Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Systems Client Experience Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2016, Tony celebrates his 30th year anniversary with IBM Storage. He is
author of the Inside System Storage series of books. This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to storage and storage networking hardware, software and services.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson )
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SAP HANA is an in-memory, relational database management system supported on Linux for x86 and POWER servers. The "HANA" acronym is short for "High-Performance Analytic Appliance" software. By keeping the data in memory, analytics and queries can be performed much faster than from traditional disk repositories.
Server memory, however, is volatile storage, so the data needs to be stored on persistent storage such as flash or disk drives. SAP has certified several configurations, some involve IBM Spectrum Scale solutions. I will use the following graphic to explain the three configurations.
Linux on x86-64 with Spectrum Scale FPO
With SAP HANA on Lenovo x86-64 servers, SAP has certified internal flash or disk drives running IBM Spectrum Scale in "File Placement Optimization" (FPO) mode. FPO provides a shared-nothing architecture that matches the SAP HANA architecture. IBM Spectrum Protect can backup this configuration, providing data protection and disaster recovery support.
Linux on POWER with Elastic Storage Server
With SAP HANA on POWER servers, SAP has certified external Elastic Storage Server (ESS). Not only is POWER the better platform to run SAP HANA than x86-64, but Elastic Storage Server offers excellent erasure coding to provide excellent rebuild times and storage efficiency.
The ESS is a pre-built system that combines IBM Spectrum Scale software with server and storage hardware. IBM Spectrum Protect can also backup this configuration, providing data protection and disaster recovery support.
Block-level Storage over Storage Area Network (SAN)
Various IBM block-level devices are support for SAP HANA on both Linux on x86-64 and Linux on POWER. Unfortunately, SAP only has certified (to date) the use of the XFS file system. The problem many clients mention about this configuration is the lack of end-to-end backup and disaster recovery. This is solved by the Spectrum Scale configurations in the previous two examples.
Other combinations, such as SAP HANA on POWER with Spectrum Scale FPO, or on x86-64 servers with Elastic Storage Serer, are either not SAP-certified, or not directly supported by SAP without their approval.
IBM and SAP have worked closely together for many years, and I am glad to see SAP HANA and IBM Spectrum Scale based solutions continue this tradition.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
Last week, IBM announced a variety of tape system enhancements.
IBM TS7760 Virtual Tape System
The IBM TS7760 combines the benefits of the previous TS7720 and TS7740 offerings. Those with IBM z System mainframes will recognize both. The TS7740 has a small amount of disk that pretend to be a tape library, with enough capacity to hold a few hours to a few days worth of data. After that, the data is moved to physical tape. The TS7720 is an all-disk solution, holding up to 1 PB of disk to hold weeks or months worth of data, but did not have tape attachment. Previously, IBM announced the TS7720T, a high-capacity offering with tape attachment. The new TS7760 is now the replacement for all three of these, powered by the latest POWER8 processor.
In addition to all the features available in the former models, the new TS7760 uses 4TB drives instead of 3TB drives, resulting in a maximum capacity of 1.3PB of disk capacity before compression. The disks are encrypted and protected by distributed RAID-6 referred to as "Dynamic Disk Pooling". While tape attachment is still optional, it supports both IBM TS3500 and TS4500 tape libraries.
This week, I am attending the [InterConnect Conference] in Las Vegas, Feb 21-25, 2016. This is IBM's premier Cloud & Mobile conference for the year.
Monday afternoon, I attended various break-out sessions.
1441A Data Resiliency: Data-Driven Analytics and Beyond
Ramani Routray (IBM) and B.J. Klingenberg, IBM, co-presented. Aggressive and differentiated Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) create data protection silos. Resiliency for an enterprise data center is often achieved via redundant components, periodic backup, continuous replication and/or highly available architectures. With the emergence of cloud delivery models, Backup-as-a-Service and DR-as-a-Service have gained wide acceptance. This uniquely challenges service providers to quickly analyze all the metadata from these environments to enable problem determination, fault isolation, capacity management, SLA violation, etc. Learn about a big data analytics framework that analyzes millions of resiliency metadata tuples in near real-time to generate actionable insights.
