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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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Continuing my coverage of the [IBM System Storage Technical University 2011], 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, we had two: one focused on Tivoli Storage software, and the second to cover storage hardware. This year, we had two, one for System x called "Ask the eXperts", and one for System Storage called "Storage Free-for-All". This post covers the latter.
(Disclaimer: Do not shoot the messenger! We had a dozen or more experts on the panel, representing System Storage hardware, Tivoli Storage software, and Storage services. I took notes, trying to capture the essence of the questions, and the answers given by the various IBM experts. I have spelled out acronyms and provided links to relevant materials. The answers from individual IBMers may not reflect the official position of IBM management. Where appropriate, my own commentary will be in italics.)
You are in the wrong session! Go to "Ask the eXperts" session next door!
The TSM GUI sucks! Are there any plans to improve it?
Yes, we are aware that products like IBM XIV have raised the bar for what people expect from graphical user interfaces. We have plans to improve the TSM GUI. IBM's new GUI for the SAN Volume Controller and Storwize V7000 has been well-received, and will be used as a template for the GUIs of other storage hardware and software products. The GUI uses the latest HTML5, Dojo widgets and AJAX technologies, eliminating Java dependencies on the client browser.
Can we run the TSM Admin GUI from a non-Windows host?
IBM has plans to offer this. Most likely, this will be browser-based, so that any OS with a modern browser can be used.
As hard disk drives grow larger in capacity, RAID-5 becomes less viable. What is IBM doing to address this?
IBM is aware of this problem. IBM offers RAID-DP on the IBM N series, RAID-X on the IBM XIV, and RAID-6 on its other disk systems.
TPC licensing is outrageous! What is IBM going to do about it?
About 25 percent of DS8000 disk systems have SSD installed. Now that IBM DS8000 Easy Tier supports "any two" tiers, roughly 50 percent of DS8000 now have Easy Tier activated. No idea on how Easy Tier has been adopted on SVC or Storwize V7000.
We have an 8-node SVC cluster, should we put 8 SSD drives into a single node-pair, or spread them out?
We recommend putting a separate Solid-State Drive in each SVC node, with RAID-1 between nodes of a node-pair. By separating the SSD across I/O groups, you can reduce node-to-node traffic.
How well has SVC 6.2 been adopted?
The inventory call-home data is not yet available. The only SVC hardware model that does not support this level of software was the 2145-4F2 introduced in 2003. Every other model since then can be updated to this level.
Will IBM offer 600GB FDE drives for the IBM DS8700?
Currently, IBM offers 300GB and 450GB 15K RPM drives with the Full-Disk Encryption (FDE) capability for the DS8700, and 450GB and 600GB 10K RPM drives with FDE for the IBM DS8800. IBM is working with its disk suppliers to offer FDE on other disk capacities, and on SSD and NL-SAS drives as well, so that all can be used with IBM Easy Tier.
Is there a reason for the feature lag between the Easy Tier capabilities of the DS8000, and that of the SVC/Storwize V7000?
We have one team for Easy Tier, so they implement it first on DS8000, then port it over to SVC/Storwize V7000.
Does it even make sense to have separate storage tiers, especially when you factor in the cost of SVC and TPC to make it manageable?
It depends! We understand this is a trade-off between cost and complexity. Most data centers have three or more storage tiers already, so products like SVC can help simplify interoperability.
Are there best practices for combining SVC with DS8000? Can we share one DS8000 system across two or more SVC clusters?
Yes, you can share one DS8000 across multiple SVC clusters. DS8000 has auto-restripe, so consider having two big extent pools. The queue depth is 3 to 60, so aim to have up to 60 managed disks on your DS8000 assigned to SVC. The more managed disks the better.
The IBM System Storage Interopability Center (SSIC) site does not seem to be designed well for SAN Volume Controller.
Yes, we are aware of that. It was designed based on traditional Hardware Compatability Lists (HCL), but storage virtualization presents unique challenges.
How does the 24-hour learning period work for IBM Easy Tier? We have batch processing that runs from 2am to 8am on Sundays.
You can have Easy Tier monitor across this batch job window, and turn Easy Tier management between tiers on and off as needed.
Now that NetApp has acquired LSI, is the DS3000 still viable?
Yes, IBM has a strong OEM relationship with both NetApp and LSI, and this continues after the acquisition.
If have managed disks from a DS8000 multi-rank extent pool assigned to multiple SVC clusters, won't this affect performance?
