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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.
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Well, it's Wednesday, day three at the [Data Center Conference] here in Las Vegas, Nevada. Unlike other conferencesthat concentrate all of their keynote sessions at the front of the agenda,this conference spread them out over several days. They had three on Tuesday, two more Wednesday, and the last one on Thursday. Here are my thoughts on the two keynote sessions on Wednesday.
Top 10 Disruptive Technologies affecting the Data Center
The analyst presented his "top ten" technologies to watch:
Storage Virtualization - I was glad this made top of the list!
Cloud Computing - IBM was recognized for its leadership in this space. Cloud computing brings together new models of acquisition, billing, access, and deployment of new technology.
Servers: Beyond Blades - Currently, distributed servers have fixed CPU, memory and I/O capability, as manufactured at the factory, but what if you can re-assign these resources dynamically? New technologies mightmake this possible.
Virtualization for desktops - not just hosted virtual desktops, the speaker proposed having"portable personalities" that an employee might carry around on a CDrom or USB memory stick, andthen use whatever computer equipment was nearby.
Enterprise Mashups - You know analysts have too much time on their hands when they come up withtheir own eight-layer reference architecture for enterprise adoption of Web 2.0 technologies.
Specialized Systems - These are sometimes called heterogeneous systems, hybrids, or application-specific appliances. Unlike general purposes servers, these are more difficult to re-purpose as your needs change. However, if done right, can provide better performance for specific workloads.
Social Software and Social Networking - A survey of the audience found 18 percent were alreadyusing Mashups in the enterprise, but 65 percent haven't looked at this at all. Because traditionalhierarchically-organized companies can't re-structure their employees fast enough, the use ofsocial software to develop "virtual teams" and "communities of interest" can be an effective wayto get the "wisdom of crowds" from your employees. Rather than just installing this kind of software, the speaker felt it was better to just "plant seeds" and let social networks grow withinthe enterprise.
Unified Communications - Do you use different providers or software for cell phone, land line, wi-fi, internet, Instant Messaging (IM), audio conferencing, video conferencing, and email? The promise of Unified Communications is to bring this all together.
Zones and Pods - In the 1990s, traditional design for data centers tried to anticipate growthover the next 15-20 years, and build accordingly. These did not foresee all the changes in IT.The new best practice is a "pod approach" where you only build what you need for the next 5 to 7years, with the architecture to expand as needed. A traditional 9000-square-foot data center thatsupports 150 "watts-per-square-foot" would cost over $20 million to build, and over $1 million inelectricity every year. A pod alternative might cost less than $12 million to build, and nearlycut electricity costs in half.
Green IT - rapid "green" improvements are being demanded on IT operations, not just forpolitical correctness, but also for cost savings. A survey of the audience found 7 percentwilling to pay a premium price for green solutions, and another 26 percent willing to pay aslightly higher price for green features and attributes.
Don McMillan, Computer Engineer turned Stand Up Comic
Don gave a hilarious look at the IT industry. While most comics that are often hired to entertainthe audience have only a layman's knowledge of what we do, Don has a masters degree in ElectricalEngineering from Stanford and worked at a variety of IT companies, including AT&T Bell Labs andVLSI Technology. You can see more of his bio on his[Technically Funny] Web site.
Here's Don in a [four-minute video] demonstrating the kind of observational humor he performs.
It's good to see a bit of humor at IT conferences. With the pressures of IT staff and managementto manage explosive growth with shrinking budgets, the attendees appreciated the mix of serious with the not-so-serious.
The title of this post is inspired by Baxter Black's [latest book]. Rathera recap of the break-out sessions, I thought I would comment on a fewsentences, phrases or comments I heard in the afternoon and evening.
Stop buying storage from EMC or NetApp
The lunch was sponsored by Symantec. Rod Soderbery presented "Taking the cost out ofcost savings", explaining some ideas to reduce IT costs immediately.
First, he suggested to "stop buying storage" from EMC or NetApp that charge a premiumfor tier-one products. Instead, Rod suggested that people should "think like a Web company"and buy only storage products based on commodity hardware to save money, and to use SRM software to identify areas of poor storage utilization. IBM's TotalStorage Productivity Center softwareis often used to help with this analysis.
His other suggestions were to adopt thin provisioning, data deduplication, and virtualization.The discussion at my table started with someone asking, "How do we adopt those functions without buying new storage capacity with those features already built-in?" I explained that IBM's SAN Volume Controller (SVC),N series gateways, and TS7650G ProtecTIER virtual tape gateway can all provide one or moreof these features to your existing disk storage capacity.
IBM and HP are leaders in blade servers
In the session "Future of Server and OS: Disappearing Boundaries", the audience confirmedby electronic survey that IBM and HP are the leaders in blade servers, although blades representonly 8-10 percent of the overall server market.
Interestingly, 22 percent of the audience has deployed both x86 and non-x86 (POWER, SPARC, etc.) blade servers.The presenters considered this an interesting insight.
Another survey of the audience found that 3 percent considered Sun/STK as their primary storagevendor. One of the presenters was delighted that Sun is still hanging in there.
IBM Business Partners deliver the best of IBM and mask the worst
Elaine Lennox, IBM VP, and Mark Wyllie, CEO of Flagship Solutions Group, Inc. presentedIBM-sponsored back to back sessions. Elaine presented IBM's vision, the New Enterprise Data Center, and the challenges that demand a smarter planet.
Mark focused on his company's experience working with IBM through Innovation Workshops. Theseare assessments that can help someone identify where you are now, where you want to be, andthen action plans to address the gaps.
Cats and Dogs, Oil and Water, Microsoft Windows and Mission-critical applications, what do all of these have in common?
NEC Corporation of America sponsored some sessions on some x86-based solutions they have to offer.The first part, titled "Rats Nests, Snow Drifts and Trailers" focused unified storage, andthe second part, presented by Michael Nixon, focused on how to bring Microsoft Windows servers into the data center for mission-critical applications.
The Economy might be slowing, but storage is still growing
Two analysts co-presented "The Enterprise Storage Scenario". Unlike computing capacity, thereis no on/off switch for storage, not from applications nor from end-users. The cost ofpower for storage is expected to be 3x by 2013. Virtual servers, includingVMware and Microsoft's Hyper-V will drive the need for shared external disk storage.A survey of the audience found 20 percent were expecting to purchase additional storagecapacity 4Q08.
When someone reaches age 52, they expect to coast the rest of their career
At dinner with analysts, the discussion of financial meltdown and bailouts is unavoidable,including everyone's views about the proposed bailout of the Big 3 automakers. I can'tdefend Ford, GM and Chrysler paying their people $70 US dollars per hour, when their UScounterparts at Toyota or Honda are only paid $45 to $50 dollars per hour.
However, I have a close friend who retired after 20 years working for the fire department,and a cousin who retired after 20 years serving in the Navy (the US Navy, not the BolivianNavy), and both are still in their forties in age. A long time ago, IT professionalsretired after 30 years, in some cases with 50 to 60 percent of their base pay as theirpension for the rest of their lives. A 52-year-old that has worked 30 years might expect to enjoy the rest of his old age playing golf and pursuing other hobbies. This is not "coasting", it is called "retirement". The few of my colleagues that I have seen who worked 35 to 40 years did so becausethey enjoyed the challenge of work at IBM. They enjoyed solving tough engineering problems and helping customers.As long as they were having fun on the job,IBM was glad to keep their wealth of experience on board and actively engaged.
Unfortunately, many people rely on their own investments in the stock market for retirement, ratherthan company pensions. With the current financial crisis, I suspect many people my age arereconsidering their previous retirement plans.
We're going to need more trains!
I took the monorail back to my hotel. The ride includes funny announcements and statistics,including this gem:
"Since 1940, Las Vegas has doubled in population every ten years, which means thatby the year 2230, we will have over 1 trillion people calling Las Vegas home. We're goingto need more trains!"
That wraps up Tuesday, Day 2 of my attendance here! Now for some sleep.
I did not register soon enough to get into the MGM Grand itself, so I am staying at a Hiltonat the other end of the Las Vegas strip, but am able to hop on the "Monorail" to get to the MGM,just in time for the breakfast and first welcome session.
