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Tony Pearson is not a medical doctor, and this blog does not reference any IBM product or service that is intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, prevention or monitoring of a disease or medical condition, unless otherwise specified on individual posts.
Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Specialist for the IBM System Storage product line at the
IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2011, Tony celebrated his 25th year anniversary with IBM Storage on the same day as the IBM's Centennial. He is
author of the Inside System Storage series of books. This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to storage and storage networking hardware, software and services. You can also follow him on Twitter @az990tony.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson
In keeping with the spirit to be a more kinder, gentler 2011, I decided last week to refrain from being the rain on someone else's parade that occurs immediately before, during or after a competitor's announcement or annual conference, and let EMC have their few moments in the spotlight last week. This of course allows me more time to learn about the announcements and reflect on marketplace reactions. Here's a quick look at the [EMC Press Release]:
A new VNXe disk system
Of the 41 new storage technologies and products EMC announced last week, the VNXe is EMC's "me-too" product to compete against other low-end disk systems like the IBM System Storage DS3524 and N3000 series. It looks truly new, developed organically from the ground up, with a new architecture, new OS. It comes in either the 2U-high VNXe3100 or the 3U-high VNXe3300. These employ 3.5-inch SAS drives to provide Ethernet-based NFS, CIFS and iSCSI host attachment. The $10K USD price tag appears to be for the hardware only. As is typical for EMC, they charge software features in bundles or "suites", so the actual TCO will be much higher. I have not seen any announcements whether Dell plans to resell either the VNXe nor the VNX models, now that they have acquired Compellent.
A new VNX disk system
Despite having a similar name as the VNXe, the VNX appears to be a re-hash of the Celerra/CLARiiON mess that EMC has been selling already, based on the old FLARE and DART operating systems of these older disk systems. This scales from 75 to 1000 SAS drives. While EMC calls the VNX "unified", it currently is only available in block-only and file-only models, with a future promise from EMC that they will offer a combined block-and-file version sometime in the future. EMC claims that the VNX will be faster than the predecessors, so hopefully that means EMC has joined the rest of the planet and will publish SPC-1 and SPC-2 benchmarks to back up that claim. They can compare against the SPC-1 benchmarks that our friends at NetApp ran against EMC CLARiiON.
New software for the VMAX
A long time ago, EMC announced they would provide non-disruptive automated tiering. Their first delivery "FAST V1" handled entire LUNs at a time. EMC now has finally "FAST VP" which we expected was going to be called "FAST V2", which provides sub-LUN automated tiering between Solid-state and spinning disk drives.. Meanwhile, IBM has been delivering "Easy Tier" on the IBM System Storage DS8000 series, SAN Volume Controller, and Storwize V7000 disk systems.
Data Domain Archiver
Competing against IBM, HP and Oracle in the tape arena, EMC's latest addition to the Data Domain family is designed for the long-term retention of backups? Archives of backups? Backups are short-lived, protecting against the unexpected loss from hardware failure or data corruption. Keeping backups as "archives" is generally a bad mistake, as it makes it hard to e-Discover the data you need when you need it, and may not have the appropriate hardware tor restore these old backups when you do find them.
I will have to dig deeper into all of these different technologies in separate posts in the future.
It has always been the case in fast pace technology areas that you can't tell the players without a program card, andthis is especially true for storage.
When analyzing each acquistion move, you need to think of what is driving it. What are the motives?Having been in the storage business 20 years now, and seen my share of acquisitions, both from within IBM,as well as competition, I have come up with the following list of motives.
Although slavery was abolished in the US back in the 1800's, and centuries earlier everywhere else, many acquisitionsseem to be focused on acquiring the people themselves, rather than the products or client list. I have seen statistics such as "We retained 98% of the people!" In reality, these retentions usually involve costly incentives,sign-in bonuses, stock options, and the like. Desptie this, people leave after a few years, often because ofpersonality or "corporate culture" clash. For example, many former STK employees seem to be leaving after their company was acquired by Sun Microsystems.
If you can't beat them, join them. Acquisitions can often be used by one company to raise its ranking in marketshare, eliminating smaller competitors. And now that you have acquired their client list, perhaps you can sellthem more of your original set of products!
Symantec had acquired Veritas, which in turn had acquired a variety of other smaller players, and the end result is that they are now #1 backup software provider, even though none of theirproducts holds a candle to IBM's Tivoli Storage Manager. Meanwhile, EMC acquired Avamar to try to get more into the backup/recovery game, but most analysts still find EMC down in the #4 or #5 place in this category.
Next month,Brocade's acquisition of McData should take effect, furthering its marketshare in SAN switch equipment.
Prior to my current role as "brand market strategist" for System Storage, I was a "portfolio manager" where wetried to make sure that our storage product line investments were balanced. This was a tough job, as the investmentshad to balance the right development investments into different technologies, including patent portfolios.Despite IBM's huge research budget, I am not surprised that some clever inventions of new technologies comefrom smaller companies, that then get acquired once their results appear viable.
The last motive is value shift. This is where companies try to re-invent themselves, or find that they are stuck in acommodity market rut, and wish to expand into more profitable areas.
LSI Logic acquisition of StoreAge is a good exampleof this. Most of the major storage vendors have already shifted to software and services to provide customer value,as predicted in 1990's by Clayton Christensen in his book "The Innovator's Dilemma". The rest are still strugglingto develop the right strategy, but leaning in this general direction.
