Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2016, Tony celebrates his 30th year anniversary with IBM Storage. He is
author of the Inside System Storage series of books. This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to storage and storage networking hardware, software and services.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson )
My books are available on Lulu.com! Order your copies today!
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Wrapping up my week's theme of "diversity", with posts on a diverse set of topics,today I will suggest ways to spendyour time while you are walking 10,000 steps per day, as recommended by the authorsof the book "You: On a Diet".
(If you thought this was about the 10,000 steps it might take to implement a storage solution, you should switch over to IBM as your storage vendor. For example, the DS3200 and DS3400 can beimplemented in as little as SIX steps. That's pretty cool.)
Blogs like Lifehacker are an excellent resource for neat littletips and tricks to help you throughout your day, like how to use your iPod, cell phone or computer better, for example. These suggestions are based on the idea that you can walk your 10,000 steps with access to an iPod and cell phone.
Learning a language
... or refreshing yourself on a language you might not have spoken in a while. In addition to formal audio-based lessons from Pimsleur, there are podcasts you can get for various languages. In preparation for my upcoming trip to Japan and China, I have been listening to JapanesePod101.com and ChinesePod.com which have quick lessons that complement the formal training.This Lifehacker postindicates there are similar ones for French, Spanish, Italian, and Brazillian Portuguese.
Practicing your presentation
Walking while practicing your 30-60 minute presentation would be good exercise.MicroPersuasion explains how to turn your iPod into the ultimate PowerPoint accessory, and this article in PlayListmag.com providesthe steps to get a PowerPoint presentation onto your iPod. I did this, and the slides are found underPhotos->Photo Library. The images are small, but heck, they are your charts and you should recognize themwell enough to remind yourself what to say on each slide.Also, I am able to record my practice sessions using MP3 Recorder and listen as I page through each slide. (In theory, you can use your iPod to present your slides to your audience, plugging the iPod directly into the laptop projector, instead of a laptop, using cables available at your local Apple store, and use the iPod controls as your forward/backward remote.)
Working your To-Do list
You can download your to-do list to your iPod. I use BackPackIt from 37 Signals. You can sign up for a free account, or upgrade to a paid account, and have anamazingly simple browser-based tool to develop your to-do lists, one for each project or aspect of your life. Oncedone, the list can be emailed to you as plain text. Enable your iPod as an "external disk drive" and copy this text file to your NOTES directory on the iPod drive. Voila! You can now read your to-do list! (I could also send it to my cell phone, using firstname.lastname@example.org, but I find the iPod easier to read and navigate)
Think of something to add? Send an email from your cell phone. With BackPackit, I can send an email that will directly add my text as a note or todo list item. On my phone, this is simply sending a text message to "500" with text like:
"email@example.com todo # buy bread".
The hash mark (#) separates the subject line from the body of the email, and this is how Backpackit knows its a todo item or a note. If you pre-program the huge email address in advance on your phone, then it isn't as bad as it looks. It will be on your packpackit page the next time you log in.
Well, that's three suggestions. The next time you complain that there is no time to walk, you now have no excuse.
On his The Storage Architect blog, Chris Evans wrote [Twofor the Price of One]. He asks: why use RAID-1 compared to say a 14+2 RAID-6 configuration which would be much cheaper in terms of the disk cost? Perhpaps without realizing it, answers itwith his post today [XIV part II]:
So, as a drive fails, all drives could be copying to all drives in an attempt to ensure the recreated lost mirrors are well distributed across the subsystem. If this is true, all drives would become busy for read/writes for the rebuild time, rather than rebuild overhead being isolated to just one RAID group.
Let me try to explain. (Note: This is an oversimplification of the actual algorithm in an effortto make it more accessible to most readers, based on written materials I have been provided as partof the acquisition.)
In a typical RAID environment, say 7+P RAID-5, you might have to read 7 drives to rebuild one drive, and in the case of a 14+2 RAID-6, reading 15 drives to rebuild one drive. It turns out the performance bottleneck is the one driveto write, and today's systems can rebuild faster Fibre Channel (FC) drives at about 50-55 MB/sec, and slower ATA disk at around 40-42 MB/sec. At these rates, a 750GB SATA rebuild would take at least 5 hours.
In the IBM XIV Nextra architecture, let's say we have 100 drives. We lose drive 13, and we need to re-replicate any at-risk 1MB objects.An object is at-risk if it is the last and only remaining copy on the system. A 750GB that is 90 percent full wouldhave 700,000 or so at-risk object re-replications to manage. These can be sorted by drive. Drive 1 might have about 7000 objects that need re-replication, drive 2might have slightly more, slightly less, and so on, up to drive 100. The re-replication of objects on these other 99 drives goes through three waves.
Select 49 drives as "source volumes", and pair each randomly with a "destination volume". For example, drive 1 mapped todrive 87, drive 2 to drive 59, and so on. Initiate 49 tasks in parallel, each will re-replicate the blocks thatneed to be copied from the source volume to the destination volume.
50 volumes left.Select another 49 drives as "source volumes", and pair each with a "destination volume". For example, drive 87 mapped todrive 15, drive 59 to drive 42, and so on. Initiate 49 tasks in parallel, each will re-replicate the blocks thatneed to be copied from the source volume to the destination volume.
Only one drive left. We select the last volume as the source volume, pair it off with a random destination volume,and complete the process.
Each wave can take as little as 3-5 minutes. The actual algorithm is more complicated than this, as tasks complete early the source and volumes drives are available for re-assignment to another task, but you get the idea. XIV hasdemonstrated the entire process, identifying all at-risk objects, sorting them by drive location, randomly selectingdrive pairs, and then performing most of these tasks in parallel, can be done in 15-20 minutes. Over 40 customershave been using this architecture over the past 2 years, and by now all have probably experienced at least adrive failure to validate this methodology.
In the unlikely event that a second drive fails during this short time, only one of the 99 task fails. The other 98 tasks continue to helpprotect the data. By comparison, in a RAID-5 rebuild, no data is protected until all the blocks are copied.
As for requiring spare capacity on each drive to handle this case, the best disks in production environments aretypically only 85-90 percent full, leaving plenty of spare capacity to handle re-replication process. On average,Linux, UNIX and Windows systems tend to only fill disks 30 to 50 percent full, so the fear there is not enough sparecapacity should not be an issue.
The difference in cost between RAID-1 and RAID-5 becomes minimal as hardware gets cheaper and cheaper. For every $1 dollar you spend on storage hardware, you spend $5-$8 dollars managing the environment. As hardware gets cheaper still, it might even be worth making three copies of every 1MB object, the parallel processto perform re-replications would be the same. This could be done using policy-based management, some data gets triple-copied, and other data gets only double-copied, based on whether the user selected "premium" or "basic" service.
The beauty of this approach is that it works with 100 drives, 1000 drives, or even a million drives. Parallel processingis how supercomputers are able to perform feats of amazing mathematical computations so quickly, and how Web 2.0services like Google and Yahoo can perform web searches so quickly. Spreading the re-replication process acrossmany drives in parallel, rather than performing them serially onto a single drive, is just one of the many uniquefeatures of this new architecture.
This week I'm in Los Angeles for the Systems Technology Conference (STC '08).We have over 1900 IT professionals attending, of which 1200 IBMers from North America, Latin America,and Asia Pacific regions, as well as another 350 IBM Business Partners. The rest, including me, are world wideor from other areas.
Last January, IBM reorganized its team to be more client-focused. Instead of focused on products, we are nowclient-centric, and have teams to cover our large enterprise systems through direct sales force, business systemsfor sales through our channel business partners, and industry systems for specific areas like deep computing,digital surveillance and retail systems solutions.
In addition to 788 sessions to attend these next four days, we had a few main tent sessions.My third line (my boss' boss' boss) David Gelardi presented Enterprise Systems. This is the group I am in.
Akemi Watanabe presented for Business Systems. Her native language is Japanese, so to do an entire talk inEnglish was quite impressive. Her focus is on SMB accounts, those customers with less than 1000 employeesthat are looking for easy-to-use solutions. She mentioned IBM's new [Blue Business Platform] which includesLotus Foundation Start, an Application Integration Toolkit, and the Global Application Marketplace.
Part of this process is the merger of System p and System i into "POWER" systems, and then offering both midrangeand enterprise versions of these that run AIX, i5/OS and Linux on POWER. It turns out that only 9 percent of ourSystem i customers are only on this platform. Another 87 percent have Windows, so it makes sense to offer i5/OSon BladeCenter, to consolidate Windows servers from HP, Dell or Sun over to IBM.
