Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Systems Client Experience Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2016, Tony celebrates his 30th year anniversary with IBM Storage. He is
author of the Inside System Storage series of books. This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to storage and storage networking hardware, software and services.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson )
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Twenty years ago, I flew to Atlanta for the semi-annual SHARE conference. I was a lead architect for DFSMS, the storage management software for mainframe servers. When I got to the hotel, I realized that I had forgotten to pack my saline solution for my contact lenses. I went to the hotel gift shop, and picked the first one I found. I took my contacts in the solution and went to bed.
The next morning, I put on my contacts, got dressed, and participated in meetings. One of my colleagues noticed my eyes were quite red, and suggested I switch from contact lenses to glasses. I went back to my hotel room, saw to my horror that what I thought was saline solution was actually hydrogen peroxide intended for hard lenses. When I removed the lenses, all I could see was white light.
I managed to find my way to the elevator, and feel for the button with the star that indicated the lobby on the ground floor. I asked a hotel staffer to call me an ambulance, but instead, they put me in a cab, and sent me to Emory Hospital. On arrival, all I could do was hand over my wallet to my cabbie, and let him take out what he felt was fair, since I could not see him, the meter, or his license number.
After bumping my knees into dozens of cars in the parking lot, I finally made it to the ER, only to have receptionist give me a form to fill out and a pen. At this point, I lost it. I gave her my wallet and said that any information she may need should be in there.
Thankfully, a doctor noticed this exchange, and took care of me right away. I had chemically burned off both corneas. He injected some green fluid into both eyeballs, and sent me off in a cab to the Pharmacy. At least I had both eyes were bandaged in gauze, so people were kind enough to take me to get to the counter to get my pain killers, Percocet.
The pharmacist provided me the pills, and warned me NOT to operate any heavy machinery under the influece of this medication. Seriously? I can't see, both eyes covered, and he tells me that?
I got back to the hotel, got ready for bed, took the pills and brushed my teeth. I woke up the next morning on the bathroom floor, still clutching the toothbrush, and vertical and horizontal lines across my right cheek which were made by the one-inch tiles of the bathroom floor. These pills really knocked me out.
That day, I had to present a full hour in front of hundreds of people. I had a colleague flip my transparencies for me, while I spoke to each one, my eyes still covered in gauze. That evening, I was one of the experts on the panel for a "Birds of a Feather", or BOF session, answering a variety of questions. People could see that I was blind, but I could still hear the questions, and I could still answer them as well.
If you are going to Edge 2013 in Las Vegas, please consider attending my BOF session on Security for PureSystems, System x and Storage products, scheduled for Thursday afternoon, June 13. I will be moderating a distinguished panel of experts to answer your questions! I have listed them here alphabetically:
Jack Arnold, US Federal. Jack has worked decades in the storage industry, and will provide insight into security issues related to the government.
Tom Benjamin, Development Manager for Key Lifecycle Management and Java Cryptography. Tom will bring his expertise in both TKLM and ISKLM for managing encryption keys, and how to communicate these between security and storage administrators.
Paul Bradshaw, Chief Storage Architect for Clouds. A research scientist from IBM's Almaden Research Lab, Paul will provide insight in how to deal with security issues related to private, hybrid and public cloud deployments.
Ajay Dholakia, Solution Center of Excellent. Ajay will cover server-side considerations for security deployments, including System x and PureSystems.
Jim Fisher, Advanced Technical Skills. Jim brings expertise related to deploying data-at-rest encryption.
Not sure what kind of questions to ask? Here is a series of Questions and Answers we had at a Storage event in 2011 that might give you a good idea: [2011 Storage Free-for-All].
Are you going to Edge 2013 in Las Vegas, June 10-14?
In my talks with clients about storage, I find similar hesitation on turning on various storage efficiency features that IBM (and other vendors) have to offer. Let's examine a few of them.
Less than half of businesses have activated "thin provisioning" on storage devices that support this feature. Why? IBM introduced thin provisioning on its RAMAC Virtual Array back in 1997! The technology is well proven in the field. Don't know how to report this for charge-back activity? Charge your end-users for the maximum capacity upper limit. Simple enough!
What about Data Deduplication? IBM has had this feature on its N series since 2007, but it wasn't until IBM came out with the IBM ProtecTIER gateway and appliance models that people started to take notice of this technology. Yes, I agree Hash Collisions can be quite scary on competitive gear, but on IBM ProtecTIER we do not use hash codes, and all data is compared byte-for-byte. For those considering hash-based deduplication, hash collisions in general are quite rare. Jeff Preshing does the math for you in his blog post: [Hash Collision Probabilities]. Of course, if you want to leave no doubt in the minds of a jury of your peers, stick with byte-for-byte comparison methods in the IBM ProtecTIER.
Lastly, I have heard concerns of using real-time compression? Really? Real-time compression has been used in wide-area network (WAN) transmissions ever since IBM developed the Houston Aerospace Spooling Protocol (HASP) for NASA back in 1973. IBM has offered real-time compression on tape cartridges since 1986, the year I started with IBM, some 27 years ago. And now, real-time compression is available for file-based and block-based disk systems. All of these solutions are based on the Lempel-Ziv lossless compression algorithms introduced in 1977. One customer I spoke with was unwilling to try compression, because it requires thin provisioning as a pre-requisite. How is that for having one fear based on another one!
IBM places a high value on data integrity. For each data footprint reduction method, IBM has designed a solution that returns back the exact ones and zeros, in the correct quantity and order, as was originally stored.
For more on this topic, come see me present "Data Footprint Reduction -- Understanding IBM Storage Efficiency Options" at [IBM Edge 2013 conference] in Las Vegas, June 10-14.
It seems I have been on the road non-stop for the past nine weeks! On my flights, I often find myself sitting next to a young adult who is flying for the first time. Many of these young adults formed their fear of flying a decade ago, in their teenage years, during the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Some are just now trying to face those fears.
(What does any of this have to do with storage? Actually, there are similar fears for enabling various storage efficiency functions like data deduplication, thin provisioning and compression, so work with me here!)
Flying from Seattle down to Los Angeles, I sat next to Michele (shown in the picture on the left). She was facing her fear of flying overseas by taking seven months off to visit Japan, China, Thailand, Laos, Ireland, England and various countries in continental Europe. Wow! She was joining up with her friend Brittney in Los Angeles, and the two will be travelling together. Since I had been to nearly every country she was planning to visit, I gave her a list of survival phrases and cultural guidance.
Flying from Los Angeles to Tucson, I sat next to Alex on his first day of flying adventures. He flew from Jacksonville, to Dallas, to Los Angeles, to finally Tucson to pick up his fiancée. He met her in Florida, but her father was re-assigned to Fort Huachuca Army Base near Tucson, Arizona. He kept in touch with his bride-to-be, and now faced his fear of flying to go pick her up and bring her back for the wedding. This was the first time he had been west of the Mississippi river.
On a short 18-minute flight from Tucson to Phoenix, I sat next to Rachel, a college student at the University of Arizona, on her way to visit her folks in Santa Ana, California. She immediately apologized to me for not wearing pants. What I mistook for bikini bottoms were actually stretchy exercise shorts she wears to play [Lacrosse]. She had sprained her ankle, then went [AMA] to wear high-heeled shoes on a girl's weekend to Las Vegas, only to trip and break her ankle completely. Her foot was in a cast, thus preventing her from driving her car, or, as it turned out, wear any pants.
Returning from a briefing in Poughkeepsie, on the short flight from Stewart Airport to Philadelphia, I sat next to Krista (shown in the picture on the right), who formerly was a [Bacardi Girl], but now decided she wants to do something more meaningful in her life than handing out prizes and free samples of spiced rum. She decided to go visit her friend in Charlotte, North Carolina, but did not want to drive 15 hours to get there. She faced her fears of flying to avoid driving by herself all that distance. She didn't know what she wanted to do with her life, so I suggested she get a Myers-Briggs profile analysis, and perhaps determine her strengths using Gallup's [Strengths Finder 2.0]. This might help her find a career choice that best fits her interests.
As is often the case, many fears are unfounded. Statistically, flying is safer than being on the road in car. As a result of facing their fears, they all got to meet me, and be one step closer to accomplishing their life goals.
What do all of these have in common? They all faced their fear of flying, either because their situation forced them to, something more important drove them to, or they felt it was just time to do it. Good for them!
If you have recently faced your fears and came out ahead, let me know in the comments below!
I am back safely from my travels to New Zealand and Australia, and would like to wish everyone today a Happy [Earth Day]!
The Tucson area has been continuously-inhabited by people for the past 3,500 years. One of the great challenges for this arid desert region is water. Recently, Tucson was selected for a [2013 IBM Smarter Cities Challenge] grant. Here is an excerpt from a blog post by Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild titled [Ensuring Tucson's Water Future]:
"One critical area for cost-effective investment is technology. We are converting all of our customer water meters to digital in order to reduce the amount of labor required to manually read all the 225,000 customer meters each month. And we are replacing our Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system in order to improve our ability to control and manage our water distribution system.
I was pleased that Tucson was selected for a 2013 IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant. As a result, a team of senior IBM executives came to Tucson for three weeks to listen to our story, learn about our water system and lend their expertise. They came from North Carolina, Texas, New York, California and Virginia to learn about how one of the most arid American cities is setting the standard for wise water use. The IBM team lived in our community and worked with the Tucson Water Department. They learned a great deal and helped us even more.
The Smarter Cities team's final report delivered exactly what we were looking for. It contained a roadmap with both shorter and longer term recommendations. The report did not recommend additional investments beyond our means, but it did make an effective case for the timing and scheduling of our planned investments – recommendations which will help us achieve better near-term results while we develop sustainable practices for this ongoing project. The four areas of improvement detailed in the roadmap were:
Improve customer service with automated metering
Modernize our meter management systems
Implement advanced operations management systems
Build additional capacities for our existing information technology systems
It's clear that IBM has made a strategic decision to focus on the opportunities and challenges facing cities around the world through its Smarter Cities program. They understand that a city is a 'system of systems,' and that comprehensive analyses of the ways these systems interact with one another and with the populations they serve are critical to improving the quality of life of citizens everywhere. IBM's selection of Tucson as a global smarter city has given us the chance to demonstrate that we have some of the highest standards for resource management, conservation, financial planning and community engagement for municipal water departments anywhere in the United States."
While this is certainly good for the environment, IBM's focus on helping the Earth become a smarter planet has been good for its bottom line as well. According to the latest 1Q 2013 financial results, IBM revenues related to Smarter Planet initiatives, including the Smarter Cities campaign, have increased 25 percent year-to-year.
Wrapping up my week teaching Top Gun class in Sydney, Australia, I could not resist taking a photo of the cityscape.
Sydney is a beautiful city, and the view from the 13th floor of the IBM Centre at St. Leonards in North Sydney is always worth a picture!
Vic, Scott and I all have engineering backgrounds, so it is easy for us to drop down into the technical weeds in discussing each product and solution. However, the student feedback from both Auckland and Sydney was that some of our material was just too technical.
Do they plan to store and process their data in house? IBM's [focus on Cloud is paying off], and IBM SmartCloud offerings might make a lot of sense for many clients.
Do they plan to centralize their IT? Some companies centralize all of their IT, and others distribute the decision-making to departments, remote office and branch office locations. For the latter, use the ROBO approach to selling.
Do they prefer one-stop shopping? In my now infamous post [Supermarkets and Specialty Shops], I mentioned research that found our clients fall into two camps. Those that favor one-stop shopping from IBM, HP, Cisco, Dell or Oracle, versus those that prefer to buy from the many IT equivalent of butchers, bakers and candlestick makers like EMC, HDS, or NetApp. For those clients that fall in the latter camp, focus on IBM's best-of-breed products.
IT Supermarket competition? The final group are clients that prefer one-stop shopping, but have not yet made up their mind between IBM versus the [IBM wannabees]. Focus on IBM's synergy between storage, servers, software, switches and services.
Last week, we celebrated Joe's birthday in Auckland. This week, it was Vic's turn, so we went to the Garfish restaurant at Manly beach. Here we are with bacon-enhanced oysters.
The four-day class finished Thursday afternoon, and I went out with some of the students to celebrate their graduation. I started with beers at the Cabana, then wine at [the Ivy Room], and finally dinner at Uccello on the rooftop [Pool Club]. Dinner was awesome: pork sausage-stuffed olives to start, roasted chicken with polenta, and finally a capuccino to finish the meal.
I would have never found these places on my own, and the students provided me some interesting feedback about the class and how to improve it.
This week, I was in Sydney, Australia teaching IBM Storage Portfolio Top Gun class.
Our hotel is near [Circular Quay], and our class is at the IBM Centre at St. Leonards, just six metro stops away. There are also ferry boats from Circular Quay to other parts of the city.
Here are other members of the teach team. Scott McPeek covers the IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center, SAN Volume Controller and Tivoli Storage Productivity Center. Vic Peltz covers high-end disk, disk replication, and competitive issues. Here we are in front of the [Sydney Opera House].
We arrived at 4:15pm to discover they weren't open for dinner until 5:30pm. We managed to find some beverages at the bar next door. Corona beer?!?! I just travelled thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean to be offered Mexican beer I can get locally in Tucson? I don't think so! Instead, we got some local Tasmanian brew.
Once seated, our table at Doyles was outdoors on the patio, with stunning views of the sunset. The weather was just right, cool and crisp sea air, but not windy.
I tried their Sydney Sangria which combines red wine, fruit juices and ginger beer. This had an interesting kick. If you have never tried Ginger beer, I highly recommend it! For dinner, I had the Flathead fish and chips. All of the fish at Doyles is locally sourced.
We got done with dinner just in time to catch the last ferry boat at 6:55pm! We literally were the last three to get on the boat before they pulled up the gangplank!
On Monday night, after the first day of class, our friends at [Brocade] invited us to a Pizza-and-Beer reception at the [Cabana Bar and Lounge], similar to the Brocade reception at Sale Street Bar last week in Auckland. Here I am with Katie, one of the Brocade employees hosting the event.
While at the reception, we had a terrible rain storm. I am so glad we were not on the street at that time. Some of our colleagues were not so lucky, and arrived soaking wet!
Special thanks to Tim Lees, the Brocade partner manager to IBM in ANZ, for hosting these receptions in both Auckland and Sydney!
On Tuesday, I once again presented the [Storwize family, DS3500 and DCS3700 disk systems]. Based on student feedback from last week's Auckland class, we took out some of the more technical details of each product, and added more information on the business value of each feature.
Continuing my week in Auckland, New Zealand, I presented my last three topics for the week.
Selling IBM System Storage against competition - Part 1. You would think that since IBM's storage products are, in general, easier to use, faster, at a lower cost of ownership than the offerings from our competitors, there would not need to be a presentation like this. Since there are so many reasons why IBM is better, I split the session into two parts.
Selling IBM System Storage against competition - Part 2. With so much material, I needed to provide some structure. In the past, some Top Gun instructors organized by category, Enterprise Class, Midrange, and Entry level. I chose, instead, to organize by the different competitors themselves.
Selling IBM PureSystems. IBM PureSystems feature the Storwize V7000 and Flex System V7000 disk systems inside, and support all of IBM's disk and tape offerings outside the frame. I covered Flex Systems, PureFlex, PureApplication and PureData, including the newly announced PureData System for Hadoop.
We often joke that I.B.M. stands for "Information Between Meals"! Here we are at a restaurant in the [Britomart] area. I am on [the Paleo diet], which is low-carb, high-protein, dairy-free and gluten-free, and am trying to stick with it even when on the road traveling. Sometimes it can be challenging. Tonight, I opted for a light dinner, just roasted vegetables and grape-flavored beverage.
The folks in New Zealand love sheep. There are nine sheep for every person in this country. Here are some metal sculpture lawn ornaments.
Hyein and I needed new "desktop wallpaper" photos for our laptops. For those who want to dress up their laptops, here's one for each of us. (Click on each photo to see full size). Hyein kept getting her hair in the way. I didn't have that problem, but was worried my cap would fly off my head. This cap was a gift from my clients at [James Cook University in Brisbane, Australia].
In Top Gun classes, the top students are given "Top Gun" caps and their picture is published on the official website for all to see their success. Overall, the entire class did very well, and these three outstanding students had the top scores.
I am now in Sydney, Australia -- to teach Top Gun class again!
I returned safely from my trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma.
(A special shout-out to Shannon at [In The Raw] sushi restaurant, and my new friends I met at the rooftop of [the Mayo]!)