Shakespeare wrote "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet." This week my theme will be on names, naming convention, and how we access information on storage.
Take for example these two sentences:
The Bears beat New Orleans. Chicago clobbered the Saints.
Though they appear very different, football fans who might have watched either or both of the two conference title games yesterday would quickly recognize that they refer to the same two teams and the same end-result.
I'll be traveling to Asia next week. While most people call me "Tony", my legal given name is "Anthony" which is what appears on my passport and other legal documents. Most English-speaking countries handle this fine, but it can be confusing in Japan or China, where "A. Pearson" doesn't match "T. Pearson".
In the US, our given and family names are referred to as our "first name" and our "last name", relating to their positional sequence. In Asia, family names come first, followed by their given names last. To help avoid confusion, we have started adopting the practice of putting the family name in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, so I would "Tony PEARSON" while my colleague may be "WONG Francis".
In Japanese, "Mr. JONES" would be "Jones-san". However, Pearson-san is such a toungue-twister, that most just say "Tony-san" which is fine with me. I have been called "Mr. Tony" in a variety of countries, perfectly acceptable.
You can call me anything you like, just don't call me late for dinner.
As financial firms focus on costs, the IT departments will have an opportunity to consolidate their servers, networks and storage equipment. Consolidating disk and tape resources, implementing storage virtualization, and reducingenergy costs might get a boost from this crisis. Consolidating disparate storage resources to a big SoFS, XIV,DS8000 disk system, or TS3500 tape library might greatly help reduce costs.
Having mixed vendor environments that result from such mergers and acquisitions can be complicated to manage. Thankfully, IBM TotalStorage Productivity Centermanages both IBM and non-IBM equipment, based on open industry standards like SMI-S and WBEM.Merged companies might let go IT people with limited vendor-specific knowledge, but keep the ones familiar withcross-vendor infrastructure management skills and ITIL certification.
Comparing different vendor equipment
It seems that often times when there is a merger or acquisition, the two companies were using different storage gear from different vendors. IBM has made some incredible improvements over the past three years, in both performance enhancements and energy efficiency, but many companies with non-IBM equipment may not be aware of them.If there was ever a time to perform a side-by-side comparison between IBM and non-IBM equipment, here isyour chance.
For more on the impact of the financial meltdown on IT, see this InfoWorld[Special Report].
Jon Toigo over at DrunkenData writes in his post[A Wink and a Nod] about thebenefits of the new IBM System z10 Enterprise Class mainframe. Here's an excerpt about storage:
"The other key point worth making about this scenario is that storage behind a z10 must conform to IBM DASD rules. That means no more BS standards wars between knuckle-draggers in the storage world who continue to mitigate the heterogeneous interoperability and manageability of distributed systems storage using proprietary lock in technologies designed as much to lock in the consumer and lock out the competition as to deliver any real value. That has got to be worth something."
For z/OS and TPF operating systems, disk must support CCW commands over ESCON or FICON connections, or NFS commandsover the Local Area Network. However, most of the workloads that are being ported over from x86 platforms willprobably be running Linux on System z images, and as such Linux supports both CCW and SCSI protocols, the latterover native FCP connections through a Storage Area Network (SAN) or via iSCSI over the Local Area Network. Many SAN directors support both FCP and FICON, and the z10 also supports both 1Gbps and 10Gbps Ethernet, so you may not have to invest in any new networking gear.
The best part is that you may not have to migrate your data. The IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller is supported for Linux on System z, and with "image mode" you can leave the data in its original format on its original disk array. Many file systems are now supported by Linux, including Windows NTFS with the latest NTFS-3G driver.
If your data is already on NAS storage, such as the IBM System Storage N series disk systems, then the IBM z10can access it directly, from z/OS, z/VM or Linux.
Have lots of LTO tape data? Linux on System z supports LTO as well.
Jon continues his rant with a question about porting Microsoft Windows applications. Here's another excerpt:
"For one, what do we do with all the Microsoft servers. There is no Redmond-sanctioned approach to my knowledge for virtualizing Microsoft SQL Server or Exchange Server in a mainframe partition."
Yes, it is possible to run Windows on a mainframe through emulation, but I feel that's the wrong approach. Instead, the focus should be on running "functionally equivalent" programs on the native mainframe operating systems, and again Linuxis often the best choice for this. Switching from Windows to Linux may not be "Redmond-sanctioned", but it getsthe job done.
Instead of SQL Server, consider something functionally equivalent like IBM's DB2 Universal Database, or perhaps an open source database like MySQL, PostgreSQL or Apache Derby. Well-written applications use standard SQL calls, so ifthe application does not try to use unique, proprietary features of MS SQL Server, you are in good shape.
In my discussion last November on [Microsoft Exchange email server], I mentioned that Bynari makes a functionally equivalent email server on Linux that works with your existing Microsoft Outlook clients. Your end-users wouldn't know you migrated to a mainframe! (well, they might notice their email runs faster)
So if your data center has three or more racks of Sun, Dell or HP "pizza box" or "blade" x86 servers, chances are you can migrate the processing over to a shiny new IBM z10 EC mainframe, save some money in the process, without too much impact to your existing Ethernet, SAN or storage system infrastructure. IBM can even help you dispose of the oldx86 machines so that their toxic chemicals don't end up in any landfill.
