks about the long list of cognitive biases which affect business decision making. This list is a good explanation of why so many people have a difficult time identifying appropriate recovery scenarios as the basis for Business Continuity planning. Their "cognitive biases" get in the way.
Again, using my IBM Thinkpad T60 laptop as an example, here are a variety of different scenarios:
- Corrupted File System
Some file systems are more fragile than others. If your NTFS file system gets corrupted, you might be able to run
CHKDSK C: /F but this just puts damaged blocks into dummy files, it doesn't really repair your files back to their pre-damage level.All kinds of things can damage the file system, including viruses, software defects, and user error.
I keep my programs and data in separate file systems. C: has my Windows operating system and applications, and D: holds my pure data. If one file system is corrupted, the other one might be in tact, mitigating the risk.
- Hard Disk Crash
Hopefully, you will have temporary read/write errors to provide warning prior to a complete failure. In theory, if I kept a spare hard disk in my laptop bag, I could swap out the bad drive with the good drive. I don't have that. The three times that I have had a disk failure all occurred while I was in Tucson.
Instead, I keep the few files I need for my trip on a separate USB key, and carry bootable Live CD, which allows you to boot entirely from CDrom drive, either to run applications, or perform rescue operations.
The latest one that I am trying out is Ubuntu Linux, which has OpenOffice 2.2 that can read/write PowerPoint, Word, and Excel spreadsheets; Firefox web browser; Gimp graphics software; and a variety of other applications, all in a 700MB CDrom image. I even have been able to get Wireless (Wi-Fi) working with it, and the process to create your own customized Live CD with the your own application packages is fairly straightforward. Combined with a writeable USB key, you can actually get work done this way. Special thanks to IBM blogger Bob Sutor for pointing me to this.
(If you have a DVD-RAM drive, there are bigger Live CDs from SUSE and RedHat Fedora that provide even more applications)
- Laptop Shell Failure
This might catch some people by surprise. I have had the keyboard, LCD screen, or some essential port/plug fail on my laptop. The disk drive and CDrom drive work fine, but unless you have another "laptop" to stick them into, they don't help you recover. This can also happen if the motherboard fails, or the battery is unable to hold a charge.
IBM provides a 24-hour turn around fix. Basically, IBM sends me a laptop shell, no drive, no CDrom, with instructions to move the disk drive and CDrom drive from your broken shell, to the new shell, then send the bad shell back in the same shipping box.
Here, again, I am thankful that I keep my key files on an USB key. Often I travel with other IBMers, and can borrow their laptop to make presentations, check my e-mail, or other work, until I can get my replacement shell. In you are travelling outside the US, you might be able to move your disk drive into a colleague's laptop, access the data, copy it to your USB key or burn a copy on CD or DVD.
In a data center, many outages are really "failures to access data", but the data is safe. For example, power outages, network outages, and so on, can prevent people from using their IT systems, but the data is safe when these are re-established.
- Temporary Separation
At times, I have been temporarily separated from my laptop. Three examples:
- A higher level executive had technical difficulties with his laptop, and usurped mine instead.
- A colleague forgot his power supply for his laptop, and borrowed my laptop instead. (I wish there were a standard for laptop power plug connectors)
- Customs agents confiscate your laptop, give you a receipt, and eventually you get it back.
In all cases, I was glad that no "recovery" was required, and that the few files I needed were on my USB key. A few times, I was able to get by on the machines available at the nearest Internet Cafe, in the meantime.
With some imagination, you can recognize that this scenario is similar to the previous one for laptop shell failure.Here is a good example that you can identify different scenarios, and then later discover they have similar properties in terms of recovery, and can be treated as one.
- Permanent Separation
Laptops are stolen every day. Luckily, I've only had this happen twice to me in my career at IBM, and I managed to get a replacement soon enough. The key lesson here is to keep your USB key and recovery media in separate luggage.I know it is more convenient to keep all computer-related stuff in one place, but a thief is going to take your whole laptop bag, to make sure that all cables and power supplies are included, and is not going to leave anything behind. That would just slow them down.
In each case, some brainstorming, or personal experience, can help identify scenarios, identify what makes them unique from a recovery perspective, and plan accordingly. If you looking to create or upgrade your Business Continuity plan, give IBM a call, we can help!
technorati tags: IBM, Business, Continuity, plan, plans, planning, Thinkpad, T60, laptop, NTFS, CHKDSK, hard disk crash, USB, key, Live, CD, LiveCD, DVD, Ubuntu, Linux, SUSE, RedHat, Fedora, shell, failure
This week and next I am touring Asia, meeting with IBM Business Partners and sales repsabout our July 10 announcements
Clark Hodge might want to figure out where I am, given the nuclearreactor shutdowns from an earthquake in Japan. His theory is that you can follow my whereabouts just by following the news of major power outages throughout the world.
