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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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In preparation for my [upcoming trip to Australia and New Zealand], I decided to upgrade my smartphone. My service provider T-Mobile offered me the chance to try out any new phone for 14 days for only ten dollar re-stocking fee. For the past 16 months, I have used the Google G1 phone. This is based on a storage-optimized Android operating system, based on open source Linux, with applications processed in a storage-optimized virtual machine called Dalvik, based on open source Java. According to Wikipedia, Android-based phones have #1 market share [outselling both BlackBerry OS and Apple iOS phones]. There are over 70 different companies using Android, driven away from the proprietary interfaces from Apple, BlackBerry and Microsoft.
Since I was already familiar with the Android operating system, I chose the Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant. I liked my G1, but it had only a small amount of internal memory to store applications. The G1 supported an external Micro SDHC card, but this only was used for music and photos. There was no way to install applications on the memory card, so I found myself having to uninstall applications to make room for new ones. By contrast, the Vibrant has 16GB internal memory, plenty of room for all applications, and supports Micro SDHC up to 32GB in size. My model can pre-installed with a 2GB card, of which 1.4GB is consumed by James Cameron's full-length movie Avatar. On the G1, swapping out memory cards was relatively easy. On the Vibrant, you have to take the phone apart to swap out cards, so I won't be doing that very often. I will probably just get a 32GB card and leave it in there permanently.
(FTC disclosure: I work for IBM. IBM has working relationships with Oracle, Google, and lots of other companies. IBM offers its own commercial version of Java related tools. I own stock in IBM, Apple, Google. I have friends and family who work at Microsoft. My review below is based entirely on my own experience of my new Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant phone. Samsung has created different models for different service providers. The T-Mobile Vibrant is an external USB storage device with telephony capabilities, comparable to the AT&T Captivate, Verizon Fascinate, or Sprint Epic 4G. The majority of mobile phones in the world contain IBM technology. This post is not necessarily an endorsement for Samsung over other smartphone manufacturers, nor T-Mobile over other service providers. I provide this information in context of storage optimization, state-of-the-art for smartphones in general, and disputes related to software patents between companies. I hold 19 patents, most of which are software patents.)
When Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, it inherited stewardship of Java. Java is offered in two flavors. Java Standard Edition (SE) for machines that are planted firmly on or below your desk, and Java Micro Edition (ME) for machines that are carried around. Most Java-based phones limit themselves to Java ME, but Google decided to base its smartphones on the more powerful Java SE, but then optimize for the limited storage and computing resources. These two levels of Java have radically different licensing terms and conditions, so Larry Ellison of Oracle cried foul. On The Register, Gavin Clarke has an excellent article with details of the Oracle-vs-Google complaint. Daniel Dilger opines that Oracle [might kill Google’s Android and software patents all at once]. Fellow blogger Mark Twomey (EMC) on his StorageZilla blog, argues that [it's not about Android phones, but Android everything].
My Vibrant is roughly the size of a half-inch stack of 3x5 index cards in my hand. In my humble opinion, the problem is the grey area between mobile phone and the desktop personal computer. Laptops, netbooks, iPads, tablet computers, eBook readers, and smartphones fall somewhere in between. At what point do you stop licensing Java SE and start licensing Java ME instead?
Let's take a look at all the stuff my new Samsung Vibrant can do, and let you decide for yourself. I have 140 applications installed, which I can access alphabetically. I also have up to seven screens which I can fill with application icons and widgets to simplify access. The screen measures about 4 inches diagonally. Click on each image below to see the full 480x800 resolution.
Each screen has five rows. On my first screen, I have the first two rows related to photography. This includes a camera, camcorder, bar-code scanner and visual search engine (Google Goggles). I am not happy with Flickr Droid app in uploading photos, so I might need to find another app for that. Other reviews I read complain that the Vibrant's camera does not have am LED flash for night time shots, and that there is no forward facing camera to do Skype or FaceTime-style videoconferencing. I think it is fine the way it is. An interesting feature of the camera app is that it uses the volume up/down buttons to zoom in and out.
The next two rows related to books and documents. In addition to both Amazon's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook eBook readers, I have Dropbox to make it easy to transfer files between all my machines, a camera-scanner that generates PDFs, and ThinkFree, which appears to be based on OpenOffice open source software to create, view and edit WORD documents, EXCEL spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.
My second screen is for music and video entertainment.
The top row is consumed by a single widget for [Pandora], an internet radio station, not to be confused with the Pandora moon that the movie Avatar is based on. I-heart-radio, Slacker, and Last.fm are other internet radio stations. Be careful when roaming in another country, as the $15-per-MB transfer fees can really add up. While the Galaxy S has a built-in FM radio, T-Mobile has decided to disable this feature in its Vibrant model, in favor of internet-based radio stations.
I am glad the Samsung Vibrant uses the same 3.5mm combo audio jack that I mentioned in my blog post about my
[New ThinkPad T410]. This allows me to use the same headset for both my laptop and my cell phone.
For those who use Microsoft Windows Media Player v10 or above, this phone lets you transfer over your songs, playlists and videos via the USB cable in PMC mode. The TED application shows 18-minute videos of lectures at conferences that focus on Technology, Entertainment and Design. MobiTV offers live streaming of popular Television shows, normally ten dollars monthly, but I got a free 30-day trial in the deal.
Screen 3 is focused on travel. I have a 30-day free trial of GoGo, the new Wi-Fi networks on various airlines. Hopefully, I will get to try this out on my upcoming flights. When GoGo is not available, the Extended Controls widget allows me to turn the phone into "Airplane mode", which would allow me to read eBooks and listen to pre-recorded music and videos stored on my phone. Most of the apps on Android are free, but Extended Controls, shown here in the top row, cost me money but well worth it. With this you can customize different size widgets with all the appropriate setting toggles you want. On this one, I can toggle Wi-Fi, Data transfer, GPS positioning, and Airplane mode.
Google Maps, Google Places and Google Sky Map are all well represented here. I also like TripIt, which is a free Software-as-a-Service for managing your trip itenerary, and syncs up with their online website. Currency and Language translation can help on international travel. The standard Alarm Clock also includes Time Zone conversion as well.
My screen 4 is my central home page. There are four buttons on the bottom of the phone: Menu, Home, Back, and Search. Hit the "Home" button on any screen, and it jumps immediately to Screen 4. From here, I can get to any of the other screens with just swiping my finger across the surface. Therefore, I chose to keep this screen simple.
For meetings, I have a big clock, and an Extended Controls widget to set my phone on silent/vibrate mode, and show my battery status. I put icons here for apps that I might need in a hurry, like Camera, Evernote, or Shazam. For those not familiar with Shazam, it will listen to the microphone for whatever song is playing in the background where you are, and it will identify the song's title and artist.
The "Starred" folder lists those five or so contacts that I have marked with a "star" to be on this short list. From here, I can call or send them an SMS text message.
Screen 5 is for office productivity. I have a 2x2 widget from Astrid to list my to-do items. I have a 1x2 widget showing my last call. My calendar syncs up with my Google calendar online.
The Locale widget allows me to change which on-screen keyboard to use. There is the standard Android keyboard which allows voice-to-text input, the Samsung keyboard that offers [XT9 mode], and the new ["Swype"] keyboard that allows you to write words quickly with squiggles swiped across the keyboard. The Swype is incredible accurate when I am typing in English. When I am communicating in Spanish, it gets in the way, spell-checking when it shouldn't.
Screen 6 is for my social media, news and search facilities. I have HootSuite Lite for managing my Twitter and Facebook posts. For news junkies, NPR, USA Today and CNN all offer mobile versions.
I have a selection of browsers, including Opera Mini 5, and Dolphin Browser HD. The latter offers a variety of special add-ons similar to Firefox on a desktop system. I also have specialty search sites, including the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), Fandango for local movie times, and Dex for local phone listings.
Screen 7 is for system administration. The top row is another "Extended Controls" widget, this time to change between 2G and 3G networks, brightness setting, set the the time-out interval for when the screen should automatically shut off, and a "stay awake" to turn off the screen saver altogether.
I can do some really powerful things here. For example, I have an application to let me use secure shell (ssh) to access our systems at work. I also can "tether" my laptop to my Vibrant, for those few times when Wi-Fi is not available, to let my laptop use the phone's signal as a dial-up modem. It is slower than Wi-Fi, but might be just what I need in a pinch.
The bottom row is the same across all seven screens, which you can customize. I left the bottom row in its original default, with options to make phone calls, look up contacts, and send text messages. The bottom right corner launches a list of all applications alphabetically, to access those not on my seven main screens.
Just in case I switch to a local SIM card while abroad in another country, I asked T-mobile to unlock my phone, which they happily did at no additional charge. For example, while I am in Australia, I can either leave my T-Mobile USA chip in the phone, and pay roaming charges per minute, or I can purchase a SIM chip from a local phone company with pre-paid minutes. This often includes unlimited free incoming calls to a local Australian phone number, and voicemail.
Unlocking the phone to use different SIM cards is different than "jailbreaking", a term that refers to Apple's products. For Android phones, jailbreaking is called "rooting", as the process involves getting "root" user access that you normally don't have. The only reason I have found to have my phone "rooted" was to take these lovely screen shots, using the "Screen Shot It" application. This is another application that I paid for. I used the free trial for a few screenshots first to check it out, liked the results, and bought the application.
So, this new smartphone looks like a keeper. I got a screen protector to avoid scratching, and a two-piece case that snaps around the phone to give it more heft. All my chargers are "Mini USB" for my old G1 phone, and this new Vibrant phone is "Micro USB" instead, so I had to order new ones for my car, my office, and for my iGo (tip A97).
This review is more to focus on the fact that the IT industry is changing, and what was traditionally performed on personal computers are now being done on new handheld devices. Android provides a platform for innovation and healthy competition. Let's all hope Oracle and Google can work out their differences amicably.
The "Storage Resource Agent" introduced for Linux, AIX and Windows in v4.1 is a lightweight agent, written in native "C" language instead of Java, to avoid all the resources that Java consumes. In this release, it is now supported for HP-UX and Solaris, and adds file level and database level storage resource management (SRM) reporting for all five platforms.
For new customer deployments, this will eliminate all the pain setting up a "Common Agent Manager". The Productivity Center server will send out the agent, the agent collects the data, and can then optionally uninstall itself. In this manner, you always have the latest version of the code collecting the data. For those with Common Agent Manager already installed, you can continue running as is, or slowly transition over to the new lightweight agent methodology.
Full support for IBM XIV Storage System
IBM XIV® Storage System support updated to include provisioning, data path explorer and performance management reporting. Before this release, Productivity Center could only discover and provide rudimentary capacity information for XIV systems. Now you can carve LUNs and monitor XIV disk performance just like you can with most other disk systems.
Storage Area Network (SAN) configuration planning
For those who have both Productivity Center Standard Edition (SE) and Productivity Center for Replication, the SAN Config Planner is now "replication-aware" and will add LUNs to existing copy sessions, or create new copy sessions, and ensure that the devices chosen meet the appropriate criteria.
HyperSwap™ for the IBM AIX® environment
On z/OS mainframes, if you experience an outage on a storage system, Productivity Center for Replication (TPC-R) can automatically swap to the synchronous mirror copy without disruption to the operating system or application. Now, IBM has extended this awesome feature to the AIX platform for high availability in POWER-based server environments.
Detailed Session Reporting for Global Mirror
Before, TPC-R enforced the notion of only one Global Mirror master per storage system. Now, TPC-R v4.2 is capable of supporting multiple Global MIrror sessions, and provide more detailed session reporting for these environments. This can be useful if for some unknown reason the bits are not being shoveled from point A to point B, and you need to do some "problem determination".
SVC Incremental FlashCopy
Productivity Center for Replication now adds support for the "Incremental" feature of SVC FlashCopy. While FlashCopy requests are processed instantaneously, there is background processing required that can consume cycles. Incremental processing keeps track of what changed since the last FlashCopy, and minimizes this behind-the-scenes overhead.
Integrated Distributed Disaster Recovery manager
IBM Tivoli System Automation Application Manager [TSA-AM] can now integrate with TPC-R to provide application-aware disaster recovery capability. This can coordinate between IBM Tivoli System Automation for Multiplatforms [TSA-for-MP], IBM HACMP/PowerHA, as well as other clustering products like Microsoft Cluster Services (MSCS) and Veritas Cluster Services on Solaris. When TSA-AM detects an outage, it can notify Globally Dispersed Parallet Sysplex Distributed Cluster Management (GDPS-DCM) to take action. This integration was actually completed with TPC v4.1 back in April, but got buried deep inside our big storage launch, so I bring it up again as a gentle reminder that IBM offers the best end-to-end management on the planet.
At last month's Storage University, I presented an overview of [Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v4.1]. Many of the questions were along the lines of "When will TPC do xyz?" and all I could answer was "Soon" since I knew they would be delivered with this TPC v4.2 release, but I couldn't provide any more details than that at the time.