Meanwhile, IBM's strategy to support Linux has proven successful. 25 percent of x86 servers now run Linux. IBMhas 600 full-time developers for Linux, over 500 of which contributed to the latest 2.6 kernel development. Our ["chiphopper"] program has successfullyported over 900 applications. There are now over 6500 applications that run on Linux applications, on our strategic alliances with Red Hat (RHEL) and Novell (SUSE) distributions of Linux.
Her recommendation to SMB reps: learn POWER systems, BladeCenter, and Linux. I agree!
Mary Coucher presented Industry systems. In addition to the game chips for the Sony Playstation, Nintendo Wii,and Microsoft Xbox-360, this segment focuses on Digital Video Surveillance (DVS), Retail Solutions, Healthcare and Life sciences (HCLS), OEM and embedded solutions, and Deep computing. She mentioned our recently announcediDataPlex solution.
IBM is focused on "real-world-aware" applications, which includes traffic, crime, surveillance, fraud, andRFID enablement. These are streams of data that happen real-time, that need to be dealt with now, not later.
Most people know that IBM has the majority of the top 500 supercomputers, but few may not realize that IBMalso has delivered solutions to the top 100 green companies. IBM success is explained in more detail in this[Press Release].
The group split up to four different platform meetings: Storage, Modular, Power, and Mainframe. Barry Rudolphpresented for the Storage platform. He talked about the explosion in information, business opportunities,risk and cost management. IBM has shifted from being product-focused, to the stack of servers and storage,to our latest focus on solutions across the infrastructure. He mentioned our DARPA win for [PERCS] which stands for productive,easy-to-use, reliable computing system.
My session was the first in the morning, at 8:30am, but managed to pack the room full of people. A few looklike they just rolled in from Brocade's special get-together in Casey's Irish Pub the night before.I presented how IBM's storage strategy for the information infrastructure fits into the greater corporate-wide themes.To liven things up, I gave out copies of my book[Inside System Storage: Volume I] to those who asked or answered the toughest questions.
Data Deduplication and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM)
IBM Toby Marek compared and contrasted the various data deduplication technologies and products available, andhow to deploy them as the repository for TSM workloads. She is a software engineer for our TSM software product,and gave a fair comparison between IBM System Storage N series Advanced Single Instance Storage (A-SIS), IBMDiligent, and other solutions out in the marketplace.If you are going to combine technologies, then it isbest to dedupe first, then compress, and finally encrypt the data. She also explained about the many cleverways that TSM does data reduction at the client side greatly reduces the bandwidth traffic over the LAN,as well as reducing disk and tape resources for storage. This includes progressive "incremental forever" backup for file selection, incremental backups for databases, and adaptive sub-file backup.Because of these data reduction techniques, you may not get as much benefit as deduplication vendors claim.
The Business Value of Energy Efficiency Data Centers
Scott Barielle did a great job presenting the issues related to the Green IT data center. He is part of IBM"STG Lab Services" team that does energy efficiency studies for customers. It is not unusual for his teamto find potential savings of up to 80 percent of the Watts consumed in a client's data center.
IBM has done a lot to make its products more energy efficient. For example, in the United States, most datacenters are supplied three-phase 480V AC current, but this is often stepped down to 208V or 110V with powerdistribution units (PDUs). IBM's equipment allows for direct connection to this 480V, eliminating the step-downloss. This is available for the IBM System z mainframe, the IBM System Storage DS8000disk system, and larger full-frame models of our POWER-based servers, and will probably be rolled out to someof our other offerings later this year. The end result saves 8 to 14 percent in energy costs.
Scott had some interesting statistics. Typical US data centers only spend about 9 percent of their IT budgeton power and cooling costs. The majority of clients that engage IBM for an energy efficiency study are not tryingto reduce their operational expenditures (OPEX), but have run out, or close to running out, of total kW ratingof their current facility, and have been turned down by their upper management to spend the average $20 million USDneeded to build a new one. The cost of electricity in the USA has risen very slowly over the past 35 years, andis more tied the to fluctuations of Natural Gas than it is to Oil prices.(a recent article in the Dallas News confirmed this:["As electricity rates go up, natural gas' high prices, deregulation blamed"])
Cognos v8 - Delivering Operational Business Intelligence (BI) on Mainframe
Mike Biere, author of the book [BusinessIntelligence for the Enterprise], presented Cognos v8 and how it is being deployed for the IBMSystem z mainframe. Typically, customers do their BI processing on distributed systems, but 70 percent of the world's business data is on mainframes, so it makes sense to do yourBI there as well. Cognos v8 runs on Linux for System z, connecting to z/OS via [Hypersockets].
There are a variety of other BI applications on the mainframe already, including DataQuant,AlphaBlox, IBI WebFocus and SAS Enterprise Business Intelligence. In addition to accessing traditional onlinetransaction processing (OLTP) repositories like DB2, IMS and VSAM, using the [IBM WebSphere ClassicFederation Server], Cognos v8 can also read Lotus databases.
Business Intelligence is traditionally query, reporting and online analytics process (OLAP) for the top 10 to 15 percent of the company, mostly executives andanalysts, for activities like business planning, budgeting and forecasting. Cognos PowerPlay stores numericaldata in an [OLAP cube] for faster processing.OLAP cubes are typically constructed with a batch cycle, using either "Extract, Transfer, Load" [ETL], or "Change Data Capture" [CDC], which playsto the strength of IBM System z mainframe batch processing capabilities.If you are not familiar with OLAP, Nigel Pendse has an article[What is OLAP?] for background information.
Over the past five years, BI is now being more andmore deployed for the rest of the company, knowledge workers tasked with doing day-to-day operations. Thisphenomenom is being called "Operational" Business Intelligence.
IBM Glen Corneau, who is on the Advanced Technical Support team for AIX and System p, presented the IBMGeneral Parellel File System (GPFS), which is available for AIX, Linux-x86 and Linux on POWER.Unfortunately, many of the questions were related to Scale Out File Services (SOFS), which my colleague GlennHechler was presenting in another room during this same time slot.
GPFS is now in its 11th release since its introducing in 1997. All of the IBM supercomputers on the [Top 500 list] use GPFS. The largest deployment of GPFS is 2241 nodes.A GPFS environment can support up to 256 file systems, each file system can have up to 2 billion filesacross 2 PB of storage. GPFS supports "Direct I/O" making it a great candidate for Oracle RAC deployments.Oracle 10g automatically detects if it is using GPFS, and sets the appropriate DIO bits in the stream totake advantage of GPFS features.
Glen also covered the many new features of GPFS, such as the ability to place data on different tiers ofstorage, with policies to move to lower tiers of storage, or delete after a certain time period, all conceptswe call Information Lifecycle Management. GPFS also supports access across multiple locations and offersa variety of choices for disaster recovery (DR) data replication.
Perhaps the only problem with conferences like this is that it can be an overwhelming["fire hose"] of information!
Continuing this week in Los Angeles, I went to some interesting sessions today at theSystems Technical Conference (STC08).
System Storage Productivity Center (SSPC) - Install and Configuration
Dominic Pruitt, an IBM IT specialist in our Advanced Technical Support team, presented SSPC and howto install and configure it. For those confused between the difference of TotalStorage ProductivityCenter and System Storage Productivity Center, the former is pure software that you install on aWindows or Linux server, and the latter is an IBM server, pre-installed with Windows 2003, TotalStorageProductivity Center software, TPCTOOL command line interface, DB2 Universal Database, the DS8000 Element Manager, SVC GUI and CIMOM, and [PuTTY] rLogin/SSH/Telnet terminal application software.
Of course, the problem with having a server pre-installed with a lot of software is that there is alwayssomeone that wants to customize it further. For those who just want to manage their DS8000 disk systems,for example, it is possible to uninstall the SVC GUI, CIMOM and PuTTY, and re-install them later when youchange your mind. As a general rule, it is not wise to mix CIMOMs on the same machine, as it might causeconflicts with TCP ports or Java level requirements, so if you want a different CIMOM than SVC, uninstallthe SVC CIMOM first. For those who have SVC, the SSPC replaces the SVC Master Console, so you can safelyturn off the SVC CIMOM on your existing SVC Master Consoles.
