I got an interesting email from a new blogger asking me for advice on how frequently to post entries.I am probably not the right person to ask, as I blog whenever a thought comes to mind that I think otherswould enjoy reading, and sometimes that means several times a day, and other times only a few per month.I actually have a day job, busy doing other things, and blogging is just now part of my general set of activities.My focus is quality not quantity.
With that in mind, I was delightfully surprised that this blog was ranked among theTop 10 Storage Blogs by Network World, which explains my recent spike in traffic.
I shared the news with my 72-year-old father, and he exclaimed "There are actually 10 or more blogsto cover the IT storage industry?" He couldn't understand why the world would read more than two or three. I personally track thirty-five of them, and I suspect there are hundredsothers out there. Of these, some blog quite regularly, while others do not, so I am in good company. Deni Connor, the author who selected these top 10, gave a nice general complement tothe entire list of blogs:
The blogs written by storage company executives can be surprisingly vendor-agnostic, though the analysts and consultants still tend to pull fewer punches.
And this was my goal as well, to enlighten and entertain, in a fair and balanced manner, that adds value to the blogosphere, rather than just repeat the IBM press releases of each day. If you are just looking for "announcements" there is an RSS feed for IBM System Storage you cansubscribe to.
Not surprisingly, two of the blog entries that Deni mentions are the ones I get the most comments on:
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On his blog post on preparation, Seth Godin mentioned an appropriate Swedish saying:
There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.
Appropriate because it snowed here in Tucson, Arizona on Sunday evening, leaving many of us here figuring out how to drive through the stuff on Monday. In my entire lifetime, I have only witness snow down in the Tucson valley a handful of times. It got me thinking about coats, and the wonderful schemes for coat check rooms, as an analogy for data access. A lot of people ask me to compare and contrast one technology from another, say block-level virtualization from content-addressable storage, and so on, and I always try to find a good analogy to help explain things.
Let's start with the setting. It is snowing outside and people are wearing coats. When they come inside, they check their coats at a coat check room, a large room with rows and rows of racks with hangers. A coat check attendant takes your coat and puts it on a hanger, and gives you a ticket or other identifier that will allow you to retrieve your coat later. The ticket must have sufficient information to retrieve the coat quickly, rather than searching rows and rows of hangers for it.
A problem arises when you generate "hash codes" for storage. It is possible for two different pieces of data to resolve to the same hash code. When an application tries to write a piece of data, and it resolves to a hash code that already exists, that is called a collision. One response is to either compare the incoming data to the data that is already stored, confirm they are identical, but that can be time consuming. The other response is to just assume they are identical, and reject the secondary copy, a process often referred to as "de-duplication".
What's the chance of getting a collision for data that is really different? Let's take for example the famousBirthday paradox. Suppose the coat check room assigned the hanger based on your birthday (month and day). How may coats before you run the risk of having two people turn in coats with the same birthday? After only 23 people, the likelihood is 50%. At 60 people, it goes up to 99%.
For this reason, IBM does not offer content-addressable storage. For non-erasable, non-rewriteable storage, the IBM System Storage DR550 requires the application to give each object a name, and that name is then used to storage the data, eliminating the possibility that data might accidently be thrown away.
It's safer that way.
technorati tags: Seth Godin, Swedish, saying, bad, weather, clothing, snow, Tucson, coat, check, room, IBM, block-based, disk, storage, DR550, N series, NAS, healthcare, life sciences, grid, medical, archive, solution, GMAS, cont
'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.'
This last week of 2006 seems like a good time to recap the past year, and review the upcoming new year.That said, a good start is PC World's Top 21 Tech Screwups of 2006.
I am glad not everyone is on vacation in August!
Brian Womack from Investor's Business Daily interviewed IBM vice president David Gelardi in the article[Big Iron Anything But Rusty For Mainframe Pioneer IBM]. Here are some excerpts:
"IBM says revenue for its mainframe business rose 32% in the second quarter compared with a year earlier, easily outpacing overall sales growth of 13%.A big driver was February's launch of IBM's next-generation mainframe line, the z10, its first big upgrade since 2004. IBM spent about $1.5 billion on the new line.
IBM offers a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than HP or Sun can offer. For more about the IBM System z10 EC, see my posts last month:
And, of course, IBM is first-to-market on many mainframe enabling features in disk and tape storage systems. The combination of IBM servers with IBM storage systems is hard to beat!Read More]
Here's an interesting article in Raptured Monkey: Big Blue...Big Borg!
The author is wondering whether EMC will try to avoid the fate of Hitachi's mainframebusiness, focusing on "moving into the IBM field" of offering software and services for more complete solutions.
Interestingly, one comment opines that EMC's acquisition of Documentum was "followed" byIBM's acquisition of FileNet, not realizing that IBM already has the leading documentmanagement software (IBM Content Manager).
