This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to IBM Systems, storage and storage networking hardware, software and services.
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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor, Senior IT Architect and Event Content Manager for [IBM Systems for IBM Systems Technical University] events. With over 30 years with IBM Systems, Tony is frequent traveler, speaking to clients at events throughout the world.
Lloyd Dean is an IBM Senior Certified Executive IT Architect in Infrastructure Architecture. Lloyd has held numerous senior technical roles at IBM during his 19 plus years at IBM. Lloyd most recently has been leading efforts across the Communication/CSI Market as a senior Storage Solution Architect/CTS covering the Kansas City territory. In prior years Lloyd supported the industry accounts as a Storage Solution architect and prior to that as a Storage Software Solutions specialist during his time in the ATS organization.
Lloyd currently supports North America storage sales teams in his Storage Software Solution Architecture SME role in the Washington Systems Center team. His current focus is with IBM Cloud Private and he will be delivering and supporting sessions at Think2019, and Storage Technical University on the Value of IBM storage in this high value IBM solution a part of the IBM Cloud strategy. Lloyd maintains a Subject Matter Expert status across the IBM Spectrum Storage Software solutions. You can follow Lloyd on Twitter @ldean0558 and LinkedIn Lloyd Dean.
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Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
Here is a quick recap of the October 9, 2018 announcements this week.
IBM Elastic Storage Server V5.3.2
The new IBM Elastic Storage Server v5.3.2 offers support for new drawers, non-disruptive upgrades of older models, and an optional 100GbE switch.
When the ESS was first announced, we had GSx models and GLx models, where x represented the number of storage drawers. The "S" stood for small 2U-24 drive drawers, so for example the GS4 had two Power8 servers combined with four 2U-size flash SSD drawers. The "L" stood for large 4U-60 drive nearline HDD drawers.
The second generation models append "S" for Second, so we had GS4S and GL6S. The large models changed to larger 5U-84 drive drawers. As with the previous "L" models, two slots per system contain Solid State Drives for internal use and caching, leaving the rest for slower spinning HDD disk.
Before this week, to upgrade from one model to another meant moving the data off, installing and configuring the additional drawers, and then move the data back. With today's announcements, you can now non-disruptively upgrade GS1S to GS2S to GS4S models, and GL1S to GL2S to GL4S to GL6S.
While you can federate as many GS and GL models together, that may mean having to spend more for Power8 servers than you are comfortable with, so IBM added "GHxy" Hybrid models, with x 2U-24 drive drawers, and y 5U-84 drive drawers. Initial models included the GH14 and GH24, which had one or two flash drawers, and four large drawers. This week, IBM announced a new GH12 model. The SSD flash in the 2U drawer can be 3.84TB or 15.36TB, and the nearline drives in the 5U drawers can be 4TB, 8TB or 10TB capacities.
What did IBM call the third generation GL models? Instead of using "T" which is both the next letter in the alphabet after "S", and the initial letter of the word "third", IBM instead decided to use "C" to designate CORAL project, the Collaboration of Oakridge, Argonne, and Lawrence Livermore national labs. Since the change applied only to the GL models, not the GS models, this makes sense.
To meet the requirements to build the world's fastest supercomputer for the CORAL project, IBM created a modified Elastic Storage Server model with 4U drawers that contained 106 drives. Now, these are available to the general public! IBM announced GL1C, GL2C, GL4C and GL6C models. In these, there are 2 SSD drives, and the rest are 10TB nearline drives.
The new optional 100GbE switch has 32 ports with a total of 6.4 Tbps. These can support 10, 40, 50 and 100GbE data rates, with 300 nsec latency for 100 GbE port to port
Spectrum Scale is licensed two ways: Standard Edition based on the number of sockets, with different prices for NSD servers, FPO servers and NSD clients; and the "Data Management" edition which offered advanced features, and was based on capacity of NSD, independent of the number of servers and clients attached.
Clients liked the capacity-based license model, but did not necessarily need the advanced features. In response, IBM now offers the "Data Access" edition, which offers the same features and functions of Standard Edition, but with capacity-based licensing.
For ESS models, you can chose to license by disk as before, or by capacity in combination with Spectrum Scale capacity-based deployments.
Hortonworks Data Platform v3.0.1 has followed suit. With the merger between Hortonworks and Cloudera, Hortonworks now offers capacity-based licensing for shared storage, like the IBM Elastic Storage Server.
IBM FlashSystem A9000/A9000R software version 12.3
There are three enhancements in this release: Three-site replication, a new model of A9000R, and raising a previous pool size limit.
For three-site replication, you can now combine HyperSwap which maintains two identical copies at distance, with a third asynchronous mirroring. The first two are typically within 100 km, but the third copy can be a much greater distance, across the continent if you like.