The base level is TotalStorage Productivity Center "Basic Edition", but you can upgrade the Productivity Centerfor Disk, Data and Fabric components with license keys. You can also run Productivity Center for Replication,but IBM recommends adding processor and memory to do this (IBM offers this as an orderable option).Whether you have the TotalStorage software or SSPC hardware, Productivity Center has a cool role-to-groups mapping feature.You can create user groups, either on the Windows server, the Active Directory, or other LDAP, and then map which roles should be assigned to users in each group.
Since Productivity Center manages a variety of different disk systems, it has made anattempt to standardize some terminology. The term "storage pool" refers to an extentpool on the DS8000, or a managed disk group on the SAN Volume Controller. Since the DS8000 can support both mainframe CKD volumes and LUNs for distributed systems, theterm "volume" refers to a CKD volume or LUN, and "disk" refers to the hard disk drive (HDD).
To help people learn Productivity Center, IBM offers single-day "remote workshops"that use Windows Remote Desktop to allow participants to install, customize and usethe software with no travel required.
IBM Integrated Approach to Archiving
Dan Marshall, IBM global program manager for storage and data services on our Global Technology Services team, presented IBM's corporate-wide integration to support archive across systems, software and services.One attendee asked me why I was there, given that "archive" is one of my areas of subject matter expertise that I present often at the Tucson Executive Briefing Center. I find it useful to watch others present the material, even material that I helped to develop, to see a different slant or spin on each talking point.
Archive is one area that brings all parts of IBM together: systems, software and services.Dan provided a look at archive from the services angle, providing an objective unbiasedview of the different software and systems available to solve specific challenges.
Encryption Key Manager (EKM) Design and Implementation
Jeff Ziehm, IBM tape technical sales specialist, presented IBM's EKM software, how it works in a tape environment, and how to deploy it in various environments. Since IBM is allabout being open and non-proprietary, the EKM software runs on Java on a variety ofIBM and non-IBM operating systems. IBM offers "keytool" command line interface (CLI) for the LTO4 and TS1120 tape systems, and "iKeyMan" graphical user interface (GUI) for theTS1120. Since it runs on Java, IBM Business Partners and technical support personneloften just [download and install EKM]onto their own laptops to learn how to use it.
Virtual Tape Update
We had three presenters at this one. First, Jeff Mulliken, formerly from Diligent and now a full IBM employee, presented the current ProtecTier softwarewith the HyperFactor technology, then Abbe Woodcock, IBM tape systems, compared Diligent with IBM's TS7520 and just-announced TS7530virtual tape libraries, and finally Randy Fleenor, IBM tape sales leader, presented IBM's strategy going forward in tape virtualization.
Let's start with Diligent. The ProtecTier software runs on any x86-64 server withat least four cores and the correct Emulex host bus adapter (HBA) cards. Using Red HatEnterprise Linux (RHEL) as a base, the ProtecTier software performs its deduplication entirely in-lineat an "ingest rate" of 400-450 MB/sec. This is all possible using 4GB memory-resident "dictionary table" that can map up to 1 PB of back end physical storage, which could represent as much as 25PB of "nominal" storage. Theserver is then point-to-point or SAN-attached to Fibre Channel disk systems.
As we learned yesterday from Toby Marek's session, there are four ways to performdeduplication:
full-file comparisons. Store only one copy of identical files.
fixed-chunk comparisons. Files are carved up into fixed-size chunks, and each chunkis compared or hashed to existing chunks to eliminate duplicates.
variable-chunk comparisons. Variable-length chunks are hashed or diffed to eliminate duplicate data.
content-aware comparisons. If you knew data was in Powerpoint format, for example,you could compare text, photos or charts against other existing Powerpoint files toeliminate duplicates.
IBM System Storage N series Advanced Single Instance Storage (A-SIS) uses fixed-chunkmethod, and Diligent uses variable-chunk comparisons. Diligent does this using "dataprofiling". For example, let's say most of my photographs are pictures of people, buildings, landscapes, flowers and IT equipment. When I back these up, the Diligentserver "profiles" each, and determines if any existing data have a similar profilethat might have at least 50 percent similar content. Diligent than reads in the data that is mostly likely similar, does a byte-for-byte ["diff" comparison], and creates variable-lengthchunks that are either identical or unique to sections of the existing data. Theunique data is compressed with LZH and written to disk, and the sequential series of pointer segments representing the ingested file is written in a separate section on disk.
That Diligent can represent profiles for 1PB of data in as little as 4GB memory-residentdictionary is incredible. By comparison, 10TB data would require 10 million entries on a content-aware solution, and 1.25 billion entries for one based on hash-codes.
Abbe Woodcock presented the TS7530 tape system that IBM announced on Tuesday. It has some advantages over the current Diligent offering:
Hardware-based compression (TS7520 and Diligent use software-based compression)
1200 MB/sec (faster ingest rate than Diligent)
1.7PB of SATA disk (more disk capacity than Diligent)
Support for i5/OS (Diligent's emulation of ATL P3000 with DLT7000 tapes not supported on IBM's POWER systems running i5/OS)
Ability to attach a real tape library
NDMP backup to tape
tape "shredding" (virtual equivalent of degaussing a physical tape to erase all previously stored data)
Randy Fleenor wrapped up the session telling us IBM's strategy going forward with all of thevirtual tape systems technologies. Until then, IBM is working on "recipes" or "bundles", puttingDiligent software with specific models of IBM System x servers and IBM System Storage DS4000 disk systemsto avoid the "do-it-yourself" problems of its current software-only packaging.
Understanding Web 2.0 and Digital Archive Workloads
I got to present this in the last time slot of the day, just before everyone headed off to the [Westin Bonaventure hotel] for our big fancy barbecue dinner. Like my previous sessionon IBM Strategy, this session was more oriented toward a sales audience, but both garnereda huge turn-out and were well-received by the technical attendees.
This session was requested because these new applications and workloads are what is driving IBM to acquire small start-ups like XIV, deploy Scale-Out File Services (SOFS), and develop the innovative iDataPlex server rack.
The session was fun because it was a mix of explanation of the characteristics ofWeb 2.0 services; my own experience as a blogger and user of Google Docs, FlickR, Second Life andTivo; and an exploration in how database and digital archives will impact thegrowth in computing and storage requirements.
I'll expand on some of these topics in later blog posts.
I'm glad this is the final day of the IBM Systems Technical Conference (STC08) here in Los Angeles.While I enjoyed the conference, one quickly reaches saturation point with all the information presented.
XIV Architecture Overview
Before this conference, many of the attendees didn't understandIBM's strategy, didn't understand Web 2.0 and Digital archive workloads,and didn't understand why IBM acquired XIV to offer "yet another disk systemthat servers LUNs to distributed server platforms." Brian Shermanchanged all that!
Brian Sherman, IBM Advanced Technical Support (ATS), is part of the exclusive dedicated XIVtechnical team to install these boxes at client locations, so he is very knowledgeable with the technical aspects of the architecture. He presented what the current XIV-branded model that clients can purchase now in select countries, and what the IBM-branded model will change when available worldwide.
Those who missed my earlier series on XIV can find them here:
Beyond this, Brian gave additional information on how thin provisioning, storage pools, disk mirroring, consistency groups, management consoles, and microcode updates are implemented.
N series and VMware Deep Dive
Norm Bogard, IBM Advanced Technical Support, presented why the IBM N series makes such great disk storage for VMware
deployments. This wasclearly labeled as a "deep dive", so anyone who got lost in all of theacronyms could not blame Norm for misrepresentation.
IBM has been doing server virtualization for over 40 years, so it makes sense thatit happens to be the number one reseller of VMware offerings.VMware ESX server is a hypervisor that runs on x86 host, and provides an emulationlayer for "guest Operating Systems". Each guest can hvae one or more virtualdisks, which are represented by VMware as VMDK files. VMware ESX server acceptsread/write requests from the guests, and forwards them on to physical storage.Many of VMware's most exciting features requires storage to be external to thehost machine. [VMotion]allows guests to move from one host to another, [Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS)]allows a set of hosts to load-balance the guestsacross the hosts, and [High Availability (HA)] allows the guests on a failed hostto be resurrected on a surviving host. All of these require external disk storage.
ESX server allows up to 256 LUNs, attached via FCP and/or iSCSI, and up to 32 NFS mount points. Across LUNs, ESX server uses VMFS file system, which is a clusteredfile system like IBM GPFS that allows multiple hosts to access the same LUNs.ESX server has its own built-in native multipathing driver, and even provides FCP-iSCSIand iSCSI multipathing. In other words, you can have a LUN on an IBM System Storage N series thatis attached over both FCP and iSCSI, so if the SAN switch or HBA fails, ESX servercan failover to the iSCSI connection.
