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Several of my IBM colleagues will be attending the "Virtual Worlds 2007" conference today and tomorrow. This conference sold out so quickly that they have already scheduled a second one for October. The focus is on 3-D internet technologies likeSecond Life. Attendance is expected at over 600 people.
IBM is investing heavily in this new concept of v-business. Last year, I was one of only 325 IBMers on Second Life. Now, according to this Better than Life blog entry from Grady Booch, IBM Fellow, the number is over 4000!
Of course, the challenge for IBM, and others, is learning to market in virtual worlds. Already, my team is in-world, and we meet several times a week. Using Second Life is quickly becoming an essential business skill, like participating in conference calls, or responding to instant messages.
What does meeting in-world entail?
I suspect the need for having places in Second Life to hold meetings will become more and more in demand.At a time when real-estate sales in the US is slowing down, Coldwell Banker's Second Life efforts are ramping up. I am not making this up. Coldwell Banker is one of the nation's largest real estate brokerage firms. They are trying to bring the same "adult supervision" to virtual real-estate transactions, offering to help people buy and rent properties in Second Life.
We live in interesting times!
In case you missed it, IBMunveiled a new digital video surveillance service yesterday. This "marks an important shift in the industry's approach to security, applying advanced analytics to video data and signaling the ability to converge physical and information technology (IT) security."
The IBM Smart Surveillance Solution is designed to provide the unique capability to carry out efficient data analysis of video sequences either in real time or from recordings. These recordings can be on disk or tape storage.
The problem with today's existing "analog" surveillance is that the analog cameras record onto traditional VHS tapes, and these are rotated through, re-written after a few hours or days. To review tapes often involves human intervention, and must be done before the VHS tapes are re-used. Many shoplifters, thieves, and other law-breakers take a chance that their actions will not be caught on tape, or that they will be long gone by the time the video is analyzed.
The IBM Smart Surveillance Solution can provide a number of advantages over traditional video solutions, including:
With real-time analytics capabilities, the new DVS service can open up a wide array of new applications that go far beyond the traditional security aspects of surveillance systems. Early adopter industries in this rapidly evolving market include retail, public sector and financial services. The retail industry estimates nearly $50 billion is lost annually to fraud, theft and administrative errors.
Once in digital format, video surveillance can be sent further, processed quicker, and stored for longer periods of time, than traditional media makes practical today.
Beyond fraud and theft, this kind of solution could also help identify bullies who makedeath threats in High School.
The terms "information" and "data" are often used interchangeably in regular usage, but for the storageindustry, there are significant differences between the two, as different as "fact" from "meaning".
For example, if you are walking down the street, and see a pole with red and white stripes, the data of red and white stripes may not have much meaning, unless you recognize the information is that you are in front of a barber shop.I thought of this when someone pointed me to theStrip Generator Tool website, which can helpyou generate various stripes for use on the tiled background of web pages. (Or if you aredesigning neckties for your Second Life avatar).
Many national flags are based on simple stripes of different colors.For example, look at the national flags of France, Russia, and the Netherlands. These consist of a red, white, and blue stripe, justin different sequence and orientation.Again, the data of these colors, the width of their lines, and the way they are placed on the flag are all data, but the information they convey is significantly more than that.One person might walk right by the flag, not knowing which country it belongs to, while anotherperson might get emotional memories of their homeland.
For those of us in the storage industry, data is just binary 1's and 0's on disk and tape media, and canbe treated like packages at the post office in brown wrapping paper. Just as post office employees don't have to know the contents to ship them to the final destination, servers and storage devices don't need to knowthe informational content of the data that they process and store.
Converting information to data is easy. Let's take an example of taking a digital photo. The photo could be a picture of you and your spouseon your last vacation trip, but you would never know that from just looking at a series of 1's and 0's. For this reason, you create photo albums, you write captions below indicating where and when the photowas taken. This additional "context" is often called "metadata" or just simply "indexing".
Both the information captured (the photo in this case) and its metadata (the caption), can be storedas 1's and 0's on storage media. These bits can be compressed, encrypted, or represented in a variety of formats.
Information is copied from one data file to another. In the traditional sense, one piece of informationcould exist in the primary production copy, as well as multiple archive or backup copies. One piece ofinformation, stored on multiple copies of data. In a sense, this is similar to genetic information storedon each human being (data copy). Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene, reminds us that genes outlive individual humans. In storage, we remind people that data outlivesthe media it is initally written to, and the information outlives the initial data copy stored.
Converting data back to information is not always as simple.Not all sequences of 1's and 0's are obvious what they represent. To display a digital photo, you need to know the format the photo is in, and have an appropriate application that can display it back to something a human person can recognize. If the bits were compressed, the application needs to handlethat, or you need to de-compress the data before handing it to the application. For encrypted data,you need to have the decryption key. The process of converting a single file of data back to information is called "rendering".
