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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Next month, I will be presenting at the IBM Systems Technical University for Storage and POWER. This conference will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, October 16-20, 2017.
Instead of a "Meet the Experts" Q&A panel, this event will feature a "Poster Session". I had the pleasure of doing one of these down in Melbourne, Australia last month. For those who missed it, here are my blog posts:
By now, you have already decided on a title and abstract of your poster. You will need to figure out a quick and easy way to explain your poster, and as always, shorter is better. It reminds me of a famous quote:
"Sorry this letter is too long...
If I had more time, I could have made it shorter!
-- Blaise Pascal
The event team asked me to write some instructions on the mechanics of how to put together a poster for this, since it is new for many people. I use Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 and ImageMagick tools to accomplish this.
Arrangement of Slides
Posters for the IBM Systems Technical University in New Orleans will be 24x36 inches in size. If you print out your poster in 8.5x11 inch standard size letter pages, that would be eight slides, 2 columns, 4 rows. This leaves one inch border all around.
The event will provide both the foam board and double-sided sticky tape. You can bring your poster as a stack of Letter-sized pages in a folder, and assemble your poster at the event.
You can increase the size of individual image to 17x22, to offer the "Big Picture" view. Basically, we can take a standard 8.5x11 Letter size page, expand it onto four separate pages, and then put them on the poster! I will show you how in the steps below.
Lastly, you can have two big slides. If your poster is organized as "Before/After" or "Problem/Solution" then this arrangement could be perfect for you.
Setting Custom Paper Size on PowerPoint
In Melbourne, I had to use European A4 standard paper, and had to figure out how to do this in PowerPoint. I was surprised to learn that the PowerPoint default is 4:3 ratio of 10x7.5 inch, and that this is stretched to be whatever paper size you print on.
The difference is slight, but I prefer [WYSIWYG], so we will change the slide to "Custom size" and force it to 8.5x11 inches, with "Landscape" orientation. This will avoid anything looking stretched or squished on the big poster.
Converting a PowerPoint Slide to PNG Image file
If you would like to resize one or more of your PowerPoint slides, you will need to save those slides as images. Select "File" and "Save As" and as the format, choose "PNG" format. You can also select GIF or JPG, but I prefer PNG.
You can export all of your slides as images, in which case it will create a folder and number each slide individually. Or, you can select "Just This One" for the current slide.
By default, it will use the same name as your PPT file, just change the extension to PNG. I suggest you name the file something meaningful to you. In my examples below, I use "small.png" as the file name.
I am using PowerPoint 2013, which defaults to 96 dpi. So, an 8.5x11 paper becomes 1056x816 pixels in size.
If you have PowerPoint 2003 or higher, you can change the Windows registry to specify image resolutions. Not recommended for the faint of heart. Or anyone else. But here's the deal if you want to try (if the following doesn't make any sense, it might be better not to mess with the registry):
Quit PowerPoint if it's running
Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\X.0\PowerPoint\Options
(For X> above, substitute 16.0 for PowerPoint 2016, 15.0 for PowerPoint 2013, 14.0 for PowerPoint 2010, 12.0 for PowerPoint 2007 and 11.0 for PowerPoint 2003.
Add a new DWORD value named ExportBitmapResolution and set its DECIMAL value to the DPI value you want (for example, 300 means 300 dots per inch)
Close REGEDIT, start PowerPoint and test. Your files will be 3300x2550 pixels instead.
Resizing and splitting up PNG Image files
To expand and chop the slide into four letter-sized pages, we will use "ImageMagick", an open source tool you can download for free at [ImageMagick] is a collection of command line utilities. The first "identify" will confirm your pixel size for your PNG image. Replace "small.png" with whatever you named your PNG image above.
Lastly, we crop the "big.png" image we just created into four smaller pieces. Each piece will be exactly the size as your original image! The files will be named big_0.png, big_1.png, big_2.png and big_3.png.