Last week I was in Auckland, New Zealand teaching Top Gun class. Top Gun teaches IBM Business Partners and sales reps how to sell our products, services, and solutions. I have been teaching Top Gun classes around the world since 1998.
(Why didn't I post sooner? Because IBM's developerWorks was getting an exciting upgrade to IBM Connections 4.0, and bloggers like me have to wait for the conversion to complete!)
While many of my trips in the USA involve traveling alone, that is not the case for Top Gun classes. Our class manager, Joe Ebidia, brought his wife Karen. Our class administrator is Hyein (Hyein is a Korean name that rhymes with rain). In addition to some local instructors, I am joined by my IBM USA colleagues Scott McPeek (Tivoli Storage) and Vic Peltz (Disk/Replication/Competitive Sales).
The rest of the teach team arrived a day or two early to adjust to jet lag. I, on the other hand, got off the plane Monday at 6am, and had a business meeting that same morning with GTS architects from Wellington.
Clockwise from left: Karen is vegetarian, and had some pasta with tomato sauce. Hyein had a lamb burger. Joe had flounder. I had salmon risotto. Yum!
(To those asking why I have only the bellies of Karen and Joe in the picture, I was focused on taking picture of the food.)
After setting up the classroom, we took a ferry over to [Devonport], a charming seaside village just minutes across the bay from Auckland. The ferry boats were close the the Central Business District our [Stamford Plaza hotel] was in, and they run every 30 minutes.
The four of us walked up to the top of Mt. Victoria to see the views of the city. I highly recommend this! Once you get to Devonport, you can walk along the streets to see all the cute shops, or enjoy the parks and natural beauty. I had [done this before], but it is always worth doing again!
The class is four days long. I had six presentations. Here were the first three:
Selling IBM Storwize V7000 and V7000 Unified. Scott McPeek had already covered SAN Volume Controller (SVC), so it was easy to explain the Storwize V7000. For the V7000 Unified, I went into more detail of the file-based protocols and features, paving the way for Vic's "Selling SONAS" later in the week.
Selling IBM Storwize V3700. Having covered the SVC and Storwize V7000, my presentation on the Storwize V3700 focuses more on the positioning of when to sell which product for particular workloads.
Understanding IBM's Big Four Initiatives. This was an interesting request. I was asked to cover Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (what we internally call SMAC) from a storage perspective. Social included Social Media, Social Networking and Social Business. Mobile focused on IBM's Mobile First campaign. Analytics included big data, Hadoop, and our various solutions for performing analytics. Cloud included IBM's Cloud Computing Reference Architecture (CCRA), IBM SmartCloud Enterprise storage, our Backup and Archive clouds, and the new SmartCloud Storage portfolio.
I will save the rest of the week for the next post!
Last Tuesday, we had our official "Grand Opening" for the new Tucson Executive Briefing Center!
We sent out fancy invitations to all the IBM executives who supported this center, local dignitaries from the Tucson and State of Arizona level, and all of the IBM employees on the Tucson campus.
Since our new center is significantly cozier (5700 square feet versus our previous 15,000 square feet), we split the day into two separate events. The first for the IBM executives and local VIPs, and the second for the rest of the IBM employees on campus.
Of course, there is no free lunch. The day started out with a series of speeches. My manager, Doug Davies, was the master of ceremonies to introduce each speaker.
Alistair Symon, IBM Vice President of Enterprise Storage, explained how important storage affects everyone's lives. If you use an ATM machine to withdraw money, for example, you are most probably using IBM System Storage behind the scenes. Nearly all of the IBM disk and tape storage products are designed here in Tucson.
Bruce Wright (shown here) directs the University of Arizona's Office of University Research Parks, serves as CEO of the UA Tech Park, and the founder and president of the Arizona Center for Innovation. Bruce said a few words on how please he was that IBM decided to reverse its July 2011 decision to leave Tucson. The UofA owns all the property, renting back four of the eleven buildings back to IBM, so is effectively our landlord. Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of IBM's sale of the technology park to the University.
Tucson Councilwoman Shirley Scott talked about the improtance of high-paying jobs to the local economy. While IBMers in Tucson are paid less than our counterparts in San Jose, Austin, Raleigh or Poughkeepsie, we are certainly [paid more than the average Tucsonan], thus helping to raise the standard of living here.
Dr. Michael Varney, president and CEO of the local Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, praised IBM for its strong reputation in ethics and diversity.
My new second-line manager, Karl Duvalsaint, and my new third-line manager, Doug Dreyer, emphasized the importance of co-locating Briefing Centers in sites that have Research and Development activity. It is important for clients to interact directly with developers, and it is also good for developers to understand directly from clients their needs, preferences and requirements. Worldwide, the IBM Systems and Technology Group has only twelve Executive Briefing Centers, and the Tucson EBC is one of them.
This is not to say that IBM does not have centers in other locations. Our newest client center in Singapore is a shining example. Of course, if they want experts to speak to clients there, they need to be flown in. Doug Dreyer mentioned that IBM plans to launch six such centers in Africa as well.
Next was the ribbon cutting. From left to right, Lee Olguin (our Gunny Sargeant), Tucson Councilwoman Shirley Scott, UofA's Bruce Wright, IBM VP of Program Management Calline Sanchez, My second-line manager Karl Duvalsaint, IBM VP Allistair Simon, my first-line manager Doug Davies, Tucson Chamber of Commerce President Dr. Michael Varney, and my third-line manager Doug Dreyer. We had a member of the local high school band do the drum roll.
Once the ribbon was cut, the IBM Executves and local VIPs were brought in to see the new facility, which has two large rooms, one common dining area, an 800-square foot green data center to showcase our products, our own set of restrooms, a galley to stage up the food and beverage service, and two smaller rooms for private conversations or conference calls. A local high school band provided live music throughout the day.
On Wednesday, I walked through the gardens of [The Grotto] on Sandy Blvd, ate a German lunch at [The Rheinelander], then visited the [Crown Point Vista House] along the [Columbia River Gorge]. There were several fabulous waterfalls that could be seen from the parking area without hiking into the wilderness. We wouldn't want to encounter a bear in the woods, or a cow in the field!
Afterwards, I drove to the [Timberline lodge] at the peak of Mt. Hood to watch the snow fall and have dinner and drinks. This is the lodge featured in the movie ["The Shining"].
Thursday was a Spa day, which I spent relaxing at the pool and sauna. In the evening, I had dinner at [Henry's Tavern], and then shopped at [Powell's Books].
In the afternoon, Rafael, Mo and I explored Portland's waterfront and various bridges via [Segway tour]. The cherry blossoms along our path were in full bloom. If you have not ridden on one of these Segway scooters, they are a lot of fun!
On Saturday, Portland held their [Saturday Market] with arts and crafts for sale. This is similar to Tucson's 4th Avenue Street fair. The difference is that the "Saturday Market" occurs every Saturday of the year and Tucson's 4th Avenue Street Fair occurs only twice per year. The weather was very nice, so, many of the locals were in t-shirts and shorts. A live concert by [Grupo Condor] were playing on the main stage.
I walked past the [Voodoo Donuts store]. There was a long line to get in. A woman leaving the store carrying a pink donut box complained she waited 2 hours just to spend $28 for a dozen donuts. The magic is in the hole!
Getting out of the hustle and bustle of the Saturday Market, I had some green tea at the [Lan Su Chinese Garden]. A sister city to Portland is Suzhou, China, and this garden was very peaceful to walk through.
I went back to Powell's Books, did some shopping for shoes at [Dr. Martens], and had some pizza and salad at [Sizzle Pie] next door.
Nearly everything was closed on Easter Sunday, so I went down to the [TulipFest at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm] in Woodburn, OR. This was the opening weekend, with over 40 acres of flowers to walk through, various food carts, wine tasting, and rides for the kids.
Getting back to Tucson proved to be a bit challenging. The flight from Portland to San Francisco was delayed due to fog, so we got re-routed to Seattle, then back to Los Angeles, and finally to Tucson.
Wrapping up my coverage of the 2013 IT Security and Storage Expo in Belgium, I noticed some interesting things in the other booths.
The EMC booth had a whiteboard so that clients could do some one-on-one collaboration. All of their cocktail waitresses were wearing sharp pin-stripe coats with matching mini-skirts.
Another booth had a "virtual graffiti wall". Using a "digital spraycan", you could write on the wall. I am not sure what connection this had with anything the company had to offer, but perhaps they also wanted to collaborate with attendees on solutions. In either case, it was very cool, and brought a lot of traffic.
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM. I was not paid to mention any of the other companies, their products or people on this blog post. Mentioning other companies is not to be considered an endorsement of any kind.)
There were some interesting costumes. Leila from [Aerohive] wearing a "bee costume" complete with black wings. Hans from STS in a bright orange business suit. (Orange is the national color of Belgium). Sophie from Fortinet handed out champagne. The plastic glassware were cones that snapped onto her tray, but they had no flat bottom to rest your glass down, so you had to hold it the entire time until you finished drinking it. The Homer Simpson sticker eating the Apple logo shows the Belgians have a sense of humor!
The NetApp booth had a huge banner claiming that "Data OnTap" was the #1 storage OS. Obviously Windows, AIX, Solaris and Linux aren't consider "storage Operating Systems" per se. Is NetApp claiming they outsell FreeNAS, the only other storage OS that I can think of?
While IBM and I.R.I.S-ICT easily won the "Best Looking Big Booth" award, I have to give the "Best Looking Small Booth" award to my friends at Hitachi Data Systems. Like EMC, the Hitachi team did not have any equipment on the floor, but they made use of their tiny space by having a Japanese theme, with cocktail waitresses in kimonos.
Continuing my coverage of the IT Security and Storage Expo in Brussels, Belgium, we had a nice reception Wednesday evening.
Clara handed out Ceasar Chicken salads. Joelle handed out small rolled up pieces of duck.
Ilsa is an IBM expert in System x, VMware and the PureSystems family on hand to help with the demos and any client questions. I.R.I.S.-ICT employee Ans is only in her 20's, but is recognized as one of Belgium's leading experts in System z mainframe. I used to be the lead architect for DFSMS on z/OS, so we had plenty to talk about.
Of course, the best time for the press to ask for interviews is during the reception, where everyone is relaxed and ready to speak. I am "media-trained" which allows me to speak to the press about IBM matters. I do a lot of these interviews either over the phone, or on camera.
I took a picture to capture the typical setup. Mandy on the left is asking me questions, while camera operator Lisa focuses on my body language. The trick is to spend 80 percent of the time focused on your interviewer, and then 20 percent looking into the camera for strategic pauses. If Mandy decides to use any of the footage, she will be sending me the YouTube video link!
Hans and Sophie from Veeam stopped by the IBM booth to say hello. (See 2010 Aug 27 blog post comparing Veeam to Tivoli Storage Manager). These two DJ's kept the IBM and I.R.I.S-ICT booth hopping.
Belgium is a small country, and many of the IT storage people know each other. This made for quite the party! Our group closed up the booth around 8:30pm and we went over to join their friends at Arrow and Huawei. Here is Maiva from Huawei.
Continuing my coverage of the IT Security and Storage Expo in Brussels, Belgium, we had some great storage solutions on display at the IBM and I.R.I.S-ICT booth.
Here my IBM colleague Tom Provost is showing the front of the "Smarter Office" solution. The second photo gives the view from behind. While I always explained the solution from the front of the box, many of the more technical attendees at this conference wanted to inspect the ports in the back.
This sound-isolated 11U solution combines the following:
The [IBM Storwize V3700] with 300GB small-form-factor (SFF) drives provides shared storage for the servers.
Two [IBM System x3550 M4 servers] that can run VMware, Hyper-V or Linux KVM server hypervisor software for your Windows and/or Linux applications. These are two socket servers that can have up to 16 x86 cores each.
A Juniper EX2200 switch to network the servers and storage together.
A Local Console Manager (LCM) with rackable keyboard, video, and mouse.
In this next example, the IBM team combined a BladeCenter S chassis that can hold six blade servers, with a Storwize V7000 Unified which offers FCP, iSCSI, FCoE, NFS, CIFS, HTTPS, SCP and FTP block and file protocols.
If those configurations are too small for your needs, consider the Flex System chassis or full PureFlex system frame. The rack-mountable 10U chassis can hold the Flex System V7000 and 10 compute notes. The PureFlex frame can hold up to four of these chasses.
IBM and I.R.I.S-ICT also had an IBM XIV Gen3 and a TS3500 Tape library on display.
Continuing my coverage of the IT Security and Storage Expo in Brussels, Belgium, here is my post on the presentations I gave during the week.
There were four presentations each day. Of the five rooms, I was assigned one room in which to give all of my presentations, room 3. My room was quite large, with sixty seats.
It is a good idea for public speakers to understand Dutch, French, German and English in Belgium. In recognition of the fact that Belgians are multi-lingual, I started each session with "Goede Middag, Bon Jour and Good Afternoon!" and ended each with "Dank U, Merci and Thank you for attending!"
12:00 to 12:30pm
What is big data? Architectures and Practical Use Cases
What is big data? Architectures and Practical Use Cases (repeat)
12:45 to 1:15pm
An IBM Storage solution for small and mid-size business? The Storwize V3700!
An IBM Storage solution for small and mid-size business? The Storwize V3700! (repeat)
1:30 to 2:00pm
A New Generation of Storage Tiering
A New Generation of Storage Tiering (repeat)
2:15 to 2:45pm
Replication for High Availability, Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Storage, Server and Network in one Flexible and Integrated solution! The PureSystems family
The sessions were all half-hour slots. The only presentation that I had a challenge getting down to 30 minutes was my session on "New Generation of Storage Tiering" in which I was asked to cover Easy Tier sub-LUN automated tiering, Server-to-Storage cooperative caching, Texas Memory Systems, hierarchical storage Management (HSM), Active Cloud Engine, and SmartCloud Storage!
Helping me out were three local IBM interns. From left to right: Joelle, Clara and Bryan. I hadn't noticed that there were only short breaks between sessions, all of this time consumed with one-on-one discussions with clients, so the interns were kind enough to fetch me snacks and drinks.
Joelle and Bryan speak Dutch, which is similar to the local Flemish language. Clara speaks French, which came in handy for translations.
I would like to thank my room monitors: Jolijn, Ella and Chloe. All three are local college students hired by the conference for the two days to scan name badges and count bodies in seats.
(I had to ask Jolijn to write her name on a piece of paper because it is Dutch and I had no clue how to spell it for this blog post.)
While it might appear that room 3 was "The Tony Pearson Show -- all Tony, all the time!" there were actually worthwhile sessions in the other rooms. Fellow blogger Jon Toigo [known for his DrunkenData blog] presented "Storage Infrastruggle 2013 -- Containing Storage Costs without Sacrificing Access, Protection or Management". My IBM colleague Ron Riffe presented a vendor-neutral look at Storage Hypervisors.
If the attendees wanted copies of my presentations, they were directed to get their name badge scanned at the IBM and I.R.I.S-ICT booth, all the way at the other end of the hall, and my presentations would be emailed to them.
(For those who have missed it, you can find all five of my presentations uploaded to the [IBM Expert Network] on Slideshare.)
Finally, I would like to thank my IBM colleagues who helped me develop and review my presentations: Brigitte Van Den Eynde, Joe Hayward, Jeff Jonas, Tom Deutsch, Chris Saul, Marisol Diaz, Iliana Garcia, Harley Puckett, Jack Arnold, and Steve McKinney.
The Belgium IT Security and Storage Expo was a great success!
(I am back to the USA in Portland, Oregon this week, so these posts relate to last week.)
However, that wasn't to say I didn't encounter a few challenges during my week in Belgium. The first was getting to the venue. The Belgium Expo is a large complex of buildings to the north of the city. The local IBM team suggested I go to the facility a day in advance so that I would be able to see where it was and how to get there.
I was staying in the center of town, in Place Rogier section. I had many transportation options:
Take a taxi. It was raining this week, so finding a taxi was difficult.
Take the bus. The Bus #260 goes directly from my hotel to the Belgium Expo, but only goes once an hour.
Take the metro. The metro operates frequently, and the Haysel stop is right in front of the Belgium Expo complex.
Upon arrival to the building complex, I was unsure of which building I needed to be in. Standing in front of the beautiful Building 5, I found this legend that provided the answer: Building 8. In front of Building 12 was a map that showed where Building 8 was located on the campus.
