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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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Since the [IBM System Storage Technical University 2011] runs concurrently with the System x Technical University, attendees are allowed to mix-and-match. I attended several presentations regarding server virtualization and hypervisors.
Matt Archibald is an IT Management Consultant in IBM's Systems Agenda Delivery team. He started with a history of hypervisors, from IBM's early CP/CMS in 1967, through the latest VMware Vsphere 5 just announced.
He explained that there are three types of Hypervisor architectures today:
Type 1 - often referred to as "Bare Metal" runs directly on the server host hardware, and allows different operating system virtual machines to run as guests. IBM's System z [PR/SM] and [PowerVM] as well as the popular VMware ESXi are examples of this type.
Type 2 - often referred to as "Hosted" runs above an existing operating system, and allows different operating system virtual machines to run as guests. The popular [Oracle/Sun VirtualBox] is an example of this type.
OS Containers - runs above an existing operating system base, and allows multiple "guests" that all run the same operating system as the base. This affords some isolation between applications. [Parallels Virtuozzo Containers] is an example of this type.
The dominant architecture is Type 1. For x86, IBM is the number one reseller of VMware. VMware recently announced [Vsphere 5], which changes its licensing model from CPU-based to memory-based. For example, a virtual machine with 32 virtual CPUs and 1TB of virtual RAM (VRAM) would cost over $73,000 per year to license the VMware "Enterprise Plus" software. The only plus-side to this new licensing is that the "memory" entitlement transfers during Disaster Recovery to the remote location.
"Xen is dead." was the way Matt introduced the section discussing Hybrid Type-1 hypervisors like Xen and Hyper-V. These run bare-metal, but require networking and storage I/O to be processed by a single bottleneck partition referred to as "Dom 0". As such, this hybrid approach does not scale well on larger multi-sock host servers. So, his Xen-is-dead message was referring to all Hybrid-based Hypervisors including Hyper-V, not just those based on Xen itself.
The new up-and-comer is "Linux KVM". Last year, in my blog post about [System x KVM solutions], I mentioned the confusion over KVM acronym used with two different meanings. Many people use KVM to refer to Keyboard-Video-Mouse switches that allow access to multiple machines. IBM has renamed these switches to Local Console Managers (LCM) and Global Console Manager (GCM). This year, the System x team have adopted the use of "Linux KVM" to refer to the second meaning, the [Kernel-based Virtual Machine] hypervisor.
Linux KVM is not a product, but an open-source project. As such, it is built into every Linux kernel. Red Hat has created two specific deliverables under the name Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV):
RHEV-H, a tiny ESXi-like bare-metal hypervisor that fits in 78MB, making it small enough to be on a USB stick, CD-rom or memory chip.
RHEV-M, a vCenter-like management software to manage multiple virtual machines across multiple hosts.
Personally, I run RHEL 6.1 with KVM on my IBM laptop as my primary operating system, with a Windows XP guest image to run a few Windows-specific applications.
A complaint of the current RHEV 2.2 release from Linux fanboys is that RHEV-M requires a Windows server, and uses Windows Powershell for scripting. The next release of RHEV is likely to provide a Linux-based option for management server.
Of the various hypervisors evaluated, KVM appears to be poised to offer the best scalability for multi-socket host machines. The next release is expected to support up to 4096 threads, 64TB of RAM, and over 2000 virtual machines. Compare that to VMware Vsphere 5 that supports only 160 threads, 2TB of RAM and up to 512 virtual machines.
Linux KVM Overview
Matt also presented a session focused on Linux KVM. While IBM is the leading reseller of VMware for the x86 server platform, it has chosen Linux KVM to run all of its internal x86 Cloud Computing facilities, as it can offer 40 to 80 percent savings, based on Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
Linux KVM can run unmodified Windows and Linux guest operating systems as guest images with less than 5 percent overhead. Since KVM is built into the Linux kernel, any certification testing automatically benefits KVM as well. KVM takes advantage of modern CPU extensions like Intel's VT and AMD's AMD-V.
For high availability, in the event that a host fails, KVM can restart the guest images on other KVM hosts. RHEV offers "prioritized restart order" which allows mision-critical images to be started before less important ones.
