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For those in the US, a comedian named Carlos Mencia has a great TV show, Mind of Menciaand one of my favorite segments is "Why the @#$% is this news!" where he goes about showingblatantly obvious things that were reported in various channels.
So, when I saw that IBM once again, for the third year in a row, has the fastest disk system,the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC), based on widely-accepted industry benchmarksrepresenting typical business workloads, I thought, "Do I really want to blog about this,and sound like a broken record, repeating my various statements of the past of how great SVC is?" It's like reminding people that IBM hashad the most US patents than any other company, every year, for the past 14 years.
(Last year, I received comments fromWoody Hutsell, VP of Texas Memory Systems,because I pointed out that their "World's Fastest Storage"® cache-only system, was not as fast as IBM's SVC.You can ready my opinions, and the various comments that ensued, hereand here. )
That all changed when EMC uber-blogger Chuck Hollis forgot his own Lessons in Marketingwhen heposted his rantDoes Anyone Take The SPC Seriously?That's like asking "Does anyone take book and movie reviews seriously?" Of course they do!In fact, if a movie doesn't make a big deal of its "Two thumbs up!" rating, you know it did not sitwill with the reviewers. It's even more critical for books. I guess this latest news from SPC reallygot under EMC's skin.
For medium and large size businesses, storage is expensive, and customers want to do as much research as possible ahead of time to make informed decisions. A lot of money is at stake, and often, once you choose a product, you are stuckwith that vendor for many years to come, sometimes paying software renewals after only 90 days, and hardware maintenance renewals after only a year when the warranty runs out.
Customers shopping for storage like the idea of a standardized test that is representative, so they can compare one vendor's claims with another. The Storage Performance Council (SPC), much like the Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC-C) for servers, requires full disclosure of the test environment so people can see what was measured and make their own judgement on whether or not it reflects their workloads. Chuck pours scorn on SPC but I think we should point to TPC-C as a great success story and ask why he thinks the same can't happen for storage? Server performance is also a complicatedsubject, but people compare TPC-C and TPC-H benchmarks all the time.
Note:This blog post has been updated. I am retracting comments that were unfair generalizations. The next two paragraphs are different than originally posted.
Chuck states that "Anyone is free, however, to download the SPC code, lash it up to their CLARiiON, and have at it." I encourage every customer to do this with whatever disk systems they already have installed. Judge for yourself how each benchmark compares to your experience with your application workload, and consider publishing the results for the benefit of others, or at least send me the results, so that I can understand better all of these"use cases" that Chuck talks about so often. I agree that real-world performance measurements using real applications and real data are always going to be more accurate and more relevant to that particular customer. Unfortunately, there are little or no such results made public. They are noticeably absent. With thousands of customers running with storage from all the major storage vendors, as well as storage from smaller start-up companies, I would expect more performance comparison data to be readily available.
In my opinion, customers would benefit by seeing the performance results obtained by others. SPC benchmarks help to fill this void, to provide customers who have not yet purchased the equipment, and are looking for guidance of which vendors to work with, and which products to put into their consideration set.
Truth is, benchmarks are just one of the many ways to evaluate storage vendors and their products. There are also customer references, industry awards, and corporate statements of a company's financial health, strategy and vision.Like anything, it is information to weigh against other factors when making expensive decisions. And I am sure the SPC would be glad to hear of any suggestions for a third SPC-3 benchmark, if the first two don't provide you enough guidance.
So, if you are not delighted with the performance you are getting from your storage now, or would benefit by having even faster I/O, consider improving its performance by adding SAN Volume Controller. SVC is like salt or soy sauce, it makes everything taste better. IBM would be glad to help you with a try-and-buy or proof-of-concept approach, and even help you compare the performance, before and after, with whatever gear you have now. You might just be surprised how much better life is with SVC. And if, for some reason, the performance boost you experience for your unique workload is only 10-30% better with SVC, you are free to tell the world about your disappointment.
For the longest time, people thought that humans could not run a mile in less than four minutes. Then, in 1954, [Sir Roger Bannister] beat that perception, and shortly thereafter, once he showed it was possible, many other runners were able to achieve this also. The same is being said now about the IBM Watson computer which appeared this week against two human contestants on Jeopardy!
(2014 Update: A lot has happened since I originally wrote this blog post! I intended this as a fun project for college students to work on during their summer break. However, IBM is concerned that some businesses might be led to believe they could simply stand up their own systems based entirely on open source and internally developed code for business use. IBM recommends instead the [IBM InfoSphere BigInsights] which packages much of the software described below. IBM has also launched a new "Watson Group" that has [Watson-as-a-Service] capabilities in the Cloud. To raise awareness to these developments, IBM has asked me to rename this post from IBM Watson - How to build your own "Watson Jr." in your basement to the new title IBM Watson -- How to replicate Watson hardware and systems design for your own use in your basement. I also took this opportunity to improve the formatting layout.)
Often, when a company demonstrates new techology, these are prototypes not yet ready for commercial deployment until several years later. IBM Watson, however, was made mostly from commercially available hardware, software and information resources. As several have noted, the 1TB of data used to search for answers could fit on a single USB drive that you buy at your local computer store.
Take a look at the [IBM Research Team] to determine how the project was organized. Let's decide what we need, and what we don't in our version for personal use:
Do we need it for personal use?
Yes, That's you. Assuming this is a one-person project, you will act as Team Lead.
Yes, I hope you know computer programming!
No, since this version for personal use won't be appearing on Jeopardy, we won't need strategy on wager amounts for the Daily Double, or what clues to pick next. Let's focus merely on a computer that can accept a question in text, and provide an answer back, in text.
Yes, this team focused on how to wire all the hardware together. We need to do that, although this version for personal use will have fewer components.
Optional. For now, let's have this version for personal use just return its answer in plain text. Consider this Extra Credit after you get the rest of the system working. Consider using [eSpeak], [FreeTTS], or the Modular Architecture for Research on speech sYnthesis [MARY] Text-to-Speech synthesizers.
Yes, I will explain what this is, and why you need it.
Yes, we will need to get information for personal use to process
Yes, this team developed a system for parsing the question being asked, and to attach meaning to the different words involved.
No, this team focused on making IBM Watson optimized to answer in 3 seconds or less. We can accept a slower response, so we can skip this.
(Disclaimer: As with any Do-It-Yourself (DIY) project, I am not responsible if you are not happy with your version for personal use I am basing the approach on what I read from publicly available sources, and my work in Linux, supercomputers, XIV, and SONAS. For our purposes, this version for personal use is based entirely on commodity hardware, open source software, and publicly available sources of information. Your implementation will certainly not be as fast or as clever as the IBM Watson you saw on television.)
Step 1: Buy the Hardware
Supercomputers are built as a cluster of identical compute servers lashed together by a network. You will be installing Linux on them, so if you can avoid paying extra for Microsoft Windows, that would save you some money. Here is your shopping list:
Three x86 hosts, with the following:
64-bit quad-core processor, either Intel-VT or AMD-V capable,
8GB of DRAM, or larger
300GB of hard disk, or larger
CD or DVD Read/Write drive
Computer Monitor, mouse and keyboard
Ethernet 1GbE 4-port hub, and appropriate RJ45 cables
Surge protector and Power strip
Local Console Monitor (LCM) 4-port switch (formerly known as a KVM switch) and appropriate cables. This is optional, but will make it easier during the development. Once your implementation is operational, you will only need the monitor and keyboard attached to one machine. The other two machines can remain "headless" servers.
Step 2: Establish Networking
IBM Watson used Juniper switches running at 10Gbps Ethernet (10GbE) speeds, but was not connected to the Internet while playing Jeopardy! Instead, these Ethernet links were for the POWER7 servers to talk to each other, and to access files over the Network File System (NFS) protocol to the internal customized SONAS storage I/O nodes.
The implementation will be able to run "disconnected from the Internet" as well. However, you will need Internet access to download the code and information sources. For our purposes, 1GbE should be sufficient. Connect your Ethernet hub to your DSL or Cable modem. Connect all three hosts to the Ethernet switch. Connect your keyboard, video monitor and mouse to the LCM, and connect the LCM to the three hosts.
Step 3: Install Linux and Middleware
To say I use Linux on a daily basis is an understatement. Linux runs on my Android-based cell phone, my laptop at work, my personal computers at home, most of our IBM storage devices from SAN Volume Controller to XIV to SONAS, and even on my Tivo at home which recorded my televised episodes of Jeopardy!
For this project, you can use any modern Linux distribution that supports KVM. IBM Watson used Novel SUSE Linux Enterprise Server [SLES 11]. Alternatively, I can also recommend either Red Hat Enterprise Linux [RHEL 6] or Canonical [Ubuntu v10]. Each distribution of Linux comes in different orientations. Download the the 64-bit "ISO" files for each version, and burn them to CDs.
Graphical User Interface (GUI) oriented, often referred to as "Desktop" or "HPC-Head"
Command Line Interface (CLI) oriented, often referred to as "Server" or "HPC-Compute"
Guest OS oriented, to run in a Hypervisor such as KVM, Xen, or VMware. Novell calls theirs "Just Enough Operating System" [JeOS].
For this version for personal use, I have chosen a [multitier architecture], sometimes referred to as an "n-tier" or "client/server" architecture.
Host 1 - Presentation Server
For the Human-Computer Interface [HCI], the IBM Watson received categories and clues as text files via TCP/IP, had a [beautiful avatar] representing a planet with 42 circles streaking across in orbit, and text-to-speech synthesizer to respond in a computerized voice. Your implementation will not be this sophisticated. Instead, we will have a simple text-based Query Panel web interface accessible from a browser like Mozilla Firefox.
Host 1 will be your Presentation Server, the connection to your keyboard, video monitor and mouse. Install the "Desktop" or "HPC Head Node" version of Linux. Install [Apache Web Server and Tomcat] to run the Query Panel. Host 1 will also be your "programming" host. Install the [Java SDK] and the [Eclipse IDE for Java Developers]. If you always wanted to learn Java, now is your chance. There are plenty of books on Java if that is not the language you normally write code.
While three little systems doesn't constitute an "Extreme Cloud" environment, you might like to try out the "Extreme Cloud Administration Tool", called [xCat], which was used to manage the many servers in IBM Watson.
Host 2 - Business Logic Server
Host 2 will be driving most of the "thinking". Install the "Server" or "HPC Compute Node" version of Linux. This will be running a server virtualization Hypervisor. I recommend KVM, but you can probably run Xen or VMware instead if you like.
Host 3 - File and Database Server
Host 3 will hold your information sources, indices, and databases. Install the "Server" or "HPC Compute Node" version of Linux. This will be your NFS server, which might come up as a question during the installation process.
Technically, you could run different Linux distributions on different machines. For example, you could run "Ubuntu Desktop" for host 1, "RHEL 6 Server" for host 2, and "SLES 11" for host 3. In general, Red Hat tries to be the best "Server" platform, and Novell tries to make SLES be the best "Guest OS".
My advice is to pick a single distribution and use it for everything, Desktop, Server, and Guest OS. If you are new to Linux, choose Ubuntu. There are plenty of books on Linux in general, and Ubuntu in particular, and Ubuntu has a helpful community of volunteers to answer your questions.
Step 4: Download Information Sources
You will need some documents for your implementation to process.
IBM Watson used a modified SONAS to provide a highly-available clustered NFS server. For this version, we won't need that level of sophistication. Configure Host 3 as the NFS server, and Hosts 1 and 2 as NFS clients. See the [Linux-NFS-HOWTO] for details. To optimize performance, host 3 will be the "official master copy", but we will use a Linux utility called rsync to copy the information sources over to the hosts 1 and 2. This allows the task engines on those hosts to access local disk resources during question-answer processing.
We will also need a relational database. You won't need a high-powered IBM DB2. Your implementation can do fine with something like [Apache Derby] which is the open source version of IBM CloudScape from its Informix acquisition. Set up Host 3 as the Derby Network Server, and Hosts 1 and 2 as Derby Network Clients. For more about structured content in relational databases, see my post [IBM Watson - Business Intelligence, Data Retrieval and Text Mining].