ESX server can use NFS protocol to access the VMDK files instead. While the default is only 8 NFS mount points, you can increase this to 32 mount points. NAS can takeadvantage of Link Aggregate Control Protocol [LACP] groups, what some call "trunking" or "EtherChannel". This is the ability to consolidate multiple streams onto fewer inter-switch Ethernet links, similar to what happens on SAN switches.For the IBM N series, IBM recommends a "fixed" path policy, rather than "most recently used".
IBM recommends disabling SnapShot schedules, and setting the Snap reserve to 0 percent.Why? A snapshot of an ESX server datastore has the VMDK files of many guests, all of which would have had to quiesce or stop to make the data "crash consistent" for theSnapshot of the datastore to even make any sense. So, if you want to take Snapshots, itshould be something you coordinate with the ESX server and its guest OS images, and notscheduled by the N series itself.
If you are running NFS protocol to N series, you can turn off the "accesstime" updates. In normal file systems, when you read a file, it updates the"access time" in the file directory. This can be useful if you are looking forfiles that haven't been read in a while, such as software that migrates infrequentlyaccessed files to tape. Assuming you are not doing that on your N series, you might as well turnoff this feature, and reduce the unnecessary write activity to the IBM N series box.
ESX server can also support "thin provisioning" on the IBM N series. There isa checkbox for "space reserved". Checked means "thick provisioning" and uncheckedmeans "thin provisioning". If you decide to use "thin provisioning" with VMware,you should consider setting AutoSize to automatically increase your datastorewhen needed, and to auto-delete-snap your oldest snapshots first.
The key advantage of using NFS rather than FCP or iSCSI is that it eliminates theuse of the VMFS file system. IBM N series has the WAFL file system instead, andso you don't have to worry about VMFS partition alignment issue. Most VMDK aremisaligned, so the performance is sub-optimal. If you can align each VMDK to a32KB or 64KB boundary (depending on guest OS), then you can get better performance.WAFL does this for you automatically, but VMFS does not. For Windows guests, use "Windows PE" to configurecorrectly-aligned disks. For UNIX or Linux guests, use "fdisk" utility.
What Industry Analysts are saying about IBM
Vic Peltz gave a presentation highlighting the accolades from securities analysts, IT analysts, and newsagencies about IBM and IBM storage products. For example, analysts like that IBM offersmany of the exciting new technologies their clients are demanding, like "thin provisioning", RAID-6 double-drive protection,SATA and Solid State Disk (SSD) drive technology.Analysts also like that IBM is open to non-IBM heterogeneous environments. Whereas EMC Celerra gateways supportonly EMC disk, IBM N series gateways and IBM SAN Volume Controller support a mix of IBM and non-IBM equipment.
Analysts also like IBM's "datacenter-wide" approach to issues like security and "Green IT". Rather than focusingon these issues with individual point solutions, IBM attacks these challenges with a complete"end-to-end" solution approach. A typical 25,000 square foot data center consumes $2.6 million dollars USD in power andcooling today, and IBM has proven technologies to reduce this cost in half. IBM's DS8000 on average consume26.5 to 27.8 percent less electricity than a comparable EMC DMX-4 disk system. IBM's tape systemsconsume less energy than comparable Sun or HP models.
IBM iDataPlex product technical presentation
Vallard Benincosa, IBM Technical Sales Specialist, presented the recently-announced [IBM System x iDataPlex].This is designed for our clients that have thousands of x86 servers, that buy servers "racks at a time", tosupport Web 2.0 and digital archive workloads. The iDataPlex is designed for efficient power and cooling,rapid scalability, and usable server density.
iDataPlex is such a radical design departure, that it might be difficult to describe in words.Most racks take up two floor tiles, each tile is 2 foot by 2 foot square. In that space, a traditionalrack would have servers that were 19 inches wide slide in horizontally, with flashing lights and hot-swappabledisks in the front, and all the power supply, fans and networking connections in the back. Even with IBM BladeCenter,you have chassis in these racks, and then servers slide in vertically in the front, and all of the power supply, fanand networking connections in the back. To access these racks, you have to be able to open the door on boththe front and back. And the cooling has to go through at least 26.5 inches from the front of the equipment to the back.
iDataPlex turns the rack sideways. Instead of two feet wide, and four feet deep, it is four feet wide, and two feet deep.This gives you two 19 inch columns to slide equipment into, and the air only has to travel 15 inches from frontto back. Less distance makes cooling more efficient.
Next, iDataPlex makes only thing in the back the power cord, controlled by an intelligent power distribution unit (iPDU) so you can turnthe power off without having to physically pull the plug. Everything else is serviced from the front door.This means that the back door can now be an optional "Rear Door Heat Exchanger" [RDHX] that is filled with running water to makecooling the rack extremely efficient. Water from a cooler distirubtion unit (CDU) can power about threeto four RDHX doors.
Let's say you wanted to compare traditional racks with iDataPlex for 84 servers. You can put 42 "1U" serversin two racks each, each rack requires 10 kVA (kilo-volt-amps) so you give it two 8.6 kVA feeds each, that is fourfeeds, and at $1500-2000 dollars USD per month, will cost you $6000-8000. The iDataPlex you can fit 84 serversin one 20 kVA rack, with only three 8.6 kVA feeds, saving you $1500-2000 dollars USD per month.
Fans are also improved. Fan efficiency is based on their diameter, so small fans in 1U servers aren't as effective as iDataPlex's 2U fans, saving about 12-49W per server. Whereas typical 1U server racks spend 10-20percent of their energy on the fans, the iDataPlex spends only about 1 percent, saving 8 to 36 kWH per year per rack.
Each 2U chassis snaps into a single power supply and a bank of 2U fans. A "Y"power cord allows you to have one cord for two power supplies. A chassis can hold either two small server "flexnodes"or one big "flexnode". An iDataPlex rack can hold up to 84 small servers or 42 big servers. Since each "Y" cord can power up to four "flexnode" servers, you greatly reduce the number of PDU sockets taken,leaving some sockets available for traditional 1U switches.
The small "flexnode" server can have one 3.5 inch HDD, or two 2.5 inch HDD, either SAS or SATA, and the big "flexnode" can have twice these.If you need more storage, there is a 2U chassis that holds five 3.5 inch HDD or eight 2.5 inch HDD. These areall "simple-swappable" (servers must be powered down to pull out the drives). For hot-swappable drives, a 3Uchassis with twelve 3.5 inch SAS or SATA drives.
The small "flexnode" server has one [PCI Express] slot, the big servers have two. Thesecould be used for [Myrinet] clustering. With only 25W power,the PCI Express slots cannot support graphics cards.
The iDataPlex is managed using the "Extreme Cluster Administration Toolkit" [XCAT]. This is an open source project under Eclipse that IBM contributes to.
Finally was the concept of "pitch". This is the distance from the center of one "cold aisle" to the next "cold aisle".On typical data centers, a pitch is 9 to 11 tiles. With the iDataPlex it is only three tiles when using the RDHX doors, or six tiles without. Most data centers run out of power and cooling before they run out of floor space, so having more dense equipmentdoesn't help if it doesn't also use less electricity.Since the iDataPlex uses 40 percent less power and cooling, you can pack more racks persquare foot of an existing data center floor with the existing power and cooling available. That is what IBM calls "usable density"!
What Did You Say? Effective Questioning and Listening Techniques
Maria L. Anderson, IBM Human Resources Learning, gave this "professional development" talk. I deal with different clients every week, so I fully understand that there is a mix of art and science incrafting the right questions and listening to the responses.The focus was on howto ask better questions and improve the understanding and communication during consultative engagements. Thisinvolves the appropriate mix of closed and open-ended questions, exchanging or prefacing as needed. This wasa good overview of the ERIC technique (Explore, Refine, Influence, and Confirm).
Well, that wraps up my week here in Los Angeles.Special thanks to my two colleagues, Jack Arnold and Glenn Hechler, both from the Tucson Executive Briefing Center,who helped me prepare and review my presentations!
Continuing on my theme of storage area networking, today I thought I would coverstorage networking at home.
