This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to IBM Systems, storage and storage networking hardware, software and services.
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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor, Senior IT Architect and Event Content Manager for [IBM Systems for IBM Systems Technical University] events. With over 30 years with IBM Systems, Tony is frequent traveler, speaking to clients at events throughout the world.
Lloyd Dean is an IBM Senior Certified Executive IT Architect in Infrastructure Architecture. Lloyd has held numerous senior technical roles at IBM during his 19 plus years at IBM. Lloyd most recently has been leading efforts across the Communication/CSI Market as a senior Storage Solution Architect/CTS covering the Kansas City territory. In prior years Lloyd supported the industry accounts as a Storage Solution architect and prior to that as a Storage Software Solutions specialist during his time in the ATS organization.
Lloyd currently supports North America storage sales teams in his Storage Software Solution Architecture SME role in the Washington Systems Center team. His current focus is with IBM Cloud Private and he will be delivering and supporting sessions at Think2019, and Storage Technical University on the Value of IBM storage in this high value IBM solution a part of the IBM Cloud strategy. Lloyd maintains a Subject Matter Expert status across the IBM Spectrum Storage Software solutions. You can follow Lloyd on Twitter @ldean0558 and LinkedIn Lloyd Dean.
Tony Pearson's books are available on Lulu.com! Order your copies today!
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Well, it's that Back-To-School time again! Mo's thirteen-year-old reluctantly enters the eight grade, still upset the summer ended so abruptly. Richard's nephew returns to the University of Arizona for another year. Natalie has chosen to move to Phoenix and pursue a post-grad degree at Arizona State University. They all have two things in common, they all want a new computer, and they are all on a budget.
Fellow blogger Bob Sutor (IBM) pointed me to an excellent article on [How to Build Your Own $200 PC], which reminded me of the [XS server I built] for my 2008 Google Summer of Code project with the One Laptop per Child organization. Now that the project is over, I have upgraded it to Ubuntu Desktop 10.04 LTS, known as Lucid Lynx. Building your own PC with your student is a great learning experience in itself. Of course, this is just the computer itself, you still need to buy the keyboard, mouse and video monitor separately, if you don't already have these.
If you are not interested in building a PC from scratch, consider taking an old Windows-based PC and installing Linux to bring it new life. Many of the older PCs don't have enough processor or memory to run Windows Vista or the latest Windows 7, but they will all run Linux.
(If you think your old system has resale value, try checking out the ["trade-in estimator"] at the BestBuy website to straighten out your misperception. However, if you do decide to sell your system, consider replacing the disk drive with a fresh empty one, or wipe the old drive clean with one of the many free Linux utilities. Jason Striegel on Engadget has a nice [HOWTO Erase your old hard disk drive] article. If you don't have your original manufacturer's Windows installation discs, installing Linux instead may help keep you out of legal hot water.)
Depending on what your school projects require, you want to make sure that you can use a printer or scanner with your Linux system. Don't buy a printer unless it is supported by Linux. The Linux Foundation maintains a [Printer Compatability database]. Printing was one of the first things I got working for my Linux-based OLPC laptop, which I documented in my December 2007 post [Printing on XO Laptop with CUPS and LPR] and got a surprising following over at [OLPC News].
To reduce paper, many schools are having students email their assignments, or use Cloud Computing services like Google Docs. Both the University of Arizona and Arizona State University use Google Docs, and the students I have talked with love the idea. Whether they use a Mac, Linux or Windows PC, all students can access Google Docs through their browser. An alternative to Google Docs is Windows Live Skydrive, which has the option to upload and edit the latest Office format documents from the Firefox browser on Linux. Both offer you the option to upload GBs of files, which could be helpful transferring data from an old PC to a new one.
Lastly, there are many free video games for Linux, for when you need to take a break from all that studying. Ever since IBM's [36-page Global Innovation Outlook 2.0] study showed that playing video games made you a better business leader, I have been encouraging all students that I tutor or mentor that playing games is a more valuable use of your time than watching television. IBM considers video games the [future of learning]. Even the [Violent Video Games are Good for Kids]. It is no wonder that IBM provides the technology that runs all the major game platforms, including Microsoft Xbox360, Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation.