Linux includes a utility called wget which allows you to download content from the Internet to your system. What documents you decide to download is up to you, based on what types of questions you want answered. For example, if you like Literature, check out the vast resources at [FullBooks.com]. You can automate the download by writing a shell script or program to invoke wget to all the places you want to fetch data from. Rename the downloaded files to something unique, as often they are just "index.html". For more on wget utility, see [IBM Developerworks].
Step 5: The Query Panel - Parsing the Question
Next, we need to parse the question and have some sense of what is being asked for. For this we will use [OpenNLP] for Natural Language Processing, and [OpenCyc] for the conceptual logic reasoning. See Doug Lenat presenting this 75-minute video [Computers versus Common Sense]. To learn more, see the [CYC 101 Tutorial].
Unlike Jeopardy! where Alex Trebek provides the answer and contestants must respond with the correct question, we will do normal Question-and-Answer processing. To keep things simple, we will limit questions to the following formats:
Who is ...?
Where is ...?
When did ... happen?
What is ...?
Host 1 will have a simple Query Panel web interface. At the top, a place to enter your question, and a "submit" button, and a place at the bottom for the answer to be shown. When "submit" is pressed, this will pass the question to "main.jsp", the Java servlet program that will start the Question-answering analysis. Limiting the types of questions that can be posed will simplify hypothesis generation, reduce the candidate set and evidence evaluation, allowing the analytics processing to continue in reasonable time.
Step 6: Unstructured Information Management Architecture
The "heart and soul" of IBM Watson is Unstructured Information Management Architecture [UIMA]. IBM developed this, then made it available to the world as open source. It is maintained by the [Apache Software Foundation], and overseen by the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards [OASIS].
Basically, UIMA lets you scan unstructured documents, gleam the important points, and put that into a database for later retrieval. In the graph above, DBs means 'databases' and KBs means 'knowledge bases'. See the 4-minute YouTube video of [IBM Content Analytics], the commercial version of UIMA.
Starting from the left, the Collection Reader selects each document to process, and creates an empty Common Analysis Structure (CAS) which serves as a standardized container for information. This CAS is passed to Analysis Engines , composed of one or more Annotators which analyze the text and fill the CAS with the information found. The CAS are passed to CAS Consumers which do something with the information found, such as enter an entry into a database, update an index, or update a vote count.
(Note: This point requires, what we in the industry call a small matter of programming, or [SMOP]. If you've always wanted to learn Java programming, XML, and JDBC, you will get to do plenty here. )
If you are not familiar with UIMA, consider this [UIMA Tutorial].
Step 7: Parallel Processing
People have asked me why IBM Watson is so big. Did we really need 2,880 cores of processing power? As a supercomputer, the 80 TeraFLOPs of IBM Watson would place it only in 94th place on the [Top 500 Supercomputers]. While IBM Watson may be the [Smartest Machine on Earth], the most powerful supercomputer at this time is the Tianhe-1A with more than 186,000 cores, capable of 2,566 TeraFLOPs.
To determine how big IBM Watson needed to be, the IBM Research team ran the DeepQA algorithm on a single core. It took 2 hours to answer a single Jeopardy question! Let's look at the performance data:
Number of cores
Time to answer one Jeopardy question
Single IBM Power750 server
< 4 minutes
Single rack (10 servers)
< 30 seconds
IBM Watson (90 servers)
< 3 seconds
The old adage applies, [many hands make for light work]. The idea is to divide-and-conquer. For example, if you wanted to find a particular street address in the Manhattan phone book, you could dispatch fifty pages to each friend and they could all scan those pages at the same time. This is known as "Parallel Processing" and is how supercomputers are able to work so well. However, not all algorithms lend well to parallel processing, and the phrase [nine women can't have a baby in one month] is often used to remind us of this.
Fortuantely, UIMA is designed for parallel processing. You need to install UIMA-AS for Asynchronous Scale-out processing, an add-on to the base UIMA Java framework, supporting a very flexible scale-out capability based on JMS (Java Messaging Services) and ActiveMQ. We will also need Apache Hadoop, an open source implementation used by Yahoo Search engine. Hadoop has a "MapReduce" engine that allows you to divide the work, dispatch pieces to different "task engines", and the combine the results afterwards.
Host 2 will run Hadoop and drive the MapReduce process. Plan to have three KVM guests on Host 1, four on Host 2, and three on Host 3. That means you have 10 task engines to work with. These task engines can be deployed for Content Readers, Analysis Engines, and CAS Consumers. When all processing is done, the resulting votes will be tabulated and the top answer displayed on the Query Panel on Host 1.
Step 8: Testing
To simplify testing, use a batch processing approach. Rather than entering questions by hand in the Query Panel, generate a long list of questions in a file, and submit for processing. This will allow you to fine-tune the environment, optimize for performance, and validate the answers returned.
There you have it. By the time you get your implementation fully operational, you will have learned a lot of useful skills, including Linux administration, Ethernet networking, NFS file system configuration, Java programming, UIMA text mining analysis, and MapReduce parallel processing. Hopefully, you will also gain an appreciation for how difficult it was for the IBM Research team to accomplish what they had for the Grand Challenge on Jeopardy! Not surprisingly, IBM Watson is making IBM [as sexy to work for as Apple, Google or Facebook], all of which started their business in a garage or a basement with a system as small as this version for personal use.
I'm glad to be back home in Tucson for a few weeks. All of these conferences kept mefrom reading up with what was going on in the blogosphere.
A few of us at IBM found it odd that EMC would announce their new Geographically Dispersed Disaster Restart (GDDR) the weekBEFORE their "EMC World" conference. Why not announce all of the stuff all at once instead at the conference?Were they worried that the admission that "Maui" software is still many months awaythat much of a negative stigma? The decision probably went something like this:
EMCer #1: GDDR is finally ready, should we announce now, or wait ONE week to make it part of the thingswe announce at EMC World?
EMCer #2: We are not announcing much at EMC World and what people really want us to talk about, Maui, wearen't delivering for a while. Why can't people understand we are company of hardware engineers, not software programmers! So, better not be associated with that quagmire at all.
EMCer #1: Yes, boss, I see your point. We'll announce this week then.
My fellow blogger and intellectual sparring partner, Barry Burke, on his Storage Anarchist blog, posted [are you wasting money on your mainframe dr solution?"] to bringup the GDDR announcement. The key difference is that IBM GDPS works withIBM, EMC and HDS equipment, being the fair-and-balanced folks that IBM clientshave come to expect, but it appears EMC GDDR works only with EMC equipment.Because GDDR does less, it also costs less. I can accept that. You get whatyou pay for. Of course, IBM does have a variety of protection levels, one probably will meet your budget and your business continuity needs.
To correct Barry's misperception, companies that buy IBM mainframe servers do have a choice.They can purchase their operating system from IBM, get their Linux or OpenSolarisfrom someone else like Red Hat or Novell, or build their own OS distribution fromreadily available open source. And unlike other servers that might require at leastone OS partition from the vendor, IBM mainframes can run 100 percent Linux.GDPS supports a mix of OS data. z/OS and Linux data can all be managed by GDPS.Companies that own mainframes know this. I can forgive the misperception from Barry,as EMC is focused on distributed servers instead, and many in their company may not have muchexposure to mainframe technology, or have ever spoken to mainframe customers.
But what almost had me fall out of my chair was this little nugget from his post:
"If you're an IBM mainframe customer, you are - by definition - IBM's profit stream."
Honestly, is there anyone out there that does not realize that IBM is a for-profitcorporation? In contrast, Barry would like his readers to believe that EMC is selling GDDR at cost, andthat EMC is a non-profit organization. While IBM has been delivering actual solutions thatour clients want, EMC continues to rumor that someday they might get around to offering something worthwhile.In the last six months, the shareholders have interpreted both strategies for what they really are,and the stock prices reflect that:
(Disclosure: I own IBM stock. I do not own EMC stock. Stock price comparisonsby Yahoo were based on publicly reported information. The colors blue and red to represent IBM and EMC, respectively, were selected by Yahoo graph-making facility. The color red does not necessarily imply EMC is losing money or having financial troubles.)
Of course, I for one would love to help Barry's dream of EMC non-profitability come true. If anyone has any suggestions how we can help EMC approach this goal, please post a comment below.
He feels I was unfair to accuse EMC of "proprietary interfaces" without spelling out what I was referring to. Here arejust two, along with the whines we hear from customers that relate to them.
EMC Powerpath multipathing driver
Typical whine: "I just paid a gazillion dollars to renew my annual EMC Powerpath license, so you will have to come back in 12 months with your SVC proposal. I just can't see explaining to my boss that an SVC eliminates the need for EMC Powerpath, throwing away all the good money we just spent on it, or to explain that EMC chooses not to support SVC as one of Powerpath's many supported devices."
EMC SRDF command line interface
Typical whine: "My storage admins have written tons of scripts that all invoke EMC SRDF command line interfacesto manage my disk mirroring environment, and I would hate for them to re-write this to use IBM's (also proprietary) command line interfaces instead."
Certainly BarryB is correct that IBM still has a few remaining "proprietary" items of its own. IBM has been in business over 80 years, but it was only the last 10-15 years that IBM made a strategic shift away from proprietary and over to open standards and interfaces. The transformation to "openness" is not yet complete, but we have made great progress. Take these examples:
The System z mainframe - IBM had opened the interfaces so that both Amdahl and Fujitsu made compatible machines.Unlike Apple which forbids cloning of this nature, IBM is now the single source for mainframes because the other twocompetitors could not keep up with IBM's progress and advancements in technology.
Update: Due to legal reasons, the statements referring to Hercules and other S/390 emulators havebeen removed.
The z/OS operating system - While it is possible to run Linux on the mainframe, most people associate the z/OSoperating system with the mainframe. This was opened up with UNIX System Services to satisfy requests from variousgovernments. It is now a full-fledged UNIX operating system, recognized by the [Open Group] that certifies it as such.
As BarryB alludes, the unique interfaces for disk attachment to System z known as Count-Key-Data (CKD) was published so that both EMC and HDS can offer disk systems to compete with IBM's high-end disk offerings. Linux on System zsupports standard Fibre Channel, allowing you to attach an IBM SVC and anyone's storage. Both z/OS and Linux on System z support NAS storage, so IBM N series, NetApp, even EMC Celerra could be used in that case.
The System i itself is still proprietary, but recently IBM announced that it will now support standard block size (512 bytes) instead of the awkward 528 byte blocks that only IBM and EMC support today. That means that any storage vendor will be ableto sell disk to the System i environment.
Advanced copy services, like FlashCopy and Metro Mirror, are as proprietary as the similar offerings from EMCand HDS, with the exception that IBM has licensed them to both EMC and HDS. Thanks to cross-licensing, you can do [FlashCopy on EMC] equipment. Getting all the storage vendors to agree to open standards for these copy services is still workin progress under [SNIA], but at least people who have coded z/OS JCL batchjobs that invoke FlashCopy utilities can work the same between IBM and EMC equipment.
So for those out there who thought that my comment about EMC's proprietary interfaces in any way implied thatIBM did not have any of its own, the proverbial ["pot calling the kettle black"] so to speak, I apologize.
BarryB shows off his [PhotoShop skills] with the graphic below. I take it as a compliment to be compared to anAll-American icon of business success.
TonyP and Monopoly's Mr. Pennybags Separated at Birth?
However, BarryB meant it as a reference back to long time ago when IBMwas a monopoly of the IT industry, which according to [IBM's History], ended in 1973. In other words, IBMstopped being a monopoly before EMC ever existed as a company, and long before I started working for IBM myself.
The anti-trust lawsuit that BarryB mentions happened in 1969, which forced IBM to separate some of the software from its hardware offerings, and prevented IBM from making various acquisitions for years to follow, forcing IBM instead into technology partnerships. I'm glad that's all behind us now!
My XO laptop arrived Friday, December 21, this was from the [Give 1 Get 1 (G1G1)] program fromthe One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) foundation. The program continuesto the end of this month (December 31).
Here are my first impressions.
