Welcome to my new blog on IBM Developerworks!
I am Tony Pearson, IBM brand marketing strategy, located in Tucson, Arizona. I have degrees in Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering from the University of Arizona. Over the past 20 years, I have worked in a variety of storage roles, including development projects, product and portfolio management, testing, field support, and now bring that technical experience to marketing.
There are a lot of things to discuss related to storage, and I am never short of opinions. As such, the standard IBM disclaimer applies: “The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of IBM or IBM management.”
I have invited other IBMers to post their opinions, and when they do, their opinions may not necessarily match mine either.
This is an open two-way conversation between IBM, Business Partners, Independent Software Vendors, prospects and existing clients. I encourage everyone to post comments about our products, services, and marketing efforts.
I have created blog categories, based on our System Storage offering matrix, which you can track individually:
- Disk systems, including the IBM System Storage DS Family of products, SAN Volume Controller, N series, as well as features unique to these products, such as FlashCopy, MetroMirror, or SnapLock.
- Tape systems, including the IBM System Storage TS Family of products, tape-related products in the Virtualization Engine portfolio, drives, libraries and even tape media.
- Storage Networking offerings, from Brocade, McData, Cisco and others, such as switches, routers and directors.
- Infrastructure management, including IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center software, IBM Tivoli Provisioning Manager, IBM Tivoli Intelligent Orchestrator, and IBM Tivoli Storage Process Manager.
- Business Continuity, including IBM Tivoli Storage Manager, Tivoli CDP for Files, Productivity Center for Replication software component, Continuous Availability for Windows (CAW), Continuous Availability for AIX (CAA).
- Lifecycle and Retention offerings, including our IBM System Storage DR550, DR550 Express, GPFS, Tivoli Storage Manager Space Management for UNIX, Tivoli Storage Manager HSM for Windows, and DFSMS.
- Storage services, including consulting, assessments, design, deployment, management and outsourcing.
For those who missed it, IBM announced last Tuesday encryption capability for the TS1120 drive, our enterprise tape drive that read and write 3592 cartridges. Do you need special cartridges for this? No! Use the sames ones you have already been using!
You can read more about it www.ibm.com/storage/tape.
technorati tags: IBM, tape, systems, 3592, cartridges, TS1120, drive, encryption
This month (September, 2006) marks our 50th anniversary of the disk system. The first disk system was the 350 Disk Storage Unit, designed to attach to the IBM 305 RAMAC mainframe computer, both introduced to the world in September, 1956.
Read more about it
On August 8, Brocade announced its intent to acquire McData corporation. IBM will continue to sell both Brocade and McData networking gear, as the acquisition will not be finalized until January 2007.
Read more about it directly from brocade www.brocade.com
technorati tags: IBM, SAN, Brocade, McDATA, acquisition
This week I was in Dallas, Texas, teaching at the "System Storage Portfolio Top Gun" class.
Can you believe it was hotter and more humid in Dallas than in Tucson? I am glad to be home.
For those unfamiliar with Top Gun classes, it is our top level sales training, typically 4 to 4.5 days long. This year, I have taught Top Gun classes in USA, China, Mexico, Thailand, and Brazil.
The class is open to IBM sales, IBM Business Partners, ibm.com telesales, field support and our technology partners.
We have several more classes for 2006, in Canada and the USA. For more information, read here www.ibm.com[Read More]
I found this item today on the blogosphere: EMC-HP Storage Race Heats Up
In general, people agree that IBM, HP and EMC are the top three vendors in storage,with HDS, Sun and Dell rounding out the top six.
The fun begins when a respected analyst like IDC Corp. publishes their calculations,and individual vendors re-swizzle the results because they are not happy with theirfindings.
I thought it would be helpful to illustrate how this all works. First, you need to comeup with a defintion of what you are going to count. You could count units sold, revenue dollars, or capacity Terabytes, or some other generally accepted metric.
Next, you need to define what's in and what's out. For example, you can say "storage"which would include both disk drives and tape drives, both internal to servers, orexternal to servers, or you can choose a more narrow definition, say external disksystems, which might suit you better if you aren't in the tape business, and don't sell servers.
By some definitions, my Apple iPod, Motorolla cell phone, and Canon digital camera,could all be counted as external disk systems, as they all connect via USB cableto my IBM laptop, and act like a disk drive to my Windows operating system, allowingme to read and write data back and forth. It is necessary to define exactly what you plan to include,and what to exclude, based on the reported numbers available.
The last rule is that nothing gets double-counted. In our complicated industry ofmanufacturers and vendors, sometimes storage is manufactured by one company, but soldby another, typically under the vendor's brand, not the manufacturer's brand. Youcan either count manufactured units, or vendor units, but you can't mix and match.
IBM is both manufacturer and vendor. However, IDC only counts vendor units, so storagemanufactured by someone else, but sold by IBM is counted as IBM, and storage manufacturedby IBM but branded by someone else goes to that other vendor. Likewise, HP and Sun re-brandHitachi storage, and Dell re-brands EMC storage.
EMC would like to treat all EMC-manufactured storage re-branded by Dell as EMC vended storage,so that it can move up in the ratings. But Dell wants to count it too, so that it can appearin the top six. You can't have it both ways.
But are these ratings just "bragging rights"? Not always. When big purchases are planned fornew projects, or a client decides its time to throw out the current vendor and shop for a newone, the ratings could influence that decision. In that regard, IDC 4Q05 Storage Tracker reportedIBM as number one over all in storage hardware at the end of 2005, which includes both internal and external disk systems, as well as tape drives sold under the IBM brand, based on dollar revenues. By this method of counting, HP came in at number 2, EMC at number 3, and the rest round out thetop six as before.
In the end, this is just one factor when deciding which brand to choose for your storage needs.
technorati tags: IBM, HP, EMC, Dell, Sun, IDC, Apple, iPod, Motorolla, Canon, USB, laptop
Here's an interesting article in Raptured Monkey: Big Blue...Big Borg!
The author is wondering whether EMC will try to avoid the fate of Hitachi's mainframebusiness, focusing on "moving into the IBM field" of offering software and services for more complete solutions.
Interestingly, one comment opines that EMC's acquisition of Documentum was "followed" byIBM's acquisition of FileNet, not realizing that IBM already has the leading documentmanagement software (IBM Content Manager).
Another comment cites IBM's recent push of Xen asanother example "following" EMC's acquisition of VMware, again not realizing that IBM has hadLogical Partition (LPAR) capability in its System z, System p and System i server lines formany years.
technorati tags: Ruptured Monkey, IBM, Big Blue, Borg, EMC, Documentum, FileNet, Content Manager, VMware, Xen, Logical Partition, LPAR
A blog on DrunkenData discusses a ComputerWorld article entitled "ILM is dead": ILM is Dead?
Robert Pearson (no relation to me) makes a credible argument of why ILM is alive and well,but agrees that EMC's approach to ILM had disenchanted many people.[Read More]
An interesting blog in "Channel Advisor" relates to the lack of trust in the storage industry:Education — Trust: Key To Survival In Today's IT World
and offers some advice to vendors and channel distributions.
I can't stress enough how important is credibility in a highly-competitive marketplace.[Read More]
Two blogs discuss Thick versus Thin storage virtualization.
This is a good discussion if you are interested in SAN Volume Controller and/or our N series disk systems.[Read More]
I've only had this blog since Sep. 1, and already it is listed in the Data Storage Bloggers wiki list.
In last week's System Storage Portfolio Top Gun class in Dallas, some of the students were not familiarwith Really Simple Syndication (RSS). For the uninitiated, this can be intimidating.I thought a quick overview of what I've done might help:
- Chose a "feed reader". I chose Bloglines but there are many others.
- Use Technorati to search other blogs for keywords or phrases I am looking for.
- When I find a blog that I like to continue tracking, I "add" it to my subscription list on bloglines. Just hit "add" and copy the URL of the blog you want to track. Bloglines will figure out the RSS keywords required.I track eight blogs at the momemnt, but some people with lots of time on their hands track 20 or more. It is easy to unsubscribe, so don't be afraid to try some out for a few days.
- Since I was actually going to run a blog of my own, I read a few books on the topic. One I recommend is "Naked Conversations" by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, both experienced bloggers.
- Finally, I am not big on spell checking, but most places have the option to preview your post or comment before it actually gets posted, which is not a bad idea if you use any HTML tags.
For a quick taste of blogging, consider using Data Storage Blogger Feed Reader. This has a lot of blogs on the topic of storage, already added and categorized for your convenience, ready for your perusal.
I am sure there are many other ways to enjoy the Blogosphere, but this works for me.[Read More]
Dave Hitz from Network Appliance has a wonderful discussion of "branding": What do Marketing People Mean When They Say Brand?
A lot of people ask me about IBM branding, as we have recently changed brands. In the past we had two separate brands, one for servers (eServer) and one for storage (TotalStorage). These would be fine if we wanted to promote their independence, but customers today want synergy between servers and storage, they want systems that work well together.
Last year, in response to market feedback, we crated a new brand, "IBM Systems" and put all the server and storage product lines under one roof. Over time, we will transition from TotalStorage to System Storage naming. This will occur with new products, and major versions of existing products.
Two other phrases you will hear in the names of our offerings are "Virtualization Engine" and "Express". These are portfolio identifiers. The Virtualization Engine identifier was created to emphasize our leadership in system virtualization, and we have products that span product lines with this identifier.
The Express identifier was created to emphasize our focus on Small and Medium sized business (SMB). It spans not just servers and storage, but across other offerings from other IBM divisions.
Of course, just renaming products and services isn't enough. Systems don't work together just because they have similar names, are covered in similar "Apple white" plastic, or have similar black bezels. Obviously, thoughtful and collaborative design are needed, with the appropriate amounts of engineering and testing. IBM is aligning its server and storage development so that the IBM Systems brand keeps its promise.
technorati tags: Dave Hitz, NetApp, marketing, brand, TotalStorage, eServer, IBM Systems, Virtualization Engine, IBM, Express, SMB, Apple white, SMB
Tony Asaro has a nice piece about Confirmation Bias
There's nothing worse that feeling you made a bad decision.My favorite is buying something, and then finding it at a lower price somewhere else. Or worse,being in a country where you haggle over prices, and finding out that I might havebeen able to haggle further down than what I had paid.