For this event, IBM joined forces with IBM Business Partner I.R.I.S-ICT to have a fabulous booth, with plenty of experts and equipment demos. As is often the case, the team had to work late into the night to get all the equipment set up, all the podiums and counters constructed, and the demos fully operational.
Apparently, I was not the only one to have troubles finding the place, so I did not feel alone. Some with cars drove around the complex several times before figuring out which parking lot to park in. Others parked at the first spot they found, and still ended up walking as much as I did.
For future reference, If you plan to attend any event at the Belgium Expo, either (a) ask for more explicit directions, and (b) plan to do lots of walking!
Well, I am back safely from my trip last week to Chicago, and now I am writing this in Madrid, Spain, on my way to Brussels, Belgium for the IT Storage Expo.
For those who have asked how the construction on the new Tucson EBC is going, here are a few pictures I took on Friday. As you can see, it is coming along nicely. The official grand opening will be April 2.
Did you miss IBM Pulse 2013 this week? I wasn't there either, having scheduled visits with clients in Washington DC this week, only to have those meetings cancelled due to the [U.S. sequestration cuts].
Fortunately, there are plenty of videos and materials to review from the event. Here's a [12-minute video] interview between Laura DuBois, Program VP of Storage for industry analyst firm [IDC], and fellow IBM executive Steve "Woj" Wojtowecz, VP of Tivoli Storage and Networking Software.
(Update: Apparently, IBM had not secured re-distribution rights from IDC to post this video prior to my blog post. IBM now has full permission to distribute. My apologies for any inconvenience last week.)
The two discuss client opportunities and requirements for storage clouds and compute clouds. Client cloud storage requirements include backup and archive clouds, file storage clouds, and storage that supports compute cloud environments.
We're moving! We often joke that I.B.M. stands for "I've Been Moved", and the Tucson Executive Briefing Center is no exception.
Today is the last day for us in Building 9070. Starting tomorrow, the Tucson EBC will operate out of Building 9032 instead. While moving is always painful, there are some distinct advantages to the new facility:
The Building 9070 facility has been in operation since 2003, and some IBM executives felt it was starting to show its age. The new facility reflects IBM's commitment and investment to IBM System Storage portfolio, including a new Green Data Center reflecting the latest "best practices" in facility design similar to the one we have in the Raleigh EBC.
Several companies rent space in Building 9070. Clients visiting Building 9070 had to walk past the offices of our competitors. Building 9032 is exclusively IBM, with the new facility just off the main lobby.
The previous facility was on the top floor of Building 9070, and the floors often shook because of an air handler on the roof. Clients complained that it felt like a minor earthquake every time it kicked in. The new facility is on the ground floor, on solid concrete.
As the tallest building on campus, our clients in Building 9070 were often distracted by the views of our mountains and desert landscapes. We would take a 5 or 10 minute break, and getting everyone back in the briefing rooms was [like herding cats]. The new facility has no views to distract anyone, allowing our briefing managers to keep our meetings on schedule.
The Building 9070 facility was so large with five meeting rooms and three dining areas, arranged facing out in a circle. If you get lost, just do a few laps on the outer track and eventually you will get back to the room you were looking for. No client will get lost in the new facility, with just two rooms and common dining area all facing each other in a triangle configuration.
With the success of the Storwize family developed in Hursley UK, IBM management felt the Building 9070 facility no longer reflected the "center of gravity" of IBM's storage development. Moving the Tucson EBC a quarter mile northward therefore brings us closer.
Since the primary purpose of an Executive Briefing Center is to bring clients in direct contact with IBM Research and Development, we often had developers walk over from the other buildings to the Building 9070 facility. They often complained that this took 5 minutes or longer each way. Since most or our disk and tape developers reside in Building 9032, we have greatly shortened the time it takes for them to come over.
For myself, as the lead Subject Matter Expert on the Tucson EBC staff, I get a much larger office with brand new furniture!
Now is the time to book a briefing in Tucson to check out the new facility. Go to the [Tucson EBC landing page] for contact information.
Here are some upcoming events related to IBM Storage!
If you sell IBM and/or Oracle solutions, please join me for IBM Oracle Virtual University 2013!
A few weeks ago, I recorded a session on IBM Storage: Overview, Positioning and How to Sell that will be available on demand starting tomorrow, February 26th, at the IBM Oracle Virtual University 2013.
It's one of 65 new sessions that will help IBM to surround Oracle applications with IBM infrastructure, services and industry solutions. Oracle software, after all, runs best on IBM hardware. Other highlights of Oracle Virtual University include a live executive State of the Alliance session with Q&A, Oracle keynote, updates by Oracle product managers, sessions on PureSystems, Selling IBM into an Oracle environment, Cloud, and much more.
There will be live technical teams on hand throughout launch day to answer your questions in real time, so I hope you can carve out 30 minutes or more on February 26th to take advantage of these available resources.
After helping launch the first Pulse back in 2008, I have sadly not been back since. Last year, I was invited to attend as a last-minute replacement for another speaker, but I was busy [having emergency surgery].
This year's [Pulse 2013] conference looks amazing. It will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Guest Speaker Payton Manning, NFL 4-time MVP football player, and Carrie Underwood, 6-time Grammy award winner, join IBM's Software Group executives and experts on how IBM Tivoli can help optimize your IT infrastructure.
Sadly, once again, I will not be there at Pulse. This time, I will be on the East Coast visiting clients instead, but my on-premise correspondent, Tom Rauchut, has informed me that he will be there. Hopefully, he will provide me something to write about.
Later in March, I will be in Brussels, Belgium for the Storage Expo. This is held March 20-21, at the Brussels-Expo venue. I will be presenting several topics each day, as well as visit clients in the area. This event comes on behalf of IBM Belgium in association with IBM Business Partner IRIS-ICT.
If you plan to participate in any of these events, let me know!
Sadly, only 70 percent of doctors in the United States use Electronic Medical Record [EMR] systems. My own Primary Care Physician has made the switch, and told me he how much he loves having ready access to the information he needs. EMR systems reduce costs, help manage risk, and improve healthcare outcomes. It is no surprise that the U.S. government has taken a [stick-and-carrot approach] to encourage doctors to use them.
A frequent topic at the Tucson Executive Briefing Center where I work is how to make the most use of IT for healthcare and life sciences. For much of 2011 and 2012, I was also one of the technical advocates assigned to Wellpoint Insurance, in support of their adoption of IBM Watson technology for healthcare.
Recently, I spoke with Jarrett Potts, my long-time friend and former IBM colleague, who now works as Director of Strategic Marketing over at STORServer. If you have never heard of STORServer, it is a company that makes purpose-built backup appliances.
What is a Backup Appliance? It is an integrated solution of hardware and software that serves a single purpose: backup and recovery. STORServer Enterprise Backup Appliance (EBA) combines IBM's high-end x86 M4 server, IBM disk and tape storage, and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) backup software.
(Fun Fact: The 2012 IBM year-end financial results were announced last month. IBM not only continues its #1 lead in servers overall, but has the #1 marketshare for high-end x86 servers, market-leading disk and tape storage hardware, and market leading backup software.)
To determine the appropriate size of your backup appliance, the folks at STORServer help you every step of the way. They figure out the number of TB you will backup every day, and even help configure all of the TSM server parameters to achieve the policies that make the most sense for your organization.
The appliance can backup every type of data, from databases and Virtual Machines (VMs) to documents, spreadsheets, and other unstructured data.
Are you then left with a solution too complicated to run yourself? No. The STORServer Console is an easy-to-use GUI for ongoing monitoring and maintenance. Plus, your friends at STORServer are only a phone call away in case you have any questions.
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM, and STORSever is an approved IBM Business Partner that uses IBM hardware and software to build their solution. I have no financial interest in STORServer, and was not paid by STORServer to mention their company or products on my blog. This post may be considered a celebrity endorsement of STORServer and its Enterprise Backup Appliances.)
Perhaps my readers feel that I am a bit biased in describing a TSM-based solution, and you want a second opinion. No worries, I understand. In the latest 165-page [2012 DCIG Backup Appliance Buyer's Guide], the STORServer models ranked very high. Here is an excerpt:
"Nowhere is this demand for purpose built appliances more evident than in the rise of purpose
built backup appliances (PBBAs) over the last few years and their anticipated growth rate
going forward. A recent market analysis performed by IDC found that worldwide PBBA revenue totaled $2.4 billion in 2011 which was a 42.4 percent increase over the prior year.
This scoring came into play in preparing this Buyer's Guide
as the STORServer EBA 3100 model scored so highly
overall that it fell outside of the two (2) standard deviations
that DCIG generally uses as a guideline for inclusion and
exclusion of products.
The reason DCIG included this model in this Buyer's Guide
whereas in other situations it might not is that DCIG is
unaware of any other backup appliance(s) from any other
providers that come close to matching the EBA 3100's
software and hardware attributes. As such, DCIG felt it
would be doing STORServer specifically and the market
generally a disservice by not highlighting in this Buyer's
Guide that such a backup appliance existed and was
generally available for purchase."
Backup Appliance Models
STORServer EBA 3100
Symantec NetBackup 5220 Backup Appliance
STORServer EBA 2100
STORServer EBA 1100
STORServer EBA 800
Symantec Backup Exec 3600 Appliance
The STORServer is ideal for small and medium-sized business (SMB), but can scale quite large to handle business growth. If you are currently unhappy with your current backup environment, and feel now is the time to look around for a better way of taking backups, you won't go wrong choosing a solution based on IBM's market-leading server and storage hardware with Tivoli Storage Manager software.
Well, it was Tuesday again, and we had quite a lot of announcements here at IBM this week!
Over 1,800 clients attended the [Live February 5 webcast]! The announcements were all part of IBM's SmartCloud Storage portfolio. Here are the highlights:
STN7800 Real-time Compression Appliance
Back in October 2010, IBM announced the acquisition of Storwize, Inc., renaming its NAS-compression units to the IBM Real-time Compression appliances. Some folks were confused, so I had a blog post [IBM Storwize Product Name Decoder Ring].
IBM initially offered two models:
The [STN6500 model] had 16 Ethernet ports 1GbE (16x1GbE) and a pair of four-core processors.
The [STN6800 model] had either eight 10GbE ports (8x10GbE), or four 10GbE plus eight 1GbE ports (4x10GbE+8x1GbE). It has a pair of six-core processors.
Now, IBM offers the [STN7800 model], which can replace either of the ones above, offering 16x1GbE, 8x10GbE, and 4x10GbE+8x1GBE port configurations. It has a pair of eight-core processors to handle more robust Cloud Storage environments. See [Announcement Letter 113-012] for more details.
New XIV Gen3 model 214
With its awesome support for VMware, the XIV is often chosen for Cloud storage. The new XIV model 214 now offers up to a dozen 10GbE ports, or you can stay with the 22 1GbE ports available on previous models. These can be used for iSCSI host attachment and/or IP-based replication.
IBM strives to make each new model of every storage device more energy efficient than the last.
The new XIV model is no exception. The original XIV, introduced in 2008, consumed 8.4 kVA fully loaded. The XIV Gen 3 model 114 consumed 7.0 kVA. This new model 214 consumes only 5.9 kVA!
It has been almost three years since my now infamous post [Double Drive Failure Debunked: XIV Two Years Later]. Back then, the XIV offered only 1TB and 2TB drives, with rebuild time for 1TB drive of less than 30 minutes, and for 2TB less than 60 minutes.
The new XIV Gen3 software 11.2 release, available for both the 114 and 214 models, can now rebuild a 2TB drive in less than 26 minutes, and a 3TB drive in less than 39 minutes. There is also support specific to Windows Server 2012 including thin provisioning, MSCS, VSS, and Hyper-V. See [Announcement Letter 113-013] for more details.
SmartCloud Storage Access
IBM is the first major storage vendor to offer a product of this kind, so understanding it may be a bit difficult.
The concept is simple. Rather than having end-users having to ask IT every time they need some storage space, IBM created a self-service portal that frees up the IT department to work on more important transformational projects.
This is basically what people can do with "Public Cloud" storage service providers, so basically IBM is now giving you the capability with your "Private Cloud" storage deployment.
Here is the sequence of events. End users point their favorite web browser to the self-service portal, and login using their credentials stored in your Active Directory or LDAP server database.
Once validated, the end-user now can request new storage space, expanding their existing space, or returning the space to the IT department. For new storage requests, users can have a choice of storage classes, -- such as Gold, Silver and Bronze-- defined in the Tivoli Storage Productivity Center (TPC), either stand-alone or in the SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center.
But wait! Do you want to give every end-user a blank check to provision their own storage? Most IT staff are horrified at the thought.
Knowing this, IBM has included an option to put in an approval process, based on the end-user and the amount of capacity requested. The approver can be the cloud administrator, or someone delegated for approvals, known as an environment owner.
For some users, policies may restrict the storage classes as well. For example, Fred can only have Silver or Bronze, but not Gold.
Once the approval is obtained, TPC then issues the appropriate commands to the appropriate SONAS or Storwize V7000 Unified device. SmartCloud Storage Access can do this for thousands of storage devices across dozens of geographically dispersed locations.
Before, the Cloud Admin had to configure storage pools of managed disks, define file systems, dole out file sets to hundreds or thousands of users with hard quotas, and then configure shares based on the protocols required, like CIFS, NFS, HTTPS, etc.
With SmartCloud Storage Access, the Cloud admin still defines the pools and file systems, but then lets the self-service capability of the software to create the file sets, set the quotas and configure shares with the appropriate protocols. This greatly reduces the work on the IT staff, and greatly improves the turn-around time for end-user requests to get exactly what they want, when they need it.
The next time you withdraw money from an ATM machine, fill up your gas tank at the self-service gas station, then serve your own salad at the salad bar and fill up your own soft drink at the fast food restaurant, you will realize and appreciate that SmartCloud Storage Access is a brilliant move for the IT staff.
Cloud administrators, environment owners, and end-users can all use SmartCloud Storage Access to monitor and report on storage usage.
Wrapping up last week's theme on [New Year's Resolutions] to Eat Less and Exercise More. Yesterday, I talked about [tracking your diet], in this post, I will discuss tools to track your exercise and results.
(Note: I am neither a medical doctor nor registered dietician. I can share with you ideas that have worked for me, that might help you achieve your goals. I strongly suggest you read books and consult with medical experts as necessary.)
Much to the chagrin of my personal trainer, the article convinced me to quit the gym, discontinue her services, and focus on my diet instead. She warned I would gain 10 to 20 pounds within the year. Guess what? I didn't! I actually lost two pounds.
Here are my suggestions:
Be Patient about Weight Loss
When I grew up, we all learned that 3,500 calories equals a pound of body fat, so to lose just one pound per week, you need to eat 500 calories less than you burn every day. Many dieters get impatient, even frustrated, that they are not losing weight fast enough.
Doing more exercise might help you build muscle, reduce stress and ligthen your mood, but it won't raise your metabolism as was once thought, nor even keep it at the levels you were at your prior weight.
But Dr. Thomas has taken the new findings and created a new [Weight Loss Estimator] that takes into account the drop in metabolism.
The example shows a 45-year old male, 200 pounds, eating 500 calories less than his normal 2,791-calorie diet. Over the course of 12 months, the tool estimates losing only 15.8 pounds, much less than one pound per week!
Moderate Exercise can be Healthful
Does this mean you should just give up on exercise altogether? No.
Using my Android smartphone, I like the apps from [VirtuaGym]:
[Fitness Home & Gym]. This app has a variety of workout circuits such as calisthentics and weight-lifting that you can easily follow. An avatar demonstrates how to perform each exercise, and does them with you to keep the pace. Here is an example [2-minute YouTube video] to show the app in action.
[Cardio GPS]. This app is for cardio activities, such as walking, cycling, hiking, jogging and running. The GPS keeps track of your location, determines your speed, and the distance you travelled.
Both apps allow you to upload your activites to their website. This allows you to track which activities you did when, and share your progress with your friends on Facebook.
My favorite low-impact cardio exercise is simply walking. I start up my Cardio GPS app, put on my noise-cancelling headphones, and listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks on my iPod music player. I like the [Freakonomics Podcast] series.
To help me keep my iPod charged and loaded with the latest podcasts, my friends over at [Startech.com] sent me two iPod cables last month for my birthday. Sweet!
The white one on the left for home use is two feet long, and has a 90-degree neck on the connector side so that my iPod can be propped up against a stack of books while I sync up my music and podcasts.
The black one on the right for travel has both iPod and micro-USB connections, so that I can use it with both my iPod and my Samsung Galaxy smartphone!