Setup was Easy
Open the box, put in battery, and plug in the adapter. Enter your name and choose your favorite color for your stick figurine. No passwords, no parameters. Software is pre-installed and ready to use.
The four pages of instructions included how to open the unit (not intuitive), where the various connection ports are located, what the home screen and neighborhood screen look like, safety warnings, and a nice letter from Nicholas Negroponte with an 800 phone number and website in case more help is needed.
Connecting to the internet was the first thing I did. The neighborhood screen shows all the Wi-Fi access points. It recognized mineand three others. I clicked on mine, entered my WEP key, and was connected.
This is a Linux operating system running the Sugar user interface.There are four screens:
Neighborhood - shows all Wi-Fi access points
Friends - shows all other XO laptops nearby, in my case I am all alone
Home - your stick figurine with all the applications you can choose from are represented as icons at the bottom, just like OS X on my Mac Mini, or the launchpad on my Windows XP. Left panel for clipboard items.
Application - Applications run in full-screen mode
Four buttons across the top allow you to jump to any screen instantly.Everything else is single left-click. No double-clicks or right-clicks.
A circle on the home screen designates which applications are running, and how much of the available 256MB RAM they are consuming. This makes it easy to seeif you can run more applications or need to shut something down. Youcan jump to any application, or shut it down, from this view.
Shutting down the XO is done by clicking your stick figurine,and choosing shutdown.
I fired up the browser. The default 'home page' offers some help offline, as well as links to online resources and a google search bar. The full-color 1200x900 is very easy to read. You can hit ctrl+plus to make the fonts bigger. In bright sunlight, the screen turns automatically to greyscale.The built-in browser is easy enough to use, with standard back, forward, re-load, and bookmark buttons. The URL entry field also shows the pages title. It doesn't have tabs to see multiple pages at the same time, but I was able to fire up a second instance of the browser, so thatI could alt-tab back and forth between the two web sites.
There are so many applications that they don't all fit on the bottom of the screen.Left and right tab buttons will display the next set. I don't know if it is possible to re-order the icons, but I can certainly see some applications appealing to different ages, and perhaps re-ordering them into age-specific groups might be helpful.
Basic applications include the Abiword word processor, a PDF viewer, a simple paint program, calculator, chat, and news RSS feed reader; TamTam music to play and edit compositions; and some learn-to-program-a-computer software including Pippy, Etoys, and TurtleArt.
The 'record' program lets you take 640x480 pictures with the built-in camera, up to 45 seconds of video and audio recording. The picture abovewas taken with my XO, and edited online using [snipshot.com]. Another program can be usedto make video calls to another computer, similar to Skype or IBM Lotus Sametime.
The XO has built-in microphone and speakers, but also microphone and speaker ports, as well as three USB ports, and a slot for an SD memory card.
The QWERTY keyboard is designed for small children hands, I found myself using my two index fingers in a hunt-and-peck style. People who use Blackberry's or other hand-held devices might be able to use their two thumbs instead. Also, I am not used to a touchpad as the pointing device. My other laptops have a red knob between the G/H/B keys that acts like a joystick. So, I decided to attach my Apple keyboard/mouse to one USB port, which allows me faster typing and better resolution with my mouse.
I also inserted a 1GB SD card into the slot. Getting to the SD slot was challenging--you have to rotate the screen 90 degrees so that the lower right corner is over the laptop handle. It appears I need to purchase some tweasers to get my SD card back out, so until then, it will remain there as permanent addition to my XO.
A terminal application provides a command line interface into Linux.
The 'vi' editor is installed, in case I need to make changes to fstab or anythingelse in my /etc directory.
There is no S-video or VGA port. However, a teacher could probably fold thislaptop up in e-book mode and lay it flat on an [overhead projector] since the screen can handle bright sunlight in black-and-white mode.
The Journal and the Clipboard
There are no folders or subdirectories here. The journal acts as your desktop, holding all the files you have referenced, sorted in chronological order with the most recent on top. The journal application is started automatically when you boot up.My SD card is shown as a separate entry at the bottom right corner, but I have access only to files on my top-level directory on the card. The journal allows you to drag and drop between the system and the SD flash card.The list can be filtered by file type and application, so finding things is easy.You can also copy anything in the journal to the clipboard, appearing on the leftpanel of the home screen. You can then launch or paste this into other applications.
Pressing Alt-1 takes a 1200x900 snapshot of the current screen, and puts it into the journal.On websites that allow you to upload a file, including GMAIL, snipshot.com, etc. the browse button brings up the journal. So, for example, you could take a snapshot of the current webpage or paint creation, and send it as an attachment to someone via GMAIL. Google has an XO-enabled version of GMAIL that you can download from the OLPC activities page.
This entire post, including the picture above, was done with the XO laptop itself. I am impressed with the thought that went into this design, and I see great potential here. The interface adequately hides the Linux operating system for those who just want to use the computer, but makes it readily accessible for those who want to learn more about the Linux operating system and computer programming.
From New York, Rolf went to London, Paris, Madrid, Morocco, Cairo, South Africa, Bangkok Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, and then back to United States. I was hoping to run into him while I was in Australia and New Zealand last month, but our schedules did not line up.
Travelingwithout baggage is more than just a convenience, it is a metaphor for the philosophy that we should keep only what we need, and leave behind what we don't. This was the approach taken by IBM in the design of the IBM Storwize V7000 midrange disk system.
The IBM Storwize V7000 disk system consists of 2U enclosures. Controller enclosures have dual-controllers and drives. Expansion enclosures have just drives. Enclosures can have either 24 smaller form factor (SFF) 2.5-inch drives, or twelve larger 3.5-inch drives. A controller enclosure can be connected up to nine expansion enclosures.
The drives are all connected via 6 Gbps SAS, and come in a variety of speeds and sizes: 300GB Solid-State Drive (SSD); 300GB/450GB/600GB high-speed 10K RPM; and 2TB low-speed 7200 RPM drives. The 12-bay enclosures can be intermixed with 24-bay enclosures on the same system, and within an enclosure different speeds and sizes can be intermixed. A half-rack system (20U) could hold as much as 480TB of raw disk capacity.
This new system, freshly designed entirely within IBM, competes directly against systems that carry a lot of baggage, including the HDS AMS, HP EVA, an EMC CLARiiON CX4 systems. Instead, we decided to keep the what we wanted from our other successful IBM products.
Inspired by our successful XIV storage system, IBM has developed a web-based GUI that focuses on ease-of-use. This GUI uses the latest HTML5 and dojo widgets to provide an incredible user experience.
Borrowed from our IBM DS8000 high-end disk systems, state-of-the-art device adapters provide 6 Gbps SAS connectivity with a variety of RAID levels: 0, 1, 5, 6, and 10.
From our SAN Volume Controller, the embedded [ SVC 6.1 firmware] provides all of the features and functions normally associated with enterprise-class systems, including Easy Tier sub-LUN automated tiering between Solid-State Drives and Spinning disk, thin provisioning, external disk virtualization, point-in-time FlashCopy, disk mirroring, built-in migration capability, and long-distance synchronous and asynchronous replication.
Finally, the various "internal NDA" that kept me from publishing this sooner have expired, so now I have the long-awaited [Inside System Storage: Volume II], documenting IBM's transformation in its storage strategy, including behind-the-scenes commentary about IBM's acquisitions of XIV and Diligent. Available initially in paperback form. I am still working on the hard cover and eBook editions.
For those who have not yet read my first book, Inside System Storage: Volume I, it is still available from my publisher Lulu, in [hard cover], [paperback] and [eBook] editions.
IBM System Storage DS8800
A lesson IBM learned long ago was not to make radical changes to high-end disk systems, as clients who run mission-critical applications are more concerned about reliability, availability and serviceability than they are performance or functionality. Shipping any product before it was ready meant painfully having to fix the problems in the field instead.
(EMC apparently is learning this same lesson now with their VMAX disk system. Their Engenuity code from Symmetrix DMX4 was ported over to new CLARiiON-based hardware. With several hundred boxes in the field, they have already racked up over 150 severity 1 problems, roughly half of these resulted in data loss or unavailability issues. For the sake of our mutual clients that have both IBM servers and EMC disk, I hope they get their act together soon.)
To avoid this, IBM made incremental changes to the successful design and architecture of its predecessors. The new DS8800 shares 85 percent of the stable microcode from the DS8700 system. Functions like Metro Mirror, Global Mirror, and Metro/Global Mirror, are compatible with all of the previous models of the DS8000 series, as well as previous models of the IBM Enterprise Storage Server (ESS) line.
The previous models of DS8000 series were designed to take in cold air from both front and back, and route the hot air out the top, known as chimney design. However, many companies are re-arranging their data centers into separate cold aisles and hot aisles. The new DS8800 has front-to-back cooling to help accommodate this design.
My colleague Curtis Neal would call the rest of this a "BFD" announcement, which of course stands for "Bigger, Faster and Denser". The new DS8800 scales-up to more drives than its DS8700 predecessor, and can scale-out from a single-frame 2-way system to a multi-frame 4-way system. IBM has upgraded to faster 5GHz POWER6+ processors, with dual-core 8 Gbps FC and FICON host adapters, 8 Gbps device adapters, and 6 Gbps SAS connectivity to smaller form factor (SFF) 2.5-inch SAS drives. IBM Easy Tier will provide sub-LUN automated tiering between Solid-State Drives and spinning disk. The denser packaging with SFF drives means that we can pack over 1000 drives in only three frames, compared to five frames required for the DS8700.
The [IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller] software release v6.1 brings Easy Tier sub-LUN automated tiering to the rest of the world. IBM Easy Tier moves the hottest, most active extents up to Solid-State Drives (SSD) and moves the coldest, least active down to spinning disk. This works whether the SSD is inside the SVC 2145-CF8 nodes, or in the managed disk pool.
Tired of waiting for EMC to finally deliver FAST v2 for your VMAX? It has been 18 months since they first announced that someday they would have sub-LUN automatic tiering. What is taking them so long? Why not virtualize your VMAX with SVC, and you can have it sooner!
SVC 6.1 also upgrades to a sexy new web-based GUI, which like the one for the IBM Storwize V7000, is based on the latest HTML5 and dojo widget standards. Inspired by the popular GUI from the IBM XIV Storage System, this GUI has greatly improved ease-of-use.
The technology industry is full of trade-offs. Take for example solar cells that convert sunlight to electricity. Every hour, more energy hits the Earth in the form of sunlight than the entire planet consumes in an entire year. The general trade-off is between energy conversion efficiency versus abundance of materials:
Get 9-11 percent efficiency using rare materials like indium (In), gallium (Ga) or cadmium (Cd).
Get only 6.7 percent efficiency using abundant materials like copper (Cu), tin (Sn), zinc (Zn), sulfur (S), and selenium (Se)
A second trade-off is exemplified by EMC's recent GeoProtect announcement. This appears similar to the geographic dispersal method introduced by a company called [CleverSafe]. The trade-off is between the amount of space to store one or more copies of data and the protection of data in the event of disaster. Here's an excerpt from fellow blogger Chuck Hollis (EMC) titled ["Cloud Storage Evolves"]:
"Imagine a average-sized Atmos network of 9 nodes, all in different time zones around the world. And imagine that we were using, say, a 6+3 protection scheme.
The implication is clear: any 3 nodes could be completely lost: failed, destroyed, seized by the government, etc.
-- and the information could be completely recovered from the surviving nodes."
For organizations worried about their information falling into the wrong hands (whether criminal or government sponsored!), any subset of the nodes would yield nothing of value -- not only would the information be presumably encrypted, but only a few slices of a far bigger picture would be lost.
Seized by the government?falling into the wrong hands? Is EMC positioning ATMOS as "Storage for Terrorists"? I can certainly appreciate the value of being able to protect 6PB of data with only 9PB of storage capacity, instead of keeping two copies of 6PB each, the trade-off means that you will be accessing the majority of your data across your intranet, which could impact performance. But, if you are in an illicit or illegal business that could have a third of your facilities "seized by the government", then perhaps you shouldn't house your data centers there in the first place. Having two copies of 6PB each, in two "friendly nations", might make more sense.