RHEV also provides "Virtual Desktop Infrastructure", known as VDI. This allows a lightweight client with a browser to access an OS image running on a KVM host. Matt was able to demonstrate this with Firefox browser running on his Android-based Nexus One smartphone.
RHEV also adds features that make it ideal for cloud deployments, including hot-pluggable CPU, network and storage; service Level Agreement monitoring for CPU, memory and I/O resources; storage live migrations to move the raw image files while guests are running; and a self-service user portal.
IBM has been doing server virtualization for decades. When I first started at IBM in 1986, I was doing z/OS development and testing on z/VM guest images. Later, around 1999, I started working with the "Linux on z" team, running multiple Linux images under PR/SM and z/VM. While the server virtualization solutions most people are familiar with (VMware, Hyper-V, Xen) have only been around the last five years or so, IBM has a much deeper and robust understanding and long heritage. This helps to set IBM apart from the competition when helping clients.
Clod Barrera is an IBM Distinguished Engineer and Chief Technical Strategist for IBM System Storage. He predicts that by 2015, 10 percent of the servers and storage purchases, as well as 25 percent of the network gear purchases, will be related to Cloud deployments. Cloud Storage is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32 percent through 2015, compared to only 3.8 percent growth for non-Cloud storage.
Cloud Computing is allowing companies to rethink their IT infrastructure, and reinvent their business. Clod presented an interesting chart on the "Taxonomy" of storage in Cloud environments. On the left he had examples of Storage that was part of a Cloud Compute application. On the right he had storage that was accessed directly through protocols or APIs. Under each he had several examples for transactional data, stream data, backups and archives.
Clod feels the only difference between Private and Public clouds is a matter of ownership. In private clouds, these are owned by the company that uses them via their private Intranet network. Public clouds are owned by Cloud Service providers and are accessed over the public Internet. Clod presented IBM's strategy to deliver Cloud at five levels:
Private Cloud: on-site equipment, behind company firewall, managed by IT staff
Managed Private Cloud: on-site equipment, behind company firewall, managed by IBM or other Cloud Service provider
Hosted Private Cloud: dedicated, off-premises equipment, located and managed by IBM or other Cloud Service Provider, and access through VPN
Shared Cloud Services: shared, off-premises equipment, located at IBM or other Cloud Service Provider, managed by IBM or Cloud Service provider, and access through VPN. The facility is intended for enterprises only, on a contractual basis, and will be auditable for compliance to government regulations, etc.
Public Cloud: shared, off-premises equipment, located and managed by IBM or other Cloud Service provider, targeted to offer cloud compute and storage resources, with standardized platforms of operating systems and middleware, for individuals, small and medium sized businesses.
As with storage in traditional data center deployments, storage in clouds will be tiered, with Tier 0 being the fastest tier, to Tier 4 for "deep and cheap" archive storage. IBM SONAS is an example of Cloud-ready storage that can help make these tiers accessible through standard Ethernet protocols. Cloud Service providers will use metering and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to offer different rates for different tiers of storage in the cloud.
Clod wrapped up his session explaining IBM's Cloud Computing Reference Architecture (CCRA). This is an all-encompassing diagram that shows how all of IBM's hardware, software and services fit into Cloud deployments.
IBM Information Archive for email, files and eDiscovery
Not too many people have heard of IBM's Smart Archive strategy and the storage products IBM offers to meet compliance regulations. This session covered the following:
The differences between backup and archive, including a few of my own personal horror stories helping companies who had foolishly thought that keeping backup copies for years would adequately serve as their archive strategy
The differences between optical media, Write-Once Read-Many (WORM) media, and Non-Erasable, Non-Rewriteable (NENR) storage options.
Why putting a [space heater] on your data center floor is a bad idea, driving up power and cooling costs for little business value to the enterprise once the unit is full of rarely accessed read-only data.
An overview of the [IBM Information Archive], an integrated stack of servers, storage and software that replaces previous offerings such as the IBM System Storage DR550 and the IBM Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS).
The marketing bundle known as the [Information Archive for Email, Files and eDiscovery] that combines the Information Archive storage appliance with Content Collectors for email and file systems, as well as eDiscovery tools, and implementation services for a solution that can support a small or medium size business, up to 1400 employees.
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v4.2 Overview and Update
Many of the concerns raised when I [presented v4.1 at this conference last year] were addressed this year in v4.2, including full performance statistics for IBM XIV storage system, storage resource agent support for HP-UX and Solaris, and a variety of other issues.