One of the big problems with keeping information for long periods of time, isthat you may not have the equipment, decryption key, or applications needed to render the data back to usable information. You've kept the data, but you can't make any sense of it, as if it went through an episode of Will it Blend?
A good example is how the current version of Microsoft Office application is unable to interpret andrender data documents that were stored in WORD 1.0 format. IBM and others have developed "rendering tools" that can help decipher the bits, and bring back the information. To help address this challenge, the new Microsoft Office 2007 haschosen the OOXML format, but will continue to support some of the older legacy formats. IBM and the rest of the world are focused instead on Open Document Format (ODF) open standard. Those of usstill using older versions of Microsoft Office might need the Office 2007 Compatibility Pack.
Another way to get information from data is "data mining", an important part of "business intelligence". Here you are gleaning information notfrom individual details, but from patterns in the data, averages, statistics, totals, that havebroader meaning than individual transactions or events.
For many applications, DLM is just fine. Let's consider e-mail, for example. For most employees,deleting e-mails larger than 1 MB, after 90 days, regardless of content, is probably a reasonable DLM policy. All data is treated the same, based purely on the size and date markings on the outer brown wrapper.
For more sensitive content, DLM is not enough. The e-mails that are to or from the president of thecompany, or between top executives, or that contain certain pieces of information relevant for lawsuitsor other investigations, may not be treatedthe same as other e-mails. In this case, you need ILM technologies, managing based on the informational content of the data, and not just the size and date last referenced.
Of course, IBM supports both, and can help you decide the right solution for each workload.
technorati tags: IBM, barber pole, stripe generator, International space station, France, Russia, Netherlands, digital photography, Richard Dawkins, blender, rendering tools, metadata, encryption, OOXML, ODF, Open Document Format, Microsoft, Office, Word, ILM, information, lifecycle, management, data, DLM, e-mail, archive, context, Hu+Yoshida
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Today,Apple and EMI announced that EMI’s entire music and video catalog will be available in May without any digital rights management (DRM) protection.Not only with the music be higher quality, but can be played on any player, presumably using MP3 format instead ofApple's proprietary AAC format. Being locked into any single vendor solution is undesirable. Similar issues abound for Microsoft Office 2007 file formats.
On my iPod, I ripped all my CDs into MP3 format, not AAC. I love my iPod, but if I ever decided to chose a different MP3 player, I did not want to go through the time-consuming process or re-ripping them again.
A blog by Seth Godin feels this Apple-EMI announcement means thatDRM is dead.
Back when music labels added value by producing and distributing music in physical form, it made sense for them to take a cut. Mass-producing CDs and distributing them out to music stores across the country costs lots of money. However, for online music, music labels don't have these same overhead costs, but continue the process of paying the artists only a few pennies per dollar. Some artists have file lawsuits to get their fair share.
This process applies to any published work. For example, you can purchase Kevin Kelly's book in various formats, at different prices, from different distributors. For example:
It's good to have choices again.
The "corporate bloggers" from the various storage vendors often mention their opinions about IBM products. Sometimes, they say something nice, and other times they poke fun. It's good to read the various opinions. Most are well-thought and well-written.
EMC blogger Chuck Hollis has a post about the various categories that industry analyst IDC used for external controller-based disk in their most recentQ4 Storage Scorecard.I agree with Chuck that it is good to have independent analysts that take an objective look across all storage vendors to provide the facts on various makes and models. Both IBM and EMC took marketshare in 4Q, so we cancongratulate ourselves and each other for the efforts needed to make this happen.
Chuck mentions that while EMC and HDS high-end boxes are similar, perhaps IBM's "DS" series is different enough to question putting it in the same "high-end" category. It's not clear if Chuck is poking fun at the fact that theIBM DS family spans multiple categories; or an admission thatthe IBM DS8300 Turbo is faster than the EMC DMX-3 and HDS USP offerings. Perhaps we need a new categorycalled "super high-end"?
IDC doesn't publish their data by price band, but we can infer from the products in each how they decidedwhich products were grouped into which categories. Let's examine the entire IBM DS family in the various categories.