(In reality, companies often keep way more than just two copies of data. It is not unheard of for companies to keep three to five copies scattered across two or three locations. Facebook keeps SIX copies of photographs you upload to their website.)
ChuckH argues that the governments that seize the three nodes won't have a complete copy of the data. However, merely having pieces of data is enough for governments to capture terrorists. Even if the striping is done at the smallest 512-byte block level, those 512 bytes of data might contain names, phone numbers, email addresses, credit cards or social security numbers. Hackers and computer forensics professionals take advantage of this.
You might ask yourself, "Why not just encrypt the data instead?" That brings me to the third trade-off, protection versus application performance. Over the past 30 years, companies had a choice, they could encrypt and decrypt the data as needed, using server CPU cycles, but this would slow down application processing. Every time you wanted to read or update a database record, more cycles would be consumed. This forced companies to be very selective on what data they encrypted, which columns or fields within a database, which email attachments, and other documents or spreadsheets.
An initial attempt to address this was to introduce an outboard appliance between the server and the storage device. For example, the server would write to the appliance with data in the clear, the appliance would encrypt the data, and pass it along to the tape drive. When retrieving data, the appliance would read the encrypted data from tape, decrypt it, and pass the data in the clear back to the server. However, this had the unintended consequences of using 2x to 3x more tape cartridges. Why? Because the encrypted data does not compress well, so tape drives with built-in compression capabilities would not be able to shrink down the data onto fewer tapes.
(I covered the importance of compressing data before encryption in my previous blog post
[Sock Sock Shoe Shoe].)
Like the trade-off between energy efficiency and abundant materials, IBM eliminated the trade-off by offering compression and encryption on the tape drive itself. This is standard 256-bit AES encryption implemented on a chip, able to process the data as it arrives at near line speed. So now, instead of having to choose between protecting your data or running your applications with acceptable performance, you can now do both, encrypt all of your data without having to be selective. This approach has been extended over to disk drives, so that disk systems like the IBM System Storage DS8000 and DS5000 can support full-disk-encryption [FDE] drives.
Fellow blogger Chuck Hollis from EMC has a post titled[Whither Frankenstorage] causing quite a stir in the [Stor-o-Sphere]. He is not the firstEMC blogger to use this phrase, I credit [BarryB] for coining the term back in September 2008.Frankenstein serves as the ideal icon for EMC's FUD machine. In the novel, Dr. Frankenstein wasattempting to do something nobody else had ever attempted, to create human life from variousdead body parts, a process full of uncertainty and doubt, with frightful results.
Perhaps it was a coincidence that I discussed IBM's storage strategy in my post[Foundations and Flavorings] on January 28, shortly followed by NetApp's announcing V-series gateway [support of Texas Memory Systems' RamSan-500] on February 3. These two events mighthave been the trigger that pushed ChuckH over the edge to put pen to paper, .. finger to keyboard.
Flinging FUD in all directions was ChuckH's not-so-subtle way to remind the world that EMC is the only major storage vendor to not offer a successful storage virtualization product. Withoutfirst-hand experience with well-designed storage virtualization, ChuckH conjectures that a configuration matching intelligent front-ends to reliable back-ends might be more expensive, might be more difficult to manage, or might be harder to support.
(Note: Rest assured, IBM can demonstrate that a modular approach, combining intelligent front-ends to reliableback-ends can help reduce costs, be easier to manage, and be fully supported. Contact yourlocal IBM Business Partner or storage sales rep for details.)
My favorite was from Nigel Poulton's post on[Ruptured Monkey]. Here's an excerpt:
In fact, I'm fairly certain that EMC don't back away from customers who run HP or IBM servers and say "sorry we cant help you here, an end to end HP or IBM solution would be much better for you when it comes to troubleshooting……. putting our storage in would only add extra layers of complexity and make things messy….."
On most other days, ChuckH has well-written, insightful blog posts that show that EMC brings some value to the industry. I could have made a snarky reference to[Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde], or indicate this post proves that nobody at EMC is editing or reviewingChuck's thoughts before they get posted. But it's too late, Chuck already got the message, and added the following to bring the discussion back to civility:
When considering the broad range of storage media service levels available today (flash, FC, SATA, spin-down, etc.) what's the best way to offer these media choices in an array? Is the answer (a) combine smaller arrays from different vendors together behind a virtualization head, or (b) invest the time and effort to build arrays that can directly support all of these media types?
Would anyone like to try a cogent response to the question posed, please?
To address ChuckH's question, Nigel's post gave me the idea to use today's 200th year celebration of [Charles Darwin].
Over millions of years, Charles Darwin argued, evolution results in change in the inherited traits of a population of organisms from one generation to the next.A key component of this is a biological process called [mitosis] that allows a single cell to split and become two cells. In some cases, these individual daughter cells can then specialize to specific functions, such as nerve cells, muscle cells or bone cells. Over time, adaptations that work well carry forward, and thosethat don't get left behind.
I find it interesting that before [On the Origin of Species] was published in 1859, works of fiction like Mary Shelley's[Frankenstein] had monsters being"created", and afterward, monsters were the result of mutation or selective adaptation.
Nigel compares EMC's monolithic approach to placing an intelligent front-end with a reliable back-end as "One man band, where one guy is trying playing all the instruments himself" versus the "Philharmonic Orchestra". I would take it one step further, comparing single-cell organisms to multi-cell life forms.
Innovative companies like Google and Amazon can't wait for a completely integrated solution from a major IT vendor to meet their needs. Why should they? There are open standards, and ways to interconnect the best intelligence into a [dynamic infrastructure®.].You don't need to wait another million years to see which way the IT marketplace considers the better approach. Just look at the last 60 years. Back then, computer systems were all integrated, server, storage, and the wires that connected them were all inside a huge container. Then, mitosis happened, and IBM created external tape storage in 1952, and external disk storage in 1956. Open standards for interfaces allowed third party manufacturers like HDS, StorageTek and EMC to offer plug-compatible storage devices.
On the server side, it didn't take long for functionality in mainframes to split off. Mitosis happened again, with front-end UNIX systems processing incoming data, and mainframes handling the back-end data bases and printing. The client-server era replaced dumb terminals with more intelligent desktops and workstations, and these could handle the front-end processing to display information, with the back-end storage and number-crunching being handled by the UNIX and mainframe systems they connected to.Connections between desktops and servers, and from servers to storage, have also evolved. From thousands of direct-attach cables to networks of switches and directors.
Charles Darwin was particularly interested in cases where evolution happened faster or slower than in other cases. While IBM and Microsoft encouraged third-party innovations on the PC side, Apple resisted mitosis, trying to keep its machines pure single-cell, integrated solutions.For the same reasons that you can't fight the laws of nature, Apple ended up having to support I/O ports to external devices. Thanks to open standards like USB and Firewire, you can connect third-party storage to Apple computers. My little Mac Mini at home has more devices hanging off it than any of my Windows or Linux boxes! And Apple's iPod is successful because its iTunes software runs on both Windows and Mac OS operating systems.
Every time mitosis happens in the IT industry, it opens up opportunities to specialize, to innovate, to adapt to a dynamically changing world. When mitosis is suppressed, you get limiting products and frustratedengineers leaving to form their own start-up companies.But when mitosis is encouraged, you get successful products, solutions and partnerships positioned for a smarter planet.
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.
In this case, it is not chess pieces, but FUD being slung around like mud between vendors. EMC blogger Chuck Hollis' post [Products vs. Features] correctly pointsout that IBM has invented most nearly everything useful in IT, and sadly a few things we wish we hadn't.Gene Amdahl, who left IBM to start his own company, is credited for coining the phrase describing IBM'sinnovative sales techniques. Wikipedia has a nice write up on the history of[Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt(FUD)].
Nowadays, when you hear "FUD" most storage administrators immediately think of EMC, who have taken this method to anew level of art-form. Take for example two EMC entries from fellow blogger BarryB, on his Storage Anarchist blog:[Not Dead Yet, andPushing Daisies].The first is a reference to a funny scene from a Monty Python movie, and the second one is referring to a terriblenew television program called "Pushing Daisies". (In this show, the main character can bring a dead personback to life for sixty seconds, just long enough to ask a few questions on behalf of his detective friend. He must touch the person again within 60 seconds, or someone else randomly dies instead. I amnot a fan of this concept, and found it a bit morbid and creepy. But I digress.)
It is true I was on vacation the past two weeks, but this was group travel I booked over six months ago before we had the exact dates lined up for our various announcements, and not a last-minute celebration of my recent new job assignment. I got all my assignments for this announcement turned in before leaving for my trip. I never thought of checking with fellow IBM blogger BarryW to make sure that we don't have overlapping vacation schedules, leaving the "blogosphere" unmanned, so to speak, but it is not a bad idea. Fortunately, our IBM PR team was able to make their rebuttal through other means. You can read the recap on Techworld [Marketing Wars by Proxy].
Several astute readers on my blog, however, requested that I add my two cents. Let's take a look at some of BarryB's comments:
...most DS8300's are to this day most frequently bundled as "free" storage with IBM mainframe and server sales.
We just shipped our 15,000th box, so for this absurd statement to be true, more than half would have to be given away as part of a server-and-storage deal?Actually, about a third of our DS8000 sales are sold with servers in the same bundle, and while we do provide discounts from the official list price, that is not the same as "free". The other two thirds are sold into accounts to be used with the existing servers already deployed. So BarryB, your math doesn't work out. (Perhaps you've been taking Hitachi math lessons???)
It is interesting however, that when we do a 4-year TCO comparison, between a normally-discounted DS8000 versus free EMC DMX4 hardware, IBM still has the lower cost, given that most of the price-gouging from EMC happens after the initial sale, through software features, annual Powerpath renewals and MES upgrades. If you are an EMC customer, and you are planning to add more capacity to your DMX, ask EMC to charge you no more than what you originally paid on a dollar-per-GB basis for the initial capacity. That's only fair, right?
...No thin provisioning, or even a commitment to thin provisioning. Just crickets. (Celerra support since Jan 2006...
EMC DMX does not have thin provisioning available today either, so BarryB brings up Celerra, their NAS box? IBM System Storage N series NAS box also has thin provisioning, so if you want thin provisioning you can buy a NAS box from EMC or IBM. Thin provisioning makes sense using NAS protocols, as there are actual commands to "delete a file" that can then free up the related blocks in a thin-provisioned environment. The only way to do this with block-oriented protocols is to get the OS to notify the storage device that blocks can be freed up. As it turns out, IBM's z/OS has such support, which we developed specifically for our thin-provisioning support in our IBM RAMAC Virtual Array disk systems back in the 1990s.For block-oriented devices on most other operating systems, thin provisioning may not be all that it is cracked up to be.
No SATA drives (only DMX-4 supports native SATA-II drives, since Aug’07)
A few people are confused on this. IBM DS8000 has supported FATA for quite some time now, same slower speeds and higher capacities as SATA, but are technically NOT the same as SATA. FATA are designed to provide better protection against vibrational shock, to improve reliability of the drives. IBM felt that if the data was important enough to put on a high-end system, it should get better-than-SATA treatment. If you really want SATA, try our IBM System Storage N series, DS4000 or DS3000 models.
No RAID 6 (DMX-3 has supported multi-dimensional RAID since Q1’07, DMX-4 since Aug'07, ...
IBM N series supports RAID6, but we called it RAID-DP and that confused some people. Same thing, DP stands for Dual Parity, protecting against a double-disk failure. We also just announced RAID6 on our DS4000 series, by the way.
No 4Gb back-end (USP-V since May '07, DMX-4 since Aug’07)
I found this one odd, since BarryB himself in an earlier post explained why 4Gbps back-end made no difference to DMX4 performance in this post [DMX-4 and Oh So Much More], which I will put into a different color so you can tell it is from a different post:
You may have noticed that there weren't any specific performance claims attributed to the new 4Gb FC back-end. This wasn't an oversight, it is in fact intentional. The reality is that when it comes to massive-cache storage architectures, there really isn't that much of a difference between 2Gb/s transfer speeds and 4Gb/s. Transmit times are really only a tiny portion of I/O overhead, and just don't make that much difference when a massively-cached system is pre-fetching reads, buffering/delaying writes and reordering I/O requests to minimize seek times. Not that 4Gb/s won't help some applications, but most people just won't see any noticeable difference.
