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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor, Senior IT Architect and Event Content Manager for [IBM Systems for IBM Systems Technical University] events. With over 30 years with IBM Systems, Tony is frequent traveler, speaking to clients at events throughout the world.
Lloyd Dean is an IBM Senior Certified Executive IT Architect in Infrastructure Architecture. Lloyd has held numerous senior technical roles at IBM during his 19 plus years at IBM. Lloyd most recently has been leading efforts across the Communication/CSI Market as a senior Storage Solution Architect/CTS covering the Kansas City territory. In prior years Lloyd supported the industry accounts as a Storage Solution architect and prior to that as a Storage Software Solutions specialist during his time in the ATS organization.
Lloyd currently supports North America storage sales teams in his Storage Software Solution Architecture SME role in the Washington Systems Center team. His current focus is with IBM Cloud Private and he will be delivering and supporting sessions at Think2019, and Storage Technical University on the Value of IBM storage in this high value IBM solution a part of the IBM Cloud strategy. Lloyd maintains a Subject Matter Expert status across the IBM Spectrum Storage Software solutions. You can follow Lloyd on Twitter @ldean0558 and LinkedIn Lloyd Dean.
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The track sessions were aligned by job role. Here are all the tracks:
Track A: CIO
Track B: Enterprise Architecture professional
Track C: Application Development & Program Management professional
Track D: Information & Knowledge Management professional
Track E: Sourcing & Vendor Management professional
Track F: Business Process & Applications professional
Track G: IT Infrastructure & Operations professional
Track H: Security & Risk professional
Track I: Technology Product Management & Marketing professional
As an IBM consultant, I deal with all of these different kinds of professionals, so I thought I would try to attend a variety of sessions this week. Here are my notes from a few of these:
Transforming IT for Lean Times: Organizational Structure
The Forrester analyst presented the concept of "Lean IT". This is not just a process to make IT skinny or marginal through commoditization. Rather, it is to meet business needs through differentiated services. Gone is the "one-size fits all" mentality. Lean IT can be used to streamline IT capabilities to enable employees to get their jobs done. Continuous improvement is done through a series of "Rapid Improvement Events" (RIE), a methodology known as "Kaizen Blitz".The focus is to reduce waste, including rework, firefighting, meetings, unnecessary reports and paperwork, working groups, and task forces. A common mistake is to reorganize departments before understanding the fundamental requirements, or make every employee use the same PC just to simplify the job of IT.
Traditionally, IT departments had three jobs. The first is Utility, to keep the lights on and systems running. The second is Productivity, to enhance existing systems and applications. The third is Innovation and Business Transformation.The problem has been that many IT leaders have been "IT Supply Managers" ensuring there is adequate supply of these. Instead, the Forrester analyst suggests redefining the role to one of "Demand Broker". Some companies have already done this. The CIO manages the demand for IT from Business Units, Business Processes, Information Workers, as well as suppliers, business partners and customers. As a demand broker, the CIO could then use these demands to optimize and prioritize IT resources.
Why Tech will lead Economic Recovery
The current 5.7 percent drop in IT spending in 2009 during this global financial meltdown is actually similar to the drop in ITspending in 2001-2003. However, the Forrester analyst anticipates that IT spending will bounce back in 2010.His reasoning came from looking at past IT spending trends since the 1950s. He found four clear sequencesconsisting of 6-10 years of growth and investment in IT, followed by 6-10 years of refinement and digestionwhere business leaders try to make the most use of these investments. The four sequences of investment and growth are:
1976-1985 personal computing, empowering individual productivity
1992-2000 network computing, enabling e-business and the internet boom
2008-2016 smart computing, optimizing business results through flexible and responsive IT that incorporates awareness and analytics to solve new business problems.
He argued that this trend was already starting to show itself. There was an uptick in IT spending in 2008 before the financial melt-down, and he feels this is why the tech industry sector will drive the economic recovery in 2010. The top five industries that will lead the adoption of smart computing will be: Government, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Utilities, Education, and Personal Services. These represent 54 percent of IT spending in the US, and also represent a large portion of the US stimulus package.
Smart Computing can be summarized as the "Four A's":
Awareness - instrumentation like RFID chips, sensors and video surveillance
Analysis - intelligent recognition of patterns and finding anomalies
Alternatives - identifying alternative responses
Actions - dealing with threats or capturing opportunity
Smart computing in these industries reflects the need for more vertically-aligned industry-specific solutions.IBM is well-positioned in this area, having both the hardware, software and services for smart computing, as well as deep industry-specific expertise. Other industry-specific vendors, like General Electric and Siemens, have the vertical alignment, and are working to adopt smart computing. Meanwhile, Oracle/Sun and Microsoft are also investing in smart computing, and have the potential to develop more vertically-aligned industry-specific solutions. Other IT vendors will have a choice to make: stay horizontal or go vertical.
ERP's Evolving Landscape: Impact for Application Professionals
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software vendors are consolidating, with
the average ERP deployment 10 years old, triggering many to re-evaluate how
well the promises of ERP match the reality. On the positive side, ERP promised to reduce the total number of applications, provide somefinancial stability and integration, and for the most part the Forresteranalyst felt these promises were mostly met. However, in deploying newcapabilities, lowering TCO or establishing a partnership between vendorand client, ERP vendors got low marks.
