This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to IBM Systems, storage and storage networking hardware, software and services.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson )
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.
Tony Pearson's books are available on Lulu.com! Order your copies today!
Safe Harbor Statement: The information on IBM products is intended to outline IBM's general product direction and it should not be relied on in making a purchasing decision. The information on the new products is for informational purposes only and may not be incorporated into any contract. The information on IBM products is not a commitment, promise, or legal obligation to deliver any material, code, or functionality. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for IBM products remains at IBM's sole discretion.
Tony Pearson is a an active participant in local, regional, and industry-specific interests, and does not receive any special payments to mention them on this blog.
Tony Pearson receives part of the revenue proceeds from sales of books he has authored listed in the side panel.
Tony Pearson is not a medical doctor, and this blog does not reference any IBM product or service that is intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, prevention or monitoring of a disease or medical condition, unless otherwise specified on individual posts.
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 first day:
Opening Keynote Session
The conference was opened by a warm welcome from Ronnie Moodley, IBM Executive for Systems Hardware. He explained that we live in a VUCA world. For those who have not heard this term before, it is a four-letter acronym that conflates four different business challenges: [Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity].
Ronnie also mentioned the shifts in marketing, from the "four P's" to the "four E's":
Clients are no longer evaluating individual products, but also services that come with it, the context on how it is used, the identify of users, and other characteristics that provide a complete experience.
With so many free, open-source alternatives, the question is not comparing the prices of competing products, but what do you exchange for choosing one option for another. Often referred to as the total cost of ownership (TCO) or "opportunity cost" in economic terms.
The Internet and cloud technologies now allow people to buy and use products practically anywhere. Having a bricks-and-mortal location on a busy street corner may no longer be a competitive advantage.
Old marketing methods relied on uni-directional promotion from corporate marketing teams. Today, social media, blogs, and word-of-mouth evangelism are providing greater influences on purchase decision.
The second segment was "The World is our Lab", by Kugendran Naidoo, IBM Research South Africa. Unlike some companies that consolidate all of their research to one location, IBM does research across the globe, with two locations in Africa (Nairobi, Kenya and here in Johannesburg, South Africa).
Dr. Naidoo explained that often research leads us into areas we weren't expecting. For example, an algorithm developed to detect black holes in space failed, but it turned out to be useful for detecting Wi-Fi hot spots.
This begins back in 1974, when Stephen Hawking theorized that under certain circumstances, small black holes might "evaporate" — and simultaneously emit radio signals. These hypothesized black holes were about the mass of Mount Everest, and smaller than an atom. Soon after, the physicist and engineer John O'Sullivan tried to find these signals.
If these small black holes were evaporating, they would emit radio signals as they vanished. But because of their great distance from us, these signals would be hard to identify because they would be tiny by the time they arrived, as well being buried in a background of louder 'noise'. Furthermore, this tiny signal would be 'smeared' (turned from a sharp spike into a rounded shape). So he and his colleagues came up with a wonderful mathematical tool to detect these tiny, smeared signals.
As it turned out, they never did find these small black holes.
In 1992, John O'Sullivan was at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia, trying to develop computer networks that communicated without wires.
But there was a big problem. The signals he wanted to detect were tiny, smeared and buried in a background of louder 'noise'. Just like the black hole signals.
By a wonderful coincidence, his black hole mathematics turned out to be the key to Wi-Fi. CSIRO took out patents in Australia in 1992, and in the US in 1996. By 2000, they had some working chips.
Improve your NAS environment in One Day! Introducing IBM Spectrum NAS
IBM has been in the NAS storage business for decades. IBM Spectrum NAS is our most recent software defined storage. This session gave an overview on how Spectrum NAS is designed. This software can be deployed on as few as four nodes in less than an hour, leaving you the rest of the day to migrate your data from other NAS solutions.
IBM Spectrum NAS fills the gap between a single file server and expensive dual-controller models available commercially. A single file server, running perhaps Windows Storage Server or Linux with NFS and Samba, represents a single point of failure (SPOF). Lose the one server, and your department or team loses access to all of those shared files!
At the other extreme, commercial dual-controller NAS devices, such as those from NetApp or DellEMC, are loaded with advanced features and application-specific capabilities. Some people take advantage of these, others don't.
IBM Spectrum NAS is software defined storage that runs on four or more nodes, is highly available, and provides many of the advanced features offered by commercial dual-controller models at roughly half the total cost of ownership.