When new technologies are introduced to the marketplace, it is normal for customers to be skeptical.
My sister is a mechanical engineer, so when she needs to configure a part or component, she candesign it on the computer, and then use a "Rapid Prototyping Machine"that acts like a 3D printer, to generate a plastic part that matches the specifications. Some machinesdo this by taking a hunk of plastic and cutting it down to the appropriate shape, and others use glue andpowder to assemble the piece.
But not everything is that simple. Harry Beckwith deals with the issue of selling services and software featuresin his book "Selling the Invisible". How do you sell a service before it is performed? How do you sell a softwarefeature based on new technology that the customer is not familiar with?
Our good friends over at NetApp, our technology partners for the IBM System Storage N series, developed a"storage savings estimator" tool that can provide good insight into the benefits of Advanced Single InstanceStorage (A-SIS) deduplication feature.
I decided to run the tool to analyze my own IBM Thinkpad C: drive (Windows operating system and programs) and D: drive ("My Documents" folder containing all my data files) to see how much storage savings thetool would estimate. Here are my results:
WINXP-C-07G (C: drive)Total Number of Directories: 1272Total Number of Files: 56265Total Number of Symbolic Links: 0Total Number of Hard Links: 41996Total Number of 4k Blocks: 2395884Total Number of 512b Blocks: 18944730Total Number of Blocks: 2395884Total Number of Hole Blocks: 290258Total Number of Unique Blocks: 1611792Percentage of Space Savings: 20.61Scan Start Time: Wed Sep 5 14:37:06 2007Scan End Time: Wed Sep 5 14:53:51 2007
WINXP-D-07H (D: drive)Total Number of Directories: 507Total Number of Files: 7242Total Number of Symbolic Links: 0Total Number of Hard Links: 11744Total Number of 4k Blocks: 3954712Total Number of 512b Blocks: 31610595Total Number of Blocks: 3954712Total Number of Hole Blocks: 3204Total Number of Unique Blocks: 3524605Percentage of Space Savings: 10.79Scan Start Time: Wed Sep 5 14:21:16 2007Scan End Time: Wed Sep 5 14:34:30 2007
I am impressed with the results, and have a better understanding of the way A-SIS works. A-SIS looks at every4kB block of data, and creates a "fingerprint", a type of hash code of the contents. If two blocks have different "fingerprints", then the contents are known to be different. If two blocks have the same fingerprint, it is mathematically possible for them to be unique in content, so A-SIS schedules a byte-for-byte comparison to be sure they are indeed the same. This might happen hours after the block is initially written to disk, but is a much safer implementation, and does not slow down the applications writing data.
(In an effort to provide support "real time" as data was being written, earlier versions of deduplication
had to either assume that a hash collision was a match, or take time to perform the byte-for-byte comparisonrequired during the write process. Doing this byte-for-byte comparison when the device is the busiest doingwrite activities causes excessive undesirable load on the CPU.)
The estimator tool runs on any x86-based Laptop, personal computer or server, and can scan direct-attached, SAN-attached, or NAS-attached file systems. If you are a customer shopping around for deduplication, ask your IBM pre-sales technical support, storage sales rep, or IBM Business Partner to analyze your data. Tools like this can help make a simple cost-benefit analysis: the cost of licensing the A-SIS software feature versus the amount of storage savings.
In his blog Rough Type, Nick Carr asks Where is my CloudBook?and points to John Markoff's 2-part series in the New York Times on computing in the clouds.(Read it here: Part 1, Part 2)
At first, I thought he meant computing while in an airplane, but instead, he is talking about computing on a laptop or other hand-held device that does not have an internal disk drive, no installedoperating system, no internal data storage. Instead, the idea is that you boot from a CD, accessyour data, and even some of your programs, over the internet. John used an Ubuntu Linux LiveCD in his example.
This week, I am in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and was "in the clouds" for over 10 hours flying from Dallas to here.The one time I am guaranteed "off-line" from the internet is on the plane, and I spend enough time on planesthat I am able to get work done despite being "disconnected".
The same reasons people want to get out of having a disk drive on their laptop, are the reasons data centersare getting out of internal disk on their servers.
disks crash, and typically are not protected in any RAID configuration on most laptops
operating systems get infected with viruses and malware
storage on one server is generally inaccessible to every other server
Booting from CD is especially clever. No more worrying about fixing your Windows registry, viruses,corrupted operating system files, or the cruft that accumulates on your C: drive that slowsyou down. The CD is the sameevery time, so it is like running your system with a freshly installed operating system every day.
The need for central repositories of data harkens back to the years of the IBM mainframe. Of course, whatmade sense back then continues to make sense now. The old 3270 terminals stored no data, and instead merelyprovided keyboard input and display text screen output to the vast amount of data stored on the central system.Today, the inputs are different, using your finger or mouse instead to point to what you want, sliding itacross to make things happen, and the output may now include photos, audio and video, but the concept isstill the same.
I carry my Ubuntu Linux LiveCD with me on every business trip. Combined with externally rewriteable media,such as a USB key, you can get work done even when you are in an airplane, and upload it whenyou are back on the net.