Customers are now demanding more end-to-end solutions, especially withmore industry-specific functionality. Technologyadvances should be used to boost the business value. For example,ERP lags in SaaS adoption. Frequent upgrades to meet regulatory requirementscould drive stronger interest in SaaS deployments of ERP.
Customers would also like the end-user experience with the ERP to bemore role-based, with actionable insight and intelligent responses related to the user's job responsibilities. Hybrid ERP solutions that span deploymentacross on-premises, SaaS and managed hosting services might be neededto ease this transition.
What You Should Know Before Signing a Contract with a Disaster Recovery Services provider
This session was less about RTO or RPO, and more about broader considerations.The leading disaster recovery service providers are IBM Business Continuityand Resiliency Services [BCRS], SunGard, ICM/UK, and HP. The Forrester analyst did not think HP was treating this as strategically as they could,and often are behind the scenes through other business partners.
Will this [oligopoly] continue? Theanalyst thinks there will be an increase in the number of disaster recovery service providers. Contenders includeTelcos like Qwest, AT&T, BT, and Verizon Business; SMB-focused firms like i365 and Venyu;and cloud computing IaaS providers like SAVVIS.
So what should you consider when putting out an RFP? Here were a few suggestions:
Make sure there are schedules for all of your platforms (x86, Unix, System i and System z)
Identify all fees, including "declaration fee" and "occupancy fee"
Costs of Disaster Recovery test exercises, including how many, and their duration in days.
How quickly you can access their facility after you declare the disaster
Whether the provider has alternative Data Centers, depending on the scope of the regional disaster
Evolving the 4 P's of Marketing to Grow Revenue in Emerging Markets
I was in IBM marketing for seven years. For those without marketing backgrounds, the 4 P's of marketing are product, promotion, placement and pricing. There is no "global" audience, eachcountry, region or locale has unique characteristics, and requires go-to-market (GTM) strategiesbe tailored to each situation. For example, in Russia, decision makers are more influenced byWeb sites and Industry magazines; in Europe, they are more influenced by peers and word-of-mouth;and in Latin America, direct sales force are most influential. In many countries, blogs are more influential than they are in the United States.
Companies of all sizes can do the right things. For example, IBM translates its materials into 31different languages. Meanwhile, 50-person [LogMeIn] has 17 million users because they have localized their offering, and even allow online purchase in local currencies. Third party consultants that knowthe local region may be needed to break into new geographies.
Certainly the opportunity is there. Worldwide, there are an estimated 9 million small businesses,and another 630,000 medium size businesses. These SMBs employ 22 percent of the workforce in Russia, 55 percentin Europe, and 80 percent in Japan.To reach them, you may need to explore new channels,such as government agencies, academia, non-government organizations (NGO), and trade associations.The traditional supply chain of vendor, distributor and reseller may need be redefined as a demandnetwork, with co-marketing programs, peer-to-peer relationships and shared knowledge resources.
IBM collaborated with the International Finance Corporation [IFC] tocreate the [SME Toolkit], a resource and online communityfor small and medium enterprises, translated and localized into several languages. IBM also workedwith Chinese government to select Wuxi, China as the location for its Cloud Computing center as partof the [Wuxi Tai Hu New Town Science and Education Industrial Park].
This was a great week! Lot's to digest and think about.
Well, this week I am in Maryland, just outside of Washington DC. It's a bit cold here.
Robin Harris over at StorageMojo put out this Open Letter to Seagate, Hitachi GST, EMC, HP, NetApp, IBM and Sun about the results of two academic papers, one from Google, and another from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). The papers imply that the disk drive module (DDM) manufacturers have perhaps misrepresented their reliability estimates, and asks major vendors to respond. So far, NetAppand EMC have responded.
I will not bother to re-iterate or repeat what others have said already, but make just a few points. Robin, you are free to consider this "my" official response if you like to post it on your blog, or point to mine, whatever is easier for you. Given that IBM no longer manufacturers the DDMs we use inside our disk systems, there may not be any reason for a more formal response.
Coke and Pepsi buy sugar, Nutrasweet and Splenda from the same sources
Somehow, this doesn't surprise anyone. Coke and Pepsi don't own their own sugar cane fields, and even their bottlers are separate companies. Their job is to assemble the components using super-secret recipes to make something that tastes good.
IBM, EMC and NetApp don't make DDMs that are mentioned in either academic study. Different IBM storage systems uses one or more of the following DDM suppliers:
Seagate (including Maxstor they acquired)
Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, HGST (former IBM division sold off to Hitachi)
In the past, corporations like IBM was very "vertically-integrated", making every component of every system delivered.IBM was the first to bring disk systems to market, and led the major enhancements that exist in nearly all disk drives manufactured today. Today, however, our value-add is to take standard components, and use our super-secret recipe to make something that provides unique value to the marketplace. Not surprisingly, EMC, HP, Sun and NetApp also don't make their own DDMs. Hitachi is perhaps the last major disk systems vendor that also has a DDM manufacturing division.
So, my point is that disk systems are the next layer up. Everyone knows that individual components fail. Unlike CPUs or Memory, disks actually have moving parts, so you would expect them to fail more often compared to just "chips".