This conference has a familiar set up: six keynote sessions, 62 break-out sessions, and fourtown hall meetings. Thanks to electronic survey devices on the seats, speakers were able to gatherreal-time demographics. A large portion of attendees, including myself, are attending this conference for theirfirst time. Here's my recap of the first three keynote sessions:
The Future of Infrastructure and Operations: The Engine of Cloud Computing
How much do companies spend just to keep current? As much as 70 percent! The speaker noted thatthe best companies can get this down to 10 to 30 percent, leaving the rest of the IT budget to facilitate transformation. He predicts that companies are transforming their data centers fromsprawled servers to virtualization, towards a fully automated, service-oriented, real-time infrastructure.
Whereas the original motivation for IT virtualization was to reduce costs, companies now recognizethat they greatly improve agility, the ability to rapidly provision resources for new workloads, and that this will then lead to opportunites for alternative sourcing, such as cloud computing.
The operating system is becoming commoditized, focusing attention instead to a new concept: the"Meta OS". VMware's Virtual Data Center and Microsoft's Azure Fabric Controller are just two examples.Currently, analysts estimate only about 12 percent of x86 workloads are running virtualized, but thatthis could be over 50 percent by 2012.In this same time frame, year 2012, storage Terabytes is expected to increase 6.5x fold, and WAN bandwidthgrowing 35 percent per year.
Virtualization is not just for business applications. There are opportunities to eliminate the mostcostly part of any business: the Personal Computer, poster child of the skyrocketing costs of the client/server movement. Remote hosting of applications, streaming of applications,software as a service (SaaS) and virtual machines for the desktop can greatly reduce costs of customizedPC images and help desk support.
Cloud computing not only reduces per costs per use, but provides a lower barrier of entry and somemuch needed elasticity.Draw a line anywhere along the application-to-hardware software/hardware stack, and you can define acloud computing platform/service. About 65 percent of the attendees surveyed indicated that they were already doing something with CloudComputing, or were planning to in the next four years.
To help get there, the speaker felt that Value-added Resellers (VAR) and System Integrators (SI) wouldevolve into "service brokers", providing Small and Medium sized Businesses (SMB) "one throat to choke" in mixedmultisourced operations. The term "multisource" caught me a bit off-guard, referring to having someworkloads run internally (insourced) while other workloads run out on the Cloud (outsourced). Largerenterprises might have a "Dynamic Sourcing Team", a set of key employees serving as decision makers, employing both business and IT skills to determine the best sourcing for each application workload.
What are the biggest obstacles to getting there? The speaker felt it was the IT staff. People and cultureare the most difficult to change. The second are lack of appropriate metrics. Here were the survey resultsof the attendees:
41 percent had metrics for infrastructure economic attributes
49 percent had metrics for qualities of service (QoS)
12 percent had metrics to measure agility, speed of resource provisioning
The Data Center Scenario: Planning for the Future
This second keynote had two analyst "co-presenters". The focus was on the importance of having a documented Data Center strategy and architecture. Unfortunately, most Data Centers "happen on their own", with a majoroverhaul every 5 to 10 years. The speakers presented some "best practices" for driving this effort.
The first issue was to identify tiers of criticality, similar to those by the[Uptime Institute]. In their example, the most criticalworkloads would have perhaps recovery point objectives (RPO) of zero, and recover time objectives of lessthan 15 minutes. This is achievable using synchronous mirroring with fully automation to handle the failover.
The second issue was to recognize that many applications were designed for local area networks (LAN), butmany companies have distributed processing over a wide area network (WAN). Latency over these longer distancescan kill distributed performance of these applications.
The third issue was that different countries offer different levels of security, privacy and law enforcement.Canada and Ireland, for example, had the lowest risk, countries like India had medium risk, and countries likeChina and Russia had the highest risk, based on these factors.
The speakers suggested the following best practices:
Get a better understanding of the costs involved in providing IT services
Centralize applications that are not affected by latency, but regionalize those that are affected toremote locations to minimize distance delays.
Work towards a "lights out" data center facility, with operations personnel physically separated fromdata center facilities.
For the unfortunate few that are trying to stretch out more life from their existing aging data centers,the speakers offered this advice:
Build only what you need
Decommission orphaned servers and storage, which can be 1 to 12 percent of your operations
Target for replacement any hardware over five years old, not just to reduce maintenance costs, butalso to get more energy-efficient equipment.
Consider moving test workloads, and as much as half of your web servers, off UPS and onto the nativeelectricity grid. In the event of an outage, this reduces UPS consumption.
Implement power-capping and load-shedding, especially during peak times.
Enacting these changes can significantly improve the bottom line. Archaic data centers, those typically over 10 years old with power usage effectiveness (PUE) over 3.0 can cost over twice as much as a moreefficient data center. To learn more about PUE as a metric, see the Green Grid's whitepaper[Data Center power efficiency metrics:PUE and DCiE].
While virtualization can help with these issues, it also introduces new problems, such as VM sprawl anddealing with antiquated licensing schemes of software companies.
The Four Traits of the World's Best-Performing Business Leaders
Best-selling author Jason Jennings presented his findings in researching his various books:
It's Not the Big That Eat the Small... It's the Fast That Eat the Slow : How to Use Speed as a Competitive Tool in Business
Less Is More : How Great Companies Use Productivity As a Competitive Tool in Business
Think Big, Act Small
Hit the Ground Running : A Manual for New Leaders
Jason identified the best companies and interviewed their leaders, including such companies as Koch Industries, Nucor Steel, and IKEA furniture. The leaders he interviewed felt a calling to serveas stewards of their companies, not just write mission and vision statements, and be willingto let go of projects or people that aren't working out.
Jasonindicated a 2007 Gallup poll on the American workplace indicates that 70 percent of employees do notfeel engaged in their jobs.The focus of these leaders isto hire people with the right attitudes, rather than the right aptitudes, and give those people with the knowledge and the right to make business decisions. If done well,employees will think and act as owners, and hold themselves accountable for their economic results. Jason found cases where 25-year-olds were givenresponsibility to make billion-dollar decisions!
I found his talk inspiring! The audience felt motivated to do their jobs better, and be more engagedin the success of their companies.
These keynote sessions set the mood for the rest of the week. I can tell already that the speakers willtoss out a large salad of buzzwords and IT industry acronyms. I saw several people in the audience confusedon some of the terminology, and hopefully they will come over to IBM booth 20 at the Solutions Expofor straight talk and explanation.
I helped set up the IBM booth at the Solutions Center, third floor, where we will have variousproducts on display, as well as subject matter experts to handle all the questions.
I also went ahead and got my conference badge. While most of my cohorts have purple badges, limiting them to the Solution Centers area, I have a red badge, so that I can attend the variouskeynote and break-out sessions this week.
In keeping with our "green" theme, we have all been given matching light green shirts, and these are 70 percent Bamboo cloth, and 30 percent cotton. They are very comfortable,and sustainable! If you see me, come up and just feel my shirt, go ahead, I won't mind!
Tomorrow, the fun begins with the keynote speakers!
Wrapping up this week's theme of thankfulness, I am thankful for theOne Laptop Per Child [OLPC] and their Get-One-Give-One (G1G1)offer.
Last November, I was one of the first to [sign up for the G1G1],and when mine arrived December 24, I posted initial observations in this[OLPC series].Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of helping out teams in Nepal and Uruguay,collaborating with developers in France, India and the United States. Giving back to othershas been a richly rewarding experience for me. I made some new friends, built up newprofessional contacts, and learned some new tricks as well.
Last year's G1G1 offer was limited to US and Canada, but this year, the OLPC have enlisted [Amazon.com] and made the offer available worldwide. You can choose to either give a single laptop for $199 USD, or get two laptops, get one for yourself or your family, and give the other to someone like Zimi, for $399 USD.
I'm thankful I did. Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers in the USA!
During the Republican primaries, Mitt Romney promised Michigan he wouldbring back all those jobs back to the Auto Industry, while his opponent,John McCain, told the audience that those jobs are gone forever, time tostart learning new skills. Mitt won the state, but lost the nomination,and perhaps this snapped him back to reality. Mitt now has a new prescription for what ails the US Auto industry--straight talk that he should have been saying during his campaign,telling people what they should hear, rather than what they wanted to hear.
Gaurav takes this argument one step further, referring to IBM's amazingturn-around back in 1993. Whereas the US Auto Industry has pushed backagainst inevitable globalization, IBM has embraced it, re-inventing itself into aGlobally Integrated Enterprise [GIE] and helping our clients do the same.I've been working for IBM since 1986, so I remember the pre-1993 IBM and how different it is now in the post-1993 era.