The A9000 "Pod" had three x86-based controller and one FlashCore drawer. The A9000R "Rack" had four, six or eight x86-based controllers and two, three or four FlashCore drawers, respectively, as well as a Power Distribution Unit (PDU) and pair of InfiniBand switches to connect everything together. The new "Grid Starter" model is very much like the "Pod" with three controllers and one FlashCore drawer, but adds the PDU and IB switches. The idea is that you can start with a "Grid Starter", then later upgrade to the larger A9000R models as you grow.
Back in XIV days, the architectural limit per pool of 1PB was plenty big. But with the new capacities on the A9000 and A9000R, the 1PB limit was starting to draw complaints. This limit was lifted, so that now a single pool can be made with the entire capacity of the box.
In the mainframe world, IBM Geographically Dispersed Parallel Sysplex, now just GDPS, provide the highest BC-7 business continuity tier, providing end-to-end coordination with servers, networks and storage devices. For IBM Power Systems, similar BC-7 support is provided by IBM Geographically Dispersed Resiliency.
In this week's announcement, IBM Geographically Dispersed Resiliency (GDR) for Power Systems has been renamed and now offered in two editions: VM Recovery Manager HA and VM Recovery Manager DR. The "HA" edition provides high availability using Power Systems Live Partition Mobility for AIX, IBM i and Linux operating systems.
The "DR" edition provides both High Availability and Disaster Recovery capabilities, supporting mirrored storage systems like IBM DS8000, SAN Volume Controller, FlashSystem 9100 and V9000, and Storwize systems, as well as competitive storage from Dell EMC and Hitachi.
Next week, I will be in Hollywood, Florida for IBM Technical University (Oct 15-19), and then Rome for the IBM Technical University (Oct 22-26). I will be covering many of these announcements above, and more!
I have returned safely from the IBM Technical University in Johannesburg, South Africa, and now preparing for my next events. IBM plans to have back-to-back Technical University events in Hollywood Florida.
October 8-12, will focus on [IBM Z mainframe, and a subset of IBM Storage] that offer synergy for IBM Z, such as DS8880 storage system, and the TS7760 Virtual Tape Engine. There will be 28 sessions on storage related to IBM Z.
It's September, and many students are going back to school. A friend had asked me for advice to give his son as he enters high school. Here were my thoughts.
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM. I have not received any compensation from any third parties for the products or services mentioned in this post.)
I highly endorse David Allen's book [Getting Things Done]. Trying to remember all of the homework, tasks and assignments that you need to get done can add unnecessary stress.
The trick is to write these things down. Whether this is on paper, or electronically, David's GTD process works.
Students should learn to become "Search Ninjas" in finding information to complete their homework and tasks. To that end, I recommend using a site like "LastPass" to store unique passwords for each online service.
LastPass is short for "the last password you will ever need to remember", as it stores all of your passwords for banking, social media, and other online resources. One strong password gets you in. This is further strengthened by two-factor authorization, such as using "Google Authenticator". In this manner, to log into your LastPass account, you need both your strong password, as well as access to your smartphone for Google Authenticator to provide a six-digit code to validate your identity.
Writing your thoughts down sometimes requires different approaches. A [mind map] is a hierarchical diagram to help capture thoughts non-linearly. I have seen these used to capture thoughts generated during idea brainstorming sessions. I use them to help me create new PowerPoint presentations.
There are many mind mapping tools available. On my smartphone, I use the [SimpleMind] app. On my Linux laptop, I use [View Your Mind]. Try several out, and pick the one that works best for you.
The trick is to identify which general pattern a specific problem falls under, and use the general solution as the basis for solving it. Part of this approach is to identify all of the inherent contradictions and eliminating or addressing them one by one.
Whenever Rafael complains to me he has a problem to solve, like figuring out how to get the oil changed in his car, I ask him how he would solve it in a video game. He would reply that he would determine what "items" he needed, either to trade or gain entry into a realm, and what sequence of steps needed to happen in what order. I would then explain that life is just like that, except instead of jewels and swords, you are using cash or credit cards!
Not surprisingly, IBM technology can be found in certain models of Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, and Microsoft Xbox.
Imagine having homework in three different subjects. A student might spend all night on one topic, and never get around to the other two. The [Pomodoro Technique] is surprisingly simple. It focuses on two problems kids have these days: getting started, and staying focused.
The technique divides up the hours available into 25-minute slots, with 5-minute breaks in between. For example, the student might spend the first 25 minutes on math homework, then take 5-minute break playing video games, then 25 minutes reading History, then 5-minute break checking Facebook, then 25 minutes completing an essay for Spanish class. Each 5-minute break helps to clear the mind for the next task.
I use this method at work. Often, I have a variety of tasks facing me, booking flights for my next trip, updating PowerPoint presentations, and writing my next blog post. Breaking up the day into smaller 25-minute segments helps me stay focused.