I am just one of the speakers. We will have at each location the local IBM team and IBM clients giving testimonials. All the speakers will be available afterward for Q&A. It's shaping up to be an exciting series of events!
Well, it's that Back-To-School time again! Mo's thirteen-year-old reluctantly enters the eight grade, still upset the summer ended so abruptly. Richard's nephew returns to the University of Arizona for another year. Natalie has chosen to move to Phoenix and pursue a post-grad degree at Arizona State University. They all have two things in common, they all want a new computer, and they are all on a budget.
Fellow blogger Bob Sutor (IBM) pointed me to an excellent article on [How to Build Your Own $200 PC], which reminded me of the [XS server I built] for my 2008 Google Summer of Code project with the One Laptop per Child organization. Now that the project is over, I have upgraded it to Ubuntu Desktop 10.04 LTS, known as Lucid Lynx. Building your own PC with your student is a great learning experience in itself. Of course, this is just the computer itself, you still need to buy the keyboard, mouse and video monitor separately, if you don't already have these.
If you are not interested in building a PC from scratch, consider taking an old Windows-based PC and installing Linux to bring it new life. Many of the older PCs don't have enough processor or memory to run Windows Vista or the latest Windows 7, but they will all run Linux.
(If you think your old system has resale value, try checking out the ["trade-in estimator"] at the BestBuy website to straighten out your misperception. However, if you do decide to sell your system, consider replacing the disk drive with a fresh empty one, or wipe the old drive clean with one of the many free Linux utilities. Jason Striegel on Engadget has a nice [HOWTO Erase your old hard disk drive] article. If you don't have your original manufacturer's Windows installation discs, installing Linux instead may help keep you out of legal hot water.)
Depending on what your school projects require, you want to make sure that you can use a printer or scanner with your Linux system. Don't buy a printer unless it is supported by Linux. The Linux Foundation maintains a [Printer Compatability database]. Printing was one of the first things I got working for my Linux-based OLPC laptop, which I documented in my December 2007 post [Printing on XO Laptop with CUPS and LPR] and got a surprising following over at [OLPC News].
To reduce paper, many schools are having students email their assignments, or use Cloud Computing services like Google Docs. Both the University of Arizona and Arizona State University use Google Docs, and the students I have talked with love the idea. Whether they use a Mac, Linux or Windows PC, all students can access Google Docs through their browser. An alternative to Google Docs is Windows Live Skydrive, which has the option to upload and edit the latest Office format documents from the Firefox browser on Linux. Both offer you the option to upload GBs of files, which could be helpful transferring data from an old PC to a new one.
Lastly, there are many free video games for Linux, for when you need to take a break from all that studying. Ever since IBM's [36-page Global Innovation Outlook 2.0] study showed that playing video games made you a better business leader, I have been encouraging all students that I tutor or mentor that playing games is a more valuable use of your time than watching television. IBM considers video games the [future of learning]. Even the [Violent Video Games are Good for Kids]. It is no wonder that IBM provides the technology that runs all the major game platforms, including Microsoft Xbox360, Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation.
(FTC disclosure: I work for IBM. IBM has working relationships with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony. I use both Google Docs and Microsoft Live Skydrive for personal use, and base my recommendations purely on my own experience. I own stock in IBM, Google and Apple. I have friends and family that work at Microsoft. I own an Apple Mac Mini and Sony PlayStation. I was a Linux developer earlier in my IBM career. IBM considers Linux a strategic operating system for both personal and professional use. IBM has selected Firefox as its standard browser internally for all employees. I run Linux both at home and at the office. I graduated from the University of Arizona, and have friends who either work or take classes there, as well as at Arizona State University.)
Linux skills are marketable and growing more in demand. Linux is used in everything from cellphones to mainframes, as well as many IBM storage devices such as the IBM SAN Volume Controller, XIV and ProtecTIER data deduplication solution. In addition to writing term papers, spreadsheets and presentations with OpenOffice, your Linux PC can help you learn programming skills, web design, and database administration.
To all the students in my life, I wish you all good things in the upcoming school year!
Wrapping up my coverage of the annual [2010 System Storage Technical University], I attended what might be perhaps the best session of the conference. Jim Nolting, IBM Semiconductor Manufacturing Engineer, presented the new IBM zEnterprise mainframe, "A New Dimension in Computing", under the Federal track.
The zEnterprises debunks the "one processor fits all" myth. For some I/O-intensive workloads, the mainframe continues to be the most cost-effective platform. However, there are other workloads where a memory-rich Intel or AMD x86 instance might be the best fit, and yet other workloads where the high number of parallel threads of reduced instruction set computing [RISC] such as IBM's POWER7 processor is more cost-effective. The IBM zEnterprise combines all three processor types into a single system, so that you can now run each workload on the processor that is optimized for that workload.
IBM zEnterprise z196 Central Processing Complex (CPC)
Let's start with the new mainframe z196 central processing complex (CPC). Many thought this would be called the z11, but that didn't happen. Basically, the z196 machine has a maximum 96 cores versus z10's 64 core maximum, and each core runs 5.2GHz instead of z10's cores running at 4.7GHz. It is available in air-cooled and water-cooled models. The primary operating system that runs on this is called "z/OS", which when used with its integrated UNIX System Services subsystem, is fully UNIX-certified. The z196 server can also run z/VM, z/VSE, z/TPF and Linux on z, which is just Linux recompiled for the z/Architecture chip set. In my June 2008 post [Yes, Jon, there is a mainframe that can help replace 1500 servers], I mentioned the z10 mainframe had a top speed of nearly 30,000 MIPS (Million Instructions per Second). The new z196 machine can do 50,000 MIPS, a 60 percent increase!
The z196 runs a hypervisor called PR/SM that allows the box to be divided into dozens of logical partitions (LPAR), and the z/VM operating system can also act as a hypervisor running hundreds or thousands of guest OS images. Each core can be assigned a specialty engine "personality": GP for general processor, IFL for z/VM and Linux, zAAP for Java and XML processing, and zIIP for database, communications and remote disk mirroring. Like the z9 and z10, the z196 can attach to external disk and tape storage via ESCON, FICON or FCP protocols, and through NFS via 1GbE and 10GbE Ethernet.
IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (zBX)
There is a new frame called the zBX that basically holds two IBM BladeCenter chassis, each capable of 14 blades, so total of 28 blades per zBX frame. For now, only select blade servers are supported inside, but IBM plans to expand this to include more as testing continues. The POWER-based blades can run native AIX, IBM's other UNIX operating system, and the x86-based blades can run Linux-x86 workloads, for example. Each of these blade servers can run a single OS natively, or run a hypervisor to have multiple guest OS images. IBM plans to look into running other POWER and x86-based operating systems in the future.
If you are already familiar with IBM's BladeCenter, then you can skip this paragraph. Basically, you have a chassis that holds 14 blades connected to a "mid-plane". On the back of the chassis, you have hot-swappable modules that snap into the other side of the mid-plane. There are modules for FCP, FCoE and Ethernet connectivity, which allows blades to talk to each other, as well as external storage. BladeCenter Management modules serve as both the service processor as well as the keyboard, video and mouse Local Console Manager (LCM). All of the IBM storage options available to IBM BladeCenter apply to zBX as well.
Besides general purpose blades, IBM will offer "accelerator" blades that will offload work from the z196. For example, let's say an OLAP-style query is issued via SQL to DB2 on z/OS. In the process of parsing the complicated query, it creates a Materialized Query Table (MQT) to temporarily hold some data. This MQT contains just the columnar data required, which can then be transferred to a set of blade servers known as the Smart Analytics Optimizer (SAO), then processes the request and sends the results back. The Smart Analytics Optimizer comes in various sizes, from small (7 blades) to extra large (56 blades, 28 in each of two zBX frames). A 14-blade configuration can hold about 1TB of compressed DB2 data in memory for processing.
IBM zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager
You can have up to eight z196 machines and up to four zBX frames connected together into a monstrously large system. There are two internal networks. The Inter-ensemble data network (IEDN) is a 10GbE that connects all the OS images together, and can be further subdivided into separate virtual LANs (VLAN). The Inter-node management network (INMN) is a 1000 Mbps Base-T Ethernet that connects all the host servers together to be managed under a single pane of glass known as the Unified Resource Manager. It is based on IBM Systems Director.
By integrating service management, the Unified Resource Manager can handle Operations, Energy Management, Hypervisor Management, Virtual Server Lifecycle Management, Platform Performance Management, and Network Management, all from one place.
IBM Rational Developer for System z Unit Test (RDz)
But what about developers and testers, such as those Independent Software Vendors (ISV) that produce mainframe software. How can IBM make their lives easier?
Phil Smith on z/Journal provides a history of [IBM Mainframe Emulation]. Back in 2007, three emulation options were in use in various shops:
Open Mainframe, from Platform Solutions, Inc. (PSI)
FLEX-ES, from Fundamental Software, Inc.
Hercules, which is an open source package
None of these are viable options today. Nobody wanted to pay IBM for its Intellectual Property on the z/Architecture or license the use of the z/OS operating system. To fill the void, IBM put out an officially-supported emulation environment called IBM System z Professional Development Tool (zPDT) available to IBM employees, IBM Business Partners and ISVs that register through IBM Partnerworld. To help out developers and testers who work at clients that run mainframes, IBM now offers IBM Rational Developer for System z Unit Test, which is a modified version of zPDT that can run on a x86-based laptop or shared IBM System x server. Based on the open source [Eclipse IDE], the RDz emulates GP, IFL, zAAP and zIIP engines on a Linux-x86 base. A four-core x86 server can emulate a 3-engine mainframe.
With RDz, a developer can write code, compile and unit test all without consuming any mainframe MIPS. The interface is similar to Rational Application Developer (RAD), and so similar skills, tools and interfaces used to write Java, C/C++ and Fortran code can also be used for JCL, CICS, IMS, COBOL and PL/I on the mainframe. An IBM study ["Benchmarking IDE Efficiency"] found that developers using RDz were 30 percent more productive than using native z/OS ISPF. (I mention the use of RAD in my post [Three Things to do on the IBM Cloud]).
What does this all mean for the IT industry? First, the zEnterprise is perfectly positioned for [three-tier architecture] applications. A typical example could be a client-facing web-server on x86, talking to business logic running on POWER7, which in turn talks to database on z/OS in the z196 mainframe. Second, the zEnterprise is well-positioned for government agencies looking to modernize their operations and significantly reduce costs, corporations looking to consolidate data centers, and service providers looking to deploy public cloud offerings. Third, IBM storage is a great fit for the zEnterprise, with the IBM DS8000 series, XIV, SONAS and Information Archive accessible from both z196 and zBX servers.
Bill Bauman, IBM System x Field Technical Support Specialist and System x University celebrity, presented the differences between Grid, SOA and Cloud Computing. I thought this was an odd combination to compare and contrast, but his presentation was well attended.
Grid - this is when two or more independently owned and managed computers are brought together to solve a problem. Some research facilities do this. IBM helped four hospitals connect their computers together into a grid to help analyze breast cancer. IBM also supports the [World Community Grid] which allows your personal computer to be connected to the grid and help process calculations.
SOA - SOA, which stands for Service Oriented Architecture, is an approach to building business applications as a combination of loosely-coupled black-box components orchestrated to deliver a well-defined level of service by linking together business processes. I often explain SOA as the the business version of Web 2.0. You can download a free copy of the eBook "SOA for Dummies" at the [IBM Smart SOA] landing page.
Cloud - A Cloud is a dynamic, scalable, expandable, and completely contractible architecture. It may consist of multiple, disparate, on-premise and off-premise hardware and virtualized platforms hosting legacy, fully installed, stateless, or virtualized instances of operating systems and application workloads.
Tom Vezina, IBM Advanced Technical Sales Specialist, presented "Chaos to Cloud Computing". Survey results show that roughly 70 percent of cloud spend will be for private clouds, and 30 percent for public, hybrid or community clouds. Of the key motivations for public cloud, 77 percent or respondents cited reducing costs, 72 percent time to value, and 50 percent improving reliability.
Tom ran over 500 "server utilization" studies for x86 deployments during the past eight years. Of these, the worst was 0.52 percent CPU utilization, the best was 13.4 percent, and the average was 6.8 percent. When IBM mentions that 85 percent of server capacity is idle, it is mostly due to x86 servers. At this rate, it seems easy to put five to 20 guest images onto a machine. However, many companies encounter "VM stall" where they get stuck after only 25 percent of their operating system images virtualized.
He feels the problem is with the fact most Physical-to-Virtual (P2V) migrations are manual efforts. There are tools available like Novell [PlateSpin Recon] to help automate and reduce the total number of hours spent per migration.