Yes, possibly. Keep managed disks on seperate extent pools if this is a big concern. A PERL script is available to re-balance SVC striped volumes as needed after these changes.
Is the IBM [TPC Reporter] a replacement for IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center?
No, it is software, available at no additional charge, that provides additional reporting to those who have already licensed Tivoli Storage Productivity Center 4.1 and above. It will be updated as needed when new versions of Productivity Center are released.
We are experiencing lots of stability issues with SDD, SDD-PCM and SDD-DSM multipathing drivers. Are these getting the development attention they deserve?
IBM's direction is to shift toward native OS-based multipathing drivers.
Is anyone actually thinking of deploying public cloud storage in the near-term?
A few hands in the audience were raised.
None of the IBM storage devices seem to have [REST API]. Cloud storage providers are demanding this. What are IBM plans?
IBM plans to offer REST on SONAS. IBM uses SONAS internally for its own cloud storage offerings.
If you ask a DB2 specialist, an AIX specialist, and a System Storage specialist, on how to configure System p and System Storage for optimal performance, you get three different answers. Are there any IBMers who are cross-functional that can help?
Yes, for example, Earl Jew is an IBM Field Technical Support Specialist (FTSS) for both System p and Storage, and can help you with that.
Both Oracle and Microsoft recommend RAID-10 for their applications.
Don't listen to them. Feel free to use RAID-5, RAID-6 or RAID-X instead.
Resizing SVC source volumes forces ongoing FlashCopy or Metro Mirror relatiohships to be stopped. Does IBM plan to address this?
Currently, you have to stop, resize both source and target, then start the relationship again. Consider getting IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Replication (TPC-R).
IBM continues to support this for exising clients. For new deployments, IBM offers SONAS and the Information Archive (IA).
When will I be able to move SVC volumes between I/O groups?
You can today, but it is disruptive to the operating system. IBM is investigating making this less disruptive.
Will XIV ever support the mainframe?
It does already, with support for both Linux and z/VM today. For VSE support, use SVC with XIV. For those with the new zBX extension, XIV storage can be used with all of the POWER and x86-based operating systems supported. IBM has no plans to offer direct FICON attachment for z/OS or z/TPF.
Not a question - Kudos to the TSM and ProtecTIER team in supporting native IP-based replication!
When will IBM offer POWER-based models of the XIV, SVC and other storage devices?
IBM's decision to use industry-standard x86 technology has proven quite successful. However, IBM re-looks at this decision every so many years. Once again, the last iteration determined that it was not worth doing. A POWER-based model might not beat the price/performance of current x86 models, and maintaining two separate code bases would hinder development of new innovations.
We have both System i and System z, what is IBM doing to address the fact that PowerHA and GDPS are different?
IBM TPC-R has a service offering extension to support "IBM i" environments. GDPS plans to support multi-platform environments as well.
This was a great interactive session. I am glad everyone stayed late Thursday evening to participate in this discussion.
IBM Storage Strategy for the Smarter Computing Era
I presented this session on Thursday morning. It is a session I give frequently at the IBM Tucson Executive Briefing Center (EBC). IBM launched [Smarter Computing initiative at IBM Pulse conference]. My presentation covered the role of storage in Business Analytics, Workload Optimized Systems, and Cloud Computing.
Layer 8: Cloud Computing and the new IT Delivery Model
Ed Batewell, IBM Field Technical Support Specialist, presented this overview on Cloud Computing. The "Layer 8" is a subtle reference to the [7-layer OSI Model] for networking protocols. Ed cites insights from the [2011 IBM Global CIO Survey]. Of the 3000 companies surveyed, 60 percent plan to use or deploy clouds. In USA, 70 percent of CIOs have significant plans for cloud within the next 3-5 years. These numbers are double the statistics gleamed from the 2009 Global CIO survey. Clouds are one of IBM's big four initiatives, expecting to generate $7 Billion USD annual revenues by 2015.