Dip your TOE in our Pool! iSER and Data Reduction with IBM Spectrum Virtualize
All of the presenters at this conference were asked to come up with fun and quirky titles for their sessions. The title is a bit of wordplay.
When IBM launched its SAN Volume Controller in 2003, I was one of the "Technical Evangelists" that traveled around the world to explain how it works. Today, 15 years later, I am still talking about how great this technology is.
Ethernet network interface cards that have co-processors to offload some of the TCP/IP processing are called TCP-Offload-Engines, or "TOE" cards.
IBM recently announced two new flavors of 25GbE cards, one that supports RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE), and another that supports Internet Wide Area RDMA protocol (iWARP).
To implement data deduplication, the Spectrum Virtualize team refactored the code that handled pools of managed space. The original pools are now referred to as "Legacy Storage Pools", and the new pools are referred to as "Data Reduction Pools".
Fahima Zair, Tony Pearson, and Maria Lancaster
After the sessions, we had a nice evening reception to celebrate the General Availability of the IBM FlashSystem 9100. At events like these, many attendees are local and commute to the event, so I was happy to see many stuck around to have conversations with the experts.
I was able to reconnect with many of my colleagues, including Fahima Zair in charge of our VersaStack relationship with Cisco, and Maria Lancaster from our Storage Marketing team.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements! This week I am in San Francisco, California speaking to clients. A bit colder than Tucson, Arizona!
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM. Special thanks to Mark Larson (IBM SAN team), and both Craig Nelson and Peter Schmelter from Broadcom, for their assistance with this post. I have no personal financial interest in Broadcom. This blog post can be considered a "paid celebrity endorsement" of the IBM products mentioned below.)
Spectrum Control v5.3
Back in 2003, I was the chief architect of Spectrum Control v1, formerly called TotalStorage Productivity Center, and later Tivoli Storage Productivity Center. IBM Spectrum Control is part of the IBM Spectrum Storage Suite.
There are two editions: Standard Edition and Advanced Edition.
(What happened to the other editions? The "Base Edition" is now called IBM Spectrum Connect. The "Spectrum Control Storage Insights" service in the IBM Cloud is now just called IBM Storage Insights and Storage Insights Pro.)
The Standard Edition v5.3 offers the following:
Capacity visualization and management, Performance troubleshooting, Health and performance alerting, Application modeling, and support for VMware data sources
Create, save, and send reports directly in the web UI. The reports can be run now, or scheduled to be run later. When a report is run, it can be sent by email or exported and saved in different file types.
Support IBM FlashSystem 900 AE3 models using compression, and the new IBM FlashSystem 9100
Improved automation of counting the licenses for enclosure-based storage devices
The latest IBM Copy Services Manager (CSM) v6.2 for managing remote mirroring, replacing the previous IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Replication.
The Advanced Edition v5.3 provides all of the above, as well as the following.
Tiered storage optimization with intelligent analytics
Service catalog with policy-based provisioning
Self-service provisioning with restricted use logins
Analysis of reclaimable space
Showback and Chargeback reports
Application-based snapshot management using IBM Spectrum Protect Snapshot (formerly known as IBM FlashCopy Manager, FCM)
Clients with v5.2.x version of IBM Spectrum Control can upgrade to this new release.
Clients with IBM Spectrum Virtualize-based appliances can bundle Spectrum Control v5.3 with the latest Spectrum Virtualize v8 code. This bundle is referred to as "IBM Virtual Storage Center", or VSC for short. VSC supports SAN Volume Controller, FlashSystem 9100 and V9000, Storwize V7000 and V5000 models.
IBM's announcement of NVMe-capable FlashSystem 9100 has caused many to re-evaluate their SAN infrastructure. All IBM b-type Gen5 and Gen6 switches and directors are NVMe-ready!
(Last year, Broadcom completed its acquisition of Brocade. I am thankful both start with the letter "B", so we won't have to rename our B-type switches to another letter!)
There are two new products in this announcement. The SAN 128B-6 is a Gen6 switch in a 2U container. The other is a 64-port Blade that fits into existing Gen6 Directors, like the 256B-6 or 512B-6 models.
But the 128B-6 doesn't have 128 standard ports ! It actually has 96 standard ports, plus eight "Q-Flex" ports (that can be used to create a total of 128 ports) . Likewise, the 64-port blades have 16 Q-Flex ports (that can be used to create 64 ports).
What is going on? The Q-Flex ports can actually run four channels in different colors of light over the same fiber optic cable, reducing the wiring mess. These Q-Flex can be used for host or device traffic, but are often used as "Inter-Switch Links" or ISL for short.