System x KVM Solutions
Boy, I walked into this one. Many of IBM's cloud offerings are based on the Linux hypervisor called Kernel-based Virtual Machine [a href="http://www.linux-kvm.org/page/Main_Page">KVM] instead of VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V. However, this session was about the "other KVM": keyboard video and mouse switches, which thankfully, IBM has renamed to Console Managers to avoid confusion. Presenters Ben Hilmus (IBM) and Steve Hahn (Avocent) presented IBM's line of Local Console Managers (LCM) and Global Console Managers (GCM) products.
LCM are the traditional KVM switches that people are familiar with. A single keyboard, video and mouse can select among hundreds of servers to perform maintenance or check on status. GCM adds KVM-over-IP capabilities, which means that now you can access selected systems over the Ethernet from a laptop or personal computer. Both LCM and GCM allow for two-level tiering, which means that you can have an LCM in each rack, and an LCM or GCM that points to each rack, greatly increasing the number of servers that can be managed from a single pane of glass.
Many severs have a "service processor" to manage the rest of the machine. IBM RSA II, HP iLO, and Dell DRAC4 are some examples. These allow you to turn on and off selected servers. IBM BladeCenter offers an Management Module that allows the chassis to be connected to a Console Manager and select a specific blade server inside. These can also be used with VMware viewer, Virtual Network Computing (VNC), or Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).
IBM's offerings are unique it that you can have an optical CD/DVD drive or USB external storage attached at the LCM or GCM, and make it look like the storage is attached to the selected server. This can be used to install or upgrade software, transfer log files, and so on. Another great use, and apparently the motivation for having this session in the "Federal Track", is that the USB can be used to attach a reader for a smart card, known as a Common Access Card [CAC] used by various government agencies. This provides two-factor authentication [TFA]. For example, to log into the system, you enter your password (something you know) and swipe your employee badge smart card (something you have). The combination are validated at the selected server to provide access.
I find it amusing that server people limit themselves to server sessions, and storage people to storage sessions. Sometimes, you have to step "outside your comfort zone" and learn something new, something different. Open your eyes and look around a bit. You might just be surprised what you find.
(FTC note: I work for IBM. IBM considers Novell a strategic Linux partner. Novell did not provide me a copy of Platespin Recon, I have no experience using it, and I mention it only in context of the presentation made. IBM resells Avocent solutions, and we use LCM gear in the Tucson Executive Briefing Center.)
Continuing my coverage of the annual [2010 System Storage Technical University], I participated in the storage free-for-all, which is a long-time tradition, started at SHARE User Group conference, and carried forward to other IT conferences. The free-for-all is a Q&A Panel of experts to allow anyone to ask any question. These are sometimes called "Birds of a Feather" (BOF). Last year, they were called "Meet the Experts", one for mainframe storage, and the other for storage attached to distributed systems. This year, we had two: one focused on Tivoli Storage software, and the second to cover storage hardware. This post provides a recap of the Storage Hardware free-for-all.
The emcee for the event was Scott Drummond. The other experts on the panel included Dan Thompson, Carlos Pratt, Jack Arnold, Jim Blue, Scott Schroder, Ed Baker, Mike Wood, Steve Branch, Randy Arseneau, Tony Abete, Jim Fisher, Scott Wein, Rob Wilson, Jason Auvenshine, Dave Canan, Al Watson, and myself, yours truly, Tony Pearson.
What can I do to improve performance on my DS8100 disk system? It is running a mix of sequential batch processing and my medical application (EPIC). I have 16GB of cache and everything is formatted as RAID-5.
We are familiar with EPIC. It does not "play well with others", so IBM recommends you consider dedicating resources for just the EPIC data. Also consider RAID-10 instead for the EPIC data.
How do I evaluate IBM storage solutions in regards to [PCI-DSS] requirements.
Well, we are not lawyers, and some aspects of the PCI-DSS requirements are outside the storage realm. In March 2010, IBM was named ["Best Security Company"] by SC Magazine, and we have secure storage solutions for both disk and tape systems. IBM DS8000 and DS5000 series offer Full Disk Encryption (FDE) disk drives. IBM LTO-4/LTO-5 and TS1120/TS1130 tape drives meet FIPS requirements for encryption. We will provide you contact information on an encryption expert to address the other parts of your PCI-DSS specific concerns.
My telco will only offer FCIP routing for long-distance disk replication, but my CIO wants to use Fibre Channel routing over CWDM, what do I do?
IBM XIV, DS8000 and DS5000 all support FC-based long distance replication across CWDM. However, if you don't have dark fiber, and your telco won't provide this option, you may need to re-negotiate your options.
My DS4800 sometimes reboots repeatedly, what should I do.
This was a known problem with microcode level 760.28, it was detecting a failed drive. You need to replace the drive, and upgrade to the latest microcode.
Should I use VMware snapshots or DS5000 FlashCopy?
VMware snapshots are not free, you need to upgrade to the appropriate level of VMware to get this function, and it would be limited to your VMware data only. The advantage of DS5000 FlashCopy is that it applies to all of your operating systems and hypervisors in use, and eliminates the consumption of VMware overhead. It provides crash-consistent copies of your data. If your DS5000 disk system is dedicated to VMware, then you may want to compare costs versus trade-offs.
Any truth to the rumor that Fibre Channel protocol will be replaced by SAS?
SAS has some definite cost advantages, but is limited to 8 meters in length. Therefore, you will see more and more usage of SAS within storage devices, but outside the box, there will continue to be Fibre Channel, including FCP, FICON and FCoE. The Fibre Channel Industry Alliance [FCIA] has a healthy roadmap for 16 Gbps support and 20 Gbps interswitch link (ISL) connections.
What about Fibre Channel drives, are these going away?
We need to differentiate the connector from the drive itself. Manufacturers are able to produce 10K and 15K RPM drives with SAS instead of FC connectors. While many have suggested that a "Flash-and-Stash" approach of SSD+SATA would eliminate the need for high-speed drives, IBM predicts that there just won't be enough SSD produced to meet the performance needs of our clients over the next five years, so 15K RPM drives, more likely with SAS instead of FC connectors, will continue to be deployed for the next five years.
We'd like more advanced hands-on labs, and to have the certification exams be more product-specific rather than exams for midrange disk or enterprise disk that are too wide-ranging.
Ok, we will take that feedback to the conference organizers.
IBM Tivoli Storage Manager is focused on disaster recovery from tape, how do I incorporate remote disk replication.
This is IBM's Unified Recovery Management, based on the seven tiers of disaster recovery established in 1983 at GUIDE conference. You can combine local recovery with FastBack, data center server recovery with TSM and FlashCopy manager, and combine that with IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Replication (TPC-R), GDOC and GDPS to manage disk replication across business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) locations.
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Replication only manages the LUNs, what about server failover and mapping the new servers to the replicated LUNs?
There are seven tiers of disaster recovery. The sixth tier is to manage the storage replication only, as TPC-R does. The seventh tier adds full server and network failover. For that you need something like IBM GDPS or GDOC that adds this capability.
All of my other vendor kit has bold advertising, prominent lettering, neon lights, bright colors, but our IBM kit is just black, often not even identifying the specific make or model, just "IBM" or "IBM System Storage".
IBM has opted for simplified packaging and our sleek, signature "raven black" color, and pass these savings on to you.
Bring back the SHARK fins!
We will bring that feedback to our development team. ("Shark" was the codename for IBM's ESS 800 disk model. Fiberglass "fins" were made as promotional items and placed on top of ESS 800 disk systems to help "identify them" on the data center floor. Unfortunately, professional golfer [<a href="http://www.shark.com/">Greg Norman</a>] complained, so IBM discontinued the use of the codename back in 2005.)
Where is Infiniband?
Like SAS, Infiniband had limited distance, about 10 to 15 meters, which proved unusable for server-to-storage network connections across data center floorspace. However, there are now 150 meter optical cables available, and you will find Infiniband used in server-to-server communications and inside storage systems. IBM SONAS uses Infiniband today internally. IBM DCS9900 offers Infiniband host-attachment for HPC customers.
We need midrange storage for our mainframe please?
In addition to the IBM System Storage DS8000 series, the IBM SAN Volume Controller and IBM XIV are able to connect to Linux on System z mainframes.
We need "Do's and Don'ts" on which software to run with which hardware.
IBM [Redbooks] are a good source for that, and we prioritize our efforts based on all those cards and letters you send the IBM Redbooks team.
The new TPC v4 reporting tool requires a bit of a learning curve.
The new reporting tool, based on Eclipse's Business Intelligence Reporting Tool [BIRT], is now standardized across the most of the Tivoli portfolio. Check out the [Tivoli Common Reporting] community page for assistance.
An unfortunate side-effect of using server virtualization like VMware is that it worsens management and backup issues. We now have many guests on each blade server.
IBM is the leading reseller of VMware, and understands that VMware adds an added layer of complexity. Thankfully, IBM Tivoli Storage Manager backups uses a lightweight agent. IBM [System Director VMcontrol] can help you manage a variety of hypervisor environments.
This was a great interactive session. I am glad everyone stayed late Thursday evening to participate in this discussion.
Continuing coverage of my week in Washington DC for the annual [2010 System Storage Technical University], I attended several XIV sessions throughout the week. There were many XIV sessions. I could not attend all of them. Jack Arnold, one of my colleagues at the IBM Tucson Executive Briefing Center, often presents XIV to clients and Business Partners. He covered all the basics of XIV architecture, configuration, and features like snapshots and migration. Carlos Lizarralde presented "Solving VMware Challenges with XIV". Ola Mayer presented "XIV Active Data Migration and Disaster Recovery".
Here is my quick recap of two in particular that I attended:
XIV Client Success Stories - Randy Arseneau
Randy reported that IBM had its best quarter ever for the XIV, reflecting an unexpected surge shortly after my blog post debunking the DDF myth last April. He presented successful case studies of client deployments. Many followed a familiar pattern. First, the client would only purchase one or two XIV units. Second, the client would beat the crap out of them, putting all kinds of stress from different workloads. Third, the client would discover that the XIV is really as amazing as IBM and IBM Business Partners have told them. Finally, in the fourth phase, the client would deploy the XIV for mission-critical production applications.
A large US bank holding company managed to get 5.3 GB/sec from a pair of XIV boxes for their analytics environment. They now have 14 XIV boxes deployed in mission-critical applications.
A large equipment manufacturer compared the offerings among seven different storage vendors, and IBM XIV came out the winner. They now have 11 XIV boxes in production and another four boxes for development/test. They have moved their entire VMware infrastructure to IBM XIV, running over 12,000 guest instances.
A financial services company bought their first XIV in early 2009 and now has 34 XIV units in production attached to a variety of Windows, Solaris, AIX, Linux servers and VMware hosts. Their entire Microsoft Exchange was moved from HP and EMC disk to IBM XIV, and experienced noticeable performance improvement.
When a University health system replaced two competitive disk systems with XIV, their data center temperature dropped from 74 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. In general, XIV systems are 20 to 30 percent more energy efficient per usable TB than traditional disk systems.
A service provider that had used EMC disk systems for over 10 years evaluated the IBM XIV versus upgrading to EMC V-Max. The three year total cost of ownership (TCO) of EMC's V-Max was $7 Million US dollars higher, so EMC counter-proposed CLARiiON CX4 instead. But, in the end, IBM XIV proved to be the better fit, and now the customer is happy having made the switch.
The manager of an information communications technology service provider was impressed that the XIV was up and running in just a couple of days. They now have over two dozen XIV systems.
Another XIV client had lost all of their Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) units for several hours. The data center heated up to 126 degrees Fahrenheit, but the customer did not lose any data on either of their two XIV boxes, which continued to run in these extreme conditions.
Optimizing XIV Performance - Brian Cormody
This session was an update from the [one presented last year] by Izhar Sharon. Brian presented various best practices for optimizing the performance when using specific application workloads with IBM XIV disk systems.
Oracle ASM: Many people allocate lots of small LUNs, because this made sense a long time ago when all you had was just a bunch of disks (JBOD). In fact, many of the practices that DBAs use to configure databases across disks become unnecessary with XIV. Wth XIV, you are better off allocating a few number of very large LUNs from the XIV. The best option was a 1-volume ASM pool with 8MB AU stripe. A single LUN can contain multiple Oracle databases. A single LUN can be used to store all of the logs.
VMware: Over 70 percent of XIV customers use it with VMware. For VMFS, IBM recommends allocating a few number of large LUNs. You can specify the maximum of 2181 GB. Do not use VMware's internal LUN extension capability, as IBM XIV already has thin provisioning and works better to allow XIV to do this for you. XIV Snapshots provide crash-consistent copies without all the VMware overhead of VMware Snapshots.
SAP: For planning purposes, the "SAPS" unit equates roughly to 0.4 IOPS for ERP OLTP workloads, and 0.6 IOPS for BW/BI OLAP workloads. In general, an XIV can deliver 25-30,000 IOPS at 10-15 msec response time, and 60,000 IOPS at 30 msec response time. With SAP, our clients have managed to get 60,000 IOPS at less than 15 msec.