Back in Februray, my blog post [A Box Full of Floppies] mentioned that I uncovered some diskettes compressed with OS/2 Stacker. Jokingly, I suggested that I may have to stand up an OS/2 machine just to check out what is actually on those floppies. Each floppy contains only three files: README.STC, STACKER.EXE and a hidden STACKVOL.DSK file. The README.STC explains that the disk is compressed by Stacker, a program developed by [Stac Electronics, Inc.]. The STACKER.EXE would not run on Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7. The STACKVOL.DSK is just a huge binary file, like a ZIP file, compressed with [Lempel-Ziv-Stac] algorithm that combines Lempel-Ziv with Huffman coding.
In my follow-up post [Like Sands in an Hourglass], I explained how there are many ways I could have tackled this project. I could either use the Emulation approach and try to build an OS/2 guest image under a hypervisor like VMware, KVM or VirtualBox, or just take the Museum approach and try taking one of my half dozen old machines, wipe it clean and stand up OS/2 on it bare metal. This turned out to be more challenging than I expected. The systems I have that are modern and powerful enough to run hypervisors don't have floppy drives, so I opted for the Museum approach.
(A quick [history of OS/2] might be helpful. IBM and Microsoft jointly developed OS/2 back in 1985. By 1990, Microsoft decided it's own Windows operating system was more popular with the ladies, and decided to break off with IBM. In 1992, IBM release OS/2 version 2.0, touted as "a better DOS than DOS and a better Windows than Windows!" Both parties maintained ownership rights, Microsoft renamed OS/2 to Windows NT. The "NT" stood for New Technology, the basis for all of the enterprise-class Windows servers used today. IBM named its version of OS/2 version 3 and 4 "WARP", with the last version 4.52 released in 2001. In its heyday, OS/2 ran the majority of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), was used for hardware management consoles (HMC), and was used worldwide to run various Railway systems. After 2001, IBM encouraged people to transition from Windows or OS/2 over to Java and Linux. For those that can't or won't leave OS/2, IBM partnered with Serenity Systems to continue OS/2 under the brand [eComStation].)
Working with an IBM [ThinkCentre 8195-E2U Pentium 4 machine] with 640MB RAM and 80GB hard disk, a CD-rom and one 3.5-inch floppy drive, I first discovered that OS/2 is limited to very small amounts of hard disk. There are limits on [file systems and partition sizes] as well as the infamous [1024-cylinder limit] for bootable operating systems. Having a completely empty drive didn't work, as the size of the disk was too big. Carving out a big partition out of this also failed, as it exceeded the various limits. Each time, it felt the partition table was corrupted because the values were so huge. Even modern Disk Partitioning tools ([SysRescueCD] or [PartedMagic]) didn't work, as these create partitions not recognizable to OS/2.
The next obstacle I knew I would encounter would be device drivers. OS/2 comes as a set of three floppy diskettes and a CD-rom. The bootable installation disk was referred to affectionately as "Disk 0", then Disk 1, then Disk 2. Once all drivers have been loaded into memory, then it can start looking at the CDrom, and continue with the installation. In searching for updated drivers, I came across [Updated OS/2 Warp 4 Installation Diskettes] to address problems with newer display monitors. It also addresses the 8.4GB volume limit.
The updates were in the form of EXE files that only execute in a running DOS or OS/2 environment, expanded onto a floppy diskette. It seemed like [Catch-22], I need a working DOS or OS/2 system to run the update programs to create the diskettes, but need the diskettes to build a working system.
To get around this, I decided to take a "scaffolding" approach. Using DOS 6 bootable floppy, I was able to re-partition the drive with FDISK into two small 1.9GB partitions. I have the full five-floppy IBM DOS 6 set, I hid the first partition for OS/2, and install the DOS 6 GUI on the second partition. I went ahead and added a few new subdirectories: BOOT to hold Grub2, PERSONAL to hold the data I decompress from the floppies, and UTILS to hold additional utilities. This little DOS system worked, and I now have new OS/2 "Disk 1" and "Disk 2" for the installation process.
(If you don't have a full set of DOS installation diskettes, you can make due with "FORMAT C: /S" from a [DOS boot disk], and then just copy over all the files from the boot disk to your C: drive. You won't have a nice DOS GUI, but the command line prompt will be enough to proceed.)
Like DOS, OS/2 expects to be installed on the C: drive. I hid the second partition (DOS), and marked the first partition installable and bootable. The OS/2 installation involves a lot of reboots, and the hard drive is not natively bootable in the intermediate stages. This means having to boot from Disk 0, then putting in Disk 1, then disk 2, before continuing the next phase of the installation. I tried to keep the installation as "Plain Vanilla" as possible.
I had to figure out what to include, and what to exclude, and this involved a lot of trial and error. For example, one of the choices was for "external diskette support". Since I had an "internal diskette drive", I didn't think I needed it. But after a full install, I discovered that it would not read or write floppy diskettes, so it appears that I do indeed need this support.
OS/2 supports two different file systems, FAT16 and the High Performance File System (HPFS). Since my partition was only 1.9GB in size, I chose just to use FAT16. HPFS supported larger disk partitions, longer file names, and faster performance, none of which I need for these purposes.