All of the standard and Q-Flex ports are 32Gbps, but can are capable of autosensing 4, 8, 16, and 32 Gbps port speedsm depending on the SFPs used , for interoperability with existing servers and storage devices. In the case of Q-Flex, all four colors must be run at the same speed, so a Q-Flex represents either 4x32, 4x16, 4x8 or 4x4 Gbps links. You cannot mix different speeds on a single Q-Flex.
In addition, the 64-port blade also supports 10 GbE, 25 GbE, and 40 GbE using the appropriate QSFP transceivers.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
(This week I am in Pennsylvania and New York speaking to clients. The weather this week has not been cooperative!)
Spectrum Protect Plus 10.1.2
Just in time for the upcoming VMworld conference, IBM announces the following features added to Spectrum Protect Plus, a snapshot-based backup software for VMware, Hyper-V and databases.
Data-at-Rest Encryption for local backups stored in the vSnap repository
IBM Db2 support with point-in-time recovery
VMware vSphere 6.7 support
Alerting for backup and restore jobs and storage thresholds limits
Drill-down capabilities for dashboard widgets
Spectrum Protect 8.1.6
IBM also continues to enhance its traditional file-based backup product. Here are some of the features:
Tier data by backup state for container pools. When you have multiple backup versions, the most recent version is called the "active", the older versions are called "inactive" versions. Rarely do you recover inactive versions, so this feature allows them to be migrated off to object or cloud storage.
Ransomware detection for Virtual Environment workloads. This is an enhancement of the "Ransomware detection" introduced earlier this year, but for VMware and Hyper-V images.
IBM DS8882F All-Flash Array
When IBM announced the DS8880, it shocked folks that it changed them from the previous 33-inch wide, to a standard 19-inch width. The IBM Z team followed up with 19-inch wide models of its mainframe servers.
Now, IBM can bring these together. There are two flavors of the new DS8882F:
The "Rackless" model is 17U in height with the optional keyboard/monitor, and can be put into existing 19-inch racks. These can be used with VMware, Linux, Windows, AIX and z/OS.
The "Flex Frame" model, which is 16U, allowing it to fit nicely inside a single-rack IBM Z Z14 ZR1 model, or LinuxOne RockHopper II model. It is 16U instead of 17U because it shares the existing 1U-high keyboard/monitor unit.
Like the DS8888F, DS8886F, and DS8884F models, the new DS8882F uses the High Performance Flash Enclosure (HPFE) gen2 drawers, supporting either high-performance/high-endurance drives (400GB to 3.2TB each), or high-capacity/standard-endurance drives (3.8TB to 15.3 TB each).
The R8.5 release of firmware that accompanies this announcement also supports data-in-flight encryption for Transparent Cloud Tiering. It also supports a new feature called "Safeguarded Copies", up to 500 copies to protect against hackers and ransomware.
IBM Spectrum Access blueprints have been extended to support IBM Z and LinuxOne. These blueprints show how to run IBM Cloud Private with Spectrum Connect with IBM block storage, including IBM DS8880/F, SVC, Storwize and FlashSystem models.
IBM Storage Solutions for Virtual Desktop Infrastructures (VDI)
IBM offers a new blueprint to configure Virtual Desktops with its newly announced IBM FlashSystem 9100 device. The low latency/high IOPS capability of the FlashSystem 9100 is perfect for the type of "boot storms" that are often encountered with VDI deployments.
IBM Spectrum Scale 5.0.2 and Elastic Storage Server
At recent IBM Technical University, I joked that the IBM Elastic Storage Server is only "part of a complete breakfast" because it only supported the NSD POSIX interface. To make it useful in most situations, you needed to buy additional servers outside of the ESS to run Spectrum Scale protocol nodes to provide industry-standard file and object protocols.
Today, IBM announced that you can order a new "IBM Elastic Storage Server Data Server" (5148-22L) which is a POWER server with the Spectrum Scale software pre-installed for protocol node support. It has [similar specifications] to the IBM Elastic Storage Server Management Server (5148-21L).
If you prefer to run Spectrum Scale in the cloud, you can "Bring your own license" (BYOL) to Amazon Web Services.
I travel a lot. In the first six months of this year, I was on the road 17 of the 26 weeks. This week, I am visiting clients in beautiful Minneapolis, MN.
Several readers have asked me what mobile phone or web apps I find the most useful, and here are my top three. For each, I will explain how I use them, and why they are useful.
