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While many are just becoming familiar with the end-user interfaces of Web 2.0, from blogs and wikis to FaceBook and FlickR, fewer may be familiar with the "information infrastructure" of servers and storagebehind the scenes.
Last year, I bought an XO laptop under the One Laptop Per Child [OLPC] foundation's Give-1-Get-1 program and posted my impressions on this blog. One in particular, my post[Printingon XO laptop with CUPS and LPR] showed how to print from the XO laptop over to a network-attached printer.This caught the attention of the OLPC development team, who asked me tohelp them with another project as a volunteer. Before accepting, I had to learn what skills they were really looking for, especially since I do notconsider myself an expert in neither printing nor networking.
(Unlike a regular 9-to-5 job where most people just try to look busy for eight hours a day, doingvolunteer work means being ready to ["roll up your sleeves"] and actuallyaccomplish something. This applies to any kind of volunteer work, from hammering nails for [Habitat for Humanity] to sorting cans at the [Community Food Bank].Best Buy uses the phrase "Results Oriented Work Environment" [ROWE] to describetheir latest program, modeled in part after the mobile workforce policies of Web2.0-enlightened companiesIBM and Sun, but that is perhaps a topic for another blog post!)
Apparently, to support a school full of students with XO laptops, it would be nice to have a few serversthat provide support to manage the class lesson plans, make reading materials and other content available,and keep track of results. What they need is an "information infrastructure"! They decided on two specific servers:
In keeping with OLPC philosophy to use free and open source software[FOSS], both servers are based on the [LAMP] platform. LAMP is an acronym for thecombined software bundle of Linux, Apache, MySQL and a Programming language like PHP. The "XS" team working onthe school server wanted me to build a LAMP server and install Moodle to help test the configuration, determinewhat other software is required, and perhaps develop a backup/recovery scenario. Basically, they needed someone with Linux skills to put some hardware and software together.
(I am no stranger to Linux. Back in the 1990s, I was part of the Linux for S/390 team, led the effort to createthe infamous "compatible disk layout" (CDL) that allows z/OS to access ESCON and FICON-attached Linux volumes,took my LPI certification exam, and led a team to validate FCP drivers for our disk and tape storage systems. For an IBMer to volunteer foran Open Source community project, you have to take an "open source" class and get management approval to reviewfor any possible "conflicts of interest". I got this all taken care of, and accepted to help the XS team.)
Building a test environment is similar to baking a cake. You have a recipe, utensils, and ingredients. Here'sa bit of description of each of the ingredients:
As for utensils, you only need a few utilities
As for a recipe, the Moodle website spells out some unique details and parameters. For the base LAMP platform,I chose to follow the book [Fedora 7 Unleashed] that has specific chapters on setting up SSH, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Squid and so on. The resu Here were the sequence of events: I got all of this done last Saturday, start to finish. Now the fun begins. We are going to run throughsome tests, document the procedures, and try to get a system up and running in a remote school in Nepal. Fornow, I have only one XO laptop to simulate what the student sees, and one laptop that can represent eithera teacher's Windows-based laptop, or run QEMU and emulate a second XO laptop.For tuning, I might go through the procedures mentioned on IBM Developerworks "Tuning LAMP"[Part 1, Part 2,Part 3]. For those in the server or storage industry that need to understand Web 2.0 information infrastructure better,building a LAMP server like this can be quite helpful.
Here were the sequence of events:
I got all of this done last Saturday, start to finish. Now the fun begins. We are going to run throughsome tests, document the procedures, and try to get a system up and running in a remote school in Nepal. Fornow, I have only one XO laptop to simulate what the student sees, and one laptop that can represent eithera teacher's Windows-based laptop, or run QEMU and emulate a second XO laptop.For tuning, I might go through the procedures mentioned on IBM Developerworks "Tuning LAMP"[Part 1, Part 2,Part 3].