I thought it would be nice to get TCP/IP networking to work with my Ethernet card. However, after many attempts, I decided against this. I needed to focus on my mission, which was to decompress floppy diskettes. It was amusing to see that OS/2 supported all kinds of networking, including Token Ring, System Management, Remote Access, Mobile Access Services, File and Print.
Once all the options are chosen, OS/2 installation then proceeds to unpack and copy all the programs to the C: drive. During this process, IBM had informational splash screens. Here's one that caught my eye, titled "IBM Means Three Things" that listed three reasons to partner with IBM:
Providing global solutions for a small planet
Creating and Applying advanced technologies to improve with which customers run their businesses
Constantly improving customer service with the products and services we provide
You might wonder how these OS/2 splash screens, written over 10 years ago, can appear almost identical to IBM's current [Smarter Planet] campaign. Actually, it is not that odd. IBM has been keeping to these same core principles since 1911, only the words to describe and promote these core values have changed.
To access both OS/2 and DOS partitions, I installed Grand Unified Bootloader [Grub2] on the DOS partition under C:/BOOT/GRUB directory. However, when I boot OS/2, I cannot see the DOS partition. And when I boot DOS, I cannot see the OS/2 partition. Each operating system thinks its C: drive is the only partition on the system.
Now that I had OS/2 running, I was then able to install Stacker from two floppy diskettes. With this installed, I can compress and decompress data on either the hard disk, or on floppy diskettes. Most of the files were flat text documents and digital photos. After copying the data off the compressed disks onto my hard drive, I now can copy them off to a safe place.
To finish this project, I installed Ubuntu Linux on the remaining 76GB of disk space, which can access both the OS/2 and DOS drives FAT16 file systems natively. This allows me to copy files from OS/2 to DOS or vice versa.
Now that I know what data types are on the diskettes, I determined that I could have decompressed the data in just a few steps:
Set up a DOS partition on C: drive
Insert one of the compressed diskettes into the floppy drive
Copy the STACKER.EXE program from the floppy to the C: drive
Run "STACKER A:" to decompress the floppy diskette
However, now that I have a working DOS and OS/2 system, I can possibly review the rest of my floppy diskettes, some of which may require running programs natively on OS/2 or DOS. This brings me to an important lesson. If you are going to keep archive data for long-term retention, you need to choose file formats that can be read by current operating systems and programs. Installing older operating systems and programs to access proprietary formats can be quite time-consuming, and may not always be possible or desirable.
Most businesses in Latin America would be considered "Small and Medium-size" businesses, which we shorten to SMB, but in some places is shortened to SME for "Small and Medium sized Enterprises." The problem with SME is that we often use this to refer to "subject-matter experts," so it can be confusing.
The problem with many acronyms is that in other countries, the letters are re-arranged, based on the syntax of the language.ISO is actually the International Organization for Standards.
Today, we learned about PYME. In Spanish, this stands for pequeñas y medianas empresas, which is literally "small" and "medium" businesses. Of course, most of my colleagues had not recognized PYME, and most of the people we talked to did not understand SMB. Once we equated one to the other, things went smoothly.
For those not familiar with Latin America, I suggest the movieRomancing The Stone, starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.
Alan was a leader in blogging about IBM Lotus technologies and was very helpfulto me over the past few years in deploying new Lotus technologies at the IBM TucsonExecutive Briefing Center. The Lotus team taught me how to use Second Life, using theLotusSphere 2007 build to demonstrate the various possibilities that we used to run IBM System Storage events last year.
Alan, I wish you the best of luck on your exciting new position!
Two European scientists, Albert Fert (France) and Peter Grunberg (Germany) have won the 2007 Nobel Prize for physics for their research into Giant Magnetoresistance, or GMR. GMR read/write heads are used in IBM disk systems.
New high-density dual-coated particulate magnetic tape: Developed by Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd., in Japan in collaboration with IBM Almaden researchers, this next-generation version of its NANOCUBIC™ tape uses a new barium-ferrite magnetic media that enables high-density data recording without using expensive metal sputtering or evaporation coating methods.
More sensitive read-write head: For the first time, magnetic tape technology employs the sensitive giant-magnetoresistive (GMR) head materials and structures used to sense very small magnetic fields in hard disk drives.
GMR servo reader: New GMR servo-reading elements, software and fast-and-precise positioning devices provides an active feedback system with unprecedented 0.35-micron accuracy in monitoring and positioning the read-write head over the 1.5-micron-wide residual data track.
Improved tape-handling features: Flangeless, grooved rollers permit smoother high-speed passage of the tape, which also enhances the ability of the head to write and read high-density data.
Innovative signal processing algorithms for the read data channel: An advanced read channel used new "noise-predictive, maximum-likelihood" (NPML) software developed at IBM's Zurich Research Laboratory to process the captured data faster and more accurately than would have been possible with existing methods.
IBM often leverages the research done in one part of its business over to other parts of its business. In this manner, advances in disk translate into advances in tape, keeping tape a viable medium for at least the next 8-10 years.
Actually, if the title confuses you, it is because it has a double meaning.
Meaning 1: IBM earned almost 100 Billion dollars (USD)
IBM's 2010 [earnings report is now available], for the full year 2010 and the fourth quarter. IBM had $99.9 Billion dollars (USD) in revenue, almost $100 Billion dollars that it had set out as a vision in the 1980s. IBM Storage contributed with 8 percent growth, not bad for a year Dave Barry considers [one of the worst years ever.].