The marketplace has responded positively. Since 2004, more than 5,000 companies worldwide have replaced their HP, Sun, and EMC products with energy-efficient IBM Systems: Servers and Storage. Companies have invested in IBM's servers and storage to tackle their most challenging business objectives and to help reduce sprawling data center costs for labor, energy and real estate.This announcement was part of IBM's[Press Release]for its Migration Factory offering. The Migration Factory includes competitive server assessments, migration services, and other resources to help customers achieve energy and space savings and lower their cost of ownership.
Earlier this month, IBM's Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano recently outlined the possibilities of a smarter planet to the Council on Foreign Relations.Steve Lohr of the New York Times weighs in with his article [I.B.M. Has Tech Answer for Woes of Economy], and Dr. Fern Halper of Hurwitz & Associates gives her take over at [IT-Director.com].
Transcontinental flights and the[Travel Channel] have made the world smaller.Thomas Friedman argued the world has also become "flatter",thanks to advances in computers and global communication, in his 2005 book[The World is Flat].Now, IBM recognizes that InformationTechnology (I.T.) can help us solve the financial meltdown, global warming, and other major problems the world is now faced with.
How? First, our world is becoming instrumented. Sensors, RFID tags and other equipmentare now inexpensive and readily available to be placed wherever they are needed. Second, our world is becoming more interconnected. We are closely approaching two billion internet users andfour billion mobile subscribers, andthese can connect to the trillions of RFID tags, sensors and other instrumentation. Third,our world needs to get more intelligent. Not just US auto workers learning new skills,but all these instruments providing information that can be acted on with intelligentalgorithms. Algorithms can help with automobile traffic in large cities, enhance energyexploration, or improve healthcare.
This week is Thanksgiving holiday in the USA, so I thought a good theme would be things I am thankful for.
I'll start with saying that I am thankful EMC has finally announcedAtmos last week. This was the "Maui" part of the Hulk/Maui rumors we heard over a year ago. To quickly recap, Atmos is EMC's latest storage offeringfor global-scale storage intended for Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads. Atmos can be sold as just software, or combined with Infiniflex,EMC's bulk, high-density commodity disk storage systems. Atmos supports traditionalNFS/CIFS file-level access, as well as SOAP/REST object protocols.
I'm thankful for various reasons, here's a quick list:
It's hard to compete against "vaporware"
Back in the 1990s, IBM was trying to sell its actual disk systems against StorageTek's rumored "Iceberg" project. It took StorageTek some four years to get this project out,but in the meantime, we were comparing actual versus possibility. The main feature iswhat we now call "Thin Provisioning". Ironically, StorageTek's offering was not commercially successful until IBM agreed to resell this as the IBM RAMAC Virtual Array (RVA).
Until last week, nobody knew the full extent of what EMC was going to deliver on the many Hulk/Maui theories. Severalhinted as to what it could have been, and I am glad to see that Atmos falls short of those rumored possibilities. This is not to say that Atmos can't reach its potential, and certainly some of the design is clever, such as offering native SOAP/REST access.
Instead, IBM now can compare Atmos/Infiniflex directly to the features and capabilities of IBM's Scale Out File Services [SoFS], which offers a global-scale multi-site namespace with policy-based data movement, IBM System Storage Multilevel Grid Access Manager[GAM] that manages geographical distrubuted information,and IBM [XIV Storage System] that offers high-density bulk storage.
Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads justify new storage architectures
When I presented SoFS and XIV earlier this year, I mentioned they were designed forthe fast-growing Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads that were unique enough to justify their own storage architectures. One criticism was that SoFS appeared to duplicate what could be achieved with dozens of IBM N series NAS boxes connected with Virtual File Manager (VFM). Why invent a new offering with a new architecture?
With the Atmos announcement, EMC now agrees with IBM that the Web 2.0 and DigitalArchive workloads represent a unique enough "use case" to justify a new approach.
New offerings for new workloads will not impact existing offerings for existing workloads
I find it amusing that EMC is quickly defending that Atmos will not eat into its DMXbusiness, which is exactly the FUD they threw out about IBM XIV versus DS8000 earlier this year. In reality, neither the DS8000 nor the DMX were used much for Web 2.0 andDigital Archive workloads in the past. Companies like Google, Amazon and others hadto either build their own from piece parts, or use low-cost midrange disk systems.
Rather, the DS8000 and DMX can now focus on the workloads they were designed for,such as database applications on mainframe servers.
Cloud-Oriented Storage (COS)
Just when you thought we had enough terminology already, EMC introduces yet another three-letter acronym [TLA]. Kudos to EMC for coining phrases to help move newconcepts forward.
Now, when an RFP asks for Cloud-oriented storage, I am thankful this phrase will help serve as a trigger for IBM to lead with SoFS and XIV storage offerings.
Digital archives are different than Compliance Archives
EMC was also quick to point out that object-storage Atmos was different from theirobject-storage EMC Centera. The former being for "digital archives" and the latter for"compliance archives". Different workloads, Different use cases, different offerings.
Ever since IBM introduced its [IBM System Storage DR550] several years ago, EMC Centera has been playing catch-up to match IBM'smany features and capabilities. I am thankful the Centera team was probably too busy to incorporate Atmos capabilities, so it was easier to make Atmos a separate offering altogether. This allows the IBM DR550 to continue to compete against Centera's existingfeature set.
Micro-RAID arrays, logical file and object-level replication
I am thankful that one of the Atmos policy-based feature is replicating individualobjects, rather than LUN-based replication and protection. SoFS supports this forlogical files regardless of their LUN placement, GAM supports replication of files and medical images across geographical sites in the grid, and the XIV supports this for 1MBchunks regardless of their hard disk drive placement. The 1MB chunk size was basedon the average object size from established Web 2.0 and DigitalArchive workloads.
I tried to explain the RAID-X capability of the XIV back in January, under muchcriticism that replication should only be done at the LUN level. I amthankful that Marc Farley on StorageRap coined the phrase[Micro-RAID array] to helpmove this new concept further. Now, file-level, object-level and chunk-level replication can be considered mainstream.
Much larger minimum capacity increments
The original XIV in January was 51TB capacity per rack, and this went up to 79TB per rack for the most recent IBM XIV Release 2 model. Several complained that nobody would purchase disk systems at such increments. Certainly, small and medium size businessesmay not consider XIV for that reason.
I am thankful Atmos offers 120TB, 240TB and 360TB sizes. The companies that purchasedisk for Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads do purchase disk capacity in these large sizes. Service providers add capacity to the "Cloud" to support many of theirend-clients, and so purchasing disk capacity to rent back out represents revenue generating opportunity.
Renewed attention on SOAP and REST protocols
IBM and Microsoft have been pushing SOA and Web Services for quite some time now.REST, which stands for [Representational State Transfer] allows static and dynamic HTML message passing over standard HTTP.SOAP, which was originally [Simple Object Access Protocol], and then later renamed to "Service Oriented Architecture Protocol", takes this one step further, allowingdifferent applications to send "envelopes" containing messages and data betweenapplications using HTTP, RPC, SMTP and a variety of other underlying protocols.Typically, these messages are simple text surrounded by XML tags, easily stored asfiles, or rows in databases, and served up by SOAP nodes as needed.
It's hard to show leadership until there are followers
IBM's leadership sometimes goes unnoticed until followerscreate "me, too!" offerings or establish similar business strategies. IBM's leadership in Cloud and Grid computing is no exception.Atmos is the latest me-too product offering in this space, trying pretty muchto address the same challenges that SoFS and XIV were designed for.
So, perhaps EMC is thankful that IBM has already paved the way, breaking throughthe ice on their behalf. I am thankful that perhaps I won't have to deal with as much FUD about SoFS, GAM and XIV anymore.
Well, I'm back from my vacation from Bali and Singapore, and am glad to seethat my fellow blogger BarryB [aka Storage Anarchist] also had a chance to take a break to exotic locations.
Next Thursday, in the USA, is [Thanksgiving holiday], so this will give me a chance to catch up on my email and read everyone's blog posts and product announcements.