(FTC disclosure: I work for IBM. IBM has working relationships with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony. I use both Google Docs and Microsoft Live Skydrive for personal use, and base my recommendations purely on my own experience. I own stock in IBM, Google and Apple. I have friends and family that work at Microsoft. I own an Apple Mac Mini and Sony PlayStation. I was a Linux developer earlier in my IBM career. IBM considers Linux a strategic operating system for both personal and professional use. IBM has selected Firefox as its standard browser internally for all employees. I run Linux both at home and at the office. I graduated from the University of Arizona, and have friends who either work or take classes there, as well as at Arizona State University.)
Linux skills are marketable and growing more in demand. Linux is used in everything from cellphones to mainframes, as well as many IBM storage devices such as the IBM SAN Volume Controller, XIV and ProtecTIER data deduplication solution. In addition to writing term papers, spreadsheets and presentations with OpenOffice, your Linux PC can help you learn programming skills, web design, and database administration.
To all the students in my life, I wish you all good things in the upcoming school year!
For those of you worried about my mysterious absence on the blogosphere, I am getting better. Sorry for not posting much lately, I have had more serious issues to worry about. I am awaiting results on whether I have Dengue fever from Brazil, Avian flu from Thailand, Malaria from Kenya, or perhaps it is just food poisoning from the otherwise fabulous French cuisine I ate last week in the South Pacific. Well, I am back in town for a while, and hopefully will recover to full health, and have some time to reflect my thoughts on storage topics.
Speaking of which, a lot has happened while I was out. Let's take a quick look.
Following our introduction of the world's first encryption-capable tape drive, the TS1120, IBM now offers higher capacity 700GB cartridges, in standard 3592 format.
The DS8000 Turbo disk system now is being offered with a flexible choice of warranty periods, 1-year, 2-year, 3-year and 4-year. Since IBM was the only one to offer 4-year warranties, it was sometimes difficult to compare apples-to-apples with our competition that offered lesser warranty periods. Now, we can match the warranty period you need, so the focus can shift on the added value the DS8000 Turbo provides at the right price.
IBM's newest low-end half-high tape drive, the TS2230 Tape Drive Express Model H3L, part of our Express portfolio of offerings designed for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB). It supports the latest LTO Generation 3 specification, so fully compatible with our larger tape systems, as well as the LTO-based gear from HP and Quantum.
This week I was in Palm Springs in meetings with clients, prospects, business partners and IBM sales reps.
Tuesday consisted of "outdoor meetings", but the high winds caused some people to arrive late, and others to land in the various sand traps and water hazards. A "welcome reception" event allowed everyone to socialize and get to know the IBM experts and executives. Two of my colleagues, Mike Stanek and Dave Wyatt, were with me also in Australia last week, and so the three of us were discussing recovery from jet lag.
Wednesday was organized as a main tent event, where everyone met into one large room to hear our strategy,latest set of offerings, and customer testimonials. This was done indoors, of course, which was a good thing as the winds were now gusting up to 50 miles per hour, knocking over windmills and making the local news.
Here's a quick sample from the testimonials:
An insurance company virtualized their IBM DS8000, DS4000, ESS 800 and EMC DMX3 high-end disk with theIBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller and got higher availability and performance. Data migrationefforts that used to take six(6) hours of admin time now took less than one hour, and with no system downtime.They have a total of 350TB virtualized under SVC now, but plan to extend this for a variety of other projects.
A bank presented their success using "Global Mirror" (IBM's asynchronous two-site replication disk mirroring capability).Their previous "business continuity" plan was called 2-20-24 for 2 sites that were 20 miles apart and recovery time objective (RTO) of 24 hours. With the events of Hurricane Katrina, this was considered inadequate, and a new2-200-6 plan was requested, across 200 miles with a recovery time objective of only 6 hours. The chose to deploythis one application at a time, to learn and grow by experience in each phase. They started with Microsoft Exchange e-mail application running under VMware on BladeCenter servers, and wereable to recover remotely within 1 hour. They are now looking to refine and automate the recovery process, perhapswith IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center for Replication and Geographically Dispersed Open Clusters (GDOC).