Determine the Right Metrics to Measure
"If you can't measure it, you can't manage it."
-- Peter Drucker
Tracking the right metric is important. Here are some metrics, and why they are useful or not.
Body weight. The problem with measuring pounds is that this combines muscle weight that you want more of, and body fat that you want less of. Dieters who exercise often lose very little weight, some gain. This can be a misleading measure of progress.
Body Mass Index. BMI is [calculated from your weight and height]. What do fellow actors George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Tony Pearson have in common? We all have BMI indexes over 25, and therefore deemed unhealthy. Ha!
Richard Alleyne from the Telegraph has a great article on this. Here is an excerpt:
"A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight and one of 30 or above is considered obese.
People with BMIs between 19 and 22 live longest. Death rates are noticeably higher for people with indexes 25 and above.
BMI does not identify how fat is distributed on the body. Storing more fat on the waist is a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, than storing it mostly elsewhere. "
For me, my doctor is happy with any index less than 27.
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM. I do not have any financial interest in, nor have been paid to mention any other companies, products or services on this blog post. Per FTC guidelines, this post can be considered a celebrity endorsement of cables from Startech.com, who provided me the cables at no charge.)
If you have resolved to lose weight, get fit, manage stress, or sleep better, and this series of posts has given you ideas or helped you in any way, I would love to hear about it. Please post a comment below!
I am still in the black-out period waiting for IBM to announce its results, so I will
continue last week's theme on [New Year's Resolutions] to Eat Less and Exercise More.
(Note: I am neither a medical doctor nor registered dietician. I can share with you ideas that have worked for me, that might help you achieve your goals. I strongly suggest you read books and consult with medical experts as necessary.)
Take, for example, this group of fruits and vegetables. This is my week's haul from my local food co-op [Bountiful Baskets]: Avocados, Papayas, Potatoes, Strawberries, Grape Tomatoes, Oranges, Apples, Carrots, and Lemons.
So how many grams of Carbs, Fats and Proteins in this set? This has 1,026 grams of carbs, 78 grams of Fats, and 99 grams of protein, for a total of 4,875 calories.
On my diet, I am trying to have at least 90 grams of protein, but less than 150 grams of carbs, per day. While the fruits and veggies represent a full week's worth of carbs for me, it is only one day's worth of Protein.
"Most adults would benefit from eating more than the recommended daily intake of 56 grams, says Donald Layman, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois. The benefit goes beyond muscles, he says: Protein dulls hunger and can help prevent obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Now, if you're trying to lose weight, protein is still crucial. The fewer calories you consume, the more calories should come from protein, says Layman. You need to boost your protein intake to between 0.45 and 0.68 gram per pound to preserve calorie-burning muscle mass."
For men who weigh between 135 and 200 pounds, like me, the 90 grams of protein is within this guideline.
To lose weight, I need to eat fewer carbs than my body requires. Here is an excerpt from Paul Jaminet on [Perfect Health Diet]:
"So the body's net glucose needs are on the order of 600 to 800 calories per day.
For most people, we suggest 400 to 600 carb calories per day, about 200 less than the body utilizes. The remainder is made up by gluconeogenesis -- manufacture of glucose from protein."
Since carbs are 4 calories per gram, then 400-600 calories equates to 100-150 grams of carbs per day.
On some days, I eat less than 100 grams of carbs, but I would rather err on the low side than the high side over 150 grams.
Tracking your Dietary Intake
It is not always easy to estimate the amount of carbs, Fats and Proteins at any given meal.
If you want to stay within the guidelines above, at least initially to get started on your new diet, track your dietary intake. If you have a smartphone, there are apps that can take the guesswork out of eating.
For my Android-based phone, I use [Calorie Counter] by FatSecret. I can enter the foods that I eat at each meal, whether I am at home, at work, or eating out at a restaurant. It can help me decide between one choice and another, for example, or just let me know if I had enough for the day, or need to keep eating.
Here is a typical day. Notice that I had over 90 grams of Protein, but less than 150 grams of carbs.
Many restaurants now accommodate the low-carb, gluten-free diet. At Romano's Macaroni Grill, I asked them to substitute the pasta for some veggie, and they came out with grilled chicken and sautéed spinach with garlic. It was delicious!
At many hamburger places, you can ask for your burger "low-carb" or "protein-style" so that they replace the bun with lettuce leaves. You can eat this with your hands, or with fork and knife.
When I was in chef school, I learned what needed to be measured precisely, and what didn't. Over time, as you track your diet, you will find that you will be able to estimate the amount of each food item.
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM, and am a volunteer member of Bountiful Baskets co-op. I have no financial interest in, nor have I been paid to promote, any of the other companies or their products mentioned on this blog post.)
If you have come up with your own unique ways of meeting your dietary requirements and/or tracking your dietary intake, please post in the comments below!
(Note: I am neither a medical doctor nor registered dietician. I can share with you ideas that have worked for me, that might help you achieve your goals. I strongly suggest you read books and consult with medical experts as necessary.)
Here are key attributes of my ideal diet:
It is an ongoing "life-style" diet. I want a diet that will help me maintain my desired weight for the rest of my life. I don't want one diet to lose weight, and another diet to gain it all back.
Easy to follow at home, at work, at friend's houses, and at restaurants. By easy, I mean that I can enjoy the food, and eat it in front of co-workers and clients without drawing ridicule.
Does not merely involve substituting each one food with a "healthier" imitation. The controversy over [WhoNu? Cookies] is a good example. These cookies are delicious, look and taste like [Oreo cookies], but claim to be healthier. According to the box, a serving size of three WhoNu cookies have the fiber equivalent of a bowl of oatmeal, the calcium of a glass of milk, and the Vitamin C of a cup of bluepberries. Several bloggers have [compared the ingredients and nutrition facts].
Provides my body enough essential amino acids, fats, vitamins and calories. The diet can include any vitamins or other supplements that are needed to make it a complete.
Over the years, I have tried out the following diets. Here is my experience with each one:
The Zone Diet
Dr. Barry Sears created [the Zone diet] to help diabetics, and it turned out to be good for lots of other people. The "zone" refers to a balance of hormones in your bloodstream that can be achieved if you eat the right ratio of carbs, proteins and fats in every meal. The plan is based on a "block" consisting of 9g of carb, 7g of protein, and 1.5g of fat.
Meals on this plan are merely combining the same number of blocks from each category. Four ounces of beef steak, a cup of kidney beans, and two tbsp of sour cream represents a 4-block meal. The number of blocks per day you are allowed to eat is based on the amount of lean body mass that determines your protein requirements. It was 14 blocks for me.
Pros: I liked this diet, it worked for me. In addition to three meals a day, you can snack between meals, so long as the snacks were also balanced.
Cons: Everything had to be weighed or measured. Difficult to choose meals at restaurants that meet the ratio requirements.
The Four-Hour Body Diet
Fellow blogger Tim Ferriss published the diet that has worked for him for the past seven years. Some call this a "slow-carb" diet. He has helped people [Lose 20 lbs of fat in 30 days without exercise]. The rules are fairly simple:
Rule 1: Do not eat any "white" starchy foods: rice, pasta, bread, cereal, potatoes. Non-white versions of these are also forbidden, so no brown rice, brown bread or green pasta!
Rule 2: All meals are a combination of leans, beans and greens. The leans are low-fat animal-based proteins like egg whites, fish and meat. Beans can be a variety of legumes. Greens can be a wide variety of fruits and vegetables that aren't in the "white" category above.
Rule 3: Eat the same meals over and over again, with breakfast within the first 30 minutes of waking up. The idea here is to eliminate the desire to eat by taking away variety. Once you realize that food is just fuel and building blocks for your body, you can get away from the emotional issues of food.
Rule 4: Don't drink your calories. Avoid any liquid with calories, including milk, fruit juice and soft drinks. Tim makes an exception for red wine, which is good for your health.
Rule 5: Take one day off per week, a "dieters gone wild" cheat day. Pick a day, say Saturday, and that day you can eat anything you want, pizza, tacos, fried Twinkies. It is not that cheating is allowed one day a week, but is required for its affect on metabolism, to avoid [ketosis].
This last rule was perhaps the strangest part of the diet. The intended side-benefit was that if you could look forward to a day in the near future to have something you crave, it would give you the willpower to pass it up today. The boost in carbs also resets your metabolism, so that your body doesn't think it is in starvation mode.
Mo and I got popcorn and large soft drinks at the movie theaters on those days. Stocking "cheat food" in your house just adds extra temptation. Trying to schedule our social life around our cheat days proved quite difficult. As a result, "cheat days" turned into cheat weekends and cheat evenings.
Pros: I liked this diet, it worked for me, but it didn't work for Mo.
Cons: Having gone to chef school, I like to prepare a wide variety of meals. I enjoy food, and variety is the spice of life. Also, I often eat breakfast with clients, which means that I will not be able to eat within 30 minutes of waking up (unless I eat breakfast twice!).
The Forks-over-Knives Diet
After watching the movie [Forks over Knives], I decided to try a plant-based, whole-food vegetarian diet. This is basically a vegetarian diet, but discourages dairy, bread, pasta and refined grains.
I was surprised to learn that you can get enough protein on such a diet. It can be done. Rice and beans are shelf-stable, so you can stock up with fewer trips to the grocery store, and eat very inexpensively.
Pros: I liked this diet, I was able to stick with it, and enjoy the meals. Many restaurants in Tucson accomodate vegetarians with substitutions.
Cons: I didn't lose any weight on this diet. I had difficult time trying to combine foods to make complete proteins. I had vitamin deficiency, and had to take multi-vitamin and other supplements to compensate.
The Paleo Diet
The [Paleo diet] reflects the fact that humans have been around for over 200,000 years, but grains, dairy and other processed foods have only been around for the past 10,000 years. Our genetic code is just not designed for these new foods.
Basically, if a hunter-gather could have "hunted it" or "gathered it", then it can be eaten. The diet consists of eggs, fish, fresh meats, poultry, vegetables, fruits, berries, nuts and seeds. It does not include dairy, bread, pasta, wheat, rye, barley, soy, oats, rice, corn, quinoa, beans, products made from processed meats or refined grains.
As for measurements and proportions, I try to eat at least 90g of Protein, and try to eat less than 150g of Carbs. The diet fits well with the foods that I eat in restaurants with clients, the food we are served at work, and the foods that I can prepare at home.
Pros: I like this diet, it is the one that I am currently on.
Cons: I missing putting half-and-half cream in my coffee! Occasionally, I crave some mac-and-cheese, beans-and-rice, a slice of apple pie, or simply a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
If you have any experiences with these diets, or a different diet that worked for you, please post a comment below!
(Note: I am neither a medical doctor nor registered dietician. I can share with you ideas that have worked for me (or people I know) that might help you achieve your goals. I strongly suggest you read books and consult with medical experts as necessary.)
The problem is that most people think of dieting as something you do temporarily. People decide to lose weight, go on a diet, reach their target goal weight, go back to their previous ways, and gain the weight back.
The word Diet comes from the Greek language and means "way of life". Every day that food enters your mouth, you are on a diet. People aren't on or off a diet, but rather switch from one diet to another. The trick is to find a healthy diet that you can live with the rest of your life, so your weight doesn't go up and down.
Most health experts agree that the [Western pattern diet], typical in the United States and other developed countries, is [certainly not healthy]. Washing down that bologna-and-cheese on white bread sandwich with a 44-ounce high-fructose soft drink hasn't served Americans well. This combination of processed meats, refined grains, dairy, and sugar-laden foods has shown to cause obesity and other health problems.
Physicians at Cornell University found that [men take better care of their cars than their bodies]. If you tell a guy that his car takes 12 gallons of high-octane gasoline, 5 quarts of 5W-30 oil, and a 50/50 mix of water and anti-freeze, he would totally understand what you mean.
But tell that same guy that his diet must consist of an appropriate ratio of complete proteins, monounsaturated fats, and carbs with a low glycemic index, and he will scratch his head. Aren't calories just calories?
Unlike a car, where the gasoline, oil and anti-freeze get poured into different openings into fixed metal containers, the human body takes in all of the things it needs in one opening, your mouth, and receives it into a stretchable container, your belly. While carbs are just converted to fuel, the proteins and fats have actual functions and bring building blocks that cannot be built from just carbs alone.
Carbs are found mostly in foods like fruits, grains and vegetables. Not all carbs are the same. Some break down quickly to glucose, the sugar molecule that represents fuel for the rest of your body. Others break down slowly. Consider a fireplace, you put a few pieces of newspaper or kindling, and the larger logs on top. The newspaper is easy to light, but burns quickly. The logs on the other hand burn slowly and give you hours of heat.
Eating the Western pattern diet is like filling your fireplace with newspaper, and having to re-light your fire over and over after all the newspaper burns out.
Proteins are the building blocks of your muscles and other internal organs. These are built from amino acids, and your body can't make them, you have to have them in your diet. Even if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, sit all day at a desk, then sit all evening in front of the television, your body needs to repair internal muscles and organs with proteins, so you need to eat proteins every day to replenish these amino acids.
Complete proteins, such as those in beef, eggs and fish, have all the amino acids represented. Plant-based proteins, like rice, beans, and wheat, are incomplete, lacking one or more of the amino acids you need.
Fats are needed to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, which are important for a variety of functions. Monounsaturated fats can be found in olive oil, nuts, and avocados. While many people feel the saturated fats in red meat and dairy are bad for your health, there are exceptions. Coconut milk is high in saturated fats, but good for you.
There is some dispute and controversy on exactly what is an ideal diet. This can be partly attributable to articles that report findings from observational studies, rather than from double-blind clinical studies. To understand the difference, I suggest you watch Tom Naughton present [Science for Smart People] in this amusing 46-minute video.
Over the past few years, I have tried out several different diets, to figure out which one is best for me. I'll save those details for my next post.
Well, it's that time of year again. While every corporate blogger waits for their employer to release last year's earning report, we are forced to find other things to write about that comply within [corporate "black-out" rules].
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results." -- Albert Einstein
In addition to being a technical consultant for IBM, I am also a certified yoga instructor with formal training. Back in 2004, I co-founded the Tucson Laughter Club, based on [Hasya yoga], a form of yoga that incorporates breathing, stretching and laughter exercises. The two jobs are actually similar, in which I am standing in front of a group of people, telling them what to do and how to do it.
January is the month where gyms and yoga classes are filled with new students who have made New Year's Resolutions. Every time I am asked "What should I do to lose weight, get fit, and sleep better?"
(Note: I am neither a medical doctor nor registered dietician. I can share with you ideas that have worked for me (or my yoga students) that might help you achieve your goals. I strongly suggest you read books and consult with medical experts as necessary.)
I always tell them the same answer. But first, I make them promise they won't share the secret with anyone, and that I will whisper it in their ear. After I get their nod of agreement, I whisper "Eat Less and Exercise More."
I get the same quizzical look every time. The response is typically "That's your big secret? Everyone knows that!" If that's true, why are nearly a third of all Americans obese, out-of-shape, and/or sleep-deprived? The answer is the knowing-doing gap.
While the book is focused on why businesses fail to achieve their goals, I think many of the principles apply to individuals trying to reach their health goals:
Understand "Why" before "How". People are quick to follow process and procedures, rather than understanding the underylying biology, chemistry, or physiology.
Knowing comes from doing and teaching others. Learning is best done by trying a lot things, learning from what works and what does not, thinking about what was learned, and trying again.
Actions speaks louder than words, thoughts, and elegant plans. Without taking some action, learning is more difficult and less efficient because it is not grounded in real experience. When I was in Japan, one of the employees told me their boss was NATO, which stood for "No Action, Talk Only!"
There is no doing without mistakes. In building a culture of action, one of the most critical elements is how you treat yourself when
things go wrong. Even well planned actions can go wrong. All learning involves some failure, something from which one can continue to learn.
Fear fosters knowing-doing gaps, so drive out fear. Do you fear making mistakes? Do you fear success? Do you fear people will make fun of you for trying something outside your comfort zone? Drive out that fear!
Measure what matters and what can help turn knowledge into action. Peter Drucker is often quoted as saying "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it!" The trick is to figure out which measurements lead to corrective actions.
If you have problems keeping any of your New Year's Resolutions, try to figure out why. Is it because you didn't know what to do? Or, more likely, you know what you needed to do, but didn't do it? Feel free to enter your comments below!
(What does this have to do with Storage? When IBM got back into networking in a big way, they had to decide whether to combine it with one of the existing groups, or form its own group. IBM decided to merge networking with storage, which makes sense since the primary purpose of most networks is to access or transmit information stored somewhere else.)