The following week, December 2-5, I'll be attending the 27th annual [Data Center Conference] at the MGM Grand hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. IBM is a Premier and Platinum sponsor for this event.Look for me in one of the many break-out sessions, one-on-oneexecutive meetings, or IBM's "booth 20" at the solution center. Our team will be showingoff IBM's XIV, SVC and TotalStorage Productivity Center offerings, aswell as explaining IBM Information Infrastructure and the rest of theNew Enterprise Data Center strategy.
Well it's Tuesday, and ["election day"] here in the USA, and again IBM has more announcements.
IBM announced [IBM Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager v1.0] (TKLM) to manage encryption keys. This provides a graphical interface to manage encryption keys, including retention criteria when sharing keys with other companies.
TKLM is supported on AIX, Solaris, Windows, Red Hat and SUSE Linux. IBM plans to offer TKLM forz/OS in 2009. TKLM can be used with Firefox or Internet Explorer web browser. This will include the Encryption Key Manager (EKM) that IBM offered initially to support encryption keys for the TS1120, TS1130, and LTO-4 drives.
While this is needed today for tape, IBM positions this software to also manage the encryption keys for "Full Drive Encryption" (FDE) disk drive modules (DDM) in IBM disk systems in 2009.
There's some good discussion in the comments section over at Robin Harris' StorageMojo blog for hispost [Building a 1.8 Exabyte Data Center].To summarize, a student is working on a research archive and asked Robin Harris for his opinion. The archive will consist of 20-40 million files averaging 90 GB in size each, for a total of 1800 PB or 1.8 EB. By comparison, anIBM DS8300 with five frames tops out at 512TB, so it would take nearly 3600 of these to hold 1.8 EB. While this might seem like a ridiculous amount of data, I think the discussion is valid as our world is certainly headed in that direction.
IBM works with a lot of research firms, and the solution is to put most of this data on tape, with just enough disk for specific analysis. Robin mentions a configurion with Sun Fire 4540 disk systems (aka Thumper). Despite Sun Microsystems' recent [$1.7 Billion dollar quarterly loss], I think even the experts at Sun would recommend a blended disk-and-tape solution for this situation.
Take for example IBM's Scale Out File Services [SoFS] which today handles 2-3 billion files in a single global file system, so 20-40 million would present no problem. SoFS supports a mix of disk and tape, with built-in movement, so that files that were referenced would automatically be moved to disk when needed, and moved back to tape when no longer required, based on policies set by the administrator. Depending on the analysis, you may only need 1 PB or less of disk to perform the work, which can easily be accomplished with a handful of disk systems, such as IBM DS8300 or IBM XIV, for example.
The rest would be on tape. Let's consider using the IBM TS3500 with [S24 High Density] frames. A singleTS3500 tape library with fifteen of these HD frames could hold 45PB of data, assuming 3:1 compression on 1TB-size 3592 cartridges. You wouldneed 40 (forty) of these libraries to get to the full 1800 PB required, and these could hold even more as higher capacity cartridges are developed. IBM has customers with over 40 tape libraries today (not all with these HD frames, of course), but the dimensions and scale that IBM is capable lies within this scope.
(For LTO fans, fifteen S54 frames would hold 32PB of data, assuming 2:1 compression on 800GB-size LTO-4 cartridges.so you would need 57 libraries instead of 40 in the above example.)
This blended disk-and-tape approach would drastically reduce the floorspace and electricity requirements when compared against all-disk configurations discussed in the post.
People are rediscovering tape in a whole new light. ComputerWorld recently came out with an 11-page Technology Brief titled [The Business Value of Tape Storage],sponsored by Dell. (Note: While Dell is a competitor to IBM for some aspects of their business, they OEM their tape storage systems from IBM, so in that respect, I can refer to them as a technology partner.) Here are some excerpts from the ComputerWorld brief:
For IT managers, the question isnot whether to use tape, but whereand how to best use tape as part of acomprehensive, tiered storage architecture.In the modern storage architecture,tape plays a role not onlyin data backup, but also in long-termarchiving and compliance.
“Long-term archiving is the primaryreason any company shoulduse tape these days,” says MikeKarp, senior analyst at EnterpriseManagement Associates in Boulder,Colo. Companies are increasinglylikely to use disk in conjunctionwith tape for backup, but for long-termarchiving needs, tape remainsunbeatable.
After factoring inacquisition costs of equipment andmedia, as well as electricity and datacenter floor space, Clipper Groupfound that the total cost of archivingsolutions based on SATA disk, theleast expensive disk, was up to 23times more expensive than archivingsolutions involving tape. Calculatingenergy costs for the competing approaches,the costs for disk jumpedto 290 times that of tape.
“Tape isalways the winner anywhere costtrumps anything else,” says Karp.No matter how the cost is figured,tape is less expensive.
Beyond IT familiarity with tape,analysts point to other reasons whyorganizations will likely keep tapein their IT storage infrastructures.Energy savings, for example, is themost recent reason to stick withtape. “The economics of tape arepretty compelling, especially whenyou figure in the cost of power,”Schulz says.
So, whether you are planning for an Exabyte-scale data center, or merely questioning the logic of a disk-for-everything storage approach, you might want to consider tape. It's "green" for the environment, and less expensive on your budget.
Perhaps the recent financial meltdown is making storage vendors nervous.Both IBM and EMC gained market share in 3Q08, but EMC is acting strangelyat IBM's latest series of plays and announcements. Almost contradictory!
Benchmarks bad, rely on your own in-house evaluations instead
Let's start with fellow blogger Barry Burke from EMC, who offers his latest post[Benchmarketing Badly] with commentaryabout Enterprise Strategy Group's [DS5300 Lab Validation Report]. The IBM System Storage DS5300 is one of IBM's latest midrange disk systems recently announced. Take for example this excerpt from BarryB's blog post:
"I was pleasantly surprised to learn that both IBM and ESG agree with me about the relevance and importance of the Storage Performance Council benchmarks.
That is, SPC's are a meaningless tool by which to measure or compare enterprise storage arrays."
Nowhere in the ESG report says this, nor have I found any public statements from either IBM nor ESG that makes this claim. Instead, the ESG report explains that traditional benchmarks from the Storage Performance Council [SPC] focus on a single, specific workload, and ESG has chosen to complement this with a variety of other benchmarks to perform their product validation, including VMware's "VMmark", Oracle's Orion Utility, and Microsoft's JetStress.
Benchmarks provide prospective clients additional information to make purchasedecisions. IBM understands this, ESG understands this, and other well-respected companies like VMware, Oracle and Microsoft understand this. EMC is afraid that benchmarks mightencourage a client to "mistakenly" purchase a faster IBM product than a slower EMC product. Sunshine makes a great disinfectant, but EMC (and vampires) prefer their respective "prospects" remain in the dark.
Perhaps stranger still is BarryB's postscript. Here's an excerpt:
"... a customer here asked me if EMC would be willing to participate in an initiative to get multiple storage vendors to collaborate on truly representative real-world "enterprise-class" benchmarks, and I reassured him that I would personally sponsor active and objective participation in such an effort - IF he could get the others to join in with similar intent."
As I understand it, EMC was once part of the Storage Performance Council a long time ago, then chose to drop out of it. Why re-invent the wheel by creating yet another storage industry benchmark group? EMC is welcome to come back to SPC anytime! In addition to the SCP-1 and SPC-2 workloads, there is work underway for an SPC-3 benchmark. Each SPC workload provides additional insight for product comparisons to help with purchase decisions. If EMC can suggest an SPC-4 benchmark that it feels is more representative of real-world conditions, they are welcome to join the SPC party and make that a reality.
The old adage applies: ["It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness"]. EMC has been cursing the lack of what it considers to be acceptable benchmarks but has yet to offer anything more realistic or representative than SPC.What does EMC suggest you do instead? Get an evaluation box and run your own workloads and see for yourself! EMC has in the past offered evaluation units specifically for this purpose.
In-house evaluations bad, it's a trap!
Certainly, if you have the time and staff to run your own evaluation, with your own applications in your own environment, then I agree with EMC that this can provide better insight for your particular situation than standardized benchmarks.
In fact, that is exactly what IBM is doing for IBM XIV storage units, which are designed for Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads that current SPC benchmarks don't focus on. Fellow blogger Chuck Hollis from EMC opines in his post[Get yer free XIV!]. Here's an excerpt:
"Now that I think about it, this could get ugly. Imagine a customer who puts one on the floor to evaluate it, and -- in a moment of desperation or inattention -- puts production data on the device.
