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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor, Senior IT Architect and Event Content Manager for [IBM Systems for IBM Systems Technical University] events. With over 30 years with IBM Systems, Tony is frequent traveler, speaking to clients at events throughout the world.
Lloyd Dean is an IBM Senior Certified Executive IT Architect in Infrastructure Architecture. Lloyd has held numerous senior technical roles at IBM during his 19 plus years at IBM. Lloyd most recently has been leading efforts across the Communication/CSI Market as a senior Storage Solution Architect/CTS covering the Kansas City territory. In prior years Lloyd supported the industry accounts as a Storage Solution architect and prior to that as a Storage Software Solutions specialist during his time in the ATS organization.
Lloyd currently supports North America storage sales teams in his Storage Software Solution Architecture SME role in the Washington Systems Center team. His current focus is with IBM Cloud Private and he will be delivering and supporting sessions at Think2019, and Storage Technical University on the Value of IBM storage in this high value IBM solution a part of the IBM Cloud strategy. Lloyd maintains a Subject Matter Expert status across the IBM Spectrum Storage Software solutions. You can follow Lloyd on Twitter @ldean0558 and LinkedIn Lloyd Dean.
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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.
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.
IBM has launched a new blog, focused on making [a smarter planet]. In my post,[The New Year in Six Words], Idiscussed the part of Sam Palmisano's speech that mentioned a small $30 Billion investmentcould result in 950,000 new jobs. For those who wondered how IBM arrived to that figure,here are two posts:
This week, IBM celebrates its Centennial, 100 years since its incorporation on June 16, 1911.
A few months ago, the Tucson Executive Briefing Center ordered its latest IBM System Storage [DS8800] to be on display for demos. This was manufactured in Vác, Hungary (about an hour north of Budapest), and was going to be shipped over to the United States.
However, Sam Palmisano, IBM Chairman and CEO, was in Hannover, Germany for the [CeBIT conference] and wanted this DS8800 to be re-directed to Germany first for this event. He was kind enough to sign it for us. Brian Truskowski, IBM General Manager for Storage, and Rod Adkins, IBM Senior Vice President for IBM Systems Technolgoy Group (and my fifth-line manager), also signed this as well!
I am pleased to say this "signed" DS8000 has arrived to Tucson. This is the latest model in a family of market-leading high-end enterprise-class disk systems designed to attach to all computers, including System z mainframes, POWER systems running AIX and IBM i, as well as servers running HP-UX, Solaris, Linux or Windows.
For more on IBM's other innovations over the past 100 years, check out the [Icons of Progress], which includes these storage innovations:
With all the announcements we had in June, it is easy for some of the more subtle enhancements to get overlooked. While I was at Orlando for the IBM Edge conference, I was able to blog about some of the key featured announcements. Then, later, when I got back from Orlando to Tucson, I was able to then blog about [More IBM Storage Announcements]. For IBM's Scale-Out Network Attach Storage (SONAS), I had simply:
"SONAS v1.3.2 adds support for management by the newly announced IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v5.1 release. Also, IBM now officially supports Gateway configurations that have the storage nodes connected to XIV or Storwize V7000 disk systems. These gateway configurations offer new flexible choices and options for our ever-expanding set of clients."
In my defense, IBM numbers its software releasees with version.release.modification, so 1.3.2 is Version 1, Release 3, Modification 2. Generally, modification announcements don't get much attention. The big announcement for v1.3.0 of SONAS happened last October, see my blog post [October 2011 Announcements - Part I] or
the nice summary post [IBM Scale-out Network Attached Storage 1.3.0] from fellow blogger Roger Luethy.
Here is a diagram showing the three configurations of SONAS.
I have covered the SONAS Appliance model in depth in previous blogs, with options for fast and slow disk speeds, choice of RAID protection levels, a collection of enterprise-class software features provided at no additional charge, and interfaces to support a variety of third party backup and anti-virus checking software.
The basics haven't changed. The SONAS appliance consists of 2 to 32 interface nodes, 2 to 60 storage nodes, and up to 7,200 disk drives. The maximum configuration takes up 17 frames and holds 21.6PB of raw disk capacity, which is about 17PB usable space when RAID6 is configured. An interface nodes has one or two hex-core processors with up to 144GB of RAM to offer up to 3.5GB/sec performance each. This makes IBM SONAS the fastest performing and most scalable disk system in IBM's System Storage product line.
I thought I would go a bit deeper on the gateway models. These models support up to ten storage nodes, organized in pairs. The key difference is that instead of internal disk controllers, the storage nodes connect to external disk systems. There is enough space in the base SONAS rack to hold up to six interface nodes, or you can add a second rack if you need more interface nodes for increased performance.
SONAS with XIV gateway
XIV offers a clever approach to storage that allows for incredibly fast access to data on relatively slow 7200 RPM drives. By scattering data across all drives and taking advantage of parallel processing, rebuild times for a failed 3TB drive are less than 75 minutes. Compare that to typical rebuild times for 3TB drives that could take as much as 9-10 hours under active I/O loads!
In the configuration, each pair of storage nodes can connect to external SAN Fabric switches that then connect to one or two XIV storage systems. How simple is that? These can be the original XIV systems that support 1TB and 2TB drives, or the new XIV Gen3 systems that support 400GB Solid-state drives (SSD) and 3TB spinning disk drives. In both cases, you can acquire additional storage capacity as little as 12 drives at a time (one XIV module holds 12 drives).
The maximum configuration of ten XIV boxes could hold 1,800 drives. At 3TB drive per drive, that would be 2.4PB usable capacity.