I presented this overview in stages:
"Productivity Center Basic Edition" that comes pre-installed on the IBM System Storage Productivity Center hardware console, that provides discover of devices, basic configuration, and a clever topology viewer of what is connected to what.
"Productivity Center for Disk" and "Productivity Center for Disk Midrange Edition (MRE)" that provides real-time and historical performance monitoring, asset and capacity reporting.
"Productivity Center for Replication" which supports monitoring, failover and failback for FlashCopy, Metro Mirror and Global Mirror on the SVC, Storwize V7000, DS8000, DS6000 and ESS 800.
"Productivity Center for Data" which supports reporting on files, file systems and databases on DAS, SAN and NAS attached storage from a Operating System viewpoint.
"Productivity Center Standard Edition" which includes all of the above except "Replication", and adds performance monitoring of SAN Fabric gear, and some very clever analytics to improver performance and problem determination.
One of the questions that came up was "How big does my company have to be to consider using Productivity Center?" which I answered as follows:
"If you are a small company, and the "IT Person" has responsibilities outside the IT, and managing the few pieces of kit is just part of his job, then consider just using the web-based GUI through a Firefox or similar browser. If you are a medium sized company with dedicated IT personnel, but mostly run by system admins or database admins that manage storage and networks on the side, you might want to consider the "Storage Control" plug-in for IBM Systems Director. But if you are larger shop, and there are employees with the title "Storage Administrator" and/or "SAN Administrator", then Tivoli Storage Productivity Center is for you."
Tivoli Storage Productivity Center has matured into a fine piece of software that truly can help medium and large sized data centers manage their storage and storage networking infrastructure.
I like speaking the first day of these events. Often people come in just to hear the keynote speakers, and stay the afternoon to hear a few break-out sessions before they leave Tuesday or Wednesday for other meetings.
Jim is an IBM Fellow for IBM Systems and Technology Group. There are only 73 IBM Fellows currently working for IBM, and this is the highest honor IBM can bestow on an employee. He has been working with IBM since 1968.
He is tasked with predicting the future of IT, and help drive strategic direction for IBM. Cost pressures, requirements for growth, accelerating innovation and changing business needs help influence this direction.
IBM's approach is to integrate four different "IT building blocks":
Scale-up Systems, like the IBM System Storage DS8000 and TS3500 Tape Library
Resource Pools, such as IBM Storage Pools formed from managed disks by IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC)
Integrated stacks and appliances, integrated software and hardware stacks, from Storwize V7000 to full rack systems like IBM Smart Analytics Server or CloudBurst.
Mobility of workloads and resources requires unified end-to-end service management. Fortunately, IBM is the #1 leader in IT Service Management solutions.
Jim addressed three myths:
Myth 1: IT Infrastructures will be homogenous.
Jim feels that innovations are happening too rapidly for this to ever happen, and is not a desirable end-goal. Instead, a focus to find the right balance of the IT building blocks might be a better approach.
Myth 2: All of your problems can be solved by replacing everything with product X.
Jim feels that the days of "rip-and-replace" are fading away. As IBM Executive Steve Mills said, "It isn't about the next new thing, but how well new things integrate with established applications and processes."
Myth 3: All IT will move to the Cloud model.
Jim feels a substantial portion of IT will move to the Cloud, but not all of it. There will always be exceptions where the old traditional ways of doing things might be appropriate. Clouds are just one of the many building blocks to choose from.
Jim's focus lately has been finding new ways to take advantage of virtualization concepts. Server, storage and network virtualization are helping address these challenges through four key methods:
Sharing - virtualization that allows a single resource to be used by multiple users. For example, hypervisors allow several guest VM operating systems share common hardware on a single physical server.
Aggregation - virtualization that allows multiple resources to be managed as a single pool. For example, SAN Volume Controller can virtualize the storage of multiple disk arrays and create a single storage pool.
Emulation - virtualization that allows one set of resources to look and feel like a different set of resources. Some hypervisors can emulate different kinds of CPU processors, for example.
Insulation - virtualization that hides the complexity from the end-user application or other higher levels of infrastructure, making it easier to make changes of the underlying managed resources. For example, both SONAS and SAN Volume Controller allow disk capacity to be removed and replaced without disruption to the application.