So I thought this would be a good week to cover the topic of Business Continuity, which includes disaster recovery planning. When making Business Continuity plans, I find it best to work backwards. Think of the scenarios that wouldrequire such recovery actions to take place, then figure out what you need to have at hand to perform the recovery, and then work out the tasks and processes to make sure those things are created and available when and where needed.
I will use my IBM Thinkpad T60 as an example of how this works. Last week, I was among several speakers making presentations to an audience in Denver, and this involved carrying my laptop from the back of the room, up to the front of the room, several times. When I got my new T60 laptop a year ago, it specifically stated NOT to carry the laptop while the disk drive was spinning, to avoid vibrations and gyroscopic effects. It suggested always putting the laptop in standby, hibernate or shutdown mode, prior to transportation, but I haven't gotten yet in the habit of doing this. After enough trips back and forth, I had somehow corrupted my C: drive. It wasn't a complete corruption, I could still use Microsoft PowerPoint to show my slides, but other things failed, sometimes the fatal BSOD and other times less drastically. Perhaps the biggest annoyance was that I lost a few critical DLL files needed for my VPN software to connect to IBM networks, so I was unable to download or access e-mail or files inside IBM's firewall.
Fortunately, I had planned for this scenario, and was able to recover my laptop myself, which is important when you are on the road and your help desk is thousands of miles away. (In theory, I am now thousands of miles closer to our help desk folks in India and China, but perhaps further away from those in Brazil.) Not being able to respond to e-mail for two days was one thing, but no access for two weeks would have been a disaster! The good news: My system was up and running before leaving for the trip I am on now to Asia.
Following my three-step process, here's how this looks:
- Step 1: Identify the scenario
In this case, my scenario is that the file system the runs my operating system is corrupted, but my drive does not have hardware problems. Running PC-Doctor confirmed the hardware was operating correctly. This can happen in a variety of ways, from errant application software upgrades, malicious viruses, or in my case, picking up your laptop and carrying it across the room while the disk drive is spinning.
- Step 2: Figure out what you need at hand
All I needed to do was repair or reload my file sytem. "Easier said than done!" you are probably thinking. Many people use IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) to back up their application settings and data. Corporate include/exclude lists avoid backing up the same Windows files from everyone's machines. This is great for those who sit at the same desk, in the same building, and would be given a new machine with Windows pre-installed as the start of their recovery process. If on the other hand you are traveling, and can't access your VPN to reach your TSM server, you have to do something else. This is often called "Bare Metal Restore" or "Bare Machine Recovery", BMR for short in both cases.
I carry with me on business trips bootable rescue compact discs, DVDs of full system backup of my Windows operating system, and my most critical files needed for each specific trip on a separate USB key. So, while I am on the road, I can re-install Windows, recover my applications, and copy over just the files I need to continue on my trip, and then I can do a more thorough recovery back in the office upon return.
- Step 3: Determine the tasks and processes
In addition to backing up with IBM TSM, I also use IBM Thinkvantage Rescue and Recovery to make local backups. IBM Rescue and Recovery is provided with IBM Thinkpad systems, and allows me to backup my entire system to an external 320GB USB drive that I can leave behind in Tucson, as well as create bootable recovery CD and DVDs that I can carry with me while traveling.
The problem most people have with a full system backup is that their data changes so frequently, they would have to take backups too often, or recover "very old" data. Most Windows systems are pre-formatted as one huge C: drive that mixes programs and data together. However, I follow best practice, separating programs from data. My C: drive contains the Windows operating system, along with key applications, and the essential settings needed to make them run. My D: drive contains all my data. This has the advantage that I only have to backup my C: drive, and this fits nicely on two DVDs. Since I don't change my operating system or programs that often, and monthly or quarterly backup is frequent enough.
In my situation in Denver, only my C: drive was corrupted, so all of my data on D: drive was safe and unaffected.
When it comes to Business Continuity, it is important to prioritize what will allow you to continue doing business, and what resources you need to make that happen. The above concepts apply from laptops to mainframes. If you need help creating or updating your Business Continuity plan, give IBM a call.
technorati tags: IBM, July, announcements, earthquake, Japan, nuclear reactor, power, outage, business, continuity, disaster, recovery, plan, plans, planning, IBM, Thinkpad, T60, laptop, Windows, Denver, BSOD, VPN, India, China, Brazil, help desk, Asia, Tivoli, Storage, Manager, TSM, BMR, external, USB, bootable, CD, DVD, separating, programs, data, Clark Hodge
It's Tuesday, which means IBM makes its announcements. We had several for the IBM System Storage product line. Here's a quick recap.
- Disk Systems
The IBM System Storage DS3000 now offers DC power models.New DC powered models of the DS3200, DS3400, and EXP3000 are well suited for Telco industry environments, as theseare NEBS and ETSI compliant and are powered by an industry standard 48 volt DC power source.