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM, and have no financial connections to any of the companies mentioned below, and have not been compensated in any way to mention them on this post. IBM has selected Concur as its travel platform, which runs TripIt mentioned below. This blog post can be considered a "paid celebrity endorsement" for each of the three sites below.)
[Rome2Rio] is one I use long before I plan my trip, and works both on my mobile phone as well as web application. Many people use apps like "Google Maps" for driving directions from point A to point B. But Rome2Rio handles airlines, trains and other alternative modes of transportation. It also provides estimated prices for each mode of transportation.
Landing in Gatwick Airport, I used Rome2Rio to figure out the most cost-effective way to get to my hotel on Southampton Row. A taxi would have been $160-200, Ride-share like Uber or Lyft $75-95, and train $17-28. I chose the train and saved a lot of money!
Rome2Rio is a great app, both for advanced planning, as well as dealing with situations in the moment. I have it bookmarked on my browser, and the app installed on my phone.
Long before IBM signed on Concur as its travel expense and trip planning tool, I was using [TripIt]. It automatically enters all of my airfare, hotel and car rental reservations into a single chronological itinerary, but then lets me add everything in between, such as meetings, dinner restaurant plans, and other activities.
While I am planning my travels, TripIt ensures I have all the connections I need. If I land at this airport, do I have a rental car or other transportation to the hotel? This forces me to get in advance all of the times and locations of every client dinner, briefing, or other meeting, so that I can plan how to get from point A, to B, to C, accordingly.
A few days before my trip, I can print out my TripIt itinerary, to PDF format file to send to my family and co-workers.
While traveling, I have the TripIt app to have all the information I need close at hand, including hotel address locations, or confirmation numbers once I arrive to the hotel.
[FlightStats] will show you the status of all flights, on any airline. Just enter the 2-character airline code, like AA for American Airlines, or DL for Delta Airlines, then the flight number. Here are the different ways I find this useful:
When I land at an airport connection, but have not yet left the plane, I can use FlightStats to determine which gate I have arrived at, and which gate I need for my next flight. This will give me a good sense of how much time I have, do I need to hurry, can I stop for a snack, and so on.
FlightStats seems to be more up-to-date than computer screens at the airport. I have learned of flight delays from FlightStats sooner than I have from the computer screens or gate agents.
If my flight is canceled or delayed, FlightStats also can find flights from point A to B using real-time information.
Are there any apps or web sites you recommend? Please comment below!
Mark your calendars! 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.
October 15-19, will focus on IBM Power Systems and the entire IBM Storage portfolio.
When I first learned of this, I was not aware there was a city called Hollywood in Florida. The Hollywood in Florida is situated between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, so you can fly into either of those two airports to get to the conference.
(Did you know? The Hollywood most people know in California is no longer its own city, but rather incorporated as a neighborhood district into Los Angeles back in 1910. There are actually thirty different places called "Hollywood" around the world, two dozen in the United States, with the rest scattered in Ireland, Turkey, Russia, Singapore and the Philippines. Not all of these are formally "cities", but in some cases neighborhoods, districts, unincorporated areas, or other populated places. The Hollywood in Maryland claims to be the first, established in 1867!)
I only plan to attend the second week only, October 15-19. Here are some highlights:
In the past, IBM had keynote sessions for each brand, for example, one focused on IBM Power systems, and another on IBM Storage. However, these were scheduled during the same time slot, forcing some people to make a tough choice.
To solve this, the two keynote sessions will be staggered, so attendees can attend both!
The storage keynote will take on a new format, with a panel of experts. I have been invited as one of the experts to participate! If there is a particular topic you want to hear about on the panel, please enter your comments below.
As with most conferences, there is a "Call for Papers" requesting speakers submit the topics they can present, and then conference coordinators accept, adjust or reject them in building the final agenda.
Here are the topics I submitted:
Build your personal brand! Social Media tips from an experienced blogger
The Pendulum Swings Back - Understanding Converged and Hyperconverged Systems
IBM Hybrid and Multi-Cloud storage solutions
IBM Cloud Object Storage (powered by Cleversafe)
Managing Risks with Data Footprint Reduction
Information Lifecycle Management: Why Archive is different than Backup
The Seven Tiers of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
If you attended the IBM Technical Universtiy in Orlando last May, the conference in October will have six months' worth of new announcements and products to cover.
I also plan to be at the IBM Technical University events in Johannesburg, South Africa (September 11-13), and Rome, Italy (October 22-26). If you plan to be at any of these events, let me know! If not, you can follow along with Twitter hashtag: #IBMtechU