IBM is recognized in the industry as one of "Big 5" vendors (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Amazon round out the rest). As such, IBM has contributed to the industry a set of best practices known as the [Cloud Computing Reference Architect (36-page document)]. As is typical for IBM, this architecture is end-to-end complete, covering the three main participants for successful cloud deployments:
Consumers: the people and systems that use cloud computing services
Providers: the people, infrastructure and business operations needed to deliver IT services to consumers
Developers: the people and their development tools that create apps and platforms for cloud computing
IBM is working hard to eliminate all barriers to adoption for Cloud Computing. [Mirage image management] can patch VM images offline to address "Day 0" viruses. [Hybrid Cloud Integrator can help integrate new Cloud technologies to legacy applications. [IBM Systems Director VMcontrol] can manage VM images from z/VM on the mainframe, to PowerVM on UNIX servers, to VMware, Microsoft, Xen and KVM for x86 servers. IBM's [Cloud Service Provider Platform (CSP2)] is designed for Telecoms to offer Cloud Computing services. IBM CloudBurst is a "Cloud-in-a-Can" optimized stack of servers, storage and switches that can be installed in five days and comes in various "tee-shirt sizes" (Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large), depending on how many VMs you want to run.
Ed mentioned that companies trying to build their own traditional IT applications and environments, in an effort to compete against the cost-effective Clouds, reminded him of Thomas Thwaites' project of building a toaster from scratch. You can watch the [TED video, 11 minutes]:
An interesting project is [Reservoir] which IBM is working with other industry leaders to develop a way to seamlessly migrate VMs from one location to another, globally, without requiring shared storage, SAN zones or Ethernet subnets. This is similar to how energy companies buy and sell electricity to each other, as needed, or the way telecommunications companies allow roaming acorss each others networks.
IBM System Networking - Convergence
Jeff Currier, IBM Executive Consultant for the new IBM System Networking group, presented this session on Network Convergence. Storage is expected to grow 44x, from 0.8 [Zettabytes] in 2009, to 35 Zetabytes by the year 2020. The role of the network is growing in importance. IBM refers to this converged loss-less Ethernet network as "Convergence Enhanced Ethernet" (CEE), which Cisco uses the term "Data Center Ethernet" (DCE), and the rest of the industry uses "Data Center Bridging" (DCB).
To make this happen, we need to replace Spanning Tree Protocol [STP] that eliminates walking in circles in a multi-hop network configuration, with a new Layer 2 Multipathing (L2MP) protocol. The two competing for the title are Shortest Path Bridging (IEEE 802.1aq) and Transparent Interconnect of Lots of Links (IETF TRILL).
All roads lead to Ethernet. While FCoE has not caught on as fast as everyone hoped, iSCSI has benefited from all the enhancements to the Ethernet standard. iSCSI works in both lossy and lossless versions of Ethernet, and seems to be the preferred choice for new greenfield deployments for Small and Medium sized Businesses (SMB). Larger enterprises continue to use Fibre Channel (FCP and FICON), but might use single-hop FCoE from the servers to top-of-rack switches. Both iSCSI and FCoE scale well, but FCoE is considered more efficient.
IBM has a strategy, and is investing heavily in these standards, technologies, and core competencies.
I have been working on Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) since before they coined the phrase. There were several break-out sessions on the third day at the [IBM System Storage Technical University 2011] related to new twists to ILM.
The Intelligent Storage Service Catalog (ISSC) and Smarter ILM
Hans Ammitzboll, Solution Rep for IBM Global Technology Services (GTS), presented an approach to ILM focused on using different storage products for different tiers. Is this new? Not at all! The original use of the phrase "Information Lifecycle Management" was coined in the early 1990s by StorageTek to help sell automated tape libraries.
Unfortunately, disk-only vendors started using the term ILM to refer to disk-to-disk tiering inside the disk array. Hans feels it does not make sense to put the least expensive penny-per-GB 7200 RPM disk inside the most expense enterprise-class high-end disk arrays.
IBM GTS manages not only IBM's internal operations, but the IT operations of hundreds of other clients. To help manage all this storage, they developed software to supplement reporting, monitoring and movement of data from one tier to another.
The Intelligent Storage Service Catalog (ISSC) can save up to 80 percent of planning time for managing storage. What did people use before? Hans poked fun at chargeback and showback systems that "offer savings" but don't actually "impose savings". He referred to these as Name-and-Shame, where the top 10 offenders of storage usage.
His storage pyramid involves a variety of devices, with IBM DS8000, SVC and XIV for the high-end, midrange disk like Storwize V7000, and blended disk-and-tape solutions like SONAS and Information Archive (IA) for the lower tiers.
Mark Taylor, IBM Advanced Technical Services, presented the policy-driven automation of IBM's Scale-Out NAS (SONAS). A SONAS system can hold 1 to 256 file systems, and each file system is further divided into fileset containers. Think of fileset containers like 'tree branches' of the file system.es.
