This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to IBM Systems, storage and storage networking hardware, software and services.
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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor, Senior IT Architect and Event Content Manager for [IBM Systems for IBM Systems Technical University] events. With over 30 years with IBM Systems, Tony is frequent traveler, speaking to clients at events throughout the world.
Lloyd Dean is an IBM Senior Certified Executive IT Architect in Infrastructure Architecture. Lloyd has held numerous senior technical roles at IBM during his 19 plus years at IBM. Lloyd most recently has been leading efforts across the Communication/CSI Market as a senior Storage Solution Architect/CTS covering the Kansas City territory. In prior years Lloyd supported the industry accounts as a Storage Solution architect and prior to that as a Storage Software Solutions specialist during his time in the ATS organization.
Lloyd currently supports North America storage sales teams in his Storage Software Solution Architecture SME role in the Washington Systems Center team. His current focus is with IBM Cloud Private and he will be delivering and supporting sessions at Think2019, and Storage Technical University on the Value of IBM storage in this high value IBM solution a part of the IBM Cloud strategy. Lloyd maintains a Subject Matter Expert status across the IBM Spectrum Storage Software solutions. You can follow Lloyd on Twitter @ldean0558 and LinkedIn Lloyd Dean.
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Wrapping up my coverage of the Data Center Conference 2009, the week ends with a celebration. This year we had six "Hospitality Suites" sponsored by various different vendors. Each suite has its own theme, decorations and entertainment. The first suite was VMware's "Cloud 9 Ultra Lounge" which offered blue cotton candy martinis. IBM is the leading reseller of VMware.
When the red martini liquid was poured on top of the blue cotton candy, the result was a nasty muddish brown grey color. The guy on the left chose to get the martini without the blue cotton candy. We joked that this is perhaps a good metaphor for cloud computing in general. It looks good on paper, until you actually put it all together and realize it does not look as blue and puffy as you were expecting. However, it tasted good!
Next suite was sponsored by Cisco, one of IBM's storage networking partners. Cisco also decorated in blue, as the guy Jake in the middle demonstrates.
Next suite was sponsored by Brocade, our supplier for IBM-branded networking gear. They went with a red-and-black color scheme. Sadly, many of my pictures inside involved straight jackets and unicycles, so not appropriate for this blog. However, it was easy to remember that they were talking about their "extraordinary networks". Makes you want to help out Brocade by contacting your nearest IBM storage sales rep and buy yourself a SAN768B or two.
Somewhere along the way, we picked up Hawaiian leis at the "Margaritaville" Hospitality Suite, compliments of sponsor APC by Schneider Electric. We had the best "Filet Mignon" appetizers at "Club Dedupe" by our competitor DataDomain, and some fun with my friends over at Computer Associates' "Top Gun" suite. Pictured at right are Paula Koziol with Christian Barrera from Argentina. A good time was had by all.
Instead, the new VBC was designed to supplement in-person briefings, maintained by technical folks like myself who are part of the physical briefing centers. The site has four major sections:
This section features presentations for the five product lines and eight solution areas. The voiced-over presentations are recorded as flash videos.
Dozens of subject matter experts (SME) are contributing to this site with their own voices, blogs, presentations and videos. If you have been to a briefing center recently, you might recognize some familiar faces.
Scheduling and Planning
The VBC can also help plan and schedule for online and in-person visits. Not familiar with IBM's products and solutions? The VBC can help you get familiar before your briefing. Interested in discussing more about a particular topic? The VBC can identify webinars and briefings that you can attend. Already attended an IBM briefing in person and now you want to share the excitement with your colleagues back in the office? Use the VBC to help share your knowledge with others.
Not sure which briefing center to visit? Systems and Technology Group has 13 of them worldwide, and this section describes each one.
The VBC is available worldwide to all companies looking to buy IBM products and solutions, as well as IBM Business Partners and sales reps. Check it out!
It's that time again to think about [New Year's resolutions]! This fine tradition dates back 4000 years
to early Babylonians, with the most popular resolution back then was to return borrowed
Resolutions can be to work toward a specific goal, start doing something, or change your
habits to do something more often, or less often, than last year. Jim Collins from
37Signals suggests a [Stop Doing List]. Colin Beavan (aka [No Impact Man]) took this idea to the
extreme, giving up a year of electricity, coffee and toilet paper, and a bunch of other
things, in an effort to minimize his environmental impact.