Microsoft Exchange: Even my friends in Redmond could not believe how awesome XIV was during ESRP testing. Five Exchange 2010 servers connected two a pair of XIV boxes using the new 2TB drawers managed 40,000 mailboxes at the high profile (0.15 IOPS per mailbox). Another client found four XIV boxes (720 drives) was able to handle 60,000 mailboxes (5GB max), which would have taken over 4000 drives if internal disk drives were used instead. Who said SANs are obsolete for MS Exchange?
Asynchronous Replication: IBM now has an "Async Calculator" to model and help design an XIV async replication solution. In general, dark fiber works best, and MPLS clouds had the worst results. The latest 10.2.2 microcode for the IBM XIV can now handle 10 Mbps at less than 250 msec roundtrip. During the initial sync between locations, IBM recommends setting the "schedule=never" to consume as much bandwidth as possible. If you don't trust the bandwidth measurements your telco provider is reporting, consider testing the bandwidth yourself with [iPerf] open source tool.
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center version 4.1 Overview
In conferences like these, there are two types of product-level presentations. An "Overview" explains how products work today to those who are not familiar with it. An "Update" explains what's new in this version of the product for those who are already familiar with previous releases. This session was an Overview of [Tivoli Storage Productivity Center], plus some information of IBM's Storage Enterprise Resource Planner [SERP] from IBM's acquisition of NovusCG.
I was one of the original lead architects of Productivity Center many years ago, and was able to share many personal experiences about its evolution in development and in the field at client facilities. Analysts have repeatedly rated IBM Productivity Center as one of the top Storage Resource Management (SRM) tools available in the marketplace.
I would like to thank my colleague Harley Puckett for his assistance in putting the finishing touches on this presentation. This was my best attended session of the week, indicating there is a lot of interest in this product in particular, and managing a heterogeneous mix of storage devices in general. To hear a quick video introduction, see Harley Puckett's presentation at the [IBM Virtual Briefing Center].
Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) Overview
Can you believe I have been doing ILM since 1986? I was the lead architect for DFSMS which provides ILM support for z/OS mainframes. In 2003-2005, I spent 18 months in the field performing ILM assessments for clients, and now there are dozens of IBM practitioners in Global Services and Lab Services that do this full time. This is a topic I cover frequently at the IBM Executive Briefing Center [EBC], because it addresses several top business challenges:
Reducing costs and simplifying management
Improving efficiency of personnel and application workloads
Managing risks and regulatory compliance
IBM has a solution based on five "entry points". The advantage of this approach is that it allows our consultants to craft the right solution to meet the specific requirements of each client situation. These entry points are:
Tiered Information Infrastructure - we don't limit ourselves to just "Tiered Storage" as storage is only part of a complete[information infrastructure] of servers,networks and storage
Storage Optimization and Virtualization - including virtual disk, virtual tape and virtual file solutions
Process Enhancement and Automation - an important part of ILM are the policies and procedures, such as IT Infrastructure Library [ITIL] best practices
Archive and Retention - space management and data retention solutions for email, database and file systems
When I presented ILM last year, I did not get many attendees. This time I had more, perhaps because of the recent announcement of ILM and HSM support in IBM SONAS and our April announcement of IBM DS8700 Easy Tier has renewed interest in this area.
I have safely returned back to Tucson, but have still a lot of notes of the other sessions I attended, so will cover them this week.
Continuing my week in Washington DC for the annual [2010 System Storage Technical University], I presented a session on Storage for the Green Data Center, and attended a System x session on Greening the Data Center. Since they were related, I thought I would cover both in this post.
Storage for the Green Data Center
I presented this topic in four general categories:
Drivers and Metrics - I explained the three key drivers for consuming less energy, and the two key metrics: Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) and Data Center Infrastructure Efficiency (DCiE).
Storage Technologies - I compared the four key storage media types: Solid State Drives (SSD), high-speed (15K RPM) FC and SAS hard disk, slower (7200 RPM) SATA disk, and tape. I had comparison slides that showed how IBM disk was more energy efficient than competition, for example DS8700 consumes less energy than EMC Symmetrix when compared with the exact same number and type of physical drives. Likewise, IBM LTO-5 and TS1130 tape drives consume less energy than comparable HP or Oracle/Sun tape drives.
Integrated Systems - IBM combines multiple storage tiers in a set of integrated systems managed by smart software. For example, the IBM DS8700 offers [Easy Tier] to offer smart data placement and movement across Solid-State drives and spinning disk. I also covered several blended disk-and-tape solutions, such as the Information Archive and SONAS.
Actions and Next Steps - I wrapped up the talk with actions that data center managers can take to help them be more energy efficient, from deploying the IBM Rear Door Heat Exchanger, or improving the management of their data.
Greening of the Data Center
Janet Beaver, IBM Senior Manager of Americas Group facilities for Infrastructure and Facilities, presented on IBM's success in becoming more energy efficient. The price of electricity has gone up 10 percent per year, and in some locations, 30 percent. For every 1 Watt used by IT equipment, there are an additional 27 Watts for power, cooling and other uses to keep the IT equipment comfortable. At IBM, data centers represent only 6 percent of total floor space, but 45 percent of all energy consumption. Janet covered two specific data centers, Boulder and Raleigh.
At Boulder, IBM keeps 48 hours reserve of gasoline (to generate electricity in case of outage from the power company) and 48 hours of chilled water. Many power outages are less than 10 minutes, which can easily be handled by the UPS systems. At least 25 percent of the Computer Room Air Conditioners (CRAC) are also on UPS as well, so that there is some cooling during those minutes, within the ASHRAE guidelines of 72-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Since gasoline gets stale, IBM runs the generators once a month, which serves as a monthly test of the system, and clears out the lines to make room for fresh fuel.
The IBM Boulder data center is the largest in the company: 300,000 square feet (the equivalent of five football fields)! Because of its location in Colorado, IBM enjoys "free cooling" using outside air temperature 63 percent of the year, resulting in a PUE of 1.3 rating. Electricity is only 4.5 US cents per kWh. The center also uses 1 Million KwH per year of wind energy.
The Raleigh data center is only 100,000 Square feet, with a PUE 1.4 rating. The Raleigh area enjoys 44 percent "free cooling" and electricity costs at 5.7 US cents per kWh. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED] has been updated to certify data centers. The IBM Boulder data center has achieved LEED Silver certification, and IBM Raleigh data center has LEED Gold certification.
Free cooling, electricity costs, and disaster susceptibility are just three of the 25 criteria IBM uses to locate its data centers. In addition to the 7 data centers it manages for its own operations, and 5 data centers for web hosting, IBM manages over 400 data centers of other clients.
It seems that Green IT initiatives are more important to the storage-oriented attendees than the x86-oriented folks. I suspect that is because many System x servers are deployed in small and medium businesses that do not have data centers, per se.
Continuing my week in Washington DC for the annual [2010 System Storage Technical University], here is my quick recap of the keynote sessions presented Monday morning. Marlin Maddy, Worldwide Technical Events Executive for IBM Systems Lab Services and Training, served as emcee.
Jim Northington, IBM System x Business Line Executive, covered the IT industry's "Love/Hate Relationship" with x86 platform. Many of the physical limitations that were previously a pain on this platform are now addressed, through a combination of IBM's new innovative eX5 architecture and virtualization technologies.
Jim also presented the [IBM CloudBurst] solution. IBM CloudBurst is one of the many "Integrated Systems" designed to help simplify deployment. Based on IBM BladeCenter, the IBM CloudBurst is basically a Private Cloud rack for those that are ready to deploy in their own data center.
Jim feels that server virtualization on x86 platforms is still in its infancy. IBM calls it the 70/30 rule: 70 percent of x86 workloads are running virtualized on 30 percent of the physical servers.
Maria Azua, IBM Vice President of Cloud Computing Enablement, presented on Cloud Computing. Technology is being adopted at faster rates. It took 40 years for radio to get 60 million listeners, 20 years for 60 million television viewers, 3 years to get 60 million surfers on the Internet, but it only took 4 months to get 60 million players on Farmville!
Maria covered various aspects of Cloud Computing: virtualization images, service catalog, provisioning elasticity, management and billing services, and virtual networks. With Cloud Computing, the combination of virtualization technologies, standardization, and automation can reduce costs and improve flexibility.
We've seen this happen before. Telcos transitioned from human operators to automated digital switches. Manufacturers went from having small teams of craftsmen to assembly lines of robots. Banks went from long lines of bank tellers to short lines at the ATM.
Maria said that companies are faced with three practical choices:
Do-it-Yourself, buy the servers, storage and switches and connect everything together.
Purchase pre-installed "integrated systems" to simplify deployment.
Subscribe to Cloud computing, allowing a service provider do all this for you.
In countries where network access is not ubiquitous, IBM has developed tools for the cloud that work in "offline" mode. IBM has also developed or modified tools to run better in the cloud. Launching a computer instance from the cloud from the service catalog is so easy to do, your 5-year-old child can do this!
Want to see Cloud Computing in action? Check out [Innovation.ed.gov], which is run in the IBM cloud, for the US Department of Education's website to foster innovation.
Whether you adopt public, private or a hybrid cloud computing approach, Maria suggests you take time to plan, test your applications for standardization, examine all risks, and explore new workloads that might be good candidates. Otherwise, moving to the cloud might just mean "More mess for less". Maria provided a list of applications that IBM considers good fit for Cloud Computing today.
I heard several audience members indicate that this is the first time someone finally explained Cloud Computing to them in a way that made sense!
Continuing my week in Washington DC for the annual [2010 System Storage Technical University], here is my quick recap of the keynote sessions presented Monday morning. Marlin Maddy, Worldwide Technical Events Executive for IBM Systems Lab Services and Training, served as emcee.
Roland Hagan, IBM Vice President for IBM System x server platform, presented on how IBM is redefining the x86 computing experience. More than 50 percent of all servers are x86 based. These x86 servers are easy to acquire, enjoy a large application base, and can take advantage of readily available skilled workforce for administration. The problem is that 85 percent of x86 processing power remains idle, energy costs are 8 times what they were 12 years ago, and management costs are now 70 percent of the IT budget.
IBM has the number one market share for scalable x86 servers. Roland covered the newly announced eX5 architecture that has been deployed in both rack-optimized models as well as IBM BladeCenter blade servers. These can offer 2x the memory capacity as competitive offerings, which is important for today's server virtualization, database and analytics workloads. This includes 40 and 80 DIMM models of blades, and 64 to 96 DIMM models of rack-optimized systems. IBM also announced eXFlash, internal Solid State Drives accessible at bus speeds. FlexNode allows a 4-node system to dynamically change to 2 separate 2-node systems.
By 2013, analysts estimate that 69 percent of x86 workloads will be virtualized, and that 22 percent of servers will be running some form of hypervisor software. By 2015, this grows to 78 percent of x86 workloads being virtualized, and 29 percent of servers running hypervisor.
Doug Balog, IBM Vice President and Disk Storage Business Line Executive, presented how the growth of information results in a "perfect storom" for the storage industry. Storage Admins are focused on managing storage growth and the related costs and complexity, proper forecasting and capacity planning, and backup administration. IBM's strategy is to help clients in the following areas:
Storage Efficiency - getting the most use out of the resources you invest
Service Delivery - ensuring that information gets to the right people at the right time, simplify reporting and provisioning
Data Protection - protecting data against unethical tampering, unauthorized access, and unexpected loss and corruption
He wrapped up his talk covering the success of DS8700 and XIV. In fact, 60 percent of XIV sales are to EMC customers. The TCO of an XIV is less than half the TCO of a comparable EMC VMAX disk system.
Dave McQueeney, IBM Vice President for Strategy and CTO for US Federal, covered how IBM's Smarter Planet vision for smarter cities, smarter healthcare, smarter energy grid and smarter traffic are being adopted by the public sector. Almost every data center in US Federal government is out of power, floor space and/or cooling capability. An estimated 80 percent of US Federal government IT budgets are spent on maintenance and ongoing operations, leaving very little left over for the big transformational projects that President Barack Obama wants to accomplish.
Who has the most active Online Transaction Processing (OLTP)? You might guess a big bank, but it is the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), with a system processing 600 million transactions per day. Another government agency is #2, and the top Banking application is finally #3. The IBM mainframe has solved problems 10 to 15 years ago that the distributed systems are just now encountering today. Worldwide, more than 80 percent of banks use mainframes to handle their financial transactions.
IBM's recent POWER7 set of servers are proving successful in the field. For example, Allianz was able to consolidate 60 servers to 1. Running DB2 on POWER7 server is 38 percent less expensive than Oracle on x86 Nehalem processors. For Java, running JVM on POWER7 is 73 percent better than JVM on x86 Nehalem.
