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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This week -- Jan 29 to Feb 2, 2018 -- I am in New York city with other IBM Storage executives, to meet with Channel distributors and Business Partners. If you are in the NYC area, and wish to have a product briefing, or just dinner or drinks, let me know!
I believe the "T" stands for "Third generation", as we have had other 9132 boxes before. Here are the details:
Small: Just 1U in size
Ports: 8, 16 or 32 ports
Transceivers: 32, 16, 8, and 4 Gbps
Protocols: FCP only, no FICON, FCIP, FCoE or iSCSI
Why is this important? Because the 16 Gbps and 32 Gbps transceivers support NVMe over Fabrics. Let's do a quick NVMe recap:
Last May, IBM announced that its developers are re-tooling the end-to-end storage stack to support [New Faster Protocols for Flash Storage], to boost the experience of everyone consuming the massive amounts of data now being perpetuated across cloud services, retail, banking, travel and other industries.
NVMe is a new language protocol that is replacing traditional SAS and SATA standards for solid state drives (SSD). Through employing parallelism, to simultaneously process data across a network of devices, clients can anticipate significantly reduced delays caused by data bottlenecks and move higher volumes of data within their existing flash storage systems.
IBM's NVMe strategy is based on optimizing the entire storage system stack - from applications requiring the data to flash technology to store it. Through the development of its FlashSystem family of all-flash storage solutions, IBM recognized years ago that multiple technologies would be required to address the demands of ultra-low latency data processing. IBM is developing solutions with NVMe across its storage portfolio, which it plans to bring to market in 2018.
At the AI Summit New York, December 2017, IBM disclosed a [technology preview and demonstration] with the integration of IBM POWER9 Systems and IBM FlashSystem 900 using NVMe-over-Fabrics InfiniBand. This combination of technologies is ideally suited to run cognitive solutions such as IBM PowerAI Vision, which can ingest massive amounts of data while simultaneously completing real time inferencing (object detection).
Whether it is streams of data, transactional data, or batch processes, a consistent requirement is the lowest possible latency. Among the leading all flash storage vendors, IBM with its FlashSystem 900, has stuck to its mission delivering low latency all flash arrays. Along comes NVMe-oF, which is, at its core, about getting rid of latency.
How do you take an already low latency protocol, like InfiniBand or Fibre Channel, and make it faster? Replace SCSI with NVMe and enable NVMe from server to fabric to storage array.
The FlashSystem 900 has been shipping with InfiniBand using SRP (SCSI over RDMA) for many years. In the technology preview, the very same InfiniBand adapter, based on the Mellanox chip set, is instead used to support the OpenFabrics driver distribution and NVMe-oF InfiniBand.
While the demonstration last December used Infiniband, this is not the only transport. NVMe-OF can also be used with Ethernet, either using Internet Wide Area RDMA (iWARP) or RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE). NVMe-OF over Fibre Channel is often referred to as FC-NVMe, and can drive NVMe over FCP or FCoE. Even though iWARP, RoCE and FCoE are all Ethernet-based, NVME-OF RDMA on the first two is different than FC-NVMe over FCoE.
Why not just drive NVMe commands over standard TCP/IP? The NVMe standards board is actually investigating this, but probably won't have anything until next year in 2019.
This week, IBM will be at the [Cisco Live!] event in Barcelona, Spain, talking about this new 9132T switch, as well as all of our VersaStack solutions! I won't be there, obviously, since I am in New York City, but if you are there, please send me photos! Barcelona is a wonderful city!
I hope everyone had a festive and restful winter break! I sure did!
(FCC Disclosure: I work for IBM. IBM is in our 17-day "quiet period" before it announces full-year and 4Q results on January 18. Therefore, I picked today's topic that has nothing to do with storage products, recent client wins, or financials.)
It's January, so I thought I would discuss [New Year's resolutions], a tradition in United States in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve their life. Early Romans made promises to their god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.
Sadly, most of us are unsuccesful. This is often because the resolutions were unrealistic, people failed to measure and track their progress, or simply lost interest midyear.