In this case, BarryB is right. The IBM DS8000's 2Gbps back-end is not a performance bottleneck. The DS8000 with a 2Gbps back-end is faster than DMX4 with a 4Gbps back-end for business application workloads. EMC doesn't publish SPC benchmarks to deny this, so you will just have to take our word on this.
Still only 1024 maximum disk drives (DMX-3 & 4 support up to 2400 drives, USP-V supports 1152)
I would be curious to see how many customers have more than 1024 drives on any high-end disk array.As we learned back in [Day 2 Storage Symposium], the average DS8100 has 17.4 TB, and DS8300 has 41.5 TB capacity. Using 500GB drives,that's only 83 spindles. Even with 73GB drives, that's 568 spindles. Plenty of room for growth, so I am notconvinced that higher theoretical upper architectural limits are worth discussing here.
Still only two HARD LPARs (partitions) ..., and even IBM’s mid-tier products support more than 2 storage partitions (in this same announcement)
IBM's two LPARs are TWICE what EMC DMX offers. I don't even know why anyone from EMC would bring this up? While EMC is enjoying their success with VMware, the lack the experience to carry this over to their storage lines. Until EMC offers MORE THAN TWO of any kind of partitions on their high-end offerings, there just is no credibility here. As for our "storage partitions" on our DS4000 line, that is an unfortunate mis-understanding of the press release. On the DS4000, the term "storage partition" is really "LUN masking", dividing up only which disks can be accessed by which hosts, and not dividing up any processor or cache capacity. So this is not the same as any LPAR concept on any other system. For example, a DS4000 with 64 partitions can be attached to 64 hosts, or 64 host-clusters like a Windows MSCS environment or AIX HACMP.
No native Ethernet replication or iSCSI support (Symmetrix has had since 2002)
Again, I found this one odd. On another EMC post, [Vigorous Debates],Chad Sakac mentions that only 2% of Symmetrix are sold with IP ports, not sure if this is for Ethernet replication, iSCSI attachment, or both (Again, I will use a different color):
On the Symm business (a huge part of EMC’s business – the IP ports are included on 2% of deals. That’s a fact.
Just because engineer can put a feature or function on a box, doesn't mean there is business sense to do so. I would hate for IBM to invest millions of dollars on native iSCSI support, only to have 2% of our DS8000 boxes sold with that feature. Customers who have DS8000 on FC SANs already deployed can easily add iSCSI support either through their SAN switches, or by fronting the DS8000 with an N series gateway. Most customers looking for native iSCSI are the smaller no-SAN-deployed SMB customers, and for them, we have both the DS3300 and the various N series models to choose from.
Well that's my two cents. The DS8000 series remains a strategic part of the IBM System Storage offering matrix, with continued investment in the development, as well as on-going research that we can leverage throughout the IBM company. I would like to read your thoughts on this, post me a comment below.
Last week, I was in Austin, and had dinner at [Rudy's Country Store and BBQ]. They offer their self-proclaimed "Worst BBQ in Austin!" with brisket, sausage and other meats by weight. I got a beer, some potato salad, and creamed corn, all at additional cost, of course. When I went to the cashier to pay, I was offered all the white bread I wanted at no additional charge. Are you kidding me? You are going to charge me for beer, but give me 8 to 12 complimentary slices of white bread (practically half a loaf)? Honestly, I consider bread and beer to be basically the same functional food item, differing only in solid versus liquid form. I chose to have only four slices. The food was awesome!
I am reminded of that from my latest exchange with EMC.It didn't take long after IBM's announcement yesterday of IBM's continued investment in its strategic product set, IBM System Storage DS8000 series, that competitors responded. In particular, fellow blogger BarryB from EMC has a post [DS8000 Finally Gets Thin Provisioning] that pokes fun at the new Thin Provisioning feature.
Interestingly, the attack is not on the technical implementation, which is straightforward and rock-solid, but rather that the feature is charged at a flat rate of $69,000 US dollars (list price) per disk array. BarryB claims that recently EMC Corporate has decided to reduce the price of their own thin provisioning, called Symmetrix Virtual Provisioning (VP) on select subset of models of their storage portfolio, although I have not found an EMC press release to confirm. In other words, EMC will bury the cost of thin provisioning into the total cost for new sales, and stop shafting, er.. over-charging their existing Symmetrix customers that are interesting in licensing this feature.
BarryB claims this was a lucky coincidence that his blog post happened just days before IBM's announcement.
(Update: While the timing appears suspicious, I am not accusing Mr. Burke in anywrongdoing of insider information of IBM's plans, nor am I aware of any investigations on this matter from the SEC or any other government agency, and apologize if my previous attempt at humor suggested otherwise. BarryB claimsthat the reduction in price was motivated to counter publicly announced HDS's "Switch In On" program, that it is not a secret thatEMC reduced VP pricing weeks ago, effective beginning 3Q09, just not widely advertised in any formal EMC press releases.Perhaps this new VP pricing was only disclosed to just EMC's existing Symmetrix customers, Business Partners, and employees. Perhaps EMC's decision not to announce this in a Press Release was to avoid upsetting all the EMC CLARiiON customers that continue to pay for Thin Provisioning, or to avoid a long line of existing VP customers asking for refunds. In any case, people are innocent until proven otherwise, and BarryB rightfully deserves the presumption of innocence in this regard. I'm sorry, BarryB, for any trouble my previous comments may have caused you.)
Instead, let's explore some events over the past year that have led up to this.
Let's start with what EMC previously charged for this feature. Software features like this often follow a common pricing method, based per TB, so larger configurations pay more, but tiered in a manner that larger configurations pay less per TB, combined with a yearly maintenance cost.
(Updated: EMC has asked me nicely not to post their actual list prices,so I will provide rough estimates instead. According to BarryB, these are no longer the current prices, soI present them as historical figures for comparison purposes only.)
Initial List price
Software Maintenance (SWMA) percentage
Software Maintenance per year
Number of years
Software License Cost (4 years)
Holy cow! How did EMC get away charging so much for this? To be fair, these are often deeply discounted, a practice common among the industry. However, it was easy for IBMers to show EMC customers that putting SVC or N series gateways in front of their existing EMC disks was more cost effective. Both SVC and N series, as well as IBM's XIV, provide thin provisioning at no additional charge.
HDS offers their own thin provisioning called Hitachi Dynamic Provisioning.Hitachi also offers an SVC-like capability to virtualize storage behind the USP-V. However, I suspect thatfewer than 10 percent of their install base actually licensed this capability because it cost so much. Under the cost pressure from IBM's thin provisioning capabilities in SVC, XIV and N series, Hitachi launched its ["Switch It On"] marketing campaign to activate virtualization and provide some features at no additional charge, including the first 10TB of Hitachi Dynamic Provisioning.
Last week, Martin Glassborow on his StorageBod blog, argued that EMC and HDS should[Set the Wide Stripes Free]. Here is an excerpt:
HDS and EMC are both extremely guilty in this regard, both Virtual Provisioning and Dynamic Provisioning cost me extra as an end-user to license. But this is the technology upon which all future block-based storage arrays will be built. If you guys want to improve the TCO and show that you are serious about reducing the complexity to manage your arrays, you will license for free. You will encourage the end-user to break free from the shackles of complexity and you will improve the image of Tier-1 storage in the enterprise.
Martin is using the term "free" in two contexts above. In the Linux community, we are careful to clarify "free, as in free speech" or "free, as in free beer". Technically, EMC's virtual provisioning is neither, as one has to purchase the hardware to get the feature, so the term "at no additional charge" is more legally correct.
However, the discussion of "free beer" brings me back to my first paragraph about Rudy's BBQ. Nearly everyone eats bread, with the exception of those with [Celiac Disease] that causesan intolerance for gluten protein in wheat, so burying the cost of white bread in the base cost of the BBQ meat is reasonable. In contrast, not everyone drinks beer, and there are probably several people whowould complain if the cost of beer was included in the cost of the BBQ meat, so charging separately forbeer makes business sense.
The same applies in the storage industry. When all (or most) customers of a product can benefit from a feature, it makes sense to include it at no additional charge. When a significant subset might not want to pay a higher base price because they won't use or benefit from a feature, it makes sense to make it optionally priced.
For the IBM SVC, XIV and N series, all customers can benefit from thin provisioning, so it is included at no additional charge.
For the IBM System Storage DS8000, perhaps some 30 to 40 percent of our clients have only System z and/or System i servers attached, and therefore would not benefit from this new thin provisioning. It may seem unfair to raise the price on everybody. The $69,000 flat rate was competitively priced against the prices EMC, HDS and 3PAR were charging for similar capability, and lower than the cost to add a new SVC cluster in front of the DS8000. IBM also charges an annual maintenance, but far lower than what others charged as well.
(Note: These list prices are approximate, and vary slightly based on whether you are on legacy, ESA, Servicesuite or ServiceElect software and subscription (S&S) service plans, and the machine type/model. The tables were too complicated to include here in this post, so these numbers are rounded for comparison purposes only.)
IBM flat rate
Software Maintenance per year (approx)
Number of years
Software License Cost (4 years)
Pricing is more art than science. Getting the right pricing structure that appears fair to everyone involved can be a complicated process.
Last week, I presented IBM's strategic initiative, the IBM Information Infrastructure, which is part of IBM's New Enterprise Data Center vision. This week, I will try to get around to talking about some of theproducts that support those solutions.
I was going to set the record straight on a variety of misunderstandings, rumors or speculations, but I think most have been taken care of already. IBM blogger BarryW covered the fact that SVC now supports XIV storage systems, in his post[SVC and XIV],and addressed some of the FUD already. Here was my list:
Now that IBM has an IBM-branded model of XIV, IBM will discontinue (insert another product here)
I had seen speculation that XIV meant the demise of the N series, the DS8000 or IBM's partnership with LSI.However, the launch reminded people that IBM announced a new release of DS8000 features, new models of N series N6000,and the new DS5000 disk, so that squashes those rumors.
IBM XIV is a (insert tier level here) product
While there seems to be no industry-standard or agreement for what a tier-1, tier-2 or tier-3 disk system is, there seemed to be a lot of argument over what pigeon-hole category to put IBM XIV in. No question many people want tier-1 performance and functionality at tier-2 prices, and perhaps IBM XIV is a good step at giving them this. In some circles, tier-1 means support for System z mainframes. The XIV does not have traditional z/OS CKD volume support, but Linux on System z partitions or guests can attach to XIV via SAN Volume Controller (SVC), or through NFS protocol as part of the Scale-Out File Services (SoFS) implementation.
Whenever any radicalgame-changing technology comes along, competitors with last century's products and architectures want to frame the discussion that it is just yet another storage system. IBM plans to update its Disk Magic and otherplanning/modeling tools to help people determine which workloads would be a good fit with XIV.
IBM XIV lacks (insert missing feature here) in the current release
I am glad to see that the accusations that XIV had unprotected, unmirrored cache were retracted. XIV mirrors all writes in the cache of two separate modules, with ECC protection. XIV allows concurrent code loadfor bug fixes to the software. XIV offers many of the features that people enjoy in other disksystems, such as thin provisioning, writeable snapshots, remote disk mirroring, and so on.IBM XIV can be part of a bigger solution, either through SVC, SoFS or GMAS that provide thebusiness value customers are looking for.
IBM XIV uses (insert block mirroring here) and is not as efficient for capacity utilization
It is interesting that this came from a competitor that still recommends RAID-1 or RAID-10 for itsCLARiiON and DMX products.On the IBM XIV, each 1MB chunk is written on two different disks in different modules. When disks wereexpensive, how much usable space for a given set of HDD was worthy of argument. Today, we sell you abig black box, with 79TB usable, for (insert dollar figure here). For those who feel 79TB istoo big to swallow all at once, IBM offers "capacity on demand" pricing, where you can pay initially for as littleas 22TB, but get all the performance, usability, functionality and advanced availability of the full box.