Before the PC, corporate end-users had dumb terminals (displays) connected to mainframes (servers) thatwere then connected to external disk and tape (storage devices). This was all done with direct cable connections,then later through networks. The PC solved this by putting the display, server and storage into one unit, makingit more accessible to smaller businesses and individuals.
Many years ago, Microsoft started out with the vision "A PC on every desktop".The primary reason we even have networks is while everyone might have had their own PC, not everyone had their own printer. (Printers used to be part of IBM's storage division, which we explained as "storage on PAPER"!)Maybe if Microsoft's vision was "A PC and printer on every desktop", history might have turned up different.
Disclaimer: IBM has close business relationships with both Apple and Microsoft and others,providing the chips inside some of their products. I discuss them here not only becauseI am trying to get you to buy their products, and let IBM benefit indirectly from their success, but because they are newsworthy, and relevant to the topic at hand.
The "Apple TV" is not a TV at all, but rather a server, one that lets your television (your dumb terminal)access the video, audio and photos stored on your Mac or iPod (the storage device), all through a home network.(Sound familiar?)
Bill Gates from Microsoft gave the keynote, and this is probably his last appearance, as he is retiring in 2008,as we are reminded by thisfunny video, to move on to bigger, and better things. It is perhaps fitting that his retirement aligns with the end of the era for the PC.
Microsoft unveiled their Microsoft Windows Home Server, again a server that connects your television (dumb terminal) with your PC or Zune (storage device)all through your home network. (Sound familiar, again?)
Whereas Apple above pretty much shunned the gaming community, Microsoft embraced it with their internet-enabled Xbox360.Microsoft sold 10.4 million of these last year, which was 400 million more than they projected.
Our SAN technology partner Cisco wants to get in on this "home networking craze", as written about inInfoWorld andCnet.
My take on all this...the consumer electronics industry is taking clues from IBM's mainframe business. Not the first time this has happened, and probably not the last.
I already access photos and audio with my Tivo, from both my Mac AND my PC,so not much new here for me. Getting my home network connected was one of mytech highlights of 2006 and organizing my audio content was done withILM for my iPod.
Bypassing the PC, by being able to have your television, handheld or phone access data directly will greatlyincrease the demand for storage from businesses that provide information and content, and for storage networking technology in the home. It will be interesting how this all plays out in 2007.
I would fall into the "not for me" category, at least at this time. The iPhone is GSM-capable phone with the ability to store 4GB or 8GB of music, photos and video, and has incorporated a 2 megapixel camera. Currently, I have separate components:
A cell phone that is GSM plus CDMA, with features like "speakerphone" which I use quite a lot, but NO camera.
A 7 megapixel camera, also very small, with removable memory cards.
A 60GB iPod, with music and photos. My model is older and doesn't handle videos.
Since I visit government agencies, research and development labs, and other places that don't allow cameras, I have to either chose a cell phone that does not have camera capability in it, or have a camera phone that I leave behind in the car or at the front desk. I have chosen to get cell phones with NO camera. So, NOT having a camera is a primary feature I look for, but this is getting harder and harder these days. I don't know if Apple plans to have a non-camera version of their iPhone, but that would be a deal-breaker for me.
I do carry a separate camera, and where it is permissible, use it separately. This is especially useful if you do a lot of whiteboard or flipchart presentations, and want to capture what you have written for later. (For a great example of how effectively whiteboards can be used, check out these videos from UPS.)A picture is worth a thousand words, and is easier to convey an idea with pictures, especially in countries that may not speak English. Last month, I got a 7 megapixel camera to replace my 5 megapixel. For my work, 2 megapixel as found in the iPhone is not detailed enough.
As for my iPod, I enjoy that I can carry 60GB of music and photos. When I go on vacations, I can bring my camera and iPod, and connect the two, transferring and viewing the pictures that I take. I can easily free up 5-10 GB of space on my iPod for photos in preparation for a trip, then replace that with music when I am back at home. I also use my iPod as a remote disk drive for my laptop on business trips. Again, the 4GB and 8GB may not be enough for what I need.
Printers were never converged into Personal Computers, but they did have their own convergence. I have a multi-function printer/scanner/fax machine. I used to have separate printer, scanner and fax machines, but now the technology is so inexpensive that it got all combined into one solution.
The same is happening for Storage Area Networking gear.
Thanks to Fibre Channel, switches and directors can handle both SCSI commands (FCP) and CCW commands (FICON). This allows the mainframe and distrbuted systems to converge their traffic onto a single network, and is less expensive than trying to maintain one network for the mainframes, and another for the distributed platforms.
On the SCSI side, there are now switches that let you have pluggable ports of different flavors. For example, you can have some ports be Fibre Channel to receive FCP, and other ports to be Ethernet to carry iSCSI. iSCSI is a protocol co-developed between IBM and Cisco to carry SCSI commands over Ethernet. Since most computers already have Ethernet "network interface cards" and most buildings are already wired with an Ethernet infrastructure, this provides a less expensive alternative to Fibre Channel.
Routers, and combination Router/Switches, can send all the FCP/FICON/iSCSI traffic over various long distances to remote data centers, using either iFCP or FCIP protocols. This is a less expensive alternative to dropping your own private "dark fiber" between the two locations, which often involves negotiating access rights to dig trenches through other people's property.
Which brings me back to Apple's iPhone. One device can make calls, watch video, and download webpages all because the networks have converged into sending all data in "packets". The network just routes packets from one place to another. It doesn't care that a packet is a voice packet, a video packet or a webpage packet. It doesn't matter.
"Users can pay for groceries and other purchases by swiping a phone over a reader that electronically communicates with a microchip on the phone. Phone owners confirm the purchase with the push of a button and the deal is complete.
The platform is the result of many years of trials around the world and will enable mobile contactless payments, remote payments, person-to-person payments, and mobile coupons."
Continuing this week's theme on Storage Area Networks, today I thought I would talkabout the various terms we use for our equipment.
One area of confusion are the adjectives "entry-level", "midrange" and "enterprise-class".What do these mean? Well, as in the case of disk and tape, these three are all relative terms that are a combination of "small, medium, large" as well as "good, better, best".
Entry-level switches are typically only a maximum of 8-16 ports.Ports can connect the switch to a server, a storage device, or another switch.These are sometimes called "edge" switches, as they might be found in the mostremote sections of an office campus, remote branches, or other isolated areasoutside the primary data center.
Midrange switches typically have a maximum of 32-64 ports.More ports on a single switch means fewer switches (and fewer cables) to manage.
These are called "directors" to distinguish them from entry-level and midrange offerings.Directors have a maximum of 140-528 ports, and because so many devices or switches can beconnected to them, they need to be extremely reliable. Directors are designed for 24x7operation, with the ability to make most upgrades and configuration changes while the boxis running (often referred to as "non-disruptive upgrades"). Availability is typically better than "five nines", or 99.999 percent, which means that the box will be up 99.999 percent of the time, or conversely, will be down lessthan 5 minutes per year.
If you are asking yourself "which size is right for my company?" or "is my company big enoughfor a director?" you are asking the wrong questions! Instead, determine a SAN configurationthat meets your workload, and then decide the components for that design.
McData coined a phrase called "core/edge" design that is considered today as "Best Practice" throughout the industry.A good write-up can be found here at SearchStorage.com. Basically, you put your big beefy "core" directors in the center of the room, and then surround it with midrange switches, that then these connect to "edge" switches, that then connect to the servers and storage near them. As you grow, this design can easilyscale to grow with you.
So, if you need help implementing a SAN for the first time, or upgrading the one you have,call IBM, we can help!
Rich Bourdeau has written a nice article on InfoStor titled [Software as a Service (SaaS) meets Storage]. Last year, IBM acquired Arsenal Digital, and he mentions both in this article.It is interesting how this has evolved over the years.
Rent warehouse space for tapes
I remember when various companies offered remote storage for tapes. These would be temperature and humidity-controlledrooms, with access lists on who could bring tapes in, who could take tapes out, and so on. In the event of thedisaster, someone would collect the appropriate tapes and take them to a recovery site location.
Rent online/nearline storage from a Storage Service Provider (SSP)
SSPs rented storage space on disk, or provided automated tape libraries that could be written to. With tapes being ejected and stored in temperature/humidity-controlled vaults. Electronic vaulting eliminates a lot of theissues with cartridge handling and transportation, is more secure, and faster. Rented disk space, based on a Gigabytes-per-month rate, could be used for whatever the customer wanted. If these were for backups or archive,then the customer has to have their own software, to do their own processing at their own location, sending the data to the remote storage as appropriate, and manage their own administration.