This one was easy. Nearly all of my friends and family live in Tucson, so spending more
time merely involves spending less time out of town. With the economic meltdown of
2008, IBM set down strict travel restrictions, so I only traveled 11 weeks in 2009.
Enjoy Life More
I have mixed feelings on this one. The four hardest hit areas of the current economic
recession were southern Florida, southern Michigan, southern California and southern
Arizona. Last year, I had friends that lost their job, their home, their business, or
their battle with cancer. Trying to enjoy life while your friends are walking around
like zombies after nuclear winter just doesn't feel right.
Learn Something New
I was able to keep this one, in an unexpected way. Shortly after making this
resolution, I was asked to teach young kids the "C" programming language so they could
program LEGO Mindstorms robots. While I already know "C" in general, I had to learn to
build the robots and program the interface for the robot "brick" in order to teach
others. Sometimes, the best way to learn something new, is to offer to teach it to
others. This was a deeply rewarding way to give back to the community.
Make Tucson a better place, and enrich the lives of its residents
In addition to helping teach kids to build robots, I spent hundreds of hours and
thousands of dollars to support local Tucson organizations this year. Did it help? It
is hard to say. For example, you can spend an entire day sorting cans for the community
food bank, only to learn that this will all be consumed in a matter of days. At least I
will be paying less taxes!
Get better organized
This has been an ongoing struggle, but I made progress in 2008 and 2009. Last year, I
purchased a T-mobile G1 smart phone with Google and I have been using this as my
organization tool. It syncs up with my Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Contacts,
Remember the Milk, Delicious, and other sites I use. It certainly works better for me
than my past attempt using a [Hipster PDA].
Should people make their resolutions public? Derek Sivers cites research indicating
that [announcing your plans makes you less
motivated] to complete them. Given the long waits we saw between when storage
vendors like EMC announce some new feature to when it is actually delivered, there might
be a lot of truth to that. So, this year, I will do things differently and NOT make
public any New Year's resolutions for 2010.
"With Cisco Systems, EMC, and VMware teaming up to sell integrated IT stacks, Oracle buying Sun Microsystems to create its own integrated stacks, and IBM having sold integrated legacy system stacks and rolling in profits from them for decades, it was only a matter of time before other big IT players paired off."
Once again we are reminded that IBM, as an IT "supermarket", is able to deliver integrated software/server/storage solutions, and our competitors are scrambling to form their own alliances to be "more like IBM." This week, IBM announced new ordering options for storage software with System x servers, including BladeCenter blade servers and IntelliStation workstations. Here's a quick recap:
IBM Tivoli Storage Manager FastBack v6.1 supports both Windows and Linux! FastBack is a data protection solution for ROBO (Remote Office, Branch Office) locations. It can protect Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino, DB2, Oracle applications. FastBack can provide full volume-level recovery, as well as individual file recovery, and in some cases Bare Machine Recovery. FastBack v6.1 can be run stand-alone, or integrated with a full IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) unified recovery management solution.
FlashCopy Manager v2.1
FlashCopy Manager uses point-in-time copy capabilities, such as SnapShot or FlashCopy, to protect application data using an application-aware approach for Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SQL server, DB2, Oracle, and SAP. It can be used with IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC), DS8000 series, DS5000 series, DS4000 series, DS3000 series, and XIV storage systems. When applicable, FlashCopy manager coordinates its work with Microsoft's Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS) interface. FlashCopy Manager can provide data protection using just point-in-time disk-resident copies, or can be integrated with a full IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) unified recovery management solution to move backup images to external storage pools, such as low-cost, energy-efficient tape cartridges.
General Parallel File System (GPFS) v3.3 Multiplatform
GPFS can support AIX, Linux, and Windows! Version 3.3 adds support for Windows 2008 Server on 64-bit chipset architectures from AMD and Intel. Now you can have a common GPFS cluster with AIX, Linux and Windows servers all sharing and accessing the same files. A GPFS cluster can have up to 256 file systems. Each of these file systems can be up to 1 billion files, up to 1PB of data, and can have up to 256 snapshots. GPFS can be used stand-alone, or integrated with a full IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) unified recovery management solution with parallel backup streams.