1267A Prudential and IBM: Integrating Application and Storage Management to Drive Cloud Service Levels
This was a 50/50 presentation, with the first half covered by clients OJ Dua, supported by his boss, Scott Singerline, both from Prudential Financial.
Prudential explored their successful approach for optimizing storage and improving service. First, experts from Prudential Financial will describe their experiences integrating IBM Spectrum Control v5.2 (formerly IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center) inventory, availability, and performance data with Tivoli Application Dependency Discovery Manager (TADDM) and Netcool OMNIbus to improve services for core business applications.
(Over 10 years ago, I was the chief architect for IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center v1. The clients from Prudential could not emphasize enough how much better Spectrum Control v5.2 was compared to their experiences with the prior versions. It has come a long way, baby!)
The second half was covered by Brian Sherman, IBM Distinguished Engineer. He described how related IBM Spectrum Storage solutions are transforming storage. IBM Spectrum Storage solutions deliver reliable, flexible service levels at a significantly lower cost than traditional storage.
6523A VersaStack: Because Time and Cost are of the Essence for Cloud Service Providers
This was more of a 25/75 presentation. Ian Shave, IBM Business Line Executive for Spectrum Virtualize and VersaStack, kicked off the session with a quick overview of VersaStack, which combines Cisco UCS x86 blade servers and Cisco network switches with IBM Spectrum Virtualize storage solutions. This is often referred to as "Integrated Infrastructure" or "Converged Systems". While the growth of Integrated Infrastructure adoption is growing 15 percent, storage within Integrated Infrastructure solutions is growing faster at 44 percent.
VersaStack can be implemented as follows:
Cisco UCS Mini with Storwize V5000, either iSCSI or FCP
Cisco UCS with Storwize V7000 (block-only) or V7000 Unified (file and block access)
Cisco UCS with FlashSystem V9000, for high-speed, low-latency application requirements
John Buskermolen and Dan Simunic, both from i-Virtualize, covered their experiences with VersaStack. Founded in 2009, i-Virtualize is a Managed Services Provider (MSP), Cloud Service Provider (CSP) and value-added reseller, for clients in both USA and Canada, growing 41 percent year over year.
They reduced the time to market from weeks to days, cut new environment provisioning time from days to minutes, and simplified management when it implemented VersaStack, an integrated infrastructure solution that combines Cisco UCS Integrated Infrastructure with IBM storage solutions built with IBM Spectrum Virtualize to deliver extraordinary levels of performance and efficiency.
Why did i-Virtualize choose VersaStack?
79 percent reduced provisioning time
60 percent lower costs
10x performance acceleration
Higher flexibility, with clustered systems that scale up and out
Let's i-Virtualize administrators and management sleep at night
47 percent capacity savings with Real-time Compression
IBM Spectrum Virtualize HyperSwap for high availability
Storage-based replication across multiple datacenters
Cisco UCS director provides single-pane-of-glass management
Their latest project is called VIXO, a Cloud Managed Services Console which stacks Cloud Foundry, Docker, OpenStack, VMware and other 3rd party services on top of their VersaStack. This is a collaboration with Oxbury Group.
VersaStack is an ideal solution for Cloud Service Providers (CSP) or for any client interested in "cloud-in-a-box."
3690A Meet the Experts on IBM Cloud Storage Services
Ann Corrao and Mike Fork, both from IBM, presented IBM's various storage capabilities on SoftLayer and Cloud Managed Services (CMS). Of IBM's 43 Cloud datacenters, 28 are SoftLayer, and the other 15 are CMS.
For block-based volume storage, SoftLayer offers "Endurance" and "Performance". These are backed by multi-pathed iSCSI volumes.
With "Endurance" option, you purchase a fixed I/O density, either 0.5 IOPS/GB, 1 IOPS/GB or 4 IOPS/GB. If you choose a 100 GB volume, you are guaranteed 400 IOPS. Typical business applications like database or email consume about 0.7 IOPS/GB.