Last April, the Wharton School and the Institute for the Future convened a one-day [After Broadband] workshop in San Francisco, California, that brought together a group of leading technologists, entrepreneurs, academics and policymakers to explore the future of broadband over the next decade.
Continuing this week's theme about the future, fellow blogger, published author, and futurist David Houle is coming out with a new book this month titled [Entering the Shift Age]. This is a follow-on to his book, [The Shift Age].
Since this book cites IBM studies explicitly, his PR department asked me to review it. If you are an aspiring author that has a book you want me review, and it relates to the topics my blog covers like Cloud, Big Data, storage, and the explosion of information, feel free to send me a copy!
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM. I was not paid by anyone to mention this book on my blog. I was provided an "Uncorrected Advanced Copy" of this book at no cost to me for this review. I do not know David Houle personally, have not read any of his prior works, nor have I ever seen him speak at public events. This post is neither a paid nor celebrity endorsement of this author, his book, nor any other books by this author.)
First, let's get a few details out of the way:
Title:Entering the Shift Age, 284 pages Author: David Houle, futurist Genre: Non-fiction, trends and predictions
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc. Publish date: January 2013
As I mentioned in my post [Historians vs. Futurists], there is only one past, but there are many potential futures. There seems to be as many futurists out there as there are potential futures. I suspect not everyone will agree with all that David has written. However, this reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:
"When two futurists always agree, one is no longer necessary." -- old Italian adage
In his book, David asks a series of thought-provoking questions, then answers them with his views and opinions on how the future will roll out:
Is humanity now entering a new age that is different than the Information age?
If so, what should we call it?
Which forces are driving this new age?
How will this impact various aspects and institutions of society?
David feels humanity is indeed entering a new age, which he calls the Shift Age. This is driven by three forces: the shift to globalization of culture and politics, the flow of power and influence to individuals, and the acceleration of electronic connectedness.
In a sense, David is like a hunter-gatherer from the Stone age, hunting down trends and gathering ideas from others. In much the same way my compost brings renewed purpose to the rinds and pits of my fruits and vegetables, David's book does a good job paraphrasing the works of many of today's leading futurists.
David predicts the decade we are now in, the 2010's, will mark the end of the Information age, a transition period to this new era, that will lead to transformations in government, education, health, technology, and energy.
Over the past two weeks, I had time to enjoy a variety of movies. I had seen several whose stories wrapped around key moments of transition.
"Gone with the Wind", as well as the new offering "Lincoln" from Steven Spielberg. Both are set in the 1860's, the time of the [American Civil War], pitting the Industrial-age forces of the North, against the Agricultural-age economy of the South. This time saw the transition from slavery to freedom.
"Doctor Zhivago", set in the time of World War I, on the German-Russian front, as well as the Russian Revolution of 1917, and the resulting Civil War between the Red Guard and the White Army. This saw the transition from a Russian government ruled by Czars, to one ruled by the people through Communism.
"Lawrence of Arabia", also set in the time of World War I, but south in Arabia. T. E. Lawrence was able to bring several warring Arab tribes together to defeat the Turks, and was a key figure in the transition to an Arab National Council.
Some might call these completely unexpected [Black Swan] events, while others might feel they are merely fortunate (or misfortunate) sequences of events that led to inevitable social change. Has something happened, or will something happen later this decade, that will drive us to leave the Information Age?
David's previous book, The Shift Age, was published back in 2007, and a lot has happened in the past six years: a global financial melt-down recession; the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East; Barack Obama was elected and re-elected; man-made climate change in the form of hurricanes, tsunamis and superstorms hit various parts of the world; brush fires lit up Australia, and BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the Gulf coast, just to name a few.
David's new book reflects the impact of these recent events, from discussions on his [Evolutionshift] blog, to Q&A sessions he has after his public speaking presentations. For those who are not interested in the wide array of topics he covers in this one book, David also offers [a dozen different mini-eBooks] that cover specific topics like [Technology, Energy and Health].
My Rating: Moist and Flaky
Who should read this book: If you are a time-traveler from 1975 that came to this decade to learn all about what your future has in store, but can only select one book to read before you zoom back to your own time period, this would be the book I recommend.
I do not want to imply this is a quick read, or one that you can't put down once you start reading it. Just like you should not gulp down a full bottle of cheap Vodka in one sitting, this book should be read over a series of days, as I did, so that you can mull over in your mind the different points and thoughts he is trying to convey.
Today is the last day of 2012, so it is only fitting to end the year looking forward to the future!
While I have been accused of being a historian, I consider myself a bit of a futurist. Since 2006, I have been blogging about the future of technology, including Cloud, Big Data, and the explosion of information. As a consultant for the IBM Executive Briefing Center, I present to clients IBM's future plans, strategies, and product roadmaps.
(Fellow blogger Mark Twomey on his Storagezilla blog has a humorous post titled [Stuff your Predictions], expressing his disdain for articles this time of year that predict what the next 12 months will bring. Don't worry, this is not one of those posts!)
What exactly is a futurist? Biologists study biology. Techologists study technology. But a person can't simply time-travel to the future, read the newspaper, make observations, take notes, and then go back in time to share his findings.
Here seem to be the key differences between Historians vs. Futurists:
There is only one past.
There are many possible futures.
Only six percent of humanity are alive today, so historians must study history through the writings, tools, and remains of those that have passed on.
Futurists study the past and the present, looking for patterns and trends.
Search for insight.
Search for foresight.
Framework to explain what happened and why.
Framework to express what is possible, probable, and perhaps even preferable.
A common framework for both is the concept of the various "Ages" that humanity has been through:
Around 200,000 years ago, in the middle of what archaeologists refer to as the [Paleolithic Era], man walked upright and used tools made of stone to hunt and gather food. Humans were nomadic and travelled in tribes to follow the herds of animals as they migrated season to season. The History Channel had a great eight-hour series called [Mankind: The Story of All of Us] that started here, and worked all the way up to modern times.
About 10,000 years ago, humans got tired of chasing after their meals, and settled down, growing their food instead. Grains like wheat, rice, and corn became staples of most diets around the world. Civilization evolved, and people traded what they grew or made in exchange for items they needed or wanted.
About 300 years ago, humans developed machines to help do things, and even to help build other machines. While farmers harnessed oxen to plow fields, and horses to speed up travel and communication, these were all based on muscle power.
Machines like the steam engine were powered by coal, petroleum, or natural gas. Today, one gallon of gasoline can do the work of 600 man-hours of human muscle power, or [move a ton of freight 400 miles].
Cities grew up with skyscrapers of steel, connected by trains, planes and automobiles. Communications with the telegraph, telephone, radio and television replaced sending message on horseback.
The forces that drove humanity to the Industrial age clashed with the culture and identity established during the Agricultural age. I highly recommend futurist Thomas Friedman's book [The Lexus and the Olive Tree] that covers these conflicts.
When exactly did the Information age begin? Did it start with Guttenberg's muscle-powered [Printing Press] in the year 1450, or the first punched card in 1725?
Futurist [Alvin Toffler] published his book The Third Wave in 1980. He coined the phrase "Third Wave" to describe the transition from the Industrial age to the Information age.
While IBM mainframes were processing information in the 1950's, many people associate the Information Age with the IBM Personal Computer (1981) or the World Wide Web (1991). Over 100 years ago, IBM started out in the Industrial age, with business machines like meat scales and cheese slicers. IBM led the charge into the Information Age, and continues that leadership today.
In any case, value went from atoms to bits. Computers and mobile devices transfer bits of data, information and ideas, from nearly anyplace on the planet to another, in seconds.
Ideas and content are now king, rather than land, buildings, machines and raw materials of the Industrial age. In 1975, less than 20 percent of a business assets were intangible. By 2005, over 80 percent is.
While the Industrial age was dominated by left-brain thinking, the Information Age requires the creativity of right-brain thinking. I highly recommend Daniel Pink's book, [A Whole New Mind] that covers this in detail.
"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed!" -- William Gibson (1993)
The problem with looking back through history as a series of "Ages" is that they really didn't start and end on specific days. The Agricultural age didn't end on a particular Sunday evening, with the Industrial age starting up the following Monday morning.
There are still people on the planet today in the Stone age. On my last visit to Kenya, I met a nomadic tribe that still lives this way. Huts were temporarily constructed from sticks and mud, and abandoned when it was time to move on.
A short-sighted charity built a one-room school house for them, hoping to convince the tribe that staying in one place for education was more important than hunting and gathering food in a nomadic lifestyle. Some stayed and starved.
In the United States, about 2 percent of Americans grow food for the rest of us, with enough left over to make ethanol and give food aid to other countries.
Sadly, the Standard American Diet continues to be foods mostly processed from wheat, rice and corn, even though our human genetic make-up has not yet evolved from a "Paleolithic" mix of [meats, nuts and berries].
There are still people on the planet today in the Industrial age. American schools are still geared to teach children for Industrial age jobs, but still take "summer vacation" to work in the fields of the Agricultural age? Seth Godin's book [Stop Stealing Dreams] is a great read on what we should do about this.
Wrapping up my series on a [Laptop for Grandma], I finally have something that I think meets all of my requirements! Special thanks to Guidomar and the rest of my readers who sent in suggestions!
I could have called this series "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly". The [Cloud-oriented choices] weren't bad per se, but expected persistent Internet connection. The [Low-RAM choices] were not ugly per se, but had limited application options. The ones below were good, in that they helped me decide what would be just right for grandma.
Linux Mint 9
One of my readers, Guidomar, suggested Linux Mint Xfce. At LinuxFest Northwest 2012, Bryan Lunduke indicated that [Linux Mint] is the fastest growing Linux in popularity. You can watch his 43-minute presentation of [Why Linux Sucks!] on YouTube.
The latest version is Mint 14, but that has grown so big it has to be installed on a DVD, as it will no longer fit on a 700MB CD-ROM. Since I don't have a DVD drive on this Thinkpad R31, I dropped down to the latest Gnome edition that did fit on a LiveCD, which was Mint 9.
(In retrospect, I could have used the [PLoP Boot Manager CD], and installed the latest Linux Mint 14 from USB memory stick! My concern was that if a distribution didn't fit on a CD-ROM, it was expecting a more modern computer overall, and thus would probably require more than 384MB or RAM as well.)
Linux Mint is actually a variant of Ubuntu, which means that it can tap into the thousands of applications already available. Mint 9 is based on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS.
One of the nice features of Linux Mint is that there are versions with full [Codecs] installed. A codec is a coder/decoder software routine that can convert a digital data stream or signal, such as for audio or video data. Many formats are proprietary, so codecs are generally not open source, and often not included in most Linux distros. They can be installed manually by the Linux administrator. Windows and Mac OS are commercially sold and don't have this problem, as Microsoft and Apple take care of all the licensing issues behind the scenes.
The installation went smooth. It would have gladly set up a dual-boot with Windows for me, but instead I opted to wipe the disk clean and install fresh for each Linux distribution I tried.
Running it was a different matter. The screen would go black and crash. There just wasn't enough memory.
Since [Peppermint OS] was partially based on Lubuntu, I thought I would give [Lubuntu 12.04] a try. The difference is that Peppermint OS is based on Xfce (as is Xubuntu), but Lubuntu claims to have a smaller memory footprint using Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment (LXDE). This version claims to run in 384MB, which is what I have on grandma's Thinkpad R31.
There are two installers. The main installer requires more than 512MB to run, so I used the alternate text-based Installer-only CD, which needs only 192MB.
The LXDE GUI is simple and straightforward. As with Peppermint OS, I did have to install the Codec plugins. However, the time-to-first-note was less than two minutes, so we can count this as a success!
Linux Mint 12 LXDE edition
Circling back to Linux Mint, I realized that my problem up above was chosing the wrong edition. Apparently, Linux Mint comes in various editions, the main edition I had selected was based on Gnome which requires at least 512MB of RAM.
Other editions are based on KDE, xFCE and LXDE. Linux Mint 9 LXDE requires only 192MB of RAM, and the newer Linux Mint 12 LXDE requires only 256MB. I choose the latter, and the install went pretty much the same as Mint and Lubuntu above.
The music player that comes pre-installed is called [Exaile], which supports playlists, audio CDs, and a variety of other modern features, so no reason to install Rhythmbox or anything else. Grandma can even rip her existing audio CDs to import her music into MP3 format. Time-to-first-note was about two minutes.
The best part: the OS only takes up about 4GB of disk, leaving about 15GB for MP3 music files!
Lubuntu and Linux Mint LXDE were similar, but I decided to go with the latter because I like that they do not force version upgrades. This is a philosophical difference. Ubuntu likes to keep everyone on the latest supported releases, so will often remind you its time to upgrade. Linux Mint prefers to take an if-it-aint-broke-don't-fix-it approach that will be less on-going maintenance for me.
A few finishing touches to make the system complete:
A nice wallpaper from [InterfaceLift]. This website has high-res photography that are just stunning.
Power management with screen-saver settings to a nice pink background with white snowflakes falling.
A small collection of her MP3 music pre-loaded so that she would have something to listen to while she learns how to rip CDs and copy over the rest of her music.
Icons on the main desktop for Exaile, My Computer, Home Directory, and the Welcome Screen.
Larger Font size, to make it easier to read.
Update settings that only look for levels "1" and "2". There are five levels, but "1" and "2" are considered the safest, tested versions. Also, an update is only done if it does not involve installing or removing other packages. This should offer some added stability.
I considered installing [ClamAV] for anti-virus protection, but since this laptop will not be connected to the Internet, I decided not to burn up CPU cycles. I also considered installing [Team Viewer] which would allow me remote access to her system if anything should every fail. However, since she does not have Wi-Fi at home, and lives only a few minutes across town, I decided to leave this off.
Once again, I want to thank all of my readers for their suggestions! I learned quite a lot on this journey, and am glad that I have something that I am proud to present to grandma: boots quickly enough, simple to use, and does not require on-going maintenance!
Continuing my series on a [Laptop for Grandma], I thought I would pursue some of the "low-RAM" operating system choices. Grandma's Thinkpad R31 has only 384MB of RAM.
All of the ones below are based on Linux. For those who aren't familiar with installing or running the Linux operating system, here are some helpful tips:
Most Linux distributors allow you to download an ISO file for free. These can be either (a) burned to a CD, (b) burned to a DVD, or (c) written to a USB memory stick.
The ISO can be either a "LiveCD/LiveDVD" version, an installation program, or a combination of the two. The "Live" version allows you to boot up and try out the operating system without modifying the contents of your hard drive. Windows and Mac OS users can try out Linux without impact to their existing environment. Some Linux distributions offer both a full LiveCD+Installer version, as well as an alternate text-based Installer-only version. The latter often requires less RAM to use.
When installing, it is best to have the laptop plugged in to an electrical outlet, and hard-wired to the internet in case it needs to download the latest drivers for your particular hardware.
A CD can hold only 700MB. Many of the newer Linux distributions exceed that, requiring a DVD or USB stick instead. If your laptop has an older optical drive, it may not be able to read DVD media. Some older optical drives can only read CD's, not burn them. In my case, I burned the CDs on another machine, and then used them on grandma's Thinkpad R31.
To avoid burning "a set of coasters" when trying out multiple choices, consider using rewriteable optical media, or the USB option. If you don't like it, you can re-use for something else.
The program [Unetbootin] can take most ISO files and write them to a bootable USB stick. On my Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 laptop, I had to also install p7zip and p7zip-plugins first.
The BIOS on some older machines, like my grandma's Thinkpad R31, cannot boot from USB. The [PLoP Boot Manager] allows you to first boot from floppy or CD-ROM, and then allows you to boot from the USB. This worked great on my grandma's system. The PLoP Boot Manager is also available on the [Ultimate Boot CD].
While I am a big fan of SUSE, Red Hat, and Ubuntu, these all require more RAM than available on grandma's laptop. Here are some Low-RAM alternatives I tried:
Damn Small Linux 4.11 RC2
The Damn Small Linux [DSL] project was dormant since 2008, but has a fresh new release for 2012. This baby can run in as little 16MB or RAM! If you have 128MB of RAM or more, the OS can run entirely from RAM, providing much faster performance.
Of course, there are always trade-offs, and in this case, apps were chosen for their size and memory footprint, not necessarily for their user-friendliness and eye candy. For example, the xMMS plays MP3 music, but I did not find it as friendly as iTunes or Rhythmbox.