If you don't feel the MTBF or AFR estimates posted by these suppliers are valid, go after them, not the disk systems vendors that use their supplies. While IBM does qualify DDM suppliers for each purpose, we are basically purchasing them from the same major vendors as all of our competitors. I suspect you won't get much more than the responses you posted from Seagate and HGST.
American car owners replace their cars every 59 months
According to a frequently cited auto market research firm, the average time before the original owner transfers their vehicle -- purchased or leased -- is currently 59 months.Both studies mention that customers have a different "definition" of failure than manufacturers, and often replace the drives before they are completely kaput. The same is true for cars. Americans give various reasons why they trade in their less-than-five-year cars for newer models. Disk technologies advance at a faster pace, so it makes sense to change drives for other business reasons, for speed and capacity improvements, lower power consumption, and so on.
The CMU study indicated that 43 percent of drives were replaced before they were completely dead.So, if General Motors estimated their cars lasted 9 years, and Toyota estimated 11 years, people still replace them sooner, for other reasons.
At IBM, we remind people that "data outlives the media". True for disk, and true for tape. Neither is "permanent storage", but rather a temporary resting point until the data is transferred to the next media. For this reason, IBM is focused on solutions and disk systems that plan for this inevitable migration process. IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller is able to move active data from one disk system to another; IBM Tivoli Storage Manager is able to move backup copies from one tape to another; and IBM System Storage DR550 is able to move archive copies from disk and tape to newer disk and tape.
If you had only one car, then having that one and only vehicle die could be quite disrupting. However, companies that have fleet cars, like Hertz Car Rentals, don't wait for their cars to completely stop running either, they replace them well before that happens. For a large company with a large fleet of cars, regularly scheduled replacement is just part of doing business.
This brings us to the subject of RAID. No question that RAID 5 provides better reliability than having just a bunch of disks (JBOD). Certainly, three copies of data across separate disks, a variation of RAID 1, will provide even more protection, but for a price.
Robin mentions the "Auto-correlation" effect. Disk failures bunch up, so one recent failure might mean another DDM, somewhere in the environment, will probably fail soon also. For it to make a difference, it would (a) have to be a DDM in the same RAID 5 rank, and (b) have to occur during the time the first drive is being rebuilt to a spare volume.
The human body replaces skin cells every day
So there are individual DDMs, manufactured by the suppliers above; disk systems, manufactured by IBM and others, and then your entire IT infrastructure. Beyond the disk system, you probably have redundant fabrics, clustered servers and multiple data paths, because eventually hardware fails.
People might realize that the human body replaces skin cells every day. Other cells are replaced frequently, within seven days, and others less frequently, taking a year or so to be replaced. I'm over 40 years old, but most of my cells are less than 9 years old. This is possible because information, data in the form of DNA, is moved from old cells to new cells, keeping the infrastructure (my body) alive.
Our clients should approach this in a more holistic view. You will replace disks in less than 3-5 years. While tape cartridges can retain their data for 20 years, most people change their tape drives every 7-9 years, and so tape data needs to be moved from old to new cartridges. Focus on your information, not individual DDMs.
What does this mean for DDM failures. When it happens, the disk system re-routes requests to a spare disk, rebuilding the data from RAID 5 parity, giving storage admins time to replace the failed unit. During the few hours this process takes place, you are either taking a backup, or crossing your fingers.Note: for RAID5 the time to rebuild is proportional to the number of disks in the rank, so smaller ranks can be rebuilt faster than larger ranks. To make matters worse, the slower RPM speeds and higher capacities of ATA disks means that the rebuild process could take longer than smaller capacity, higher speed FC/SCSI disk.
According to the Google study, a large portion of the DDM replacements had no SMART errors to warn that it was going to happen. To protect your infrastructure, you need to make sure you have current backups of all your data. IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center can help identify all the data that is "at risk", those files that have no backup, no copy, and no current backup since the file was most recently changed. A well-run shop keeps their "at risk" files below 3 percent.
So, where does that leave us?
ATA drives are probably as reliable as FC/SCSI disk. Customers should chose which to use based on performance and workload characteristics. FC/SCSI drives are more expensive because they are designed to run at faster speeds, required by some enterprises for some workloads. IBM offers both, and has tools to help estimate which products are the best match to your requirements.
RAID 5 is just one of the many choices of trade-offs between cost and protection of data. For some data, JBOD might be enough. For other data that is more mission critical, you might choose keeping two or three copies. Data protection is more than just using RAID, you need to also consider point-in-time copies, synchronous or asynchronous disk mirroring, continuous data protection (CDP), and backup to tape media. IBM can help show you how.
Disk systems, and IT environments in general, are higher-level concepts to transcend the failures of individual components. DDM components will fail. Cache memory will fail. CPUs will fail. Choose a disk systems vendor that combines technologies in unique and innovative ways that take these possibilities into account, designed for no single point of failure, and no single point of repair.
So, Robin, from IBM's perspective, our hands are clean. Thank you for bringing this to our attention and for giving me the opportunity to highlight IBM's superiority at the systems level.
IBM came out with their latest "5 in 5". These are five predictions for technologies that will havean impact over the next five years, summarized on 5 pages. Before I give my take on this year's set,here is a quick recap of[Last Year's 5 in 5]:
3-D representations of the human body to improve health care
This prediction is based on the idea that most medical mistakes result from lack of informationabout the patient. A 3-D avatar of the patient would allow the doctor to click on the section ofthe body, and this would trigger retrieval of patient records, relevant X-rays, MRI images, and so on.For example, IBM System Storage Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS) provides the storage that wouldallow any doctor to access these records, even if the image was taken at a different facility.