For those in the server or storage industry that need to understand Web 2.0 information infrastructure better,building a LAMP server like this can be quite helpful.Read More]
An astute reader, Andrea, asked me the following:
Are you covering the business impact of the internet failure across Asia, the Middle East and North Africa? The outage has brought business in those regions to a standstill. This disaster shines a direct spotlight on the vulnerability of technology and serves as a reminder of the ever increasing importance of protecting business critical information.
When I first heard of this outage, I am thinking, so a few million people don't have access to FaceBook and YouTube, what's the big deal? We in the U.S.A. are in the middle of a [Hollywood writer's strike] and don't have fresh new television sitcoms to watch! Yahoo News relays the typical government's response:[Egypt asks to stop film, MP3 downloads during Internet outage], presumably so that real business can take priority over what little bandwidth is still operational. Fellow IBM blogger "Turbo" Todd Watson pokes fun at this, in his post[Could Someone Please Get King Tutankhamun On The Phone?].Like us suffering here in America, perhaps our brothers and sisters in Egypt and India may getre-acquainted with the joys of reading books.
However, the [Internet Traffic Report-Asia] shows how this impacted various locations including: Shanghai, Mumbai, Tokyo, Tehran, and Singapore. In some cases, you have big delays in IP traffic, in other cases, complete packet loss, depending on where each country lies on the["axis of evil"].This is not something just affecting a few isolated areas, the impact is indeed worldwide. This would be a goodtime to talk about how computer signals are actually sent.
Wikipedia has a good article on [Submarine Communications Cable],including a discussion on how repairs are made when they get damaged or broken.It is important to remember that lost connectivity doesn't mean lost data, just lack of access to the data. Thedata is still there, you just can't get to it right now. For some businesses, that could be disruptive to actualoperations. In other cases, it means that backups or disk mirroring is suspended, so that you only have yourlocal copies of data until connectivity is resumed.
ABC News had this report:[Conspiracy theories emerge after internet cables cut]. Of course, Al Qaeda practiced their bombing skills in their own backyard, from embassies inAfrica to the [USS Cole], before taking it toNew York and Washington. Here's an excerpt:
When two cables in the Mediterranean were severed last week, it was put down to a mishap with a stray anchor.
It gets weirder. In his blog Rough Type, Nick Carr's[Who Cut the Cables?] reportsnow a fourth cable has been cut, in a different location than the other two cable locations. If the people cuttingthe cables are looking to see how much impact this would have, they will probably be disappointed. Nick Carrrelates how resilient the whole infrastructure turned out to be:
Though India initially lost as much as half of its Internet capacity on Wednesday, traffic was quickly rerouted and by the weekend the country was reported to have regained 90% of its usual capacity. The outage also reveals that the effects of such outages are anything but neutral; they vary widely depending on the size and resources of the user.
IBM does have a large outsourcing, help-desk and R&D presence in these areas. Al Jazeera reports[India wrestles with internet outage]:
Outsourcing firms, such as Infosys and Wipro, and US companies with significant back-office and research and development operations in India, such as IBM and Intel, said they were still trying to asses how their operations had been impacted, if at all.
Whether it is man-made or natural disaster, every business should have a business continuity plan. If you don't have one, or haven't evaluated it in a while, perhaps now is a good time to do that. IBM can help.Read More]
I got the following comment on my earlier post [A Recap of Storage Industry Acquisitions], Reuben wrote:
According to Gartner data (from 2005!), host-based storage accounts for 34 percent of the overall market for external storage, with the remaining 66 percent going to "fabric-attached" (network) storage, expect this share to grow from 66 percent to 77 percent by 2007.What is the current reality? SAN vs. NAS, FC vs iSCSI?
IBM subscribes to a lot of data from different analysts, they all have their methods for collecting this data, from taking surveys of customers to reviewing financial results of each vendor. While theymight not agree entirely, there are some common threads that lead one to believe they represent "reality". Hereare some numbers from an IDC December 2007 report:
Jon Toigo over at DrunkenData offers some additional data from ex-STKer:[Fred Moore Outlook on Storage 2008]. I met Fredat a conference. He had left STK back in 1998, and started his own company called Horison. NeitherJon nor Fred cite the sources of his statistics, but the following comment leads me to assume hehasn't been paying attention closely to the tape market:
With the demise of STK, who will be the leader in the tape industry?