The US federal government ingests a large amount of data. It has huge 10-20 PB data warehouses. In fact, the amount of GB received every year by the US federal government alone exceed the production of all disk drives produced by all drive manufacturers. This means that all data must be processed through "data reduction" or it is gone forever.
The last keynote for Monday was given by Clod Barrera, IBM Distinguished Engineer and Chief Technical Strategist for System Storage. He started out shocking the audience with his view that the "disk drive industry is a train wreck". While R&D in disk drives enjoyed a healthy improvement curve up to about 2004, it has now slowed down, getting more difficult and more expensive to improve performance and capacity of disk drives. The rest of his presentation was organized around three themes:
Integrated Stacks - while new-comers like Oralce/Sun and the VCE coalition are promoting the benefits of integrated stacks, IBM has been doing this for the past five decades. New advancements in Server and Storage virtualization provide exciting new opportunities.
Integrated Systems - solutions like IBM Information Archive and SONAS, and new features like Easy Tier that help adopt SSD transparently. As it gets harder and harder to scale-up, IBM has moved to innovative scale-out architectures.
Integrated Data Center management - companies are now realizing that management and governance are critical factors of success, and that this needs to be integrated between traditional IT, private, public and hybrid cloud computing.
This was a great inspiring start for what looks like an awesome week!
This week, July 26-30, 2010, I am in Washington DC for the annual [2010 System Storage Technical University]. As with last year, we have joined forces with the System x team. Since we are in Washington DC this time, IBM added a "Federal Track" to focus on government challenges and solutions. So, basically, offering attendees the option to attend three conferences for one low price.
This conference was previously called the "Symposium", but IBM changed the name to "Technical University" to emphasize the technical nature of the conference. No marketing puffery like "Journey to the Private Cloud" here! Instead, this is bona fide technical training, qualifying attendees to count this towards their Continuing Professional Education (CPE).
(Note to my readers:The blogosphere is like a playground. In the center are four-year-olds throwing sand into each other's faces, while mature adults sit on benches watching the action, and only jumping in as needed. For example, fellow blogger Chuck Hollis (EMC) got sand in his face for promising to resign if EMC ever offered a tacky storage guarantee, and then [failed to follow through on his promise] when it happened.
Several of my readers asked me to respond to another EMC blogger's latest [fistful of sand].
A few months ago, fellow blogger Barry Burke (EMC) committed to [stick to facts] in posts on his Storage Anarchist blog. That didn't last long! BarryB apparently has fallen in line with EMC's over-promise-then-under-deliver approach. Unfortunately, I will be busy covering the conference and IBM's robust portfolio of offerings, so won't have time to address BarryB's stinking pile of rumor and hearsay until next week or later. I am sorry to disappoint.)
This conference is designed to help IT professionals make their business and IT infrastructure more dynamic and, in the process, help reduce costs, mitigate risks, and improve service. This technical conference event is geared to IT and Business Managers, Data Center Managers, Project Managers, System Programmers, Server and Storage Administrators, Database Administrators, Business Continuity and Capacity Planners, IBM Business Partners and other IT Professionals. This week will offer over 300 different sessions and hands-on labs, certification exams, and a Solutions Center.
For those who want a quick stroll through memory lane, here are my posts from past events:
In keeping up with IBM's leadership in Social Media, IBM Systems Lab Services and Training team running this event have their own [Facebook Fan Page] and
[blog]. IBM Technical University has a Twitter account [@ibmtechconfs], and hashtag #ibmtechu. You can also follow me on Twitter [@az990tony].
Continuing this week's coverage of IBM's 3Q announcements, today it's all about storage for our mainframe clients.
IBM System Storage DS8700
IBM is the leader in high-end disk attached to mainframes, with the IBM DS8700 being our latest model in a long series of successful products in this space. Here are some key features:
Full Disk Encryption (FDE), which I mentioned in my post [Different Meanings of the word "Protect"]. FDE are special 15K RPM Fibre Channel drives that include their own encryption chip, so that IBM DS8700 can encrypt the data at rest without impacting performance of reads or writes. The encryption keys are managed by IBM Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager (TKLM).
Easy Tier, which I covered in my post [DS8700 Easy Tier Sub Lun Automatic Migration] which offers what EMC promised but has yet to deliver, the ability to have CKD volumes and FBA LUNs to straddle the fence between Solid State Drives (SSD) and spinning disk. For example, a 54GB CKD volume could have 4GB on SSD and the remaining 50GB on spinning drives. The hottest extents are moved automatically to SSD, and the coldest moved down to spinning disk. To learn more about Easy Tier, watch my [7-minute video] on IBM [Virtual Briefing Center].
z/OS Distributed Data Backup (zDDB), announced this week, provides the ability for a program running on z/OS to backup data written by distributed operating systems like Windows or UNIX stored in FBA format. In the past, to backup FBA LUNs involved a program like IBM Tivoli Storage Manager client to read the data natively, send it over Ethernet LAN to a TSM Server, which could run on the mainframe and use mainframe resources. This feature eliminates the Ethernet traffic by allowing a z/OS program to read the FBA blocks through standard FICON channels, which can then be written to z/OS disk or tape resources. Here is the [Announcement Letter] for more details.
One program that takes advantage of this new zDDB feature already is Innovation's [FDRSOS], which I pronounce "fudder sauce". If you are an existing FDRSOS customer, now is a good time to get rid of any EMC or HDS disk and replace with the new IBM DS8700 system.
IBM System Storage TS7680 ProtecTIER Deduplication Gateway for System z
When it comes to virtual tape libraries that attach to mainframes, the two main players are IBM TS7700 series and Oracle StorageTek Virtual Storage Manager (VSM). However, mainframe clients with StorageTek equipment are growing frustrated over Oracle's lack of commitment for mainframe-attachable storage. To make matters worse, Oracle recently missed a key delivery date for their latest enterprise tape drive.
What's new this week is that IBM now supports native IP-based asynchronous replication of virtual tapes at distance, from one TS7680 to another TS7680. This replaces the method of replication using the back end disk features. The problem with using disk replication is that all the virtual tapes will be copied over. Instead, the ProtecTIER administrator can decide which subset of virtual tapes should be replicated to the remote site, and that can reduce both storage requirements as well as bandwidth costs. See the [Announcement Letter] for more details.
By combining multiple components into a single "integrated system", IBM can offer a blended disk-and-tape storage solutions. This provides the best of both worlds, high speed access using disk, while providing lower costs and more energy efficiency with tape. According to a study by the Clipper Group, tape can be 23 times less expensive than disk over a 5 year total cost of ownership (TCO).
I've also covered Hierarchical Storage Management, such as my post [Seven Tiers of Storage at ABN Amro], and my role as lead architect for DFSMS on z/OS in general, and DFSMShsm in particular.
However, some explanation might be warranted in the use of these two terms in regards to SONAS. In this case, ILM refers to policy-based file placement, movement and expiration on internal disk pools. This is actually a GPFS feature that has existed for some time, and was tested to work in this new configuration. Files can be individually placed on either SAS (15K RPM) or SATA (7200 RPM) drives. Policies can be written to move them from SAS to SATA based on size, age and days non-referenced.
HSM is also a form of ILM, in that it moves data from SONAS disk to external storage pools managed by IBM Tivoli Storage Manager. A small stub is left behind in the GPFS file system indicating the file has been "migrated". Any reference to read or update this file will cause the file to be "recalled" back from TSM to SONAS for processing. The external storage pools can be disk, tape or any other media supported by TSM. Some estimate that as much as 60 to 80 percent of files on NAS have low reference and should be stored on tape instead of disk, and now SONAS with HSM makes that possible.
This distinction allows the ILM movement to be done internally, within GPFS, and the HSM movement to be done externally, via TSM. Both ILM and HSM movement take advantage of the GPFS high-speed policy engine, which can process 10 million files per node, run in parallel across all interface nodes. Note that TSM is not required for ILM movement. In effect, SONAS brings the policy-based management features of DFSMS for z/OS mainframe to all the rest of the operating systems that access SONAS.
HTTP and NIS support
In addition to NFS v2, NFS v3, and CIFS, the SONAS v1.1.1 adds the HTTP protocol. Over time, IBM plans to add more protocols in subsequent releases. Let me know which protocols you are interested in, so I can pass that along to the architects designing future releases!
SONAS v1.1.1 also adds support for Network Information Service (NIS), a client/server based model for user administration. In SONAS, NIS is used for netgroup and ID mapping only. Authentication is done via Active Directory, LDAP or Samba PDC.
SONAS already had synchronous replication, which was limited in distance. Now, SONAS v1.1.1 provides asynchronous replication, using rsync, at the file level. This is done over Wide Area Network (WAN) across to any other SONAS at any distance.
Interface modules can now be configured with either 64GB or 128GB of cache. Storage now supports both 450GB and 600GB SAS (15K RPM) and both 1TB and 2TB SATA (7200 RPM) drives. However, at this time, an entire 60-drive drawer must be either all one type of SAS or all one type of SATA. I have been pushing the architects to allow each 10-pack RAID rank to be independently selectable. For now, a storage pod can have 240 drives, 60 drives of each type of disk, to provide four different tiers of storage. You can have up to 30 storage pods per SONAS, for a total of 7200 drives.
An alternative to internal drawers of disk is a new "Gateway" iRPQ that allows the two storage nodes of a SONAS storage pod to connect via Fibre Channel to one or two XIV disk systems. You cannot mix and match, a storage pod is either all internal disk, or all external XIV. A SONAS gateway combined with external XIV is referred to as a "Smart Business Storage Cloud" (SBSC), which can be configured off premises and managed by third-party personnel so your IT staff can focus on other things.
See the Announcement Letters for the SONAS [hardware] and [software] for more details.
For those who are wondering how this positions against IBM's other NAS solution, the IBM System Storage N series, the rule of thumb is simple. If your capacity needs can be satisfied with a single N series box per location, use that. If not, consider SONAS instead. For those with non-IBM NAS filers that realize now that SONAS is a better approach, IBM offers migration services.
Both the Information Archive and the SONAS can be accessed from z/OS or Linux on System z mainframe, from "IBM i", AIX and Linux on POWER systems, all x86-based operating systems that run on System x servers, as well as any non-IBM server that has a supported NAS client.
Well, today's Tuesday, and you know what that means... IBM Announcements!
This week, IBM has their huge 3Q Launch. This on top of the [2Q results] IBM released yesterday. You can read how the rest of the company did, but it is good to see that IBM grew in both revenue and market share for storage!
As with any IBM launch of this magnitude, there are so many enhancements, I will spread them across several posts.
IBM System Storage TS7610 ProtecTIER® Deduplication Appliance Express
The TS7610 is a smaller appliance than the TS7650 we introduced last year, taking up only 3U of rack space (2U for the disk itself, and a 1U slide rail to simplify maintenance). This is designed for smaller deployments, such as midsized businesses between 100 and 1000 employees that backup 3TB of data per week or less. The unit relies on RAID protected SATA drives. Thanks to the same ProtecTIER data deduplication we have on the TS7650, the TS7610 can hold up to 135TB of backup data on just 5.4TB of disk capacity, with in-line data ingest at 80 MB/sec performance. This little Virtual Tape Library (VTL) emulates up to four TS3500 libraries, with 64 LTO-3 drives and over 8000 virtual tapes. See the [Announcement letter] for details.
The [ProtecTIER Entry Edition] offers a hub-and-spoke approach to replication. You can have up to twelve(12) TS7610 boxes (the "spokes") replicate to a central VTL (the "hub"). This can be ideal for protecting remote office or branch office deployments.
IBM dobules the storage capacity by utilizing 2TB hard disk drives for the N3300 and N3400 series models, maximizes customer satisfaction through Partner Select Bundles (software bundles) for all of the N3000 series (N3300, N3400, N3600), and offers Application and Server Packs (software bundles) for N3400 models.
For the high-end, IBM introduces an enhanced Performance Acceleration Module (PAM II) bundle for N7900 Gateway. This bundle includes two 512GB Solid State Drive PAM II adapters, two dual-port 10GbE TOE network interface cards (NIC), and various software features.
The DS5020 and EXP520 joins their bigger siblings DS5100 and DS5300 in supporting Solid State Drives (SSD), available in 73GB and 300GB capacities. A new air filter bezel is also available for these when used in dusty environments. See the [Announcement letter] for details.
For my friends down in Brazil, A new 2.8 meter length power cord that supports 220-250 volts is now available for all DS4000 and DS5000 series disk systems. Obrigado para o seu negócio!
IBM Tivoli Storage FlashCopy Manager v2.2
I covered this latest release in my post [FlashCopy Manager v2.2] but the marketing team felt we should include it with this launch to get added exposure and visibility.
I'll try to get to the rest in separate posts over the rest of this week.
I use two Cloud-Computing based photo-sharing services, [KodakGallery.com] and [Flickr.com], which serve two completely different purposes.