Nobody was paying attention, and there you are. Now IBM comes calling for their box back, and you've got a choice as to whether to go ahead and sign the P.O., or migrate all your data off the thing. Maybe they'll sell you an SVC to do this?
Yuck. I bet that happens more than once. And I can't believe that IBM (or the folks at XIV) aren't aware of this potentially happening."
Perhaps Chuck is speaking from experience here, as this may have happened with customers with EMC evaluation boxes, and is afraid this could happen with IBM XIV. I don't see anything unique about IBM XIV in the above concern. Typical evaluations involve copying test data onto the box, test it out with some particular application or workload, and then delete the data no longer required. Repeat as needed. Moving data off an IBM XIV is aseasy as moving data off an EMC DMX, EMC CLARiiON or EMC Celerra, and I am sure IBM wouldgladly demonstrate this on any EMC gear you now have.
Thanks to its clever RAID-X implementation, losing data on an IBM XIV is less likely thanlosing data on any RAID-5 based disk array from any storage vendor. Of course, there will always be skeptics about new technology that will want to try the box out for themselves.
If EMC thought the IBM XIV had nothing unique to offer, that its performance was just "OK",and is not as easy to manage as IBM says it is, then you would think EMC would gladly encourage such evaluations and comparisons, right?
No, I think EMC is afraid that companies will discover what they already know, that IBM has quality products that would stand a fair chance of side-by-side comparisons with their own offerings.We have enough fear, uncertainty and doubt from our current meltdown of the global financial markets, don't let EMC add any more.
Have a safe and fun Halloween! If you need to add some light to your otherwise dark surroundings, consider some of these ideas for [Jack-O-Lanterns]!
This is page 34 of Sequoia Capital's[56-slide presentation] about the current financial meltdown. In the past, IT spending tracked closely to the rest of the economy, but the latest downturn has not yet reflected in IT spend.
The rest of the deck is worth going through, with interesting stats presented in a clear manner.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and that means more IBM announcements!
Storage Area Network (SAN)
IBM and Cisco announced [three new blades] for the Cisco MDS 9500 seriesdirectors: 24-port 8 Gbps, 48-port 8 Gbps, and 4/44 blended. The 4/44blended has 4 of the faster 8 Gbps ports, and 44 of the 4 Gpbs ports,so that you can auto-negotiate down to 1 Gbps for your older gear, andstill take advantage of the faster 8 Gbps speeds during the transition.
On the Brocade side, IBM announced the newIBM System Storage Data Center Fabric Manager [DCFM] V10 software. This replaces the products formerly known as BrocadeFabric Manager and McData Enterprise Fabric Connection Manager (EFCM).This software can support up to 24 distinct fabrics, up to 9000 ports,including a mix of FCP, FICON, FCIP and iSCSI protocols.
(On a related note, I heard that Microsoft is planning to rename "Windows Vista" to "Windows 7" next year! Like we say here in Tucson,if it ends in "-ista" it is going to fail in the marketplace! Perhaps EMC should rename their storage virtualization product to "In-7"?).
IBM System Storage DR550
IBM announced today that it now supports [RAID 6 onthe DR550] compliance and retention storage system.
There are a few RAID-5 based EMC Centera customers out there who have notyet switched over to the IBM DR550, and now this might be just the littlenudge they need. For long-term retention of regulatory compliance data,RAID-5 doesn't cut it, you need an advanced RAID scheme, such as RAID-6, RAID-DP or RAID-X.
The DR550 provides non-erasable, non-rewriteable (NENR) storage supportto keep retention-managed data on disk and tape media. It supports 1 TBSATA disk drives and 1TB tape cartridges to provide high capacity at lowcost and "green" low energy consumption.
IBM System Storage N series
Several of our disk systems got improved and enhanced. Let's start withthe IBM System Storage N series[hardware and software] enhancements. IBM now offers high-speed 450GB 15K RPM drives. These are Fibre Channel (FC) drives for the EXN4000 expansion drawers, and Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) drives for the entry-levelN3300 and N3600 models.
The "gateway" models now support a variety of functions that were formerlyonly available on the appliance models. This includes Advanced Single Instance Storage (A-SIS), Disk Sanitization, and FlexScale.
A-SIS is IBM's "other" deduplication function, and I talked about this in my post [A-SIS Storage Savings Estimator Tool]. Disk Sanitization will physicallywrite ones and zeros over existing data to eliminate it, what IBM sometimes calls "Data Shredding".
The last feature, FlexScale, might be new for many. It is software toenable to use of the "Performance Accelerator Module" (PAM). The PAM isa PCI-Express card with 16GB on-board RAM that acts as a secondary cachebehind main memory of the N series controller. Depending on the model,you can have one to five of these cards fit into the controller itself,boosting random read performance, metadata access, and write block destage.
IBM System Storage DS5000
IBM's latest entry into the DS family has been hugely successful.In addition to Linux, Windows and AIX, the DS5000 now supports [Novell Netware and Sun Solaris] operating systems.
For infrastructure management, IBM has enhanced the Remote Support Manager [RSM]that supports DS3000 and DS4000 has been extended to support DS5000 as well. This software can monitor up to 50 disk systems, will e-mail alerts to IBM when something goes wrong, and allow IBM to dial in via modem to get more diagnostic information to improve service to the client. Also, the IBM System Storage Productivity Center [SSPC]which now supports the DS8000 and SAN Volume Controller (SVC) has been extended to also support the DS5000.
IBM XIV Storage System
In addition to 1-year and 3-year maintenance agreements, IBM now offers[2-year, 4-year and 5-year] software maintenance agreements.
RFID labels for IBM tape media
IBM 3589 (20-pack of LTO cartridges) and IBM 3599 (20-pack of 3592 cartridges for TS1100 series)now offer [RFID labels]. These labels match the volume serial (VOLSER) with a 216-bit unique identifier and 256 bits of user-defined content. This can help with tape inventory,and to prevent people from walking out of the building with a tape cartridge stuffed in their jacket.
32GB memory stick
While not technically part of the IBM System Storage matrix of offerings, Lenovo announced their new[Essential Memory Key] which holds 32GB of memory and workswith both USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 protocols.
I wish I could say this is it for the IBM announcements for October, given that this is the last Tuesday of the month, but there are three days left, so there might be just a few more!
The site is filled with information. One item I found particularly interesting was Science Debate 2008's[14 Questions about Science] where the top two U.S. presidential candidates answer questions about science. Barack Obama's answers inDemocratic blue, and John McCain's answers in Republican red.
This is just one of the ways IBM is trying to reach out and help our next generation.
For a while now, IBM has been trying to explain to clients that focusingon just storage hardware acquisition costs is not enough. You need toconsider the "Total Cost of Ownership" or TCO of a purchase decision.For active data, a 3-5 year TCO assessment can give you a better comparison of costs between IBM and competitive choices. For long-term archive retention, 7-10 year TCO assessment may be necessary.
Now, IBM has a cute [2-minute video] that brings anappropriate analogy to help IT and non-IT executives understand.
While some might be familiar with mashups that combine public Web 2.0 sources of information, enterprise mashups go one step further, integrating withthe "information infrastructure" of your data center. It's not just enough to deliver theright information to the right person at the right time, it has to bein the right format, in a manner that can be readily understood andacted upon. Enterprise mashups can help.
Last month, HP and Oracle jointly announced their new "Exadata Storage Server".This solution involves HP server and storage paired up with Oracle software, designed for Data Warehouse andBusiness Intelligence workloads (DW/BI).
I immediately recognized the Exadata Storage Server as a "me too" product, copying the idea from IBM's [InfoSphere Balanced Warehouse]which combines IBM servers, IBM storage and IBM's DB2 database software to accomplish this, but from a singlevendor, rather than a collaboration of two vendors.The Balanced Warehouse has been around for a while. I even blogged about this last year, in my post[IBMCombo trounces HP and Sun] when IBM announced its latest E7100 model. IBM offers three different sizes: C-class for smaller SMB workloads, D-class for moderate size workloads, and E-class for large enterprise workloads.
One would think that since IBM and Oracle are the top two database software vendors, and IBM and HP are the toptwo storage hardware vendors, that IBM would be upset or nervous on this announcement. We're not. I would gladlyrecommend comparing IBM offerings with anything HP and Oracle have to offer. And with IBM's acquisition of Cognos,IBM has made a bold statement that it is serious about competing in the DW/BI market space.