Depending on how old you are, you might remember exactly where you were when a significant eventoccurred, for example the[Space Shuttle Chal
technorati tags: Gartner, IDC, host-based, fabric-attached, NAS, iSCSI, SAN, FC, ESCON, FICON, NFS, CIFS, internal, external, disk, systems, storage, DrunkenData, Fred Moore, STK, Sun, confetti, Challenger[Read More]
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Last July, IBM and EMC traded blog postings over SPC-1 benchmark results. Fellow EMC bloggerChuck Hollis wrote his post [Does Anyone Take The SPC Seriously?]. Here is an excerpt:
I think most storage users have figured this out. We've never done an SPC test, and probably will never do one. Anyone is free, however, to download the SPC code, lash it up to their CLARiiON, and have at it.
I responded with [Getting Under EMC Skin], and then followed up with a series explaining IBM SVC and SPC benchmarks here:
So what is the good news?Yesterday, our friends at NetApp took up Chuck's challenge and posted results on their FAS3040 as well as their EMC CLARiiON devices. IBM sells the FAS3040 under the name IBM System Storage N5300 disk system. Knowing that NetApp maintains excellent performance when it is doing point-in-time copies, NetApp ran both with and without on both boxes. I include DS4700 and DS4800 as well for comparison purposes, but only have them without FlashCopy running.
One would expect some performance degradation with a box running point-in-time copies at the same time it is reading and writing data, but NetApp/IBM N5300 does not degrade by much, but EMC's drops a significant amount.
So what is the bad news? Last October, I welcomed HDS USP-V to the [Super High-End Club], but now we need to invite Texas Memory Systems as well.In 2006, I posted [Hybrid, Solid State and the future of RAID], and poked fun at Texas Memory Systems using the slogan "World's Fastest Storage", which at the time that honor belonged to IBM SAN Volume Controller instead.The VP of Texas Memory Systems, Woody Hutsell, explained the only reason their solid-state disk system, RAMSAN-320, didn't have faster results is that they didn't have the fastest IBM server to run against it. It may not surprise you that nearly everyone's SPC benchmarks use IBM servers because IBM has the fastest servers as well. I didn't have a million-dollar System p UNIX server to send Woody for this, but it looks like they have finally gotten one, and a new RAMSAN-400 device, as they have posted their latest results.
EMC doesn't publish numbers for their Symmetrix box, despite their announcement of faster SSD drives. They claim that SSD drives make their overall disk system performance faster, but without SPC benchmarks, we will never know. If you have a Symmetrix, this YouTube video may help you decide where it belongs:
technorati tags: IBM, EMC, Chuck Hollis, SPC, SPC-1, NetApp, FAS3040, N5300, CLARiiON, CX3-40, SnapShot, SnapDrive, FlashCopy, DS4800, DS4700, Texas Memory Systems, RAMSAN-320, RAMSAN-400, SSD, Hybrid, RAID, HDS, USP-V, Symmetrix,[Read More]
IBM came out with their latest "5 in 5". These are five predictions for technologies that will havean impact over the next five years, summarized on 5 pages. Before I give my take on this year's set,here is a quick recap of[Last Year's 5 in 5]:
Here's my take on the [Next 5 in 5]:
The common theme running through these is that it can be helpful to store more information than we do today,provided we make it accessible to the people who need it to make better decisions.
technorati tags: IBM, predictions, health care, nanotechnology, secondlife, speech translation, 3-D, avatar, GMAS, Michael Moore, Sicko, digital passport, food, nutrition labeling, FDA, carbon footprint, AEM, locavore, Tivoli, Usage Accounting Manager, DS8000, XIV, Nextra, DR550, unified storage, cell phones, decisions[Read More]