Of course, the solution to making better, more informed decisions, is getting more information.That's what I love about being in the storage business.[Read More]
Well,This is completely off-topic, but now that I have a bluetooth-enabled Thinkpad T60, I have been interested in this new wireless technology. I have a bluetooth cell phone, a bluetooth wireless headset, and my thinkpad, and they all work together seemlessly. I am able to speak on my cell phone through my headset, listen to music and videos on my laptop through my headset, and even dial in to the IBM network through my cell phone, all without any cables!
A variation of the Wi-Fi soup-cantenna has emerged to intercepting bluetooth signals. Check out this coolBlueSniper Rifle
Now that's innovation.[Read More]
My colleague Cyrus pointed me to this ComputerWorld article: Users suffer major problems with Symantec NetBackup 6.0
Which reminds me of the old adage frequently said by Mike Hartung, IBM Fellow:
Eventually hardware fails, ...
... eventually software works.
For a solid backup product, consider usingIBM Tivoli Storage Manager.I use it to protect all my data on my laptop. And when switching recently from my old Thinkpad T30 to my newThinkpad T60, used it to transfer my data over as well.[Read More]
Steve Rubel has an interesting blog on Wikipedia: Wikipedia Is More Popular Than...
When I was a kid, we didn't have online access to anything. Either yourparents were rich and generous and bought you the latest set of encyclopedias, or they were poor or cheap, and you hoofed it to thenearest library.
Now, I rely heavily on Wikipedia, and other wikis, to find information I need.The key here is the ability to find stuff. With the old 27-volume set ofencyclopedias, you had to know what word something would be filed under, andhow to spell it, so that you could find it. Today's search facilities are much moreforgiving. If you guess wrong, you are only a few clicks away from what youwere really looking for, in a Kevin Bacon six-degrees-of-separation kind of way.
Wikipedia is now looked at more often than CNN.com or the New York Times website.Why? It is amazingly good at summarizing a situation in succinct terms, even fornews "as it happens". The recent episode at Heathrow airport a few weeks agoserves as a good example. I was in Washington DC that week, on my way to Miami and Sao Paulo,Brazil, so it is good to have the news I needed, when I needed it.[Read More]
Yesterday (September 7, 2006) the Eclipse Foundation
announced that it has approved the creation of the Aperi Storage Management Framework Project.
There's been a lot of confusion out there about Aperi, so I thought I would post some facts and opinions about this exciting new project. A few years ago, I was thelead architect for IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center, IBM's infrastructure management product that helped launch the creation of Aperi.
From the latin word for "open", Aperi is an open source project that aims to simplify the management of storage environments, using the Storage Management Initiative - Specification (SMI-S) open standardto promote interoperability and eliminate complexity in today’s storage environments.
Aperi should provide immediate value upon install with basic storage management capabilities, rather than just simply a collection of components that require costly integration. We've discussed requirements for functions such as:
- Resource discovery, monitoring, and reporting
- Fabric Topology mapping
- Event management
- Disk / Tape management
- Device configuration & LUN assignment
- SAN fabric management
- Basic asset management
- User Interface
The big confusion most people have is Aperi's relation to SMI-S and the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA)open standards group. The best way to explain this is to go backto your High School SAT college-entrance exams. Remember questions like this?
CRUMB : BREAD ::
(A) splinter : wood
(B) water : bucket
(C) cream : butter
(The answer: a crumb is to bread like a splinter is to wood.)
Aperi is an implementation of SMI-S standard, similar to MySQL or PostgreSQL areopen standard relational database implementations of Structured Query Language (SQL).These compete with proprietary database implementations such as IBM DB2 Universal Database,Oracle Database, Microsoft SQL Server, or Sybase.
Aperi: SMI-S ::
PostgreSQL : Structured Query Language (SQL)
It is often the case that the folks writing the code are different than the folks defining the standards. This is the case between the members of Aperi writing code, and the members of the SNIA writing standards. IBM happens tohave employees writing Aperi code, and other employees helping define SMI-S standards.What can I say, IBM is a big company and a leader in many areas.
A good analogyis how the Apache community has developed an awesome web server, and the Firefox Mozillacommunity have developed an awesome web browser, both of which are implementations of the HTTP/HTML standards adopted by the World Wide Web Consortium. Apache and Firefoxcompete with proprietary implementations, such as Microsoft Internet Information Services(IIS) web server and Internet Explorer web browser.
Aperi: SNIA ::
Apache : World Wide Web (WWW) Consortium
With this arrangement, Aperi and the SNIA will have very complementary roles in defining and driving standards across the entire storage market. To that end, Aperi will make extensive use of the SNIA’s Technology Center and SNIA’s “plugfests” to test the interoperability of the Aperi framework with the variety of 3rd-party storage offerings available. By providing a tested implementation of SMI-S, Aperi will drive broader industry availability of SMI-S, as well as offer the many benefits of an industry-backed open source community.
Check out this vote of confidence:
"Eclipse's Aperi Project will further advance the adoption of SNIA's SMI-S, benefiting the entire storage industry and IT community. Furthermore, the SNIA and Aperi will define plans to collaborate on new storage standards, standards testing programs, and storage interoperability programs."
--- Wayne M. Adams, chair, SNIA Board of directors
So, both proprietary and open source implementations have their place in the world.Proprietary products are needed for advanced, unique value-add, and opensource projects are for basic support focused on interoperability and flexibility.These can be combined, for example, proprietary "plug-ins" built on an open source base. The more choices the client has, the better.
Storage vendors benefit too. Vendors are tired of being in the "Y.A.C." business, building "Yet Another Configurator" for each new device developed, with basic functionsto carve LUNs, read performance stats, and so on. By shipping Aperi instead, storagevendors like IBM can invest their development dollars in real innovations, things thatmatter for the customer.
If you are unfamiliar withopen source, I highly recommend Eric Raymond's bookThe Cathedral and the Bazaar. It might just change the way you think aboutopen source usage in the workplace.
technorati tags: Eclipse, Aperi, IBM, TotalStorage, Productivity Center, open, storage management, Eric Raymond, open+source, SMI-S, SNIA, Cathedral, Bazaar
A few years ago, I was the IBM portfolio manager for storage connected to BladeCenter solutions. I learned a lot about the BladeCenter design, and got to speak at various x86 server events.
My colleague John put together a nice webpage on storage for System x and BladeCenter servers:
IBM System Storage for System x
BladeCenterservers come in many flavors, including blades with Intel, AMD and POWER chipsets, and can be configured in Grid and SuperComputer configurations. Up to 14 blade servers can fit intoa single 7U-high chassis, making this twice as dense as standard 1U-high rack-mounted servers.
System x, the new "IBM Systems" name for our popular xSeries product line, support Intel and AMD chipsets. These come in both rack-mountedand tower configurations. These also are idea for clustered and SuperComputer configurations.[Read More]
My colleagues have put up a nice new company-wide webpage to explain IBM's new IT Service Management initiative (ITSM):www.ibm.com/itsm
, including a video interview with Nancy Pearson (no relation).
Of course, storage management is a big part of this, and products like IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center play a key role.
But ITSM is more than just a better way to manage operational tasks, it is focused on the best practices of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) which has been adopted bythe European Union, and now being adopted worldwide by both government agencies and private enterprises as a smartway to run your IT environment.
Last year, we talked about storage provisioning andorchestration.This year, we bring it up a notch, introducing IBM Tivoli Storage Process Manager. Of all the talk we gave the past decade on the promises of "autonomic computing", it's initiatives like IBM Service Management that give it real meaning.
Of course, we've designed our solutions to apply to your entire IT environment, supporting both IBM and non-IBM equipment, so even if not all of your servers and storage come from IBM, at least your software can be.[Read More]
The "50 Years of Disk Systems Innovation" has been extended to Latin America.Pages translated into Spanish and Brazillian Portuguese are now available for the following countries:
Hey everyone, I'm having a great time in New York.
Here are a few webinars this week you might be interested in, related to tape, and tape encryption:
If regulatory compliance and protecting your data against security breaches is top of mind for you, I invite you to attend a webinar on a new enterprise encryption solution from IBM featuring the IBM System Storage™ TS1120 tape drive. On September 20, 2006 Jon Oltsik, Senior Analyst for Information Security with the Enterprise Strategy Group, will moderate a discussion on IBM’s encryption strategy and latest data security advances with a panel of our product and industry experts.
Securing your data – IBM Tape Encryption Solutions
I personally know Dianne McAdam, from the Clipper Group, so the following should be very interesting:
Tape vs. Disk Which Really Eats More Power[Read More]
Last week, Steve Jobs demonstrated the latest evidence that theinmates are running the asylum
over at Apple
I wasn't at the event, but thought it would be good to explain some basic concepts ofInformation Lifecycle Management (ILM),using the files on my iPod as an example. (Disclosure: IBM makes the technology inside many of Apple's computers, and so IBMers get to buy Appleproducts at employee prices. I own a Mac Mini based on IBM's POWER4 processor, and an iPod Photo 60GB model).
I have 20,000 MP3 music files, representing 106GB of data. This fits nicely on my 250GB external disk system attached to my Mac Mini, but won't all fit on my little 60GB iPod. I needed a way to decide what music I keep on bothmy iPod and Mac Mini, and which I keep only on my Mac Mini. When I am traveling, I am able to listen only to the musicin the first group, but when I am at home, I am able to listen to all my music in both groups.(Another disclosure: I use my Tivo connected to my LAN to play all my MP3 music through my home stereo system.I had my entire house wired with Cat5 to make this possible.)
Apple's iTunes software lets me decide which MP3 files are copied to my iPod using "playlists". A playlist is a list of songs. Fixed playlists are created manually, each song copied to its list in a specific order. Smart playlists are createdautomatically, via policy. I give it the criteria, and it finds the songs for me. If I import a new music CD,none of the songs will be added to any fixed playlists, but could be added to my smart playlists if I set the policiescorrectly. Apple iTunes supports both "include" and "exclude" methodologies.
I use primarily smart playlists, based on genre and rating. I have tried to keep the number of genre down to a small manageable list:
- Rhythm & Blues
- Hip Hop
Of course, what I have for genre may not match what's in theGracenote
database, so I sometimes have to makeupdates to match my convention. I've picked these based on my different "applications" for my music. For example, I listen to Ambient music to help me fall asleep on airplanes, but Rock when I exercise at the gym.