Formerly, this was Ofoto, but was acquired by Kodak. I started using this service back in 2002, and had over 12,000 photos uploaded over the past 8 years. I was able to share all my photos with my friends and family, and they could simply order whichever prints they want and have them shipped directly to them. They have incredibly high-professional photo-based products, like calendars and coffee table books, that you can produce from your own photos.
Sadly, the fine folks at Kodak Gallery decided they did not want my business anymore, and purged my 36GB of files from their system. To be fair, they did hint that they were having financial problems with an "Archive CD" offering, which would have allowed me to get a set of CDs or DVDs holding the high-resolution graphics of all my uploaded photos. This would have cost $150 or so, and if you uploaded more photos, there was no option to get the "delta" of photos uploaded since your last archive, so it would have cost me $150 every year or so to get an updated "backup" of my files. It seemed expensive and unnecessary at the time, given that I was sure that Kodak was not going out of business anytime soon, and that I was sure they took their own backups of all the photos that people put in their charge.
The problem is that Kodak Gallery was a free service, subsidized by people ordering physical prints and other products. As such, I got lots of email from Kodak every month, offering me free shipping, special promotions, and seasonal discounts. It was so much that I had all email from them automatically routed to a different sub-folder, that I would never look at, unless I was about to make a purchase and needed to find the best coupon code or free shipping option currently offered. This also had the unintended consequence that I missed the following series of notes:
Important: From the Gallery's General Manager (April 17)
Second notice: Our storage policy has changed (April 24)
Final notice: Your stored photos may be deleted (May 8)
We don't want to delete your photos (May 22)
All the notes mentioned the new "Storage Policy", here is a quick excerpt:
"The fact is, we store billions of photos for our 75 million members. The quality storage service the Gallery provides is significant in terms of our business costs.
So that we can provide the highest level of service, we're now asking all Gallery customers to make an annual nominal purchase in exchange for photo storage. We've modified our Terms of Service policy accordingly: if your Gallery photo storage equals 2 gigabytes or less, we're asking you to spend $4.99 annually; if more than 2 gigabytes, $19.99 annually.*
One last thought: We value and appreciate your business, and we want to continue our relationship with you in a spirit of mutual support and benefit. That's always been the Kodak way."
Since they had no response from me, nor saw any purchase activity, my 36GB of files were deleted on June 17. I discovered all of this when I contacted Kodak to find out where my files were last weekend during my "Spring Cleaning". I asked if I could at least get the final set of "Archive CDs", but they told me they were purged completely.
I understand the economy is in a recession, and many free cloud-based services are losing money and going under. I can understand they were faced with tough choices, Kodak opted to switch from a free service to fee-based service.
Albert Einstein defined Insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." In general, if I am trying to get a hold of someone, and email isn't working, then I try something different, try them by phone, try them by snail mail, and so on. With the deluge of emails, people sometimes declare "email bankruptcy" by deleting everything in their inbox after coming back from vacation, or implement filters to automatically route mail to separate folders. I think it is unrealistic to expect that everybody reads every piece of email that you send them.
I would have liked for Kodak to have done at least one or more of the following, given that I had been such a long time customer, and they had earned hundreds of dollars in revenues from all the purchases, over the years, not just directly from me, but from my friends and family, of photos I uploaded to their website:
Send me a letter after not receiving any response from the first three notices. They sent me promotional materials and offers for 20 percent discounts, so they had my active snail mail address on file correctly. With 75 million users, it would have cost $33 million USD to send out snail mail letters to everyone, but for the subset of power-users who have more than 2GB of files, a snail mail letter might have gotten more $19.99 purchases they needed to stay in business.
Called me on the phone. Yes, they also had my phone number in their database.
Go ahead and charged my credit card on file $19.99 without a purchase, and given me a credit towards a future purchase. Something like: "You have not purchased anything in the last 12 months, so we charged your credit card, per our Terms of Service, but you can use this as a credit towards something in the next 60 days."
On the plus side, my "Spring Cleaning" project was done. You can't organize what you don't have anymore.
Flickr from Yahoo
I started using Flickr back in 2008 to hold photos and graphics for this blog. Flickr holds various sizes of photos that I can use directly with HTML tags. Clicking on the photo in the blog will take you to Flickr's service and allow you to see the large size resolution. The "Lotus Connections" that I have on IBM DeveloperWorks only offers 24MB of photo space, so Flickr was a nice alternative.
Unfortunately, Flickr had adopted a new policy that only the most recent 200 pictures would be visible, and I had already reached 170 photos. Rather than start deleting photos from my older blog posts, I opted to upgrade to the "Flickr Pro" account, with a fee of only $24.99 per year.
Hopefully, by paying an annual fee and choosing a successful and profitable Cloud-Computing company, I won't experience another traumatic loss. However, it does remind me that it is my responsibility to keep my own copies of these photos, just in case.
Fortunately, many "photo product" providers are connected to Flickr. For example, my publisher [<a href="http://www.lulu.com/">Lulu.com</a>] can access my Flickr photos to make photo-based coffee table books. As for my last eight years of memories that were lost, I will just have to treat it as if my house burned down. Rebuild and move on.
Of course, EMC isn't the first, and won't be the last, vendor to [hear the sirens] of Cloud Computing and crash their ships on rocky shores. Just because you manufacture hardware or write software does not guarantee your success as a Cloud service provider.
(FTC disclaimer: I work for IBM. IBM is a successful public cloud service provider, as well as offering products that can be used to deploy a private, hybrid or community cloud, and provides technology to other cloud service proviers.)
An amusing excerpt from Steve Duplessie's post:
"Side Note: There is no such thing as a private cloud. A private cloud is called IT. We don’t need more terms for the same stuff."
I have to agree that when vendors like EMC say "Journey to the Private Cloud", skeptics hear "How to keep your IT administrator job by sticking with a traditional IT approach". Butchers, bakers, candlestick makers and the specialty shop "arms dealers" of Cloud Computing IT equipment may not want to see their market shrink down to a dozen or so service providers, and drum up the fear that "Public Cloud" deployments will "disintermediate" the IT staff.
But does that mean the use of term "Private Cloud" should be discontinued? The US National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST] offers their cloud model composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models. Here's an excerpt:
Broad network access
Cloud Software as a Service (SaaS)
Cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
Like traditional IT, a private cloud infrastructure is operated solely for an organization, so I can see how many might consider the term unnecessary. However, unlike traditional IT, a private cloud may be managed by the organization or a third party and may exist on premise or off premise.
How many traditional IT departments meet the five essential characteristics above? Instead of "on-demand self-service", many IT departments have complicated and lengthy procurement and change control procedures. A few might have "measured service" with a charge-back scheme, and a few others prefer to use a "show-back" aproach instead, showing end users or managers how much IT resources are being consumed without assigning a monetary figure or other penalty. Rapid elasticity? Giving any resource you asked for back can be just as painful because re-purposing that equipment follows the same complicated and lengthy change control procedures.
Just like the term "intranet" refers to a private network that employs Internet standards and technologies, I feel the term "private cloud" is useful, representing an infrastructure that meets the above criteria, employing Public Cloud standards and technologies, that can distinguish itself from traditional IT in key ways that provide business value.
What I do hope "vaporizes" is all the hype, and all the misuse of the Cloud terminology out there.
Well, I'm back from my adventure. For those who did not follow my tweets, here is a quick recap. Not counting the day we flew from Tucson to Minneapolis, or the day we flew from Memphis back to Tucson, Mo and I spent nine days on the road, covering 1549 miles, or roughly two thirds of the Mississippi River.
Celebrated Fourth of July at the [Wide River Winery] just north of Clinton, IA. Saw "The Last Airbender" at the local cinema.
Buffalo Bill Cody museum was closed on Monday, ate my first loose-meat sandwich lunch at Maid-Rite in Moline, IL, the button museum, aka [Muscatine History and Industry Center] was also closed on Monday, took pictures in the corn fields at Oquawka, IA, ate smoked Carp from [Quality Fisheries, in Niota, IA], ate raisin pie at the Maid-Rite in Quincey, IL. Stayed in a hotel in Hannibal, MO - home of Mark Twain.
Took the Mark Twain paddleboat tour up and down Mississippi river to see Jackson island, almost drove car into the river at Winfield, MO where the Ferry was supposed to be, ate one of everything on the menu at [Fast Eddy's Bon-Air], rode up to the top of the [Gateway Arch] in St. Louis. We stayed in a hotel in downtown St. Louis, MO.
Ate donuts at World's Fair Donuts and frozen custard called "concrete" at [Ted Drewes'] in St. Louis. Popeye museum in Chester, IL, ate dinner at Dixie BBQ in Jonesboro, and took pictures of the huge Superman statue in Metropolis, IL. Stayed in a hotel in Paducah, KY.
Read the murals on the flood walls and toured the [National Quilt Museum] in Paducah, KY. Lunch at Nicky's BBQ just north of Clinton, KY, stopped for photos at Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee. Stayed in a hotel in Memphis, TN.
Tour of [Graceland Mansion], home of Elvis Presley, and [Mud Island], ate dinner at Gus' World Famous Hot & Spicy Chicken, all in Memphis, TN.
Well, I am off on a much-needed vacation. For my American readers, this weekend represents our "4th of July" Independence Day holiday. What better way to celebrate than to drive hundreds of miles from one side of the country to the other? In this case, from the North side down to the South side.
I am armed with two books on this subject. The first, is part of a series on American Road Trips, which details the roadside attractions to be found along the Great River Road. We will start up in Minnesota, and work our way Southward, covering a total of eight states in eight days along the Mississippi River.
The second book is Alton Brown's "Feasting on Asphalt, the River Run". This book describes Alton's ride Northward up the Mississippi river, detailing the restaurants and foods he enjoyed, so I will have to read the chapters in reverse.
Special thanks to Roy Buol, mayor of Dubuque, Iowa that I [met in Scottsdale earlier this year] for the idea to come visit his fine city, considered one of the Smarter Cities in the USA, thanks to IBM technology.
I don't know if I will have internet access along the way, or have the time and/or energy to blog, tweet (@az990tony) or upload photos during the trip. We'll see.
Congratulations to my colleague and close friend, Harley Puckett, who celebrated his 25th anniversary of service here at IBM. This is known internally as joining the "Quarter Century Club" or QCC. This is not just a figure of speech, the members of this club hold get-togethers and barbeques throughout the year.
Here is Harley welcoming Ken Hannigan and others he worked with back in Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) software development.
Our manager, Bill Terry, presenting Harley with a plaque.
Continuing my saga for my [New Laptop], I have gotten all my programs operational, transferred and organized all my data, and now ready for testing. You can read my previous posts on this series: [Day 1], [Day 2], [Day 3], [Day 4].
At this point, you might be thinking, "Testing? Just use your laptop already, deal with problems as you find them!" In my case, I need to sign off that the new laptop meets my needs, and then send back my previous laptop, wiped clean of all passwords and data. I have until the end of June to do this.
The value of testing is to avoid problems later, perhaps an inconvenient time such as a business trip or client briefing. It is better to work out any issues while I am still in the office, connected to the internal IBM intranet on a high-speed wired connection. Also, I plan to do a Physical-to-Virtual (P-to-V) conversion of my Windows XP C: drive to run as a virtual guest OS on Linux, so I want to make sure the image is in working order before the conversion. That said, here is what my testing encountered.
Of the 134 applications I had identified as being installed on my old laptop, I determined that I only needed about 70 of them. The others I did not bother to install on the new.
I had not thought about "addons" and "plugins" that I have that attach themselves inside browsers or other applications. I made sure that Flash, Shockwave and Java worked correctly on all three browsers: IE6, Firefox and Opera.
One of my "plugins" is an application called [iSpring Pro, which plugs into Microsoft PowerPoint. I thought I had Microsoft Office installed, but found out the standard IBM build had only the viewers. I installed Microsoft Office 2003 Standard Edition with PowerPoint, Excel and Word. I then realized that I did not have the original V4.3 installation file for iSpring Pro, so I downloaded the latest v5 from their website. However, my license key is only for version 4, so a quick email got this resolved, and the nice folks at iSpring Solutions sent me the v4.3 installation file.
Shameless Plug: We use iSpring Pro to record our voices with PowerPoint slides to generate web videos for the [IBM Virtual Briefing Center] which we use to complement face-to-face briefings. This allows attendees to review introductory materials to prepare for their visit to Tucson, or to stay up-to-date on products and features in between annual visits. If you have not checked out the IBM Virtual Briefing Center, now is a good time to see what videos and other resources we have out there. You can even request to schedule a briefing in Tucson!
Testing out iSpring Pro, I realized that there are no jacks for my headset. On my old ThinkPad T60, I had two jacks, one green for headphone and one pink for microphone. My headset has two cables, one for each, which I then use for the recordings. I also use this for online webinars and training sessions. Apparently, ThinkPad T410 went for a single 3.5mm "Combo" audio jack that handles both roles. Fortunately, there is a [Headset Buddy] adapter that merges the two cables from my headset to the combo jack on my new laptop. I ordered one which will arrive some time next week.