A healthcare provider presented their success with tiered storage, managing a 475TB mix of IBM DS8000, DS6000,DS4000 and HP EVA disk arrays. The key was having centralized storage management from IBM, which allowedthem to shrink provisioning time from 3 weeks average, to now 96% of their storage provisioning requests are completedin less than 1 week. Moving data between storage tiers was non-disruptive, and the significantcosts savings greatly justified the change in "mindset" that required some training on the new environment.
Thursday we offered a series of "workshops" on specific topics. These were interactive sessions to discuss installation, design and deployment of various solutions. The event ended early enough so that people couldreturn home, or go to the practice range, which reminded me of this inspiring video on How to play golf as well as Tiger Woods.
The event got great reviews, and I look forward to the next one. Until then, enjoy the weekend!
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means... IBM announcements!
Last week, IBM had a big storage launch of various products, with the June 4 announcements at the IBM Edge 2012 conference. I provided highlights in my post [IBM Edge Announcements]. As promised, here are the rest of the announcements.
SONAS v1.3.2 adds support for management by the newly announced IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v5.1 release. Also, IBM now officially supports "Gateway configurations" that have the storage nodes connected to XIV or Storwize v7000 disk systems. These gateway configurations offer new flexible choices and options for our ever-expanding set of clients.
ProtecTIER appliances and gateways
IBM ProtecTIER line of data deduplication appliances and gateways add CIFS file system support. Rather than using OST or a VTL interface, you now have CIFS as a new option for host attach. Also, IBM introduces the new TS7620 Express model, with options for 5.4TB and 11TB in capacity, replacing the previous TS7610 entry level.
LTFS Storage Manager
The Linear Tape File System (LTFS) allows files to be stored on tape cartridges in a manner that allows them to be mounted as file systems, much like a USB memory stick. The new LTFS Storage Manager software allows you to manage a collection of files across a set of cartridges, moving files from one cartridge to another, consolidating valid data onto fewer cartridges, and removing files no longer needed. This is sometimes referred to as "lifecycle management".
Tape System Library Manager
When IBM first introduced the "shuttle" that allowed up to fifteen TS3500 tape libraries to be connected together into a single system, only HPSS customers could take advantage of this. Software was required to coordinate the movement of cartridges from one library to another. The new IBM Tape System Library Manager now offers an alternative to HPSS for coordinating this activity.
DS8000 v6.3 microcode
IBM now offers 400GB solid-state drives. IBM's market leading support for Full Disk Encryption (FDE) is now extended to cover all drive speeds, from the slowest 7200RPM NL-SAS drives up to the fastest solid-state. IBM Easy Tier extends its super-easy implementation to work across all three of these tiers including encryption.
IBM now offers implementation services for IBM XIV Gen3 storage system, and the N series models 3220 and 3240.
This week I am on the road visiting various clients. Next week, Moscow Russia for the "Edge Comes to You" event!
For those who participated in Clark Hodge's "Where's Tony" contest,I was in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzogovina. There were optional side-tours to Montenegro and Slovenia, but I decided not to incur the added time and expense with those.
For those wondering where to go this Summer for vacation, I recommend Croatia. It is a beautiful country, with clean cities, good road conditions, and a calm Adriatic sea as we went from island to island.
And if you get to Mostar, don't let them talk you into jumping off the "old bridge". The water is terribly cold down there![Read More]
IBM has been holding various "Hackathons" and "Meetups" as a new way to reach out to prospective clients. IBM sponsored a meetup at the Austin Executive Briefing Center (EBC) to discuss Machine Learning with TensorFlow on IBM Power systems, October 26, 2017.
This was a joint event, co-sponsored by [IBM Watson/Cognitive Austin] and [Big Data/AI Revealed] meetup groups. Special thanks to my colleague Cathy Cocco, IBM Executive IT Architect with the IBM Austin EBC, for coordinating this event with their organizers.