The SONAS with XIV gateway does not require the XIV devices to be dedicated for SONAS purposes. Rather, you can assign some XIV storage space for the SONAS, and the rest is available for other servers. In this manner, SONAS just looks like another set of Linux-based servers to the XIV storage system. This in effect gives you "Unified Storage", with a full complement of NAS protocols from the SONAS side (NFS, CIFS, FTP, HTTPS, SCP) as well as block-based protocols directly from the XIV (FCP, iSCSI).
SONAS with Storwize V7000 gateway
The other gateway offering is the SONAS with Storwize V7000. Like the SONAS with XIV gateway model, you connect a pair of SONAS storage nodes to 1 or 2 Storwize V7000 disk systems. However, you do not need a SAN Fabric switch in between. You can instead connect the SONAS storage nodes directly to the Storwize V7000 control enclosures.
To acquire additional storage capacity, you can purchase a single drive at a time. That's right. Not 12 drives, or 60 drives, at a time, but one at a time. The Storwize V7000 supports a wide range of SSD, SAS and NL-SAS drives at different sizes, speeds and capacities. The drives can be configured into various RAID protection levels: RAID 0, 1, 3, 5, 6 and 10.
Each Storwize V7000 control enclosure can have up to nine expansion drawers. If you choose the 2.5-inch 24-bay models, you can have up to 480 drives per storage node pair, for a total of 2,400 drives. If you choose the 3.5-inch 12-bay models, you can have up to 240 drives per node pair, 1,200 drives total. At 3TB per drive, this could be 3.6PB of raw capacity. The usable PB would depend on which RAID level you selected. Of course, you don't have to limit yourself all to one size or the other. Feel free to mix 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drawers to provide different storage pool capabilities.
All three SONAS configurations support Active Cloud Engine. This is a collection of features that differentiate SONAS from the other scale-out NAS wannabees in the marketplace:
Policy-driven Data Placement -- Different files can be directed to different storage pools. You no longer have to associate certain file systems to certain storage technologies.
High-speed Scan Engine -- SONAS can scan 10 million files per minute, per node. These scans can be used to drive data migration, backups, expirations, or replications, for example. It is over 100 times faster than traditional walk-the-directory-tree approaches employed by other NAS solutions.
Policy-driven Migration -- You can migrate files from one storage pool to another, based on age, days since last reference, size, and other criteria. The files can be moved from disk to disk, or move out of SONAS and stored on external media, such as tape or a virtual tape library. A lot of data stored on NAS systems is dormant, with little or no likelihood of being looked at again. Why waste money keeping that kind of data on expensive disk? With SONAS, you can move those files to tape can save lots of money. The files are stubbed in the SONAS file system, so that an access request to a file will automatically trigger a recall to fetch the data from tape back to the SONAS system.
Policy-driven Expiration -- SONAS can help you keep your system clean, by helping you decide what files should be deleted. This is especially useful for things like logs and traces that tend to just hang around until some deletes them manually.
WAN Caching -- This allows one SONAS to act as a "Cloud Storage Gateway" for another SONAS at a remote location connected by Wide Area Network (WAN). Let's say your main data center has a large SONAS repository of files, and a small branch office has a smaller SONAS. This allows all locations to have a "Global" view of the all the interconnected SONAS systems, with a high-speed user experience for local LAN-based access to the most recent and frequently used files.
If you want to learn more, see the [IBM SONAS landing page]. Next week, I will be across the Pacific Ocean in [Taipei], to teach IBM Top Gun class to sales reps and IBM Business Partners. "Selling SONAS" will be one of the topics I will be covering!
In the 2004 comedy ["A Day Without a Mexican"], the director envisions how disruptive life would be in California if all the Mexicans suddenly disappeared. The point is that sometimes you take things in the background for granted.
I was reminded of this when I saw Mark Underwood's blog post [Mainframe: Still Not Crazy After All These Years]. The article reminds us how critical IBM z Systems mainframes (and related storage like the IBM DS8880 disk systems) are in our lives. Here's an excerpt:
"Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway started buying up IBM stock in 2011 and bought still more of IBM later. Despite its disappointing short-term valuation, Berkshire Hathaway is standing by its IBM investment, which is one of Berkshire's top four plays. ... To make this case, some statistics may be needed:
The z13 can withstand an 8.0 earthquake.
z Systems enjoy the highest standardized security certification (FIPS 140-2, highest level 4 of 4).
23 of the world's top 25 retailers use a mainframe.
92 of the top 100 banks are mainframe users.
All 10 of the top 10 insurers have commitments in mainframe technologies.
Around 80 percent of all corporate data is managed by mainframes.
The z13 can process 2.5 billion transactions daily (that's 100 [Cyber Mondays], as IBM's Mark Anzani, VP of z Systems Strategy, Resilience and Ecosystems, observed)."
... In fact, and notwithstanding perceptions to the contrary, the mainframe's center-stage position in large corporations around the world has not budged. That's the conclusion of an industry survey sponsored by Syncsort Inc. and conducted in 2015 by Enterprise Systems Media, a publisher of magazines for IT managers and technical professionals. Seven out of 10 respondents (IT planners, architects and managers at global enterprises with $1 billion or more in annual revenues) ranked the use of the mainframe for large-scale transaction processing as very important."
What would a comparable film depicting "A Day without a Mainframe" be like? I would imagine it somewhere between a disaster movie like  and an end-of-the-world zombie horror movie like [28 Days Later]. I would gladly take a million dollars to write the screenplay!
(FCC Disclosure: I work for IBM and am a filmmaker as well. Earlier in my career, I was chief architect of IBM's Data Facility Storage Management Subsystem (DFSMS) which manages around 80 percent of the world's corporate data. This blog post can be considered a "paid celebrity endorsement" for IBM's z13 System mainframes and DS8880 Disk Systems. I have personal experience with both and highly recommend them. I am neither a Mexican nor resident of California, but work regularly with both in my job responsibilities. Like Warren Buffett, I also own stock in both IBM and Berkshire Hathaway companies. I had no involvement in the making of any of the major motion pictures mentioned in this blog post, have no financial interest in their distribution, and have not been provided any compensation for mentioning them in this blog post. They are all great movies worth watching!)