My new laptop doesn't fit my old docking station either. I had set the docking station aside while I had the two laptops latched together for the file transfers, but now that I am done with the old laptop, I discovered that my new T410 doesn't fit. I ordered a new one.
Using find, grep, awk, sort and uniq, I was able to generate a list of all the file extensions on my Documents foler. I was able to find old Lotus 123, Freelance Graphics, and Wordpro files. I thought Lotus Symphony would handle these, but it does not. I was able to install an old version of Lotus Smartsuite that includes these programs so that I can process these files.
I also found in the extensions list pptx, docx and xlsx files, which represent the new Microsoft Office 2007 formats. I installed the "Format Compatability Pack" that allows Office 2003 read these files.
Lastly, I installed a few programs that support a wide variety of file formats. VideoLAN's [VLC] plays a variety of audio and video files. [7-Zip] packs and unpacks a variety of archive files. (Note: Another program, BitZipper, also supports a variety of archive formats, but the install will corrupt your Firefox and IE browsers with new tool bars, change your search engine default, and install a lot of other unwanted software. Cleaning up the mess can be time-consuming. You have been warned!) I also installed [MadEdit], a binary/hex/text editor that will open any file to see what kind of format it has inside. From this, I was able to determine that some of my extension-less files were GIF, RTF or PDF format, and rename them accordingly.
With the testing done, I am ready to go wipe my old system of all passwords and data!
Continuing my saga for my [New Laptop], I have gotten all my programs operational, and now it is a good time to re-evaluate how I organize my data. You can read my previous posts on this series: [Day 1], [Day 2], [Day 3].
I started my career at IBM developing mainframe software. The naming convention was simple, you had 44 character dataset names (DSN), which can be divided into qualifiers separated by periods. Each qualifier could be up to 8 characters long. The first qualifier was called the "high level qualifier" (HLQ) and the last one was the "low level qualifier" (LLQ). Standard naming conventions helped with ownership and security (RACF), catalog management, policy-based management (DFSMS), and data format identification. For example:
In the first case, we see that the HLQ is "PROD" for production, the application is PAYROLL and this file holds job control language (JCL). The LLQ often identified the file type. The second can be a version for testing a newer version of this application. The third represents user data, in which case my userid PEARSON would have my own written TEST JCL. I have seen successful naming conventions with 3, 4, 5 and even 6 qualifiers. The full dataset name remains the same, even if it is moved from one disk to another, or migrated to tape.
(We had to help one client who had all their files with single qualifier names, no more than 8 characters long, all in the Master Catalog (root directory). They wanted to implement RACF and DFSMS, and needed help converting all of their file names and related JCL to a 4-qualifer naming convention. It took seven months to make this transformation, but the client was quite pleased with the end result.)
While the mainframe has a restrictive approach to naming files, the operating systems on personal computers provide practically unlimited choices. File systems like NTFS or EXT3 support filenames as long as 254 characters, and pathnames up to 32,000 characters. The problem is that when you move a file from one disk to another, or even from one directory structure to another, the pathname will change. If you rely on the pathname to provide critical information about the meaning or purpose of a file, that could get lost when moving the files around.
I found several websites that offered organization advice. On The Happiness Project blog, Gretchen Rubin [busts 11 myths] about organization. On Zenhabits blog, Leo Babauta offers [18 De-cluttering tips].
Peter Walsh's [Tip No. 185] suggests using nouns to describe each folder. Granted these are about physical objects in your home or office, but some of the concepts can apply to digital objects on your disk drive.
"Use the computer’s sorting function. Put “AAA” (or a space) in front of the names of the most-used folders and “ZZZ” (or a bullet) in front of the least-used ones, so the former float to the top of an alphabetical list and the latter go to the bottom."
Personally, I hate spaces anywhere in directory and file names, and the thought of putting a space at the front of one to make it float to the top is even worse. Rather than resorting to naming folders with AAA or ZZZ, why not just limit the total number of files or directories so they are all visible on the screen. I often sort by date to access my most frequently-accessed or most-recently-updated files.
Of all the suggestions I found, Peter Walsh's "Use Nouns" seemed to be the most useful. Wikipedia has a fascinating article on [Biological Classification]. Certainly, if all living things can be put into classifications with only seven levels, we should not need more than seven levels of file system directory structure either! So, this is how I decided to organize my files on my new Thinkad T410:
Windows XP operating system programs and applications. I have structured this so that if I had to replace my hard disk entirely while traveling, I could get a new drive and restore just the operating system on this drive, and a few critical data files needed for the trip. I could then do a full recovery when I was back in the office. If I was hit with a virus that prevented Windows from booting up, I could re-install the Windows (or Linux) operating system without affecting any of my data.
This will be for my most active data, files and databases. I have the Windows "My Documents" point to D:\Documents directory. Under Archives, I will keep files for events that have completed, projects that have finished, and presentations I used that year. If I ever run out of space on my disk drive, I would delete or move off these archives first. I have a single folder for all Downloads, which I can then move to a more appropriate folder after I decide where to put them. My Office folder holds administrative items, like org charts, procedures, and so on.
As a consultant, many of my files relate to Events, these could be Briefings, Conferences, Meetings or Workshops. These are usually one to five days in duration, so I can hold here background materials for the clients involved, agendas, my notes on what transpired, and so on. I keep my Presentations separately, organized by topic. I also am involved with Projects that might span several months or ongoing tasks and assignments. I also keep my Resources separately, these could be templates, training materials, marketing research, whitepapers, and analyst reports.
A few folders I keep outside of this structure on the D: drive. [Evernote] is an application that provides "folksonomy" tagging. This is great in that I can access it from my phone, my laptop, or my desktop at home. Install-files are all those ZIP and EXE files to install applications after a fresh Windows install. If I ever had to wipe clean my C: drive and re-install Windows, I would then have this folder on D: drive to upgrade my system. Finally, I keep my Lotus Notes database directory on my D: drive. Since these are databases (NSF) files accessed directly by Lotus Notes, I saw no reason to put them under the D:\Documents directory structure.
This will be for my multimedia files. These don't change often, are mostly read-only, and could be restored quickly as needed.
I'll give this new re-organization a try. Since I have to take a fresh backup to Tivoli Storage Manager anyways, now is the best time to re-organize the directory structure and update my dsm.opt options file.
Continuing my saga for my [New Laptop], let's recap my progress so far:
[Day 1 afternoon], I received the laptop from shipping on Wednesday, took a backup of the factory install image to an external USB drive, and re-partitioned to run both Windows and Linux operating systems.
[Day 2], I spent Thursday using the "Migration Assistant" tool, and completed the operation sending the rest of my data over to the /dev/sda6 NTFS partition.
So now, Friday (day 3), I get to install any applications that were not part of the pre-installed image. Thankfully, I had planned ahead and figured out the 134 different applications that I had on my old system. I printed out a copy of my spreadsheet, and used it as a checklist to systematically go through the list. For each one, I determined one of the following:
If I could find the application already installed, either the same version or newer, or functionally equivalent, then I would mark it down as being part of the factory build. Of those programs pre-installed, I am quite pleased that the settings were carried over during yesterday's file transfer. For example, my bookmarks and bookmarklets on Firefox are all in tact. However, it did not carry forward all of my Firefox addons, so these I had to install separately.
IBM Standard Software Installer is our internal website for IBM and select third-party software for the different operating systems supported. Many of the ISSI programs were already included in the factory build, such as Lotus Notes, Lotus Symphony, Firefox browser, and so I had very few left remaining to do manually from ISSI.
INSTALL from D:\Install-Files
As I mentioned in my previous post, I saved the ZIP or EXE files of installation, as well as any license keys, URLs and other useful information to re-install each application.
COPY over from D:\Prog-Files
Many programs don't have installation files, because they don't need to update the registry or create Desktop icons or Taskbar management buttons. For these I can just copy the directory over to C:\Program Files.
In some cases, the Install-File was fairly downlevel, so I downloaded a fresh copy from the Web. In other cases, I forgot to save the ZIP or EXE, so this was the backup plan.
DEFER for later install
I worked down the list alphabetically, but some programs needed other programs to be installed first, or I needed to find the license registry key, or whatever. This allowed me to focus on the most important programs first. Others I might defer indefinitely until I need them, such as programs to access Second Life, or to build software for Lego Mindstorms robots.
SKIP those applications no longer required
Some programs just don't need to be on my new system. This includes software to manage printers I no longer have, drivers to attach to gadgets and devices I no longer own, and software that might have been specific to the old ThinkPad T60. This was also a good time to "de-duplicate" similar applications. For example, I have decided to limit myself to just three browsers: Firefox, Opera, and Internet Explorer IE6.
The planning paid off. I was able to confirm or install all of my applications today and have a fully working Windows XP system partition. I celebrated by taking another backup.
Continuing my saga regarding my [New Laptop], I managed on
[Wednesday afternoon] to prepare my machine with separate partitions for programs and data. I was hoping to wrap things up on day 2 (Thursday), but nothing went smoothly.
Just before leaving late Wednesday evening, I thought I would try running the "Migration Assistant" overnight by connecting the two laptops with a REGULAR Ethernet cable. The instructions indicated that in "most" cases, two laptops can be connected using a regular "patch cord" cable. These are the kind everyone has, the connects their laptop to the wall socket for wired connection to the corporate intranet, or their personal computers to their LAN hubs at home. Unfortunately, the connection was not recognized, so I suspected that this was one of the exceptions not covered.
(There are two types of Ethernet cables. The ["patch cord"] connects computers to switches. The ["crossover" cable] connects like devices, such as computers to computers, or switches to switches. Four years ago, I used a crossover cable to transfer my files over, and assumed that I would need one this time as well.)
Thursday morning, I borrowed a crossover cable from a coworker. It was bright pink and only about 18 inches long, just enough to have the two laptops side by side. If the pink crossover cable were any shorter, the two laptops would be back to back. I kept the old workstation in the docking station, which allowed it to remain connected to my big flat screen, mouse, keyboard and use the docking stations RJ45 to connect to the corporate intranet. That left the RJ45 on the left side of the old system to connect via crossover cable to the new system. But that didn't work, of course, because the docking station overrides the side port, so we had to completely "undock" and go native laptop to laptop.
Restarting the Migration Assistant, I unplug the corporate intranet cable from the old laptop, put one end of the pink cable into each Ethernet port of each laptop. On the new system, Migration Assistant asks to setup a password and provides an IP address like 169.254.aa.bb with a netmask of 255.255.0.0 and I am supposed to type this IP address over on the old system for it to reach out and connect. It still didn't connect.
We tried a different pink crossover cable, no luck. My colleague Harley brought over his favorite "red" crossover cable, that he has used successfully many times, but still didn't work. The helpful diagnostic advice was to disable all firewall programs from one or both systems.
I disabled Symantec Client Firewall on both systems. Still not working. I even tried booting both systems up in "safe" mode, using MSCONFIG to set the reboot mode as "safe with networking" as the key option. Still not working. At this point, I was afraid that I would have to use the alternate approach, which was to connect both systems to our corporate 100 Mbps system, which would be painfully slow. I only have one active LAN cable in my office, so the second computer would have to sit outside in the lobby.
Looking at the IP address on the old system, it was 9.11.xx.yy, assigned by our corporate DHCP, so not even in the same subnet of the new computer. So, I created profiles on ThinkVantage Access Connections on both systems, with 192.168.0.yy netmask 255.255.255.0 on the old system, and 192.168.0.bb on the new system. This worked, and a connection between the two systems was finally recognized.
Since I had 23GB of system files and programs on my old C: drive, and 80GB of data on my old D: drive, I didn't think I would run out of space on my new 40GB C: drive and 245GB D: drive, but it did! The Migration Assistant wanted to my D:\Documents on my new C: drive and refused to continue. I had to turn off D:\Documents from the list so that it could continue, processing only the programs and system settings on C: drive. It took 61 minutes to scan 23GB on my C: drive, identify 12,900 files to move, representing 794MB of data. Seriously? Less than 1GB of data moved!
It then scanned all of the programs I had on my old system, and decided that there were none that needed to be moved or installed on the new system. The closing instructions explained there might be a few programs that need to be manually installed, and some data that needed to be transferred manually.
Given the performance of Migration Assistant, I decided to just setup a direct Network Mapping of the new D: drive as Y: on my old system, and just drag and drop my entire folder over. Even at 1000 Mbps, this still took the rest of the day. I also backed up C:\Program Files using [System Rescue CD] to my external USB drive, and restored as D:\prog-files, just in case. In retrospect, I realize it would have been faster just to have dumped my D: drive to my USB drive, and restore it on the new system.
I'll leave the process of re-installing missing programs for Friday.