(What is a Meetup? [Meetup.com is an online social networking website that facilitates in-person local group meetings. Meetup allows members to find and join groups unified by a common interest, such as books, games, pets, technology, careers or hobbies. In 2017, there are 32 million users with 280 thousand groups available across 182 countries.)
Here was the agenda for the event:
Registration, Pizza & Soft drinks
Tensorflow 101 presentation
Demo: Using TensorFlow for Financial Market Predictions on IBM POWER Systems
Lightning Talk: IBM Data Science Experience
Clarisse Taaffe-Hedglin: Intro to TensorFlow on IBM Power servers
Our guest speaker was my colleague Clarisse Taaffe-Hedglin, IBM Cognitive Senior Technical Architect, part of the same Worldwide Client Centers team that I work in. She flew in from Charlotte, NC.
Her topic was TensorFlow, an open source [Machine Learning] framework. TensorFlow was originally developed by Google, but was made open source in November 2015.
Machine Learning is popular in a variety of industries, from self-driving cars and trucks, speech recognition and video surveillance, to what movie to watch next on Netflix. There are three aspects to Machine Learning:
Data: Start with the data you want to analyze. This could be IoT sensor data, security logs, or social media feeds. Check out all that happens in an "Internet Minute"!
Compute: While mathematical computations can be performed on traditional CPUs, some frameworks are optimized and accelerated with Graphical Processing Units (GPU). These GPU can perform Teraflops of single and double precision calculations.
Technique: As methodology have gotten more complicated over the years, frameworks have evolved to match.
The [TensorFlow] framework is now one of the most popular among data scientists. You can download it for free at [Github].
Clarisse showed the various programming/calculation tools used by data scientists. The top five were: Python, R, SQL language, MapReduce, and Microsoft Excel.
Mathematical models come in many flavors. Clarisse explained they can be used to identify clusters of data that might have similar properties, or to perform classification, or linear regression. The results can be "descriptive", gaining a better understanding of what already is, or "predictive" for what might be.
Some frameworks like Chainer or Torch are more flexible, using a dynamic Build-by-Run approach. However, these do not scale well. Theano and TensorFlow, on the other hand, employ a Define-then-Run approach, which scales better for larger projects. With the growth in popularity with TensorFlow, the Theano framework has been "functionally stabilized".
Clarisse Taaffe-Hedglin: Financial Markets Demo
For the demo, Clarisse had historical stock closing data for USA, Australia and Asian stock markets. The hypothesis: We can determine a Buy/Sell for USA stocks based on the closing results of non-American stock results? This is a classic "Binary Classification" model. The other stock markets close 4-16 hours before the U.S. markets open, so this has real-world applicability.
Since the data was in different monetary units, she did some cleanup to normalize the data, removing out the trends, and converting everything to U.S. Dollars (USD).
Clarisse used "Supervised Learning" on 80 percent subset of the data, and then used the other 20 percent remaining data to validate how well it did.
As with any model, you measure how good it is by how close it results in the correct answer. Wrong answers are weighted by how bad they are. This is often referred to as "Loss" or "Cost". Different models can therefore be compared by minimizing the loss.
Using a simple y=wx+b mathematical model, she ran 30,000 iterations. After 5,000 iterations, the model was already guessing correctly 55 percent of the time, by the time we hit 30,000 this was up to 68 percent accuracy.
TensorFlow also supports "hidden layers", basically intermediate variables that are then used in subsequent layers for more complicated calculations. This is the way our brain works with neural networks. With two added layers, she re-ran the 30,000 iterations, and now was up to 73 percent accuracy.
Normally, this kind of analysis would take hours or days, but since TensorFlow takes advantage of the IBM Power8 CPU and NVidia Tesla K80 GPU in the IBM Power server, the whole thing finished in five minutes!
Tuhin Mahmed: Lightning Talk on IBM Data Science Experience (DSX)
Tuhin Mahmed, IBM Software Developer, is the organizer for the Big Data/AI meetup group. He wants to promote the idea of "Lightning Talks" where each person presents for just 10-15 minutes. This is a variant of the popular [Pecha Kucha] events.