From my own experience, most resolutions can be lumped into four major categories:
Get healthy: Eat better, lose weight, exercise more, sit less, quit smoking
Get organized: Stop procrastinating, pay off debt, de-clutter, switch to a better job, reduce stress
Become social: Spend more time with friends and family, meet new people, travel, volunteer for charity
Learn new skills: Learn a new language, take up a new hobby, learn to paint or create arts and crafts
A technique I use to develop presentations might help people keep New Year's Resolutions. The technique called [SCIPAB®], created by Mandel Communications, is an elegantly simple, six-step method for starting important conversations or create [Effective Presentations]. Since Resolutions are basically "conversations with yourself", let's give it a try!
Situation: "Oh No! The boss's daughter, Nell Fenwick, is tied to the railroad tracks!"
Complication: A train approaches!
Implication: If nobody does anything soon, she will die
Position: "I, Dudley Do-Right, will save her!"
Untie her from the tracks and set her free
Arrest the villain, Snidely Whiplash
Benefit: Nell lives! "Dudley Do-Right, you are my hero!"
Let's see how we can use this approach on different categories of resolutions. To get healthy, we might use:
Situation: "Oh No! My latest doctor visit indicates that my numbers are too high!"
(AMA Disclosure: I am not a doctor. This is not medical advice. Here numbers could represent any appropriate health measurement of your BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, liver enzymes, or blood sugar, for example.)
Complication: I am not getting any younger.
Implication: I am at risk of heart disease, cancer, or other health issue. This situation will not go away on its own.
Position: I need to change my lifestyle to get healthy
Set appointment to see my doctor
Follow doctor's recommendations for diet, medication and exercise
Schedule follow-up appointments to measure and track progress
Benefit: My health measurements will return to normal range.
Rather than resolving to "Eat less and exercise more", the above approach is more focused on the end result, rather than intermediate actions, and therefore has a better chance of success, getting your health within normal range.
Let's try another one. To get better organized, we might use:
Situation: "Sigh! All of my projects are over budget and behind schedule, my desk is a mess, I forget important thoughts and ideas, and I am always late to meetings."
Complication: I just got assigned to lead project XYZ.
Implication: If I am not better organized, I could lose my job.
Position: I need to change my work routine to get organized.
Read David Allen's book and learn his system for "Getting Things Done" [GTD], or one of the many variants, like [GSD] or [ZTD].
Decide on where to write down and keep track of my thoughts, tasks and projects, either on paper like a notebook or [Hipster PDA], or an online mobile account like [Evernote] or [Google Keep]. Chose something that will be within arms reach 24 hours a day.
Work with project managers to track and measure progress of project XYZ.
Benefit: Project XYZ will be completed on schedule, within budget. I might even get a bonus, raise, or promotion!
I could go on, but you get the idea.
In his WSJ article [Blame it on the Brain], Jonah Lehrer cautions against trying to change too many habits all at once. If you have multiple resolutions, try to focus on establishing new habits for one resolution for a month or two, before starting the next one. Prioritize what is most important.
The study surveyed 5,676 leaders from various industries, education, and government agencies responsible for workforce development and labor/workforce policy. This was a truly global survey, with respondents from North and South America, the Nordics, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia.
A gloomy picture for the future
The survey paints a gloomy picture for the future. The majority of industry executives struggle to keep their workforce skills current, in light of rapidly changing technological advancements.
Only 55 percent of the respondents felt the current education system, from grade school up to university, were adequate to ensure lifelong learning and skills development. Most blamed inadequate investment from private industry in addressing these issues.
Any problem can be solved if (a) everyone agrees what the problem is, and (b) everyone feels it is high enough priority to solve. The study found there was a disparity of what the problem is, what the priorities are, and who should solve it.
In the book Class Counts: Education, Inequality, and the Shrinking Middle Class, the author Allan Ornstein argues ".. the debate centers on whether the government should take a backseat or manage the economy, whether a free market should prevail or whether we should redefine or tinker with market forces..."
Which workplace skills are in short supply?
Can we at least agree on which workplace skills are in short supply?