What do you think the movie would be like? Enter your comments below!
IBM's emphasis on "Information Infrastructure" is to help organizations get the right information, to the right people at the right time. This helps them to have the right insights, make the right decisions, and develop the right innovations needed for the challenges at hand.
As the planet got smaller and flatter, IBM led the way. Now, as the planet needs to get smarter--with more efficient health care, energy distribution, financial institutions, and IT infrastructures--IBM will once again take the lead.
A lot of people ask me about IBM branding, as we have recently changed brands. In the past we had two separate brands, one for servers (eServer) and one for storage (TotalStorage). These would be fine if we wanted to promote their independence, but customers today want synergy between servers and storage, they want systems that work well together.
Last year, in response to market feedback, we crated a new brand, "IBM Systems" and put all the server and storage product lines under one roof. Over time, we will transition from TotalStorage to System Storage naming. This will occur with new products, and major versions of existing products.
Two other phrases you will hear in the names of our offerings are "Virtualization Engine" and "Express". These are portfolio identifiers. The Virtualization Engine identifier was created to emphasize our leadership in system virtualization, and we have products that span product lines with this identifier.
The Express identifier was created to emphasize our focus on Small and Medium sized business (SMB). It spans not just servers and storage, but across other offerings from other IBM divisions.
Of course, just renaming products and services isn't enough. Systems don't work together just because they have similar names, are covered in similar "Apple white" plastic, or have similar black bezels. Obviously, thoughtful and collaborative design are needed, with the appropriate amounts of engineering and testing. IBM is aligning its server and storage development so that the IBM Systems brand keeps its promise.
The weather has warmed up here in Tucson so I started my Spring Cleaning early this year and unearthed from my garage a [Bankers Box] full of floppy diskettes.
IBM invented the floppy disk back in 1971, and continued to make improvements and enhancements through the 1980s and 1990s. It will be one of the many inventions celebrated as part of IBM's Centennial (100-year) anniversary. Here is an example [T-shirt]
IBM needed a way to send out small updates and patches for microcode of devices out in client locations. IBM had drives that could write information, and sent out "read-only" drives to the customer locations to receive these updates. These were flexible plastic circles with a magnetic coating, and placed inside a square paper sleeve. Imagine a floppy disk the size of a piece of standard paper. The 8-inch floppy fit conveniently in a manila envelope, sendable by standard mail, and could hold nearly 80KB of data.
I've been using floppies for the past thirty years. Here's some of my fondest memories:
While still in high school, my friend Franz Kurath and I formed "Pearson Kurath Systems", a software development firm. We wrote computer programs to run on UNIX and Personal Computers for small businesses here in Tucson. Whenever we developed a clever piece of code, a subroutine or procedure, we would save it on a floppy disk and re-use it for our next project. We wrote in the BASIC language, and our databases were simple Comma-Separated-Variable (CSV) flat files.
The 5.25-inch floppies we used could hold 360KB, and were flexible like the 8-inch models. Later versions of these 5.25-inch floppies would be able to hold as much as 1.2MB of data. We would convert single-sided floppies into double-sided ones by cutting out a notch in the outer sleeve. Covering up the notches would mark them as read-only.
The 3.5-inch floppies were introduced with a hard plastic shell, with the selling point that you can slap on a mailing label and postage and send it "as is" without the need for a separate envelope. These new 3.5-inch floppies would carry "HD" for high density 720KB, and double-sided versions could hold 1.44MB of data. The term "diskette" was used to associate these new floppies with [hard-shelled tape cassettes]. Sliding a plastic tab would allow floppies to be marked "read-only". IBM has the patent on this clever invention.
Continuing our computer programming business in college, Franz and I took out a bank loan to buy our first Personal Computer, for over $5000 dollars USD. Until then, we had to use equipment belonging to each client. The banks we went to didn't understand why we needed a computer, and suggested we just track our expenses on traditional green-and-white ledger paper. Back then, peronsal computers were for balancing your checkbook, playing games and organizing your collection of cooking recipies. But for us, it was a production machine. A computer with both 5.25-inch and 3.5-inch drives could copy files from one format to another as needed. The boost in productivity paid for itself within months.
Apple launched its Macintosh computer in 1984, with a built-in 3.5-inch disk drive as standard equipment. Here is a YouTube video of an [astronaut ejecting a floppy disk] from an Apple computer in space.
In my senior year at the University of Arizona, my roommate Dave had borrowed my backpack to hold his lunch for a bike ride. He thought he had taken everything out, but forgot to remove my 3.5-inch floppy diskette containing files for my senior project. By the time he got back, the diskette was covered in banana pulp. I was able to rescue my data by cracking open the plastic outer shell, cleaning the flexible magnetic media in soapy water, placing it back into the plastic shell of a second diskette, and then copied the data off to a third diskette.
After graduating from college, Franz and I went our separate ways. I went to work for IBM, and Franz went to work for [Chiat/Day], the advertising agency famous for the 1984 Macintosh commercial. We still keep in touch through Facebook.
At IBM, I was given a 3270 terminal to do my job, and would not be assigned a personal computer until years later. Once I had a personal computer at home and at work, the floppy diskette became my "briefcase". I could download a file or document at work, take it home, work on it til the wee hours of the morning, and then come back the next morning with the updated effort.
To help prepare me for client visits and public speaking at conferences, IBM loaned me out to local schools to teach. This included teaching Computer Science 101 at Pima Community College. When asked by a student whether to use "disc" or "disk", I wrote a big letter "C" on the left side of the chalkboard, and a big letter "K" on the right side. If it is round, I told the students while pointing at the letter "C", like a CD-ROM or DVD, use "disc". If it has corners, pointing to corners of the letter "K", like a floppy diskette or hard disk drive, use "disk".
On one of my business trips to visit a client, we discovered the client had experienced a problem that we had just recently fixed. Normally, this would have meant cutting a Program Trouble Fix (PTF) to a 3480 tape cartridge at an IBM facility, and send it to the client by mail. Unwilling to wait, I offered to download the PTF onto a floppy diskette on my laptop, upload it from a PC connected to their systems, and apply it there. This involved a bit of REXX programming to deal with the differences between ASCII and EBCDIC character sets, but it worked, and a few hours later they were able to confirm the fix worked.
In 1998, Apple would signal the begining of the end of the floppy disk era, announcing their latest "iMac" would not come with an internal built-in floppy drive. David Adams has a great article on this titled [The iMac and the Floppy Drive: A Conspiracy Theory]. You can get external floppy drives that connect via USB, so not having an internal drive is no longer a big deal.
While teaching a Top Gun class to a mix of software and hardware sales reps, one of the students asked what a "U" was. He had noticed "2U" and "3U" next to various products and wondered what that was referring to. The "U" represents the [standard unit of measure for height of IT equipment in standard racks]. To help them visualize, I explained that a 5.25-inch floppy disk was "3U" in size, and a 3.5-inch floppy diskette was "2U". Thus, a "U" is 1.75 inches, the thinnest dimension on a two-by-four piece of lumber. Servers that were only 1U tall would be referred to as "pizza boxes" for having similar dimensions.
Every year, right around November or so, my friends and family bring me their old computers for me to wipe clean. Either I would re-load them with the latest Ubuntu Linux so that their kids could use it for homework, or I would donate it to charity. Last November, I got a computer that could not boot from a CD-ROM, forcing me to build a bootable floppy. This gave me a chance to check out the various 1-disk and 2-disk versions of Linux and other rescue disks. I also have a 3-disk set of floppies for booting OS/2 in command line mode.
So while this unexpected box of nostalgia derailed my efforts to clean out my garage this weekend, it did inspire me to try to get some of the old files off them and onto my PC hard drive. I have already retrieved some low-res photographs, some emails I sent out, and trip reports I wrote. While floppy diskettes were notorious for being unreliable, and this box of floppies has been in the heat and cold for many Arizonan summers and winters, I am amazed that I was able to read the data off most of them so far, all the way back to data written in 1989. While the data is readable, in most cases I can't render it into useful information. This brings up a few valuable lessons:
Backups are not Archives
Some of the files are in proprietary formats, such as my backups for TurboTax software. I would need a PC running a correct level of Windows operating system, and that particular software, just to restore the data. TurboTax shipped new software every year, and I don't know how forward or backward-compatible each new release was.
Another set of floppies are labeled as being in "FDBACK" format. I have no idea what these are. Each floppy has just two files, "backup.001" and "control.001", for example.
Backups are intended solely to protect against unexpected loss from broken hardware or corrupted data. If you plan to keep data as archives for long-term retention, use archive formats that will last a long time, so that you can make sense of them later.
Operating System Compatibility
Windows 7 and all of my favorite flavors of Linux are able to recognize the standard "FAT" file system that nearly all of my floppies are written in. Sadly, I have some files that were compressed under OS/2 operating system using software called "Stacker". I may have to stand up an OS/2 machine just to check out what is actually on those floppies.
You can't judge a book by its cover
Floppies were a convenient form of data interchange. Sometimes, I reused commercially-labeled floppies to hold personal files. So, just because a floppy says "America On-Line (AOL) version 2.5 Installation", I can't just toss it away. It might actually contain something else entirely. This means I need to mount each floppy to check on its actual contents.
So what will I do with the floppies I can't read, can't write, and can't format? I think I will convert them into a [retro set of coasters], to protect my new living room furniture from hot and cold beverages.
"Do you know what I do?" Mr. Mondavi recalls Mr. Gallo asked him when they first met. "Yes, you run the largest winery in the country," recalls Mr. Mondavi, then in his mid-20s. "No," Ernest corrected him. "I go out and visit customers in stores."
Robert Smith (aka Radio Voom) reports on National Public Radio that Second Life is now being used for campaigning for political candidates. It used to be that political candidates took trains and buses across the country, meeting people, discussing their issues, and getting a feel for what is going on in the hearts and minds of their potential voters. With the development of TV and Radio, candidates traveled less, hoping to get their word out to people who would listen to them. Using Second Life and other social networking tools brings candidates back to having conversations with the people they hope to represent.
Of course, many of these candidates are old, and are learning internet social networking skills for the first time. John McCain, my senator from Arizona, is running for President at 70 years old! It's true that old dogs CAN learn new tricks.
IBM is investing heavily into Second Life, as are many other forward-thinking companies, to explore the age-old human need for connectedness, community and dialog. I've asked my team to all get their avatars up and running in Second Life. Granted there is a bit of a learning curve, but everybody handles change in different ways, some better than others.
"Knowledge is the antidote to fear." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Why are most of these guys (and girls) with over a billion US dollars in net worth still working? Perhaps because they embrace new ideas, and are on the thrill seeking side of humanity. I guess I am too. I'll be thrill-seeking in Chicago this weekend, celebrating St. Patrick's day.
This month (September, 2006) marks our 50th anniversary of the disk system. The first disk system was the 350 Disk Storage Unit, designed to attach to the IBM 305 RAMAC mainframe computer, both introduced to the world in September, 1956.
It's September, and many students are going back to school. A friend had asked me for advice to give his son as he enters high school. Here were my thoughts.
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM. I have not received any compensation from any third parties for the products or services mentioned in this post.)