In today's economy, IT transformation costs must be low enough to yield near-term benefits. The long-term benefits are real, but near-term benefits are needed for projects to get started.
What set's IBM ahead of the pack? Here was Jim's list:
100 Years of Innovation, including being the U.S. Patent leader for the last 18 years in a row
IBM's huge investment in IBM Research, with labs all over the globe
Leadership products in a broad portfolio
Workload-optimized designs with integration from middleware all the way down to underlying hardware
Comprehensive management software for IBM and non-IBM equipment
Clod is an IBM Distinguished Engineer and Chief Technical Strategist for IBM System Storage. His presentation focused on trends and directions in the IT storage industry. Clod started with five workload categories:
To address these unique workload categories, IBM will offer workload-optimized systems. The four drivers on the design for these are performance, efficiency, scalability, and integration. For example, to address performance, companies can adopt Solid-State Drives (SSD). Unfortunately, these are 20 times more expensive dollar-per-GB than spinning disk, and the complexity involved in deciding what data to place on SSD was daunting. IBM solved this with an elegant solution called IBM System Storage Easy Tier, which provides automated data tiering for IBM DS8000, SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and Storwize V7000.
For scalability, IBM has adopted Scale-Out architectures, as seen in the XIV, SVC, and SONAS. SONAS is based on the highly scalable IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS). File systems are like wine, they get better with age. GPFS was introduced 15 years ago, and is more mature than many of the other "scalable file systems" from our competition.
Areal Density advancements on Hard Disk Drives (HDD) are slowing down. During the 1990s, the IT industry enjoyed 60 to 100 percent annual improvement in areal density (bits per square inch). In the 2000s, this dropped to 25 to 40 percent, as engineers are starting to hit various physical limitations.
Storage Efficiency features like compression have been around for a while, but are being deployed in new ways. For example, IBM invented WAN compression needed for Mainframe HASP. WAN compression became industry standard. Then IBM introduced compression on tape, and now compression on tape is an industry standard. ProtecTIER and Information Archive are able to combine compression with data deduplication to store backups and archive copies. Lastly, IBM now offers compression on primary data, through the IBM Real-Time Compression appliance.
For the rest of this decade, IBM predicts that tape will continue to enjoy (at least) 10 times lower dollar-per-GB than the least expensive spinning disk. Disk and Tape share common technologies, so all of the R&D investment for these products apply to both types of storage media.
For integration, IBM is leading the effort to help companies converge their SAN and LAN networks. By 2015, Clod predicts that there will be more FCoE purchased than FCP. IBM is also driving integration between hypervisors and storage virtualization. For example, IBM already supports VMware API for Array Integration (VAAI) in various storage products, including XIV, SVC and Storwize V7000.
Lastly, Clod could not finish a presentation without mentioning Cloud Computing. Cloud storage is expected to grow 32 percent CAGR from year 2010 to 2015. Roughly 10 percent of all servers and storage will be in some type of cloud by 2015.
As is often the case, I am torn between getting short posts out in a timely manner versus spending some more time to improve the length and quality of information, but posted much later. I will spread out the blog posts in consumable amounts throughout the next week or two, to achieve this balance.
Maria Boonie is the IBM Director for IBM Worldwide Training and Technical Conferences. She indicated that there were 1500 attendees this week crossing both the System Storage and System x conferences at this hotel. There are 35 vendors that have sponsored this event, and they will be at the "Solutions Center" being held Monday through Wednesday this week.
She took this opportunity to plug IBM's latest education offerings, including Guaranteed-to-Run implementation classes, and Instructor-Led Online (ILO) technical classes.
Brian Truskowski is IBM General Manager for System Storage and Networking. I used to directly report to him in a previous role, and a few years ago he used to be the IBM CIO that helped with IBM's internal IT transformation.