With the "Performance" option, you pick the IOPS for your volume, up to 6,000 IOPS, and then pick the size to match your needs, say 100 GB. This is best suited for clients who know their application well enough to specify this.
IBM Bluemix also has a block service, based on OpenStack Cinder drivers. These are backed by internal disk on storage-rich servers. IBM SoftLayer can pack 4 drives into a 1U server, 12 drives into a 2U server and 36 drives into a 3U server.
For object store, IBM SoftLayer supports OpenStack Swift. They support content expiration, versioning and metadata search.
(When asked if this was Cleversafe or something else, Mike was quick to point out that IBM SoftLayer focuses on the "Service Level Agreement (SLA), the client experience, and the APIs" so however they chose to back this storage is internally determined. The client should not have to specify product xyz in their contract.)
An extra feature for object store is "Content Delivery Network" (CDN) which uses EdgeCast to cache content at the edges of the network to improve performance delivery. You designate which object containers you want to accelerate performance, and you pay for the amount of bandwidth consumed.
For file space, IBM SoftLayer supports NFS and SFTP only. Supporting CIFS, or rather its replacement SMB, is a known requirement. In the meantime, there are a variety of 3rd party "Cloud Gateway" solutions, like NetApp AltaVault, Panzura global namespace, or CTERA.
For file sync-and-share, IBM has partnered with Box to provide Enterprise-class service.
How do clients ingest data into their IBM SoftLayer account? One option is to use Aspera, a recent IBM acquisition that is 3x faster than traditional SCP. Another option is to ship disk or tape cartridges to IBM SoftLayer facility.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
This week, IBM announces the second generation of Storwize V5000 flash and disk storage systems. There are the V5000F All-flash configurations, as well as the V5000 that can support a variety of flash and spinning disk drives.
There are three models:
The V5010 has dual 2-core/2-thread processors and 16GB of cache. It supports thin provisioning, FlashCopy, Easy Tier, and remote mirroring. The base unit includes 1 GbE Ethernet ports for iSCSI host connectivity, with options to add 16GB Fibre Channel, 12Gb SAS, and 10GbE iSCSI/FCoE as well.
The 2U controllers and expansion enclosures can hold either 24 small 2.5-inch drives, or 12 larger 3.5-inch drives. A single control enclosure has two active/active IBM Spectrum Virtualize nodes, and can attach up to 10 expansion enclosures for a maximum of 264 drives.
The V5020 unit has dual 2-core/4-thread processors and up to 32GB of cache. It supports everything the V5010 does, plus encryption. The encryption is done via the Intel AES-NI instruction set to eliminate the need for special "self-encrypting drives" (SED) that other storage devices may require.
The V5030 has dual 6-core/4-thread processors and up to 64GB of cache. It supports everything the V5010 and V5020 do, plus Real-time Compression and external virtualization. The Real-time Compression can achieve up to 80 percent space savings, representing a 5:1 compression ratio.
Each control enclosure can attach to 20 expansion enclosures, which can support 504 internal drives per controller, and up to 1,008 with two controllers (four Spectrum Virtualize nodes) clustered together. This is in addition to the drives in external storage systems virtualized.
Well it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
(FCC Disclosure: This official launch also includes October 6 announcements. In any case, the usual disclaimer applies: I currently work for IBM, and this blog post can be considered a "paid celebrity endorsement" of the IBM products mentioned below.)
IBM announced various updates to its Spectrum Storage product line. Here is a quick recap.
IBM Spectrum Virtualize 7.6
Spectrum Virtualize is the new name of the "storage hypervisor" code that resides in IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and Storwize family products. When you buy an SVC, you will license Spectrum Virtualize software on it. It is NOT available separately as software-only that you can install on any other hardware. There are three major improvements:
Software-based Data-at-Rest Encryption
Earlier this year, IBM delivered data-at-rest encryption for the Storwize V7000 and V7000 Unified. This week, IBM extends this support to other storage hypervisors.