Backup-as-a-Service and Archive-as-a-Service
We are now seeing the SaaS model applied to mundane and routine storage management tasks. New providers can offerthe software to send backups, the disk to write them to, and as needed the tape libraries and cartridges to rollover when the disk space is full. Disk capacity can be sized so that the most recent backups are on immediately accessible for fast recovery.
The same concept can be applied to archives. The key difference between a backup and an archive is that backups areversion-based. You might keep three versions of a backup, the most recent, and two older copies, in case something is wrong with the most recent copy, you can go back to older copies. This could be from undetected corruption of the data itself, or problems with the disk or tape media. An archive, on the other hand, is time-based. You want this data to be kept for a specific period of time, based on an event or fixed period of years.
Since BaaS and AaaS providers know what the data is, have some idea of the policies and usage patterns will be, can then optimize a storage solution that best meets service level agreements.
IBM is doing a bit of year-end housekeeping. The Storage Community (storagecommunity.org) will be discontinued as of January 1, 2017.
IBM will continue to host a community for all of its followers and contributors to share insights on the latest trends in storage at [ibm.co/StorageSolutions].
All of the most recent IBM content from storagecommunity.org will now be available at this new domain. IBM hopes that you will continue to engage in its community of storage industry thought leaders.
If you would like to contribute to the new community, please [register here]. Simply click the silhouette icon in the top right-hand corner of the page and select "register." Input your email address and create a password, then sign in. You will receive an email from IBM with further instructions to get you set up.
IBM's twitter handle (@SmarterStorage) will also be sunset as of January 1, 2017, but I encourage you to follow @IBMStorage, or my own twitter handle @az990tony, for the latest storage news and announcements from IBM.
Wrapping up my week's theme of storage optimization, I thought I would help clarify the confusion between data reduction and storage efficiency. I have seen many articles and blog posts that either use these two terms interchangeably, as if they were synonyms for each other, or as if one is merely a subset of the other.
Data Reduction is LOSSY
By "Lossy", I mean that reducing data is an irreversible process. Details are lost, but insight is gained. In his paper, [Data Reduction Techniques", Rajana Agarwal defines this simply:
"Data reduction techniques are applied where the goal is to aggregate or amalgamate the information contained in large data sets into manageable (smaller) information nuggets."
Data reduction has been around since the 18th century.
Take for example this histogram from [SearchSoftwareQuality.com]. We have reduced ninety individual student scores, and reduced them down to just five numbers, the counts in each range. This can provide for easier comprehension and comparison with other distributions.
The process is lossy. I cannot determine or re-create an individual student's score from these five histogram values.
This next example, complements of [Michael Hardy], represents another form of data reduction known as ["linear regression analysis"]. The idea is to take a large set of data points between two variables, the x axis along the horizontal and the y axis along the vertical, and find the best line that fits. Thus the data is reduced from many points to just two, slope(a) and intercept(b), resulting in an equation of y=ax+b.
The process is lossy. I cannot determine or re-create any original data point from this slope and intercept equation.
In this last example, from [Yahoo Finance], reduces millions of stock trades to a single point per day, typically closing price, to show the overall growth trend over the course of the past year.
The process is lossy. Even if I knew the low, high and closing price of a particular stock on a particular day, I would not be able to determine or re-create the actual price paid for individual trades that occurred.
Storage Efficiency is LOSSLESS
By contrast, there are many IT methods that can be used to store data in ways that are more efficient, without losing any of the fine detail. Here are some examples:
Thin Provisioning: Instead of storing 30GB of data on 100GB of disk capacity, you store it on 30GB of capacity. All of the data is still there, just none of the wasteful empty space.
Space-efficient Copy: Instead of copying every block of data from source to destination, you copy over only those blocks that have changed since the copy began. The blocks not copied are still available on the source volume, so there is no need to duplicate this data.
Archiving and Space Management: Data can be moved out of production databases and stored elsewhere on disk or tape. Enough XML metadata is carried along so that there is no loss in the fine detail of what each row and column represent.
Data Deduplication: The idea is simple. Find large chunks of data that contain the same exact information as an existing chunk already stored, and merely set a pointer to avoid storing the duplicate copy. This can be done in-line as data is written, or as a post-process task when things are otherwise slow and idle.
When data deduplication first came out, some lawyers were concerned that this was a "lossy" approach, that somehow documents were coming back without some of their original contents. How else can you explain storing 25PB of data on only 1PB of disk?
(In some countries, companies must retain data in their original file formats, as there is concern that converting business documents to PDF or HTML would lose some critical "metadata" information such as modificatoin dates, authorship information, underlying formulae, and so on.)
Well, the concern applies only to those data deduplication methods that calculate a hash code or fingerprint, such as EMC Centera or EMC Data Domain. If the hash code of new incoming data matches the hash code of existing data, then the new data is discarded and assumed to be identical. This is rare, and I have only read of a few occurrences of unique data being discarded in the past five years. To ensure full integrity, IBM ProtecTIER data deduplication solution and IBM N series disk systems chose instead to do full byte-for-byte comparisons.
Compression: There are both lossy and lossless compression techniques. The lossless Lempel-Ziv algorithm is the basis for LTO-DC algorithm used in IBM's Linear Tape Open [LTO] tape drives, the Streaming Lossless Data Compression (SLDC) algorithm used in IBM's [Enterprise-class TS1130] tape drives, and the Adaptive Lossless Data Compression (ALDC) used by the IBM Information Archive for its disk pool collections.
Last month, IBM announced that it was [acquiring Storwize. It's Random Access Compression Engine (RACE) is also a lossless compression algorithm based on Lempel-Ziv. As servers write files, Storwize compresses those files and passes them on to the destination NAS device. When files are read back, Storwize retrieves and decompresses the data back to its original form.
As with tape, the savings from compression can vary, typically from 20 to 80 percent. In other words, 10TB of primary data could take up from 2TB to 8TB of physical space. To estimate what savings you might achieve for your mix of data types, try out the free [Storwize Predictive Modeling Tool].
So why am I making a distinction on terminology here?
Data reduction is already a well-known concept among specific industries, like High-Performance Computing (HPC) and Business Analytics. IBM has the largest marketshare in supercomputers that do data reduction for all kinds of use cases, for scientific research, weather prediction, financial projections, and decision support systems. IBM has also recently acquired a lot of companies related to Business Analytics, such as Cognos, SPSS, CoreMetrics and Unica Corp. These use data reduction on large amounts of business and marketing data to help drive new sources of revenues, provide insight for new products and services, create more focused advertising campaigns, and help understand the marketplace better.
There are certainly enough methods of reducing the quantity of storage capacity consumed, like thin provisioning, data deduplication and compression, to warrant an "umbrella term" that refers to all of them generically. I would prefer we do not "overload" the existing phrase "data reduction" but rather come up with a new phrase, such as "storage efficiency" or "capacity optimization" to refer to this category of features.
IBM is certainly quite involved in both data reduction as well as storage efficiency. If any of my readers can suggest a better phrase, please comment below.
Last week, fellow IBMer Ron Riffe started his three-part series on the Storage Hypervisor. I discussed Part I already in my previous post [Storage Hypervisor Integration with VMware]. We wrapped up the week with a Live Chat with over 30 IT managers, industry analysts, independent bloggers, and IBM storage experts.
"The idea of shopping from a catalog isn’t new and the cost efficiency it offers to the supplier isn’t new either. Public storage cloud service providers seized on the catalog idea quickly as both a means of providing a clear description of available services to their clients, and of controlling costs. Here’s the idea… I can go to a public cloud storage provider like Amazon S3, Nirvanix, Google Storage for Developers, or any of a host of other providers, give them my credit card, and get some storage capacity. Now, the “kind” of storage capacity I get depends on the service level I choose from their catalog.
Most of today’s private IT environments represent the complete other end of the pendulum swing – total customization. Every application owner, every business unit, every department wants to have complete flexibility to customize their storage services in any way they want. This expectation is one of the reasons so many private IT environments have such a heavy mix of tier-1 storage. Since there is no structure around the kind of requests that are coming in, the only way to be prepared is to have a disk array that could service anything that shows up. Not very efficient… There has to be a middle ground.
Private storage clouds are a little different. Administrators we talk to aren’t generally ready to let all their application owners and departments have the freedom to provision new storage on their own without any control. In most cases, new capacity requests still need to stop off at the IT administration group. But once the request gets there, life for the IT administrator is sweet!