Unfortunately, this prediction only applies to patients who can actually afford to see a doctor. Apparently,no amount of technology, no matter how cool it is, can convince governments to make health care somethingeveryone has access to. Michael Moore has done a good job explaining this in his film documentary [Sicko].
Digital passport for food
Using RFID tags and second generation barcodes, you will have access to details of a food's origin,transportation conditions, and impact to the environment. Much of this information is already gathered,just not stored in a database accessible to the consumer.
Last year, the term "locavore" was the2007 Word of the Year for the Oxford American Dictionary, referring to people who limit what they eatto food produced within a certain radius, from family farms and locally-owned businesses.Here is an excerpt from a [Locavores] website:
Our food now travels an average of 1,500 miles before ending up on our plates. This globalization of the food supply has serious consequences for the environment, our health, our communities and our tastebuds.
Certainly, I am all for selling storage capacity to the food industry to help store vasts amount ofinformation for this, and certainly some people will be able to make smarter decisions based on thisinformation. This is not the first time this idea came up. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration introduced [nutrition labeling requirements] on thehope that people would choose more healthier foods. Despite this, people still opt for white bread, iceberg lettuce, and processed meats, so possibly having more information about where food comes from, and how it was transported, may not mean much to some consumers.
Technology to manage your own carbon footprint
"Smart energy" technologies allow you to walk the talk, by managing your own carbon footprint inyour home. For example, if you forgot to turn off the heat or air conditioner before leaving thehouse on your commute to work, your home would call your mobile phone, so that you can turn aroundand go back and correct that mistake. Better yet, IBM is working with others to provide web-enabledelectric meters that would allow you to turn off systems from work or cell phone browser.
Of course, such technology already exists for the data center. IBM Systems Director Active EnergyManager (AEM) allows you to monitor the actual usage of your servers and storage devices, and insome cases make adjustments to control energy consumption. This can feed into the IBM TivoliUsage and Accounting Manager software to incorporate energy usage as part of the charge-backcalculations. See the [IBM Press Release] formore details.
Cars that drive themselves
Not only will cars that drive themselves reduce the number of drunk-driving accidents, it canalso help reduce congestion in big cities, by routing traffic to different directions, based onGPS and presence-aware technologies. Stockholm (Sweden) has already reduced peak hour traffic by 20 percentusing this approach.
While I admire the concept, cars are perhaps the least energy-efficient mode of transportation.Often, a family can only afford a single vehicle, and it is purchased based on the worst-case scenario.A friend of mine has only two children, but a sever-person mini-van that gets only 17 MPG. Why suchan energy-inefficient vehicle? Because she occasionally drives her daughter and her friends tosoccer practice, and that represents the worst-case scenario, minimizing the parent/child ratio. Theother 99 percent of the time, she is driving by herself, or with one child, and consuming a lot ofgasoline in the process.
A better approach would be to find technology that connects airports, trains, buses and light rail forpublic transportation to greatly reduce the need to drive a car in the first place.
The idea that a family can have only one vehicle plays in the storage arena as well. Larger companiescan afford to have different storage for different workloads. The IBM System Storage DS8000 high-end disk system for their large OLTP anddatabase workloads, an XIV Nextra for their Web 2.0 storage needs, DR550 to hold their compliance data,and so on. Smaller companies are often tasked to find a single solution for all their needs, andfor them, IBM offers the IBM System Storage N series, providing a "unified storage" platform.
Increased dependence on cell phones
Before the cell phone, the last don't-leave-home-without-it technology most of us carried was the credit card. Now, IBM predicts that we will be even more dependent on our cell phones, becoming our banker, ticket broker, and shopping buddy.For example, you could use your cell phone to take a picture of a shirt at the mall, and it will then show you what youwould look like wearing that shirt, on a 3-D avatar representation of yourself, or perhaps your spouse, and getinformation on what discounts are available, or where else the shirt is being offered.
None of this example actually uses the "phone" part of the cell phone, however the cell phone is one device thatnearly everyone carries, so it becomes the development platform for all other technologies to be based on.
The common theme running through these is that it can be helpful to store more information than we do today,provided we make it accessible to the people who need it to make better decisions.
I hope all of my American readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! The day after Thanksgiving is "Black Friday", the unofficial starting data for shopping for upcoming holiday presents and decorations. The Monday after that is now often referred to as "Cyber Monday", where many people purchase items on-line.
I thought this would be good time to promote my book series, Inside System Storage, Volumes I through V. These are available direct from my publisher, [Lulu], or from other on-line retailers.
The old adage "Never judge a book by its cover" often leads technical authors to select bland cover designs. I designed the cover art for the series to have a consistent look, but be unique enough to know each book is different. They all have a beige background with black text, three or four graphics representing the various storage themes du jour, and a color stripe spread diagonally across the spine.
Several readers have asked if there was any rhyme or reason for the color of each spine. One guessed it was based on the [electronic color code] used on resistors to mark their value. When I was getting my college degree in Electrical Engineering, the mnemonic "Better Be Right Or Your Great Big Venture Goes West" helped us remember the sequence: Black, Brown, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet, Grey and White.