Since this feature is based on the Intel processor that supports the Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions (AES-NI), it applies only to the newer hardware: SAN Volume Controller 2145-DH8, the Storwize V7000 Gen2, FlashSystem V9000, and VersaStack converged systems that contain these. You can run Spectrum Virtualize v7.6 on older hardware models, but the encryption feature will be disabled.
Basically, by taking advantage of AES-NI commands, IBM can now offer data-at-rest encryption on any virtualized flash or disk arrays, eliminating the need for special "Self-Encrypting Drives", or SED.
The encryption keys are kept on USB memory sticks, that you can either leave in the machine, or stash away in some vault or safe somewhere.
The other improvement is distributed RAID. Distributed RAID has been hugely popular on IBM XIV products, and has since found its way into the DCS3700, DCS3860 and Elastic Storage Server models.
With this new enhancement, storage admins can select "Distributed RAID-5" or "Distributed RAID-6" as alternate choices to traditional RAID ranks.
Why use it? All the drives are now active, eliminating idle spare drives that do nothing collecting dust and cobwebs waiting for an opportunity to spin up, and when they finally are used for a rebuild become a terrible bottleneck. Since all drives are reading and writing, the rebuild rate is an order of magnitude (5 to 10x) faster!
For those clients nervous about large 8TB drives and the number of days it would take to perform a traditional RAID rebuild, this should calm all of your fears.
This is one of those line-items that we have told clients that it was "just around the corner" and "coming soon, watch this space", and finally it is available. For clients using Stretched Cluster or HyperSwap across two buildings, best practices suggests keeping the quorum disk in a third building. This often met having to dedicate a single 2U disk system in a closet somewhere, with expensive Fibre Channel cables connecting to the other two buildings.
To address this, IBM now allows the quorum disk to be based on Internet Protocol (the IP portion of TCP/IP), which can be any bare-metal or virtual machine that is LAN or WAN attached. The "quorum disk" is just a little Java program. This can run on any cloud service provider as well, such as IBM SoftLayer, that both buildings have connectivity.
A minor improvement worth mentioning is that the IBM "Comprestimator" tool that estimates the capacity savings of Real-time Compression is now integrated into Spectrum Virtualize v7.6 command line interface (CLI), allowing you to run the tool on demand, as needed, on any virtual volume.
IBM Spectrum Scale v4.2
IBM plans to offer all of its solutions in any of three flavors: software-only that you can deploy on your own server hardware, pre-built system appliances, and cloud services on IBM SoftLayer, IBM Cloud Managed Services or third-party cloud providers. Spectrum Scale is the software-only flavor, and Elastic Storage Server and Storwize V7000 Unified are pre-built systems based on that software.
File and Object access
IBM published a "Redbook" on how to implement OpenStack Swift and Amazon S3 interfaces to an existing Spectrum Scale deployment. IBM supported it, but it was basically Do-it-Yourself DIY implementation. This has now been resolved, with full integration of OpenStack Swift and Amazon S3 object-protocol interfaces.
(For those unfamiliar with "Object storage", think of it like valet parking for your data. Before working for IBM, I was previously employed as a valet attendant, so I feel qualified to make this analogy.
If you park your car in a 10-story high parking structure, you have to remember where you parked to go find the car again. With valet parking, you hand over the keys to the valet attendant, the car gets parked, and you get a claim stub that you then use to get your car back. In the meantime, you don't know where your car is parked, and you don't care either!
Storing files in volume-level or file-level storage is like that 10-story high parking structure. You have to remember where you put it, which LUN or which sub-directory. With object storage, the system provides a "claim stub" in the form of an Universal Record Identifier, or URI, and simple HTTP commands like GET and POST can be used to upload and download the content.)
Policy-driven Compression and Quality of Service (QoS)
If you want to differentiate the levels of service provided by files and objects stored in your infrastructure, look no further. Simple SQL-like language is used to set up policies that are invoked when needed.