Next, I use the ratings from one to five stars. The advantage to the rating is that I can change them on-the-fly directly on my iPod. All other "metadata" has to be entered only from the keyboard of my Mac Mini.
|*||Files for Mac Mini only, not copied to my iPod|
|**||Non-mix, copied to my iPod, but typically spoken words, such as language lessons|
|***||Mix, music to include in my music mixes|
|****||Keep on my iPod, but re-evaluate|
So, I have five smart playlists, "One Star", "Two Stars", etc. for each rating, and have decidedto keep only the 2, 3, 4 and 5 star songs on my iPod, by simply putting check marks on those playlists to copythem over. I have about 50 songs with 5 stars, and 8000 with 3 stars, and the rest in the other categories,leaving me a few GB to spare.
I also have playlists for each genre, "Rock mix", "Pop Mix", "Ambient Mix", etc. where I have selected thosethat match the genre, AND have 3, 4 or 5 stars. In this manner, I can listen to a mix. If I find a song mis-classified for that genre, I change it to four stars, which serves as myreminder to re-evaluate when I am back at home on my Mac Mini. If I don't want a song in my mix, I just lowerit to 2 stars. I want it off my iPod altogether, I lower it to one star.
This method is simple enough, and allows me to enjoy my music right away, and more effectively, without having to wait for completely finishing my classification process.
Next week, I'm traveling to Africa (purely vacation, not related to my job, my senator, or myinvolvement in anycharitable organizations). My Canon camera has only a 1GB IBM Microdrive, but I am able to offloadmy pictures to my iPod, connected via USB cable, and review the pictures on the little 2-inch screen. By simply "unchecking" my 2-star and 3-starplaylists, and checking only those mixes I plan to take with me, I was able to clear 17GB of space, plenty ofroom for all my photos of elephants and giraffes, but still plenty of music to listen to. Thanks to my simple methodology, I was able to do this with minimal effort, and willhave no problem putting all my music back when I return.
When evaluating an ILM process, many people are overwhelmed by their fear of the classification process, when in reality it doesn't have to be so complicated.
Is there an "iTunes" for the storage in your datacenter? Yes! It's called IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center. It can help you list and classify all the files in your IT environment,including files in your internal disks inside the servers, your NAS and SAN external disk systems, across both IBM and non-IBM hardware.It's a good thing to consider as part of your overall ILM strategy.
technorati tags: Apple, Steve Jobs, inmates, running, asylum, IBM, information, lifecycle, management, iPod, music, genre, star, rating, iTunes, datacenter, TotalStorage, Productivity Center, NAS, SAN, ILM
Hello Everyone! I am back from my safari vacation in Kenya.
One of the interesting parts of the journey was to visit a village of the Samburu tribe. Each village is a circle of huts surrounded by thorned branches to keep the wild lions out. In the center is another ring of thorned branches to keep all the cattle, sheep and goats.
One of the tribewomen invited us to show us her home. Each hut is made of sticks, stuck into the ground and then woven with other sticks, then covered in cow dung along the walls, and scraps of cardboard and newspaper as the roof.
Although the hut looks small from the outside, it was surprisingly roomy inside; it was divided into four rooms or partitions. The first was for the adults, the second for children, and the third for newborn animals and sometimes relatives visiting from other villages.
I asked what was the fourth room used for, and of course, her answer was: Storage.[Read More]
The TS3100 Tape Library
An astute reader brought this to my attention. The newest addition to our "IBM Express Portfolio"set of SMB-oriented offerings is the new TS3100 tape library. This has one LTO Gen 3 drive and up to 22 cartridges, which can be a mix of WORM and rewriteable cartridges,beautifully packaged in a small 2U high (3.5 inch) rack-mountable chassis. Each cartridge can hold up to 800GB uncompressed, or 1.6TB with typical 2-to-1 compression.
This tape library would be a great complement to TSM Express for backup, and to theDR550 Express for archive and compliance storage.
And now, for a limited time, there is a $1500 rebate, check website for details.
technorati tags: IBM, TS3100, Tape, Library, Express, Portfolio, WORM, LTO, LTO3, cartridge, Tivoli Storage Manager, TSM, DR550
This week I am in Maryland, teaching at our Top Gun sales training class.
Of course, often it is the students teaching me something new. Bringing up freshnew ways at looking at things.
Take for example this new online video game called Capacity Crisis. In it, you are the storage administrator tryingto get additional storage capacity to all the different departmentmanagers that need more space.
Try it![Read More]
Here we are again at Top Gun class.In between class topics, we often show short video clips.
This week, we saw IBM Executive Bob Hoey's wisdom on selling mainframe computers. Bob is the VP of Sales for our System z server line, but the lessons might also apply to high-end disk or enterprise tape libraries.
technorati tags: IBM, Top Gun Class, Bob Hoey, Mainframe, System z, high-end, disk, enterprise, tape, library
IBM has bundled our midrange DS4000 disk with SAN networking switch in a convenient 42U-high rack, and nicknamed thisSAN-in-a-can
In SearchDataCenter.com, Matt Stanberry's article Sun rolls out data center Winnebago indicates Sun has taken IBM's SAN-in-a-can concept to the next level.
This is an interesting development. To understand it better, we need to go back to the 1930s. Malcolm McLean invented the shipping container in the 1930s in New Jersey, and later founded Sea-Land corporation. Rather than unpacking products from a ship, load onto a truck, then move those products onto a train, his innovation was to create a container that could be packed full of products, carried from ship, to truck, to train, without loading and unloading individual products as transportation means change. He named the size of his container "TEU".
TEU = 20 ft x 8.5 ft x 8.5 ft
(twenty-foot equivalent unit)
In 1966, the standard shape and size was adopted by International Organization for Standardization (ISO).Today, over 90% of freight containers are 1 or 2 TEU
Sun's announcement is that they have packed up to 240 UNIX servers into a single TEU container. This can be dropped off at your facility, hook up your power and cooling, and start running. An alternative version is a disk-farm-in-a-can, having the TEU container filled with up to 2 PB of disk storage capacity.
technorati tags: IBM, DS4000, disk, SAN, SAN-in-a-can, Matt Stanberry, Malcom McLean, Sea-Land, TEU, twenty-foot-equivalent, ISO, standard, UNIX, facility
For those of you worried about my mysterious absence on the blogosphere, I am getting better. Sorry for not posting much lately, I have had more serious issues to worry about. I am awaiting results on whether I have Dengue fever from Brazil, Avian flu from Thailand, Malaria from Kenya, or perhaps it is just food poisoning from the otherwise fabulous French cuisine I ate last week in the South Pacific. Well, I am back in town for a while, and hopefully will recover to full health, and have some time to reflect my thoughts on storage topics.
Speaking of which, a lot has happened while I was out. Let's take a quick look.
- Following our introduction of the world's first encryption-capable tape drive, the TS1120, IBM now offers higher capacity 700GB cartridges, in standard 3592 format.
- The DS8000 Turbo disk system now is being offered with a flexible choice of warranty periods, 1-year, 2-year, 3-year and 4-year. Since IBM was the only one to offer 4-year warranties, it was sometimes difficult to compare apples-to-apples with our competition that offered lesser warranty periods. Now, we can match the warranty period you need, so the focus can shift on the added value the DS8000 Turbo provides at the right price.
- IBM's newest low-end half-high tape drive, the TS2230 Tape Drive Express Model H3L, part of our Express portfolio of offerings designed for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB). It supports the latest LTO Generation 3 specification, so fully compatible with our larger tape systems, as well as the LTO-based gear from HP and Quantum.
Stay tuned![Read More
Our industry is full of acronyms, and sometimes spelling out what words an acronym stands for is not enough to explain it fully.
It reminds me of an old story within IBM. A customer engineer (or "CE" for short) was repairing an air-cooled server, and found the failing part being a "FAN". Not knowing what this stood for, he looked up the acronym in the offical "IBM list of acronyms" and found that it stood for "Forced Air Network". Apparently, so many people did not realize that a FAN was just a "fan" that they needed to add an entry to remind people what this little motorized propeller was for.
This brings me to Tony Asaro's Fun with FAN blog entry which mentions yet another definition for FAN, that of "File Area Network". The concept is not new, but some developments this year help make it more a reality.
- IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS) has been enhanced earlier this year with cool ILM-like functionality borrowed from SAN File System, such as policy-based data placement, movement and automatic expiration. This can include policies to place data on the fastest Fibre Channel drives at first, then move them to slower less costly SATA disks after a few months when fewer access reqeusts are expected.
- IBM has paired up N series with SAN Volume Controller (SVC), so that an N series gateway can now provide iSCSI, CIFS and NFS access to virtual disks presented from SVC. The problem with NAS appliances in the past, is that once they fill up, moving files to newer technologies is awkward and difficult. With SVC, file systems can now be moved from one physical disk system to another, all while applications are reading and writing data.
To better understand the importance of this, consider the first "FAN", the mainframe z/OS operating system using DFSMS. The mainframe uses the concept of "data sets", a data set can be a stream of fixed 80-character records, representing the original punched cards, a library of related documents, or a random-access data base. All mainframes in a system complex, or "sysplex" for short, could look up the location of any data set, and access it directly. Data sets could be moved from one disk system to another, migrated off to tape, and brought back to disk, all without re-writing any applications.
To join the rest of the world, new types of data set were created for the z/OS operating system, known as HFS and zFS. These held file systems in the sense we know them today, comparable in hierarchical organization of files on Windows, Linux and UNIX platforms. These could be linked and mounted together in larger hierarchical structures across the sysplex.
The concept of files and file systems is a fairly new concept. Prior to this, applications read and wrote directly in terms of blocks, typically fixed length multiples of 512 bytes. For a while, database management systems offered a choice, direct block access or file level access. The former may have offered slightly better performance, but the latter was easier to administer. Without file system, specialized tools were often required to diagnose and fix problems on block-oriented "raw logical" volumes.
This launched a "my file system is better than yours" war which continues today. The official standard is POSIX, but every file system tries to give some proprietary advantage by offering unique features. Sun's file system offers support for "sparse" files, which is ideal for certain mathematical processing of tables. Microsoft's NTFS offers biult-in compression, designed for the laptop user. IBM's JFS2 and Linux's EXT3 file systems support journaling, which tracks updates to file system structures in a separate journal to minimize data corruption in the event of a power outage, and thus speed up the re-boot process. Anyone who has ever waited for a "Scan Disk" or "fsck" process to finish knows what I'm talking about. Of course, if an application deviates from POSIX standards, and exploits some unique feature of a file system, it then limits its portability and market appeal.