Boot time is fast. From hitting the power-on button to playing the first note of MP3 music was about 1 minute.
Installing DSL Linux on the hard drive converts it into a Debian distribution, which then allows more options for applications.
Next up was [MacPup]. The latest version is 529, based on Pupply Linux 5.2.60 Precise, compatible with Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin. While traditional Puppy Linux clutters the screen with apps, the MacPup tries to have the look-and-feel of the MacOS by having a launcher tray at the bottom center of the screen.
Both MacPup and Puppy Linux can run in very small amounts of RAM and disk space. Like DSL above, you can opt to run MacPup entirely in 128MB of RAM. Unfortunately, the trade-off is a lack of application choices.
Installation to the hard drive was quite involved, certainly not for the beginner. First, you have to use Gparted to partition the disk. I created a 19GB (sda1) for my files, and 700MB (sda5) for swap. I had troubles with "ext4" file system, so re-formatted to "ext3". Second, you have to copy the files over from the LiveCD using the "Puppy Universal Installer". Third, you have to set up the Bootloader. Grub didn't work, so I installed Grub4Dos instead.
The music app is called "Alsa Player", and I was able to drag the icon into the startup tray. time-to-first-note was just over 1 minute. Fast, but not as "simple-to-use" as I would like.
SliTaz 4.0 claims to be able to run in as little as 48MB of RAM and 100MB of disk space. Time-to-first-note was similar to MacPup, but I didn't care for the TazPanel for setup, and the TazPkg for installing a limited set of software packages. I could not get Wi-Fi working at all on SliTaz, and just gave up trying.
All three of these ran on grandma's Thinkpad R31, and all three could play MP3 music. However, I was concerned that they were not as simple to use as grandma would like, and I would be concerned the amount of time and effort I might have to spend if things go wrong.
I've gotten suggestions to upgrade the memory and disk storage, and how to fine-tune the Microsoft Windows XP operating system. Others suggested replacing the OS with Linux, and to use the Cloud to avoid some of the storage space limitations.
But first, I have to mention the latest in our series of "Enterprise Systems" videos. The first was being [Data Ready]. The second was being [Security Ready]. The now the third in the series: the 3-minute
[Cloud Ready] video.
So I decided to try different Cloud-oriented Operating Systems, to see if any would be a good fit. Here is what I found:
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM and own IBM stock. This blog post is not meant to endorse one OS over another. I have financial interests in, and/or have friends and family who work at some of the various companies mentioned in this post. Some of these companies also have business relationships with IBM.)
Jolicloud and Joli OS 1.2
I gave this OS a try. This is based on Linux, but with an interesting approach. First, you have to be on-line all the time, and this OS is designed for 15-25 year-olds who are on social media websites like Facebook. By having a Jolicloud account, you can access this from any browser on any system, or run the Joli OS operating system, or buy the already pre-installed Jolibook netbook computer.
The Joli OS 1.2 LiveCD ran fine on my T410 with 4GB or RAM, giving me a chance to check it out, but sadly did not run on grandma's Thinkpad R31 with 384MB of RAM. According to the [Jolicloud specifications], Joli OS should run in as little as 384MB of RAM and 2GB of disk storage space, but it didn't for me.
Google Chrome and Chromium OS Vanilla
Like the Jolibook, Google has come out with a $249 Chromebook laptop that runs their "Chrome OS". This is only available via OEM install on desginated hardware, but the open source version is available called Chromium OS. These are also based on Linux.
Rather than compiling from source, Hexxeh has made nightly builds available. You can download [Chromium OS Vanilla] zip file, unzip the image file, and copy it to a 4GB USB memory stick. The compressed image is about 300MB, but uncompressed about 2.5GB, so too big to fit on a CD. The image on the USB stick is actually two partitions, and cannot be run from DVD either.
If you don't have a 4GB USB stick handy, and want to see what all the fuss is about, just install the Google Chrome browser on your Windows or Linux system, and then maximize the browser window. That's it. That is basically what Chromium OS is all about.
Files can be stored locally, or out on your Google Drive. Documents can be edited using "Google Docs" in the Cloud. You can run in "off-line" mode, for example, read your Gmail notes when not connected to the Internet. Music and video files can be played using the "Files" app.
If you really need to get out of the browser, you can hit the right combination of keys to get to the "crosh" command line shell.
Like Joli OS, I was able to run this from my Thinkpad T410 with 4GB of RAM, but not on grandma's Thinkpad R31. It appears that Chromium requires at least 1GB of RAM to run properly.
Android for x86
While researching the Chromium OS, I found that there is an open source community porting [Android to the x86] platform. Android is based on Linux, and would allow your laptop or netbook to run very much like a smartphone or tablet. Most of the apps available to Android should work here as well.
Unfortunately, the project has focused only on selected hardware:
ASUS Eee PCs/Laptops
Viewsonic Viewpad 10
Dell Inspiron Mini Duo
Lenovo ThinkPad x61 Tablet
I tried running the Thinkpad x61 version on both my Thinkpad T410 and grandma's Thinkpad R31, but with no success.
Peppermint OS Three
Next up was Peppermint OS, which claims to be a blend of Linux Mint, Lubuntu, and Xfce, but with a "twist" of aspiring to be a Cloud-oriented OS.
Rather than traditional apps to write documents or maintain a calendar, this OS offers a "Single-Site Browser" (SSB) experience, where you can configure "apps" by pointing to their respective URL. For documents, launch GWoffice, the client for Google Docs. For calendar, launch Google Calendar.
Most Linux distros have both a number and a project name associated with them. For example, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS is known as "Lucid Lynx". The Peppermint OS team avoided this by just calling their latest version "Three" which serves as both its number and its name.
The browser is Chromium, similar to Google Chrome OS above, and uses the "DuckDuckGo" search engine. This is how the Peppermint OS folks make their money to defray the costs of this effort.
Peppermint OS claims to run in systems as little as 192MB or RAM, and only 4GB of disk space. The LiveCD ran well on both my Thinkpad T410, as well as grandma's Thinkpad R31. More importantly, when I installed on the hard drive, it ran well.
The music app "Guayadeque" that came pre-installed was awful. It couldn't play MP3 music out-of-the-box. I had to install the Codec plugins from various "ubuntu-restricted-extras" libraries. I also installed the music app "Rhythmbox", and that worked great. Time from power-on to first-note was less than 2 minutes! However, the problems with the Guayadeque gave me the impression this OS might not be ready for primetime.
I contacted grandma to ask if she has Wi-Fi in her home, and sure enough, she doesn't. Her PC upstairs is direct attached to the cable modem. So, while the Cloud suggestion was worthy of investigation, I will continue to pursue other options that do not require being connected. I certainly do not want to spend any time and effort getting Wi-Fi installed there.
Happy Winter Solstice everyone! The Mayan calendar flipped over yesterday, and everything continued as normal.
The next date to watch out for is ... drumroll please ... April 8, 2014. This is the date Microsoft has decided to [drop support for Windows XP].
While many large corporations are actively planning to get off Windows XP, there are still many homes and individuals that are running on this platform.
When [Windows XP] was introduced in 2001, it could support systems with as little as 64MB of RAM. Nowadays, the latest versions of Windows now requires a minimum of 1GB for 32-bit systems, with 2GB or 3GB recommended.
That leaves Windows XP users on older hardware few choices:
Continue to run Windows XP, but without support (and hope for the best)
Upgrade their hardware with more RAM (and possibly more disk space) needed to run a newer level of Windows
Install a different operating system like Linux
Put the hardware in the recycle bin, and buy a new computer
Here is a personal example. A long time ago, I gave my sister a Thinkpad R31 laptop so that she could work from home. When she got a newer one, she passed this down to her daughter for doing homework. When my neice got a newer one, she passed this old laptop to her grandma.
Grandma is fairly happy with her modern PC running Windows XP. She plays all kinds of games, scans photographs, sends emails, listens to music on iTunes, and even uses Skype to talk to relatives. Her problem is that this PC is located upstairs, in her bedroom, and she wanted something portable that she could play music downstairs when she is playing cards with her friends.
"Why not use the laptop you have?" I asked. Her response: "It runs very slow. Perhaps it has a virus. Can you fix that?" I was up for the challenge, so I agreed.
(The Challenge: Update the Thinkpad R31 so that grandma can simply turn it on, launch iTunes or similar application, and just press a "play" button to listen to her music. It will be plugged in to an electrical outlet wherever she takes it, and she already has her collection of MP3 music files. My hope is to have something that is (a) simple to use, (b) starts up quickly, and (c) will not require a lot of on-going maintenance issues.)
Here are the relevant specifications of the Thinkpad R31 laptop:
The system was pre-installed with Windows XP, but was terribly down-level. I updated to Windows XP SP3 level, downloaded the latest anti-virus signatures, and installed iTunes. A full scan found no viruses. All this software takes up 14GB, leaving less than 6GB for MP3 music files.
The time it took from hitting the "Power-on" button to hearing the first note of music was over 14 minutes! Unacceptable!
If you can suggest what my next steps should be, please comment below or send me an email!
Tomorrow, according to the [Mayan calendar], the end of the 5,125 year cycle rolls over, so it only makes sense to party like it's 1999!
Of course, if you were in the IT industry 13 years ago, you may remember similar hoopla around [Year 2000] when the Gregorian calendar rolled over from "99" to "00". Some of us were asked to work right up to the last day of 1999, and be on-call the first week of 2000, just in case! Tomorrow may prove to be more or less a repeat of that.
Fortunately, there was plenty of other reasons to celebrate these past few weeks.
Birthdays in December Party
The IBM Tucson employees and contractors of building 9070 got together for a combination party, celebrating both the end of 2012 and for three people with birthdays in December: my former manager Bill, my colleague Kris, and myself. Here is our birthday cake! Afterwards, we allVacation movie.
(Note: This was sponsored by my third-line manager, David Gelardi, who one way or another, is responsible for all the IBMers in this building. Thank you David! )
This will be the last year for us to do this, as we are planning to move over to join the employees of building 9032 next year!
IBM Club Event
The IBM Club had its final event at [Golf N' Stuff] family fun park. Over 700 IBM employees and their family members came to eat breakfast burritos and play miniature golf and other games. It had rained earlier in the morning, so the go-kart track was wet, and the staff were trying to dry with leaf blowers. The rest of the park was fully operational, and the weather cleared up nicely. Mo, Rafael and I played golf but the turf was still wet in a few spots. There were also video games, bumper boats, and batting cages.
IBM volunteers dressed up as fictional characters for the kids to take pictures with.
I was proud to be a member of the seven-person IBM Club board for 2012. When I was nominated, I didn't think I stood a chance to be elected, as I was running against five or six other well-qualified candidates, but somehow it happened. I am glad to have been part of the 19-year tradition of the IBM Club history.
(Note: I didn't campaign for this position, but many IBMers in Tucson knew that I had previously owned and managed Tucson Fun & Adventures that organized 15-25 events every month for hundreds of single adults in the Tucson area. This might have helped my chances for election a bit!)
Next year, the IBM Club transitions to the more-efficient "Club Central" model, which is both board-less and cash-less. Instead of a seven-person board organizing events that are fully-funded or partially-subsidized by IBM, events will now be organized by IBM volunteers who post the details on Facebook. All participants simply pay for the events they attend directly to the venue or facility involved.
While the National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA] has put out videos and press releases these past 10 days to assure us [there will be a 2013], this shouldn't stop anyone from having a good time! If you did anything special to celebrate the end of the Mayan Calendar, please comment below!
Today is my birthday. Another year around the sun.
Actually, there are several other famous people who have December 18 as their birthday as well. Rather than focusing on myself, I thought I would share the love with the others who share the same day. Here are a few of my favorite celebrities:
[Kari] is famous for her role on the TV show Mythbusters. While she still looks like she's in her twenties, I was surprised to learn that we are less than a decade apart in age! The show is credited with helping young students get excited for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) topics.
Most recently, I watched her in the series covering [Punkin Chunkin], an annual contest where teams of engineers design machines to throw pumpkins the furthest across a large field. Some are able to propel the pumpkin over half a mile in distance!
[Steven] is famous for directing some of my favorite movies, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurassic Park, and Raiders of the Lost Ark and the rest of the Indiana Jones series. He won academy awards for his films Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan.
[Christina] is singer/songwriter, and one of the judges on the TV show The Voice. I especially enjoyed her performance of her song "Reflection" in the Disney animated film Mulan.
[Ray] is famous for acting in a variety of movies, everything from a mobster in Goodfellas, to a baseball player in Field of Dreams. I immediately recognized his voice as one the characters in my favorite video game, Grand Theft Auto.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin
While I am not a big fan of wrestling, I prefer to think of [Steve] in his roles in various action movies, including The Condemned, The Stranger, and The Expendables.
[Katie] is an actress in movies like Abandon and Batman Begins, but is more famous for having married, and then later divorced, Tom Cruise.
[Brad] is famous for acting in a variety of movies, including Seven, 12 Monkeys, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. For those who still don't fully understand "big data" analytics, I highly recommend the movie Moneyball, in which Brad plays the General Manager Billy Beane of the Oakland A's baseball team, during their wildly successful 2002 season.
While I have never met of these celebrities in person, I wish them all a happy birthday today!
In my last blog post [Full Disk Encryption for Your Laptop] explained my decisions relating to Full-Disk Encryption (FDE) for my laptop. Wrapping up my week's theme of Full-Disk Encryption, I thought I would explain the steps involved to make it happen.
Last April, I switched from running Windows and Linux dual-boot, to one with Linux running as the primary operating system, and Windows running as a Linux KVM guest. I have Full Disk Encryption (FDE) implemented using Linux Unified Key Setup (LUKS).
Here were the steps involved for encrypting my Thinkpad T410:
Step 0: Backup my System
Long-time readers know how I feel about taking backups. In my blog post [Separating Programs from Data], I emphasized this by calling it "Step 0". I backed up my system three ways:
Backed up all of my documents and home user directory with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager.
Backed up all of my files, including programs, bookmarks and operating settings, to an external disk drive (I used rsync for this). If you have a lot of bookmarks on your browser, there are ways to dump these out to a file to load them back in the later step.
Backed up the entire hard drive using [Clonezilla].
Clonezilla allows me to do a "Bare Machine Recovery" of my laptop back to its original dual-boot state in less than an hour, in case I need to start all over again.
Step 1: Re-Partition the Drive
"Full Disk Encryption" is a slight misnomer. For external drives, like the Maxtor BlackArmor from Seagate (Thank you Allen!), there is a small unencrypted portion that contains the encryption/decryption software to access the rest of the drive. Internal boot drives for laptops work the same way. I created two partitions:
A small unencrypted partition (2 GB) to hold the Master Boot Record [MBR], Grand Unified Bootlloader [GRUB], and the /boot directory. Even though there is no sensitive information on this partition, it is still protected the "old way" with the hard-drive password in the BIOS.
The rest of the drive (318GB) will be one big encrypted Logical Volume Manager [LVM] container, often referred to as a "Physical Volume" in LVM terminology.
Having one big encrypted partition means I only have to enter my ridiculously-long encryption password once during boot-up.
Step 2: Create Logical Volumes in the LVM container
I create three logical volumes on the encrypted physical container: swap, slash (/) directory, and home (/home). Some might question the logic behind putting swap space on an encrypted container. In theory, swap could contain sensitive information after a system [hybernation]. I separated /home from slash(/) so that in the event I completely fill up my home directory, I can still boot up my system.
Step 3: Install Linux
Ideally, I would have lifted my Linux partition "as is" for the primary OS, and a Physical-to-Virtual [P2V] conversion of my Windows image for the guest VM. Ha! To get the encryption, it was a lot simpler to just install Linux from scratch, so I did that.
Step 4: Install Windows guest KVM image
The folks in our "Open Client for Linux" team made this step super-easy. Select Windows XP or Windows 7, and press the "Install" button. This is a fresh install of the Windows operating system onto a 30GB "raw" image file.
(Note: Since my Thinkpad T410 is Intel-based, I had to turn on the 'Intel (R) Virtualization Technology' option in the BIOS!)
There are only a few programs that I need to run on Windows, so I installed them here in this step.
Step 5: Set up File Sharing between Linux and Windows
In my dual-boot set up, I had a separate "D:" drive that I could access from either Windows or Linux, so that I would only have to store each file once. For this new configuration, all of my files will be in my home directory on Linux, and then shared to the Windows guest via CIFS protocol using [samba].