SONAS supports policies for file placement, file movement, and file deletion. These are SQL-like statements that are then applied to specific file systems in the SONAS. Input variables include date last modified, date last accessed, file name, file size, fileset container name, user id and group id. You can choose to have the rules be case-sensitive or case-insensitive. The rules support macros. A macro pre-processor can help simplify calculations and other definitions that are used repeatedly.
Each file system in SONAS consists of one or more storage pools. For file systems with multiple pools, file placement policies can determine which pool to place each file. Normally, when a set of files are in a specific sub-directory on other NAS systems, all the files will be on the same type of disk. With SONAS, some files can be placed on 15K RPM drives, and other files on slower 7200 RPM drives. This file virtualization separates the logical grouping of files from the physical placement of them.
Once files are placed, other policies can be written to migrate from one disk pool to another, migrate from disk to tape, or delete the file. Migrating from one disk pool to another is done by relocation. The next time the file is accessed, it will be accessed directly from the new pool. When migrating from disk to tape, a stub is left in the directory structure metadata, so that subsequent access will cause the file to be recalled automatically from tape, back to disk. Policies can determine which storage pool files are recalled to when this happens.
Migrating from disk to tape involves sending the data from SONAS to external storage pool manager, such as IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) server connected to a tape library. SONAS supports pre-migration, which allows the data to be copied to tape, but left on disk, until space is needed to be freed up. For example, a policy with THRESHOLD(90,70,50) will kick in when the file system is 90 percent full, file will be migrated (moved) to tape until it reaches 70 percent, and then files will be pre-migrated (copied) to tape until it reaches 50 percent.
Policies to delete files can apply to both disk and tape pools. Files deleted on tape remove the stub from the directory structure metadata and notify the external storage pool manager to clean up its records for the tape data.
If this all sounds like a radically new way of managing data, it isn't. Many of these functions are based on IBM's Data Facility Storage Management Subsystem (DFSMS) for the mainframe. In effect, SONAS brings mainframe-class functionality to distributed systems.
Understanding IBM SONAS Use Cases
For many, the concept of a scale-out NAS is new. Stephen Edel, IBM SONAS product offering manager, presented a variety of use cases where SONAS has been successful.
First, let's consider backup. IBM SONAS has built-in support for Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM), as well as supporting the NDMP industry standard protocol, for use with Symantec NetBackup, Commvault Simpana, and EMC Legato Networker. While many NAS solutions support NDMP, IBM SONAS can support up to 128 session per interface node, and up to 30 interface nodes, for parallel processing. SONAS has a high-speed file scan to identify files to be backed up, and will pre-fetch the small files into cache to speed up the backup process. A SONAS system can support up to 256 systems, and each file system can be backed up on its own unique schedule if you like. Different file systems can be backed up to different backup servers.
SONAS also has anti-virus support, with your choice of Symantec or McAfee. An anti-virus scan can be run on demand, as needed, or as files are individually accessed. When a Windows client reads a file, SONAS will determine if it has been already scanned with the most recent anti-virus signatures, and if not, will scan before allowing the file to be read. SONAS will also scan new files created.
Successful SONAS deployments addressed the following workloads:
content capture including video capture
high performance computing, research and business analytics
"Cheap and Deep" archive
worldwide information exchange and geographically distant collaboration
SONAS is selling well in Government, Universities, Healthcare, and Media/Entertainment, but is not limited to these industries. It can be used for private cloud deployments and public cloud deployments. Having centralized management for Petabytes of data can be cost-effective either way.
IBM SONAS brings the latest techologies to bring a Smarter ILM to a variety of workloads and use cases.
I am pleased with the turn-out we had attending last week for my Infoboom Webinar on [The Future of Storage]. The 55-minute replay is available on Infoboom, and the slide deck can be downloaded from the [IBM Expert Network].
I mentioned that I was going to Indianapolis and Boston next week to give lectures on this topic. Here are the details:
Indianapolis - September 7, 2011
The Future of Storage with Tony Pearson Luncheon Briefing
Harry & Izzy's
153 South Illinois Street
Indianapolis, IN 46225
Time: 11am to 1:30pm
Boston - September 8, 2011
The Future of Storage with Tony Pearson Briefing and Networking Reception
The Capital Grille
10 Wayside Road
Burlington, MA 01803
Time: 4:30pm to 6:30pm
I will also be in San Francisco for Oracle OpenWorld (Oct 2-6), Auckland New Zealand (Nov 9-11), and Melbourne Australia (Nov 15-17).