Here comes the request from an application owner for 500GB of new “Database” capacity (one of the options available in the storage service catalog) to be attached to some server. After appropriate approvals, the administrator can simply enter the three important pieces of information (type of storage = “Database”, quantity = 500GB, name of the system authorized to access the storage) and click the “Go” button (in TPC SE it’s actually a “Run now” button) to automatically provision and attach the storage. No more complicated checklists or time consuming manual procedures.
A storage hypervisor increases the utilization of storage resources, and optimizes what is most scarce in your environment. For Linux, UNIX and Windows servers, you typically see utilization rates of 20 to 35 percent, and this can be raised to 55 to 80 percent with a storage hypervisor. But what is most scarce in your environment? Time! In a competitive world, it is not big animals eating smaller ones as much as fast ones eating the slow.
Want faster time-to-market? A storage hypervisor can help reduce the time it takes to provision storage, from weeks down to minutes. If your business needs to react quickly to changes in the marketplace, you certainly don't want your IT infrastructure to slow you down like a boat anchor.
Want more time with your friends and family? A storage hypervisor can migrate the data non-disruptively, during the week, during the day, during normal operating hours, instead of scheduling down-time on an evenings and weekends. As companies adopt a 24-by-7 approach to operations, there are fewer and fewer opportunities in the year for scheduled outages. Some companies get stuck paying maintenance after their warranty expires, because they were not able to move the data off in time.
Want to take advantage of the new Solid-State Drives? Most admins don't have time to figure out what applications, workloads or indexes would best benefit from this new technology? Let your storage hypervisor automated tiering do this for you! In fact, a storage hypervisor can gather enough performance and usage statistics to determine the characteristics of your workload in advance, so that you can predict whether solid-state drives are right for you, and how much benefit you would get from them.
Want more time spent on strategic projects? A storage hypervisor allows any server to connect to any storage. This eliminates the time wasted to determine when and how, and let's you focus on the what and why of your more strategic transformational projects.
If this sounds all too familiar, it is similar to the benefits that one gets from a server hypervisor -- better utilization of CPU resources, optimizing the management and administration time, with the agility and flexibility to deploy new technologies in and decommission older ones out.
"Server virtualization is a fairly easy concept to understand: Add a layer of software that allows processing capability to work across multiple operating environments. It drives both efficiency and performance because it puts to good use resources that would otherwise sit idle.
Storage virtualization is a different animal. It doesn't free up capacity that you didn't know you had. Rather, it allows existing storage resources to be combined and reconfigured to more closely match shifting data requirements. It's a subtle distinction, but one that makes a lot of difference between what many enterprises expect to gain from the technology and what it actually delivers."
Jon Toigo on his DrunkenData blog brings back the sanity with his post [Once More Into the Fray]. Here is an excerpt:
"What enables me to turn off certain value-add functionality is that it is smarter and more efficient to do these functions at a storage hypervisor layer, where services can be deployed and made available to all disk, not to just one stand bearing a vendor’s three letter acronym on its bezel. Doesn’t that make sense?
I think of an abstraction layer. We abstract away software components from commodity hardware components so that we can be more flexible in the delivery of services provided by software rather than isolating their functionality on specific hardware boxes. The latter creates islands of functionality, increasing the number of widgets that must be managed and requiring the constant inflation of the labor force required to manage an ever expanding kit. This is true for servers, for networks and for storage.
Can we please get past the BS discussion of what qualifies as a hypervisor in some guy’s opinion and instead focus on how we are going to deal with the reality of cutting budgets by 20% while increasing service levels by 10%. That, my friends, is the real challenge of our times."
Did you miss out on last Friday's Live Chat? We are doing it again this Friday, covering parts I and II of Ron's posts, so please join the conversation! The virtual dialogue on this topic will continue in another [Live Chat] on September 30, 2011 from 12 noon to 1pm Eastern Time.
Over on the Tivoli Storage Blog, there is an exchange over the concept of a "Storage Hypervisor". This started with fellow IBMer Ron Riffe's blog post [Enabling Private IT for Storage Cloud -- Part I], with a promise to provide parts 2 and 3 in the next few weeks. Here's an excerpt:
"Storage resources are virtualized. Do you remember back when applications ran on machines that really were physical servers (all that “physical” stuff that kept everything in one place and slowed all your processes down)? Most folks are rapidly putting those days behind them.
In August, Gartner published a paper [Use Heterogeneous Storage Virtualization as a Bridge to the Cloud] that observed “Heterogeneous storage virtualization devices can consolidate a diverse storage infrastructure around a common access, management and provisioning point, and offer a bridge from traditional storage infrastructures to a private cloud storage environment” (there’s that “cloud” language). So, if I’m going to use a storage hypervisor as a first step toward cloud enabling my private storage environment, what differences should I expect? (good question, we get that one all the time!)
The basic idea behind hypervisors (server or storage) is that they allow you to gather up physical resources into a pool, and then consume virtual slices of that pool until it’s all gone (this is how you get the really high utilization). The kicker comes from being able to non-disruptively move those slices around. In the case of a storage hypervisor, you can move a slice (or virtual volume) from tier to tier, from vendor to vendor, and now, from site to site all while the applications are online and accessing the data. This opens up all kinds of use cases that have been described as “cloud”. One of the coolest is inter-site application migration.
A good storage hypervisor helps you be smart.
Application owners come to you for storage capacity because you’re responsible for the storage at your company. In the old days, if they requested 500GB of capacity, you allocated 500GB off of some tier-1 physical array – and there it sat. But then you discovered storage hypervisors! Now you tell that application owner he has 500GB of capacity… What he really has is a 500GB virtual volume that is thin provisioned, compressed, and backed by lower-tier disks. When he has a few data blocks that get really hot, the storage hypervisor dynamically moves just those blocks to higher tier storage like SSD’s. His virtual disk can be accessed anywhere across vendors, tiers and even datacenters. And in the background you have changed the vendor storage he is actually sitting on twice because you found a better supplier. But he doesn’t know any of this because he only sees the 500GB virtual volume you gave him. It’s 'in the cloud'."
"Let’s start with a quick walk down memory lane. Do you remember what your data protection environment looked like before virtualization? There was a server with an operating system and an application… and that thing had a backup agent on it to capture backup copies and send them someplace (most likely over an IP network) for safe keeping. It worked, but it took a lot of time to deploy and maintain all the agents, a lot of bandwidth to transmit the data, and a lot of disk or tapes to store it all. The topic of data protection has modernized quite a bit since then.
Fast forward to today. Modernization has come from three different sources – the server hypervisor, the storage hypervisor and the unified recovery manager. The end result is a data protection environment that captures all the data it needs in one coordinated snapshot action, efficiently stores those snapshots, and provides for recovery of just about any slice of data you could want. It’s quite the beautiful thing."
At this point, you might scratch your head and ask "Does this Storage Hypervisor exist, or is this just a theoretical exercise?" The answer of course is "Yes, it does exist!" Just like VMware offers vSphere and vCenter, IBM offers block-level disk virtualization through the SAN Volume Controller(SVC) and Storwize V7000 products, with a full management support from Tivoli Storage Productivity Center Standard Edition.
SVC has supported every release of VMware since the 2.5 version. IBM is the leading reseller of VMware, so it makes sense for IBM and VMware development to collaborate and make sure all the products run smoothly together. SVC presents volumes that can be formatted for VMFS file system to hold your VMDK files, accessible via FCP protocol. IBM and VMware have some key synergies:
Management integration with Tivoli Storage Productivity Center and VMware vCenter plug-in
VAAI support: Hardware-assisted locking, hardware-assisted zeroing, and hardware-assisted copying. Some of the competitors, like EMC VPLEX, don't have this!
Space-efficient FlashCopy. Let's say you need 250 VM images, all running a particular level of Windows. A boot volume of 20GB each would consume 5000GB (5 TB) of capacity. Instead, create a Golden Master volume. Then, take 249 copies with space-efficient FlashCopy, which only consumes space for the modified portions of the new volumes. For each copy, make the necessary changes like unique hostname and IP address, changing only a few blocks of data each. The end result? 250 unique VM boot volumes in less than 25GB of space, a 200:1 reduction!
Support for VMware's Site Recovery Manager using SVC's Metro Mirror or Global Mirror features for remote-distance replication.