To get things started, he presented 10-15 minutes on [IBM Data Science Experience], or DSX for short. Taking Multiple Listing Service (MLS) real estate data of closing prices on houses sold in a range of zip codes from the Austin Area, he mapped these on x-y axis. The x axis was square feet, and the y axis was closing price.
Using DSX, he was able to develop a mathematical model that estimates house closing prices based on their zip code and square footage.
This was a simple example, but it showed the power of Jupyter Notebooks, and how anyone can get a 30-day free trial of DSX for their own experimentation.
Currently, being a data scientist is more of an art than a science. This is one of those fields that takes only a few months to learn, but years to master.
Rather than building a model from scratch, data scientists can take existing models, and modify them to fit their needs. There are a variety of existing models available in what is called the "Model Zoo". Google has over 2,000 projects already.
Those interested in trying this out TensorFlow for themselves were directed to [Nimbix], a Cloud Service Provider that offers POWER servers with NVidia GPUs.
There were about 50 attendees, more than half identified themselves data scientists. As the first inaugural sponsored event for the IBM Austin EBC, I think this was a success!
If you are in the Austin area, the next meetup will be at the [Capital Factory] on Brazos Street on November 30, 2017.
For those who missed it, IBM announced last Tuesday encryption capability for the TS1120 drive, our enterprise tape drive that read and write 3592 cartridges. Do you need special cartridges for this? No! Use the sames ones you have already been using!
An article in InformationWeek reports that40,000 ASU Students Leap to Google Apps; University Pays Zero. The ASU president, Michael Crow, wants to make IT the primary driver in his ambitious "New American University" project.Last October, ASU became the first large institution to deploy Google Apps, a comprehensive suite of productivity applications that includes e-mail, search, calendars, instant messaging, and even word processing and spreadsheets.I've tried them out, they work, nothing fancy but certainly good enough for college homework assignments.
Already 40,000 students and faculty have switched their e-mail to Google, while keeping their asu.edu designation. (out of 65,000 student population, which Mr. Crow is trying to raise to 90,000 students!)
E-mail is a thorn in the side of storage administrators. Being "semi-structured" repositories, they cannot just delete or move files around, as there is context between notes and their attachments, that shouldn't be broken. E-mail systems are often the fastest growing consumer of storage for many organizations.
Switching from maintaining their own mail servers to Google is saving ASU $500,000 US dollars alone, not including the administrator labor savings. Again, some corporations might feel their e-mail is too "secret" to be outsourced like this, but for college students who spend all their creative talent posting things on MySpace and YouTube, and faculty who spend their careers TRYING to get published, they have nothing to hide from the rest of the world. It makes perfect sense.
Best of all, Google isn't charging ASU anything for this service. Google is able to cover the costs from advertising revenue instead. I can think of a lot of companies that might want to advertise to a demographic of "40,000 students who are mostly 18-25 years old and all live in or near Tempe, AZ".
I use two Cloud-Computing based photo-sharing services, [KodakGallery.com] and [Flickr.com], which serve two completely different purposes.
Formerly, this was Ofoto, but was acquired by Kodak. I started using this service back in 2002, and had over 12,000 photos uploaded over the past 8 years. I was able to share all my photos with my friends and family, and they could simply order whichever prints they want and have them shipped directly to them. They have incredibly high-professional photo-based products, like calendars and coffee table books, that you can produce from your own photos.
Sadly, the fine folks at Kodak Gallery decided they did not want my business anymore, and purged my 36GB of files from their system. To be fair, they did hint that they were having financial problems with an "Archive CD" offering, which would have allowed me to get a set of CDs or DVDs holding the high-resolution graphics of all my uploaded photos. This would have cost $150 or so, and if you uploaded more photos, there was no option to get the "delta" of photos uploaded since your last archive, so it would have cost me $150 every year or so to get an updated "backup" of my files. It seemed expensive and unnecessary at the time, given that I was sure that Kodak was not going out of business anytime soon, and that I was sure they took their own backups of all the photos that people put in their charge.