I always try to catch a session from Jim Blue, who works in our "SAN Central" center of competency team. This session was a long list of useful hints and tips, based on his many years of experience helping clients.
SAN Zoning works by inclusion, limiting the impact of failing devices. The best approach is to zone by individual initiator port. The default policy for your SAN zoning should be "deny".
Ports should be named to identify who, what, where and how.
While many people know not to mix both disk and tape devices on the same HBA, Jim also recommends not mixing dissimilar disks, test and production, FCP and FICON.
The sweet spot is FOUR paths. Too many paths can impact performance.
When making changes to redundant fabrics, make changes to the first fabric, then allow sufficient time before making the same changes to the other fabric.
Use software tools like Tivoli Storage Productivity Center (Standard Edition) to validate all changes to your SAN fabric.
Do not mix 62.5 and 50.0 micron technology.
Use port caps to disable inactive ports. In one amusing anecdote, he mention that an uncovered port was hit by sunlight every day, sending error messages that took a while to figure out.
Save your SAN configuration to non-SAN storage for backup
Consider firmware about two months old to be stable
Rule of thumb for estimating IOPS: 75-100 IOPS per 7200 RPM drive, 120-150 IOPS per 10K RPM drive, and 150-200 IOPS per 15K RPM drive.
Decide whether your shop is just-in-time or just-in-case provisioning. Just-in-time gets additional capacity on demand as needed, and just-in-case over-provisions to avoid scrambling last minute.
Avoid oversubscribing your inter-switch links (ISL). Aim for around 7:1 to 10:1 ratio.
Don't go cheap on bandwidth between sites for long-distance replication
Next Generation Network Fabrics - Strategy and Innovations
Mike Easterly, IBM Director of Global Field Marketing, presented IBM System Networking strategy, in light of IBM's recent acquisition of Blade Network Technologies (BNT). BNT is used in 350 of the Fortune 500 companies, and is ranked #2 behind Cisco in sales of non-core Ethernet switches (based on number of units sold).
Based on a recent survey, companies are upgrading their Ethernet networks for a variety of reasons:
56 percent for Live Partition Mobility and VMware Vmotion
45 percent for integrated compute stacks, like IBM CloudBurst
43 percent for private, public and hybrid cloud computing deployments
40 percent for network convergences
Many companies adopt a three-level approach, with core directors, distribution switches, and then access switches at the edge that connect servers and storage devices. IBM's BNT allows you to flatten the network to lower latency by collapsing the access and distribution levels into one.
IBM's strategy is to focus on BNT for the access/distribution level, and to continue its strategic partnerships for the core level.
IBM BNT provides better price/performance and lower energy consumption. To help with hot-aisle/cold-aisle rack deployments, IBM BNT provides both F and R models. F models have ports on the front, and R models have ports in the rear.
IBM BNT supports virtual fabric and HW-offload iSCSI traffic, and future-enabled for FCoE. Support for TRILL (transparent interconnect of lots of links) and OpenFlow will be implemented through software updates to the switches.
While Cisco Nexus 1000v is focused on VMware Enterprise Plus, IBM BNT's VMready works with VMware, Hyper-V, Linux KVM, XEN, OracleVM, and PowerVM. This allows single pane of management of VMready and ESX vSwitches.
In preparation for Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE), IBM BNT will provide full 40GbE support sometime next year, and offer switches that support 100GbE uplinks. IBM offers extended length cables, including passive SFP+ DAC at 8.5 meters, and 10Gbase-T Cat7 cables up to 100 meters.
Inter-datacenter Workload Mobility with VMware vSphere and SAN Volume Controller (SVC)
This session was co-presented between Bill Wiegand, IBM Advanced Technical Services, and Rawley Burbridge, IBM VMware and midrange storage consultant. IBM is the leader in storage virtualization product (SVC), and is the leading reseller of VMware.
Like MetroCluster on IBM N series, or EMC's VPLEX Metro, the IBM SAN Volume Controller can support a stretched cluster across distance that allows virtual machines to move seamlessly from one datacenter to another. This is a feature IBM introduced with SVC 5.1 back in 2009. This can be used for PowerVM Live Partition Mobility, VMware vMotion, and Hyper-V Quick Migration.
SVC stretched cluster can help with both Disaster Avoidance and Disaster Recovery. For Disaster Avoidance, in anticipation of an outage, VMs can be moved to the secondary datacenter. For Disaster Recover, additional automation, such as VMware High Availability (HA) is needed to restart the VMs at the secondary datacenter.