I highly endorse David Allen's book [Getting Things Done]. Trying to remember all of the homework, tasks and assignments that you need to get done can add unnecessary stress.
The trick is to write these things down. Whether this is on paper, or electronically, David's GTD process works.
Students should learn to become "Search Ninjas" in finding information to complete their homework and tasks. To that end, I recommend using a site like "LastPass" to store unique passwords for each online service.
LastPass is short for "the last password you will ever need to remember", as it stores all of your passwords for banking, social media, and other online resources. One strong password gets you in. This is further strengthened by two-factor authorization, such as using "Google Authenticator". In this manner, to log into your LastPass account, you need both your strong password, as well as access to your smartphone for Google Authenticator to provide a six-digit code to validate your identity.
Writing your thoughts down sometimes requires different approaches. A [mind map] is a hierarchical diagram to help capture thoughts non-linearly. I have seen these used to capture thoughts generated during idea brainstorming sessions. I use them to help me create new PowerPoint presentations.
There are many mind mapping tools available. On my smartphone, I use the [SimpleMind] app. On my Linux laptop, I use [View Your Mind]. Try several out, and pick the one that works best for you.
The trick is to identify which general pattern a specific problem falls under, and use the general solution as the basis for solving it. Part of this approach is to identify all of the inherent contradictions and eliminating or addressing them one by one.
Whenever Rafael complains to me he has a problem to solve, like figuring out how to get the oil changed in his car, I ask him how he would solve it in a video game. He would reply that he would determine what "items" he needed, either to trade or gain entry into a realm, and what sequence of steps needed to happen in what order. I would then explain that life is just like that, except instead of jewels and swords, you are using cash or credit cards!
Not surprisingly, IBM technology can be found in certain models of Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, and Microsoft Xbox.
Imagine having homework in three different subjects. A student might spend all night on one topic, and never get around to the other two. The [Pomodoro Technique] is surprisingly simple. It focuses on two problems kids have these days: getting started, and staying focused.
The technique divides up the hours available into 25-minute slots, with 5-minute breaks in between. For example, the student might spend the first 25 minutes on math homework, then take 5-minute break playing video games, then 25 minutes reading History, then 5-minute break checking Facebook, then 25 minutes completing an essay for Spanish class. Each 5-minute break helps to clear the mind for the next task.
I use this method at work. Often, I have a variety of tasks facing me, booking flights for my next trip, updating PowerPoint presentations, and writing my next blog post. Breaking up the day into smaller 25-minute segments helps me stay focused.
In Italian, "pomodoro" means tomato, and the 25 minutes was inspired by a 25-minute kitchen timer shaped like a tomato. You certainly don't need a tomato-shaped timer to use this technique, as there are smartphone apps available to do this for you.
High school is a good time to start developing good habits in project management, time management, problem solving and password security.
Do you have any suggestions? Please feel free to contribute in the comment section below!
Well, it's the end of the year, so I thought a recap of year 2014 would be in order.
The year started out with some January announcements, including the IBM FlashSystem 840. IBM is proud to be ranked #1 in All-Flash Arrays, and the IBM acquisition of Texas Memory System has caused all of the other competitors to scramble their own wanna-be offerings. IBM also announced it was going to sell off its System x division to Lenovo.
In February, I wrapped up a project to build a Linux-based PC for a kindergarten class. IBM announced some exciting new things at Pulse 2014 conference, including IBM Bluemix Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), new IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center offerings, and acquisition of Cloudant Database. Also, on Valentine's day, IBM announced the FlashSystem V840, which combines the software-defined storage features of SAN Volume Controller, with the Microlatency of the FlashSystem 840. IBM sold its 10,000th PureSystems converged expert-integrated system.
In March, I completed a six-month film project ["A Tucson Executive Briefing Center: A Quick Visual Tour"]. I was writer/director/actor for this quick 3-minute film posted on YouTube. I wrote the script and had it reviewed by a professional script reviewer, hired a professional cinemetographer, paid royalties for background music, located a voice-over expert for narration, and trained the actors (all IBM employees) how to read their lines and stand on their mark for the camera. It was a big success!
In April, I presented at the Systems Technical University in Istanbul, Turkey. I had been to Turkey before, but this was my first time to the city of Istanbul itself. The owner of my local [Savaya Coffee] is from Istanbul, and was able to introduce me to someone who was able to arrange for a full tour my first day! Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, IBMers in New York were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the IBM mainframe, including a cameo appearance on the TV show "Mad Men".
In May, I was busy presenting at the IBM Edge conference in Las Vegas. IBM celebrated the sixth anniversary of IBM ProtecTIER data deduplication device, announced "Codename: Elastic Storage" and new features on the DS8870 disk system, and presented analyst findings that IBM Software Defined Storage was substantially less expensive than competitive offerings.
In July, I took a nice summer vacation, [a road trip across the state of Tennessee]. IBM made a strategic partnership with Apple to offer mobile apps for the data center enterprise for the iOS operating system on iPhones and iPad tablets.
In August, I completed a summer partnership with University of Toronto and IBM Softlayer to build "Concept IBM Watson", a scaled down version of IBM Watson based on my infamous 2011 blog post [How to replicate Watson hardware and systems design for your own use in your basement]. Rather than using three physical servers, however, we had virtual x86 machines running on IBM Softlayer cloud. The system was only asked the simplest "How many...?" questions against a single text document, but proved to the University that teaching analytics by replicating IBM's historic achievement was effective and possible.
In September, I celebrated my eight year "Blogoversary". That's right, I have been blogging for the past eight years! With over 800 posts, and five published books, I countinue to be ranked #1 most-read blog on IBM developerWorks. IBM was ranked #1 for Software Defined Storage!
In October, I presented at the Systems Technical University in Dublin, Ireland. This was my first time in Ireland, and I found Dublin to be quite a beautiful city, with friendly people and delicious food.
The rest of October, and much of November and December, I spent on the road, visiting clients to help close deals! (Sorry folks... Due to SEC black-out rules, I am prohibited from telling you how well I did) Since I am not allowed to talk about on-going discussions that I have with clients, my blog has been noticeably silent during these months. I apologize for any stress or anxiety this might have caused any of my readers!
Despite too-much-candy, too-much-turkey and too-many-cookies that the year-end often brings, I managed to lose twenty pounds on a low-carb, gluten-free, Paleo diet and exercise.
We have a lot to cover, so I will do the quick recap today, and then go in-depth on subsequent posts.
IBM FlashSystem 840 and V840
The FlashSystem now offers a high-voltage 1300W power supply. There are two supplies providing redundancy. In the unlikely event that you are doing maintenance on one of them, the other supply handles all the workload. With the original power supply, the system slowed down the clock speeds to reduce electrical demand. The new power supplies can handle full performance.
Also, the Graphical User Interface (GUI) now holds 300 days of performance data with pan-and-zoom capability. Five predefined graphs showing key performance metrics with additional user-defined metrics available for visualization.
The new v7.4 level of microcode combines features from v7.2.7 and v7.3 into a single code base.
In previous 3-site mirroring implementations, you had A-to-B-to-C cascading. Metro Mirror would get the data from A-to-B, then Global Mirror would copy B-to-C. Multiple Target Peer-to-Peer Remote Copy (PPRC) feature number 7025 allows you to have two separate paths of the data: A-to-B and separately A-to-C. Some folks refer to this as a "star" configuration.
For System z mainframe clients, the new v7.4 introduces new zHyperWrite for DB2 database logs, enhances zGM (XRC) write pacing, and extends Easy Tier automated-tiering API to allow z/OS applications to influence placement on different tiers of storage.
The High Performance Flash Enclosures (HPFE) that IBM introduced last May for the "A" frames are now available for "B" frames. You can have four HPFE in A, and another 4 in B.
DS8870 now offers 600 GB 15K rpm SAS and 1.6 TB 2.5-inch SSD encryption drives for additional capacity and cost performance options to meet data growth demands within the same space. Both support data-at-rest encryption.
Lastly, we have upgraded the OpenStack Cinder driver to the latest Juno release, including features like volume replication and volume retype.
The latest SAN switch is a slim 1U high box that can be configured with 12 or 24 ports. These are 16Bps ports that can auto-negotiate down to 8Gbps, 4Gbps and 2Gbps. These are easy to set up, and can be managed with the IBM Network Advisor management software.
GPFS is the core technology for IBM's "Codename: Elastic Storage" initiative.
You have several options. First, you can purchase just the GPFS software itself. It runs natively on AIX, Windows and Linux, and can be extended to support other operating systems through the use of NAS protocols like NFS or CIFS. Today, the Linux support which was previously just x86 and POWER has been extended to include Linux on System z mainframes as well.
GPFS v4.1 offers "Native RAID" support, with de-clustered RAID in 8+2P and 8+3P configurations. Like the IBM XIV Storage System, this scatters the data across many drives, and can tolerate drive failures better than traditional RAID-5 configurations.
Another option is to get a pre-configured "Converged" appliance that combines servers, storage and hardware. We already offer SONAS and the Storwize V7000 Unified, but IBM now offers the "GPFS Storage Server" running on the new P822L Linux-on-Power servers, RHEL v7, and and GPFS v4.1 with Native RAID to twin-tailed attached DCS3700 expansion drawers. Since GPFS provides the RAID, no need for DCS37000 controllers, saving clients substantial costs.
The IBM Storwize family includes SAN Volume Controller, Storwize V7000, Storwize V7000 Unified, Storwize V5000, Storwize V3700 and Storwize V3500.
The big announcement is that IBM now offers data-at-rest encryption for block data on internal drives in the new generation of Storwize V7000 and V7000 Unified models. There is no performance impact, and no need to purchase new SED-capable drives.
Data-at-rest encryption helps in several ways. First, it protects data if a drive is pulled out and taken away maliciously. Second, it protects data if the drive fails and you want to send it back to the manufacturer for replacement. Third, it allows you to perform a "secure erase" so that the data can be sold or re-purposed without fear of anyone reading previous data.
Initially, the encryption key management is built-in, with the keys stored on a USB memory stick physically attached to the model. In the future, IBM will extend this support to SVC, extend this support to external virtualized drives, and extend this support to IBM Security Key Lifecycle Manager (SKLM).
Other announcements include 16Gbps adapters for SVC, Storwize V7000 and V7000 Unified. The entire Storwize family will also enjoy both 1.8TB 10K RPM 2.5-inch drives, and 6TB 7200RPM 3.5-inch drives
See the Announcement Letter (available later this month) for details.
New TS1150 enterprise tape drives
The anticipation is over! The new TS1150 tape drive has been announced, with 10TB raw un-compressed "JD" media cartridge capacity and 360 MB/sec throughput performance. The new drive is read/write compatible with TS1140 on JC, JY and JK media cartridges.
For the virtual tape libraries for the System z platform, IBM offers two models. The TS7740 had a small amount of disk front ending tape library of physical tape. The TS7720 had a large amount of disk with no tape library.
But then the person carrying the chocolate bar bumped into the person carrying the jar of peanut butter, and the rest is history. IBM will now allow tape attach on TS7720, best of both worlds! Large disk cache plus tape library attach.
Tape-attached TS7720 configurations can have up to eight partitions, with different partitions have different policies. Some might move data from disk cache to tape more aggressively, while other partitions may keep data on disk for longer periods, or indefinitely if needed.
Logical tape volumes can now be up to 25GB in size.
The DCS3700 is IBM's entry-level disk system for sequential-oriented workloads. Today, IBM announced new disk drive options: 400GB 2.5-inch SSD, 800 GB 2.5-inch SSD, and 1.2TB 10K RPM 2.5-inch drive. All of these offer T10 Protection Information (PI) data integrity.
In addition to keynote speakers Curtis Tearte, General Manager for IBM System Storage, and Clod Barrera, Chief Technical Strategist, my colleague Jack Arnold and I from the [IBM Tucson Executive Briefing Center] will present four topics each.
Did you miss your chance to attend Storage Networking World last week? IBM has some upcoming conferences that might be of interest to you.
IBM Systems Conference 2009
In this inaugural event, IBM executives, developers and industry experts reveal the latest innovations, trends and directions. In the span of three full days, you will hear and see technologies demonstrated that are needed to transform and respond effectively in these economic times.
There will be three tracks:
IBM Systems -- Including storage, mainframe, POWER and x86 systems
Solutions for a Dynamic Infrastructure
Professional Development -- including negotiation skills, project management and TCO analysis
IBM System Storage and Storage Networking Symposium
If the above conference is too broad, we have a more storage-specificconference. The [IBM System Storage and Storage Networking Symposium] brings IBM storage developers, architects, technical experts, solution providers and customer speakers together in one place to show you how to address the growing challenge of managing and securing retention managed data. You'll also learn about the latest IBM System Storage™ portfolio product announcements.
I have spoken at these perhaps 12 of the last 14 years. The list of presenters has not yet finalized, so I do not yet know if I will actually be there this year.
Two exciting things are new this year. First, instead of being in San Diego or Las Vegas, it will be held in Chicago, Illinois instead!Secondly, you get a two-for-one with the [IBM System x and BladeCenter Technical Conference]. That's right, they are co-located there in Chicago so that you can attend sessions from both! Perhaps you spend 80 percent of your time on storage, and 20 percent on x86 servers, or 80 percent servers and 20 percent storage, now you can register for one price, and decide when you get there.
If you act soon, you can save money with the early-registration discount by May 31.
Hopefully, this will give you enough time to plan and make travel arrangements!
The "Storage Symposium Mexico - 2008" conference was a great success this week!
Day 1 - The plan was for me to arrive for the Wednesday night reception. Eachattendee was given a copy of my latest book[Inside System Storage: Volume I] and I was planning to sign them. I thought perhaps we should have a "book signing" tablelike all of the other published authors have.
Things didn't go according to plan. Thunderstorms at the Mexico City airport forced our pilot to find an alternate airport. Nearby Acapulco airport was the logical choice, but was full from all the otherflights, so the plane ended up in a tiny town called McAllen, Texas. I did not arrive until the morning of Day 2,so ended up signing the books throughout Thursday and Friday, during breaks and meals, wherever they couldfind me!
Special thanks to fellow IBMer Ian Henderson who picked me up from the airport at such an awkward hour anddrive me all the way to Cuernavaca!
All of us, IBMers, Business Partners and clients alike, all donned black tee-shirtswith a white eightbar logo for a group photo with one of those "wide lens" cameras. While we werebeing assembled onto the bleachers, I took this quick snapshot of myself and some of the guys behind me.
I was original scheduled to be first to speak, but with my flight delays, was moved to a time slot after lunch.After a big Mexican lunch, the conference coordinators were afraid the attendees might fall asleep,a Mexican tradition called [siesta], so I wasinstructed to WAKE THEM UP! Fortunately, my topic was Information Lifecycle Management, a topicI am very passionate about, since my days working on DFSMS on the mainframe. With 30percent reduction in hardware capital expenditures, 30 percent reduction in operational costs, and typical payback periods between 15 to 24 months, the presentation got everyone's attention.
Of course, a lot happens outside of the formal meetings. We had a Japanese theme dinner, where we woreJapanese Hachimaki [headbands]with the eightbar logo. For those not familiar with Japanese culture, hachimaki are worn today not so much for the practical purpose to catch the perspiration but rather for mental stimulation to express one's determination. Some students wear hachimaki when they study to put themselves in the right spirit and frame of mind.
Shown here are presenters Mike Griese (Infrastructure Management with IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center),Dave Larimer (Backup and Storage Management with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager), myself, and John Hamano(Unified Storage with IBM System Storage N series).
Day 3 - Wrapping up the week, I presented two more times.
First, I covered IBM Disk Virtualization with IBM SAN Volume Controller. One interesting question was if the SAN Volume Controller could be made to looklike a Virtual Tape Library. I explained that this was never part of the original design, but that if you wantto combine SVC with a VTL into a combined disk-and-tape blended solution, consider using theIBM product called Scale-Out File Services[SoFS] which I covered in my post[Moredetails about IBM clustered scalable NAS].
During one of the breaks, I took a picture of the behind-the-scenes staff that put this together. They had created these huge blocks representing puzzle pieces, emphasizing how IBM is one of the few ITvendors that can bring all the pieces together for a complete solution.
Shown hereare Mike Griese (presenter), Cyntia Martinez, Claudia Aviles, Cesar Campos (IBM Business Unit Executive forSystem Storage in Mexico), and Claudia Lopez. Each day the staff wore matching shirts so that it was easyto find them.
Later, I covered Archive and Compliance Solutions to highlight our complete end-to-end set of solutions.When asked to compare and contrast the architectures of the IBM System Storage DR550 with EMC Centera, I explainedthat the DR550 optimizes the use of online disk access for the most recent data. For example, if you aregoing to keep data for 10 years, maybe you keep the most recent 12 months on disk, and the rest is moved,using policy-based automation, to a tape library for the remaining nine years. This means that the disk insidethe DR550 is always being used to read and write the most recent data, the data you are most likely to retrievefrom an archive system. Data older than a year is still accessible, but might take a minute or two for the tapelibrary robot to fetch.The EMC Centera, on the other hand, is a disk-only solution. It offers no option to move older data to tape,nor the option to spin-down the drives to conserve power. It fills up after the same 12 months or so, and then you get towatch it the remaining nine years, consuming electricity and heating your data center.
I don't know about you, butI have never seen anyone purposely put in "space heaters" into their data center, but certainly a full EMC Centeradoes little else. Both devices use SATA drives and support disk mirroring between locations, but IBM DR550 offers dual-parity RAID-6, and supports encryption of the data on both the disk and the tape in the DR550. EMC Centerastill uses only RAID-5, and has not yet, as far as I know, offered any level of encryption. IBM System StorageDR550 was clocked at about three times faster than Centera at ingesting new archive objects over a 1GbE Ethernet connection.
This last photo is me and fellow IBMer Adriana Mondragón. She was one of my students in the [System Storage Portfolio Top Gun class],last February in Guadalajara, Mexico.She graduated in the top 10 percent of her group, earning her the prestigious titleof "Top Gun" storage sales specialist.
The conference wrapped up with a Mexican lunch with a traditional Mariachi band. I took pictures, but figured you allalready know what [Mariachi players] look like, and I didn't wantto detract from the otherwise serious tone of this blog post! This was the first System Storage Symposium in Mexico, butbased on its success, we might continue these annually.
Well, it's Tuesday, and so it is "announcement day" again! Actually, for me it is Wednesday morning herein Mumbai, India, but since I was "press embargoed" until 4pm EDT in talking about these enhancements, I had to wait until Wednesday morning here to talk about them.
World's Fastest 1TB tape drive
IBM announced its new enterprise [TS1130 tape drive]and corresponding [TS3500 tape library support]. This one has a funny back-story. Last week while we were preparing the Press Release, we debated on whether we should compare the 1TB per cartridge capacity as double that of Sun's Enterprise T10000 (500GB), or LTO-4 (800GB). The problem changed when Sun announced on Monday they too had a 1TB tape drive, so now instead ofsaying that we had the "World's First 1TB tape drive", we quickly changed this to the "World's Fastest 1TB tape drive" instead. At 160MB/sec top speed, IBM's TS1130 is 33 percent faster than Sun's latest announcement. Sun was rather vague when they will actually ship their new units, so IBM may still end up being first to deliver as well.
While EMC and other disk-only vendors have stopped claiming that "tape is dead", these recent announcements from IBM and Sun indicate that indeed tape is alive and well. IBM is able to borrow technologies from disk, such as the Giant Magneto Resistive (GMR) head over to its tape offerings, which means much of the R&D for disk applies to tape, keeping both forms ofstorage well invested. Tape continues to be the "greenest" storage option, more energy efficient than disk, optical, film, microfiche and even paper.
On the LTO front, IBM enhanced the reporting capabilities of its[TS3310] midrange tape library. This includes identifying the resource utilization of the drives, reporting on media integrity, and improved diagnostics to support library-managed encryption.
IBM System Storage DR550
As a blended disk-and-tape solution, the [IBM System Storage DR550] easily replaces the EMC Centera to meet compliance storagerequirements. IBM announced that we have greatly expanded its scalability, being able to support both 1TBdisk drives, as well as being able to attach to either IBM or Sun's 1TB tape drives.
Massive Array of Idle Disks (MAID)
IBM now offers a "Sleep Mode" in the firmware of the [IBM System Storage DCS9550], which is often called "Massive Array of Idle Disks" (MAID) or spin-down capability. This can reduce the amount of power consumed during idle times.
That's a lot of exciting stuff. I'm off to breakfast now.
Michael Scott, one of my "Second Life" builder/scripters, for demonstrating client-focused dedication to IBM's corporate values.
Our site manager, Terri Mitchell, did a recap of all our recent awards and accomplishments.Of the nine Design Innovation awards won by IBM this year at the CeBIT conference, eight were for IBM System Storage products!
The IBM System Storage EXP3000: an entry-level data storage server that is optimized for cost-sensitive and space-limited environments and employs a user-centered design that enables ease of use and simple tool-less installation and removal of all components.
The IBM System Storage N7000 Series: a modular disk storage system that delivers high-end enterprise storage and data management value ideal for large-scale applications, while helping to anticipate growth, maintaindata availability and reduce costs.
The IBM System Storage N5000 Series: a modular disk storage system designed to address the entire spectrum of data availability challenges while offering value in price and scalability. Built-in enterprise serviceability and manageability features support efforts to increasereliability and simplify storage infrastructure and maintenance.
The IBM System Storage N3700: a filer that integrates storage and storage processing into a single unit, facilitating affordable network deployments.
The IBM System Storage DS4700: a NEBS-compliant disk storage server designed to address requirements for companies in the telecommunications industry, as well as other segments, such as oil and gas, meeting standardsfor electromagnetic compatibility, thermal robustness, earthquake and office vibration resistance, and provides protection for the product components from airborne contaminants.
The IBM System Storage EXP810: a data storage expansion unit capable of 4.8 Terabytes of physical storage, with a user-centered and tool-less design featuring redundant power, cooling, and disk modules for ease of use and simple serviceability.
The IBM System Storage TS3400: an affordable, space-friendly tape library for users in remote locations that supports enterprise-class technology and encryption capabilities.
A representative from Tucson's Brewster Center presented Terri an award, thanking IBM for its strong support for the community through various charity initiatives.
The final speaker was a new IBM client, Tony Casella, the IT Director of the town of Marana. Recently, the town of Marana selected IBM products made big news. Arizona is the fastest growing state in the USA, and the town of Marana, just north of Tucson, is one of the fastest growing communities in Arizona. The town is growing so large that it will soon spill over from Pima into Pinal county, and will be the first town in Arizona authorized to span county boundaries.