Data center federation. SVC allows you to seamlessly do vMotion from one datacenter to another using its "stretched cluster" capability. Basically, SVC makes a single image of the volume available to both locations, and stores two physical copies, one in each location. You can lose either datacenter and still have uninterrupted access to your data. VMware's HA or Fault Tolerance features can kick in, same as usual.
But unlike tools that work only with VMware, IBM's storage hypervisor works with a variety of server virtualization technologies, including Microsoft Hyper-V, Xen, OracleVM, Linux KVM, PowerVM, z/VM and PR/SM. This is important, as a recent poll on the Hot Aisle blog indicates that [44 percent run 2 or more server hypervisors]!
Join the conversation! The virtual dialogue on this topic will continue in a [live group chat] this Friday, September 23, 2011 from 12 noon to 1pm EDT. Join me and about 20 other top storage bloggers, key industry analysts and IBM Storage subject matter experts to discuss storage hypervisors and get questions answered about improving your private storage environment.
Normally, IBM has its announcements on Tuesdays, but this week it was on Monday!
I am here in New York City, at the Kaufmann Theater of the American Museum of Natural History, for the
[IBM Storage Innovation Executive Summit]. We have about 250 clients here, as well as many bloggers and storage analysts.
My day started out being interviewed by Lynda from Stratecast, a division of [Frost & Sullivan]. This interview will be part of a video series that Stratecast is doing about the storage industry.
(About the venue: American Museum of Natural History was built in 1869. It was featured in the film "Night at the Museum". In keeping with IBM's focus on scalability and preservation, the museum here boasts skeletons of the largest dinosaurs. The five-story building takes up several city blocks, and the Kaufmann theater is buried deep in the bottom level, well shielded from cell phone or Wi-Fi signals allowing me to focus on taking notes the traditional way, with pen and paper.)
Deon Newman, IBM VP of Marketing for Northa America, was our Master of Ceremonies. Today would be filled with market insight, best practices, thought leadership, and testimonials of powerful results.
This is my first in a series of blog posts on this event.
Information Explosion on a Smarter Planet
Bridget van Kralingen, IBM General Manager for North America, indicated that storage is finally having its day in the sun, moving from the "back office" to the "front office". According to Google's Eric Schmidt, we now create, capture and replicate more date in two days than all of the information recorded from the dawn of time to the year 2003.
1928: IBM's innovative 80-column punch card stored nearly twice as much as its 50-column predecessor.
1947: Bing Crosby decided to do his radio show by recording it at his convenience on magnetic tape, rather than doing it live. This was the motivation for IBM researches to investigate tape media, delivering the first commercial tape drive in 1952. One tape reel could hold the equivalent of 30,000 punch cards.
1956: the IBM RAMAC mainframe was the first computer to access data randomly with an externally-attached disk system, the "350 Disk Unit", which stored 5 million 7-bit characters (about 5MB) and weighed over 500 pounds. Compare that today's cell phone that can store several GB of data in a handheld device.
1978: IBM invented Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) through a collaboration with University of Berkeley.
1993: IBM introduces the [IBM 9337 Disk Storage Array], the first external disk storage system for distributed operating systems. This was based on the Serial Storage Architecture [SSA] protocol.
1995: IBM launches products that support Storage Area Networks (SAN), based on the Fibre Channel Protocol. IBM's internal codenames for disk products were all names of sharks, and so our internal mantra was that a healthy storage diet was comprised of "Plenty of Fish and Fibre".
2010: IBM ships Easy Tier, the world's easiest-to-use sub-LUN automated tiering capability, for the IBM System Storage DS8700 disk system.
Storage is growing (in capacity) at 40 percent per year, but IT budgets are only growing (in dollars) by a measly 1 to 5 percent. She cited the success at [Sprint], presented at the October 2010 launch. By combining IBM SAN Volume Controller with a three-tier storage architecture, Sprint lowered their raw capacity from 10PB to 8.4PB, increasing utilization from 35 to 78 percent. This involved shrinking from six storage vendors to three, and reducing total number of disk arrays from 166 down to 96. The resulting system has only 38 percent of their data on their most expensive Tier-1 storage, the rest is now living on less expensive Tier-2 and Tier-3 storage.
Companies are entering the era of Big Data with an insatiable appetite for collecting and analyzing data for marketplace insights. IBM [InfoSphere BigInsights], based on the Apache Hadoop, has helped customers make sense of it all. Innovative technology, expertise and marketplace insight will provide the competitive path forward in the coming decade.
Storage Challenges and Opportunities in 2011 and Beyond
I always enjoy hearing Stan Zaffos, Gartner Research VP, present at the annual [Data Center Conference] in Las Vegas every December. His analysis and research focuses on storage systems and emerging storage technologies.
Stan provided his perspective on the storage industry. He suggested a top-down approach, based on the market trends that Gartner is closely monitoring. He suggests focusing heavily on managing data growth, using SLAs to improve efficiency, and to follow Gartner's recommended actions. His statement, "If something is not sustainable, then it is unsustainable." resonated well with the audience. His key three points:
Design to meet but not exceed Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
Re-evaluate your ratio of SAN versus NAS based on growth of unstructured data content,
Explore the variety of Cloud options available.
Those of us who have been in this business a long time recognize that the problems haven't changed, just the dimensions. When in the past three decades were IT budgets generous and plentiful? When was there more than enough IT staff to handle all the requests in a timely manner? When hasn't there been a period of information growth? Gartner's analysis external control block (RAID protected disk systems) is growing revenue at 8.7 percent. Raw TBs of disk capacity is growing at 55 percent, and expected to be 100 Exabytes by 2015.
SAN has four times more revenue than NAS today, but NAS is growing faster. NAS was only 9 percent marketshare in 2010, but is projected to grow to 32 percent by 2015. SAN can offer higher price/performance for traditional OLTP and database workloads, but NAS is better suited for unstructured data, backups and archives, assisted by storage efficiency features like real-time compression and data deduplication. Which industries create the most unstructured data? The ones involved in filling out forms! This includes government, insurance agencies, manufacturing, mining and pharmaceuticals.
The phrase "good enough" should no longer be considered an insult. Too often IT departments design solutions that far exceed negotiated Service Level Agreements (SLAs), and they should instead focus on just meeting them instead. Modular storage systems are often sufficient for most workloads. Slower 7200RPM SATA disks can be one third the price of faster 15K RPM Fibre Channel drives, and often sufficient performance for the tasks required. Unified storage, such as IBM N series, can help simplify capacity planning, as storage can be re-purposed if different workloads grow at different rates. The key is to focus on meeting SLAs based on the price-vs-risk factor. Take a minimalist approach with fewer SLAs, fewer management classes, and fewer storage vendors.
Stan suggests a two-pronged approach: Capacity management through content analytics and classification, and Efficient Utilization through Thin Provisioning, storage virtualization, Quality of Service (QoS), compression and deduplication capabilities. This features will be ubiquitous by 2013. If you are worried that these technologies mean more information packed onto fewer devices, Stan's response was "If it's not there, it can't break." Storing data on fewer disks or tape cartridges means less chance something will fail.
Stan feels IT shops using Thin Provisioning should continue to charge their end-users on what they ask for (the full allocation request) rather than what the thin-provisioned amount actually is on the storage devices themselves. For example, if someone asks for 100GB LUN to be allocated to their system, but this only takes up 30GB of actual data space, chargeback the full 100GB!
It can take five years for new technology to get 50 percent adopted. The Romans took eight years to build the [Colosseum]. His research on "network convergence" found that 42 percent planned to use iSCSI, 32 percent Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) or other Top-of-Rack(TOR) converged switches, and 16 percent looking for full convergence of servers, switches and storage. Features like IBM Easy Tier automatic sub-LUN tiering were introduced later, and so have not been adopted as widely as other features like Thin Provisioning that have been around since the 1990's IBM RAMAC Virtual Array.
Stan felt that Public and Private clouds were two different approaches. Public clouds offer reservation-less provisioning. Private clouds offer improved agility, but can be more complex to set up, and has the risk of idle capacity similar to traditional IT datacenter deployments. Storage and File virtualization should be considered a pre-req for adopting Cloud technologies.
Storage IT teams need to adopt more than just technical skills. They need to learn about legal and government regulatory compliance issues, financial considerations, and would even benefit doing some "marketing". Why marketing? Because often IT departments need end-users to change their attitudes and behaviours, and this can be accomplished through internal marketing campaigns.