Since the resulting four pieces are exactly the size of a page, you can put them back into your PowerPoint deck. Create four blank slides, select Insert then Pictures. Insert each picture (big_0.png, big_1.png, big_2.png, and big_3.png) as a separate page.
You can print this out, and bring with you to the event, or send it to someone to have them print for you.
Upload files to IBM@Box
This next step is completely optional, but found it adds a nice touch. As an IBMer, you can upload your presentation, and any documents, whitepapers or other materials, to [IBM@Box]. Create a directory that is unique to you, such as your last name and the conference. For example, I have "Pearson-STU-NOLA-2017" as my folder name.
You can create a "URL Link" to this folder. Select "Share", then "Share Link" to create a dialog box. It is important to specify "People with this link" if you want those outside of IBM, such as clients and IBM Business Partners, to have access.
Press the little "gear" button on the upper right, and it gives you options to customize the URL. Normally the URL is some long random sequence of characters, but you can rename it to something meaningful and easier to remember.
Generate a QR Code
Since you have a URL Share Link for your files on IBM@Box, you can generate a QR Code for this link, and include on your poster!
There are several online websites that can generate a QR Code for free. I use [QRme.com] in this example. Go to the website, copy in the URL, and press "Generate" button.
The QR Code is generated successfully, right click and "Save Image" to a file on your hard drive. This image can be inserted as a picture like we did above onto any slide. You can resize as needed.
In Melbourne, one of the posters had the QR Code at the top, with the Title, and it was impossible to see, so difficult to use a smartphone to scan the information. For this reason, I recommend putting the QR code in the center or lower right corner of your poster. Between shoulder and waist height for the audience, to be comfortable to scan.
I am looking forward to going back to New Orleans to speak at this conference!
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
IBM announced a new product, IBM Spectrum Protect Plus. To understand why, I will need to discuss a bit of history related to Data Protection.
(FCC Disclosure: I work for IBM. This blog post can be considered a "paid celebrity endorsement" for IBM Spectrum Protect, IBM Spectrum Protect Snapshot, IBM Spectrum Protect for Virtual Environments, and IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management products. I was not paid in any manner to promote Geoffrey Moore's book mentioned below.)
IBM Spectrum Protect was originally developed as the Workstation Data Save Facility (WDSF) back in the 1980s, back when Personal Computers were just getting deployed.
I started in 1986 developing mainframe software, so we all had bulky 3270 terminals. When our area was offered 120 PCs to replace them, I was tasked with determining how to roll these out, 24 at a time, over five months.
My job was to determine who would get a PC in the first round, the second round, and so on. I handed out a simple one-page survey, asking everyone basic questions. Are you familiar with Personal Computers? Do have one at home? Are you comfortable using a mouse? My plan was to give those most familiar with them sooner, and those less familiar in later rounds.
However, it was my final question that sealed the deal:
How soon do you want a PC to replace your 3270 terminal?
[ ]Immediately [ ]Next month [ ]No Hurry [ ]Put me last [ ]Never!
Surprisingly, I had roughly 24 folks choosing each option on this last question, which made my decision process easy for me!
(In his book Crossing the Chasm, fellow author Geoffrey Moore would come up with similar groups: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards. This is a great book and I highly recommend it!)
Of course, we used WDSF to back up the files. WDSF would later morph into DFDSM, then ADSM, then TSM, and now it is called IBM Spectrum Protect.
Over the decades, the product has evolved from just backing up data on personal computers. IBM Spectrum Protect can now protect all kinds of machines, from tablets, mobile devices, and smartphones, to virtual machines, databases, and application servers in the data center.
Besides creating backup versions of files, IBM Spectrum Protect can also migrate older, less frequently used files to less expensive media, as well as archive files for long-term retention.
Different files can be assigned to different "management classes" that determine policies to be applied and enforced on the backup, migration and archive copies. For backups, this includes how many versions to keep while the file exists, how many versions to keep after the original file is deleted, how long to keep those inactive versions.