The two competing NAS file systems are also different. Common Internet File System (CIFS) was developed initially by IBM and Microsoft to provide interoperability between DOS, Windows and OS/2. Meanwhile, Network File System (NFS) was the darling of nearly every UNIX and Linux distribution, and even has clients on operating platforms as diverse as MacOS, i5/OS, and z/OS. Today, nearly every platform supports one or both of these standards.
Bottom line, file systems are here to stay. Any slight advantages to use raw logical volumes for databases and applications are losing out to the robust set of file system utilities that can be used across a broad set of platforms and applications.
technorati tags: IBM, FAN, File Area Network, Tony Asaro, GPFS, ILM, SATA, SVC, gateway, iSCSI, NFS, CIFS, NAS, DFSMS, sysplex, Windows, UNIX, Linux, POSIX, NTFS, ext3, JFS2, fsck
Ken Gibson has written a four-part series about where the storage industry is going, on his Storage Thoughts blog. You can find the four parts here (Part 1
His analysis of the storage industry is based on the concepts in Clayton Christensen's latest book Seeing What's Next, his latest work on the heels of his last two successes "The Innovator's Dilemma" and "The Innovator's Solution". I've only read the first book, "The Innovator's Dilemma" but need to check out these other two.
Ken explores the efforts of the incumbent players, and I agree IBM is farthest along, but not only for our "Storage Tank" architecture. For those not aware of Storage Tank, it was the code-name of a project from IBM's Almaden Research Center, productized as IBM System Storage SAN File System (SFS). Earlier this year the advanced policy-based data placement, movement and expiration features of SFS were copied over to IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS) which has wide adoption among the High-Performance Technical Computing (HPTC) community. As I've said before, switching from one file system to another is hard, so it makes sense for HPTC clients who already use GPFS to make use of these new features by staying with GPFS, rather than trying to get them to move to SFS.
I also like Ken's analysis of "overshot" and "undershot" clients. Overshot clients are those that find what the marketplace delivers already "good enough" for their needs, and are price sensitive against paying for features they don't think they need. The undershot clients are those that the current marketplace set of offerings are not yet good enough, and are willing to pay a premium to the vendor or supplier that can get them closer to what they are looking for.
Changes are underfoot, and it is an exciting time to be involved in the storage industry.[Read More]
Last week, David Pogue (New York Times) wrote a blog entry on The Dilemma Over Future Storage Formats
Of course, he is focused on the home user, and not the bigger mess found in the corporate world, where Federal Rules like the one past last week that begin to mandate that all U.S. companies archive every e-mail and instant message (IM) generated by their employees.
However, the article does bring up issues that effect the corporate world as well. Its not the "format" as much as the medium/player interface. A friend of mine just bought a vintage 8-track-tape player, but has only one 8-track tape to try it out with. He is now looking on eBay for other 8-track tapes.
The idea of keeping old drives around to read back data is not new. A company called eMag Solutions has all kinds of older tape drives to help companiesretrieve data on their older 3420 and 3480 tape cartridges.
The problem is not just accessing the data on the media, but rendering the "ones" and "zeros" into meaningful information. For example, suppose I saved a copy of my Quicken Tax file every year, and copied them onto a singleDVD for long term storage. The problem is that to access 2002 tax data, I have to run that version of the Quicken 2002 program, and hopefully that version will run on my current computer equipment and operating system.
A client I visited earlier this year had to retrieve 4-year-old Oracle data for litigation reasons. However, to make sense of the data, they had to build a server with a down-level version of AIX and down-level version of Oracle to match the level supported by their homegrown application.
One solution might be to find a new format that is application-independent. Flat text files, Adobe PDF format, MP3 audio files, HTML pages, and JPEG photo images are often used to avoid the requirement of special applications to make sense of the data.Unfortunately, in some countries, the laws actually dictate that business must keep their data in the original "digital format". So, if it was a MS WORD v1 document, it must be kept in v1 format, even though today's WORD 2002 can't even make sense of it, and you have to go to IBM or some other third party that have "rendering tools" that understand these older formats.
Luckily, for the corporate world, IBM has a lot of experience in this area, is the leader in Content Management, offers the world's fastest archive/compliance storage, the DR550, clocked at three times faster than the EMC Centera, WORM tape on LTO Generation 3 and 3592 tape cartridges, and software designed to render older formats into readable form.
For the home user, IBM's recent "Innovation Jam" identified this as one of the top 10 ideas, the idea of "Digital Me", storing not just old tax documents, but photos, music, home videos, and so on. My aunt Nancy passed away, leaving me a box of old VHS tapes, which I will watch this month as I sort through all my paper receipts getting ready to file for 2006 taxes.
technorati tags: David Pogue, NYT, eMag Solutions, Quicken, Oracle, IBM, AIX, PDF, MP3, HTML, JPEG, WORD, DR550, WORM, EMC, Centera, LTO3, LTO, 3592, cartridge, Innovation+Jam, VHS
Chris Anderson, of Wired magazine, wrote a great article called The Long Tail
This article became a book by the same name published earlier this year, and I just discovered it on a recent visit to Second Life. A lot of IBMers are now alsoSecond Lifers, and I suspect it is just a matter of time before we are conductingour customer briefings there, and getting our year-end bonuses paid directly in Linden bucks.(Those of you not familiar with Second Life can watch this 3-minute video fromthe folks at Text100)
Anyways, the Long Tail describes the new economy of entertainment thanks to digitalstorage. Here are some of the key insights.
- In the past, entertainment was all about hits: hit songs, hit movies,hit novels, and this was primarily because of the economic realities restricted byphysical space. Chris writes: "An average movie theater will not show a film unless it can attract at least 1,500 people over a two-week run; that's essentially the rent for a screen. An average record store needs to sell at least two copies of a CD per year to make it worth carrying; that's the rent for a half inch of shelf space."
- Things have changed. To drive the point home, Robbie Vann-Adibe (CEO of eCast), poses the trick question"What percentage of the top 10,000 titles in any online media store (Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, or any other) will rent or sell at least once a month?" The answer will surprise you. Write down your guess first, then go read here. His digital jukeboxes are able to play from a list of150,000 songs, not the few hundred you'd find at the Tap Room which is rated as having the best jukebox in Tucson.
- The phenomenon is not just limited to music. "Take books," Chris writes, "The average Barnes & Noble carries 130,000 titles. Yet more than half of Amazon's book sales come from outside its top 130,000 titles. Consider the implication: If the Amazon statistics are any guide, the market for books that are not even sold in the average bookstore is larger than the market for those that are..."
This has incredible implications for the storage industry. For one, content providers are going to dig deep into their archives to digitize and deliver "long tail" offerings. If they don't have a deep archive, many will start to build one. Second, the need to search through that large volume of content will become more critical. Classifying and indexing with the appropriate tags and metadata will be an important task.
technorati tags: Chris Anderson, Wired, magazine, IBM, Secondlife, Linden bucks, Text100, Long Tail, Robbie+Vann-Adibe, eCast, NetFlix, iTunes, Amazon, Tap Room, Barnes Noble, deep, archive, metadata, tags
On SearchStorage.com, my buddy Tony Asaro recaps the latest Storage Acquisition Frenzy
It has always been the case in fast pace technology areas that you can't tell the players without a program card, andthis is especially true for storage.
When analyzing each acquistion move, you need to think of what is driving it. What are the motives?Having been in the storage business 20 years now, and seen my share of acquisitions, both from within IBM,as well as competition, I have come up with the following list of motives.
Although slavery was abolished in the US back in the 1800's, and centuries earlier everywhere else, many acquisitionsseem to be focused on acquiring the people themselves, rather than the products or client list. I have seen statistics such as "We retained 98% of the people!" In reality, these retentions usually involve costly incentives,sign-in bonuses, stock options, and the like. Desptie this, people leave after a few years, often because ofpersonality or "corporate culture" clash. For example, many former STK employees seem to be leaving after their company was acquired by Sun Microsystems.
If you can't beat them, join them. Acquisitions can often be used by one company to raise its ranking in marketshare, eliminating smaller competitors. And now that you have acquired their client list, perhaps you can sellthem more of your original set of products!
Symantec had acquired Veritas, which in turn had acquired a variety of other smaller players, and the end result is that they are now #1 backup software provider, even though none of theirproducts holds a candle to IBM's Tivoli Storage Manager. Meanwhile, EMC acquired Avamar to try to get more into the backup/recovery game, but most analysts still find EMC down in the #4 or #5 place in this category.
Next month,Brocade's acquisition of McData should take effect, furthering its marketshare in SAN switch equipment.
Prior to my current role as "brand market strategist" for System Storage, I was a "portfolio manager" where wetried to make sure that our storage product line investments were balanced. This was a tough job, as the investmentshad to balance the right development investments into different technologies, including patent portfolios.Despite IBM's huge research budget, I am not surprised that some clever inventions of new technologies comefrom smaller companies, that then get acquired once their results appear viable.
- Value Shift
The last motive is value shift. This is where companies try to re-invent themselves, or find that they are stuck in acommodity market rut, and wish to expand into more profitable areas.
LSI Logic acquisition of StoreAge is a good exampleof this. Most of the major storage vendors have already shifted to software and services to provide customer value,as predicted in 1990's by Clayton Christensen in his book "The Innovator's Dilemma". The rest are still strugglingto develop the right strategy, but leaning in this general direction.
I hope that provides some insight.[Read More]
On his "Data Storage - Dullness becomes Mainstream" blog, Chris Evans is
amazed athow low they can go!
.He compares the latest 100GB Toshiba 1.8" drive designed for portable music players, to the size andweight of older technology, like the IBM 3380 Direct Access Storage Device (DASD).
Chris couldn't find the dimensions of the 3380, so I thought I would provide the missing detail.The IBM 3380 History Archivesprovides a nice summary:
- The CJ2 model that Chris mentions was announced September 1, 1987 and shipped in 1988. Earlier models of the 3380 were announced 1980-1986.
- Capacity and performance were measured in 7-bit "characters", since we were not yet storing full 8-bit bytes.
- By today's standards, having such a large box to hold a few GB might seem amusing, but at the time, this unit was four times the capacity as its predecessor, the IBM 3350 DASD. Compare that with our first disk system, the IBM 350 Disk Storage Unit, introduced in 1956, that stored only 5 million characters (5MB) and was the size of two refrigerators.
- The term "DASD", pronounced daz-dee, was used as some earlier devices were based on magnetic drums or strips of magnetic tape. Today, DASD is still a common term for disk systems among mainframe administrators.