IBM President and CEO Sam Palmisano granted me a chunk of IBM stock in appreciation of my efforts towards the 2010 success! Actually, he gave stock to a whole bunch of IBMers, not just me, and they all deserve it also. Woo hoo!
Meaning 2: IBM is almost 100 years old
That's right, this upcoming June 16, 2011, IBM turns 100 years old. This Centennial date also happens to be my 25th year anniversary working in IBM Storage, which IBM calls joining the Quarter Century Club, or QCC for short. So, I am looking forward to plenty of cake and fireworks on that day!
I am looking forward to a year-long celebration on both counts!
Am I dreaming? On his Storagezilla blog, fellow blogger Mark Twomey (EMC) brags about EMC's standard benchmark results, in his post titled [Love Life. Love CIFS.]. Here is my take:
A Full 180 degree reversal
For the past several years, EMC bloggers have argued, both in comments on this blog, and on their own blogs, that standard benchmarks are useless and should not be used to influence purchase decisions. While we all agree that "your mileage may vary", I find standard benchmarks are useful as part of an overall approach in comparing and selecting which vendors to work with, and which architectures or solution approaches to adopt, and which products or services to deploy. I am glad to see that EMC has finally joined the rest of the planet on this. I find it funny this reversal sounds a lot like their reversal from "Tape is Dead" to "What? We never said tape was dead!"
Impressive CIFS Results
The Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) has developed a series of NFS benchmarks, the latest, [SPECsfs2008] added support for CIFS. So, on the CIFS side, EMC's benchmarks compare favorably against previous CIFS tests from other vendors.
On the NFS side, however, EMC is still behind Avere, BlueArc, Exanet, and IBM/NetApp. For example, EMC's combination of Celerra gateways in front of V-Max disk systems resulted in 110,621 OPS with overall response time of 2.32 milliseconds. By comparison, the IBM N series N7900 (tested by NetApp under their own brand, FAS6080) was able to do 120,011 OPS with 1.95 msec response time.
Even though Sun invented the NFS protocol in the early 1980s, they take an EMC-like approach against standard benchmarks to measure it. Last year, fellow blogger Bryan Cantrill (Sun) gives his [Eulogy for a Benchmark]. I was going to make points about this, but fellow blogger Mike Eisler (NetApp) [already took care of it]. We can all learn from this. Companies that don't believe in standard benchmarks can either reverse course (as EMC has done), or continue their downhill decline until they are acquired by someone else.
(My condolences to those at Sun getting laid off. Those of you who hire on with IBM can get re-united with your former StorageTek buddies! Back then, StorageTek people left Sun in droves, knowing that Sun didn't understand the mainframe tape marketplace that StorageTek focused on. Likewise, many question how well Oracle will understand Sun's hardware business in servers and storage.)
What's in a Protocol?
Both CIFS and NFS have been around for decades, and comparisons can sometimes sound like religious debates. Traditionally, CIFS was used to share files between Windows systems, and NFS for Linux and UNIX platforms. However, Windows can also handle NFS, while Linux and UNIX systems can use CIFS. If you are using a recent level of VMware, you can use either NFS or CIFS as an alternative to Fibre Channel SAN to store your external disk VMDK files.
The Bigger Picture
There is a significant shift going on from traditional database repositories to unstructured file content. Today, as much as [80 percent of data is unstructured]. Shipments this year are expected to grow 60 percent for file-based storage, and only 15 percent for block-based storage. With the focus on private and public clouds, NAS solutions will be the battleground for 2010.
So, I am glad to see EMC starting to cite standard benchmarks. Hopefully, SPC-1 and SPC-2 benchmarks are forthcoming?
Last week's focus was on tape libraries, both virtual and real, leading up to our IBM announcement ofacquiring Diligent Technologies. I was focused on HDS blogger Hu Yoshida's post about his conversation with Mark,who was on an expert panel about these topics. Mark discovered that of the top energy consumersin his datacenter, his tape library was in the top five, a surprising result. Hu suggested that switching to a VTL with deduplicationtechnology was a potential alternative, and I pointed to a whitepaper from the Clipper Group that suggested otherwise.
My response was that perhaps Highmark's choice of backup software was poorly written, or that they had set it up with thewrong parameters, and just changing hardware might not be the right answer. I went too far given that I didn't know which software they had, which parameters theywere using, or which tape technology was involved. This came across wrong. I meant to poke fun at Hu's response.I did not mean to imply that Mark and his staff hadmade poor choices, or that they should automatically reject Hu's advice to consider other hardware alternatives.
I have discussed the situation with Mark, and agree that I should know his situation better before offeringsuggestions of my own.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and we had several announcements this month, so here is a quick recap.We had some things announce May 13, and then some more announcements today, but since I was busywith conferences, will combine them into one post for the entire month of May 2008.
This time, I thought I would go "audio" with a recording from Charlie Andrews, IBM director ofproduct marketing for IBM System Storage:
Well, its Tuesday, and that means more IBM announcements!!!
Let's do a quick recap of what was announced for storage:
We now support 1000GB SATA-II drives in the DS4000 series. This is available for the DS4200 model 7V, DS4700, DS4800 as well as the expansion drawers EXP420 and EX810. When I asked our marketing team why we weren't going to say "1TB" like everyone else, they thought 1000GB sounds bigger. I guess I should not have asked that on April Fool's day. For more details, see the IBM press releases for the [DS4200/EXP420and DS4700/DS4800/EXP810].