Instead of a grandfather-father-son [backup tape rotation], full-plus-incremental, or full-plus-differential scheme employed by other backup software, IBM Spectrum Protect has a unique "Incremental-Forever" approach that reduces backup time, LAN bandwidth requirements, and backup storage media.
While most companies still backup to tape, IBM Spectrum Protect can backup to flash, disk, tape, virtual and physical tape libraries, object storage, and even to public Cloud Service Providers such as IBM Bluemix, Amazon S3, and Microsoft Azure.
IBM Spectrum Protect both client-side and server-side data footprint reduction technologies including compression and deduplication, eliminating the need for expensive, single-purpose data deduplication devices like Dell-EMC Data Domain.
IBM Spectrum Protect is recognized as a leader in Data Protection software, able to scale up to meet the demands of the largest enterprises. However, the parameters and options that IBM Spectrum Protect has acquired over time have been compared to the cockpit or flight deck of an airplane!
For clients with Virtual Machines, IBM offered three solutions:
IBM Spectrum Protect Snapshot
Formerly called Tivoli Storage FlashCopy Manager (FCM), [IBM Spectrum Protect Snapshot] takes frequent, near-instant, non-disruptive, application-aware backups and restores for SAP, Oracle and Db2. It can also be used for VMware using advanced snapshot technology, on both IBM and non-IBM storage systems.
IBM Spectrum Protect Snapshot can be used as a stand-alone product, or integrated with IBM Spectrum Protect to move the snapshots and FlashCopy targets to other storage media.
IBM Spectrum Protect for Virtual Environments (VE)
Formerly called IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Virtual Environments, [IBM Spectrum Protect VE] protects both VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines.
IBM Spectrum Protect VE safely moves backup workloads to a centralized IBM Spectrum Protect server and enables administrators to create backup policies or restore virtual machines with just a few clicks. It allows you to protect data without a traditional backup window.
IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management makes copies available to DBAs, Developers and VM administrators when and where they need them. While this product is focused on DevOps and Dev/Test workflows, it can also be used to automate and schedule snapshots that can serve as backups.
Surprisingly, many companies do not take advantage of these solutions. Even clients who already have IBM Spectrum Protect deployed either (a) simply use Spectrum Protect clients on individual VM guests, or (b) use third-party products to backup VMs outside of Spectrum Protect infrastructure.
"Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them."
-- Albert Einstein
Smaller clients want something simpler to deploy, and easier to use and administer. Rather than simplify the products above, a process called "kneecapping" in the IT industry, IBM opted for a clean slate, [start-from-scratch] approach.
The result is IBM Spectrum Protect Plus, new software that was preview announced last Wednesday in time for this week's VMworld 2017 conference in Las Vegas, and next month's VMworld conference in Barcelona, Spain.
IBM Spectrum Protect Plus is available as either a stand-alone product, or integrated with IBM Spectrum Protect for long-term protection. It is focused exclusively on VMware and Hyper-V environments. General Availability is expected some time in 4Q 2017.
Key features include:
Simple to install in less than 15 minutes, configured in an hour
Easy to use by DBA, VM or application administrator. No IBM Spectrum Protect skills required for stand-alone deployment
Pre-defined Gold, Silver and Bronze policies are ready to use. Additional customized policies can be configured as needed
Supports both application-aware and crash-consistent methods
Data Footprint Reduction technologies including compression and deduplication
Instant data recovery to support DevOps, Dev/Test, Reporting, Analytics and Training
Granular search and restore of entire Virtual Machines, VMDKs, and individual files
As for the name, I would have prefered "IBM Spectrum Protect Basic Edition". The "Plus" implies that the new product is more advanced, or offers more features, than the existing Spectrum Protect editions.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
Enhanced Spectrum Virtualize software
IBM announces v8.1 of the Spectrum Virtualize software that works with the latest models of SAN Volume Controller, Storwize and FlashSystem V9000 products.