- The 3380 was also twice as fast as the IBM 3350, at 3 million characters per second (3 MB/sec). The irony was thatthe mainframe servers could not keep up, so a Speed Matching Buffer feature was invented to slow it down to half-speed, when used with certain models of mainframe.
As for the dimensions, I too had a hard time finding a publicly available resource that listed 3380 dimensions,so I searched internal IBM resources, and finally, asked someone over in the next building just to measure one ofthe 3380K models we still have in the Tucson test lab floor. The dimensions are ... (drumroll please)
- 70 inches (1778mm) tall
- 44 inches (1117mm) wide
- 32 inches (812mm) deep
The result is that the box could actually hold a much more impressive 52,500 of the new Toshiba drives, twicethe original, albeit conservative, estimate. Before anyone"tries this at home", however, keep in mind that around each Toshiba drive,as with any ATA drive, you need to have all the electronics to communicate to the outside world, and provide cooling. Running tens of thousands of these little guys in the spaceof 60 square feet would probably melt the floor or set off your smoke alarm system.
At least take a backup first.
technorati tags: Chris Evans, Toshiba, IBM, 3380, DASD, CJ2, 3350, ATA
I got an interesting email from a new blogger asking me for advice on how frequently to post entries.I am probably not the right person to ask, as I blog whenever a thought comes to mind that I think otherswould enjoy reading, and sometimes that means several times a day, and other times only a few per month.I actually have a day job, busy doing other things, and blogging is just now part of my general set of activities.My focus is quality not quantity.
With that in mind, I was delightfully surprised that this blog was ranked among theTop 10 Storage Blogs by Network World, which explains my recent spike in traffic.
I shared the news with my 72-year-old father, and he exclaimed "There are actually 10 or more blogsto cover the IT storage industry?" He couldn't understand why the world would read more than two or three. I personally track thirty-five of them, and I suspect there are hundredsothers out there. Of these, some blog quite regularly, while others do not, so I am in good company. Deni Connor, the author who selected these top 10, gave a nice general complement tothe entire list of blogs:
The blogs written by storage company executives can be surprisingly vendor-agnostic, though the analysts and consultants still tend to pull fewer punches.
And this was my goal as well, to enlighten and entertain, in a fair and balanced manner, that adds value to the blogosphere, rather than just repeat the IBM press releases of each day. If you are just looking for "announcements" there is an RSS feed for IBM System Storage you cansubscribe to.
Not surprisingly, two of the blog entries that Deni mentions are the ones I get the most comments on:
- ILM for my iPod tried to explain Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) into laymen terms that everyone could understand. As an engineer-turned-marketeer, explaining technology and concepts into laymen terms is something I find myself doing a lot to help others grasp what is otherwise rather complex industry we are in. Not surprisingly, many IBMers were not aware they were eligible for discounts on Apple products like the iPod, and thanked me for pointing them to this.
- Aperi is "Viagra" for SMI-S which has now become my infamous blog entry within the halls of IBM. I chose this term over "steroids" given the various scandals involving famous athletes that were going on at the time. To this day,if you search Google for "Tony Pearson" AND "Viagra" you get this blog entry at the top of the list. Oneco-worker overheard that I had "used Viagra" only to later find out they were referring to the fact that I "used Viagra as a metaphor in the title of a blog entry". And that was the real issue, not that I used the term in a popular vernacular that might not translate well into other languages, or that I failed to attribute this as a trademark that belonged to its respective manufacturer, but that it was in the title itself, and thus the URL became "aperi_is_viagra_for_smi" when published in newspapers and press releases. I have since learned to be more careful when phrasing the titles of my blog entries.
I began my year-end vacation today, but like exercising at the gym, I will try to keep up with my blogging over these next two weeks. Especially for those readers out there doing end-of-year storage infrastructure changes. This blog is for you.[Read More
Last week, in my posting on Toshiba's latest 1.8" drive
, Robert Pearson asks:
You may not be the right person to ask but I am asking everyone so "How do you see hybrid disk drives?"
(For the record, I am not immediately related to Robert. At onepoint, "Pearson" was the 12th most common surname in the USA, but now doesn't even make the Top 100.)
Robert, I would like to encourage you and everyone else to ask questions, don't worry if I am the wrong person to ask, asprobably I know the right person within IBM. Some people have called me the "Kevin Bacon" of Storage,as I am often less than six degrees away from the right person, having worked in IBM Storage for over 20 years.
For those not familiar with hybrid drives, there is a good write-up in Wikipedia.
Unfortunately, most of the people I would consult on this question, such as those from Market Intelligence or Research, are on vacation for the holidays, so, Robert, I will have to rely on my trusted 78-card Tarot deck and answer you with a five-card throw.
- Your first card, Robert, is the Hermit. This card represents "introspection". The best I/O is no I/O, which means that if applications can keep the information they need inside server memory, you can avoid the bus bandwidth limitations to going to external storage devices. Where external storage makes sense is when data is shared between servers, or when the single server is limited to a set amount of internal memory. So, consider maxing out the memory in your server first (IBM would be glad to sell you more internal memory!!!), then consider outside solid-state or hybrid devices. Windows for example has an architectural limit of 4GB.
- Your second card, Robert, is the Four of Cups, representing "apathy".On the card, you see three cups together, with the fourth cup being delivered from a cloud. This reminds me thatwe have three storage tiers already (memory,disk,tape), and introducing a fourth tier into the mix may not garnermuch excitement. For the mainframe, IBM introduced a Solid-State Device, call the Coupling Facility, which can be accessed from multipleSystem z servers. It is used heavily by DFSMS and DB2 to hold shared information. However, given some customer's apathytowards Information Lifecycle Management which includes "tiered storage", introducing yet another tier that forcespeople to decide what data goes where may be another challenge.
- Your third card, Robert, is the Chariot, which represents "Speed, Determination,and Will". In some cases, solid state disk are faster for reading, but can be slower for writing. In the case of ahybrid drive, where the memory acts as a front-end cache, read-hits would be faster, but read-misses might be slower.While the idea of stopping the drives during inactivity will reduce power consumption, spinning up and slowing downthe disk may incur additional performance penalties. At the time of this post, the fastest disk system remains the IBM SAN Volume Controller, based on SPC-1 and SPC-2 benchmarks in excess of those published for other devices.
- Your fourth card, Robert, is the Eight of Pentacles, which represents"Diligence, Hard work". The pentacles are coins with five-sided stars on them, and this often represents money.Our research team has projected that spinning disk will continue to be a viable and profitable storage media for at least anothereight years.
- Your fifth and last card, Robert, is the World, which normallyrepresents "Accomplishment", but since it is turned upside down, the meaning is reversed to "Limitation". Some Hybriddisks, and some types of solid state memory in general, do have limitations in the number of write cycles they can handle. For thoseunhappy with the frequency and slowness for rebuilds on SATA disk may find similar problems with hybrid drives.For that reason, businesses may not trust using hybrid drives for their busiest, mission-critical applications, but certainlymight use it for archive data with lower write-cycle requirements.
The tarot cards are never wrong, but certainly interpretations of the cards can be.
technorati tags: Robert Pearson, Kevin Bacon, IBM, storage, Tarot, card, deck, Hermit, Four-of-Cups, Coupling Facility, Chariot, SAN Volume Controller, SVC, SPC-1, SPC-2, benchmarks, Texas Memory Systems, Eight-of-Pentacles, World, Hybrid, SATA
Well, there's little to no chance we'll get snow in Tucson the rest of this year, so I built a snowman out in Second Life. That's my avatar on the right, andI am an eightbar specialist. Eightbar refers to our logo.
This was part of an IBM "Holiday Party" where dozens of IBMers met "in the virtual world" to participate in 3D competitions,I entered the "Build a Snowman" competition, since I am still a beginner at this. This was whatI was able to come up with in 20 minutes that we had to get it done. Why I made mine out of woodwith different colors was so that I could stand out from the crowd. Everyone else used traditionalwhite snowy textures.
Others had a more challenging "Build a Snow Globe" where you have to write scripts to get thelittle snow flakes to move around. This for the advanced builders of our group.
This is still new, emerging technology, but eventually, Second Life and other MMOs could be used to market products,that people can view from all three dimensions, talk to a technical specialist, and get all questions answered.It could be used for education, shopping around, and collaborating with others.
Anyways, I haven't heard the results, but I had fun anyways.
technorati tags: IBM, snowman, competition, Second Life, holiday party
For those of us in the northern hemisphere, yesterday was this year's Winter Solstice
, representingthe shortest amount of daylight between sunrise and sunset. So today, I thought I would blog on my thoughtsof managing scarcity.
Earlier in my career, I had the pleasure to serve as "administrative assistant" to Nora Denzel for the week at a storage conference. My job was to make her look good at the conference, which if you know Nora, doesn't take much. Later, she left IBM to work at HP, and I gotto hear her speak at a conference, and the one thing that I remember most was her statement that thewhole point of "management" was to manage scarcity, as in not enough money in the budget,not enough people to implement change, or not enough resources to accomplish a task.(Nora, I have no idea where you are today, so if you are reading this, send me a note).
Of course, the flip-side to this is that resources that are in abundance are generallytaken for granted. Priorities are focused on what is most scarce. Let's examine some of theresources involved in an IT storage environment:
- Capacity - while everyone complains that they are "running out of space", the truth is that most external disk attached to Linux, UNIX, or Windows systems contain only 20-40% data. Many years ago, I visitedan insurance company to talk about a new product called IBM Tivoli Storage Manager. This company had 7TB of disk on their mainframe,and another 7TB of disk scattered on various UNIX and Windows machines. In the room were TWO storage admins for
the mainframe, and 45 storage admins for the distributed systems. My first question was "why so many people forthe mainframe, certainly one of you could manage all of it yourself, perhaps on Wednesday afternoons?" Their response was that they acted as eachother's backup, in case one goes on vacation for two weeks. My follow-up question to the rest of the audience was:"When was the last time you took two weeks vacation?" Mainframes fill their disk and tape storage comfortablyat over 80-90% full of data, primarily because they have a more mature, robust set of management software, likeDFSMS.
- Labor - by this I mean skilled labor able to manage storage for a corporation. Some companies I have visitedkeep their new-hires off production systems for the first two years, working only on test or development systemsonly until then. Of course, labor is more expensive in some countries than others. Last year, I was doing a whiteboard session on-site for a client in China, and the last dry-erase pen ran out of ink. I asked for another pen, and they instead sent someone to go re-fill it. I asked wouldn't it be cheaper just to buy another pen, and they said "No, labor is cheap, but ink is expensive." Despite this, China does complain that there is a shortage of askilled IT labor force, so if you are looking for a job, start learning Mandarin.