But apparently, it struck a nerve over at EMC.
Fellow blogger Chuck Hollis from EMC went on the attack, and Oracle blogger Kevin Closson went on the defensive.For those readers who do not follow either, here is the latest chain of events:
When it comes to blog fights like these, there are no clear winners or losers, but hopefully, if done respectfully,can benefit everyone involved, giving readers insight to the products as well as the company cultures that produce them.Let's see how each side fared:
Chuck implies that HP doesn't understand databases and Oracle doesn't understand server and storage hardware, socobbling together a solution based on this two-vendor collaboration doesn't make sense to him. The few I know who work at HP and Oracle are smart people, so I suspect this is more a claim againsteach company's "core strengths". Few would associate HP with database knowledge, or Oracle with hardware expertise,so I give Chuck a point on this one.
Of course, Chuck doesn't have deep, inside knowledge of this new offering, nor do I for that matter, and Kevin is patient enough to correct all of Chuck's mistaken assumptions and assertions. Kevin understands that EMC's "core strengths" isn't in servers or databases, so he explains things in simple enough terms that EMC employees can understand, so I give Kevin a point on this one.
If two is bad, then three is worse! How much bubble gum and bailing wire do you need in your data center? The better option is to go to the one company that offers it all and brings it together into a single solution: IBM InfoSphere Balanced Warehouse.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and that means more announcements from IBM!
In conjunction with IBM's new [System z10 Business Class (BC)] mainframe designed for Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMB), IBM also announced related storage productenhancements.
Yes, it's alive! Contrary to the FUD you might have read from our competitors, IBM continues to sell thousands and thousands of IBM System Storage DS6800 disk systems, and now enhances them with the optionfor 450GB 15K RPM drives. What is nice about these 450GB drives is that they are as fast or faster* than 300GBdrives, so the typical trade-off between performance and capacity do not apply.
(* I compared Seagate 15.6K (450GB) with 15.5K (300GB) models.
Avg Seek time (Read)
Avg Seek time (Write)
Full Seek time (Read)
Full Seek time (Write)
This may or may not result in application performance improvements, depending on workload pattern. Your mileage may vary.)
Our clients report back that these are incredibly stable systems that they don't have toworry about. This enhancement applies to both the [511/EX1 models] and [522/EX2 models].
Understanding that clients want complete solutions from single vendors, IBM offers synergy between System z and the IBM System Storage DS8000 disk systems. The latest R4.1 microcode upgrade offers two key features onthe various models [2107,
zHPF - High Performance FICON for System z. IBM was able to increase the throughput on 4 Gbps links. For OLTP workloads randomly accessing 4KB blocks, IBM internal tests showed zHPF doubled performance from 13,000 IOPSto 26,000 IOPS per channel. For sequential workloads, such as batch processing, zHPF increased performance 50 percent, from 350 MB/sec to 525 MB/sec.
In February, IBM previewed[IncrementalResync] for z/OS Metro Global Mirror. However, some concepts are better explained with pictures.
One way to set up a 3-site disaster recovery protection is to have your production synchronously mirrored to a second site nearby, and at the same time asynchronously mirrored to a remote location. On the System z, you can have site "A" using synchronous IBM System Storage Metro Mirror over to nearby site "B", and also have site "A" sending data over to site "C" asynchronously using z/OS Global Mirror. This is called "z/OS Metro Global Mirror".
In the past, if the disk system in site A failed, you would switch over to site B, which would have to resend send all the data again to site C to be resynchronized. This is because site B was not tracking what the System Data Mover (SDM) reader had or had not yet processed.
With DS8000 4.1, the "incremental resync" function that, along with using IBM HyperSwap, requires site B to only send and resync the data that was in-flight when the outage occurred. When you compare the difference in sending this limited amount of in-flight data with the traditional complete volume of data, you can see how "Incremental Resync" can resynchronize the data 95% faster, and also greatly decrease your bandwidth requirements. This reduces the risk in case a subsequent outage occurs.
Introduced originally in 1997 as the IBM Virtual Tape Server (VTS), the [IBMSystem Storage TS7700] series supports Grid capabilityto replicate tape image data across locations. Here's a quick recap of today's announcement:
Existing TS7740 can be upgraded up to 9TB of disk cache. New models can have up to 13TB of disk cache.
A new "tape-less" TS7720 that has up to 70TB of disk cache.
Integrate Library Management support. I discussed[IntegratedRemovable Media Manager (IRMM)] before, and this is basically IRMM inside. For those with TS3500 tape libraries,this support eliminates the need for a separate IBM 3953 L05 Library Manager.
TS1130 back-end tape drive support. These are the fastest 1TB drives in the industry, with support of built-in encryption, and now can be used asthe physical tape back-end for the virtual tape TS7740 repository.
While our competitors might be boarding up their windows in preparation for the economic downturn in the USAeconomy, IBM remains generating solid results. San Jose Mercury News has an article that discusses this titled[IBM's 3Q profit strong on global sales].There has never been a better time to buy from, or invest in, IBM!
IBM hired independent analyst Enterprise Strategy Group[ESG] to validate the box, and run workload-specific benchmarks. I agreewith Chris, the results are impressive! The report includes results from Microsoft Exchange JetStresstool to provide insight into email performance, and another benchmark to simulate Web server IOPS.
Also, the published SPC-1 benchmark for the DS5300 puts it at about 29 percent improvement over the DS4800.Chris argues the DS5300 is similar in class to NetApp FAS3170, which IBM sells as the IBM System Storage N6070.
If you are interesting in either the DS5300 or N6070, contact your local IBM Business Partner or sales rep.
Continuing this week's theme on dealing with the global economic meltdown, recession and financial crisis, I found a great video that recaps IBM CEO Sam Palmisano's recommendations to being more competitive in thisenvironment.
In a recent speech to business leaders, Sam outlined what he sees as the four most importantsteps to thriving in the global economy. The highlights can be seen here in this [2-minute video]on IBM's "Forward View" eMagazine.
Lakota Industries made news with the introduction of its [Sarah-Cuda Hunting Bow], named after moose-huntingU.S. Vice President nominee and Governor of Alaska [Sarah Palin]. This has all the same features as their other high-end hunting bows, but is lighter, smaller and available in Pink Camo. This "pink-it-and-shrink-it" move was designed to broaden the market share of hunting bows by reaching out to the needs of women hunters.
Not to be outdone, today, at the Storage Networking World Conference, IBM announced the new IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller Entry Edition [SVC EE].
The new SVC Entry Edition, available in Flamingo Pink* or traditional Raven Black.
* RPQ required. Default color is Raven Black.
You might be thinking: "Wait! IBM SVC is already the leading storage virtualization product among SMB clients today,why introduce a less expensive model?" With the global economy in the tank, IBM thought it would be nice to help outour smaller SMB clients with this new option.
This new offering is actually a combination of new software (SVC 4.3.1) and new hardware (2145-8A4). Here are thekey differences:
by usable capacity managed, up to 8 PB
by number of disk drives, up to 60 drives
2145-4F2, 8F2, 8F4, 8G4, 8A4
1, 2, 3 or 4 node-pairs, depending on performance requirements
only one node-pair needed
FlashCopy, Metro Mirror and Global Mirror, licensed by subset of capacity used
FlashCopy, Metro Mirror and Global Mirror, but with simplified licensing
The SVC EE is not a "dumbed-down" version of the SVC Classic. It has all the features and functions of theSVC Classic, including thin provisioning with "Space-efficient volumes", Quality of Service (QoS) performance prioritization for more important applications, point-in-time FlashCopy, and both synchronous and asynchronous disk mirroring (Metro and Global Mirror).
While IBM has not yet have SPC-1 benchmarks published, IBM is positioning the SVC EE as roughly 60 percent of the performance, at 60 percent of the list price, compared to a comparable SVC Classic 2145-8G4 configuration. The SVC Classic is already one of the fastest disk systems in the industry. By comparison, the SVC EE is twice as fast as the original SVC 2145-4F2 introduced five years ago.If you outgrow the SVC EE, no problem! The 2145-8A4 can be used in traditional SVC Classic mode, and the SVC EE software can be converted into the SVC Classic software license for upgrade purposes, protecting your originalinvestment!
For those considering an HP EVA 4400 or EMC CX-4 disk system, you might want to look at combining an SVC EE with [IBM System Storage DS3400] disk. The combination offers more features and capabilities, and helps reduce your IT costs at the same time.