Another comment cites IBM's recent push of Xen asanother example "following" EMC's acquisition of VMware, again not realizing that IBM has hadLogical Partition (LPAR) capability in its System z, System p and System i server lines formany years.Read More]
In his blog post, [The Lure of Kit-Cars], fellow blogger Chuck Hollis (EMC) uses an excellent analogy delineating the differences between kit-cars you build from parts, versus fully-integrated systems that you can drive off the car dealership showroom lot. The analogy holds relatively well, as IT departments can also build their infrastructure from parts, or you can get fully-integrated systems from a variety of vendors.
Certainly, this debate is not new. In my now infamous 2007 post [Supermarkets and Specialty Shops], I explained that there were clients that preferred to get their infrastructure from a single IT supermarket, like IBM or HP, while others were lured into thinking that buying separate parts from butchers, bakers and candlestick makers and other specialty shops was somehow a better idea.
Chuck correctly explains that in the early years of the automobile industry, before major car manufacturers had mass-production assembly lines, putting a car together from parts was the only way cars were made. Today, only the few most avid enthusiasts build cars this way. The majority get cars from a single seller and drive away. In my post [Resolving the Identity Crisis], I postulated that EMC appeared to be trying to shed itself of the "disk-only specialty shop" image and over to be more like IBM. Not quite a full IT Supermarket, but perhaps more like a [Trader Joe's] premium-priced retailer.
(If you find that EMC's focus on integrated systems appears to be a 180-degree about-face from their historical focus on selling individual best-of-breed products, see my previous discussion of Chuck's contradictions in my blog post: [Is Storage the Next Confusopoly].)
While companies like EMC might be making this transition, there is a lot of resistance and inertia from the customer marketplace. I agree with Chuck, companies should not be building kit-cars or IT infrastructures from parts, certainly not from parts sold from different vendors. In my post [Talking about Solutions not Products], I explained how difficult it was to change behavior. CIOs, IT directors and managers need to think differently about their infrastructure. Let's take a quick look at some choices:
Before he earned his PhD in Mechanical Engineering, my father was a car mechanic. I spent much of my teenage years covered in grease, helping my father assembling cars, lifting engines, and rebuilding carburetors. Certainly this was good father-son time, and I certainly did learn something in the process. Like the automobile industry, the IT industry has matured, and it makes no financial sense to build your own IT infrastructure from parts from different vendors.
For a test drive of the industry's leading integrated IT systems, see your IBM sales rep or IBM Business Partner.
I just got a series of videos made at last month's IBM Pulse 2009 conference.Rather than flood you with all of them all at once, I will post them all separately.
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A few weeks ago, my Tivo(R) digital video recorder (DVR) died. All of my digital clocks in my house were flashing 12:00 so I suspect it wasa power strike while I was at the office. The only other item to die was the surge protector,and so it did what it was supposed to do, give up its own life to protect the rest of myequipment. Although somehow, it did not protect my Tivo.
I opened a problem ticket with Sony, and they sent me instructions on how to send itover to another state to get it repaired.Amusingly, the instructions included "Please make a backup of the drive contents beforesending the unit in for repair." Excuse me? How am I supposed to do that, exactly?
My model has only a single 80GB drive, and so my friend and I removed the drive and attachedit to one of our other systems to see if anything was salvageable. It failed every diagnostictest. There was just not enough to read to be usable elsewhere.
This is typical of many home systems. They are not designed for robust usage, high availability, nor any form of backup/recovery process. Some of the newer models havetwo drives in a RAID-1 mode configuration, but most have many single points of failure.
And certainly, it is not mission critical data. Life goes on without the last few episodesof Jack Bauer on "24", or the various Food Network shows that I recorded for items I planto bake some day. For the past few weeks, I have spent more time listening to the radioand reading books. Somehow, even though my television runs fine without my Tivo, watchingTV in "real time" just isn't the same.
I suspect that if you gave someone a method to do the backup, most would not bother to useit. People are now relying more and more heavily on their home
March 31 is [World Backup Day]!
Recently, a client asked how to backup their IBM PureData System for Analytics devices. IBM had [acquired Netezza in November 2010], and later renamed their TwinFin devices as the IBM PureData for Analytics, powered by Netezza.
The [IBM PureData System for Analytics] is incredibly fast for performing deep, ad-hoc analytics. However, the people who use them are "data scientists", not backup experts.
Likewise, there are backup administrators who may not be familiar with the unique characteristics of this expert-integrated system to know what backup options are available.
As with the rest of the IBM PureSystems line, the IBM PureData System for Analytics (or, PDA for short) has a combination of servers, storage and switches inside.
In a full-frame PDA, there are two servers in Active/Passive mode, these coordinate activity to FPGA-based blade servers, which have parallel access to hundreds of disk drives, storing nearly 200 TB of compressed database data. A system can span up to four frames.
But what do you backup? And why? You don't need to worry about backing up the Linux operating system or NPS server code, that is considered firmware and if anything every got corrupted, IBM would help restore it for you. System-wide metadata, such as the host catalog and global users, groups, and permissions should be backed up periodically to protect against data corruption.