Storage is a competitive marketplace.Both EMC and HDS are reputable companies that make quality products that attach to IBM System z mainframe servers. Not all workloads are mission-critical or perf But if performance is important to you, you should consider IBM on your list of vendors for your next purchase decision. Let IBM help you prove it to yourself, running your specific workloads side by side with your existing equipment. technorati tags: IBM, EMC, Chuck Hollis, IDC, Q4, storage, disk,scorecard, z/OS, AIX, Linux, Java, DB2, HDS, USP, DMX, SPC, benchmarks, mainframe, System Storage, DS3000, DS4000, DS6000, DS8000, DS8300, Turbo
But if performance is important to you, you should consider IBM on your list of vendors for your next purchase decision. Let IBM help you prove it to yourself, running your specific workloads side by side with your existing equipment.
technorati tags: IBM, EMC, Chuck Hollis, IDC, Q4, storage, disk,scorecard, z/OS, AIX, Linux, Java, DB2, HDS, USP, DMX, SPC, benchmarks, mainframe, System Storage, DS3000, DS4000, DS6000, DS8000, DS8300, Turbo[Read More]
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It is perhaps coincidence that I learned that two people have blogs today.
For that matter, I too plan to be at the SNW conference, so if you see me, stop and say Hello also.
Today I'm sitting in an airport, delayed due to weather.
Dick Benton of Glasshouse Technologies has an article on SearchStorage.com titled Justifying your storage staffing.
The concept that there should be a linear "Storage Administrators per TB" rule-of-thumb has been around for a while.Back in 1992, I went to visit a customer in Germany who had FIVE storage admins for 90 GB (yes, GB, not TB) disk array.I told them they only needed 3 admins, but they cited German laws that prohibited "overtime" work on evenings and weekends.
Later, in 1996, I visited an insurance company in Ohio to talk about IBM Tivoli Storage Manager. They had TWO admins to manage 7TB on their mainframe, and another 45 people managing the 7TB across their distributed systems running Linux, UNIX, and Windows. My first question, why TWO? Only one would be needed for the mainframe, but they responded that they back each other up when one takes a 2-week vacation. My second question to the rest of the audience was... "When was the last time you guys took a 2-week vacation?"
Today, admins manage many TBs of storage. But TBs are turning out not to be a fair ruler to estimate the number of admins you need. It's a moving target, and other factors have more influence that sheer quantity of data.Let's take a look at some of those factors, which we call "the three V's":
So, the key is that there is no simple rule-of-thumb. Fewer admins are need per TB on mainframe than distributed systems data. Fewer admins per TB are needed when you deploy productivity software, like IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center. Fewer admins per TB are needed when you deploy storage virtualization, like IBM SAN Volume Controller or IBM virtual tape libraries.
technorati tags: IBM, disk, storage, infrastructure, SearchStorage.com, Dick Benton, Glasshouse, variety, volume, velocity, stor
I hope everyone had a good weekend!
Yesterday, I went to the Bodyworlds exhibition. Here the anatomy of real human cadavers are on display, in full detail, thanks to a process call In the exhibit, you got to see the bones, nerves, muscles, digestive tract and other organs.Some in action poses, like swinging a baseball bat or ice skating, while others were stretched into specific poses to help emphasize one part or another. In some cases, they would show side by side healthy and unhealthy organs, for example, the lungs of someone that smokes tobacco cigarettes, compared to the lungs of a normal person. Quite a difference! Visualization can be an effective way to understand and gain insight from information. Presenting information in a visually stunning manner can be challenging, but often worth the effort. It reminded me of Edward Tufte, who has written several books on this subject.
In the exhibit, you got to see the bones, nerves, muscles, digestive tract and other organs.Some in action poses, like swinging a baseball bat or ice skating, while others were stretched into specific poses to help emphasize one part or another.
In some cases, they would show side by side healthy and unhealthy organs, for example, the lungs of someone that smokes tobacco cigarettes, compared to the lungs of a normal person. Quite a difference!
Visualization can be an effective way to understand and gain insight from information. Presenting information in a visually stunning manner can be challenging, but often worth the effort. It reminded me of Edward Tufte, who has written several books on this subject.
Last year in Beijing, China, one of my colleagues told me "When it rains here, cabs dry up". Normally, there are enough taxi cabs to handle normal conditions, but when it rains, people who normally walk now want to take a cab instead, and the demand goes up, resulting in being more difficult to find one when you need one.
I'm wrapping up my week here in Chicago, and it snowed yesterday. Cabs were scarce. I walked. Many others walked too, about half with umbrellas to protect themselves against the snowflakes.
Most systems are designed to handle typical average conditions. Taxi cabs in a city, for example, handle typicalamounts of traffic.
IT is different. In many cases, IT infrastructures are designed for the peaks, not the averages. Peaks can be where you need performance the most, and failure to design for peaks can be disastrous. As with any business decision, this represents a trade-off. Design for the average, and suffer through the peaks, or design for the peak, and be over-allocated and under-utilized most of the time otherwise.
The choice is yours.
Well, I'm here in San Diego for Storage Networking World (SNW) conference.
If you're in San Diego, stop by and visit me at the IBM booth. Here is my schedule: