I am saddened to learn that one of my favorite comedians, [George Carlin
],passed away yesterday. He was famous for a skit about "seven words" you could not say on Television.A few of those came to mind in the response I got from my post[Yes, Jon,There is a mainframe that can help replace 1500 x86 servers
, which attempted to provide an answerto a simple question about the IBM System z10 Enterprise Class (EC) mainframe.
Jon: So, where is the 1500 number coming from?
Tony: I’ll investigate and get back to you.
My post tried to explain how IBM estimated that number. However, my fellow blogger from Sun, Jeff Savit, posted on his blog [No, there isn't a Santa Claus] in response. (If Sun'sshareholders are expecting anything other than a [lump of coal] under the tree this year, they should probablyread Sun's press release about their last [financial results].)A few others contacted me about this also, from a bunch of rather different angles, from reverse-engineering emulation of other company's chipsets to my use of internal codenames. (There are now MORE than seven words I can't type in this blog!) Jon is just trying to gather information, but his [head hurts] from all of this debate.
This week I will try to clarify some of the confusion.
technorati tags: George Carlin, Jon Toigo, DrunkenData, IBM, z10, Jeff Savit, Sun, quarterly loss, lump of coal
Last week, I covered backup issues in [Deduplicationversus Best Practice for Backups
]. This week, I thought I would cover issues with email.
At IBM, our standard is to have a limit of 200MB per user mailbox. A few of us get exceptions and have up to500MB limit because of the work we do. By comparison, my personal Gmail account is now up to 6500MB. Whenthis limit is exceeded, you are unable to send out any mail until it is brought down below the limit, and a request to be "re-enabled for send" is approved, a situation we call "mail jail".
The biggest culprit are attachments. Only 10 percent of emails have attachments, but those that do take up 90percent of the total space! People attach a 15MB presentation or document, and copy the world ondistribution list. Everyone saves their notes with these attachments, and soon, the limits are blown. Not surprisingly, deduplication has been cited as a "killer app" to address email storage, exactly for this reason.If all the users have their mailboxes all stored on the same deduplication storage device, it might find theseduplicate blocks, and manage to reduce the space consumed.
A better practice would be to avoid this in the first place. Here are the techniques I use instead:
- Point to the document in a database
We are heavy users of Lotus Notes databases. These can be encrypted and controlled with Access Control Lists (ACL)that determine who can create or read documents in each database. Annually, all the database ACLs are validatedso that people can confirm that they continue to have a need-to-know for the documents in each database. Sendinga confidential document as a "document link" to a database entry takes only a few bytes, and all the recipientsthat are already on the ACL have access to that document.
- Point to the document on a web page
If the document is available on an internal or external website, just send the URL instead of attaching the file.Again, this takes only a few bytes. We have websites accessible only to all internal employees, websites thatcan be accessed only by a subset of employees with special permissions and credentials based on their job role, and websites that are accessible to our IBM Business Partners.
In my case, if I happen to have a blog posting that answers a question or helps illustrate an idea, I will sendthe "permalink" URL of that blog post in my email.
- Point to the document on shared NAS file system
Internally, IBM uses a "Global Storage Architecture" (GSA) based on IBM's Scale-Out File Services [SoFS] with everyone getting initially 10GB of disk space to store files, with the option to request more if needed. The system has policy-based support for placing and migrating older data to tape to reduce actual disk usage, and combines a clustered file system with a global name space.
My SoFS space is now up to 25GB, and I store a lot of presentationsand whitepapers that are useful to others. A URL with "ftp://" or "http://" is all you need to point to a filein this manner, and greatly reduces the need for attachments. I can map my space as "Drive X:" on my Windows system,or as a NFS mount point on my Linux system, which allows me to easily drag files back and forth.
Departments that don't need to offer "worldwide access" use NAS boxes instead, such as the IBM System Storage N series.
Pointing to files in a shared space, rather than as attachments in email, may take some getting used to. I've hada few recipients send me requests such as "can you send that as an attachment (not a URL)" because they plan toread it on the airplane or train, where they won't have online connectivity.
This all relates to new ways for employees to collaborate. Shawn from Anecdote writes in the post[Fostering a Collaboration Culture]:
"Have you invested in the latest and greatest in collaboration technology but still feel people are still not collaborating? How many Microsoft Sharepoint servers and IBM Quickplaces remain relatively untouched or only used by the organization's technorati? I think it's a big problem because this narrow view of collaboration starts to get the concept a bad name: "yeah, we did collaboration but no one used it." And then there the issue of the vast amount of money wasted and opportunities lost. We can't afford to loose faith in collaboration because the external environment is moving in a direction that mandates we collaborate. The problems we face now and into the future will only increase in complexity and it will require teams of people within and across organizations to solve them."
Well, sending pointers instead of attachments works for me, and has kept me out of "mail jail" for quite some timenow.
technorati tags: IBM, deduplication, email, mailbox, Gmail, attachment, Lotus, Notes, database, URL, Permalink, GSA, NAS, SoFS, disk, Anecdote
Have you signed up for the [IBM Edge2014] conference yet? This is IBM's premiere conference on System Storage and related products, to be held in Las Vegas, NV, May 19-23. I plan to be there!
technorati tags: IBM, Edge, Edge2014, Sheryl Crow
Can Structured Query Language [SQL] be considered a storage protocol?
Several months ago, I was asked to review a book on SQL, titled appropriately enough "The Complete Idiot's Guide to SQL", by Steven Holzner, Ph.D. As a published author myself, I get a lot of these requests, and I agreed in this case, given that SQL was invented by IBM, and is a good fundamental skill to have for Business Analytics and Database Management.
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM but was not part of the SQL development team. I was provided a copy of this book for free to review it. I was not paid to mention this book, nor told what to write. I do not know the author personally nor anyone that works for his publicist. All of my opinions of the book in this blog post are my own.)
Despite an agreed-upon standard for SQL, each relational database management system (RDBMS) has decided to customize it for their own purposes. First, SQL can be quite wordy, so some RDBMS have made certain keywords optional. Second, RDBMS offer extra features by adding keywords or programming language extentions, options or parameters above and beyond what the SQL standard calls for. Third, the SQL standard has changed over the years, and some RDBMS have opted to keep some backward compatibility with their prior releases. Fourth, some RDBMS want to discourage people from easily porting code from one RDBMS to another, known in the industry as vendor lock-in.
Throughout my career, I have managed various databases, including Informix, DB2, MySQL, and Microsoft SQL Server, so I am quite familiar with the differences in SQL and the problems and implications that arise.
Most authors who want to write about SQL typically make a choice between (a) stick to the SQL standard, and expect the reader to customize the examples to their particular DBMS; or (b) stick to a single RDBMS implemenation, and offer examples that may not work on other RDBMS.
I found the book "The Complete Idiot's Guide to SQL" covered the basics quite well, but with an odd twist. The basics include creating databases and tables, defining columns, inserting and deleting rows, updating fields, and performing queries or joins. The odd twist is that Steven does not make the typical choice above, but rather shows how the various DBMS are different than standard SQL syntax, with actual working examples for different RDBMS.
You might be thinking to yourself that only an idiot would work in a place that had to require knowledge of multiple RDBMS. The sad truth is that most of the medium and large companies I speak to have two or more in production. This is either through acquisitions, or in some cases, individual business units or departments implementing their own via the [Shadow IT].
(For those who want to learn SQL and try out the examples in this book, IBM offers a free version of DB2 called [DB2-C Express] that runs on Windows, Linux, Mac OS, and Solaris.)
Last week, while I was in Russia for the [Edge Comes to You] event, I was interviewed by a journalist from [Storage News] on various topics. One question stuck me as strange. He asked why I did not mention IBM's acquisition of Netezza in my keynote session about storage. I had to explain that Netezza was not in the IBM System Storage product line, it is in a different group, under Business Analytics, where it belongs.
While it is true that Netezza can store data, because it has storage components inside, the same could also be said about nearly every other piece of IT equipment, from servers with internal disk, to digital cameras, smart phones and portable music players. They can all be considered storage devices, but doing so would undermine what differentiates them from one another.
Which brings me back to my original question: Should we consider SQL to be a storage protocol? For the longest time, IT folks only considered block-based interfaces as storage protocols, then we added file-based interfaces like CIFS and NFS, and we also have object-based interfaces, such as IBM's Object Access Method (OAM) and the System Storage Archive Manager (SSAM) API. Could SQL interfaces be the next storage protocol?
Let me know what you think on this. Leave a comment below.
technorati tags: IBM, SQL
The movie industry is slowly making the conversion to digital.
For about 25 years, movies were silent, actors acted, text was shown on the screen, and an organ or piano player added the musical score. My mother was a concert pianist, so I grew up listening to all kinds of piano music. Last weekend, while I was in Chicago for St. Patricks Day, we watched and listened to the dueling pianos at a bar called "Howl at the Moon". Those not familiar with this art form can watch this 1-minute video of Star Wars re-imagined as a Silent Movie.
About 80 years ago, "talkies" appeared. The sound was converted to a series of colors that were recorded as a separate strip on the film media itself, hence the name "soundtrack". When the movie ran, the colors would then be converted back to voice and music. While the live piano players were out of jobs, the move to sound created a whole new industry for foley artists, orchestras and composers.InformationWeek's Mitch Wagner explains in Something Will Be Lost thatgreat artists like Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford never completely made the transition to talkies.
Now the movie industry is changing again, this time from film to digital format. Thanks to digital, we can now see videos on the internet, such as this set of Impressive Palindromes parody of a Bob Dylan song.
While movies are digital when you rent them from the DVD store, download them on iTunes, or play them on YouTube, they are still mostly in analog format on 35mm or 70mm film stock when you see them on the big screen.
My first "digital projection" experience was the movie "Ice Age" shown in Denver, Colorado. The theatre owner came out to show us what film stock looks like, and then how small the DVD was that held the digital version. The theatre also showed previews of other movies first on film, then in digital, so that we could see the difference in quality.My second experience was "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (episode II)", which I saw opening night at the Ziegfeld theatre in New York City. This was a huge theatre, and we had front row seats in the upper balcony.
Of course, the transition of film stock to digital projection is just one of the many trends resulting in the fast growth of computer IT storage. Documents transitioned from paper, to being scanned into digital format, to being created digitally using word processing software. Likewise, photographs went from film, to being scanned, to being captured with digital cameras.
As with talkies, history repeats itself; the transition to digital projection is not going smoothly.NPR's Laura Sydell reports thatDigital Projection in Theaters Slowed by Dispute. The dispute is between movie production companies and theatre owners. Currently, it is quite expensive to send out film stock to all the theatres, so the transition to digital will save the movie production companies lots of money. On the other hand, installing digital projection equipment will be costly for theatre owners. How the two groups will share the burdensome costs to convert this infrastructure is still under negotiation.
As a fan of going to the movies, I hope they resolve this dispute soon.
technorati tags: IBM, silent movie, Chicago, Star Wars, piano, talkies, foley artists, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, DVD, iTunes, NPR, digital projection, theatre, Mitch Wagner, Laura Sydell
I was in Raleigh this week, in business meetings, and had dinner last night at a Japanese Tepanyaki restaurant. The man next to me was dining alone, and said he worked for Cisco, a big company, "Had you heard of it?" he asked. Of course, I told him, I work for IBM, and IBM and Cisco have a strong working relationship, using each others products in both directions. He said he understood why they would use IBM, but why would IBM buy anything from them, and then he said, "Oh yes, your cafeteria".
At this point we realized he was talking about SYSCO, the food company, not Cisco, the storage networking technology partner. We both had a good laugh.
Which brings me to think of other "mis-heard" or "mis-interpreted" items that might have caught people off guard because they sounded similarly.
- zFS versus ZFS
Some things are case-sensitive. Lower case zFS is the hierarchical file system for the z/OS mainframe environment, which was originally called "episode" file system that IBM acquired from TransArc. z/OS supports two file systems, HFS and zFS. Meanwhile, ZFS is one of the file systems available for Sun Solaris. Apple Mac OS is switching from its own HFS, different than the z/OS version, over the Sun's ZFS.
- packs versus PACS
Older mainframers call disk volumes "packs". This started in the days where disks were "removable" and you can pack and unpack them into the drive unit.
PACS on the other hand refers to the "Picture Archive and Communication System" application environment used by hospitals and medical facilities to storage and share X-ray, Cardiology and Radiology images. Today, modern medical equipment are called "modalities" and directly connect to NAS storage via NFS or CIFS protocols. The images are immediately digitized and sent to disk, then tape, for long-term archive storage. IBM's Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS) is designed specifically for this environment.
- rack versus RAC
Perhaps my favorite was when someone asked a high-level executive at a conference if their storage product supported Oracle RAC, and the response was that it supported anyone's rack, so long as it met the 19 inch standard. Everyone burst out laughing, and he probably had to be explained what was going on afterward.
Oracle RAC refers to Real Application Cluster, allowing multiple Oracle servers to work together as a system. A "rack" is just the powered shelf, typically 19" wide, and typically 25U or 42U tall, that allows modular servers, storage or network gear be placed together in a data center. A "U" is 1.75 inches, the thickness of a "two-by-four" piece of lumber. If you have ever used a 3.5 inch or 5.25 inch floppy diskette, then you already know the 2U and 3U sizes.
I am sure there are many other examples of similar sounding terms and phrases. If you have any to contribute, post a comment below!
technorati tags: IBM, Sysco, Cisco, zFS, Transarc, episode, Sun, Solaris, Apple, Mac, OSX, HFS, rack, Oracle, RAC, 25U, 42U, floppy, diskette, pack, PACS, X-ray, cardiology, radiology, modality
Happy [Cinco De Mayo
I had a great weekend, participating in this year's ["World Laughter Day"] yesterday, and preparingfor tonight's festivities, found me pulling out the various packages from "Simply Dinners" from my freezer.
A Tucson-based company, [Simply Dinners] offers an alternative to restaurant eating.My sister went there, assembled a set of freezer-proof plastic bags containingall the right ingredients based on specific recipes, and gave them to me for my birthday, and they have been sitting in my freezer ever since... until last weekend.
My sister was careful to choose items that fit my [Paleolithic Diet] that my nutritionist has me on. However, I was skepticalthat any plastic bag full of frozen groceries would be any better than anything I could assemble on my own.I did, after all, attend "chef school" and do know how to cook well. Each package was intended to be a "dinner for two" but since I am single, was two meals each for me.
So, I decided to try them out, which would also give me more room in my freezer for incoming items, and theycame out very well. The outside of each plastic bag was a label that explained all the steps required to heatthe food. Partially-cooked vegetables were wrapped in foil, and went in for the last 10 minutes of cooking the meat.The process was straightforward, and the meals were delicious, but nothing I could not have done on my own witha recipe and a trip to the grocery store.
The question is whether someone with little or no skills could achieve similar, or acceptable results. I havefriends who are limited to assembling sandwiches from luncheon meats and cheese slices, as anything involvingheat other than simply boiling water is beyond their skills.
What does this have to do with storage? Blogger Taylor Allis from Sun Microsystems has a few posts[Sun is on to something - Open Storage and An Easier Storage Platform - OpenSolaris"] that explain Sun's recent press release[Sun Microsystems Extends World's First Open Storage Platform with New Services and Tools in OpenSolaris Operating System].
The key difference between "cooking for yourself" and "building your own storage" is that you aren't buildingstorage for just yourself. Unless you are a one-person SMB company, you are building storage that all of youremployees and managers count on to do their jobs, and by extension your customers and stockholders count on.
Of course I had to read responses from others before jumping in with my thoughts.Dave Raffo from Storage Soup writes [Sun going down in storage],feeling this is yet another indication that Sun has lost their mind, recounting previous events that supportthat theory.EMC blogger Mark Twomey in his StorageZilla posts [When Open Isn't] felt a littlebit guilty kicking a competitor when down. EMC blogger Chuck Hollis questions the reasons peoplemight be tempted to even try this in his post [Do-it-Yourself Storage]. Here'san excerpt:
I really, really struggle with this concept, I do. Here's why:
Anything I use and get comfortable with -- well, I'm "locked in" to a certain degree. If I use a lot of storage software X; well, I'm sorta locked in, aren't I? Or, if I put my servers-as-storage on a three-year lease, I'm kind of locked in, aren't I?"