I can assure everyone I was not that clever. Here, instead, is the story behind each color chosen:
Volume I: Green
I received a flyer from Barnes and Noble advertising various books on sale. One caught my eye, so I went to buy it, but forgot to bring the flyer with me. A young woman offered to help me find it, but I could not remember the title, nor the editor, but it had a green cover, and was a collection of the world's shortest stories, all exactly 55 words in length, all winners in some high school contest. She found the flyer, looked up the book, and directed me to the shelf. After several minutes of her scanning the shelf by author, I reached for it, saying, "Here it is, the green one. This shade of green will fit perfectly in my collection of green books!" As I stood in line, the young woman told her boss, "That guy buys green books!" The rest of the folks in line overheard her, and all started laughing at her gullibility.
Volume II: Orange
In late 2007, I was under NDA to review the acquisition of a company called XIV. I was disclosed on the innovative design of the storage system, so that I could blog about it when the announcement was formal. This box would have a distinctive orange stripe across the disks. The announcement launch was a big success. Since then, every time the storage sales team needed a boost in sales for the [IBM XIV Storage System], I would write another blog about the clever features and capabilities.
Volume III: Purple
In 1996, I joined a social club called "Mile High Adventures and Entertainment", headquartered in Denver, Colorado, with locations in Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. It was a group for singles to meet each other through social activities and events. A year later, it colapsed under the weight of heavy radio advertising debt. The local staff bought out the membership list, and launched a new club, under the name Tucson Fun and Adventures. It was a big part of my social life.
However, as the owners dropped out, one to start a family, another to take care of her father after her mother passed away, I started 2009 as the majority owner. The economic recession took its toll. Members were not spending as much of their disposable income of fun and entertainment. We restructured the company, revamped the website, and adopted Purple as our official color. Our event coordinators all wore purple shirts, and carried purple clipboards. Despite this major transformation, I just did not have time to run this company while still working full-time at IBM, so I sold it at year end.
Volume IV: Blue
As I mentioned in my blog post [IBM Introduces a New Era of Computing], IBM launched [PureSystems], a new family of expert-integrated systems. Since Volume IV was going to publish shortly after this announcement, I decided on the color blue to match the new door covers on the racks they came in. In less than a year, IBM has already sold over 1,000 of these systems in over 40 different countries.
Volume V: Grey
Chosing a color to represent the IBM Watson computer proved quite a challenge. I finally decided on grey, to represent "grey matter", a phrase often used to refer to the human brain. I picked a shade of grey that complements the three graphics that represent last year's strategic storage marketing themes. My blog post [How to Build Your Own Watson Jr. in your Basement] continues to be one of my highest read posts.
If you were having trouble getting ideas for gifts this holiday season, hopefully, this post gave you five new ideas for your friends, family, coworkers and clients! They are all available in hardcover, paperback, and eBook (PDF) for viewing on desktops, laptops, tablets or smartphones.
IBM hired independent analyst Enterprise Strategy Group[ESG] to validate the box, and run workload-specific benchmarks. I agreewith Chris, the results are impressive! The report includes results from Microsoft Exchange JetStresstool to provide insight into email performance, and another benchmark to simulate Web server IOPS.
Also, the published SPC-1 benchmark for the DS5300 puts it at about 29 percent improvement over the DS4800.Chris argues the DS5300 is similar in class to NetApp FAS3170, which IBM sells as the IBM System Storage N6070.
If you are interesting in either the DS5300 or N6070, contact your local IBM Business Partner or sales rep.
Today was the "First Ever Live Virtual Virtualization Tech Fair" sponsored by IBM and VMware. This was a 1-day event hosted by Unisfair.
The day included presentations done at a conference call, along with exhibition booths.
We had an exhibition booth exclusively for "storage virtualization" featuring our IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (disk virtualization) and IBM System Storage TS7520 Virtualization Engine (a virtual tape library, or VTL).
People who were logged in were represented in silhouette form. When someone walked into the booth, our army of "booth reps" were able to chat with them and answer their questions. They could also peruse the various online materials we made available about each product.
Here are some of my observations:
A lot of questions were related to IBM's support for VMware. Although VMware is now currently owned by EMC, pending a spin-off IPO, IBM is its biggest reseller, given IBM's vast experience in server virtualization. Ironically, IBM's SAN Volume Controller supports VMware better than EMC's own storage virtualization product, Invista.
People also familiar with Second Life thought this 2-D "silhouette" version eliminated the need to configure and dress up your avatar as is required in participating in Second Life events. However, being only ableto chat, send e-mail and show web pages seemed less immersive than what Second Life can offer.
This event generated over 60 leads. We will pass on the contact information to the appropriate sales team.
Regardless of what you do, it is important to keep your finger on the pulse of what is going on around you. Let me recap the different jobs I have had within IBM:
I started as a Software Engineer on DFHSM, which was later renamed to DFSMShsm, and worked my way up to lead architect for the entire DFSMS product. I attended user group conferences like SHARE and GUIDE to formally present the latest releases of the product, and to collect requirements for improvements and additions desired by the CIOs, IT directors and Storage Admins that attended. Each requirement was proposed to the group, who then voted on a scale from -3 to +3, with zero considered abstention. Six months later, I would come back to present which requirements were implemented, which ones were in consideration for future releases, and which ones were rejected because they were not strategic. Not everyone was happy with these decisions, and I took a lot of abuse on this. However, the process of gathering requirements was important, and the products are better for it.