Brian indicates that the previous approach to growth was to "Just Buy More", but this has some unintended consequences. He argued that companies need to adopt one or more of the following approaches to growth:
Stop storing so much - reduce data footprint using storage efficiency capabilities like data deduplication and compression
Store more with what is already on the floor - improve storage utilization with technologies like storage virtualization and thin provisioning
Move data to the right place - implement automated tiering, such as "Flash & Stash" between Solid-state drives and spinning disk, and/or Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) between disk and tape. Studies at some clients have found over 70 percent of data has not beed touched in the last 90 days
This time of dramatic change is the result of a "perfect storm" of influences, including the rising costs and risks associated with losing data, the increased need to index and search data, the desire for "Business Analytics", and the expectation for 100 percent up-time. This is driving IBM to offer hyper-efficient backup, Continuous Data Availability, and Smart Archive solutions.
The case study of SPRINT is a good example. SPRINT is a Telecommunications provider for cell phone users. They were challenged with 35 percent utilization, 165 storage arrays from six different vendors, and an expected 100 percent increase in their IT maintenance costs. After implementing IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and Tivoli Storage Productivity Center (TPC) to manager 2.9 PB of data, SPRINT increased their utilization to 82 percent, reduced down to 70 storage arrays from only three vendors, and reduced their maintenance costs by 57 percent. Today, SPRINT now manages over 5 PB of data with SVC and TPC, have reduced their power and cooling by 3.5 million KWh, representing $320,000 USD in savings.
Roland Hagan is the IBM Vice President for the System x server platform. He talked about the "IT Conundrum" that represents a vicious cycle of "IT Sprawl", "Untrusted Data" and "Inflexible IT" that seem to feed each other. IBM is trying to change behavior, from thinking and dealing with physical boxes representing servers, storage and network gear, to a more holistic view focused on workloads, shared resource pools, independent scaling, and automated management.
IBM is leading the server marketplace, in part because of clever things IBM is doing, especially in developing the eX5 chipset that surrounds x86 commondity processors, and in part because of actions or decisions the competition have taken:
It doesn't break IBM's heart that Oracle decided to drop software support of their database on Itanium, which focued entirley against HP. Oracle runs on IBM servers better than Oracle/Sun or HP servers today, so it does not impact us, other than IBM has had a lot of people leaving HP to switch over to IBM.
HP has taken on a new CEO and reduced their R&D budget, causing them to be late-to-market on some of their offerings.
Dell continues to focus on the small and medium sized customer, and have not really broken into the "Enterprise".
Newcomer Cisco has some great technology that only seems to be adoptable in "Green Field" situations, as it does not integrate well with existing data center infrastructures.
The combination of ex5 chip-set architecture, Max5 memory expansion capabilities and Virtual Network Interface Cards (NICs), provide for a very VM-aware platform. For those who are not ready to fully adopt an integrated stack like IBM CloudBurst, IBM offers the Tivoli Service Automation software on its own, and a new [IBM BladeCenter Foundation for Cloud] as stepping stones to get there.
There are certainly more attendees here than last year, which reflects either the change in location (Orlando, Florida rather than Washington DC) as well as the economic recovery. I'm looking forward to an excellent week!
It's that time again. Every year, IBM hosts the "System Storage Technical University". I have been going to these since they first started in the 1990s. This time we are at the lovely [Hilton Orlando] in Orlando, Florida.
For those who want to relive past events, here are my blog posts from this event in 2010:
As was the case last year, IBM once again will run this conference alongside the [IBM System x Technical University] the same week, in the same hotel. This allows attendees to cross over to the other side to see a few sessions of the other conference. I took advantage of this last year, and plan to do so again this year as well!
For those on Twitter, you can follow my tweets at [@az990tony] or search on the hash tag #ibmtechu.
The [IBM Edge2015 conference] is premiere conference covering Infrastructure Innovations for IBM System Storage, as well as sessions about z Systems and POWER Systems from our IBM Enterprise conference.
Here is my quick recap of my fifth and final day, Friday, May 15, 2015.
At the Systems Technical University in Prague last month, I had submitted "IBM Spectrum Storage overview", while another speaker submitted "Storage Integration with OpenStack" and somehow the two topics got merged into a single title "IBM Spectrum Storage Integration with OpenStack" through perhaps some cut-and-paste error.
I first had to explain the basics of OpenStack, how OpenStack manages pools of compute, storage and network resources. Then I explained specific details on Cinder, Swift and Manila interfaces. Finally, having laid the groundwork and reviewed the basics, I was able to explain how IBM's various storage offerings support these OpenStack interfaces.