In theory, I can share any of my Linux directories using this approach, but I decide to only share my home directory. This way, any Windows viruses will not be able to touch my Linux operating system kernels, programs or settings. This makes for a more secure platform.
Step 6: Transfer all of my files back
Here I used the external drive from "Step 0" to bring my data back to my home directory. This was a good time to re-organize my directory folders and do some [Spring cleaning].
Step 7: Re-establish my backup routine
Previously in my dual-boot configuration, I was using the TSM backup/archive client on the Windows partition to backup my C: and D: drives. Occasionally I would tar a few of my Linux directories and storage the tarball on D: so that it got included in the backup process. With my new Linux-based system, I switched over to the Linux version of TSM client. I had to re-work the include/exclude list, as the files are different on Linux than Windows.
One of my problems with the dual-boot configuration was that I had to manually boot up in Windows to do the TSM backup, which was disruptive if I was using Linux. With this new scheme, I am always running Linux, and so can run the TSM client any time, 24x7. I made this even better by automatically scheduling the backup every Monday and Thursday at lunch time.
There is no Linux support for my Maxtor BlackArmor external USB drive, but it is simple enough to LUKS-encrypt any regular external USB drive, and rsync files over. In fact, I have a fully running (and encrypted) version of my Linux system that I can boot directly from a 32GB USB memory stick. It has everyting I need except Windows (the "raw" image file didn't fit.)
I can still use Clonezilla to make a "Bare Machine Recovery" version to restore from. However, with the LVM container encrypted, this renders the compression capability worthless, and so takes a lot longer and consumes over 300GB of space on my external disk drive.
Backing up my Windows guest VM is just a matter of copying the "raw" image file to another file for safe keeping. I do this monthly, and keep two previous generations in case I get hit with viruses or "Patch Tuesday" destroys my working Windows image. Each is 30GB in size, so it was a trade-off between the number of versions and the amount of space on my hard drive. TSM backup puts these onto a system far away, for added protection.
Step 8: Protect your Encryption setup
In addition to backing up your data, there are a few extra things to do for added protection:
Add a second passphrase. The first one is the ridiculously-long one you memorize faithfully to boot the system every morning. The second one is a ridiculously-longer one that you give to your boss or admin assistant in case you get hit by a bus. In the event that your boss or admin assistant leaves the company, you can easily disable this second passprhase without affecting your original.
Backup the crypt-header. This is the small section in front that contains your passphrases, so if it gets corrupted, you would not be able to access the rest of your data. Create a backup image file and store it on an encrypted USB memory stick or external drive.
If you are one of the lucky 70,000 IBM employees switching from Windows to Linux this year, Welcome!
Earlier this year, IBM mandated that every employee provided a laptop had to implement Full-Disk Encryption for their primary hard drive, and any other drive, internal or external, that contained sensitive information. An exception was granted to anyone who NEVER took their laptop out of the IBM building. At IBM Tucson, we have five buildings, so if you are in the habit of taking your laptop from one building to another, then encryption is required!
The need to secure the information on your laptop has existed ever since laptops were given to employees. In my blog post [Biggest Mistakes of 2006], I wrote the following:
"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 know was listed in one of these stolen databases, so this last one hits close to home. Security is becoming a bigger issue now, and IBM was the first to deliver device-based encryption with the TS1120 enterprise tape drive."
Not surprisingly, IBM laptops are tracked and monitored. In my blog post [Using ILM to Save Trees], I wrote the following:
"Some assets might be declared a 'necessary evil' like laptops, but are tracked to the n'th degree to ensure they are not lost, stolen or taken out of the building. Other assets are declared "strategically important" but are readily discarded, or at least allowed to [walk out the door each evening]."
Unfortunately, dual-boot environments won't cut it for Full-Disk Encryption. For Windows users, IBM has chosen Pretty Good Privacy [PGP]. For Linux users, IBM has chosen Linux Unified Key Setup [LUKS]. PGP doesn't work with Linux, and LUKS doesn't work with Windows.
For those of us who may need access to both Operating Systems, we have to choose. Select one as the primary OS, and run the other as a guest virtual machine. I opted for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 as my primary, with LUKS encryption, and Linux KVM to run Windows as the guest.
I am not alone. While I chose the Linux method voluntarily, IBM has decided that 70,000 employees must also set up their systems this way, switching them from Windows to Linux by year end, but allowing them to run Windows as a KVM guest image if needed.
Let's take a look at the pros and cons:
LUKS allows for up to 8 passphrases, so you can give one to your boss, one to your admin assistant, and in the event they leave the company, you can disable their passphrase without impacting anyone else or having to memorize a new one. PGP on Windows supports only a single passphrase.
Linux is a rock-solid operating system. I found that Windows as a KVM guest runs better than running it natively in a dual-boot configuration.
Linux is more secure against viruses. Most viruses run only on Windows operating systems. The Windows guest is well isolated from the Linux operating system files. Recovering from an infected or corrupted Windows guest is merely re-cloning a new "raw" image file.
Linux has a vibrant community of support. I am very impressed that anytime I need help, I can find answers or assistance quickly from other Linux users. Linux is also supported by our help desk, although in my experience, not as well as the community offers.
Employees that work with multiple clients can have a separate Windows guest for each one, preventing any cross-contamination between systems.
Linux is different from Windows, and some learning curve may be required. Not everyone is happy with this change.
(I often joke that the only people who are comfortable with change are babies with soiled diapers and prisoners on death row!)
Implementation is a full re-install of Linux, followed by a fresh install of Windows.
Not all software required for our jobs at IBM runs on Linux, so a Windows guest VM is a necessity. If you thought Windows ran slowly on a fully-encrypted disk, imagine how much slower it runs as a VM guest with limited memory resources.
In theory, I could have tried the Windows/PGP method for a few weeks, then gone through the entire process to switch over to Linux/LUKS, and then draw my comparisons that way. Instead, I just chose the Linux/LUKS method, and am happy with my decision.
For the past three decades, IBM has offered security solutions to protect against unauthorized access. Let's take a look at three different approaches available today for the encryption of data.
Approach 1: Server-based
Server-based encryption has been around for a while. This can be implemented in the operating system itself, such as z/OS on the System z mainframe platform, or with an applicaiton, such as IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for backup and archive.
While this has the advantage that you can selectively encrypt individual files, data sets, or columns in databases, it has several drawbacks. First, you consume server resources to perform the encryption. Secondly, as I mention in the video above, if you only encrypt selected data, the data you forget to, or choose not to, encrypt may result in data exposure. Third, you have to manage your encryption keys on a server-by-server basis. Fourth, you need encryption capability in the operating system or application. And fifth, encrypting the data first will undermine any storage or network compression capability down-line.
Approach 2: Network-based
Network-based solutions perform the encryption between the server and the storage device. Last year, when I was in Auckland, New Zealand, I covered the IBM SAN32B-E4 switch in my presentation [Understanding IBM's Storage Encryption Options]. This switch receives data from the server, encrypts it, and sends it on down to the storage device.
This has several advantages over the server-based approach. First, we offload the server resources to the switch. Second, you can encrypt all the files on the volume. You can select which volumes get encrypted, so there is still the risk that you encrypt only some volumes, and not others, and accidently expose your data. Third, the SAN32B-E4 can centralized the encryption key management to the IBM Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager (TKLM). This is also operating system and application agnostic. However, network-based encryption has the same problem of undermining any storage device compression capability, and often has a limit on the amount of data bandwidth it can process. The SAN32B-E4 can handle 48 GB/sec, with a turbo-mode option to double this to 96 GB/sec.
Approach 3: Device-based
Device-based solutions perform the encryption at the storage device itself. Back in 2006, IBM was the first to introduce this method on its [TS1120 tape drive]. Later, it was offered on Linear Tape Open (LTO-4) drives. IBM was also first to introduce Full Disk Encryption (FDE) on its IBM System Storage DS8000. See my blog post [1Q09 Disk Announcements] for details.
As with the network-based approach, the device-based method offloads server resources, allows you to encrypt all the files on each volume, can centrally manage all of your keys with TKLM, and is agnostic to operating system and application used. The device can compress the data first, then encrypt, resulting in fewer tape cartridges or less disk capacity consumed. IBM's device-based approach scales nicely. IBM has an encryption chip is placed in each tape drive or disk drive. No matter how many drives you have, you will have all the encryption horsepower you need to scale up.
Not all device-based solutions use an encryption chip per drive. Some of our competitors encrypt in the controller instead, which operates much like the network-based approach. As more and more disk drives are added to your storage system, the controller may get overwhelmed to perform the encryption.
The need for security grows every year. Enterprise Systems are Security-ready to protect your most mission critical application data.
Mark your calednars! The dates are now official for IBM storage-related events in 2013. I know many of you plan your travel budgets early in the year, so I hope this will help you plan accordingly.
[IBM Pulse 2013] will be held March 3-6, 2013, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Back in 2008, I helped launch the inaugural event, combining previous events that focused on Tivoli and Maximo software solutions.
On a smarter planet, organizations must implement bold strategies to optimize business services, processes, and relationships. Cloud and mobility offer unlimited potential to create smarter infrastructures that fundamentally change the way we do business.
However, to deliver on this potential, you must manage your infrastructure through rapid change while changing the economics of IT: unleashing innovation, reinventing relationships and uncovering new markets.
Attend Pulse 2013 for the opportunity to share your expertise with thousands of your business and IT peers as you explore these strategies and more. With three days of top-notch keynotes, over 300 breakout sessions, labs, certification and our best Solution Expo ever, Pulse will provide the tools, insights and networking you need to turn opportunities into outcomes.
[IBM Edge 2013] will be held June 10-14, 2013, at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada. Last year, I helped launch the inaugural event, combining previous storage events for storage admins, executives, and IBM Business Partners. Next year, Edge2013 will offer:
Over 400 technical sessions and hands on labs geared for novices to experts, with the ability to test drive the latest technology.
Exciting general sessions focused on Smarter Computing innovations and real-world success stories.
World class certification available on-site to validate your skills and demonstrate your proficiency in the latest IBM technology and solutions.
A comprehensive and expanded Solution Center giving you access to the latest storage, System x and PureSystems solutions from IBM and our sponsors.
The list of speakers have not yet been finalized, but I hope to participate at one or both of these events!
I had attended this conference the past four years, but sadly will not be attending the one this year. If you are attending this conference for the first time, perhaps a quick look at my blog posts from last year will help you get oriented:
I hope all of my American readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! The day after Thanksgiving is "Black Friday", the unofficial starting data for shopping for upcoming holiday presents and decorations. The Monday after that is now often referred to as "Cyber Monday", where many people purchase items on-line.
I thought this would be good time to promote my book series, Inside System Storage, Volumes I through V. These are available direct from my publisher, [Lulu], or from other on-line retailers.
The old adage "Never judge a book by its cover" often leads technical authors to select bland cover designs. I designed the cover art for the series to have a consistent look, but be unique enough to know each book is different. They all have a beige background with black text, three or four graphics representing the various storage themes du jour, and a color stripe spread diagonally across the spine.
Several readers have asked if there was any rhyme or reason for the color of each spine. One guessed it was based on the [electronic color code] used on resistors to mark their value. When I was getting my college degree in Electrical Engineering, the mnemonic "Better Be Right Or Your Great Big Venture Goes West" helped us remember the sequence: Black, Brown, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet, Grey and White.
I can assure everyone I was not that clever. Here, instead, is the story behind each color chosen:
Volume I: Green
I received a flyer from Barnes and Noble advertising various books on sale. One caught my eye, so I went to buy it, but forgot to bring the flyer with me. A young woman offered to help me find it, but I could not remember the title, nor the editor, but it had a green cover, and was a collection of the world's shortest stories, all exactly 55 words in length, all winners in some high school contest. She found the flyer, looked up the book, and directed me to the shelf. After several minutes of her scanning the shelf by author, I reached for it, saying, "Here it is, the green one. This shade of green will fit perfectly in my collection of green books!" As I stood in line, the young woman told her boss, "That guy buys green books!" The rest of the folks in line overheard her, and all started laughing at her gullibility.
Volume II: Orange
In late 2007, I was under NDA to review the acquisition of a company called XIV. I was disclosed on the innovative design of the storage system, so that I could blog about it when the announcement was formal. This box would have a distinctive orange stripe across the disks. The announcement launch was a big success. Since then, every time the storage sales team needed a boost in sales for the [IBM XIV Storage System], I would write another blog about the clever features and capabilities.
Volume III: Purple
In 1996, I joined a social club called "Mile High Adventures and Entertainment", headquartered in Denver, Colorado, with locations in Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. It was a group for singles to meet each other through social activities and events. A year later, it colapsed under the weight of heavy radio advertising debt. The local staff bought out the membership list, and launched a new club, under the name Tucson Fun and Adventures. It was a big part of my social life.
However, as the owners dropped out, one to start a family, another to take care of her father after her mother passed away, I started 2009 as the majority owner. The economic recession took its toll. Members were not spending as much of their disposable income of fun and entertainment. We restructured the company, revamped the website, and adopted Purple as our official color. Our event coordinators all wore purple shirts, and carried purple clipboards. Despite this major transformation, I just did not have time to run this company while still working full-time at IBM, so I sold it at year end.
Volume IV: Blue
As I mentioned in my blog post [IBM Introduces a New Era of Computing], IBM launched [PureSystems], a new family of expert-integrated systems. Since Volume IV was going to publish shortly after this announcement, I decided on the color blue to match the new door covers on the racks they came in. In less than a year, IBM has already sold over 1,000 of these systems in over 40 different countries.
Volume V: Grey
Chosing a color to represent the IBM Watson computer proved quite a challenge. I finally decided on grey, to represent "grey matter", a phrase often used to refer to the human brain. I picked a shade of grey that complements the three graphics that represent last year's strategic storage marketing themes. My blog post [How to Build Your Own Watson Jr. in your Basement] continues to be one of my highest read posts.
If you were having trouble getting ideas for gifts this holiday season, hopefully, this post gave you five new ideas for your friends, family, coworkers and clients! They are all available in hardcover, paperback, and eBook (PDF) for viewing on desktops, laptops, tablets or smartphones.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means! IBM announcements!
Today, I am in New York visiting clients. The weather is a lot nicer than I expected. Here is a picture of the Hudson River through some trees with leaves turning color. Something we don't see in Tucson! Our cactus and pine trees stay green year-round!
The announcements today center around the IBM PureSystems family of expert integrated systems. The PureFlex is based on Flex System components. The Flex System chassis is 10U high that hold 14 bays, consisting of 7 rows by 2 columns. Computer and Storage nodes fit in the front, and switches, fans and power supplies in the back. Here is a quick recap:
IBM Flex System Compute Nodes
The x220 Compute Node is a single-bay low-power 2-socket x86 server. The x440 Compute Node is a powerful double-bay (1 row, 2 columns). The p260 Compute Node is a single-bay server based on the latest POWER7+ CPU processor.
IBM Flex System Expansion Nodes
Do you remember those old movies where a motorcycle would have a sidecar that could hold another passenger, or extra cargo? IBM introduces "Expansion Nodes" for the x200 series single-bay Compute nodes. The idea here is that in a single column, you have one bay for the Compute node, and then on the side in the next bay (same column) you have an Expanions node. There are two choices:
Storage Expansion Node allows you to have eight additional drives
PCIe Expansion Node allows to to have four PCIe cards, which could include the SSD-based PCIe cards from IBM's recent acquisition, Texas Memory Systems.
There are times where one or two internal drives are just not enough storage for a single server, and these expanion nodes could just be the perfect solution for some use cases.
IBM Flex System V7000 Storage Node
I saved the best for last! The Flex System V7000 Storage Node is basically the IBM Storwize V7000 repackaged to fit into the Flex System chassis. This means that in the front of the chassis, the Flex System V7000 takes up four bays (2 rows by 2 columns). In the back of the chassis are the power supplies, fans and switches.
The new Flex System V7000 supports everything the Storwize V7000 does except the upgrade to "Unified" through file modules. For those who want to have Storwize V7000 Unified in their PureFlex systems, IBM will continue to offer the outside-the-chassis original Storwize V7000 that can have two file modules added for NFS, CIFS, HTTPS, FTP and SCP protocol support.
IBM Flex System Converged Network Switch
The Converged Network Switch provide Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) directly from the chassis. This eliminates the need for a separate "Top-of-Rack" switch, and allows the new Flex System V7000 Storage Node to externally virtualize FCoE-based disk arrays.
Patterns of Expertise for Infrastructure
The original patterns of expertise focused on the PureApplication Systems. Now IBM has added some for the Infrastructure on PureFlex systems.