Also, the IBM System Storage N series now supports750GB SATA drives available for the EXN1000 drawer.
- Tape Systems
IBM Virtualization Engine TS7740now supports 3-cluster grids. Unlike 3-way replication on disk mirroring, such as IBM Metro/Global Mirror for the DS8000 that enforces a primary, secondary and tertiary copy, the grid implementation of TS7740 tape virtualization allows for any-to-any mirroring. Existing standalone TS7740 clusters can be converted to grid-enabled. A "Copy Export" feature allows virtual tapes to be exported onto physical tape. And in keeping with our theme of "enabling business flexibility", performance throughput can now be purchased in 100 MB/sec increments, up to 600 MB/sec, to match your workload bandwidth requirements.
The IBM System Storage TS1120drives installed in the IBM System Storage™ TS3400 Tape Library can now be attached to System z platforms using the IBM System Storage™ TS1120 Tape Controller. Before this, the TS3400 could only be attached to UNIX, Windows and Linux systems.
The IBM System StorageTS2230 Express is offered as an external stand-alone or rack-mountable unit. This model incorporates the new LTO IBM Ultrium 3 Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) Half-High Tape Drive, and a 3 Gbps single port SAS interface for a connection to a wide spectrum of distributed system servers that support Microsoft Windows and Linux systems.
- Storage Networking
IBM has added theCisco MDS 9124 for IBM System Storageentry-level fabric switch as an Express offering and part of the IBM Express Advantage Program. Express offerings are specifically created for mid-market companies and are well suited for workgroup storage applications like e-mail serving, collaborative databases and web serving. They bring enterprise-class performance, scalability and features to small and medium-sized companies and are easy to use, highly scalable, and cost-effective.This will make it easier for IBM Business Partners to provide fabric switch connectivity for:
- Storage consolidation solutions with IBM System Storage™ DS4000 Express disk arrays, especially the DS4700 Express.
- Backup / restore solutions with IBM System Storage™ TS3000 Tape Libraries, such as the TS3200.
- Archive and Retention
Ordering large configurations of the IBM System Storage Grid Access Manager just got a lot easier.New features enable configurations greater than 500 TB to be submitted as a single order. No change in the actualproduct, just an improvement in the ordering process.
For System p and System i servers, the IBM 3996 Optical library now supports Gen 2 60GB optical cartridges. These can be read/write or WORM cartridges.
I'm off to Denver, Colorado this week. I hope it is cooler there than it is down here in Tucson, Arizona.
technorati tags: IBM, disk, system, storage, SAS, FC, DS3000, DS3200, DS3400, EXP3000, NAS, EXN1000, tape, virtualization, library, TS7740, grid, Copy Export, throughput, TS3400, TS3200, mainframe, LTO, Ultrium, Cisco, MDS, 9124, Express, Advantage, DS4000, DS4700, TS3200, GAM, Grid Archive Manager, 3996, optical, WORM, Denver, Colorado, Tucson, Arizona, announcements
Avi Bar-Zeeb of RealityPrime has an interesting post aboutHow Google Earth [really] Works
.Normally, people who are very knowledgeable in a topic have a hard time describing concepts in basic terms. Avi was one of the co-founders of Keyhole, the company that built the predecessor for Google Earth, and also worked with Linden Lab for its 3D rendering it its virtual world, so he certainly knows what he is talking about. While he sometimes drops down into techno-talk about patents, the post overall is a good read.
It is perhaps human nature to be curious on how things are put together and how they function, leading to the popularity of web sites like www.howstuffworks.com that cover a wide range of topics.
Many things can be used without understanding their internal inner workings. You can put on a pair of blue jeans without knowing how the cotton was made into denim fabric; lace up your favorite pair of running shoes without understanding the chemical make-up of the plastic that cushions your feet; or drink a glass of beer after your five mile run without knowing how alcohol is processed by your liver.
For technology, however, some people insist they need to know how it works in order for them to get the most use of it. When shopping for a car, for example, a guy might look under the hood, and ask questions about how the engine works, while his wife sits inside the vehicle, counting cup holders and making sure the radio has all the right buttons.
Not all technology suffers from need-to-know-itis. For example, the Apple iPod music player and the Canon PowerShot digital camera, are both just disk systems that read and write data, with knobs and dials on one end, and ports for connectivity on the other. Everyone just asks how to use their controls, and might read the manual to understand how to connect the cables. Few people who use these devices ask how they work before they buy them.
Other disk systems, the kind designed for data centers for the medium and large enterprise, apparently aren't there yet. Storage admins who might happily own both an iPod player and a PowerShot camera, insist they need to know how the technologies inside various storage offerings work. Is this just curiosity talking? Or are there some tasks like configuration, tuning, and support that just can't be done without this knowledge? Does knowing the inner workings somehow make the job more enjoyable, easier, or performed with less stress?
I'm curious what you think, send me a comment on this.
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