The feedback from the audience was that this should have been presented earlier in the week! Attendees mentioned that other presentations earlier in the week merely assumed the audience was already familiar with OpenStack concepts and terminology, which obviously is not the case.
Storwize V7000 Unified with Spectrum Scale (formerly Elastic Storage)
Cameron McAllister, IBM Systems Architect for Spectrum Scale, presented an overview how Storwize V7000 Unified can interconnect with IBM Spectrum Scale deployments. The secret is a feature in both called Active File Management (AFM).
Shankar Balasubramanian, IBM Senior Technical Staff Member for Active File Management, went into details on how to set up Active File Management for a variety of use cases. For example, you could have Storwize V7000 Unified boxes in Remote Office/Branch Office (ROBO) locations replicating data to a centralized Spectrum Scale datacenter.
This week was a great conference! I received great feedback overall from many attendees about all the quality presentations they enjoyed this week.
Next year, Edge will be held in October 10-14, 2016. Save the date! Mark your calendars now!
The [IBM Edge2015 conference] is premiere conference covering Infrastructure Innovations for IBM System Storage, as well as sessions about z Systems and POWER Systems from our IBM Enterprise conference.
Here is my quick recap of various sessions on the fourth day, Wednesday, May 14, 2015.
Object Storage and Its Use with OpenStack
Rich Swain, IBM Storage Team Lead Engineer, presented this in three sections. First, he covered the advantages of object storage versus block or file-based storage. This includes the idea that each object comes with rich metadata that can be searched.
Rich then went to explain the specifics of OpenStack Swift, an open standard for object storage. A simple three-tier hierarchy of account, container, and object.
Rich wrapped up his talk with an overview of Spectrum Scale and Elastic Storage Server offerings from IBM.
Driving Timely Business Insights on the IBM Data Engine for Analytics
Linton Ward, IBM Distinguished Engineer, POWER Systems Big Data and Analytics, presented Big Data analytics from a POWER Systems perspective. He gave an overview of Big Data analytics, and how IBM POWER Systems provide advantages to analyze data quickly.
Linton had helped me with my Big Data presentation, so I decided to participate in his presentation during his section on Spectrum Scale, but no questions came up that he couldn't handle on his own.
The Pendulum Swings Back -- Understanding Converged and Hyper-converged Environments
This presentation has an interesting back-story. At a client briefing, I was asked to explain the difference between "Converged" and "Hyper-converged" systems, which I did with the analogy of a pendulum. I used the whiteboard, and then later made it into a single chart.
At the far left, I start with mainframe systems of the early 1950s that had internal storage. As the pendulum swings to the middle, I discuss the added benefits of external storage, from RAID protection to centralized management.
To the far right, the pendulum swings over to networked storage, from NAS to SAN attached devices for flash, disk and tape. This offers excellent advantages, including greater host connectivity, and greater distances supported to help with things like disaster recovery.
Here is where the pendulum swings back. IBM introduced PureSystems that combined servers, storage and switches into a single rack configuration. Other vendors had similar offerings, such as VCE vBlock, Flexpod from NetApp and Cisco, and Oracle Exadata.
Lately, the pendulum has swung fully back to internal storage, with storage-rich servers running specialized software. There are two kinds. First there are pre-built systems like Nutanix, Simplivity or EVO:Rail which are x86 based server systems with built-in flash and disk. Second, there is software that can be deployed on your own choice of hardware, such as IBM Spectrum Scale FPO or VMware VSAN.
So, what I presented on a single slide before, has been fleshed out into a full blown hour-long presentation!
Common Performance Pitfalls and the Value of Latency
Erik Eyberg and Woody Hutsell from IBM FlashSystem team presented the differences between MB/sec, IOPS and latency. IBM FlashSystem is the world's fastest storage with incredibly low latency that is two to five times faster than most major competitors in the all-flash arrays category.
Accelerate with OpenStack: Flexible and Rapid Deployed Orchestration for Your Cloud
Ohad Atia, IBM Systems Development Manager for XIV Cloud Storage Solutions, presented how the OpenStack Cinder interface works, then explained the new IBM Spectrum Accelerate, based on the software from XIV.