IBM announced new machine code Release 1.4a for the The IBM Virtualization Engine™ TS7700 virtual tape library for our System z mainframe customers.Various features come with this new level of machine code. See the IBM [Press Release] for more details.
Load balancing across the grid
Host control over the copy of logical volumes on a cluster by cluster basis
Option to gracefully remove an individual cluster from an existing grid
Initial-state reset for TS7700 database for cluster cleanup
Option to upgrade single-cache to dual-cache configuration
Also announced were updates to the 7214 model 1U2. Technically this is not in the IBM System Storage product line,but instead is designed specifically for our System p server line. This is a "media drawer" that allows you to havetape on one side, and optical on the other, in a single enclosure. IBM announced that you can now have DAT160 80GBdrives that is read-write compatible with DAT72 and DDS4 drives, and half-high LTO-4 drives that can read LTO-2 media, and is read-write compatible with LTO-3 media.Read the IBM [Press Release] for details.
Finally, if you are in the United States, Canada or the Carribean, there is a special discount promotionfor tape libraries purchased before June 20, 2008. This includes IBM TS3100, TS3200, TS3310 and TS3500 libraries.See the [Promotion Details] for eligibility.
IBM has added capability to the IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center for Replication. A quick review of the differentoptions for this component.
base Replication (uni-directional from primary to disaster site)
Two-site replication (bi-directional, including failover and failback)
Three-site replication (site awareness for all the copy sessions between all three sites in all situations)
Productivity Center for Replication supported all these levels for DS8000, DS6000 and ESS 800 disk models, butfor SVC it only supported FlashCopy and Metro Mirror for the uni-directional base. IBM announced version 3.4 today that has added support for SVC for Global Mirror (asynchronous disk mirroring) and bi-directional failover/failback. This supports lets you have "practice volumes" that allow IT managers to perform "disaster recovery exercises" without disrupting production workloads.
Also, for the DS8000, there is support for the new Space Efficient FlashCopy and DynamicVolume Expansion features. Here is the IBM
The Productivity Center for Replication server can run on either a Windows/Linux-x86 server or a z/OS mainframe server.The Productivity Center for Replication on System z offers all the same new support for SVC and DS8000, as well asincorporated Basic HyperSwap capability that I mentioned in my post last February[DS8000 Enhancements for the IBM System z10 EC].
Here are the IBM press releases for the TotalStorage Productivity Center for Replication on[Windows/Linux-x86and System z] servers.
I'm at a Business Partner conference today, discussing these announcements and other topics, so need to go back to those festivities.
Well it's Tuesday, which means its time to look at recent announcements.While I was on vacation last week, IBM made a lot of storage announcements October 23.Josh Krischer gives his summary on WikiBon [October 2007 Review].Austin Modine of the The Register went so far as to say that [IBM goes crazy with storage system updates].
IBM System Storage DS8000 series
This is "Release 3" software/microcode upgrades on our existing "Turbo" hardware.
IBM FlashCopy SE -- Here "SE" stands for Space Efficient. Rather than allocating a full 100% of the space for the FlashCopy destination, you can set aside just a fraction, and this will hold all the changed blocks, similar to whatIBM already offers on the DS4000 series.
Dynamic Volume Expansion -- In the past, if you needed more space for a LUN, you had to carve out a newer one elsewhere, and then copy the data over from the old to the new, leaving the old LUN around to be re-used or leftstranded. With this enhancement, you can just upgrade the LUN in place, making it bigger as needed, similar to whatIBM already offers on the DS4000 series and SAN Volume Controller. This applies to CKD volumes for the System zmainframe users out there as well.
Storage Pool Striping -- striping volumes across RAID ranks to eliminate or reduce hot-spots, and provide betterload balancing. Many used SAN Volume Controller in front of the DS8000 to do this, but now you can do it natively inthe DS8000 itself.
z/OS Global Mirror Multiple Reader -- for System z customers, "z/OS Global Mirror" is the new name for XRC. Thisenhancement improves the throughput of sending updates to the remote disaster recovery location.
DS Storage Manager enhancements, the element manager software has been enhanced, and is pre-installed on the new IBM System Storage Productivity Center, which I will talk about below.
Intermix of DS8000 machine types -- this is especially useful to allow new frames to have co-terminating warrantieswith the base units. In other words, as you expand your system, you can ensure that the entire chunk of iron runs outof warranty all at the same time, to simplify your decision making process to upgrade or contract for extended service.
One of the biggest complaints about IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center is that it is software that needs to beinstalled on its own server, and that this installation process can take a day or two. Why wait? Now you can havea hardware console that has the DS8000 Storage Manager software, SVC Admin Console software, and IBM TotalStorageProductivity Center "Basic Edition" pre-installed. Here are the key features.
Pre-installed and tested console
DS8000 R3 GUI integration
Cohabitation of SVC 4.2.1 GUI and CIMOM
Automated device discovery
Asset and capacity reporting, including tape library support
Our "Release 9" applies across the board, from N3000 to N5000 to N7000 series models, includingnew host bus adapters, and the new Data OnTAP 7.2.4 release level.