Not surprisingly, Industry leaders ranked the top three skills required:
Technical core capabilities for Science, Technology Engineering and Math [STEM]
Basic computer and software/application skills
Fundamental core capabilities around reading, writing and arithmetic (often called [the three Rs])
These are all "hard skills", referring to the knowledge, skills and competencies to perform specific tasks. Nearly 75 percent of corporate training budgets are focused on hard skills.
Government leaders, on the other hand, especially those that are responsible for labor/workforce policy, ranked the top three skills:
Ability to communicate effectively in a business context
Willingness to be flexible, agile and adaptable to change
Ability to work effectively in team environments
These would all be classified as "soft skills", referring to the people skills, social skills, communication and emotional intelligence to effectively navigate the environment and work well with others.
In fact, these government leaders felt that STEM, computer skills and "the three Rs" ranked the lowest requirements in their priority.
"Unless managers have forgotten everything they learned in Econ 101, they should recognize that one way to fill a vacancy is to offer qualified job seekers a compelling reason to take the job. Higher pay, better benefits, and more accommodating work hours are usually good reasons for job applicants to prefer one employment offer over another."
"... the long-hours pandemic is a symptom of the tech and design sectors' badge-of-honor-martyr-complex. ... part of the reason that women can't have it all is that American business has grown this time-macho culture, a relentless competition to work harder, stay later, pull more all-nighters, ... the classic 40-hour work week have trained us to measure our labor by the number of hours we log,... However, this mindset is dead wrong when applied to today's professionals. The value ... isn't the time they spend, but the value they create through their knowledge."
IT jobs require creativity and focus. In a feature article titled [Why you should work 4 hours a day, according to science], Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, looks at the work habits of highly accomplished creative people through history and finds that they all shared a passion for their work, a terrific ambition to succeed, and an almost superhuman capacity to focus.
Yet when you look closely at their daily lives, they only spent a few hours a day doing what we would recognize as their most important work. The rest of the time, they were hiking mountains, taking naps, going on walks with friends, or just sitting and thinking.
Encouraging more students to develop the skills early
While we all agree that employers should raise salaries, offer better benefits, and fix their morally-corrupt culture of working too many hours, that only addresses part of the problem, the demand half of the equation. We also need to get kids to learn the hard and soft skills needed at an early age.
Do students have what it takes to work in the IT industry? John Rampton lists the [15 Characteristics of a Good Programmer]. Most are soft skills, with my favorites being: Laziness, Impatience and Hubris.
In his book Why Good People Can't Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It, Peter Cappelli advises corporations to take a more proactive role:
"... a huge part of the so-called skills gap actually springs from weak employer efforts to promote internal training for either current employees or future hires ... It makes no sense for the employers, as consumers of skills, to remain an arm's-length distance from the schools that produce those skills..."
The major stakeholders, from industry to education to government, should partner together. For example, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system will be the first in the United States to [require all students to take computer science] in high school, starting with the class graduating in 2020. Grants and training are being provided by IT industry giants like Google and Microsoft.
IBM is also doing its part with [a new education paradigm], called Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools [P-TECH]. Normal high school is typically four years (grades 9 to 12), but P-TECH is a system of innovative public schools spanning grades 9 to 14 that bring together the best elements of high school, college, and career. The additional two years (grades 13 and 14) of community college can help teach the soft and hard skills needed for particular jobs in IT.
After the six years, students graduate with a no-cost associates degree in applied science, engineering, computers and related disciplines, along with the skills and knowledge they need to continue their studies or step easily into well paying, high potential jobs in the IT arena for multiple industries.
The paradigm has grown from one school in 2011 to 60 schools by September 2016, with over 300 large and small companies affiliated with P-TECH schools serving thousands of students.
So the future may not be as gloomy as predicted. Problems can be addressed if everyone works together to solve them. In the mean time, I will be taking the rest of the year off for long-overdue vacation. Perhaps I will go hike mountains and take naps, as Alex suggests above.
It's official. We have changed our name! The Worldwide IBM Systems Executive Briefing Centers (EBC) are now being called the Worldwide IBM Systems Client Experience Centers!
I joined the Tucson EBC team in 2007. For the past 10 years, I have been running design workshops, consulting with clients and architecting solutions.