- Power and Cooling - Most data centers are located on raised floors, with large trunks of electrical power and hugeair conditioning systems to deal with all the heat generated from each machine. I have visited the data centers ofclients that are forced now to make decisions on storage based on power and cooling consumption, because the coststo upgrade their aging buildings are too high. Leading the charge is IBM, with technology advancements in chips, cards, and complete systems that use less power, and generate less heat. While energy is still fairly cheap in the grand scheme of things, fears ofGlobal Warmingand declining oil supplies, the costs ofpower and cooling have gotten some news lately. In 1956, Hubbert predicted US would reach peak oil supplies by1965-1970 (it happened in 1971), and this year Simmonsestimated that world-wide oil production began its decline already in 2005. Smart companies like Google have movedtheir server farms to places like Oregon in the Pacific Northwest for cheaper hydroelectric power.
- Bandwidth - Last year IBM introduced 4Gbps Fibre Channel and FICON SAN networking gear, along with the servers and storage needed to complete the solution. 4Gbps equates to about 400 MB/sec in data throughput. By comparison, iSCSI is typically run on 1Gbps Ethernet, but has so much overheads that you only get abour 80 MB/sec. Next year, we may see both 8 Gbps SAN, and 10 GbE iSCSI, to provide 800 MB/sec throughputs. My experience is that the SAN is not the bottleneck, instead people run out of bandwidth at the server or storage end first. They may not have a million dollars to buy the fastest IBM System p5 servers, or may not have enough host adapters at the storage system end.
- Floorspace - I end with floorspace because it reminds me that many "shortages" are temporary or artificially created. Floorspace is only in short supply because you don't want to knock down a wall, or build a new building, to handle your additional storage requirements.In 1997, Tihamer Toth-Fejel wrote an article for the National Space Society newsletter that estimated that ...Everybody on Earth could live comfortably in the USA on only 15% of our land area, with a population density between that of Chicago and San Francisco. Using agricultural yields attained widely now, the rest of the U.S. would be sufficient to grow enough food for everyone. The rest of the planet, 93.7% of it, would be completely empty.Of course, back in 1997 the world population was only 5.9 billion, and this year it is over 6.5 billion.
This last point brings me back to the concept of food, and I am not talking about doughnuts in the conference room, or pizza while making year-end storage upgrades. I'm talking aboutthe food you work so hard to provide for yourself and your family. The folks at Oxfam came up with a simpleanalogy. If 20 people sit down at your table, representing the world’s population:
- 3 would be served a gourmet, multi-course meal, while sitting at decorated table and a cushioned chair.
- 5 would eat rice and beans with a fork and sit on a simple cushion
- 12 would wait in line to receive a small portion of rice that they would eat with their hands while sitting on the floor.
So for those of you planning a special meal next Monday, be thankful you are one of the lucky three, and hopefulthat IBM will continue to lead the IT industry to help out the other seventeen.
Happy Winter Solstice!
technorati tags: IBM, Northern, Hemisphere, Winter, Solstice, Nora+Denzel, Oxfam, scarcity, Linux, UNIX, Windows, TSM, Tivoli+Storage+Manager, storage, admins, global+warming, climate+change, peak+oil, National+Space+Society, special, meal
'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.'
--- George Santayana
This last week of 2006 seems like a good time to recap the past year, and review the upcoming new year.That said, a good start is PC World's Top 21 Tech Screwups of 2006.
- Laptops made the news this year in a variety of ways. #1 was exploding batteries,and #6 were the stolen laptops that exposed private personal information. Someone I knowwas listed in one of these stolen databases, so this last one hits close to home. Securityis becoming a bigger issue now, and IBM was the first to deliver device-based encryptionwith the TS1120 enterprise tape drive.
- IBM makes the chips used in all the major game consoles: Microsoft's Xbox 360, Nintendo's Wii,and Sony's PlayStation 3. Being all based on IBM technology doesn'tmake the games interoperable or compatible, and in the case of Sony, it made #8 for being incompatible with their own PlayStation 2.Sadly, Nintendo's Wii had its own set of problems, and I found this parody of asafety video on YouTubeyou might enjoy.
- Microsoft had #5 (not understanding the holiday shopping season ends in December), #12 (not understanding people who use PCs prefer privacy), and #17 (not understanding how people useMP3 music players). At least they delivered their latest Xbox with minimal problems.As an engineer, taking on a market strategy role involved reading books and taking classeson marketing. I learned that it is all about understanding the marketplace well enoughso that your prospects "know, like, and trust" your company. Perhaps Microsoft should take a refresher course.
- A few companies showed off their brilliant customer service. Comcast is representedin a video on #7, and AOL in a taped phone conversation on #15. Many of our clients areafraid of vendor lock-in, and how difficult it might be to undo the deployment of new storagetechnology. Fortunately, IBM is committed to open standards, making it easier for our clientsto make the right choice and feel good about it.
Hopefully, we can all learn from the mistakes of others, and not repeat them in 2007.
technorati tags: IBM, tape, encryption, TS1120, privacy, security, game consoles, marketing
In his blog, Paul Gillin agrees with Time Magazine's Person of the Year
choice of "all of us", those of us who use the World Wide Web to do business or have fun, and to those who contribute to the internet by creating content, such as people who blog or create websites.
So, in continuing my theme this week to recap the best and worst of last year, I list my personal "tech highlights" of 2006.
- Programming my Tivo Remotely.
Last September, I realized on a 3-week business trip that I had not programmed my Tivo to record the premieres of each of the new season's television shows. If you miss the first few weeks, it might be difficult to make sense of the rest of the season. Fortunately, I was able to program my Tivo remotely through the internet.
- Purchasing TV shows on iTunes
Despite this, I had a repeat episode of "House" record instead of a new episode of
"Heroes". By the time I realized this, the episode of was no longer available on NBC.com, but I was able to purchase it from iTunes for only $1.99, so that I could continue to enjoy the series.
- Using Wikipedia
Still unable to make sense of what was going on in the TV show "Heroes", I was able to read the "wiki" which explained all the subtle imagery and background implied.
- Using Linux to rescue lost Windows data
My disk drive failed on my laptop, and although I had most of my data backed up with Tivoli Storage Manager prior to my business trip, I had some files that I acquired or updated during the business trip. Thankfully, there are Linux "LiveCD" images that allow you to access your Windows files. You boot these LiveCD images from your CD drive, so there is no installation of Linux on the hard drive itself. If you travel as much as I do, consider bringing along some Linux CDs to get you out of trouble.
- Connecting my home entertainment system to my Mac
I now have an 802.1g (54Mb) wireless hub which allows my Tivo to connect wirelessly to the internet to get daily updates, but also allows me to play all my music stored on my Mac through my home entertainment system, and I can also listen to thousands of radio stations through "Live365.com". My favorite station is "Depeche Mode Inspired" which plays songs by Depeche Mode, as well as cover versions by a variety of others.
- Learning to Blog
Believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to blog, and this year has been a good learning experience. IBM has a fairly healthy blogging policy, but nonetheless, say the wrong thing and I could be in serious trouble. Fortunately, that hasn't happened, and I am glad to see a fairly open exchange of ideas among the set of bloggers that discuss storage issues.
- Building a Snowman in Second Life
I have been a member of Second Life now since November, but it wasn't until I entered a competition to build avirtual snowman last week that the potential of this new interface became obvious to me. There is still lots to learn, but at least now I see value in spending more time and effort learning more about it.
- Getting an all-in-one printer/scanner to work with both my Mac and IBM PC
I didn't think it could be done, but here it is, my all-in-one Printer/Scanner works correctly, seemlessly, from both my Windows PC and my Mac Mini, and I have it on my home network so my laptop can use it also, wirelessly!
- Using Google Language Tools to translate materials to Portuguese
I speak several languages, enough to order food in restaurants and to get around through various modes of transportation, but translation for a technical audience is more challenging. A class we normally conduct in pure English was taken to Sao Paulo, Brazil, and although most students know some amount of English, we thought it would be good to translate the test questions to Brazillian Portuguese. I took the questions and ran them through a number of translation services websites, and had local IBMers review the results. The winner was Google language tools, which required hardly any edits to the generated text. The class was a big success.
- Digital Cameras and CD Burners
As I travelled from Brazil to Bolivia last August, I met a young back-packer who was on her way to Peru, but was staying in La Paz for a few days. We had a great time together, and I was able to transfer the digital photos from my Canon PowerShot digital camera into my laptop and burn her a CD to take with her to Peru.
- Painting my Dining Room table
After Halloween, I accidently left my pumpkin jack-o-lantern on my kitchen table as I left for a trip, and when I got back, it had decomposed and left a terrible stain on the wood surface. After sanding the table, I determined that the best course of action was just to paint the surface. I could have just painted it a solid color, or maybe a faux finish with two colors, but instead, chose to copy a famous painting, "Le Cafe" by Alberto Magnelli. I was able to scan this into my computer, resize it, and then project the image onto my table, to then outline the image and paint. I know I would not have been able to do this free-hand.
I am sure there are other triumphs I had throughout the year, but these are the first the come to mind.
technorati tags: House, Heroes, digital photography, Magnelli, language translation, Second Life
Continuing this week's theme of recap for 2006, I thought it would be good to look back at the various videos made available on the internet.
- Of course, my favorite is Rebels with a Cause that covers the 50 years of IBM disk systems innovation.
- Twist Image has a recap of some of the videos that were sent around to everyone's email. In case you didn't get them all, here they are on one site. Of these, my favorite is "Ask a Ninja".
- If you are in Tech Support, or have ever dealt with Tech Support as an end-user, you might enjoy this video from Norway.
- John Edwards announces his candidacy for US President in 2008 on YouTube.
- IBM Worldwide VP of Sales Bob Hoey's three lessons for mainframe sales, which was discussed in an article by the Poughkeepsie Journal.
- Interview of Jamie Hewlett, co-creator of the Gorillaz animation.
It will be interesting what videos we get for 2007. Happy New Year everyone!
technorati tags: John Edwards, Bob Hoey, Jamie Hewlett, Tech Support, IBM, Disk, Ninja, Podcasting, Videos
Happy New Year!