IBM XIV consumes (insert number of Watts here) of energy
For every disk system, a portion of the energy is consumed by the number of hard disk drives (HDD) andthe remainder to UPS, power conversion, processors and cache memory consumption. Again, the XIV is a bigblack box, and you can compare the 8.4 KW of this high-performance, low-cost storage one-frame system with thewattage consumed by competitive two-frame (sometimes called two-bay) systems, if you are willing to take some trade-offs. To getcomparable performance and hot-spot avoidance, competitors may need to over-provision or use faster, energy-consuming FC drives, and offer additional software to monitor and re-balance workloads across RAID ranks.To get comparable availability, competitors may need to drop from RAID-5 down to either RAID-1 or RAID-6.To get comparable usability, competitors may need more storage infrastructure management software to hide theinherent complexity of their multi-RAID design.
Of course, if energy consumption is a major concern for you, XIV can be part of IBM's many blended disk-and-tapesolutions. When it comes to being green, you can't get any greener storage than tape! Blended disk-and-tapesolutions help get the best of both worlds.
Well, I am glad I could help set the record straight. Let me know what other products people you would like me to focus on next.
(Note: The following paragraphs have been updated to clarify the performance tests involved.)
This time, IBM breaks the 1 million IOPS barrier, achieved by running a test workload consisting of a 70/30 mix of random 4K requests. That is 70 percent reads, 30 percent writes, with 4KB blocks. The throughput achieved was 3.5x times that obtained by running the identical workload on the fastest IBM storage system today (IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller 4.3),
and an estimated EIGHT* times the performance of EMC DMX. With an average response time under 1 millisecond, this solution would be ideal for online transaction processing (OLTP) such as financial recordings or airline reservations.
(*)Note: EMC has not yet published ANY benchmarks of their EMC DMX box with SSD enterprise flash drives (EFD). However, I believe that the performance bottleneck is in their controller and not the back-end SSD or FC HDD media, so I have givenEMC the benefit of the doubt and estimated that their latest EMC DMX4 is as fast as an[IBMDS8300 Turbo] with Fibre Channel drives. If or when EMC publishes benchmarks, the marketplace can make more accurate comparisons. Your mileage may vary.
IBM used 4 TB of Solid State Disk (SSD) behind its IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) technology to achieve this amazing result. Not only does this represent a significantly smaller footprint, but it uses only 55 percent of the power and cooling.
The SSD drives are made by [Fusion IO] and are different than those used by EMC made by STEC.
The SVC addresses the one key problem clients face today with competitive disk systems that support SSD enterprise flash drives: choosing what data to park on those expensive drives? How do you decide which LUNs, which databases, or which files should be permanently resident on SSD? With SVC's industry-leading storage virtualization capability, you are not forced to decide. You can move data into SSD and back out again non-disruptively, as needed to meet performance requirements. This could be handy for quarter-end or year-end processing, for example.
Continuing my catch-up on past posts, Jon Toigo on his DrunkenData blog, posted a ["bleg"] for information aboutdeduplication. The responses come from the "who's who" of the storage industry, so I will provide IBM'sview. (Jon, as always, you have my permission to post this on your blog!)
Please provide the name of your company and the de-dupe product(s) you sell. Please summarize what you think are the key values and differentiators of your wares.
IBM offers two different forms of deduplication. The first is IBM System Storage N series disk system with Advanced Single Instance Storage (A-SIS), and the second is IBM Diligent ProtecTier software. Larry Freeman from NetApp already explains A-SIS in the [comments on Jon's post], so I will focus on the Diligent offering in this post. The key differentiators for Diligent are:
Data agnostic. Diligent does not require content-awareness, format-awareness nor identification of backup software used to send the data. No special client or agent software is required on servers sending data to an IBM Diligent deployment.
Inline processing. Diligent does not require temporarily storing data on back-end disk to post-process later.
Scalability. Up to 1PB of back-end disk managed with an in-memory dictionary.
Data Integrity. All data is diff-compared for full 100 percent integrity. No data is accidentally discarded based on assumptions about the rarity of hash collisions.
InfoPro has said that de-dupe is the number one technology that companies are seeking today — well ahead of even server or storage virtualization. Is there any appeal beyond squeezing more undifferentiated data into the storage junk drawer?
Diligent is focused on backup workloads, which has the best opportunity for deduplication benefits. The two main benefits are:
Keeping more backup data available online for fast recovery.
Mirroring the backup data to another remote location for added protection. With inline processing, only the deduplicated data is sent to the back-end disk, and this greatly reduces the amount of data sent over the wire to the remote location.
Every vendor seems to have its own secret sauce de-dupe algorithm and implementation. One, Diligent Technologies (just acquired by IBM), claims that their’s is best because it collapses two functions — de-dupe then ingest — into one inline function, achieving great throughput in the process. What should be the gating factors in selecting the right de-dupe technology?
As with any storage offering, the three gating factors are typically:
Will this meet my current business requirements?
Will this meet my future requirements for the next 3-5 years that I plan to use this solution?
What is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for the next 3-5 years?
Assuming you already have backup software operational in your existing environment, it is possible to determine thenecessary ingest rate. How many "Terabytes per Hour" (TB/h) must be received, processed and stored from the backup software during the backup window. IBM intends to document its performance test results of specific software/hardwarecombinations to provide guidance to clients' purchase and planning decisions.
For post-process deployments, such as the IBM N series A-SIS feature, the "ingest rate" during the backup only has to receive and store the data, and the rest of the 24-hour period can be spent doing the post-processing to find duplicates. This might be fine now, but as your data grows, you might find your backup window growing, and that leaves less time for post-processing to catch up. IBM Diligent does the processing inline, so is unaffected by an expansion of the backup window.
IBM Diligent can scale up to 1PB of back-end data, and the ingest rate does not suffer as more data is managed.
As for TCO, post-process solutions must have additional back-end storage to temporarily hold the data until the duplicates can be found. With IBM Diligent's inline methodology, only deduplicated data is stored, so less disk space is required for the same workloads.
Despite the nuances, it seems that all block level de-dupe technology does the same thing: removes bit string patterns and substitutes a stub. Is this technically accurate or does your product do things differently?
IBM Diligent emulates a tape library, so the incoming data appears as files to be written sequentially to tape. A file is a string of bytes. Unlike block-level algorithms that divide files up into fixed chunks, IBM Diligent performs diff-compares of incoming data with existing data, and identifies ranges of bytes that duplicate what already is stored on the back-end disk. The file is then a sequence of "extents" representing either unique data or existing data. The file is represented as a sequence of pointers to these extents. An extent can vary from2KB to 16MB in size.
De-dupe is changing data. To return data to its original state (pre-de-dupe) seems to require access to the original algorithm plus stubs/pointers to bit patterns that have been removed to deflate data. If I am correct in this assumption, please explain how data recovery is accomplished if there is a disaster. Do I need to backup your wares and store them off site, or do I need another copy of your appliance or software at a recovery center?
For IBM Diligent, all of the data needed to reconstitute the data is stored on back-end disks. Assuming that all of your back-end disks are available after the disaster, either the original or mirrored copy, then you only need the IBM Diligent software to make sense of the bytes written to reconstitute the data. If the data was written by backup software, you would also need compatible backup software to recover the original data.
De-dupe changes data. Is there any possibility that this will get me into trouble with the regulators or legal eagles when I respond to a subpoena or discovery request? Does de-dupe conflict with the non-repudiation requirements of certain laws?
I am not a lawyer, and certainly there are aspects of[non-repudiation] that may or may not apply to specific cases.
What I can say is that storage is expected to return back a "bit-perfect" copy of the data that was written. Thereare laws against changing the format. For example, an original document was in Microsoft Word format, but is converted and saved instead as an Adobe PDF file. In many conversions, it would be difficult to recreate the bit-perfect copy. Certainly, it would be difficult to recreate the bit-perfect MS Word format from a PDF file. Laws in France and Germany specifically require that the original bit-perfect format be kept.
Based on that, IBM Diligent is able to return a bit-perfect copy of what was written, same as if it were written to regular disk or tape storage, because all data is diff-compared byte-for-byte with existing data.
In contrast, other solutions based on hash codes have collisions that result in presenting a completely different set of data on retrieval. If the data you are trying to store happens to have the same hash code calculation as completely different data already stored on a solution, then it might just discard the new data as "duplicate". The chance for collisions might be rare, but could be enough to put doubt in the minds of a jury. For this reason, IBM N series A-SIS, that does perform hash code calculations, will do a full byte-for-byte comparison of data to ensure that data is indeed a duplicate of an existing block stored.
Some say that de-dupe obviates the need for encryption. What do you think?
I disagree. I've been to enough [Black Hat] conferences to know that it would be possible to read thedata off the back-end disk, using a variety of forensic tools, and piece together strings of personal information,such as names, social security numbers, or bank account codes.
Currently, IBM provides encryption on real tape (both TS1120 and LTO-4 generation drives), and is working withopen industry standards bodies and disk drive module suppliers to bring similar technology to disk-based storage systems.Until then, clients concerned about encryption should consider OS-based or application-based encryption from thebackup software. IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM), for example, can encrypt the data before sending it to the IBMDiligent offering, but this might reduce the number of duplicates found if different encryption keys are used.
Some say that de-duped data is inappropriate for tape backup, that data should be re-inflated prior to write to tape. Yet, one vendor is planning to enable an “NDMP-like” tape backup around his de-dupe system at the request of his customers. Is this smart?
Re-constituting the data back to the original format on tape allows the original backup software to interpret the tape data directly to recover individual files. For example, IBM TSM software can write its primary backup copies to an IBM Diligent offering onsite, and have a "copy pool" on physical tape stored at a remote location. The physical tapes can be used for recovery without any IBM Diligent software in the event of a disaster. If the IBM Diligent back-end disk images are lost, corrupted, or destroyed, IBM TSM software can point to the "copy pool" and be fully operational. Individual files or servers could be restored from just a few of these tapes.
An NDMP-like tape backup of a deduplicated back-end disk would require that all the tapes are in-tact, available, and fully restored to new back-end disk before the deduplication software could do anything. If a single cartridge fromthis set was unreadable or misplaced, it might impact the access to many TBs of data, or render the entire systemunusable.
In the case of a 1PB of back-end disk for IBM Diligent, you would be having to recover over a thousand tapes back to disk before you could recover any individual data from your backup software. Even with dozens of tape drives in parallel, could take you several days for the complete process.This represents a longer "Recovery Time Objective" (RTO) than most people are willing to accept.
Some vendors are claiming de-dupe is “green” — do you see it as such?
Certainly, "deduplicated disk" is greener than "non-deduplicated" disk, but I have argued in past posts, supportedby Analyst reports, that it is not as green as storing the same data on "non-deduplicated" physical tape.
De-dupe and VTL seem to be joined at the hip in a lot of vendor discussions: Use de-dupe to store a lot of archival data on line in less space for fast retrieval in the event of the accidental loss of files or data sets on primary storage. Are there other applications for de-duplication besides compressing data in a nearline storage repository?
Deduplication can be applied to primary data, as in the case of the IBM System Storage N series A-SIS. As Larrysuggests, MS Exchange and SharePoint could be good use cases that represent the possible savings for squeezing outduplicates. On the mainframe, many master-in/master-out tape applications could also benefit from deduplication.
I do not believe that deduplication products will run efficiently with “update in place” applications, that is high levels of random writes for non-appending updates. OLTP and Database workloads would not benefit from deduplication.
Just suggested by a reader: What do you see as the advantages/disadvantages of software based deduplication vs. hardware (chip-based) deduplication? Will this be a differentiating feature in the future… especially now that Hifn is pushing their Compression/DeDupe card to OEMs?
In general, new technologies are introduced on software first, and then as implementations mature, get hardware-based to improve performance. The same was true for RAID, compression, encryption, etc. The Hifn card does "hash code" calculations that do not benefit the current IBM Diligent implementation. Currently, IBM Diligent performsLZH compression through software, but certainly IBM could provide hardware-based compression with an integrated hardware/software offering in the future. Since IBM Diligent's inline process is so efficient, the bottleneck in performance is often the speed of the back-end disk. IBM Diligent can get improved "ingest rate" using FC instead of SATA disk.