And if you are worried you can't afford it right now, IBM Global Financing is offering a ["Why Wait?" world-wide deferral of interest and payments] for 90 days, so you don't have to make your first payment until 2009, applicable to all IBM System Storage products, including the SVC EE, SVC Classic and DS3400 disk systems.
Well, it's Tuesday, and more IBM announcements were made today. Many of my colleagues are in Dallas, Texas for the[Storage Networking World conference], and hopefully I will get some feedback from them before the week is over.
Today, IBM made announcements for Storage Area Networking (SAN) gear and disk systems.
8 Gbps Longwave transceivers
IBM now offers 8 Gbps Longwave SFP transceivers on the[IBM System Storage SAN256B and SAN768B] directors, as well as the IBM System Storage SAN24B-4 Express, SAN40B-4, and SAN80B-4 switches (orderable as [machine type models] or [partnumbers] ).These transceivers support single mode fiber up to 10km in distance, comparedto the 50-75 meters supported by the Shortwave SFP transceivers.
Like theShortwave SFP transceivers we already have available, these Longwave transceivers have "N-2" support, which means they can support two generations back: auto-negotiate down to 4 Gbps and 2 Gbps speeds. If you still have 1 Gbps equipment, now is a good time to consider upgrading those, or keep a few 4 Gbps ports available that can auto-negotiate down to 1 Gbps speed.
Mainframe clients that sent data to a remote Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) location often used "channel extenders", which were special boxes used to minimize performance delays when transmitting FICON across long distances. This was especially helpful for z/OS Global Mirror (what we used to call XRC) as well as electronic vaulting to tape.
Now, this functionality can be part of the directors and routers, eliminating the need for separate equipment.This is available for the SAN768B and SAN256B directors, as well as SAN18B-R and SAN04B-R routers.
Before the merger between Brocade and McDATA, IBM offered SAN18B-R routers from Brocade, and SAN04M-R routers from McDATA. The former had 16 Fibre Channel (FC) ports and two Ethernet ports, and the latter was less expensive with just four ports.Brocade came up with a clever replacement for both. The [IBMSystem Storage SAN04B-R] router comes by default withtwo active FC ports and two Ethernet ports, but also with 14 additional FC ports inactive. A "High Performance Extension" feature activates these additional ports, bringing the SAN04B-R up to the SAN18B-R level, and allows it to support the FICON Accelerator feature above.
So, instead of having specialized channel extenders at both primary and secondary sites, you can havea director with FICON Accelerator at the primary site, sending FICON over Ethernet to a 1U-high router (also running the FICON Accelerator) at the secondary site, whichcan greatly reduce costs. The FICON Accelerator can in some cases double the amount of data transfer throughput,but of course, your mileage may vary.
On the disk side, the [IBMSystem Storage DS3000 series] disk systems have been enhanced, withsupport for 450GB high-speed 15K RPM SAS drives, RAID-6 double-drive protection, more FlashCopy point-in-time copies,and more partitions.On the DS3000, "storage partitions" is what the rest of the industry calls "LUN masking". A storage partition allowsyou to isolate a set of LUNs to only be seen by a single host server, or host cluster that shares the same set ofLUNs. Some clients felt that the default of four partitions was too low, so now up to 32 partitions can be configured.(This is not to be confused with "Logical Partitions" that isolate processor and cache resources available on theIBM System Storage DS8000 and other high-end storage disk systems.)
IBM also extended the Operating System support.The DS3000 series now supports Solaris, either on x86 or SPARC-based servers. The DS3300 iSCSI support now supportsLinux on POWER. The DS3400 allows support of IBM i (the new name for i5/OS V6R1) through the VIOS feature.
The [IBMSystem Storage DCS9900] is a bigger, faster version of the DCS9550. Like the DCS9550, the DCS9900 is designedfor high performance computing (HPC) workloads. The DCS9550 supported up to 960TB in two frames, with 2.8 GB/sec throughput,and an optional disk spin-down capability.The new DCS9900 can support up to 1.2 PB in two frames, with 5.6 GB/sec throughput, but no spin-down capability.
So whether your data center is filled with System z mainframes, or other open systems, IBM has a solution for you.
As financial firms focus on costs, the IT departments will have an opportunity to consolidate their servers, networks and storage equipment. Consolidating disk and tape resources, implementing storage virtualization, and reducingenergy costs might get a boost from this crisis. Consolidating disparate storage resources to a big SoFS, XIV,DS8000 disk system, or TS3500 tape library might greatly help reduce costs.
Having mixed vendor environments that result from such mergers and acquisitions can be complicated to manage. Thankfully, IBM TotalStorage Productivity Centermanages both IBM and non-IBM equipment, based on open industry standards like SMI-S and WBEM.Merged companies might let go IT people with limited vendor-specific knowledge, but keep the ones familiar withcross-vendor infrastructure management skills and ITIL certification.
Comparing different vendor equipment
It seems that often times when there is a merger or acquisition, the two companies were using different storage gear from different vendors. IBM has made some incredible improvements over the past three years, in both performance enhancements and energy efficiency, but many companies with non-IBM equipment may not be aware of them.If there was ever a time to perform a side-by-side comparison between IBM and non-IBM equipment, here isyour chance.
For more on the impact of the financial meltdown on IT, see this InfoWorld[Special Report].
Today, IBM announced its latest [BladeCenter S] with integratedredundant SAN fabric and disk storage inside the chassis. The tag line is "Data Center Capability, without the Data Center!"
I've gotten a few calls on this today, so I thought it would be good to blog about. To understand what is new,you need to understand what we had in other BladeCenter chassis. In those other chassis, there were up to 14 bladeservers on the front, and switch modules for FCP and Ethernet on the back. The entire chassis was rack-mountedto be connected to external devices.
The BladeCenter S was announced a year ago.With the new "BladeCenter S" chassis, the storage can be included inside the chassis, as well as connecting tothe outside world. It is designed to be stand-alone, rather than rack-mounted, plugs into a standard 100v-240v office power outlet,and includes a dust filter in caseyou keep it close to the floor, under your desk for example.
Click graphic at left for 4-minute video introduction.
(Here's also a more detailed[7-minute video] with fellow IBM colleague Alex Yost.)
Here's what you can get with the BladeCenter S:
Up to six(6) server blades that can do the work of 25-45 traditional servers.
Up to two(2) storage blades, each can have six(6) SAS or SATA disk drive modules (DDMs)
Up to four(4) switch modules, with a variety to choose from
Shared KVM, DVD/CD burner, and USB port. You can designate which blade has access to these, useful forinstalling software, attaching external devices, and so on.
The blades use either Intel, AMD or POWER processors, so you can run Windows, Linux, AIX, and [IBM i] (the newname for i5/OS V6R1).
Back 20 years ago, I worked with people with System/36 and System/38 systems. They loved it. Everything inone package. This grew into the AS/400 server. Having everything in one package was such an advantage thatIBM extended this to include a few "x86 blades" to run Windows applications but share the storage and networkresources.
Now IBM has taken this one step further. The older models assumed the majority of applications run underIBM's OS/400 or i5/OS operating system, but this new BladeCenter S does not make that assumption. You canmix and match different blade servers as needed, and run the operating systems you need.
This is an ideal packaging for Small and Medium sized Business (SMB), remote branch offices, and retail stores.In fact, more than 4,000 retail stores plan to run their operations using BladeCenter S this holiday season! For moreon this announcement, see the [IBM Press Release].
Well, it's Tuesday again, which means IBM announcement day. With our [big launches] we had this year, there might be some confusion on IBM terminology on how announcements are handled.Basically, there are three levels:
Technology demonstrations show IBM's leadership, innovation and investment direction, without having to detail a specificproduct offering.Last month's[Project Quicksilver], for example, demonstrated the ability to handle over 1 million IOPS with Solid State Disk.IBM is committed to develop solid state storage to create real-world uses across a broad range of applications, middleware, and systems offerings.
A preview announcement does entail a specific product offering, but may not necessarily include pricing, packagingor specific availability dates.
An announcement also entails a specific product offering, and does include pricing, packaging and specific availability dates.
With our September 8 launch of the IBM Information Infrastructure strategic initiative, there were a mix of all three of these. Many of the preview announcements will be followed up with full announcements later this year. Today, the IBM Tivoli Advanced Backup andRecovery for z/OS v2.1 was announced.