In Italian, "pomodoro" means tomato, and the 25 minutes was inspired by a 25-minute kitchen timer shaped like a tomato. You certainly don't need a tomato-shaped timer to use this technique, as there are smartphone apps available to do this for you.
High school is a good time to start developing good habits in project management, time management, problem solving and password security.
Do you have any suggestions? Please feel free to contribute in the comment section below!
Last week, September 11-13, I was in Johannesburg for the IBM Technical University! The event was held at the Hyatt Regency in the Rosebank section of town. This event was focused on IBM Systems, including storage, Power systems, and IBM Z mainframe servers. Here is my recap for the third and final day:
What else can you use that data for? Adventures in Data Reuse
Did you know that IBM invented "Copy Data Management" in 1998? I do, of course, since I was one of the inventors! Originally developed for DFSMS on z/OS, there are now copy data management solutions for a multitude of operating systems, databases and applications.
This session covered IBM Spectrum Protect Snapshot, IBM Spectrum Protect Plus, and IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management.
Copies of production data are not just for data protection and disaster recovery. The copies can be reused for other IT or business purposes:
Testing and DevOps - After a copy of production is made, columns of databases containing sensitive, personally-identifiable information (PII) can be masked, scrambled or obfuscated, to keep them out of the prying eyes of testers and developers. IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management offers data masking features.
Reporting and Analytics - Running reports or analytics against production data can drastically impact performance and cache hit rate on storage devices. Making copies to other systems, and running reports and analytics elsewhere makes a lot of sense.
Hybrid Cloud - Why limit your copies to just your own data center? Copies of data can be sent to off-premises to perform DevOps, Reporting and Analytics in the cloud.
Be Persistent in your Journey to Private Cloud
IBM offers persistent storage for IBM Cloud Private deployments. This includes IBM Spectrum Virtualize family of products, Spectrum Accelerate family of products, VersaStack converged systems, and DS8000 systems.
IBM Spectrum Access blueprints are available to deploy persistent storage for IBM Cloud Private software on VersaStack, POWER and IBM Z servers.
IBM Spectrum Connect provides the necessary interfaces for Kubernetes to claim persistent storage for Docker containers.
Is your data center ready for NVMe, NVMe-OF or FC-NVMe? Initiated in 2011, the NVMe standard is relatively young. I covered its short history, why zero-copy protocols like FCP and RDMA can drastically reduce latency, and all the components needed for a complete end-to-end solution.
Inside All-Flash Arrays, you can use standard 12Gbps SAS to connect to SCSI-based Solid-State Drives (SSD), or you can use the much faster PCiE bus at 32Gbps with NVMe-based drives.
NVMe provides for advanced parallelism, since flash is not mechanical, and does not rely on the position of a read/write head over a platter as spinning disks do. Traditional SSD pretend to be spinning disks, so often process one command at a time, to maintain the charade.
NVMe is designed to work only with flash devices, so it uses a streamlined 15 commands, versus the 34 commands in SCSI to handle other storage media.
But having an NVMe-inside All-Flash Array is not the end of the story. Rather than sending all of those SCSI commands across network, only for some to be disregarded when they arrive, you can send the streamlined NVMe commands instead. NVMe over the networks is available now. NVMe-OF offers support for Ethernet and InfiniBand, and FC-NVMe offers support for FCP.
The last stage is application exploitation from the host server. The industry still needs Operating System drivers, multipathing drivers, and applications that take advantage of NVMe. IBM anticipates this will occur later this year, and into 2019.
IBM Storage Infrastructure Optimization (SIO) assessment
Ishmail Shaik, IBM Lab Services, presented an interactive peek of what an SIO entails.
In 2005, I led a series of "Information Lifecycle Management" (ILM) studies for various clients, combining the methods from "disk studies" and "tape studies" that I had performed since the 1980s.
The ultimate win-win scenario, these ILM studies proved successful, not only saving the clients millions of dollars, but often resulting in follow-on sales of IBM storage hardware, software and services.
Over those 18 months, I trained several IBM Systems Lab Services colleagues in the process. These studies formed the basis of "Storage Infrastructure Optimization" assessments launched officially in 2011.
The SIO assessment process has evolved a lot since I was last involved with it. Here are a few of the changes I noticed from his presentation:
Core Modules - No longer just focused on Lifecycle Management, SIO studies offer four additional modules: Modernize & Transform, Business Resiliency, Manage & Control, and New Workloads.
Data Collection - The biggest challenge back then was collecting data to provide recommendations. I managed with in-person interviews and what little tools were available back then, collected into TCO spreadsheets, VISIO diagrams and PowerPoint slides. Today, we have sophisticated data collection tools, including IBM Spectrum Control, Storage Insights, Arxview, and Butterfly.
Engagement Workshop - SIO now has incorporated "Design Thinking" methodology to help clients prioritize findings into a set of short-term, medium-term and long-term recommendations.
The three-day event ended with a closing session, hosted by Mario Franzone.