Sorry, Jon, that it took so long to get back to you on this, but since IBM had just acquired Diligent when you posted, it took me a while to investigate and research all the answers.
Yesterday, I started this week's topic discussing the various areas of exploration to helpunderstand our recent press release of the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller and itsimpressive SPC-1 and SPC-2 benchmark results that ranks it the fastest disk system in the industry.
Some have suggested that since the SVC has a unique design, it should be placed in its own category,and not compared to other disk systems. To address this, I would like to define what IBM meansby "disk system" and how it is comparable to other disk systems.
When I say "disk system", I am going to focus specifically on block-oriented direct-access storage systems, which I will define as:
One or more IT components, connected together, that function as a whole, to serve as a target forread and write requests for specific blocks of data.
Clarification: One could argue, and several do in various comments below, that there are other typesof storage systems that contain disks, some that emulate sequential access tape libraries, some that emulate file-systems through CIFS or NFS protocols, and some that support thestorage of archive objects and other fixed content. At the risk of looking like I may be including or excluding such to fit my purposes, I wanted to avoid apples-to-orangescomparisons between very different access methods. I will limit this exploration to block-oriented, direct-access devices. We can explore these other types of storage systems in later posts.
People who have been working a long time in the storage industry might be satisfied by this definition, thinkingof all the disk systems that would be included by this definition, and recognize that other types of storage liketape systems that are appropriately excluded.
Others might be scratching their heads, thinking to themselves "Huh?" So, I will provide some background, history, and additional explanation. Let's break up the definition into different phrases, and handle each separately.
read and write requests
Let's start with "read and write requests", which we often lump together generically as input/output request, or just I/O request. Typically an I/O request is initiated by a host, over a cable or network, to a target. The target responds with acknowledgment, data, or failure indication. A host can be a server, workstation, personal computer, laptop or other IT device that is capable of initiating such requests, and a target is a device or system designed to receive and respond to such requests.
(An analogy might help. A woman calls the local public library. She picks up the phone, and dials the phone number of the one down the street. A man working at the library hears the phone ring, answers it with "Welcome to the Public Library! How can I help you?" She asks "What is the capital city of Ethiopia?" and replies "Addis Ababa." and hangs up. Satisfied with this response, she hangs up. In this example, the query for information was the I/O request, initiated by the lady, to the public library target)
Today, there are three popular ways I/O requests are made:
CCW commands over OEMI, ESCON or FICON cables
SCSI commands over SCSI, Fibre Channel or SAS cables
SCSI commands over Ethernet cables, wireless or other IP communication methods
specific blocks of data
In 1956, IBM was the first to deliver a disk system. It was different from tape because it was a "direct access storage device" (the acronym DASD is still used today by some mainframe programmers). Tape was a sequential media, so it could handle commands like "read the next block" or "write the next block", it could not directly read without having to read past other blocks to get to it, nor could it write over an existing block without risking overwriting the contents of blocks past it.
The nature of a "block" of data varies. It is represented by a sequence of bytes of specific length. The length is determined in a variety of ways.
CCW commands assume a Count-Key-Data (CKD) format for disk, meaning that tracks are fixed in size, but that a track can consist of one or more blocks, and can be fixed or variable in length. Some blocks can span off the end of one track, and over to another track. Typical block sizes in this case are 8000 to 22000 bytes.
SCSI commands assume a Fixed-Block-Architecture (FBA) format for disk, where all blocks are the same size, almost always a power of two, such as 512 or 4096 bytes. A few operating systems, however, such as i5/OS on IBM System i machines, use a block size that doesn't follow this power-of-two rule.
one or more IT components
You may find one or more of the following IT components in a disk system:
motorized platter(s) covered in magnetic coating with a read/write head to move over its surface. These are often referred to as Hard Disk Drive (HDD) or Disk Drive Modules (DDM), and are manufacturedby companies like Seagate or Hitachi Global Storage Technologies.
A set of HDD can be accessed individually, affectionately known as JBOD for Just-a-bunch-of-disk, or collectively in a RAID configuration.
Memory can act as the high-speed cache in front of slower storage, or as the storage itself. For example, the solid state disk that IBM announced last week is entirely memory storage, using Flash technology.
Lately, there are two popular packaging methods for disk systems:
Monolithic -- all the components you need connected together inside a big refrigerator-sized unit, with options to attach additional frames. The IBM System Storage DS8000, EMC Symmetrix DMX-4 and HDS TagmaStore USP-V all fit this category.
Modular -- components that fit into standard 19-inch racks, often the size of the vegetable drawer inside a refrigerator, that can be connected externally with other components, if necessary, to make a complete disk system. The IBM System Storage DS6000, DS4000, and DS3000 series, as well as our SVC and N series, fall into this category.
Regardless of packaging, the general design is that a "controller" receives a request from its host attachment port, and uses its processors and cache storage to either satisfy the request, or pass the request to the appropriate HDD,and the results are sent back through the host attachment port.
In all of the monolithic systems, as well as some of the modular ones, the controller and HDD storage are contained in the same unit. On other modular systems, the controller is one system, and the HDD storage is in a separate system, and they are cabled together.
serve as a target
The last part is that a disk system must be able to satisfy some or all requests that come to it.
(Using the same analogy used above, when the lady asked her question, the guy at the public library knew the answer from memory, and replied immediately. However, for other questions, he might need to look up the answer in a book, do a search on the internet, or call another library on her behalf.)
Some disk systems are cache-only controllers. For these, either the I/O request is satisfied as a read-hit or write-hit in cache, or it is not, and has to go to the HDD. The IBM DS4800 and N series gateways are examples of this type of controller.
Other systems may have controller and disk, but support additional disk attachment. In this case, either the I/O request is handled by the cache or internal disk, or it has to go out to external HDD to satisfy the request. IBM DS3000 series, DS4100, DS4700, and our N series appliance models, all fall into this category.
So, the SAN Volume Controller is a disk system comprising of one to four node-pairs. Each node is a piece of IT equipment that have processors and cache. These node-pairs are connected to a pair of UPS power supplies to protect the cache memory holding writes that have not yet been de-staged. The combination of node-pairs and UPS acting as a whole, is able to serve as a target to SCSI commands sent over Fibre Channel cables on a Storage Area Network (SAN). To read some blocks of data, it uses its internal cache storage to satisfy the request, and for others, it goes out to external disk systems that contain the data required. All writes are satisfied immediately in cache on the SVC, and later de-staged to external disk when appropriate.
As of end of 2Q07, having reached our four-year anniversary for this product, IBM has sold over 9000 SVC nodes, which are part of more than 3100 SVC disk systems. These things are flying off the shelves, clocking in a 100% YTY growth over the amount we sold twelve months ago. Congratulations go to the SVC development team for their impressive feat of engineering that is starting to catch the attention of many customers and return astounding results!
So, now that I have explained why the SVC is considered a disk system, tomorrow I'll discuss metrics to measure performance.
"The murals in restaurants are on par with the food in museums." --- Peter De Vries
The quote above applies to blogs as well. Those about competitive products of which the blogger has little to no hands-on experience tend to be terribly misleading or technically inaccurate. We saw this last month as Sun Microsystems' Jeff Savit tried to discuss the IBM System z10 EC mainframe.
This time, it comes from EMC bloggers discussing NetApp equipment, and by association, IBM System Storage N series gear.I was going to comment on the ridiculous posts by fellow bloggers from EMC about SnapLock compliance feature on the NetApp, but my buddies at NetApp had already done this for me, saving me the trouble.
The hysterical nature of writing from EMC, and the calm responses from NetApp, speak volumes about the culturesof both companies.
The key point is that none of the "Non-erasable, Non-Rewriteable" (NENR) storage out there are certified as compliant by any government agency on the planet. Governments just aren't in the business of certifying such things. The best you can get is a third-party consultant, such as [Cohasset Associates], to help make decisions that are best for each particular situation.
In addition to SnapLock on N series, IBM offers the [IBM System Storage DR550], WORM tape and optical systems, all of which have been deemed compliant to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC 17a-4] federal regulations by Cohasset Associates. For medical patient records and images like X-rays, IBM offers the Grid Medical Archive Solution [GMAS]designed to meet the requirements of the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act[HIPAA].For other government or industry regulations, consult with your legal counsel.
While EMC bloggers garnered media attention last year pointing out the faulty mathematics from HDS, an astute reader pointed me to EMC's own [DMX-4 specification sheet],updated for its 1TB SATA disk.I've chosen just the minimum and maximum number of drives RAID-6 data points for non-mainframe platforms:
In the first two rows, the numbers appear as expected. For example, 96 drives would be 12 sets of 6+2 RAID ranks, meaning 72 drives' worth of data, so nearly 36TB for 500GB drives, and nearly 72TB for 1TB drives. With 14+2 RAID-6, thenyou would have 84 drives' worth of data, so 42TB and 84TB respectively match expectations.
Where EMC appears miscalculating is having 20x more drives, as the numbers don't match up. For 1920 drives inRAID-6, you would expect 20x more usable capacity than the 96 drive configurations. For 6+2 configurations, one would expect 720TB and 1440TB respectively. For 14+2 configurations, one wouldexpect 840TB and 1680TB, respectively.
Perhaps EMC DMX-4 can't address more than 600TB for the entire system? Does EMC purposely limit the benefitsof these larger drives? It does question why someone might go from 500GB to 1TB drives, if the maximum configuration only gives about 40TB more capacity.Fellow IBM blogger Barry Whyte questioned the use of SATA in an expensive DMX-4 system, in his post[One Box Fits All - Or Does It], and now perhaps there are good reasons to question 1TB from a capacityperspective as well.
Continuing my week's theme on the XO laptop from the One Laptop Per Child [OLPC] project, I have been amused watching the OLPC forum discussion on the choiceof browser options available.
The built-in browser is simple but functional. It is full screen,with back, forward, and bookmark buttons, and an entry field forthe URL. This browser is fully integrated with the Sugar platform,files downloaded will appear in the journal. Download an Activity*.xo file, for example, and you can install it from the Journal.If you want to upload a file, click BROWSE on the website, and theJournal will pop up to choose files from.
Out of the box, the XO supports a minimal Flash that can handlesome Flash-based games but not YouTube videos, and does not supportJava.
The good folks of Opera have built a special edition for the XO laptop.However, some settings need to be changed to make the fonts large enoughto read.
Opera can be run as a Sugar activity, but this just launches a mothertask, which in turn launches a daughter task that actually runs thebrowser. This means that Home View will have two icons. The mothertask has an the Opera icon, but click on it and you get a grey screen.The daughter task appears as a grey circle, click on it and you get thebrowser screen. Alt-Tab will rotate through the Activities, so thegrey screen of the mother task is part of the rotation.
Although Opera has one foot on the Sugar platform, and one foot off,the lack of integration means poor interaction with the journal. The use of Opera is correctly registered. However, downloadingfiles requires a working knowledge of subdirectories, and uploading anythingrequires knowing what it is called, and where it is located. Not obviousfor many of the items created by Sugar applications.
The XO laptop is based on Redhat Fedora distribution, so I downloadedthe Firefox RPM package and installed this. To run, you need to startthe Terminal Activity, and then at the cursor type firefox.Journal only registers that the Terminal activity was used, but not anythingelse.
Since I run Firefox 2.0 on Windows XP, OS X and Linux, I am very familiarwith this browser, and it works as expected. Like Opera, there are shortcut keys, tabs for multiple pages, and optionsto add Java and Flash player. I was able to install add-onsfor Del.icio.us and FireFTP, and they worked as expected. Having accessto FTP sites will make development on the XO much easier.Again all files are uploaded/downloaded to directories, so some workingknowledge of where files are placed is required.
The fonts in Firefox did not expand/shrink as nicely as they had in Opera.Be careful not to select "View->
To close, you have to select File->Quit from the browser window, whichbrings you back to the Terminal activity, which you can then shutdown with Ctrl-Esc.