I switched over to Marketing, starting out as a Marketing Manager for various prodcts, and working my way up to lead Marketing Strategist for the IBM System Storage product line. I continued to attend conferences to understand the client requirements, but I also attended meetings with IBM sales reps and Business Partners. For those who lump "Marketing and Sales" into a single category, there is a difference. Marketing is the transfer of awareness and enthusiasm, whereas Sales is the transfer of ownership. When Marketing does their job well, prospects are lining up to buy your product. When they don't, the Sales team has to pick up the slack, and provide the awareness and enthusiasm that Marketing failed to deliver. I traveled all over the world to present our Marketing Strategy. Not everyone was happy with some of our decisions, and I took a lot of abuse on this. However, the process of "socializing" the marketing message and hearing feedback of those who faced clients every day was important, and the marketing strategy was better for it.
Three years ago, I switched again, this time to be a Storage Consultant at the Tucson Executive Briefing Center. While I still travel to clients and conferences, in most cases the clients come to me, here in Tucson, Arizona. I get to present our strategy, solutions and products. Not everyone is happy with some of our decisions, and I take a lot of abuse on this. However, the process of helping customers make tough business and IT purchase decisions is important, and both IBM and our clients are better for it.
It was in this same concept that US Representative Gabrielle ("Gabby") Giffords launched a series of "Congress on your Corner" meetings. These were open air townhall meetings that allowed her to present her priorities and plans for the future, and to get feedback from her constituents. Last Saturday, at one such event here in Tucson, she was shot in the head. The shooter then proceeded to shoot another 20 rounds at others before being tackled to the ground by two volunteers. He had another 70 bullets left, so it could have been much worse.
Congresswoman Gifford survived, but six died, including a US Federal Judge, a Pastor at a local church, and a 9-year-old girl, who ironically was born on Setpember 11, 2001, the date of another US tragedy. The girl had just been elected to her student council, and came out to learn what government was all about. Another dozen people were wounded.
The last time I saw Gabby in person was last October 2010, at a charity auction to benefit the local Boys and Girls Club of America. She was shaking hands with everyone. I wished her good luck on her re-election campaign, which she won a few weeks later by a slim margin of some 4,000 votes.
(People have asked me if I knew her in high school. Gabby and I both attended University High in Tucson, rated one of the top 25 high schools in the USA. She would have started her freshman year months after I graduated, so I don't remember ever crossing paths.)
Having spent much of my childhood in Central and South America, I have witnessed my fair share of gun violence, military coups, and government take-overs. Of course, in a democratic government, there is a more peaceful way to resolve your differences. In my younger days, I was a lobbyist for local and state government here in Arizona for various causes and issues. I have met and dealt with many politicians. While many people are still in shock and awe over Saturday's tragedy, consider the following:
Tucson is part of the Wild, Wild, West. We are not far from the infamous town of Tombstone where a famous shoot-out happened at the OK Corrall. A popular activity here is to shoot rounds at a shooting range, either rent a gun or bring your own. Gun ownership is high, and hunting is a popular sport. Tucson hosts "Gun Shows" that allow people to buy guns without the mandatory 5-day waiting period. Every year, Tucson celebrates "Dillinger Days" to comemorate the capture of gunslinger John Dilinger at the Hotel Congress in downtown Tucson.
Tucson is close to Mexico. Authorities have reported as many as 30,000 people have been killed on the other side of the US-Mexico border in the past five years by rival drug cartels. An estimated 30 percent of the Tucson economy comes from human and drug trafficking. Those killed in Mexico include government officials, law enforcement and journalists. Last year, US President Barack Obama [ordered 1200 troops to protect the US-Mexico border], of which half were deployed here in Arizona. The district I live in that Congresswoman Giffords represents borders Mexico.
Tucson has high schools, colleges and Universities. We have had our share of shootings by frustrated students.
While everyone immediately was quick to blame this tragedy on everyone from [Sarah Palin] to Mexican drug lords, it appears the shooter was merely a frustrated college student, acting alone, and is now in custody awaiting trial. He was attending Pima Community College and had his run-ins with the college police there as well. He had applied to join the US Army, but his application was rejected.
In the early 1990s, to help me prepare to become a public speaker, IBM loaned me out to teach at the local schools. I did four semesters of high school, and then taught a year of Computer Science 101 at Pima Community College. (Yes, I have all the teaching credentials to do this.) I found this experience to be great training for me to practice my speaking skills. However, I took a lot of abuse. I had disruptive students, angry students, frustrated students, and students that would threaten me if they did not pass the class. One by one, they would drop out of my class, leaving me with only nine students finishing my class with a passing grade.
Sadly, community colleges across the country carry a stigma that they are not as good as a full four-year University. The students I met at Pima Community College were here because they could not find decent employment with just a high school diploma, weren't smart enough or rich enough to attend the University of Arizona, and just didn't know what to do with their lives. Some who graduate manage to get jobs as technicians and medical assistants, while others use this as a stepping stone to transfer over to the University of Arizona or other specialized training program.