The problem is that Kodak Gallery was a free service, subsidized by people ordering physical prints and other products. As such, I got lots of email from Kodak every month, offering me free shipping, special promotions, and seasonal discounts. It was so much that I had all email from them automatically routed to a different sub-folder, that I would never look at, unless I was about to make a purchase and needed to find the best coupon code or free shipping option currently offered. This also had the unintended consequence that I missed the following series of notes:
Important: From the Gallery's General Manager (April 17)
Second notice: Our storage policy has changed (April 24)
Final notice: Your stored photos may be deleted (May 8)
We don't want to delete your photos (May 22)
All the notes mentioned the new "Storage Policy", here is a quick excerpt:
"The fact is, we store billions of photos for our 75 million members. The quality storage service the Gallery provides is significant in terms of our business costs.
So that we can provide the highest level of service, we're now asking all Gallery customers to make an annual nominal purchase in exchange for photo storage. We've modified our Terms of Service policy accordingly: if your Gallery photo storage equals 2 gigabytes or less, we're asking you to spend $4.99 annually; if more than 2 gigabytes, $19.99 annually.*
One last thought: We value and appreciate your business, and we want to continue our relationship with you in a spirit of mutual support and benefit. That's always been the Kodak way."
Since they had no response from me, nor saw any purchase activity, my 36GB of files were deleted on June 17. I discovered all of this when I contacted Kodak to find out where my files were last weekend during my "Spring Cleaning". I asked if I could at least get the final set of "Archive CDs", but they told me they were purged completely.
I understand the economy is in a recession, and many free cloud-based services are losing money and going under. I can understand they were faced with tough choices, Kodak opted to switch from a free service to fee-based service.
Albert Einstein defined Insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." In general, if I am trying to get a hold of someone, and email isn't working, then I try something different, try them by phone, try them by snail mail, and so on. With the deluge of emails, people sometimes declare "email bankruptcy" by deleting everything in their inbox after coming back from vacation, or implement filters to automatically route mail to separate folders. I think it is unrealistic to expect that everybody reads every piece of email that you send them.
I would have liked for Kodak to have done at least one or more of the following, given that I had been such a long time customer, and they had earned hundreds of dollars in revenues from all the purchases, over the years, not just directly from me, but from my friends and family, of photos I uploaded to their website:
Send me a letter after not receiving any response from the first three notices. They sent me promotional materials and offers for 20 percent discounts, so they had my active snail mail address on file correctly. With 75 million users, it would have cost $33 million USD to send out snail mail letters to everyone, but for the subset of power-users who have more than 2GB of files, a snail mail letter might have gotten more $19.99 purchases they needed to stay in business.
Called me on the phone. Yes, they also had my phone number in their database.
Go ahead and charged my credit card on file $19.99 without a purchase, and given me a credit towards a future purchase. Something like: "You have not purchased anything in the last 12 months, so we charged your credit card, per our Terms of Service, but you can use this as a credit towards something in the next 60 days."
On the plus side, my "Spring Cleaning" project was done. You can't organize what you don't have anymore.
Flickr from Yahoo
I started using Flickr back in 2008 to hold photos and graphics for this blog. Flickr holds various sizes of photos that I can use directly with HTML tags. Clicking on the photo in the blog will take you to Flickr's service and allow you to see the large size resolution. The "Lotus Connections" that I have on IBM DeveloperWorks only offers 24MB of photo space, so Flickr was a nice alternative.
Unfortunately, Flickr had adopted a new policy that only the most recent 200 pictures would be visible, and I had already reached 170 photos. Rather than start deleting photos from my older blog posts, I opted to upgrade to the "Flickr Pro" account, with a fee of only $24.99 per year.
Hopefully, by paying an annual fee and choosing a successful and profitable Cloud-Computing company, I won't experience another traumatic loss. However, it does remind me that it is my responsibility to keep my own copies of these photos, just in case.
Fortunately, many "photo product" providers are connected to Flickr. For example, my publisher [<a href="http://www.lulu.com/">Lulu.com</a>] can access my Flickr photos to make photo-based coffee table books. As for my last eight years of memories that were lost, I will just have to treat it as if my house burned down. Rebuild and move on.