Why the name change? The term "Executive Briefing Center" implies one-way communication with [death by PowerPoint], which can be ineffective in today's dynamic and collaborative work environments.
Client expectations for two-way communications have given rise to immersive and interactive engagements where clients not only learn about IBM's solution offerings, they experience them.
Through hybrid briefing/workshop engagements, demonstrations, and active promotion of our ISV Ecosystem partners, we take clients on a journey where they envision utilizing our technology and solutions to achieve desired business outcomes. The new Client Experience Center moniker more accurately represents the work we do and the value we provide.
(Note: I realize that the new acronym for the Client Experience Center (CEC) is the same as the Central Electronic Complex (CEC) used in both storage and server products. I can assure you that the executives that decided to rename the centers had not chose this to be funny! Consider it a mere coincidence.)
Of course, changing the name is not cheap. We will have to update all of our websites, and order new signage, new water bottles, new coasters, new embroidered shirts, and new business cards, just to name a few!
The weather in Tucson is awesome these next few months, so come on down! Can't travel? We can come visit you, or do it over the phone via webinar.
Our Worldwide IBM Systems Client Experience Centers are located in:
Last Friday, I helped students learn about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). This was the annual [2017 Arizona STEM Adventure] event in Tucson, Arizona. Once again, Pima Community College Northwest Campus provided the venue.
The event hosted 1,200 students, ranging from fourth to eighth grades. Buses collected them from ten different school districts in the area. Home-schooled, private-schooled and charter-schooled children participated as well.
There were three dozen exhibits, some were indoors, and others in tents outside. The weather was delightful for November.
IBM's exhibit used a simple bicycle wheel to demonstrate the properties of a [gyroscope]. A gyroscope is a spinning wheel that maintains its angular momentum. This can be useful for both measuring forces that try to affect it, as well as counteract those forces.
We had the kids stand on a rotating platform, holding the bicycle wheel with both hands. A volunteer would spin the wheel. If the kid leaned the wheel left or right, the platform would spin to counteract the force. (The effect can be accomplished while sitting on a swivel chair. See [Exploratorium] for an example.)
Gyroscopes are used in everything from airplanes to submarines to help with navigation, keeps space-based telescopes like the Hubble pointed in the right direction, helps to dig tunnels straight, and for [Steadicam] filming for Hollywood movies and [IBM Client Center videos!
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
"The state has warmed about two degrees (F) in the last century. Throughout the southwestern United States, heat waves are becoming more common, and snow is melting earlier in spring. In the coming decades, changing the climate is likely to decrease the flow of water in the Colorado River, threaten the health of livestock, increase the frequency and intensity of wildfires, and convert some rangelands to desert." (Source: [What Climate Change means for Arizona])
Their robots stole the show! This one pictured here was remote controlled. Another one was able to pick up and throw basketballs.
(This is not my first exposure to FIRST. See my 2009 blog post [Helping Young Students] on how I helped fourth graders learn C programming language by building robots with LEGO Mindstorms.)
The team draws students from the five high schools of the Vail school district. I drive by one of these, the Vail Academy and High School, on the way to IBM Client Experience Center. This is not just for boys, about one third of the team are girls!
The students do the design of each robot, do the welding, even do the C++ programming, and participate in competitions!
Lunch and Logistics
With all the focus on science and technology exhibits, it is easy to forget all the work done behind the scenes. An [Eventbase] website was used to help us direct all of the students, teachers and volunteers to the right place.
Since we had enough volunteers for the IBM exhibit, I chose instead to be a "general volunteer" and was assigned the task of collecting and distributing lunches. For some schools, the students brought their own lunches on the bus, these were collected when they got off the bus, and distributed to them when it was their time to eat. For other schools, their staff packed lunches for each student.
We staggered the distribution into five groups, with color coded labels, starting from 10:30am, every 20 minutes, to 11:50am. The volunteers themselves did not eat until 1:30pm. We were provided pulled pork sandwiches from [Mama's Hawaiian BBQ], a local favorite!
This was a great day! There are plenty of problems that need to be solved in our world, and a shortage of scientists and engineers to solve them. Encouraging kids to pursue these careers is a good step forward.