I am sure there is much more to learn about this incident. Politicians can expect to take some abuse for the decisions made, their actions or lack of action on various issues, but nobody deserves being shot. Congresswoman Giffords was just trying to put her finger on the pulse of her district, to understand the concerns of her constituents so that she could represent us properly in her third term in office. Instead, we have doctors at the University Medical Center keeping their finger on her pulse. So far, things are hopeful, she is able to respond to commands such as "wiggle your toes" or "hold up two fingers".
Wrapping up my coverage of the 2013 IT Security and Storage Expo in Belgium, I noticed some interesting things in the other booths.
The EMC booth had a whiteboard so that clients could do some one-on-one collaboration. All of their cocktail waitresses were wearing sharp pin-stripe coats with matching mini-skirts.
Another booth had a "virtual graffiti wall". Using a "digital spraycan", you could write on the wall. I am not sure what connection this had with anything the company had to offer, but perhaps they also wanted to collaborate with attendees on solutions. In either case, it was very cool, and brought a lot of traffic.
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM. I was not paid to mention any of the other companies, their products or people on this blog post. Mentioning other companies is not to be considered an endorsement of any kind.)
There were some interesting costumes. Leila from [Aerohive] wearing a "bee costume" complete with black wings. Hans from STS in a bright orange business suit. (Orange is the national color of Belgium). Sophie from Fortinet handed out champagne. The plastic glassware were cones that snapped onto her tray, but they had no flat bottom to rest your glass down, so you had to hold it the entire time until you finished drinking it. The Homer Simpson sticker eating the Apple logo shows the Belgians have a sense of humor!
The NetApp booth had a huge banner claiming that "Data OnTap" was the #1 storage OS. Obviously Windows, AIX, Solaris and Linux aren't consider "storage Operating Systems" per se. Is NetApp claiming they outsell FreeNAS, the only other storage OS that I can think of?
While IBM and I.R.I.S-ICT easily won the "Best Looking Big Booth" award, I have to give the "Best Looking Small Booth" award to my friends at Hitachi Data Systems. Like EMC, the Hitachi team did not have any equipment on the floor, but they made use of their tiny space by having a Japanese theme, with cocktail waitresses in kimonos.
I hope everyone had a nice Winter break. For my birthday last month, my good friends at [StarTech.com] sent me a nice [double-headed USB combo cable] that has both Micro-USB and Mini-USB connectors. I am always looking to reduce the number of cables I take with me on trips, and this one is perfect, as I have a Samsung 4G smart phone that uses the Micro-USB connector, and a Canon PowerShot digital camera that uses the Mini-USB connector.
(FTC Disclosure: The U.S. Federal Trade Commission may consider this a "celebrity endorsement" for StarTech's product. I have used the cable and it works as expected. My review is based on my own experience using the cable, and information publicly available. IBM and StarTech are independent companies. Aside from giving me this nice cable at no cost, I have not received any payment from StarTech or any other third party to mention them or their product on this blog, I am not affiliated with StarTech in any way, nor do I have any financial interest in their company.)
When the [Universal Serial Bus] standard first came out in the mid-1990s, my colleagues and I were all excited that this will finally put an end to all the proprietary plugs and cables that each manufacturer seemed to waste their time re-inventing the wheel with yet another cable connector. For the most part, USB has simplified this, and the USB cable can be used for both data transfer and for power charging.
Today, there are many alternatives to using a cable for data transfer, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but people are finding that their smart phones and other devices run out of juice way too often. At various conferences, I have seen several people panic looking for an electrical outlet to charge their device, and a few brazen enough to ask other attendees, "Can I plug my phone into your laptop?"
(Caution: Be careful allowing strangers to plug their device into your USB port, as this can provide data transfer in addition to power charging, spreading viruses or other malicious intent. On my Lenovo Thinkpad T410, one of the USB ports is colored yellow and is always powered on, even when my laptop is in suspend or hibernation mode. This would be a safe way to allow someone to charge off your power without concern for data transfer in either direction.)
Recently, I have flown on airplanes where each seat had a USB charging port, ideal if you want to listen to music or watch a video on your device. I have also driven a rental carthat had USB charging ports in addition to the traditional cigarette lighter option, especially useful if you need to make an emergency phone call at the side of the road, or if you are using the GPS navigation feature to find your way. These are both a good step in the right direction!
Carrying one cable instead of two might not seem like much of a big deal, but if you think about it, complexity in the IT industry is all about the number of cables admins have to deal with. The push from 1GbE to 10GbE can help reduce the number of cables. Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) takes it one step further, allowing NFS, CIFS, iSCSI and FCoE to all flow over a single cable. This can greatly reduce complexity in your IT environment.
If you are interested in reducing the complexity in your IT environment, contact your local IBM Business Partner or sales representative.
Well, I'm back safely from my tour of Asia. I am glad to report that Tokyo, Beijing and Kuala Lumpur are pretty much how I remember them from the last time I was there in each city. I have since been fighting jet lag by watching the last thirteen episodes of LOST season 6 and the series finale.