There are a number of reasons to backup your user databases:
The PDA has three backup formats. You can backup the entire user database in compressed format, backup individual tables in compressed format, or export to a text-format file.
Compressed format is faster, but can only be restored to the same PDA, or a PDA that has the same or higher level of NPS firmware. The text-format is slower, but can be used to restore to lower levels of NPS firmware, or to other database systems.
There are basically two methods to backup your PDA. The first is called the "Filesystem" method. Basically, you can attach an external storage device to the NPS server, and use the built-in command line interface (CLI) to store the backups onto its file system.
You may find that your databases are so large, they will exceed the limits of the filesystem on the external storage device. For SAN or NAS deployments, I recommend the IBM Storwize V7000 Unified with IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS). However, if you are using something else, you may need to use the "nz_backup" scripts provided which split up the backup images into smaller pieces that most other filesystems can handle.
The PDA comes with 10GbE Ethernet ports that you can attach a NAS storage device over a Local Area Network (LAN), or add Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) ports and connect over a Storage Area Network (SAN). To keep things simple, I will refer to whichever network you decide as the "Backup Network" in the drawings.
The second method for backup is called the "External Backup Software" method. As you have probably guessed, it involves sending the backups to a supported software product like IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (or, TSM for short).
In this case, the PDA acts as a client node, similar to a laptop, desktop, or application server with internal disk. Backup data is sent over the LAN to the designated TSM server, and the TSM server in turn writes over the SAN to its storage hierarchy of disk, virtual tape and/or physical tape resources.
Backups can be done by command "on demand", or automated on a schedule. For the /nz/data directory, direct the nzhostbackup command to send the backup copy to local disk, then use TSM's dsmc archive command to transfer this backup copy to the TSM server.
For nzbackup with the users or db parameters, you can send the data directly to the appropriate TSM server by specifying the connector and connectorArgs parameters.
To reduce traffic on the TSM Server, an intermediary "TSM Proxy Node" can be put in between. In this case, the PDA sends the backup to the Proxy Node, the Proxy Node uses a "LAN Free Storage Agent" to send the backups directly to the virtual tape and/or physical tape, and then notifies the TSM Server to updates its system catalog to record which tape holds these new backups.
Another configuration involves installing the TSM LAN Free storage agent directly on the PDA. While this will require FCP ports to be added and consume more CPU resources on the NPS server, it eliminates most of the LAN traffic, allowing the PDA to send its backups directly to virtual or physical tape.
To learn more about this, see my full presentation [Backup Options: IBM PureData System for Analytics, powered by Netezza] on the IBM Expert Network powered by SlideShare, or attend the upcoming [IBM Edge 2014] conference in Las Vegas, May 19-23. I will be there!
technorati tags: IBM, Netezza, PureData, PureData for Analytics, PDA, World Backup Day, Backup, NPS, nzhostbackup, nzbackup, expert-integrated, Tivoli, Tivoli Storage Manager, TSM, dsmc, #ibmedge, Slideshare
It's the month of September, and many are going back to school! Whether its your first day of class, or your coming back as an upperclassman it’s a chance to approach something from a new perspective.
I thought this week would be a good chance to think about going back to school and going back to basics. There are two things that come to mind with that; support and monitoring of storage.
When it comes to support, one thing we can always check on is the ‘Call Home’ status of the storage system. In case you didn't know, the IBM Storage systems have the ability to connect back to IBM Support using the [Call Home] function that’s part of the solution.
When Call Home identifies a potential problem, it notifies the administrator and IBM Support of the issue and transmits diagnostic data about the problem to the IBM Support Center.
Depending on your IBM Storage platform, from the IBM Spectrum Virtualize / Storwize platform to the IBM DS8000, to the IBM FlashSystem family, you can find out how to [enable Call Home here]. It’s a good time of year just to check to make sure Call Home is working and enabled for your Storage solution.
As for monitoring, did you know that [IBM Storage Insights] is available for IBM Storage solutions? IBM Storage Insights provides an excellent level of visibility across your entire storage environment from performance to support needs, as you can see in this [guided tour].
There are [two editions] of the tool, but they only require one data collector.
IBM Storage Insights also streamlines your interaction with IBM support. It leverages the Call Home features of the system as well as provides a data collector, automatic support for log uploading, and easy ticket creation and management. IBM support staff use read-only access to diagnostic information about monitored storage systems to proactively help resolve problems and provide recommendations.
If you need more information around the security protocols in place for IBM Storage Insights, you can leverage the ['Storage Insights Security Guide'].
You can start using IBM Storage Insights today! It will change how you look at your Storage environment and how you engage with IBM Support. If you want to learn even more about IBM Storage Insights,
Call Home support or really any topic when it comes to IBM Systems, IBM TechU is continuing this fall and you can attend one of the [IBM Systems Technical University]. events we have coming up in Bogota, Las Vegas, Sydney, Prague, and Bali.