This v8.1 release will not support older hardware. For these older models, continue to use v7.8.1 release until end of service and support:
SAN Volume Controller, CF8 and CG8 models
FlashSystem V840, AC0 model
Storwize V7000 Gen 1, models 1xx, 2xx and 3xx
Storwize V5000 Gen 1, models 24 C/E, 12 C/E
Storwize V3500 and V3700, all models
Hot Spare Node
Higher availability provided by automatically swapping a spare node into the cluster if the cluster detects a failing node. Following the N-port ID Virtualization (NPIV) features introduced in previous release, this new feature is available for SVC and FlashSystem V9000.
Spare nodes can also be extremely helpful with code updates and node refreshes. Update the code load on a spare node, and use this to roll forward the other nodes. In this manner, you are never in "single node" mode!
You can have up to four spare nodes per SVC cluster, and three spare nodes per FlashSystem V9000 cluster. These spares are "site-aware" to support Enhanced Stretch Cluster and HyperSwap configurations.
This feature requires Fibre Channel switches, so it won't work if you are using direct-attached SAS, iSCSI or FC point-to-point connections.
256 GB memory support
Spectrum Virtualize will now take full advantage of system memory, rather than just the first 64 GB. A fixed 12 GB is set aside for write cache, the rest is used for operating system code, read cache, and compression work space.
IBM supports up to 128 GB per canister on the Storwize V7000 Gen2+ models, and up to 256 GB for SAN Volume Controller SV1 and FlashSystem V9000 models.
One two-socket nodes, IBM previously dedicated specific cores to perform I/O operations, and others for Real-time Compression. With v8.1 release, the team implemented a more sophisticated multi-socket, multi-core, multi-threaded approach. Internal tests showed this improved performance 36 to 50 percent on SAN Volume Controller DH8 and SV1 models.
Enhancements for Encryption
IBM Security Key Lifecycle Manager (SKLM) support has been expanded to support up to three Key Server clones for a total of four Key Servers (one master and three clones).
You can use both central key management (SKLM servers) and local key management(using USB keys physically attached to the back of the controllers) at the same time. This can be useful to transition from one method or another, or use both concurrently for added flexibility.
Both SKLM and USB-based keys can also be used to encrypt FlashCopy targets written to the Cloud with Transparent Cloud Tiering.
Remote support assistance
IBM support engineers can perform system or upgrade recoveries over secure support sessions. This enables remote concurrent upgrades to be done securely and is only available only for clients who purchase Enterprise Class Support.
Since you are already sending periodic inventory updates as part of "call home" support, you might as well let IBM review the configuration and provide customized recommendations!
There is no additional cost, and this provides an additional review to catch any potential problems, single points of failure, or other issues that could be a problem later on.
Based on the success of the Hyper-Scale Manager GUI developed for the FlashSystem A9000, the new Spectrum Virtualize GUI offers an updated look and feel, with new fonts, colors, banner, navigation, dashboard, and other interactive elements.
New Pause Feature for Concurrent Code Update (CCU)
The Pause function will allow users to pause CCU indefinitely. This pause allows customers to do any problem determination, such as multi-pathing issues, or simply to pause the upgrade, take a break for lunch, then resume the upgrade when convenient to do so.
There were also enhances to the hardware models themselves.
IBM FlashSystem V9000
The IBM FlashSystem V9000 has two enhancements. First, there is an option to add a pair of AC3 nodes without AE2 enclosures to scale performance.
The second is the ability to add a single AC3 node for use as a hot spare node. You can have up to three of these extra AC3 spares per V9000 cluster.
IBM Storwize V7000
IBM Storwize V7000 Gen2+ offers increased cache of up to 256 GB per controller, 128 GB per canister. This follows on the heels of the recent increase to 256 GB per node for the SAN Volume Controller and FlashSystem V9000. More memory means more cache hit ratios for faster performance, and more compressed volumes.