IBM has sold over 1,000 Flex System and PureFlex systems, across 40 different countries around the world, since their introduction a few months ago in April! These latest enhancements will help solidify IBM's industry leadership,
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means! IBM Announcements!
Today also happens to be [Election Day] in the United States, and some have questioned IBM's logic of making major storage announcements on Election Day. During the campaigns, a major theme was to help Small and Medium size businesses, because these are the engines of economic growth and improved employment.
Hopefully, you all saw today's Launch Webcast on these announcements, but in case you missed it, waiting in line at the polling station to cast your vote, or caught without electricity or Internet access from [Superstorm Sandy], it is now available [On-Demand].
The 2U control enclosure can have up to four additional 2U expansion enclosures, for a maximum of 120 drives, or 180TB of raw disk capacity. Like the Storwize V7000, the Storwize V3700 supports a [large number of servers and operating systems.]
Many of the features you already know from the Storwize V7000 are carried forward:
1GbE iSCSI + 8GbFC
8GbFC, 10GbE iSCSI/FCoE, Statement of Direction for 6Gb SAS
8GB per canister
4GB per canister, upgradeable to 8GB
Up to 4 control enclosures in a clustered system, each with up to 9 expansion enclosures
Up to 4 expansion enclosures
Maximum Number of drives/TB
Up to 120 drives/180TB
RAID levels supported
GUI, CLI, SMI-S API
GUI, CLI, SMI-S API
Internal (included), external (optional)
Internal only (included)
Non-disruptive data migration
One-directional (migrate to Storwize V3700, included)
Statement of direction
Up to 256 targets (included)
Up to 64 targets (included) Statement of Direction for optional 2,040 targets
Metro Mirror and Global Mirror (optional)
Statement of Direction (optional)
The IBM Storwize V3700 is offered at attractive leasing options through IBM Global Financing.
IBM LTO-6 drives and midrange tape libraries
Last month, IBM's [Tape and Storage Hypervisor Announcements] included LTO-6 for the enterprise-class TS3500 tape library. Today, the LTO-6 support is complete with support for midrange tape drives and libraries.
There are two tape drive models. The TS2260 is based on the half-height drive, intended for occasional 9-to-5 usage. The TS2360 is based on the full-height drive, intended for 24x7 access. These drives can read LTO-4 and LTO-5 tape cartridge media, and can write LTO-5 cartridge media. The new LTO-6 tape cartridge media is expected to be available next month.
In addition to the IBM TS3500 Enterprise Tape Library, LTO-6 is now supported on all of the midrange tape libraries: TS2900, TS3100, TS3200 and TS3310.
IBM Linear Tape File System Library Edition V2.1.2
There are two levels of [Linear Tape File System], or LTFS for short. The first is the Single Drive Edition (LTFS-SDE), which allows you to attach an LTO-5, LTO-6 or TS1140 tape drive to a single workstation, and allow you to mount tape cartridges as easy as mounting USB memory sticks. This presents a full file system view that allows you to read, edit, create, and even drag-and-drop files to other file systems. The LTFS-SDE driver is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS.
The second is the Library Edition (LTFS-LE), which allows you to mount the entire tape library as a file system. Each tape cartridge in the library is presented as a subdirectory folder, that you can access like any file system on disk. This was only available for Linux systems, which could then export the files through NFS, FTP or HTTP protocols to other clients. Now, with release v2.1.2, LTFS-LE supports Windows servers, so that you can share the files with other clients through CIFS as well.
Wow! Since my last blog post on this, we have over 600 registrants!
Smarter Storage for Midsize Businesses
Businesses of all sizes are getting buried in the avalanche of data. Data is coming in at faster rates and in greater volumes. The value of data is increasing. Old processes and technologies aren't working. Midsize businesses have the same issues managing the rapid growth of data as large enterprises, but they don't have the same size budget or staff. They need advanced capabilities at an affordable price that are easy to implement.
Speakers for this webcast include Brian Truskowski, General Manager, IBM System Storage and Networking; Ed Walsh, Vice President of Market and Strategy, IBM System Storage; and Tommy Rickard, IBM Director, UK Storage Development.
Date: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 Time: 8:00 AM PST / 9:00AM Arizona / 11:00 PM EST Duration: 60 Minutes
[Register now!] Learn how new IBM Smarter Storage solutions can help midsize businesses tame the explosion of information and their IT budgets.
Joining the IBM executive speakers are the following:
Clay Hales, President & CEO InfoSystems Inc.
Lief Morin, President, Key Information Systems, Inc.
Vincent Louvel, Storage Mgr, Agence France-Presse (AKA AFP)
Laurent Cervera, IT Manager, Agence France-Presse (AKA AFP)
I worked with the IBM Redbooks residency team to review this paper and ensure it had the right focus. I did not want a Redpaper that just listed all of the IBM technologies available, but rather spend some effort on the business benefits, and realistic use cases with actual client examples, that help illustrate not just what a Smart Storage Cloud is, but why your business may benefit from having one, and how others have already benefited from their deployment.
To help promote this new Redpaper, my colleagues Larry Coyne and Karen Orlando filmed me talking about the book. This has been posted as a [4-minute YouTube video]. This is the first time we have promoted a Redpaper using a video, so let me know what you thinkk in the comment section below.
We have some exciting webcasts in the upcoming weeks!
Smarter Enterprises Need Smarter Storage
In this [InformationWeek webcast], my IBM colleague Allen Marin will present a brief overview of IBM Smarter Storage for the enterprise with a focus on new high-end disk and Virtual Tape solutions.
Allen will take you through the recent enhancements [announced earlier this month], highlighting how the new capabilities can address the requirements of your mission-critical applications, as well as your evolving business analytics, and cloud initiatives.
Date: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 Time: 10:00 AM PDT / 10:00AM Arizona / 1:00 PM EDT Duration: 60 Minutes
[Register now!] All registrants will get the independent Clipper Group Report - "When Infrastructure Really Matters - A Focus on High-End Storage" - free!
Smarter Storage for Midsize Businesses
Businesses of all sizes are getting buried in the avalanche of data. Data is coming in at faster rates and in greater volumes. The value of data is increasing. Old processes and technologies aren't working. Midsize businesses have the same issues managing the rapid growth of data as large enterprises, but they don't have the same size budget or staff. They need advanced capabilities at an affordable price that are easy to implement.
Speakers for this webcast include Brian Truskowski, General Manager, IBM System Storage and Networking; Ed Walsh, Vice President of Market and Strategy, IBM System Storage; and Tommy Rickard, IBM Director, UK Storage Development.
Date: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 Time: 8:00 AM PST / 9:00AM Arizona / 11:00 AM EST Duration: 60 Minutes
[Register now!] Learn how new IBM Smarter Storage solutions can help midsize businesses tame the explosion of information and their IT budgets.
I hope you can find time in your busy schedule to participate in one or both of these webcasts.
New IBM PureData Systems help clients harness data for critical insights
Well it's Tuesday, and you know what that means! IBM Announcements! Actually, it is Wednesday, but I started writing this post yesterday, and had to do some additional research to finish.
This week, IBM introduced the newest member of the PureSystems family of expert integrated systems - IBM PureData System. The new systems are designed to help clients effectively harness the massive volume, variety and velocity of information being created every day. The result? They deliver critical insights to improve business results.
The new systems are available in three different models, each optimized specifically for different workloads.
PureData System for Transactions. Optimized for transactional processing workloads such as e-commerce and built to handle large volumes of transactions with flexibility, availability, scalability and integrity. Basically, this is IBM DB2 pureScale and InfoSphere Optim features running on Linux-x86 nodes. The system comes in small, medium and large tee-shirt sizes, and can support over 100 databases. If you have DB2 applications, these can work with PureData unchanged. If your applications are based on Oracle databases, these can work with minimal changes to use PureData systems.
PureData System for Analytics. Powered by Netezza technology, this data warehouse system features built-in database analytics to quickly explore and analyze large amounts of sturctured information. This is the beefed-up version of the Netezza TwinFin 1000. IBM DB2® Analytics Accelerator for z/OS® V3.1 (IDAA) supports both the new IBM PureData System for Analytics N1001 and existing IBM Netezza 1000 systems as accelerators.
PureData System for Operational Analytics. Capable of delivering actionable insights concurrently to more than 1,000 business operations, supporting real-time decision making for businesses. This is the follow-on product to the IBM Smart Analytics System 7700 based on POWER7 nodes. This uses IBM Storwize V7000 disk systems inside.
PureData System joins the PureSystems family which also includes the PureFlex System and PureApplication System, [both announced last April]. PureSystems provide built-in expertise, integration by design and simplification through the system lifecyle, helping businesses reduce complexity, accelerate value and improve IT economics.
In a related announcement, Andy Monshaw was recently named IBM General Manager, PureFlex. Some of you readers may remember that Andy Monshaw was previously the General Manager for IBM System Storage several years ago, and was my second line manager, and I am glad to welcome him back!
If you store your VMware bits on external SAN or NAS-based disk storage systems, this post is for you. The subject of the post, VM Volumes, is a potential storage management game changer!
Fellow blogger Stephen Foskett mentioned VM Volumes in his [Introducing VMware vSphere Storage Features] presentation at IBM Edge 2012 conference. His session on VMware's storage features included VMware APIs for Array Integration (VAAI), VMware Array Storage Awareness (VASA), vCenter plug-ins, and a new concept he called "vVol", now more formally known as VM Volumes. This post provides a follow-up to this, describing the VM Volumes concepts, architecture, and value proposition.
"VM Volumes" is a future architecture that VMware is developing in collaboration with IBM and other major storage system vendors. So far, very little information about VM Volumes has been released. At VMworld 2012 Barcelona, VMware highlights VM Volumes for the first time and IBM demonstrates VM Volumes with the IBM XIV Storage System (more about this demo below). VM Volumes is worth your attention -- when it becomes generally available, everyone using storage arrays will have to reconsider their storage management practices in a VMware environment -- no exaggeration!
But enough drama. What is this all about?
(Note: for the sake of clarity, this post refers to block storage only. However, the VM Volumes feature applies to NAS systems as well. Special thanks to Yossi Siles and the XIV development team for their help on this post!)
The VM Volumes concept is simple: VM disks are mapped directly to special volumes on a storage array system, as opposed to storing VMDK files on a vSphere datastore.
The following images illustrate the differences between the two storage management paradigms.
You may still be asking yourself: bottom line, how will I benefit from VM Volumes?
Well, take a VM snapshot for example. With VM Volumes, vSphere can simply offload the operation by invoking a hardware snapshot of the hardware volume. This has significant implications:
VM-Granularity: Only the right VMs are copied (with datastores, backing up or cloning individual-VM portions of hardware snapshot of a datastore would require more complex configuration, tools and work)
Hardware Offload: No ESXi server resources are consumed
XIV advantage: With XIV, snapshots consume no space upfront and are completed instantly.
Here's the first takeaway: With VM Volumes, advanced storage services (which cost a lot when you buy a storage array), will become available at an individual VM level. In a cloud world, this means that applications can be provisioned easily with advanced storage services, such as snapshots and mirroring.
Now, let's take a closer look at another relevant scenario where VM Volumes will make a lot of difference - provisioning an application with special mirroring requirements:
VM Volumes case: The application is ordered via the private cloud portal. The requestor checks a box requesting an asynchronous mirror. He changes the default RPO for his needs. When the request is submitted, the process wraps up automatically: Volumes are created on one of the storage arrays, configured with a mirror and RPO exactly as specified. A few minutes later, the requestor receives an automatic mail pointing to the application virtual machine.
Datastores case #1: As may be expected, a datastore that is mirrored with the special RPO does not exist. As a result, the automated workflow sets a pending status on the request, creates an urgent ticket to a VMware administrator and aborts. When the VMware admin handles that ticket, she re-assigns the ticket to the storage administrator, asking for a new volume which is mirrored with the special RPO, and mapped to the right ESXi cluster. The next day, the volume is created; the ticket is re-assigned to the storage admin, with the new LUN being pointed to. The VMware administrator follows and creates the datastore on top of it. Since the automated workflow was aborted, the admin re-assigns the ticket to the cloud administrator, who sometime later completes the application provisioning manually.
Datastores case #2: Luckily for the requestor, a datastore that is mirrored with the special RPO does exist. However, that particular datastore is consuming space from a high performance XIV Gen3 system with SSD caching, while the application does not require that level of performance, so the workflow requires a storage administrator approval. The approval is given to save time, but the storage administrator opens a ticket for himself to create a new volume on another array, as well as a follow-up ticket for the VMware admin to create a new datastore using the new volume and migrate the application to the other datastore. In this case, provisioning was relatively rapid, but required manual follow up, involving the two administrators.
Here's the second takeaway: With VM Volumes, management is simplified, and end-to-end automation is much more applicable. The reason is that there are no datastores. Datastores physically group VMs that may otherwise be totally unrelated, and require close coordination between storage and VMware administrators.
Now, the above mainly focuses on the VMware or cloud administrator perspective. How does VM Volumes impact storage management?
VM's are the new hosts: Today, storage administrators have visibility of physical hosts in their management environment. In a non-virtualized environment, this visibility is very helpful. The storage administrator knows exactly which applications in a data center are storage-provisioned or affected by storage management operations because the applications are running on well-known hosts. However, in virtualized environments the association of an application to a physical host is temporary. To keep at least the same level of visibility as in physical environments, VMs should become part of the storage management environment, like hosts. Hosts are still interesting, for example to manage physical storage mapping, but without VM visibility, storage administrators will know less about their operation than they are used to, or need to. VM Volumes enables such visibility, because volumes are provided to individual VMs. The XIV VM Volumes demonstration at VMworld Barcelona, although experimental, shows a view of VM volumes, in XIV's management GUI.
Here's a screenshot:
That's not all!
Storage Profiles and Storage Containers: A Storage Profile is a vSphere specification of a set of storage services. A storage profile can include properties like thin or thick provisioning, mirroring definition, snapshot policy, minimum IOPS, etc.
Storage administrators define a portfolio of supported storage services, maintained as a set of storage profiles, and published (via VASA integration) to vSphere.
VMware or cloud administrators define the required storage profiles for specific applications
VMware and storage administrators need to coordinate the typical storage requirements and the automatically-available storage services. When a request to provision an application is made, the associated storage profiles are matched against the published set of available storage profiles. The matching published profiles will be used to create volumes, which will be bound to the application VMs. All that will happen automatically.
Note that when a VM is created today, a datastore must be specified. With VM Volumes, a new management entity called Storage Container (also known as Capacity Pool) replaces the use of datastore as a management object. Each Storage Container exposes a subset of the available storage profiles, as appropriate. The storage container also has a capacity quota.
Here are some more takeaways:
New way to interface vSphere and storage management: Storage administrators structure and publish storage services to vSphere via storage profiles and storage containers.
Automated provisioning, out of the box: The provisioning process automatically matches application-required storage profiles against storage profiles available from the specified storage containers. There is no need to build custom scripts and custom processes to automate storage provisioning to applications
The XIV advantage:
XIV services are very simple to define and publish. The typical number of available storage profiles would be low. It would also be easy to define application storage profiles.
XIV provides consistent high performance, up to very high capacity utilization levels, without any maintenance. As a result, automated provisioning (which inherently implies less human attention) will not create an elevated risk of reduced performance.
Note: A storage vendor VASA provider is required to support VM Volumes, storage profiles, storage containers and automated provisioning. The IBM Storage VASA provider runs as a standalone service that needs to be deployed on a server.
To summarize the VM Volumes value proposition:
Streamline cloud operation by providing storage services at VM and application level, enabling end-to-end provisioning automation, and unifying VMware and storage administration around volumes and VMs.
Increase storage array ROI, improve vSphere scalability and response time, and reduce cloud provisioning lag, by offloading VM-level provisioning, failover, backup, storage migration, storage space recycling, monitoring, and more, to the storage array, using advanced storage operations such as mirroring and snapshots.
Simplify the adoption of VM Volumes using XIV, with smaller and simpler sets of storage profiles. Apply XIV's supreme fast cloning to individual VMs, and keep automation risks at bay with XIV's consistent high performance.
Until you can get your hands on a VM Volumes-capable environment, the VMware and IBM developer groups will be collaborating and working hard to realize this game-changing feature. The above information is definitely expected to trigger your questions or comments, and our development teams are eager to learn from them and respond. Enter your comments below, and I will try to answer them, and help shape the next post on this subject. There's much more to be told.