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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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]