For full details on these new ordering options, see the IBM [Press Release].
Last week's earthquake in Haiti reminds us all how fragile systems can be. Part of a complete Information Infrastructure is Information Security. Back in 2006, IBM [acquired Internet Security Services]. This week, IBM announces two sets of ISS Data Security Services: These services can include assessments of your current environment, running workshops to help gather requirements, help design security policies, and even follow through with implementation.
Endpoint Data Protection
Here "endpoint" refers to laptops, desktops, PDAs and smart phones. Not surprisingly, more and more mobile employees are relying on data stored on these endpoint devices, and they need to be protected and secure. [Endpoint Data Protection services] includings software, consulting and implementation of a solution that fits your environment.
Enterprise Content Protection
Here "enterprise content" refers to data that is stored centrally, such as a data center, and accessed over one or more networks. [Enterprise Content Protection services] will evaluate the data that is most sensitive, determine the various formats, identify risks, and provide guidance on how best to protect. Software is available to identify network exits and leakage points.
Both of these services include implementation of help desk support as well. To learn more, check out the ISS [Virtual Briefing Center].
IBM makes another breakthrough today with an announcement about tape data density. Unlike hard disk drive technologies that are hitting physical limits, IBM is proving that tape technology still has plenty of life in its future.
When I first started working for IBM in Tucson, back in 1986, a 3420 tape reel held only 180MB of data, and a 3480 tape cartridge improved this to 200MB of data. Today's enterprise tapes, like 3592 cartridges for the TS1130 drives, or LTO4 cartridges for the IBM TS1040 drives, are half-inch wide, half-mile long, and can store 1 TB or more of data per cartridge, depending on how well the data can compress. To increase cartridge capacity, designers can make changes in three dimensions:
Wider tape: The film industry tried this, going from 35mm to 70mm film, only to find that most cinemas did not want to upgrade their equipment. Keeping the media dimensions to half inch wide allows much of the engineering hardware to continue unchanged.
Longer tape: The problem with longer tape is that either the reel inside gets fatter, or you need to develop flatter media to fit within the existing cartridge dimensions. Wider reels means a bigger tape cartridge external dimensions, forcing changes to shelving units, cartridge trays, and carrying units. The media just can't get any flatter without risking getting more brittle.
Denser bit recording: once a convenient width and length were established, improving bit density turned out to be the best way to increase cartridge capacity.
Working with FujiFilm Corporation of Japan, my colleagues at IBM Research facility in Zurich were able to demonstrate an incredible 29.5 Gigabits per square inch, nearly 40 times more dense than today's commercial tape technology. In the near future, we will be able to hold a 35TB tape cartridge in our hand. There was actually a lot to make this happen, improved giant magentoresistive read/write heads, better servo patterns to stay on track, thinner tracks less than a micron thick, and better signal-to-noise processing to accomplish this. To learn more, you can read the [Press Release] or watch this quick [4-minute YouTube video].
To avoid overwhelming people with too many features and functions, IBM decided to keep things simple for the first release. Let's take a look:
The base frame (2231-IA3) supports a single collection, from as small as 3.6 TB to as large as 72 TB of usable capacity. You can attach one expansion frame (2231-IS3) that holds two additional collections, 63 TB usable capacity for each collection. Disk capacity is increased in eight-drive (half-drawer) increments of 3.6 TB usable capacity each. A full configured IA system (304 drives, 1 TB raw capacity per drive) provides 198 TB usable capacity.
Of course, that is just the disk side of the solution. Like its predecessor, the IBM System Storage DR550, the IA v1.1 can also attach to external tape storage to store and protect petabytes (PB) of archive data. Hundreds of different IBM and non-IBM tape drives and libraries are supported, so that this can be easily incorporated into existing tape environments.
Each collection can be configured to one of three protection levels: basic, intermediate, and maximum.
Basic protection provides RAID protection of data using standard NFS group/user controls for access to read and write data. This can be useful for databases that need full read/write access. Users can assign expiration dates, but in Basic mode they can delete the data before the expiration date is reached.