(For EMC, vendor lock-in is great when customers are using and comfortable with EMC products, and awful when they use andare comfortable with storage from someone else. But nobody who is "comfortable" with what they have ever complain about"vendor lock-in" do they? It's the ones who are growing uncomfortable and feel trapped in changing. Howinvolved a company's use of EMC's proprietary interfaces are can greatly determine the obstacles in switching toa different vendor.Of course, if you count yourself as someone growing uncomfortable with your existing storage vendor, IBM can help you fix that problem, but that is a subject for another post.)
Worried about "vendor lock-in"? Try "admin lock-in" where you must keep a storage admin around because he or shewas the one that put your storage together. I've seen several companies held hostage by their system adminsfor home-grown scripts that serve as "duct tape for the enterprise".The other issue is whether you have storage admins who have the necessary hardware and software engineering skillsto put suitable storage together. There are some very smart storage admins I know who could, and others that wouldhave a difficult time with this.
No doubt this is promising for the home office. I myself have taken several PCs that were running older versions of Windows,but not powerful enough to upgrade to Windows Vista, wiped them clean, loaded Linux, and configured them from everythingfrom simple browser workstations to full LAMP application server configurations. While this might sound easy, I am a professional hardwareand software engineer with Linux skills.I have no doubt that someone with sufficient engineering and Solaris skills could put together a storage system for home use.
One area where Sun definitely benefits from this "Open Storage" approach is to develop Solaris skills. I have no personal experience with OpenSolaris, but assume that if you learn it, you would be able to switch overto full Solaris quite easily.Today, most people have Windows, Linux and/or MacOS skills coming into the workforce, and this could be Sun's way of getting new fresh faces who understand Solaris commands to replace retiring "baby boomers". The lack of Solaris-knowledgeable admins is perhaps one reason why companies are switching to IBM AIX, Linux or Windows in theirdata center.
Certainly, IBM's strategic choice to support Linuxhas been a great success. People learn Linux on their home systems, and at school, and are able to carry those skillsto Linux running on everything from the smallest IBM blade server to IBM's biggest mainframe.
The videos on Sun for the "recipes" on how to put together various "storage configurations in ten minutes" appear simplerthan last summer's "How to hack an Apple iPhone to switch away from AT&T" procedures.
technorati tags: Cinco De Mayo, World Laughter Day, Simply Dinners, Paleolithic, diet, Taylor Allis, OpenSolaris, Solaris, open storage, Dave Raffo, Mark Twomey, Chuck Hollis, EMC, Sun, Linux, Windows, MacOS, mainframe, blade, recipes, hack, Apple, iPhone, AT&T
The smart people at the University of Pittsburgh
manage five campuses and over 33,000 students, andneeded to create an enterprise storage solution that would give it three key benefits. Of course, they turnedto IBM, the number one overall storage hardware vendor, to deliver.
- A new storage infrastructure with the capacity to grow with the University of Pittsburgh as needed
- Improved system reliability with reduced downtime, and availability 24/7/365
- A significantly more manageable storage solution that could lower costs and provide better system efficiency through virtualization
As a result, IBM shipped its 25,000th high-end disk storage system, in this case two IBM System Storage DS8300 models, along with storage virtualization, and other related hardware, software and services, to provide a complete end-to-end solution.
Here is what Jinx Walton, Director of Computing Services and Systems Development at the University of Pittsburgh, had to say about it...
"The University of Pittsburgh supports large enterprise systems, and the number and complexity of new systems continue to grow. To effectively manage these systems it was necessary to identify an enterprise storage solution that would leverage our existing investments in storage, make allocation of storage flexible and responsive to project needs, provide centralized management, and offer the reliability and stability we require. The integrated IBM storage solution met these requirements"
You can read the details in the official IBM press release.
technorati tags: IBM, University, Pittsburgh, DS8300, Jinx Walton, SVC, SAN Volume Controller, services, Productivity Center, software
Well, I'm here in San Diego for Storage Networking World (SNW) conference
If you're in San Diego, stop by and visit me at the IBM booth. Here is my schedule:
5:40pm - 8:40pm
12:15pm - 2:00pm
4:00pm - 7:00pm
technorati tags: IBM, Storage, Networking, World, SNW, SNW07, SNW2007, booth, Tony Pearson
|Next week is the Spring 2009 Storage Networking World [SNW].In the category of "Innovation and Promise", there are three finalists for the "Best Practices Award":|
- Activision Publishing, Inc., Santa Monica, California
- Argus Information & Advisory Systems, White Plains, New York
- CIGNA - Health Insurance, Windsor, Connecticut
The awards will be announced on Tuesday, April 7th at the event during the General Session:
10:00-10:15 am "Best Practices in Storage" Awards Program
Of course, I'll be rooting for the one above that used IBM's XIV disk storage system to reduce their energy consumption, improve their utilization, and simplify their management.
technorati tags: IBM, SNW, SNW2009, Innovation Promise, Best Practices, Activision, Argus, CIGNA
Well, it is Halloween
back in the USA. I am in Seoul Korea this week, so it is already Thursday, November 1st here, but thought I would comment on Colin Barker's piece in ZDnet
titled[SNW offers the frights
].The article starts out with an oversimplification:
The storage industry is enjoying a boom currently thanks to the requirement for IT managers to keep everything. With the possibility of being sued any time by any company for no good reason at all, everyone is keeping everything, or at least all their data. Result? Loads and loads more kit being bought to the benefit of EMC, IBM, HP and every other supplier with any kind of storage product.