Ronen Kat, IBM Research Manager and Cloud Storage Research Scientist, gave a live demo on how easy it is to deploy Spectrum Accelerate in a public cloud. First, you request three or more bare metal servers with specific amounts of RAM and spinning disk. Optionally, Spectrum Accelerate can support a single Solid State Driver (SSD) as read cache in each server. You can either install VMware ESXi 5.5 yourself, or have the Cloud provider do it for you. This step can be done quickly to initiate, but then the Cloud provider might take 24-72 hours depending on how busy they are.
Like cooking shows, where they take out an already prepared item from the oven or refrigerator to save time, Ronen started with four servers that were already configured above from IBM SoftLayer. The second step was to deploy the Spectrum Accelerate code, supplied as an OVF file that VMware can use to start up each virtual machine.
The third step is to connect all of the IP addresses, since Spectrum Accelerate uses TCP/IP for everything from iSCSI host attachment to inter-node communication.
Steps 2 and 3 took less than 5 minutes! I was impressed how simple and easy it was. Even when you factor in the few days it might take IBM SoftLayer to provide you access to the servers, it is still way faster than ordering your own on-premise storage.
A Powerful Virtualization Solutions Delivered by the VMware and IBM Storage Partnership
Impressed with their last presentation, I stayed in the room for this one. Ohad Atia presented IBM Spectrum Control Base edition, and how this provides VMware VVol support through its VASA 2.0 provider code.
IBM Spectrum Control Base edition is entitled to all IBM owners of XIV, Spectrum Accelerate, DS8000 and Storwize family products to provide a consistent VMware interface experience.
Storage Meet the Experts, hosted by Maurice McCullough
For those not familiar with Edge, Maurice "Mo" McCullough is the lead organizer of the storage portion of Technical Edge, as well as various Systems Technical University events held throughout the year.
On the Thursday evening of Edge every year, Mo hosts this popular session for everyone to ask their questions to the experts at the front of the room. There were similar sessions for z Systems and POWER Systems experts in the adjoining rooms.
Joining me on the storage expert panel were Clod Barrera, Shelly Howrigon, Mike Griese, Barry Whyte, Jim Blue, Sven Oehme, and several others. Generally, there isn't a question we don't have an answer to, but if you stump the panel, we will take you out to dinner. The audience was ready to take that challenge!
After Storage Meet the Experts, I had dinner and went to see [Frank: The Man, The Music] musical show at the Venetian hotel. Bob Anderson impersonates Frank Sinatra, singing a popular selection of Frank's many recordings, intermixed with highlights from his television and film career. Bob was accompanied by a 32-piece orchestra that brought the music of the era back to life.
The [IBM Edge2015 conference] is premiere conference covering Infrastructure Innovations for IBM System Storage, as well as sessions about z Systems and POWER Systems from our IBM Enterprise conference.
Here is a quick recap of my sessions I presented on the third day, Wednesday, May 13, 2015.
New Generation of Storage Tiering: Less Management, Lower Costs and Increased Performance
I organized this into three sections. In the first section, I talked about single-system optimization by moving extents within single volumes on a single system. For IBM, I focused on Easy Tier on DS8000 as an example of this methodology, and all the enhancements IBM introduced since its introduction, including Easy Tier Server, Easy Tear Application API, and Easy Tear Heat Map Transfer utility.
In the second section, I covered data center optimization using Spectrum Control Storage Analytics Engine. This involves moving entire volumes/LUNs from one storage system to another. At IBM's Boulder Facility, this methodology saved $17 million dollars per year, roughly 50 percent reduction of its storage budget.
The third section covered the global optimization with Information Lifecycle Management (ILM), Hierarchical storage Management (HSM) and Active File Management (AFM) features in Spectrum Scale. This provides a seamless movement of data from flash to disk to tape media. Spectrum Scale has been around in one form or another since 1998, and over 200 of the TOP500 supercomputers are using it today.
At the IBM Edge conference last year,IBM announced "Codename: Elastic Storage." IBM had to rename its General Parallel File System (GPFS) because it is not just a file system for two very good reasons:
Spectrum Scale can support volumes, files and objects.
Spectrum Scale provides active data management, including Information Lifecycle Management (ILM), Hierarchical storage Management (HSM) and Active File Management (AFM) features.
This year, IBM now has several offerings: Spectrum Scale software, Elastic Storage Server pre-built system, Storwize V7000 Unified pre-built system, and Elastic Storage on IBM Managed Cloud services.