900 GB 15K rpm 2.5-inch SAS drive
IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and Storwize Family delivers an additional option with a 900 GB 15K rpm 2.5-inch SAS drive.
(Honestly, I didn't think we would see larger capacity 15K drives, but IBM was qualifying these for the DS8000 boxes, and made sense to add them to the Spectrum Virtualize hardware offerings as well.)
This week, I was in beautiful Melbourne, Australia for IBM Systems Technical University.
PowerAI overview and Cognitive Solutions on POWER
Anand Subramaniam, IBM Technical Specialist, presented this session on PowerAI. IBM packaged a collection of Machine Learning libraries, optimized them for POWER8 chip-set, and made this entire package freely available for download as "PowerAI".
IBM also is working on a priced value-add collection called "PowerAI Vision"
Hadoop Infrastructure solutions and Point-of-View
Alexis Giral, IBM Executive Storage Architect, presented the benefits of IBM Spectrum Scale using a simple example. Supposed you are gathering 40TB of sensor readings per day. How many TB of storage would you need to hold 2 years worth of data?
Traditionally, HDFS maintains three copies of the data. A recently added feature "HDFS-EC" provides erasure coding to reduce the overall storage requirements. Giral showed this chart:
5+4 Erasure Coding
Spectrum Scale ESS
8+3 Erasure Coding
And this is assuming all the data is hot. If you decide to keep only 30 percent hot, perhaps the most recent eight months, and the other 70 percent on colder storage, you may reduce your storage requirement costs even further.
IBM Cloud Object Storage - Redefining backup infrastructure
Maciej "Mac" Lasota, presented the use of IBM Cloud Object Storage as a backup repository. While IBM Spectrum Protect is the preferred choice, IBM COS also works well with Commvault and NetBackup.
He listed some of the challenges that companies have with backups to tape, and how IBM COS addresses these challenges.
(While IBM COS is three to four times more expensive than tape, it is a luxury many clients can now afford!)
He wrapped up the session showing five different deployments that he worked on for clients.
New Generation of Storage Tiering: Simpler Management, Lower Costs, and Improved Performance
With ever changing amounts of storage, it is hard to find metrics that are consistent year to year. Fortunately, we found I/O density as the metric to focus my efforts, armed with real data from Intelligent Information Lifecycle Management (IILM) studies done at various clients. From that, I was able to talk about storage tiering on three fronts:
IBM Easy Tier on DS8000 and Spectrum Virtualize to provide tiering within a system.
IBM Virtual Storage Center (VSC) to provide tiering between systems in a data center.
IBM Spectrum Scale, Spectrum Archive and IBM Cloud Object Storage System to provide global tiering across multiple locations, and across flash, disk, tape and cloud resources.
Spectrum Scale for Volume, File and Object Storage
IBM Spectrum Scale was formerly called GPFS and has been around since 1998. I am glad it was renamed, as GPFS suffered from "guilt by association" with other file systems, AFS, DFS, XFS, ZFS, and so on.
Spectrum Scale does so much more, supports volume, file and object level access, supports POSIX standards for Windows, AIX and Linux, support Hadoop and Spark with 100 percent compatible HDFS Transparency Connector, support NFS, SMB and iSCSI protocols, as well as OpenStack Swift and Amazon S3 object based access.
Initially designed for video streaming and High Performance Computing (HPC), IBM has extended its reach to work in a variety of workloads across different industries. More than 5,000 production systems are running at client locations.
Beating Ransomware! A deep exploration of threat vectors for applications and storage
Andrew Greenfield, IBM Global Engineer for Spectrum Storage, presented on the threat of ransomware. In addition to being an expert in various storage, he also is an expert in security.
If you think security is just setting up your network firewalls and turning on data-at-rest encryption on your storage, you are sadly mistaken. Many of the treat vectors come from the inside, disgruntled employees or temporary contractors who plant viruses, bombs and worms that may not activate until long after they leave.