IBM stretched cluster is further improved with a feature called Volume Mirroring (formerly vDisk Mirroring) which creates two physical copies of one logical volume. To the VMware ESX hosts, there is only one volume, regardless of which datacenter it is in. The two physical copies can be on any kind of managed disk, as there is no requirement or dependency of copy services on the back-end storage arrays.
Another recent improvement is the idea of spreading the three quorum disks to three different locations or "failure domains". One in each data center, and a third one in a separate building, somewhere in between the other two, perhaps.
Of course, there are regional disasters that could affect both datacenters. For this reason, SVC stretched cluster volumes can be replicated to a third location up to 8000 km away. This can be done with any back-end disk arrays, as again there is not requirement for copy services from the managed devices. SVC takes care of it all.
Networking is going to be very important for a variety of transformational projects going forward in the next five years.
After the amount of flack Jon Toigo had to endure for not giving advanced notice to his upcoming Webcast, I thought I would better remind people about my own Webinar that is happening next Tuesday, August 23.
So here's the scoop, next Tuesday I will be presenting [The Future of Storage], August 23, 1pm to 2pm EDT. You can register to attend at the [Infoboom Registration Page]. Infoboom is a social community for business and IT leaders of small and midsize businesses brought to you by IBM.
But that's not all! After the webinar, I will then travel to various cities for face-to-face lectures. Here are the first two:
September 7 - Indianapolis
September 8 - Boston area
If you are near either of these two locations, contact your local IBM storage specialist or IBM business partner to participate.
I gotten several emails expressing worry that I have fallen off the face of th earth. The last two weeks have been educational and eye-opening for me. I can't provide details in my blog, so I will just say that it involved government agencies that IBM refers to as "dark accounts", and that I am now back safely in the USA. Between adjusting to time zone differences, ridiculously long hours, and restricted access to the internet, I was unable to blog lately.
Instead, I will resume my coverage of the [IBM System Storage Technical University 2011]. The "Solutions Expo" runs Monday evening through Wednesday lunch. This is a chance for people to explore all the solutions that are part of IBM's large "eco-system" for IBM System storage and System x products. There were several sponsors for this event.
As is often the case at these conferences, the various booths hand out fun items. The hot items this year were tie-dyed tee-shirts from Qlogic, and propeller beanies from the IBM rack and power systems team. Here is Amanda, one of the bartenders showing off the latter.
After the expo on Tuesday night, my friends at [Texas Memory Systems] held an after-party. Unlike the pens, tee-shirts and keychains at the Expo, these guys had a raffle for real storage products. Here is Erik Eyberg handing out a RamSan PCIe card, valued at $14,000 or so. IBM recently certified the TMS RamSan as External SSD storage for the IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC). The SVC can optimize performance using this for automated sub-LUN tiering with the IBM System Storage Easy Tier feature.
Since the [IBM System Storage Technical University 2011] runs concurrently with the System x Technical University, attendees are allowed to mix-and-match. I attended several presentations regarding server virtualization and hypervisors.
Matt Archibald is an IT Management Consultant in IBM's Systems Agenda Delivery team. He started with a history of hypervisors, from IBM's early CP/CMS in 1967, through the latest VMware Vsphere 5 just announced.
He explained that there are three types of Hypervisor architectures today:
Type 1 - often referred to as "Bare Metal" runs directly on the server host hardware, and allows different operating system virtual machines to run as guests. IBM's System z [PR/SM] and [PowerVM] as well as the popular VMware ESXi are examples of this type.
Type 2 - often referred to as "Hosted" runs above an existing operating system, and allows different operating system virtual machines to run as guests. The popular [Oracle/Sun VirtualBox] is an example of this type.
OS Containers - runs above an existing operating system base, and allows multiple "guests" that all run the same operating system as the base. This affords some isolation between applications. [Parallels Virtuozzo Containers] is an example of this type.
The dominant architecture is Type 1. For x86, IBM is the number one reseller of VMware. VMware recently announced [Vsphere 5], which changes its licensing model from CPU-based to memory-based. For example, a virtual machine with 32 virtual CPUs and 1TB of virtual RAM (VRAM) would cost over $73,000 per year to license the VMware "Enterprise Plus" software. The only plus-side to this new licensing is that the "memory" entitlement transfers during Disaster Recovery to the remote location.