IBM Winning Edge - CASE Training
IBM Winning Edge is focused on Business Partner and IBM seller training. Part of this is CASE (Cloud and Analytics Sales Enablement). I co-presented "Systems Infrastructure Offerings for Cloud" with Elan Freedberg.
For Wednesday evening, I had dinner with Dr. Steve Hetzler, IBM Almaden Research, to discuss his paper on "touch rate" that Clod Barrera mentioned at the Monday kickoff.
Later that evening, I was invited to enjoy some champagne and cigars with Eric Herzog, Jamie Thomas and other IBM Executives. I brought along fellow blogger Elisabeth Stahl, who recently was promoted to Distinguished Engineer!
The [IBM Edge2015 conference] is premiere conference covering Infrastructure Innovations for IBM System Storage, as well as sessions about z Systems and POWER Systems from our IBM Enterprise conference. Check out this short two-minute [YouTube video on IBM Edge2015].
Here is my quick recap of the sessions that I either presented myself, or presented by others that I found interesting, on Tuesday, May 12, 2015.
What Is Big Data? Architectures and Practical Use Cases
Not everyone understands the storage implications of Big Data analytics. I started this session explaining the basics of Big Data, and how it changes the entire information pipeline, from storage administrators to data scientists to empowered employees making decisions and taking actions.
I then gave some real-life use cases, from Vestas using Big Data to shorted a 3-week decision process down to 15 minutes, to University of Ontario using Big Data to save the lives of new-born babies.
I then provided a broad overview of IBM's Analytics platform, including IBM InfoSphere BigInsights, BigSQL and Platform Symphony. IBM is a major backer of the Open Data Platform to help provide standards-based choices in the analytics marketplace.
I wrapped up the session with IBM Spectrum Scale™ which has a Hadoop Connector which allows Map/Reduce programs to run unchanged against Spectrum Scale data. This eliminates the waste of ingesting data from other sources into an HDFS file system, then discarding the data after the analytics processing completes.
At past events, I normally present this on the first day, to provide context for all other presentations later in the week. However, this time, Ken Keverian presented IBM's Corporate strategy on the Tuesday keynote general session, so the event coordinators scheduled my session afterward. I was able to explain how IBM's Smarter Storage strategy fits hand-in-glove IBM's larger Corporate strategy.
As with all IBM strategies, there were three parts. First, IBM is helping clients deal with data growth, resulting from everything from the Internet of Things to Big Data analytics. IBM offers the market leading Real-time Compression capability, for example, to help reduce the amount of capacity consumed.
Second, IBM cannot forget its support of traditional "Systems of Record" applications, like ERP, SCM and CRM transactional workloads. IBM is helping clients deal with business pressures to balance performance versus cost across a variety of storage media, from the world's fastest non-volatile flash storage, IBM FlashSystem, to the least expensive options with tape.
Third, IBM strongly feels the IT industry is shifting to Cloud deployments, including private, public and hybrid clouds. IBM is helping clients with this transition, with support for Software Defined Environments from OpenStack, VMware and Microsoft. IBM ranks #1 in Software Defined Storage with over 40 percent marketshare.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Success with IBM FlashSystem
This was a part IBM, part client testimonial session. Joe Rendace,
IBM Technical Flash Channel Manager, and Barry Whyte, fellow IBM Master Inventor and IBM ATS for Storage Virtualization, provided IBM's point of view on Flash technology. Last year, IBM shipped more Flash capacity than the next two closest competitors combined!
Jorge L. González, Enterprise SAN & Storage Architect for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) presented his company's success using IBM's FlashSystem products.
Archive Strategies in the Software-Defined Data Center
Jon Toigo, fellow author and blogger, Managing Principal Toigo Partners International and long-time friend presented this lively topic. Here is a great quote from his presentation:
"Moving data intelligently across different storage tiers (and into archives) is a lot like using a claw machine to get your crying kid a toy at the Chuck E. Cheese!
I can always rely on Jon to provide a unique viewpoint on the latest strategies and technologies. He never disappoints.
IBM Edge Special Events
For Tuesday evening, I went to see the world-famous [Penn & Teller] perform their unique form of magic and comedy show.
For the past 40 years, Penn & Teller have performed magic together, and watching them, up close and personal from just a few dozen feet away on stage, was truly amazing!