While its true that IBM System Storage grew yet again in 3Q07, exceeding our own internal business model, I would not call this an overall "boom" for the storage industry. While companies are growing in "TB capacity" by 30-50%, this translates only to single digit growth in terms of "Dollar revenues". This is because we continue to make storage with declining dollar-per-GB.
One should not confuse what people do with what people are required to do. I am not a lawyer, but most regulations pertaining to storage of information state that certain records need to be kept for a set amount of time, either a fixed period of years, or based on some event. For example, broker/dealers need to keep emails of their clients for six years after the client closes their brokerage account. After those six years, the records can be destroyed.
Unfortunately, many IT managers look at the laws and come up with the simplest solution: keep everything forever. While this might meet the regulators audit requirements, it does expose their employer to subpoenas for data that should have been deleted, and may not be very cost-effective.
The alternative for many IT managers involves having to leave their comfort zone, and talk to their legal counsel, the lines of business, and try to classify their data, determine a set of policies, and inact some forms of enforcement. This is perhaps the "scary" part of the storage of information, it has grown outside the walls of IT, forcing IT managers to interact with the rest of the business to get their jobs done.
Compliance is the only game in town and that is most certainly where the money is.
Anytime an analyst tells you that something is the "only game in town", they are usually wrong. In this case, IBM has had great success in other areas that are not compliance-related. For example, digital video surveillance (DVS) is being used not only to help reduce shoplifting, but also to help identify patterns in customers perusing through aisles and window-shopping. Identifying what people are interested in has proven effective in moving product displays around to better attract buyers and motivate them to make purchases.
Take, the keynote from Andy Monshaw, general manager of IBM storage, and thus a man who is very much in a position to know. He spent his allotted 30 minutes, or whatever, listing all the security, compliance, threats and related issues that are currently making the jobs of most IT manager a cause for concern. Now, there is an argument that suggests that it is absolutely the right thing to do to frighten IT managers into sorting out their issues. They need shaking up say some. Especially analysts.
I helped develop the content of Andy's SNW presentation, working with his speech writers and graphic artists to make a consistent and coherent message fit in the 25 minutes he was given. The challenge with SNW is that we needed to make this presentation applicable across the entire storage industry, without sounding like an infomercial for IBM offerings.
Some people have compared the storage to the "insurance industry", claiming that backups, remote disk mirroring, continuous data protection and other storage related features are costs that can be compared to insurance you pay to protect your home, business, and other assets. You hope you never have to use it, and complain how much it costs, but when bad things happen, you hope it is the best money can buy.
Unlike Y2K, which was a one-time event that had a specific date of occurrence, the threats and risks mentioned by Andy in his presentation may never happen at all, or in other cases, may happen more than once, without knowing when or where. For the sake of your shareholders, and your stakeholders, it is best to be prepared for these possibilities.
The counter argument says that IT companies just smell the money.
Is this a counter argument? Can IBM not both help customers mitigate their risks, and at the same time, turn a profit? Trust me, you do not want to do business with any storage vendor that is not interested in making a profit. The better ones have incorporated addressing client's most pressing challenges into their strategy. I gave a quick summary of IBM's strategy last August in [Day 1 Storage Symposium].
Helping our clients mitigate risks is just one of IBM's core strengths. If you want to learn more, contact your local IBM Business Partner or storage rep.
technorati tags: Colin Barker, ZDnet, Halloween, compliance, 3Q07, growth, Andy Monshaw, insurance, policy, backup, remote, disk mirroring, continuous data protection, strategy, profit, revenues
I survived my first day at SNW Spring 2007
.This is my first time at SNW, but it is very much like many of the other conferences I have been to.It officially started Monday morning with pre-conferencetutorials and primer break-outsessions that covered storage fundamentals, but I didn't arrive until late Monday night due to highwind conditions at the Phoenix airport that delayed my travel.
Tuesday started out with main tent sessions. Ron Milton, VP of ComputerWorld that puts on this conference,and Vincent Franceschini, Chairman of the Board for SNIA, kicked off the event.It didn't take them long to get into the alphabet soup: ILM, ITIL, SMI-S, XAM, IMA, MMA, DDF,MF, DMF, IPSF, SSIF, and SRM.Several hundred people had "voting devices" so that they could participate in "informal" surveys.
Q1. What was the greatest need?
- 37% Storage Resource Management (SRM) tools
- 19% Storage Virtualization
- 19% Information Lifecycle Management (ILM)
- 14% Integration with other management tools
- 11% Compliance storage for regulations
Q2. What are people doing to address storage infrastructure complexity?
- 33% Deploying new SRM and SAN management tools
- 26% Adopting "Storage as a Service" methodology
- 22% Deploying new storage virtualization technologies
- 8% Hiring more staff
- 9% (complexity was not an issue)
The first keynote speaker was Cora Carmody, CIO of SAIC. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I did a lot of work with SAIC here in San Diego, and so IBM sent me to San Diego quite frequentlyfor face-to-face meetings with them. Her talk was cryptically titled "Jumbo Shrimp, InformationManagement, and the Mark of the Beast." Coming up with good titles is important. Some of herkey points:
- "Information management" was as much an oxymoron as "jumbo shrimp" or "military intelligence".(SAIC is a general contractor for the US Military, so this was especially funny).
- Computer data needs both "ownership" and "stewardship".
- Gartner analyst reports that 50% of digital information for a business resides in personal files onindividual PCs.
- PAN-StaRRs project is ingesting 10TB per week of astronomical data.
- TeraTEXT(R) project is a non-relational database that supports a large mix of structured and unstructured content.
- The next "Y2K" crisis for the USA is changing from 3-digit to 4-digit area codes for our telephone numbers.
- Battery size and life have not advanced as fast as we need
- There has been little progress in "User Interface" ease of use
- Formats and standards are picked for the most part by the winning vendors, and it is the silence of themarketplace that lets them get away with this.
- We are overly reliant on an inherently insecure medium.
- The "mark of the beast" refers to exciting new technologies based on "presence awareness". For example,some hotels now are able to check you into the hotel as you drive up in your car, based on your car's licenseplate. Some 24-hour gyms use your fingerprint as your entry credentials, eliminating the need to staff peopleat the front desk.
IBM's own Barry Rudolph, presented "Storage in an Age of Inconvenient Truths", dressed up like Oscar-winner andformer USA Vice President Al Gore. Barry's focus was on the growingconcern of over environmental Power and Cooling issues in the data center. According to IDC, the cost of power and cooling an individual server, over its lifetime, now exceeds its acquisition cost. Storage devices are not as bad as servers in this regard. Data centers now consume 1.2% of the worlds energy.
Over lunch, I heard Tony Asaro from ESG present "The Need for Highly Virtualized Storage Systems withina Virtualized Data Center." His concern is that there is still a "heavy touch" required to manage storage.Without virtualization, your data center is less than the sum of its parts. Although IBM has been doingstorage virtualization since 1974, Tony mentioned that most storage vendors were "late to the party".He argues that "internal virtualization" inside storage arrays is not enough, you need "external virtualization"(like the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller) to virtualize your entire infrastructure.What storage administrators would like is for storage to have consumer levels of "ease of use", and today'snon-virtualized storage environments are nowhere near that.
"The great advantage [the telephone] possesses over every other form of electrical apparatus consists in the fact that it requires no skill to operate the instrument."
- Alexander Graham Bell, 1878
I attended a few break-out sessions in the afternoon.
- Ralph Wescott, Pacific Northwest National Library
Ralph presented "Crisis of Capacity" which covered the drastic actions he had to take to handle power and coolingin their expanding data center during their summer months, where temperatures peak up to 105 degrees. This included creating "hot" and "cold" aisles onhis raised floor by re-organizing the perforated floor tiles, and doing a better job standardizing how cables areconnected to the back of racks and up through the ceiling to maximize airflow. An amp-meter on each power strip was used to measure the powerused at each rack, which allowed them to better prioritize their efforts. Their Air Conditioning unit was only 12inches from the concrete floor, and raising it to 18 inches greatly reduced noise and vibration. Adding a second AC unit made a world of difference. Finally, they eliminatedKVMs, because people who use KVMs break other parts of thedata center. His rule of thumb: the cooling requirements will be 50% of the rated power requirements for equipment.
- Terry Yoshi, Intel internal IT department, as a member of the SNIA's end user council
Terry presented "Taming the SAN Complexity". The problem with "complexity" as a concept is that it is very subjective, difficult to quantify, and therefore difficult to manage. He presented complexity in four areas:Organizational structure of the company as a whole; skill sets required of the IT staff; business process andprocedures; and technology. Dealing with complexity is a battle between Old School (because we've always doneit this way) and New School (because it is new and different technology). Storage Area Networks are inherentlya "shared resource", and the increased complexity is a direct result of the low reliability of the componentsand devices it is composed of. People should focus on the "Total Cost of Ownership" (TCO) for a SAN, and not just the initial acquisitionprice of SAN gear.He was not a fan of the "dual/multiple" vendor strategy that many companies employto reduce costs. His suggestion that things should be tried out first on your "test SAN" caused some chuckles,as few have such a thing. Finally, he suggested not only documenting "Best Practices" and "Best Known Methods"but also things that have been found not to work, his do-not-try-this-at-home list.
- Tony Antony, Cisco marketing manager for Optical products
This was an overview of the technologies available for long distance connections for disaster recovery,business continuity, and resilience. He covered three levels.
His rule of thumb: one buffer credit for every kilometer at 2Gbps speed (for every 2km at 1Gbps).
- IP - Fibre Channel of IP (FCIP) offers the greatest "global" distance but forces people into asynchronous mirroring.
- SONET/SDH - SONET is what we call it in the USA, and SDH is what it is called in other countries. This provides state-to-state or "out-of-region" distances, which is ideal to meet certain government regulations for homeland defense. He suggests this is offered when dark fiber or DWDM is not available.
- DWDM/CWDM - this is using a prism to run multiple colors of light through a single fiber optic cable. CWDM ischeaper, but only handles 8 signals per cable. DWDM can handle 32 to 160 signals per cable, but is more expensive.
The day ended at the "Expo". I hung out at the IBM booth to help answer questions and network with others.
technorati tags: IBM, SNW, Ron Milton, ComputerWorld, Vincent Franceschini, SNIA, SAIC, Barry Rudolph, Al Gore, Inconvenient Truth, presence awareness, Tony Asaro, ESG, Alexander Graham Bell, Ralph Wescott, Pacific Northwest National Library, Terry+Yoshi, Intel
Continuing my coverage of SNW Spring 2007, Ron and Vincent kicked off Wednesday main tent sessions with more survey questions:
Q1. How secure is your storage network?
- 7% Bulletproof
- 27% Redundant, 100% able to withstand physical failures
- 28% Able to withstand hackers, but not physical failures
- 37% Weak on both fronts
Q2. What was the cause of most downtime in last 12 months?
- 1% Natural disasters
- 13% Network outages
- 14% Server failures
- 9% Telecom provider outage
- 22% IT resource upgrades
- 33% Human error
Thornton May, futurist and columnist for ComputerWorld, presented "Storage 3.0: What Comes After, What Comes Next."I have seen several "futurists" present at conferences like this. They all feel the need to explain what their job is, and what it takes to be one. This time, Thornton indicated he was "ridiculously well-travelled, amazingly well-connected, pathologically observant, and brutally honest." His insights:
- At current rates, in 15 years every molecule on earth will have its own IP address.
- "What's NOT good enough changes." -- Clayton Christensen
- "I am going to hire a lot of lawyers." -- Google
- Storage should be treated as "discounted benefits".
Gabriel Broner, General Manager of the newly created "Storage Solutions" division of Microsoft, presented "The Drive to Unified Storage". The people sitting around me asked "What does Microsoft have to do with storage?" He defined "Unified Storage" the way we use it for IBM Sytstem Storage N series "a storage unit that provides both file and block level protocol support." Microsoft is using "e-mail" as the model for data access, identifying the need to have "off-line" copies on your PC or laptop that are synced up with "on-line" sources. Features that were typically only available for high-end applications are now being made available to the masses, like "Volume Snapshot" capability in Windows Vista. On the home front, Microsoft recognizes that typically one person acts as the "IT manager" for the family.
Their survey of storage spend of Fortune 1000 companies. It was not clear if this was for Windows environments, or how the data was collected. These numbers don't match what we hear from our UNIX or mainframe customers.
- 57% hardware
- 23% software
- 7% services
- 13% staff/other
Microsoft is implementing application changes, such as Office 2007, to simplify storage issues. Storage virtualization is the key for the future, he says, stating that Microsoft's "iSCSI target" software support makes files look like block-oriented volumes. Virtualization is now mainstream, and deploying software on standard hardware is the new storage business model. The end goal is to simplify provisioning, device and resource management, without reducing functionality, narrowing the gap between general IT tasks and specific storage tasks.
Craig Lau, NBC Olympic coverage, presented their success story. Look at the number of "hours" of TV Olympic coverage over the years:
- 1996 Atlanta -- 175 hours
- 2000 Sydney -- 441 hours
- 2004 Athens -- 1210 hours
NBC now is able to deliver 70 hours of TV programs per day, shown across their seven channels (NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, Brave, USA Network, Telemundo, and HD-tv). The Olympics in Torino, Italy generated 25,000 tapes in 17 days. Their 100,000 tape Olympic repository is starting to deteriorate, and they need to consider conversion to digital format. Their challenge was that footage was difficult to find and producers needed immediate access to time sensitive/critical content.
Their solution was Digital Asset Management, automating indexing and logging, using an IP-based workflows that reduces the number of people at the Olympics location, and allowing content to be sent back to USA for remote editing.The facilities at Torino involved:
- 2850 people, most hired just the week prior to the Olympic event
- 250TB of disk storage
- 28000 monitors
- 135 High-Definition cameras
- 212 Video Tape Recorders
- 4000 hours of content on 1700 tapes
NBC is frustrated by the lack of compatability and interoperability in the video format industry. They have been testing MPEG-1 (1.5 Mbps) formats, and plan to deploy a new system using 1080i for the upcoming 2008 Olympics in Beijing. With the new system, they can index footage by athlete, by event, and by human emotional reaction. They can review and edit footage within 30-45 seconds of live coverage, allowing rough edits to be documented as "Edit Decision Lists" that can be e-mailed or put on USB key for others to review.
Although I missed Anil Gupta's "Blogger Event" on Monday, several bloggers did stop by to visit me at the IBMbooth.
Robin Harris, Tony Pearson, Clark Hodge
Robin Harris writes StorageMojo, and Clark Hodge writesStorageSwitched!.
The evening finished off with a Gala Dinner, with an award ceremony for Best Practices.Here were the "Honorees":
- Innovation & Promise: Northeast Delta Dental
- Maximizing ROI: Cingular Wireless
- Planning, Designing and Building a Strategic Storage Infrastructure: Shinhan Bank (Korea)
- Storage Reliability and Data Recovery: New York-Presbyterian Hospital
- Systems Implementation: two-way tie between CERN and Standford University
The dinner was finished with Greg Schwem
, a comedian focused on corporate humor.
technorati tags: IBM, SNW, ComputerWorld, SNIA, Microsoft, NBC, Olympics, Robin Harris, Clark Hodge, Greg Schwem, comedy, humor
SNW wrapped up Thursday. As is often the case, a lot of people have left already.
I saw two presentations worth discussing here in this blog.
- Angus MacDonald, CEO of Mathon Systems,presented "Litigation Readiness: How prepared are you for the demands of eDiscovery?"
The process of eDiscovery is to take a large volume of data and get the small bits of relevance, as it relatesto a case, investigation or litigation. In 2004, there were 64 billion emails per day, and this is expected to be 103 billion by 2008. There are growing concerns about the "spoliation" of evidence, which I thought was a typo,until I looked it up. He encouraged everyone to check out the Electronic Discovery Reference Model, which is trying to standardize the wayIT and legal communication with each other.
The problem is often miscommunication over semantics and terminology. For example, in eDiscovery, the term"production" describes the delivery of relevant documents to a judge or opposing party. This may involve printingthem out on paper, delivering them electronically in their original format, or converting to a more standardelectronic format like Adobe PDF. The judge or opposing party reserves the right to request how they want thedocuments produced. Of course, in any format other than the original format, authenticity needs to be affirmed.
He gave two example lawsuits related to this.
- In Zubulake v. UBS Warburg, Zubulake was awarded $29 million because UBS stored old emails on backup tapes, rather than an archiving system, and could not locate seven of these backup tapes. This is not the first time I have seen some IT department, or some legal department, think that keeping backups of email repositories for many years is the same as keeping an "archive".
- In Coleman Holdings v. Morgan Stanley, Coleman was awarded $1.45 billion because the judge felt that Morgan Stanley failed to do proper eDiscovery. This was after they tried to reconstruct their email system from 5000 old backup tapes.
Angus suggests identifying the types of documents most often requested, and start planning from there.In an interesting twist, the CEO/CFO/CIO might go to jail if the IT department doesn't do something correctly, so perhaps IT managers will now get the respect/funding/technology they need to get the job done.
- Bruce Kornfeld, Compellent Technologies, presented "Building Systems that Scale: Imagining the one Petabyte per Admin management ratio."
Bruce did a good job staying generic, and not mentioning his company's products too much. Specifically, Compellentmakes a frame similar to what IBM used to call the "SAN Integration Server". Back in 2003, IBM introduced the SAN Volume Controller, which had no disk, and the "SAN Integration Server" which had controller + disk. What IBM learned was that customers prefer the diskless model, minimizing the amount of disk that has to be purchased from the original vendor, and instead opting to have the freedom to choose any vendor they like for the managed capacity.
An interesting feature of the Compellent solution is that they chop up the virtual disk into 2MB pieces, and allow these pieces to be moved automatically from high-speed (FC) to low-speed (SATA) disk, based on their reference frequency. This is similar to HSM, but at the block level, rather than the file level.
Every advantage Bruce listed for his box already exists from IBM: improved capacity planning, improved performance, ease of data migration, flexible volumes, and a single pane of glass GUI administration tool.
Perhaps more interesting were the questions from the audience:
- Q1. Do you have any customers that have 1PB of your solution? No, we have several in the 200-500TB range.
- Q2. You only have a single two-node cluster, can we have more clusters? No, that is all we support, but if you need that you would have to go to one of the major storage vendors (like IBM).
- Q3. Do we have to buy Compellent storage to go with the Compellent controllers? Yes, it is designed so it is an integrated solution. If you need to virtualize your existing storage, you have to go to one of the major storage vendors (like IBM).
- Q4. Having data migrate automatically from FC to SATA behind the scenes lowers performance and raises the risk of disk failure? Our box is designed for inactive data, so performance is not an issue.
- Q5. How do you protect against double-disk failures? We don't, and these would be even more detrimental to our solution than traditional solutions. Other vendors offer RAID6, but we don't have that yet.
It was a fun week, and good to see people I have communicated with, but never met in person.
technorati tags: IBM, Litigation, Readiness, eDiscovery, spoliation, Angus MacDonald, Matheon Systems, Bruce Kornfeld, Compellent, RAID6, SAN Volume Controller
A client complained that their tape drives were not compressing data as well as it used to. Investigating further reminded me of a scene from the 1970's television show "All in the family"
, summarized well inAmerican Scientist
... in one episode of All in the Family, Archie Bunker's son-in-law, Mike, watches Archie put on his shoes and socks. Mike goes into a conniption when Archie puts the sock and shoe completely on one foot first, tying a bow to complete the action, while the other foot remains bare. To Mike, if I remember correctly, the right way to put on shoes and socks is first to put a sock on each foot and only then put the shoes on over them, and only in the same order as the socks. In an ironic development in his character, the politically liberal Mike shows himself to be intolerant of differences in how people do common little things, unaccepting of the fact that there is more than one way to skin a cat or put on one's shoes.
Both agreed that socks go first, then shoes, but the actual deployment was different.
In the case of this customer, a recent change was the use of "encryption" before the data reached the tape drive. In regards to compression and encryption, you should always compress first, then encrypt. Compression algorithms rely on frequency of data, for example the letter "E" appears more often in the English language than the letter "Z". However, once you encrypt data, those data patterns are randomized, and any attempt to compress the data afterwards is wasted effort.
With IBM tape encryption on either the TS1120 or LTO4 tape drives, we compress, then encrypt, the data when it arrives to the tape drive, so that the compression has some chance of getting up to 3:1 reduction. This compress-then-encrypt process can be done at the host as well, either from the application software or feature of the operating system.
So, just as the case between Archie Bunker and his son-in-law, there are many ways to deploy compression and encryption, just make sure you do them in the right order to get the most benefit.
technorati tags: IBM, tape, storage, encryption, TS1120, LTO4, Archie Bunker, meathead, socks, shoes