There are now products called security information and event management (SIEM) that provide real-time analysis of security alerts generated by network hardware and applications. Two that Andrew was familiar with were IBM Qradar and Varonis. These identify standard and abnormal behavior patterns among users.
Andrew feels products like Splunk do a great job to collect information, but don't do the analysis that Qradar or Varonis do.
I was very pleased with this conference. This was a concentrated 3-day event, but everyone I talked to was happy with the format, and felt their time spent worthwhile!
This week, I was in beautiful Melbourne, Australia for IBM Systems Technical University. On Wednesday evening, we had a poster session.
(I have so many photos that I will split this post up into topics. This post will focus on IBM Z systems, see my other posts for storage and IBM Power systems.)
Topics can be anything that is of interest to your peers and colleagues. It can be research-related, a specific solution you implemented or an interesting customer case you want to share.
Linux Scalability at a Small Scale (or, An Adventure In Minimalist Multitudinousness)
Vic Cross, IBM Senior Systems Engineer, used the Ganglia Monitor System to generate traffic and measure 1,680 Linux guests on a single IBM Z mainframe LPAR with only 16GB of memory! His poster consisted of 18 pages of material, a mix of traditional presentation slides, screen shots of web pages, and densely detailed performance results.
Ganglia is a scalable distributed monitoring system for high-performance computing systems such as clusters and Grids. It is based on a hierarchical design targeted at federations of clusters. It leverages widely used technologies such as XML for data representation, XDR for compact, portable data transport, and RRDtool for data storage and visualization. It uses carefully engineered data structures and algorithms to achieve very low per-node overheads and high concurrency. The implementation is robust, has been ported to an extensive set of operating systems and processor architectures, and is currently in use on thousands of clusters around the world. It has been used to link clusters across university campuses and around the world and can scale to handle clusters with 2000 nodes. Learn more at [http://ganglia.sourceforge.net/]
Spectrum Scale 2 site cluster
Antony Steel, IBM Senior Consulting IT Specialist, presents an option to configure a 2 site GPFS (Spectrum Scale) "almost active-active" cluster when a 3rd site is not available. This option will require simple administrative tasks to make DR filesystem available should Production site fail. Spectrum Scale runs on IBM Z, IBM Power and x86 servers.
The poster used 13 traditional landscape slides, printed on what appears to be A4 paper. A4 is 297 mm wide, so three side by side exceeds the 841 mm width of the poster foam board. These were arranged with a title slide on top, and then 12 content slides in four rows of three.
While I was glad that someone else had a QR code on their poster, the placement was way at the top, and difficult for anyone to actually scan it. I thought of this, and had mine at waist level in the middle right side of my poster.
Life is better with Linux
I couldn't resist taking a photo of the back of this guy's tee-shirt, which says "Life is better with Linux"
In effect, tee-shirts can also be "posters", although that would make for an awkward "poster session" if everyone wore them? Pointing at your chest would be weird, and pointing to your back would be near impossible!
In 1999-2001, I helped the port of Linux to IBM S/390 mainframe chip-set architecture by testing and debugging the disk and tape device drivers. I was the first to install Linux on an IBM mainframe in Tucson, AZ!
I would then go on to work with SAN Volume Controller, Tivoli Storage Manager (now called Spectrum Protect), Tivoli Storage Productivity Center (now called Spectrum Control), and the General Parallel File System (GPFS, now called Spectrum Scale). All of these run on Linux!
I would become the "Linux storage expert" at conferences like SHARE and GUIDE. While my co-workers in DFSMS and z/OS felt Linux was just a fad, I predicted that Linux was going to be a major force in the IT industry. I was right, not only does Linux run on all of our IBM Z and Power servers, it is the underlying operating system for nearly all of IBM storage devices.
Today, I run Linux directly on my laptop, using a Windows KVM guest image as needed for specific projects or applications.
Erina Araki poses for a photo with one of the attendees, Marco. Erina was the organizer for this poster event, and was my primary contact to answer all of my questions. I think the poster session was a big success!