This year I resolve to be more consistent in my blogging, and my goal is to give you one to five entries per week, every week, based on the advice from Glenn Wolsey, Jennette Banks, and others.On some weeks, I will have a running theme, so rather than super-long entries to cover everything I can think of on a topic, make the entries short and readable. This week is a good time to review last year's "New Year's Resolutions" and to make new ones for 2007. I will discuss actions that companies can adopt for their data centers.
A common resolution is to lose weight, as in this Dilbert comic. Last year, I resolved to lose weight in 2006, and am delighted with myself that I lost eight pounds. When people ask for the secret of my success, I whisper in their ear "Eat less, exercise more." In general, people (and companies) know what to do, but just don't do it, which Pfeffer and Sutton document in their book The Knowing-Doing Gap. In my case, it involved lifestyle change: I exercised at a gym three times per week in Tucson, with a personal trainer, and revamped my diet.
Not everyone subscribes to the "eat less exercise more" philosophy. For example, Ric Watson argues in his blog that you can eat fewer calories, but eat more in actual volume, by choosing the right foods. This brings up the issues of "metrics" that most data centers are familiar with. Last year, I read the book "You: On a Diet" which explains that it is better to focus on "waist reduction" as measured in inches around your mid-section at the belly button, than "weight reduction" as measured in pounds. This year, I resolve to get down to 35 inches by the end of 2007.
The problem with measuring "weight" is that you are weighing bones, muscle and fat. A person can gain ten pounds of muscle, lose ten pounds of fat, and the scale would indicate no progress. The same problem occurs in data centers. How many TB of data do you have? Storage admins can easily tell you, but can they tell how much of this is bone (data needed for operating infrastructure), muscle (data used in daily operations that generates revenue) or fat (obsolete or orphaned data)?
We at IBM often state that "Information Lifecycle Management (ILM)" is more lifestyle change than a "fad diet". Figuring out what data you should capture in the first place, where to place it, when to move it, and when to get rid of it, is more important that just buying different tiers of storage hardware. So, for those looking to make new data center resolutions, I suggest the following actions:
- Re-evaluate the metrics you now use, and determine if they are helpful in making decisions and taking action.
- Come up with new ones that are more focused to solve the issues you face.
- Consider storage infrastructure software, such as IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center, to help you gather the information about your SAN, disk and tape systems, calculate the metrics, and automate the appropriate actions.
If you don't know where to start with ILM, certainly IBM can point you to the right solutions,best practices, techniques, and whitepaper.
technorati tags: Glenn Wosley, Jennette Banks, New Years resolutions, weight reduction, Diet, ILM, Information Lifecycle Management, IBM, TotalStorage Productivity Center
Continuing this week's theme of New Year's Resolutions
for the data center, today we'll talk about one that many people make for their own personal lives: staying on a budget.
Often, when faced with a tightening budgets, we try to make more use of what we already have. Tell someone they are only using 10 percent of their brain, and they immediatelybelieve you; but tell them they are only using 30 percent of their storage, and they ask for a whitepaper,magazine article, or clarification on how that percentage is calculated. I actually visiteda customer that was only using6 percent of the storage attached to their Windows servers!
So, to help those of you making data center resolutions to stay on budget, the terms to remember are "Reduce", "Reuse" and "Recycle".
- When people come to request storage, are they being reasonable about what they need today, or are they asking for what they might need over the next three years? They might need 50GB, but they ask for 100GB, in case they grow, and a year later, you find they have only 15GB of data on it. On the flipside, the person asks for what they need but some storage admins give out more, just so they don't have to be bothered so often when growth happens. Finally, I have seen this formalized into fixed size LUNs, all the disk is carved into big huge 100GB pieces, so if you need 20GB, here's one big enough with plenty of room to grow.
If you are going to keep on a budget, remember that storage today is 30% more expensive than storage next year. That is the average drop in both disk and tape on a dollar-per-MB basis. If there is any way to postpone giving out storage until it is actually needed, you can save a bundle of money. Timing is everything! In the event of a disaster, getting immediate replacement for disk can be very expensive, but if you can wait just two weeks, you can negotiate a better deal. I thought of this while going to the movie theatre yesterday. A "hot dog" and a bottle of water was $8.00, but if you are able to wait two hours and eat after the movie, you can get a much better meal for less.
- A lot of companies buy new storage because their existing storage isn't fast enough, or doesn't have the latest copy services. This can easily be solved with an IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC). The SVC can virtualize slower, functionless storage, and present to your application hosts virtual disks that are faster, and with all the latest disk-to-disk copy services like FlashCopy, Metro Mirror, and Global Mirror.
Chances are, you have unused disk capacity spread across all your storage today, but perhaps they are formatted into small LUNs. The SVC can combine the capacity, and let you carve up big LUNs at the sizes you need.This is like taking all those tiny pieces of soap in your shower and forming a new bar of soap, or taking all the crumbs at the bottom of your bread box, and making a new slice of bread. And, the virtual LUNs are dynamically expandable,so give out only the amount they need today, as it is simple to expand them to larger sizes later.
- Of my 13 patents, the first will always be my favorite, on a function called "RECYCLE" for the Data Facility Storage Management Subsystem Hierarchical Storage Manager (DFSMShsm) product, which is now a component of the IBM z/OS operating system. Basically, tapes could contain hundreds or thousands of files, such as backup versions or archive copies, and these expired on different dates. As a result, a tape would be written100 percent full, and then over time, decrease in valid data to 80, 60, 40, 20 until it hit 0 percent. In some cases, a single filecould hold an entire tape hostage. RECYCLE was able to read the valid data off tapes that were perhaps less than 20 percent full, and consolidate them onto fewer tapes. As a result, a whole bunch of tapes could be returned to the scratch pool, and reused immediately for other workloads. This also helps in moving to newer, higher capacity cartridges, such as the new 700GB cartridge that IBM co-developed with FujiFilm.(This RECYCLE function exists in our IBM Tivoli Storage Manager software, as well as our Virtual Tape Server, but is called "reclamation" instead, to avoid confusion on searches.)
When evaluating your use of tape, determine if you are making best use of the tapes you have now, and perhaps a RECYCLE (or reclamation) scheme may be in order. Fewer tapes can save money in many ways, such as reduced storage costs, and reduced courier costs to send the tapes offsite. Tape media can still be 10-20 times less expensive than disk, based on full capacity.
technorati tags: IBM, storage utilization,RECYCLE, Tivoli Storage Manager, SAN Volume Controller, SVC, tape, disk, FujiFilm, DFSMS, HSM, DFSMShsm, Virtual Tape Server, brains
Wrapping up this week's theme of New Year's Resolutions for the data center, the New York Times argues we should go easy on the resolutions
, so I'll conclude with reducing stress. Lighten up! Relax, and try not to take your job so seriously.
(I know you're probably thinking, "That's easy for you to say, Mr. paid-to-play-golf-with-clients big-shot executive, but what about the rest of us?" or perhaps "I can't do that! My job is so important that if I didn't take it so seriously, my company would go bankrupt, my industry would falter, and global economies will collapse!" I can understand. Over 70 percent of all of the world's business transactions travels through, or sits on, IBM equipment, so you can imagine how stressful my past 20 years have been. Bear with me, read on, and hopefully you might benefit from my past experiences.)
- Laugh out loud
- Everytime someone laughs out loud at the office here in Tucson, everyone else within earshot stops what they are doing and rushes over to see what is so funny. Likewise, everytime it rains during normal working hours, people stop what they are doing, and run to the windows to see what water coming out of the sky looks like. Do you work in a "dry" climate, where laughter, like rain, is a rare occurrence?
Recognizing the benefits of laughter on reducing stress and improving health, my friends and I started theTucson Laughter Club back in 2004. There are hundreds of laughter clubs across the United States and the rest of the world, sometimes referred to as "Laughter Yoga" groups. Those of you readers in Tucson are welcome to join us, our next meeting is January 13.
Look to see if there is one near you, or start your own. Until then, laugh while you watch this funny storage-related video from the folks over at Sun StorageTek, or this one from Kodak.
- Every laughter club meeting starts out with some breathing exercises. If you feel stressed, try this simple2-minute relaxation technique.
- I'm not just talking about stretching our muscles here.
- The next time you tell the story, stretch the truth a little, aim for 70 percent truth, 30 percent embellishment.
- The next time you are making plans for lunch or dinner, stretch yourself out of your comfort zone and try something new and different, new restaurant, or different type of cuisine.
- The next time you get called by a phone solicitor or telemarket, stretch out the conversation, have fun with it, ask them what they are wearing, and share with them all the successes and problems you have at work, until THEY hang up first.
- The next time you are throwing a party, stretch your invite list to include someone you normally wouldn't invite, perhaps a neighbor or co-worker.
- The next time someone insists you make a list,stretch the process out, to give you more time to drink their expensive wine.
- When you hear the phrase Work/Life Balance, do you think to yourself, "I would settle for Work/Sleep Balance!"You're not alone. The National Sleep Foundation reports that most Americans don't get enough sleep, which can causevarious health problems.
So get plenty of sleep at home, before you get fired forsleeping on the job.
- Get along with others
- Peace on earth starts one relationship at a time.I found this amusing article on Wired, discussion the Top Blogfights of 2006.Can't we all get along? I stopped two blog-fights in 2006, just by pointing to the facts, and setting the record straight.
If there is someone you are not getting along with at work, fix it. Sooner, rather than later. Here are tips to be more assertive.
- Listen to Music
- Can you listen to music where you work? Listening to music has been shownto help reduce stress.I've got my Thinkpad T60 laptop connected to my wireless bluetooth headset, so I can listen to relaxing music without disturbing anyone else, and not be "tethered" to my system with traditional headphone wires.
In her book, "Life Hacker: 88 tech tricks to turbocharge your day", Gina Trapani suggestsPink noise. I prefer"The Quiet Earth", an internet radio station on Live365.
So, relax and enjoy your weekend. And remember, when you get back to the office on Monday, its only ones and zeros.
technorati tags: New Years, resolutions, reducing stress, laughter, Tucson Laughter Club, Laughter Yoga, Sun, StorageTek, Kodak, Work/Life Balance, sleep, blogfights, assertive, music, LifeHacker, Live365, Pink Noise
Continuing this week's theme of New Year's Resolutions for the data center, today we'll talk about one that people don't always think about on a personal level, that is to hone your tools and skills.
A long time ago, I used to be a regular speaker at the SHARE user group conference. One of the most attended sessions was Sam Golob presenting the latest CBT Tape set of tools. Over time, this large collection of "mainframe shareware" was handed out on 3480 tape cartridges, then on CDs, and finally made downloadable off the web.Sam's main point, which I remember to this day, was that everyone who has a job should figure out what tools they use, keep those tools functioning properly, and learn to use them well.