Hadoop Connector for File and Objects
The IBM Hadoop Connector allows Hadoop and Spark analytics applications to treat Spectrum Scale as a 100 percent compatible alternative to Hadoop File Systems (HDFS). Previously, this was only available for files, but now it has been extended to include objects as well.
Advanced Graphical User Interface (GUI)
Based on the award-winning GUI that has been used for IBM XIV, SVC, Storwize and various other members of the IBM System Storage family, IBM announces an HTML5-based web-browser GUI for configuring and managing Spectrum Scale and Elastic Storage Server (ESS).
Storwize V7000 Unified
The "file modules" that run IBM Spectrum Scale will get updated to R1.6 level, which supports SMB 3.0 and NFS 4.0 protocols. SMB support will now include both internal and externally-virtualized storage. You will also be able to use Active File Management to migrate to other Spectrum Scale implementations.
IBM Spectrum Control
As the former chief architect of IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v1, I have been a big fan of the advancements and evolution of Spectrum Control. IBM offers three levels. The first level is "Basic Edition", entitled at no additional charge for IBM storage hardware clients. The second level is "Standard Edition" which offers configuration, provisioning and performance monitoring. The third level is "Advanced Edition", which includes advanced storage analytics, file-level reporting, storage tiering and data placement optimization.
You can imagine my skepticism when I was told that Spectrum Control was going to be enhanced to support Spectrum Scale. What could it offer? IBM Spectrum Scale already has built-in storage tiering and data placement optimization!
It turns out that having effective "management tools" was the #1 reason clients have stated were needed to implement and deploy Spectrum Scale. Since 1998, back when it was called General Parallel File System, or GPFS, the target market was High Performance Computing (HPC) familiar with Command Line Interfaces (CLI).
But IBM was to broaden the reach of IBM Spectrum Scale, to financial services, health care and life sciences, government and education, and a variety of other industries. They won't tolerate being limited to CLI interfaces.
For clients with multiple Spectrum Scale clusters, Spectrum Control can offer the following:
Visibility across the capacity utilization (file systems, pools, file sets, quotas) and cluster health across all Spectrum Scale clusters in the data center
Ability to specify alerts which are applied across all Spectrum Scale clusters, for things like relative or absolute free space in a file system, or inodes used, nodes going down, etc.
Understand the cross-cluster relationships established by remote cluster mounts, and seamlessly navigate between them
If external SAN storage is used, Spectrum Control shows the correlation between Spectrum Scale Network Shared Disks (NSD) and their corresponding SAN volumes, again with the ability to navigate between them; also it can provide performance monitoring for the volumes backing the NSD
Ability to monitor file capacity usage in the context of applications, by adding Spectrum Scale "file set containers" to application groups defined in Spectrum Control
Compare file system activity across Spectrum Scale clusters, with the ability to drill into file system and node performance charts
Support for object storage on Spectrum Scale, determine which object-enabled clusters are closest to running out of free space
While the basic built-in GUI is great for smaller deployments, if you have a dozen or more Spectrum Scale clusters, or have Spectrum Scale clusters intermixed with traditional block-level and NAS storage devices, then Spectrum Control is for you!
It used to take weeks to deploy the original versions of Tivoli Storage Productivity Center, but now, Spectrum Control is now offered in the cloud, and you can deploy it in as little as 30 minutes.
Want to check it out? You can explore Spectrum Control Storage Insights cloud service as a [Live Demo], or [Start your free trial]! The reporting capabilities of Spectrum Scale are identical between the on-premise version of Spectrum Control, and this cloud service offering.
Here's a great quote from a leading IT industry analyst:
"In multi-petabyte, multivendor installations, overall storage costs of ownership for use of IBM Spectrum Storage solutions averaged 73 percent less than EMC, and 61 percent less than Hitachi equivalents" -- Brian Jeffery, Managing Director, International Technology Group, Naples, FL
As IBM continues its transition from a hardware-oriented company founded over a century ago, manufacturing meat scales and cheese slicers, to one more focused on higher value-add software and services, the Spectrum Storage software family will play a critical role of this transformation!