Note: If you don't use z/OS on a System z mainframe, you can stop reading now.
As many of my loyal readers know, I was lead architect for DFSMS until 2001, and so functions related to DFSMS and z/OS are very near and dear to my heart. For Business Continuity, IBM created Aggregate Backup andRecovery Support (ABARS) as part of the DFSMShsm component. This feature created a self-contained backupimage from data that could be either on disk or tape, including migrated data. In the event of a disaster,an ABARS backup image can be used to bring back just the exact programs and data needed for a specific application, speeding up the recovery process, and allowing BC/DR plans to prioritize what is most important.
To help manage ABARS, IBM has partnered with [Mainstar Software Corporation]to offer a product that helps before, during and after the ABARS processing.
ABARS requires the storage admin to have a "selection list" of data sets to process as an aggregate.IBM Tivoli Advanced Backup and Recovery for z/OS includes Mainstar® ASAP™ to help identify the appropriatedata sets for specific applications, using information from job schedulers, JCL, and SMF records.
ABARS has two simple commands: ABACKUP to produce the backup image, and ARECOVER to recover it. However, ifyou have hundreds of aggregates, and each aggregate has several backups, you may need some help identifyingwhich image to recover from.IBM Tivoli Advanced Backup and Recovery for z/OS includes Mainstar® ABARS Manager™ to present a list ofinformation, making it easy to choose from. To help prep the ICF Catalogs, there is a CATSCRUB feature for either"empty" or "full" catalog recovery at the recovery site.
The fact that storage admins may not be intimately familiar with the applications they are backing up is a commonsource of human error. IBM Tivoli Advanced Backup and Recovery for z/OS includes Mainstar® All/Star™ to help validate that the data setsprocessed by ABACKUP are complete, to support any regulatory audit or application team verification.This critical data tracking/inventory reporting not only identifies what isn't backed up, so you can ensure that you are not missing critical data, but also can identify which data sets are being backed up multiple times by more than one utility, so you can reduce the occurrence of redundant backups.
With v2.1 of Tivoli Advanced Backup and Recovery for z/OS, IBM has integrated Tivoli Enterprise Portal (TEP)support. This allows you to access these functions through IBM Tivoli Monitor v6 GUI on a Linux, UNIX or Windowsworkstation. IBM Tivoli Monitor has full support to integrate Web 2.0, multi-media and frames. This meansthat any other product that can be rendered in a browser can be embedded and supported with launch-in-contextcapability.
(If you have not separately purchased a license to IBM Tivoli Monitoring V6.2, don't worry, you can obtainthe TEP-based function by acquiring a no-charge, limited use license to IBM Tivoli MonitoringServices on z/OS, V6.2.)
In addition to supporting IBM's many DFSMS backup methods, from ABARS to IDCAMS to IEBGENER, IBM Tivoli Advanced Backup and Recovery v2.1 can also support third-party products from Innovation Data Processing and Computer Associates.
As many people re-discover the mainframe as the cost-effective platform that it has always been, migratingapplications back to the mainframe to reduce costs, they need solutions that work across both mainframe anddistributed systems during this transition. IBM Tivoli Advanced Backup and Recovery for z/OS can help.
Wrapping up my week on successful uses of information, I thought I would discuss the visualization of data.Not just bar charts and pie charts, but how effective visual information can be on multi-variable plots.
IBM's [Many Eyes] recognizes that 70 percentof our sensory input neurons in our brain our focused on visual inputs, and so we might recognize patternsif only data was presented in more interesting and visual representations.
In addition to X/Y axis, variables can be presented by size of circle and color. Here's an example plot of the past US bailouts, with variables representing amount, year, company andindustry. This plot does not include the current 700 Billion US Dollar bailout currently under discussion.
This is part of IBM's Collaborative User Experience (CUE) research lab. The software is available Web2.0style at no charge, just upload your data set, and choose one of 16 different presentation styles.
These plots get even more interesting when you animate them over time. In 2006, Hans Rosling presenteddata he gathered from the United Nations and other publicly funded sources and presented his findings atthe TED conference. Here is the 20-minute video of that presentation (click on play at right), titled ["Debunking third-world myths with the best stats you've ever seen"], in which he debunks the myth that all countries fall into two distinct categories: Industrialized and Developing.
Amazingly, the data--as well as the software to analyze it--is available at[GapMinder.org] Web site.
For more information on how you can deploy an information infrastructure that allows you to search, visualize and leverage the most value from your information, contact your local IBM representative or IBM Business Partner.
"IBM announced that Northwest Radiology Network has gone live with a new virtualized enterprise of IBM servers and storage to support its growing medical imaging needs, giving its four locations an enterprise-class infrastructure which enables its doctors to recover medical image reports faster for analysis and enables remote 24x7 access to its medical image report system.
Founded in 1967, Northwest Radiology (NWR) is ranked as one of the largest physician groups in the Indianapolis, Indiana area. With 180 employees who offer the Central Indiana community comprehensive inpatient and outpatient imaging services such as mammography, ultrasonography, CT scans, PET-CT scans, bone density scans and MRIs – the Network had a dramatic need to develop a centralized infrastructure where large amounts of data could be stored and shared. A new data center would benefit the company’s clientele; which includes area hospitals and doctor’s offices serving thousands of patients each year.
Storing more than ten thousand medical imaging reports and radiographic images each month for doctors to analyze, the Network realized it had single points of failure and at one point a critical report server failed. Northwest Radiology turned to IBM and IBM Business Partner Software Information Systems (SIS) for a more efficient solution to prevent any possible downtime in the future.
SIS recommended and installed a virtualized infrastructure with IBM servers and storage as the heart of Northwest Radiology’s Indianapolis data center. By April 2007, Northwest Radiology replaced eight servers and direct attached storage with just two IBM System x3650 servers connected to an IBM System Storage DS3400. Today, the new servers run 15 virtual servers to ensure the availability of their services 24x7. When the business needs it, a new server can be provisioned in just minutes. With a Fibre Channel on the SAN Disk, the DS3400 not only increased performance but also met NWR’s requirement to not have one single point of failure. With three TB of storage capacity, they can meet the demands of increased business well into the future. The systems are also now easily managed from a remote site."
“Uptime is paramount in our business. We selected IBM based on the reliability and flexibility of IBM System x servers and the IBM System Storage DS3400,” said Marty Buening, IT Director, Northwest Radiology Network. “The virtualized infrastructure and the SAN storage array that SIS and IBM brought to the table is improving our service and giving our doctors and staff piece of mind knowing each patient’s medical imaging reports are always available.”
Second, we have [Iowa Health System], a large enterprise with over 19,000 employees, managing four million patients and hundreds of TBs of data.
Here is a 4-minute video on IBM TV from the good folks at Iowa Health System discussing theIBM Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS) as part of their information infrastructure for theirPicture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) application.
In both cases, IBM technology was able to provide remote access to medical information, making images and patient records available to more doctors, specialists and radiologists. Last January, in my post[Five in Five], IBM had predicted that remote access to healthcare would have an impact over the next five years.
Whether you are a small company or a large one, IBM probably has the right solution for you.
No post today. I will be joining the majority of IBMers in Tucson for "Days of Caring" held annually bythe [United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona].IBM has been doing this for years, and we are joined by volunteers from other local businesses, including HealthNet, Wells Fargo bank, Texas Instruments, KVOA local NBC affiliate, 94.9 MixFM radio, and others.
The "days" involve a kick-off last week (Sep 19) and two days of helping local charities (Sep 24 and 27).We are split into teams and are assigned out to help fix up old buildings, clean out gutters, re-paintwalls. My team will be sorting canned goods at the local[Community Food Bank], and assembling boxes of items to begiven out to needy families.
Continuing this week's theme on customer references of IBM's solutions, today I will discussthe success at Kantana Animation Studios.
Here is a 3-minute video from the good folks at Kantana Animation Studios,part of the [Kantana Group].They produced the animated movie [Khan Kluay]using IBM Scale-out File Services (SoFS), a product IBM announced last November 2007.
As a film-maker myself (see this sample [Highlights clip])and active member of the Tucson Film Society,I am pleased to see IBM so greatly involved in the film industry. I've had the pleasure to visit some of theseanimation studios myself and meet with other film-makers at various conferences.
For more details on Kantana's implementation, see the [Case Study]