Later, I took some cooking classes at a culinary school. Among other things, we learned:
- A sharp knife is safer and easier to use than a dull one, resulting in fewer accidents
- Knowing what you are doing is the difference between food that is "simply awful" to that which is "awfully simple" to prepare.
- A well trained chef can prepare most meals with just a sharp knife and wooden spoon.
This last point hits close to home, as many people like me have too many tools that they do not use often enough to know how to use them well. Do I really need my strawberry corer, garlic press, or a tray designed for the storage and delivery of deviled eggs?
The same could be said about software tools. What tools do you use in your job? Do you feel you know how to take full advantage of their power and capabilities?If you develop software, do you know all the features for your debugging tools? If you develop advertising or marketing materials, do you know all the features of your photo or video editing software? If you manage storage in a data center, do you know all the tools for managing your storage area network (SAN), disk systems, tape libraries, and reporting tools to identify all of your files and databases across your entire IT environment?I would not be surprised if you could replace a whole mess of tools with just one, such as the IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center.
For me, I resolve to learn how to better use Lotus Notes e-mail client, and perhaps the new Office 2007.
technorati tags: Sam Golub, SHARE, CBT, tape, disk, SAN, mainframe, cooking, tools, IBM, TotalStorage Productivity Center, Lotus Notes, Office 2007
Last week, Paul Weinberg of eChannelLine.com asks Is this the year of the SAN (again)?
So, I thought this week I would cover my thoughts and opinions on storage networking. We oftenfocus on servers or storage devices, and forget that the network in between is an entire worldon itself.
I believe Mr. Weinberg is basing this on the idea that in 2007, over 50 percent of disk will beattached over SAN, edging out the alternative: Direct Attached Storage (DAS). But perhaps 50 percentis the wrong number to focus on. In 2007, The United Nations estimates thatcities will surpass rural areas, with just over 50 percent of theworld's population. Does that make this the "Year of the City"? Of course not.
Instead, I prefer to use the methodology that Malcolm Gladwell uses in his book, The Tipping Point.(I have read this book and highly recommend it!)Gladwell indicates that the tipping point happens at the start of the epidemic, not when it is half over.Isn't it better to celebrate the sweet 16 debutante ball when young ladies have completed their years of training and preparation, and are ready to be introduced to the rest of the world, rather than after they are thirty-something, married with children.
Let's explore some of the history. Stuart Kendric has a nice 7-page summary on theHistory & Plumbing of SANs.
IBM announced the first SAN technology calledEnterprise Systems Connection (ESCON) way back in September 1990. This allowed multiplemainframe servers to connect to multiple storage systems over equipment called "ESCON Directors" that directedtraffic from point A to point B. Before this, mainframes sent "ChannelCommand Words" or CCWs, across parallel "bus and tag" copper cables. ESCON was serial overfiber optic wiring. SANs solved two problems: first, it reduced the "rat's nest" of cables between many serversand many storage systems, and second, it extended the distance between server and storage device.
For distributed systems running UNIX or Windows, the CCW-equivalent over parallel cables was called Small ComputerSystem Interface (SCSI). The SCSI command had over 1000 command words, so for its Advanced Technology (AT) personal computers (PC AT), IBM introduced a subset of SCSI commands called ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment). ATA drives supportedfewer commands, ran at slower speeds, and were manufactured with a less rigorous process. Today ATA drives are about 55 percent the cost per MB as comparable SCSI drives.
Anyone who has ever opened their PC and found flat ribbon cable with eight or sixteen wires in parallel, can understand that the same issues applied externally. Parallel technologies arelimited to distance and speed, as all the bits have to arrive at the end of the wire at approximately thesame time. Direct attach schemes with every server attaches directly to every storage device were also problematic.Imagine 100 servers connected to 100 storage devices, that would be 10,000 wires!
So, a new technology standard was developed, called Fibre Channel, ratified in 1994.The spelling of "Fibre" was intentionally made different than "Fiber" on purpose. "Fibre" is a protocol thatcan travel over copper or glass wires. "Fiber" represents the glass wiring itself.
Fibre Channel is amazingly versatile. For today's Linux, UNIX and Windows servers, it can carry SCSI commands, and the combination of SCSI over FC is called Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP). For the mainframe servers, it can carry CCW commands. Running CCW over Fibre Channel is called FICON. This convergence allows mainframes and distributed systems to share a common Fibre Channel network, using the same set of switches and directors.
We saw the use of SANs explode in the marketplace over the past 10 years, and then cool down with a series of mergers and acquisitions. Last year, Brocade announced it was acquiring rival McData, so we will be down to two major players, Cisco and Brocade.
So, IMHO, I think we are well past the "Year of the SAN".
technorati tags: IBM, SAN, storage, disk, United Nations, population, tipping point, Malcolm Gladwell, ESCON, SCSI, FCP, FICON, ATA, Brocade, McData, Cisco, Linux, UNIX, Windows
Continuing this week's theme on Storage Area Networks, today I thought I would talkabout the various terms we use for our equipment.
One area of confusion are the adjectives "entry-level", "midrange" and "enterprise-class".What do these mean? Well, as in the case of disk and tape, these three are all relative terms that are a combination of "small, medium, large" as well as "good, better, best".
- Entry-level switches are typically only a maximum of 8-16 ports.Ports can connect the switch to a server, a storage device, or another switch.These are sometimes called "edge" switches, as they might be found in the mostremote sections of an office campus, remote branches, or other isolated areasoutside the primary data center.
- Midrange switches typically have a maximum of 32-64 ports.More ports on a single switch means fewer switches (and fewer cables) to manage.
- These are called "directors" to distinguish them from entry-level and midrange offerings.Directors have a maximum of 140-528 ports, and because so many devices or switches can beconnected to them, they need to be extremely reliable. Directors are designed for 24x7operation, with the ability to make most upgrades and configuration changes while the boxis running (often referred to as "non-disruptive upgrades"). Availability is typically better than "five nines", or 99.999 percent, which means that the box will be up 99.999 percent of the time, or conversely, will be down lessthan 5 minutes per year.
If you are asking yourself "which size is right for my company?" or "is my company big enoughfor a director?" you are asking the wrong questions! Instead, determine a SAN configurationthat meets your workload, and then decide the components for that design.
McData coined a phrase called "core/edge" design that is considered today as "Best Practice" throughout the industry.A good write-up can be found here at SearchStorage.com. Basically, you put your big beefy "core" directors in the center of the room, and then surround it with midrange switches, that then these connect to "edge" switches, that then connect to the servers and storage near them. As you grow, this design can easilyscale to grow with you.
So, if you need help implementing a SAN for the first time, or upgrading the one you have,call IBM, we can help!
technorati tags: IBM, SAN, switches, directors, entry-level, midrange, enterprise, non-disruptive, McData
Continuing on my theme of storage area networking, today I thought I would coverstorage networking at home.
Before the PC, corporate end-users had dumb terminals (displays) connected to mainframes (servers) thatwere then connected to external disk and tape (storage devices). This was all done with direct cable connections,then later through networks. The PC solved this by putting the display, server and storage into one unit, makingit more accessible to smaller businesses and individuals.
Many years ago, Microsoft started out with the vision "A PC on every desktop".The primary reason we even have networks is while everyone might have had their own PC, not everyone had their own printer. (Printers used to be part of IBM's storage division, which we explained as "storage on PAPER"!)Maybe if Microsoft's vision was "A PC and printer on every desktop", history might have turned up different.
Let's take a look at Apple's latest offerings shown at MacWorld 2007 in San Francisco, as well as how rivals battle for connected world at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2007 in Las Vegas.Blogger Wax Banks argues that these announcements mean"the era of the personal computer is coming to an end".
Disclaimer: IBM has close business relationships with both Apple and Microsoft and others,providing the chips inside some of their products. I discuss them here not only becauseI am trying to get you to buy their products, and let IBM benefit indirectly from their success, but because they are newsworthy, and relevant to the topic at hand.
My take on all this...
- MacWorld 2007
- Apple CEO Steve Jobs presented the Apple TV. You can watch the MacWorld 2007 keynote presentation, orsee Zayne Humphrey's summary in a series of photos, or read Glenn Wolsey's take.
The "Apple TV" is not a TV at all, but rather a server, one that lets your television (your dumb terminal)access the video, audio and photos stored on your Mac or iPod (the storage device), all through a home network.(Sound familiar?)
Apple changed their name from "Apple Computer, Inc." to just "Apple, Inc." to signal a subtle but significant change,namely, that they want to be invited to next year's Consumer Electronics Show!Seeking Alpha offersNine Ways Apple Changed the Face of Consumer Electronics.Uber-blogger Steve Rubel weighs in on why the iPhone is a game changer, but the Apple TV is not.
- Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2007
- Mr. Wargo, director of industry analysis at the Consumer Electronics Association, the organiser of CES, said: "One of the other major themes of this year is the services and content that feed the networked home."
Bill Gates from Microsoft gave the keynote, and this is probably his last appearance, as he is retiring in 2008,as we are reminded by thisfunny video, to move on to bigger, and better things. It is perhaps fitting that his retirement aligns with the end of the era for the PC.
Microsoft unveiled their Microsoft Windows Home Server, again a server that connects your television (dumb terminal) with your PC or Zune (storage device)all through your home network. (Sound familiar, again?)
Whereas Apple above pretty much shunned the gaming community, Microsoft embraced it with their internet-enabled Xbox360.Microsoft sold 10.4 million of these last year, which was 400 million more than they projected.
Our SAN technology partner Cisco wants to get in on this "home networking craze", as written about inInfoWorld andCnet.
the consumer electronics industry is taking clues from IBM's mainframe business. Not the first time this has happened, and probably not the last.
I already access photos and audio with my Tivo, from both my Mac AND my PC,so not much new here for me. Getting my home network connected was one of mytech highlights of 2006 and organizing my audio content was done withILM for my iPod.
Bypassing the PC, by being able to have your television, handheld or phone access data directly will greatlyincrease the demand for storage from businesses that provide information and content, and for storage networking technology in the home. It will be interesting how this all plays out in 2007.
technorati tags: IBM, storage, Mac, PC, SAN, home network, Microsoft, Bill Gates, Apple TV, MacWorld, Consumer Electronics, Show, era, keynote, Tivo