Intermediate adds Non-Erasable Non-Rewriteable (NENR) protection against user actions to delete or modify protected data. However, similar to IBM N series "Enterprise SnapLock", intermediate mode allows authorized storage admins to clean up the mess, increase or reduce retention periods, and delete data if it is inadvertently protected. I often refer to this as "training wheels" for those who are trying to work out their workflow procedures before moving on to Maximum mode.
Maximum provides the strictest NENR protection for business, legal, government and industry requirements, comparable to IBM N series "Compliance SnapLock" mode, for data that traditionally were written to WORM optical media. Data cannot be deleted until the retention period ends. Retention periods of individual files and objects can be increased, but not decreased. Retention Hold (often referred to as Litigation Hold) can be used to keep a set of related data even longer in specific circumstances.
You can decide to upgrade your protection after data is written to a collection. Basic mode can be upgraded to Intermediate mode, for example, or Intermediate mode upgraded to Maximum.
To keep things simple, v1.1 of the Information Archive supports only two industry standard protocols: NFS and SSAM API. The NFS option allows standard file commands to read/write data. The System Storage Archive Manager (SSAM) API allows smooth transition from earlier IBM System Storage DR550 deployments. With this announcement, IBM will [discontinue selling the DR550 DR2 models].
As we say here at IBM, "Today is the best day to stop using EMC Centera." For more information, see the
IBM [Announcement Letter].
Am I dreaming? On his Storagezilla blog, fellow blogger Mark Twomey (EMC) brags about EMC's standard benchmark results, in his post titled [Love Life. Love CIFS.]. Here is my take:
A Full 180 degree reversal
For the past several years, EMC bloggers have argued, both in comments on this blog, and on their own blogs, that standard benchmarks are useless and should not be used to influence purchase decisions. While we all agree that "your mileage may vary", I find standard benchmarks are useful as part of an overall approach in comparing and selecting which vendors to work with, and which architectures or solution approaches to adopt, and which products or services to deploy. I am glad to see that EMC has finally joined the rest of the planet on this. I find it funny this reversal sounds a lot like their reversal from "Tape is Dead" to "What? We never said tape was dead!"
Impressive CIFS Results
The Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) has developed a series of NFS benchmarks, the latest, [SPECsfs2008] added support for CIFS. So, on the CIFS side, EMC's benchmarks compare favorably against previous CIFS tests from other vendors.
On the NFS side, however, EMC is still behind Avere, BlueArc, Exanet, and IBM/NetApp. For example, EMC's combination of Celerra gateways in front of V-Max disk systems resulted in 110,621 OPS with overall response time of 2.32 milliseconds. By comparison, the IBM N series N7900 (tested by NetApp under their own brand, FAS6080) was able to do 120,011 OPS with 1.95 msec response time.
Even though Sun invented the NFS protocol in the early 1980s, they take an EMC-like approach against standard benchmarks to measure it. Last year, fellow blogger Bryan Cantrill (Sun) gives his [Eulogy for a Benchmark]. I was going to make points about this, but fellow blogger Mike Eisler (NetApp) [already took care of it]. We can all learn from this. Companies that don't believe in standard benchmarks can either reverse course (as EMC has done), or continue their downhill decline until they are acquired by someone else.
(My condolences to those at Sun getting laid off. Those of you who hire on with IBM can get re-united with your former StorageTek buddies! Back then, StorageTek people left Sun in droves, knowing that Sun didn't understand the mainframe tape marketplace that StorageTek focused on. Likewise, many question how well Oracle will understand Sun's hardware business in servers and storage.)
What's in a Protocol?
Both CIFS and NFS have been around for decades, and comparisons can sometimes sound like religious debates. Traditionally, CIFS was used to share files between Windows systems, and NFS for Linux and UNIX platforms. However, Windows can also handle NFS, while Linux and UNIX systems can use CIFS. If you are using a recent level of VMware, you can use either NFS or CIFS as an alternative to Fibre Channel SAN to store your external disk VMDK files.
The Bigger Picture
There is a significant shift going on from traditional database repositories to unstructured file content. Today, as much as [80 percent of data is unstructured]. Shipments this year are expected to grow 60 percent for file-based storage, and only 15 percent for block-based storage. With the focus on private and public clouds, NAS solutions will be the battleground for 2010.
So, I am glad to see EMC starting to cite standard benchmarks. Hopefully, SPC-1 and SPC-2 benchmarks are forthcoming?