"Xen is dead." was the way Matt introduced the section discussing Hybrid Type-1 hypervisors like Xen and Hyper-V. These run bare-metal, but require networking and storage I/O to be processed by a single bottleneck partition referred to as "Dom 0". As such, this hybrid approach does not scale well on larger multi-sock host servers. So, his Xen-is-dead message was referring to all Hybrid-based Hypervisors including Hyper-V, not just those based on Xen itself.
The new up-and-comer is "Linux KVM". Last year, in my blog post about [System x KVM solutions], I mentioned the confusion over KVM acronym used with two different meanings. Many people use KVM to refer to Keyboard-Video-Mouse switches that allow access to multiple machines. IBM has renamed these switches to Local Console Managers (LCM) and Global Console Manager (GCM). This year, the System x team have adopted the use of "Linux KVM" to refer to the second meaning, the [Kernel-based Virtual Machine] hypervisor.
Linux KVM is not a product, but an open-source project. As such, it is built into every Linux kernel. Red Hat has created two specific deliverables under the name Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV):
RHEV-H, a tiny ESXi-like bare-metal hypervisor that fits in 78MB, making it small enough to be on a USB stick, CD-rom or memory chip.
RHEV-M, a vCenter-like management software to manage multiple virtual machines across multiple hosts.
Personally, I run RHEL 6.1 with KVM on my IBM laptop as my primary operating system, with a Windows XP guest image to run a few Windows-specific applications.
A complaint of the current RHEV 2.2 release from Linux fanboys is that RHEV-M requires a Windows server, and uses Windows Powershell for scripting. The next release of RHEV is likely to provide a Linux-based option for management server.
Of the various hypervisors evaluated, KVM appears to be poised to offer the best scalability for multi-socket host machines. The next release is expected to support up to 4096 threads, 64TB of RAM, and over 2000 virtual machines. Compare that to VMware Vsphere 5 that supports only 160 threads, 2TB of RAM and up to 512 virtual machines.
Linux KVM Overview
Matt also presented a session focused on Linux KVM. While IBM is the leading reseller of VMware for the x86 server platform, it has chosen Linux KVM to run all of its internal x86 Cloud Computing facilities, as it can offer 40 to 80 percent savings, based on Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
Linux KVM can run unmodified Windows and Linux guest operating systems as guest images with less than 5 percent overhead. Since KVM is built into the Linux kernel, any certification testing automatically benefits KVM as well. KVM takes advantage of modern CPU extensions like Intel's VT and AMD's AMD-V.
For high availability, in the event that a host fails, KVM can restart the guest images on other KVM hosts. RHEV offers "prioritized restart order" which allows mision-critical images to be started before less important ones.
RHEV also provides "Virtual Desktop Infrastructure", known as VDI. This allows a lightweight client with a browser to access an OS image running on a KVM host. Matt was able to demonstrate this with Firefox browser running on his Android-based Nexus One smartphone.
RHEV also adds features that make it ideal for cloud deployments, including hot-pluggable CPU, network and storage; service Level Agreement monitoring for CPU, memory and I/O resources; storage live migrations to move the raw image files while guests are running; and a self-service user portal.
IBM has been doing server virtualization for decades. When I first started at IBM in 1986, I was doing z/OS development and testing on z/VM guest images. Later, around 1999, I started working with the "Linux on z" team, running multiple Linux images under PR/SM and z/VM. While the server virtualization solutions most people are familiar with (VMware, Hyper-V, Xen) have only been around the last five years or so, IBM has a much deeper and robust understanding and long heritage. This helps to set IBM apart from the competition when helping clients.
Clod Barrera is an IBM Distinguished Engineer and Chief Technical Strategist for IBM System Storage. He predicts that by 2015, 10 percent of the servers and storage purchases, as well as 25 percent of the network gear purchases, will be related to Cloud deployments. Cloud Storage is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32 percent through 2015, compared to only 3.8 percent growth for non-Cloud storage.
Cloud Computing is allowing companies to rethink their IT infrastructure, and reinvent their business. Clod presented an interesting chart on the "Taxonomy" of storage in Cloud environments. On the left he had examples of Storage that was part of a Cloud Compute application. On the right he had storage that was accessed directly through protocols or APIs. Under each he had several examples for transactional data, stream data, backups and archives.