Recently, I have started seeing a lot of buzz on the term "Storage Federation". The concept is not new, but rather based on the work in database federation, first introduced in 1985 by [A federated architecture for information management] by Heimbigner and McLeod. For those not familiar with database federation, you can take several independent autonomous databases, and treat them as one big federated system. For example, this would allow you to issue a single query and get results across all the databases in the federated system. The advantage is that it is often easier to federate several disparate heterogeneous databases than to merge them into a single database. [IBM Infosphere Federation Server] is a market leader in this space, with the capability to federate DB2, Oracle and SQL Server databases.
Storage expansion: You want to increase the storage capacity of an existing storage system that cannot accommodate the total amount of capacity desired. Storage Federation allows you to add additional storage capacity by adding a whole new system.
Storage migration: You want to migrate from an aging storage system to a new one. Storage Federation allows the joining of the two systems and the evacuation from storage resources on the first onto the second and then the first system is removed.
Safe system upgrades: System upgrades can be problematic for a number of reasons. Storage Federation allows a system to be removed from the federation and be re-inserted again after the successful completion of the upgrade.
Load balancing: Similar to storage expansion, but on the performance axis, you might want to add additional storage systems to a Storage Federation in order to spread the workload across multiple systems.
Storage tiering: In a similar light, storage systems in a Storage Federation could have different capacity/performance ratios that you could use for tiering data. This is similar to the idea of dynamically re-striping data across the disk drives within a single storage system, such as with 3PAR's Dynamic Optimization software, but extends the concept to cross storage system boundaries.
To some extent, IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC), XIV, Scale-Out NAS (SONAS), and Information Archive (IA) offer most, if not all, of these capabilities. EMC claims its VPLEX will be able to offer storage federation, but only with other VPLEX clusters, which brings up a good question. What about heterogenous storage federation? Before anyone accuses me of throwing stones at glass houses, let's take a look at each IBM solution:
IBM SAN Volume Controller
The IBM SAN Volume Controller has been doing storage federation since 2003. Not only can IBM SAN Volume Controller bring together storage from a variety of heterogenous storage, the SVC cluster itself can be a mix of different hardware models. You can have a 2145-8A4 node pair, 2145-8G4 node pair, and the new 2145-CF8 node pair, all combined together into a single SVC cluster. Upgrading SVC hardware nodes in an SVC cluster is always non-disruptive.
IBM XIV storage system
The IBM XIV has two kinds of independent modules. Data modules have processor, cache and 12 disks. Interface modules are data modules with additional processor, FC and Ethernet (iSCSI) adapters. Because these two modules play different roles in an XIV "colony", that number of each type is predetermined. Entry-level six-module systems have 2 interface and 4 data modules. Full 15-module systems have 6 interface and 9 data modules. Individual modules can be added or removed non-disruptively in an XIV.
IBM Scale-Out NAS
The SONAS is comprised of three kinds of nodes that work together in concert. A management node, one or more interface nodes, and two or more storage nodes. The storage nodes are paired to manage up to 240 nodes in a storage pod. Individual interface or data nodes can be added or removed non-disruptively in the SONAS. The underlying technology, the General Parallel File System, has been doing storage federation since 1996 for some of the largest top 500 supercomputers in the world.
IBM Information Archive (IA)
For the IA, there are 1, 2 or 3 nodes, which manages a set of collections. A collection can either be file-based using industry-standard NAS protocols, or object-based using the popular System Storage™ Archive Manager (SSAM) interface. Normally, you have as many collections as you have nodes, but nodes are powerful enough to manage two collections to provide N-1 availability. This allows a node to be removed, and a new node added into the IA "colony", in a non-disruptive manner.
Even in an ant colony, there are only a few types of ants, with typically one queen, several males, and lots of workers. But all the ants are red. You don't see colonies that mix between different species of ants. For databases, federation was a way to avoid the much harder task of merging databases from different platforms. For storage, I am surprised people have latched on to the term "federation", given our mixed results in the other "federations" we have formed, which I have conveniently (IMHO) ranked from least effective to most effective:
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
My father used to say, "If the Soviet Union were in charge of the Sahara desert, they would run out of sand in 50 years." The [Soviet Union] actually lasted 68 years, from 1922 to 1991.
The United Nations (UN)
After the previous League of Nations failed, the UN was formed in 1945 to facilitate cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and the achieving of world peace by stopping wars between countries, and to provide a platform for dialogue.
The European Union (EU)
With the collapse of the Greek economy, and the [rapid growth of debt] in the UK, Spain and France, there are concerns that the EU might not last past 2020.
The United States of America (USA)
My own country is a federation of states, each with its own government. California's financial crisis was compared to the one in Greece. My own state of Arizona is under boycott from other states because of its recent [immigration law]. However, I think the US has managed better than the EU because it has evolved over the past 200 years.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries [OPEC]
Technically, OPEC is not a federation of cooperating countries, but rather a cartel of competing countries that have agreed on total industry output of oil to increase individual members' profits. Note that it was a non-OPEC company, BP, that could not "control their output" in what has now become the worst oil spill in US history. OPEC was formed in 1960, and is expected to collapse sometime around 2030 when the world's oil reserves run out. Matt Savinar has a nice article on [Life After the Oil Crash].
United Federation of Planets
The [Federation] fictitiously described in the Star Trek series appears to work well, an optimistic view of what federations could become if you let them evolve long enough.
Given the mixed results with "federation", I think I will avoid using the term for storage, and stick to the original term "scale-out architecture".