The Virtual File Manager (VFM) was announced as one of our latest [Storage Virtualization Solutions]. VFMprovides a global namespace that aggregates the file systems from Linux, UNIX, and Windows file servers, as well asN series storage, into a consolidated environment.
IBM's virtual tape library (VTL) for the distributed systems platform, has been enhanced to provide:
Up to 12TB of disk cache, using 750GB SATA disk.
F05 Tape Frames installed as TS7520 base units through a 32 port fibre channel switch
Support for LTO generation 4 tape drives, both as virtual tape drives and as physical tape drives within IBM automated tape libraries attached to the TS7520. This allows you to use Encryption capabilities of LTO4.
DS3000 series now supports SATA disk, and can be attached to AIX and Linux on System p servers. This appliesto the DS3200, DS3300 and DS3400 models.See the [DS3000 Announcement Letter] for more details.
Well, it is Tuesday, and that means IBM announcements. This week many of my colleagues are attending Storage Networking World [SNW] conference. Normally, the most exciting announcements are reserved for the weeks these conferences are held, but IBM apparently made an exception this week.
New Factory configurations for XIV
The first announcement is for new [factory configurations] for the IBM XIV disk system. In the past, you could only order a partial 6-module or a full 15-module rack. Today, IBM announced that there will also be 9-, 10-, 11-, 12-, 13- and 14-module configurations orderable as well.
Some FUD out in the blogosphere led some to believe that these partial configurations had to be made full 15 modules within 12 months. That is false. You can order any of these partial rack configurations and leave them as is until you need more capacity. There is no obligation to buy more capacity with these partial rack configurations.
IBM N series N6060 configurations
This second announcement indicates that the N6060 supports[672 drives]. The N6060 is the latest midrange model of IBM N series unified storage.
If you are asking "What is a 672 drive?" don't feel stupid. It actuallyrefers to the number of external drives that can be attached to the N6060. Previously, it was mis-reported that the N6060 could support as many as 840 drives, but this was not correct, and this announcement is to fixthat typo.
IBM Passport Advantage Sub-Capacity Licensing
This last announcement today relates to IBM Passport Advantage[sub-capacity licensing].Pricing products is always a challenge. You want to come up with a pricing methodology such that people who get the most use pay the most, and those who get less pay less, in a manner that everyone thinks is fair. With commodities, it is simple to price rice by the pound, or fabric by the yard, but what about IT solutions?
Some of the IBM software is based on number of processors used, so that people who have the software running on multiple machines, or machines with multiple cores, should pay more because they are getting more value. This makes sense if this software is the only thing running on that server, but today you can also have server virtualization and are running many guest operating systems, each with different applications. The solution is to use "sub-capacity" licensing. If you have a quad-core processor server, but have four guest operating systems using 25 percent of this, then each OS should only pay for one processor's worth of licensing. Since different processors have different clock speeds, IBM has standardized the calculations to a mythical "Processor Value Unit" or PVU, with a corresponding IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT).
Initially, this will cover specific versions of Citrix Xen Server, Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware, but IBM has made as a "statement of direction" that it will extend this sub-capacity licensing and ILMT support to IBM PowerVM capability for its POWER systems.
I have often heard clients complain that their third party software vendor does not support these hypervisors. Sometimes, this means the third party vendor will not fix or provide assistance if the problem occurs in this environment, and other times, it is that the pricing does not favor this environment, you get charged for all the processors, even if your slice of the processor is much smaller.
If you are at SNW this week, stop by and say "Hi" to my fellow IBM collegues for me.
The proof-of-concept that IBM Haifa research center developed back in 1998 became what we now call the iSCSI protocol.The book iSCSI: The Universal Storage Connection introduces the history as follows:
In the fall of 1999 IBM and Cisco met to discuss the possibility of combining their SCSI-over-TCP/IP efforts. After Cisco saw IBM's demonstration of SCSI over TCP/IP, the two companies agreed to develop a proposal that would be taken to the IETF for standardization.
There are three ways to introduce iSCSI into your data center:
Through a gateway, like the IBM System Storage N series gateway, that allows iSCSI-based servers connect to FC-based storage devices
Through a SAN switch or director, a FC-based server can access iSCSI-based storage, an iSCSI-based server accessing FC-based storage, or even iSCSI-based servers attaching to iSCSI-based storage.
Directly through the storage controller.
IBM has been delivering the first method with its successful IBM System Storage N series gateway products, buttoday we have announced additional support for the second and third methods.Here's a quick recap.
New SAN director blades
Supporting the second method, IBM TotalStorage SAN256B Director is enhanced to deliver iSCSI functionality with a new M48 iSCSI Blade, which includes 16 ports (8 Fibre Channel ports; and 8 Ethernet ports for iSCSI connectivity). We also announced a new Fibre Channel M48 Blade which provides 10 Gbps Fibre Channel Inter Switch Link (ISL) connectivity between SAN256B Directors.
With support for Boot-over-iSCSI, diskless rack-optimized and blade servers can boot Windows or Linux over Ethernet,eliminating the management hassles with internal disk.
All of this is part of IBM's overall push into the Small and Medium size Business marketplace, making it easier to shop for and buy from IBM and its many IBM Business Partners, easier to deploy and install storage, and easier tomanage the storage once you have it.