Clod feels the only difference between Private and Public clouds is a matter of ownership. In private clouds, these are owned by the company that uses them via their private Intranet network. Public clouds are owned by Cloud Service providers and are accessed over the public Internet. Clod presented IBM's strategy to deliver Cloud at five levels:
Private Cloud: on-site equipment, behind company firewall, managed by IT staff
Managed Private Cloud: on-site equipment, behind company firewall, managed by IBM or other Cloud Service provider
Hosted Private Cloud: dedicated, off-premises equipment, located and managed by IBM or other Cloud Service Provider, and access through VPN
Shared Cloud Services: shared, off-premises equipment, located at IBM or other Cloud Service Provider, managed by IBM or Cloud Service provider, and access through VPN. The facility is intended for enterprises only, on a contractual basis, and will be auditable for compliance to government regulations, etc.
Public Cloud: shared, off-premises equipment, located and managed by IBM or other Cloud Service provider, targeted to offer cloud compute and storage resources, with standardized platforms of operating systems and middleware, for individuals, small and medium sized businesses.
As with storage in traditional data center deployments, storage in clouds will be tiered, with Tier 0 being the fastest tier, to Tier 4 for "deep and cheap" archive storage. IBM SONAS is an example of Cloud-ready storage that can help make these tiers accessible through standard Ethernet protocols. Cloud Service providers will use metering and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to offer different rates for different tiers of storage in the cloud.
Clod wrapped up his session explaining IBM's Cloud Computing Reference Architecture (CCRA). This is an all-encompassing diagram that shows how all of IBM's hardware, software and services fit into Cloud deployments.
IBM Information Archive for email, files and eDiscovery
Not too many people have heard of IBM's Smart Archive strategy and the storage products IBM offers to meet compliance regulations. This session covered the following:
The differences between backup and archive, including a few of my own personal horror stories helping companies who had foolishly thought that keeping backup copies for years would adequately serve as their archive strategy
The differences between optical media, Write-Once Read-Many (WORM) media, and Non-Erasable, Non-Rewriteable (NENR) storage options.
Why putting a [space heater] on your data center floor is a bad idea, driving up power and cooling costs for little business value to the enterprise once the unit is full of rarely accessed read-only data.
An overview of the [IBM Information Archive], an integrated stack of servers, storage and software that replaces previous offerings such as the IBM System Storage DR550 and the IBM Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS).
The marketing bundle known as the [Information Archive for Email, Files and eDiscovery] that combines the Information Archive storage appliance with Content Collectors for email and file systems, as well as eDiscovery tools, and implementation services for a solution that can support a small or medium size business, up to 1400 employees.
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v4.2 Overview and Update
Many of the concerns raised when I [presented v4.1 at this conference last year] were addressed this year in v4.2, including full performance statistics for IBM XIV storage system, storage resource agent support for HP-UX and Solaris, and a variety of other issues.
I presented this overview in stages:
"Productivity Center Basic Edition" that comes pre-installed on the IBM System Storage Productivity Center hardware console, that provides discover of devices, basic configuration, and a clever topology viewer of what is connected to what.
"Productivity Center for Disk" and "Productivity Center for Disk Midrange Edition (MRE)" that provides real-time and historical performance monitoring, asset and capacity reporting.
"Productivity Center for Replication" which supports monitoring, failover and failback for FlashCopy, Metro Mirror and Global Mirror on the SVC, Storwize V7000, DS8000, DS6000 and ESS 800.
"Productivity Center for Data" which supports reporting on files, file systems and databases on DAS, SAN and NAS attached storage from a Operating System viewpoint.
"Productivity Center Standard Edition" which includes all of the above except "Replication", and adds performance monitoring of SAN Fabric gear, and some very clever analytics to improver performance and problem determination.
One of the questions that came up was "How big does my company have to be to consider using Productivity Center?" which I answered as follows:
"If you are a small company, and the "IT Person" has responsibilities outside the IT, and managing the few pieces of kit is just part of his job, then consider just using the web-based GUI through a Firefox or similar browser. If you are a medium sized company with dedicated IT personnel, but mostly run by system admins or database admins that manage storage and networks on the side, you might want to consider the "Storage Control" plug-in for IBM Systems Director. But if you are larger shop, and there are employees with the title "Storage Administrator" and/or "SAN Administrator", then Tivoli Storage Productivity Center is for you."
Tivoli Storage Productivity Center has matured into a fine piece of software that truly can help medium and large sized data centers manage their storage and storage networking infrastructure.
I like speaking the first day of these events. Often people come in just to hear the keynote speakers, and stay the afternoon to hear a few break-out sessions before they leave Tuesday or Wednesday for other meetings.