Continuing my rant from Monday's post [Time for a New Laptop], I got my new laptop Wednesday afternoon. I was hoping the transition would be quick, but that was not the case. Here were my initial steps prior to connecting my two laptops together for the big file transfer:
Document what my old workstation has
Back in 2007, I wrote a blog post on how to [Separate Programs from Data]. I have since added a Linux partition for dual-boot on my ThinkPad T60.
Windows XP SP3 operating system and programs
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4
My Documents and other data
I also created a spreadsheet of all my tools, utilities and applications. I combined and deduplicated the list from the following sources:
Control Panel -> Add/Remove programs
Start -> Programs panels
Program taskbar at bottom of screen
The last one was critical. Over the years, I have gotten in the habit of saving those ZIP or EXE files that self-install programs into a separate directory, D:/Install-Files, so that if I had to unintsall an application, due to conflicts or compatability issues, I could re-install it without having to download them again.
So, I have a total of 134 applications, which I have put into the following rough categories:
AV - editing and manipulating audio, video or graphics
Files - backup, copy or manipulate disks, files and file systems
Browser - Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera and Google Chrome
Communications - Lotus Notes and Lotus Sametime
Connect - programs to connect to different Web and Wi-Fi services
Demo - programs I demonstrate to clients at briefings
Drivers - attach or sync to external devices, cell phones, PDAs
Games - not much here, the basic solitaire, mindsweeper and pinball
Help Desk - programs to diagnose, test and gather system information
Projects - special projects like Second Life or Lego Mindstorms
Lookup - programs to lookup information, like American Airlines TravelDesk
Meeting - I have FIVE different webinar conferencing tools
Office - presentations, spreadsheets and documents
Platform - Java, Adobe Air and other application runtime environments
Player - do I really need SIXTEEN different audio/video players?
Printer - print drivers and printer management software
Scanners - programs that scan for viruses, malware and adware
Tools - calculators, configurators, sizing tools, and estimators
Uploaders - programs to upload photos or files to various Web services
Backup my new workstation
My new ThinkPad T410 has a dual-core i5 64-bit Intel processor, so I burned a 64-bit version of [Clonezilla LiveCD] and booted the new system with that. The new system has the following configuration:
Windows XP SP3 operating system, programs and data
There were only 14.4GB of data, it took 10 minutes to backup to an external USB disk. I ran it twice: first, using the option to dump the entire disk, and the second to dump the selected partition. The results were roughly the same.
Run Workstation Setup Wizard
The Workstation Setup Wizard asks for all the pertinent location information, time zone, userid/password, needed to complete the installation.
I made two small changes to connect C: to D: drive.
Changed "My Documents" to point to D:\Documents which will move the files over from C: to D: to accomodate its new target location. See [Microsoft procedure] for details.
Edited C:\notes\notes.ini to point to D:\notes\data to store all the local replicas of my email and databases.
Install Ubuntu Desktop 10.04 LTS
My plan is to run Windows and Linux guests through virtualization. I decided to try out Ubuntu Desktop 10.04 LTS, affectionately known as Lucid Lynx, which can support a variety of different virtualization tools, including KVM, VirtualBox-OSE and Xen. I have two identical 15GB partitions (sda2 and sda3) that I can use to hold two different systems, or one can be a subdirectory of the other. For now, I'll leave sda3 empty.
Take another backup of my new workstation
I took a fresh new backup of paritions (sda1, sda2, sda6) with Clonezilla.
The next step involved a cross-over Ethernet cable, which I don't have. So that will have to wait until Thursday morning.
Well, it's Tuesday, and you all know what that means... IBM announcements!
This week, IBM announced the IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Disk Midrange Edition, affectionately referred to as "MRE". This is basically TPC for Disk but with two key differences:
A special license that covers only DS3000, DS4000, DS5000 series, whether natively attached or virtualized behind SAN Volume Controller.
A new pricing model based on the number on controllers and drawers, rather than by TB managed. For example, if you have a DS5300 and two expansion drawers, then you pay for three units of MRE. As you upgrade from smaller capacity disks to larger capacity disks, your license costs won't increase. This eliminates the quarterly hassle to "true up" your software licenses to match actual capacity that is required on TB-based licensing.
My how time flies. This week marks my 24th anniversary working here at IBM. This would have escaped me completely, had I not gotten an email reminding me that it was time to get a new laptop. IBM manages these on a four-year depreciation schedule, and I received my current laptop back in June 2006, on my 20th anniversary.
When I first started at IBM, I was a developer on DFHSM for the MVS operating system, now called DFSMShsm on the z/OS operating system. We all had 3270 [dumb terminals], large cathode ray tubes affectionately known as "green screens", and all of our files were stored centrally on the mainframe. When Personal Computers (PC) were first deployed, I was assigned the job of deciding who got them when. We were getting 120 machines, in five batches of 24 systems each, spaced out over the next two years. I was assigned the job of recommending who should get a PC during the first batch, the second batch, and so on. I was concerned that everyone would want to be part of the first batch, so I put out a survey, asking questions on how familiar they were with personal computers, whether they owned one at home, were familiar with DOS or OS/2, and so on.
It was actually my last question that helped make the decision process easy:
How soon do you want a Personal Computer to replace your existing 3270 terminal?
As late as possible
I had five options, and roughly 24 respondents checked each one, making my job extremely easy. Ironically, once the early adopters of the first batch discovered that these PC could be used for more than just 3270 terminal emulation, many of the others wanted theirs sooner.
Back then, IBM employees resented any form of change. Many took their new PC, configured it to be a full-screen 3270 emulation screen, and continued to work much as they had before. My mentor, Jerry Pence, would print out his mails, and file the printed emails into hanging file folders in his desk credenza. He did not trust saving them on the mainframe, so he was certainly not going to trust storing them on his new PC. One employee used his PC as a door stop, claiming he will continue to use his 3270 terminal until they take it away from him.
Moving forward to 2006, I was one of the first in my building to get a ThinkPad T60. It was so new that many of the accessories were not yet available. It had Windows XP on a single-core 32-bit processor, 1GB RAM, and a huge 80GB disk drive. The built-in 1GbE Ethernet went unused for a while, as we had 16 Mbps Token Ring network.
I was the marketing strategist for IBM System Storage back then, and needed all this excess power and capacity to handle all my graphic-intense applications, like GIMP and Second Life.
Over the past four years, I made a few slight improvements. I partitioned the hard drive to dual-boot between Windows and Linux, and created a separate partition for my data that could be accessed from either OS. I increased the memory to 2GB and replaced the disk with a drive holding 120GB capacity.
A few years ago, IBM surprised us by deciding to support Windows, Linux and Mac OS computers. But actually it made a lot of sense. IBM's world-renown global services manages the help-desk support of over 500 other companies in addition to the 400,000 employees within IBM, so they already had to know how to handle these other operating systems. Now we can choose whichever we feel makes us more productive. Happy employees are more productive, of course. IBM's vision is that almost everything you need to do would be supported on all three OS platforms:
Access your email, calendar, to-do list and corporate databases via Lotus Notes on either Windows, Linux or Mac OS. Corporate databases store our confidential data centrally, so we don't have to have them on our local systems. We can make local replicas of specific databases for offline access, and these are encrypted on our local hard drive for added protection. Emails can link directly to specific entries in a database, so we don't have huge attachments slowing down email traffic. IBM also offers LotusLive, a public cloud offering for companies to get out of managing their own email Lotus Domino repositories.
Create presentations, documents and spreadsheets on either Windows, Linux or Mac OS. Lotus Symphony is based on open source OpenOffice and is compatible with Microsoft Office. This allows us to open and update directly in Microsoft's PPT, DOC and XLS formats.
Many of the corporate applications have now been converted to be browser-accessible. The Firefox browser is available on Windows, Linux and Mac OS. This is a huge step forward, in my opinion, as we often had to download applications just to do the simplest things like submit our time-sheet or travel expense reimbursement. I manage my blog, Facebook and Twitter all from online web-based applications.
The irony here is that the world is switching back to thin clients, with data stored centrally. The popularity of Web 2.0 helped this along. People are using Google Docs or Microsoft OfficeOnline to eliminate having to store anything locally on their machines. This vision positions IBM employees well for emerging cloud-based offerings.
Sadly, we are not quite completely off Windows. Some of our Lotus Notes databases use Windows-only APIs to access our Siebel databases. I have encountered PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets that just don't render correctly in Lotus Symphony. And finally, some of our web-based applications work only in Internet Explorer! We use the outdated IE6 corporate-wide, which is enough reason to switch over to Firefox, Chrome or Opera browsers. I have to put special tags on my blog posts to suppress YouTube and other embedded objects that aren't supported on IE6.
So, this leaves me with two options: Get a Mac and run Windows on the side as a guest operating system, or get a ThinkPad to run Windows or Windows/Linux. I've opted for the latter, and put in my order for a ThinkPad 410 with a dual-core 64-bit i5 Intel processor, VT-capable to provide hardware-assistance for virtualization, 4GB of RAM, and a huge 320GB drive. It will come installed with Windows XP as one big C: drive, so it will be up to me to re-partition it into a Windows/Linux dual-boot and/or Windows and Linux running as guest OS machine.
(Full disclosure to make the FTC happy: This is not an endorsement for Microsoft or against Apple products. I have an Apple Mac Mini at home, as well as Windows and Linux machines. IBM and Apple have a business relationship, and IBM manufactures technology inside some of Apple's products. I own shares of Apple stock, I have friends and family that work for Microsoft that occasionally send me Microsoft-logo items, and I work for IBM.)
I have until the end of June to receive my new laptop, re-partition, re-install all my programs, reconfigure all my settings, and transfer over my data so that I can send my old ThinkPad T60 back. IBM will probably refurbish it and send it off to a deserving child in Africa.
If you have an old PC or laptop, please consider donating it to a child, school or charity in your area. To help out a deserving child in Africa or elsewhere, consider contributing to the [One Laptop Per Child] organization.
The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a good reminder that all organizations should consider practice and execution of their contingency plans. In this most recent case, the [Deepwater Horizon] oil platform had an explosion on April 20, resulting in oil spewing out at an estimated 19,000 barrels per day. While some bloggers have argued that BP failed to plan, and therefore planned to fail, I found that hard to believe. How can a billion-dollar multinational company not have contingency plans?
The truth is, BP did have plans. Karen Dalton Beninato of New Orleans' City Voices discusses BP's Gulf of Mexico Regional Oil Spill Response Plan (OSRP) in her article [BP's Spill Plan: What they knew and when they knew it]. A
[redacted 90-page version of the OSRP] is available on their website.
The plan indicates that it may be 30 days from the time a deep offshore leak reaches the shoreline, giving OSRP participants plenty of time to take action.
(Having former politicians [blame environmentalists] for this crisis does not help much either. At least the deep shore rigs give you 30 days to react to a leak before the oil gets to the shoreline. Having oil rigs closer to shore will just shorten this time to react. Allowing onshore oil rigs does not mean oil companies would discontinue their deep offshore operations. There are thousands of oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Extracting oil in the beautiful Alaska National Wildlife Reserve [ANWR] might be safer, it does not eliminate the threat entirely, and any leak there would be damaging to the local plant and animals in the same manner.)
So perhaps the current crisis was not the result of a lack of planning, but inadequate practice and execution. The same is true for IT Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) plans. In all cases, there are four critical parts:
The planning team needs to anticipate every possible incident, determine the risks involved and the likelihood of impact, and either accept them, or decide to mitigate them. This can include natural disasters (hurricanes, fires, floods) and technical issues (computer viruses, power outages, network disruption).
Mitigation can involve taking backups, having replicated copies at a remote location, creating bootable media, training all of the appropriate employees, and having written documented procedures. IBM's Unified Recovery Management approach can protect your entire IT operations, from laptops of mobile employees, to remote office/branch office (ROBO) locations, to regional and central data centers.
When was the last time you practiced your Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery plan? I have seen this done at a variety of levels. At the lowest level, it is all done on paper, in a conference room, with all participants talking through their respective actions. These are often called "walk-throughs". At the highest level, you turn off power to your data center --on a holiday weekend to minimize impact to operating revenues-- and have the team bring up applications at the alternate site.
As many as 80 percent of these BC/DR exercises are considered failures, in that if a real disaster would have occurred, the participants are convinced they would not have achieved their target goals of Recovery Time Objective (RTO). However, they are not complete failures if they can help improve the plans, help identify new incidents that were not previously considered, and help train the participants in recovery procedures.
The last part is execution. In my career, I have been onsite for many Disaster Recovery exercises as well as after real disasters have occured. I am not surprised how many people assume that if they have plans in place, have made preparations, and have one to three practice drills per year, that the actual "execution" would directly follow. While the book [Execution] by Bossidy and Charan is not focused on IT BC/DR plans per se, it is a great read on how to manage the actual execution of any kind of business plan. I have read this book and recommend it.
If you have not tested out your IT department's BC/DR plans. Perhaps its time to dust off your copy, review it, and schedule some time for practice.