For now, I will keep all three and continue to evaluate them.I saw a few opportunities for improvement:
The Opera and Terminal icons are not on the first screen.You have to hit the right arrow to get to the "overflow" set of icons. Re-ordering the icons is simply a matter of editing the following file with "vi"(my first few lines I use are shown below):
Put the activities in the order you want. Any activity not listed willappear after these.
It might be possible to create a modified Terminal activity thatinvoked Firefox directly, to eliminate having to type it in each time.
Several people have expressed interest in a browser that runs entirely withthe Xo laptop folded over in eBook/Game mode, such that thekeyboard is completely covered up, exposing only the up-left-right-down arrowsand the Circle/Square/X/Check buttons.
Change the "News Reader" to invoke Bloglines instead. This might be yetanother modified Terminal activity, but borrow the icon from News.
Well, if you have further thoughts on these browsers, enter a comment below.
While most of the post is accurate and well-stated, two opinions particular caught my eye. I'll be nice and call them opinions, since these are blogs, and always subject to interpretation. I'll put quotes around them so that people will correctly relate these to Hu, and not me.
"Storage virtualization can only be done in a storage controller. Currently Hitachi is the only vendor to provide this." -- Hu Yoshida
Hu, I enjoy all of your blog entries, but you should know better. HDS is fairly new-comer to the storage virtualization arena, so since IBM has been doing this for decades, I will bring you and the rest of the readers up to speed. I am not starting a blog-fight, just want to provide some additional information for clients to consider when making choices in the marketplace.
First, let's clarify the terminology. I will use 'storage' in the broad sense, including anything that can hold 1's and 0's, including memory, spinning disk media, and plastic tape media. These all have different mechanisms and access methods, based on their physical geometry and characteristics. The concept of 'virtualization' is any technology that makes one set of resources look like another set of resources with more preferable characteristics, and this applies to storage as well as servers and networks. Finally, 'storage controller' is any device with the intelligence to talk to a server and handle its read and write requests.
Second, let's take a look at all the different flavors of storage virtualization that IBM has developed over the past 30 years.
IBM introduces the S/370 with the OS/VS1 operating system. "VS" here refers to virtual storage, and in this case internal server memory was swapped out to physical disk. Using a table mapping, disk was made to look like an extension of main memory.
IBM introduces the IBM 3850 Mass Storage System (MSS). Until this time, programs that ran on mainframes had to be acutely aware of the device types being written, as each device type had different block, track and cylinder sizes, so a program written for one device type would have to be modified to work with a different device type. The MSS was able to take four 3350 disks, and a lot of tapes, and make them look like older 3330 disks, since most programs were still written for the 3330 format. The MSS was a way to deliver new 3350 disk to a 3330-oriented ecosystem, and greatly reduce the cost by handling tape on the back end. The table mapping was one virtual 3330 disk (100 MB) to two physical tapes (50 MB each). Back then, all of the mainframe disk systems had separate controllers. The 3850 used a 3831 controller that talked to the servers.
IBM invents Redundant Array of Independent Disk (RAID) technology. The table mapping is one or more virtual "Logical Units" (or "LUNs") to two or more physical disks. Data is striped, mirrored and paritied across the physical drives, making the LUNs look and feel like disks, but with faster performance and higher reliability than the physical drives they were mapped to. RAID could be implemented in the server as software, on top or embedded into the operating system, in the host bus adapter, or on the controller itself. The vendor that provided the RAID software or HBA did not have to be the same as the vendor that provided the disk, so in a sense, this avoided "vendor lock-in".Today, RAID is almost always done in the external storage controller.
IBM introduces the Personal Computer. One of the features of DOS is the ability to make a "RAM drive". This is technology that runs in the operating system to make internal memory look and feel like an external drive letter. Applications that already knew how to read and write to drive letters could work unmodified with these new RAM drives. This had the advantage that the files would be erased when the system was turned off, so it was perfect for temporary files. Of course, other operating systems today have this feature, UNIX has a /tmp directory in memory, and z/OS uses VIO storage pools.
This is important, as memory would be made to look like disk externally, as "cache", in the 1990s.
IBM AIX v3 introduces Logical Volume Manager (LVM). LVM maps the LUNs from external RAID controllers into virtual disks inside the UNIX server. The mapping can combine the capacity of multiple physical LUNs into a large internal volume. This was all done by software within the server, completely independent of the storage vendor, so again no lock-in.
IBM introduces the Virtual Tape Server (VTS). This was a disk array that emulated a tape library. A mapping of virtual tapes to physical tapes was done to allow full utilization of larger and larger tape cartridges. While many people today mistakenly equate "storage virtualization" with "disk virtualization", in reality it can be implemented on other forms of storage. The disk array was referred to as the "Tape Volume Cache". By using disk, the VTS could mount an empty "scratch" tape instantaneously, since no physical tape had to be mounted for this purpose.
Contradicting its "tape is dead" mantra, EMC later developed its CLARiiON disk library that emulates a virtual tape library (VTL).
IBM introduces the SAN Volume Controller. It involves mapping virtual disks to manage disks that could be from different frames from different vendors. Like other controllers, the SVC has multiple processors and cache memory, with the intelligence to talk to servers, and is similar in functionality to the controller components you might find inside monolithic "controller+disk" configurations like the IBM DS8300, EMC Symmetrix, or HDS TagmaStore USP. SVC can map the virtual disk to physical disk one-for-one in "image mode", as HDS does, or can also map virtual disks across physical managed disks, using a similar mapping table, to provide advantages like performance improvement through striping. You can take any virtual disk out of the SVC system simply by migrating it back to "image mode" and disconnecting the LUN from management. Again, no vendor lock-in.
The HDS USP and NSC can run as regular disk systems without virtualization, or the virtualization can be enabled to allow external disks from other vendors. HDS usually counts all USP and NSC sold, but never mention what percentage these have external disks attached in virtualization mode. Either they don't track this, or too embarrassed to publish the number. (My guess: single digit percentage).
Few people remember that IBM also introduced virtualization in both controller+disk and SAN switch form factors. The controller+disk version was called "SAN Integration Server", but people didn't like the "vendor lock-in" having to buy the internal disk from IBM. They preferred having it all external disk, with plenty of vendor choices. This is perhaps why Hitachi now offers a disk-less version of the NSC 55, in an attempt to be more like IBM's SVC.
IBM also had introduced the IBM SVC for Cisco 9000 blade. Our clients didn't want to upgrade their SAN switch networking gear just to get the benefits of disk virtualization. Perhaps this is the same reason EMC has done so poorly with its "Invista" offering.
So, bottom line, storage virtualization can, and has, been delivered in the operating system software, in the server's host bus adapter, inside SAN switches, and in storage controllers. It can be delivered anywhere in the path between application and physical media. Today, the two major vendors that provide disk virtualization "in the storage controller" are IBM and HDS, and the three major vendors that provide tape virtualization "in the storage controller" are IBM, Sun/STK, and EMC. All of these involve a mapping of logical to physical resources. Hitachi uses a one-for-one mapping, whereas IBM additionally offers more sophisticated mappings as well.
You may not be the right person to ask but I am asking everyone so "How do you see hybrid disk drives?"
(For the record, I am not immediately related to Robert. At onepoint, "Pearson" was the 12th most common surname in the USA, but now doesn't even make the Top 100.)
Robert, I would like to encourage you and everyone else to ask questions, don't worry if I am the wrong person to ask, asprobably I know the right person within IBM. Some people have called me the "Kevin Bacon" of Storage,as I am often less than six degrees away from the right person, having worked in IBM Storage for over 20 years.
For those not familiar with hybrid drives, there is a good write-up in Wikipedia.
Unfortunately, most of the people I would consult on this question, such as those from Market Intelligence or Research, are on vacation for the holidays, so, Robert, I will have to rely on my trusted 78-card Tarot deck and answer you with a five-card throw.
Your first card, Robert, is the Hermit. This card represents "introspection". The best I/O is no I/O, which means that if applications can keep the information they need inside server memory, you can avoid the bus bandwidth limitations to going to external storage devices. Where external storage makes sense is when data is shared between servers, or when the single server is limited to a set amount of internal memory. So, consider maxing out the memory in your server first (IBM would be glad to sell you more internal memory!!!), then consider outside solid-state or hybrid devices. Windows for example has an architectural limit of 4GB.
Your second card, Robert, is the Four of Cups, representing "apathy".On the card, you see three cups together, with the fourth cup being delivered from a cloud. This reminds me thatwe have three storage tiers already (memory,disk,tape), and introducing a fourth tier into the mix may not garnermuch excitement. For the mainframe, IBM introduced a Solid-State Device, call the Coupling Facility, which can be accessed from multipleSystem z servers. It is used heavily by DFSMS and DB2 to hold shared information. However, given some customer's apathytowards Information Lifecycle Management which includes "tiered storage", introducing yet another tier that forcespeople to decide what data goes where may be another challenge.
Your third card, Robert, is the Chariot, which represents "Speed, Determination,and Will". In some cases, solid state disk are faster for reading, but can be slower for writing. In the case of ahybrid drive, where the memory acts as a front-end cache, read-hits would be faster, but read-misses might be slower.While the idea of stopping the drives during inactivity will reduce power consumption, spinning up and slowing downthe disk may incur additional performance penalties. At the time of this post, the fastest disk system remains the IBM SAN Volume Controller, based on SPC-1 and SPC-2 benchmarks in excess of those published for other devices.
Your fourth card, Robert, is the Eight of Pentacles, which represents"Diligence, Hard work". The pentacles are coins with five-sided stars on them, and this often represents money.Our research team has projected that spinning disk will continue to be a viable and profitable storage media for at least anothereight years.
Your fifth and last card, Robert, is the World, which normallyrepresents "Accomplishment", but since it is turned upside down, the meaning is reversed to "Limitation". Some Hybriddisks, and some types of solid state memory in general, do have limitations in the number of write cycles they can handle. For thoseunhappy with the frequency and slowness for rebuilds on SATA disk may find similar problems with hybrid drives.For that reason, businesses may not trust using hybrid drives for their busiest, mission-critical applications, but certainlymight use it for archive data with lower write-cycle requirements.
The tarot cards are never wrong, but certainly interpretations of the cards can be.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM announcements!
Today's announcements are all about the Storwize family, IBM's market-leading Software Defined Storage offerings. Having sold over 55,000 systems, and managing over 1.6 Exabytes of data, IBM continues to be the #1 leader in storage virtualization solutions. The Storwize family consists of the SAN Volume Controller (SVC), Storwize V7000, Storwize V7000 Unified, Flex System V7000, Storwize V5000, Storwize V3700 and V3500.
SAN Volume Controller 2145-DH8
The new 2145-DH8 model is a complete repackaging of this popular storage system. The previous model, the 2145-CG8, was 1U-high x86 server per node, and each node required a separate 1U-high UPS to provide battery protection for its cache. Nobody liked this. The new 2145-DH8 instead is a 2U-high node with two hot-swappable batteries, eliminating the need for UPS altogether. Thus, an SVC node-pair using the 2145-DH8 models takes up the same 4U space, but with fewer cables. The SVC can now also support standard office 110/240 voltage sources.
The new model sports an 8-core processor with 32GB RAM. Since these are 2-socket servers, IBM offers that option to add a second 8-core processor and additional 32GB RAM to help boost Real-time Compression. Each node can have optionally one or two hardware-assisted compression cards which use the Intel QuickAssist chip to boost compression performance.
While the Real-time Compression was in fact, real-time, performed in-line to the read/write I/O process, at latency comparable to uncompressed data for applications, the compression process on older models was entirely software-based, consuming some of the CPU resources, which lowered the maximum IOPS of the solution. With the added cores, added RAM, and hardware-assisted compression chips, IBM resolves that concern. In fact, the new 2145-DH8 with compression can provide more IOPS than an older 2145-CG8 without compression.
The previous model 2145-CG8 allowed you to put up to 4 small SSD drives in the node itself, which were treated the same as externally Flash drives for purposes of having a high-speed storage pool for select volumes, or automated sub-LUN tiering with Easy Tier. The new model 2145-DH8 allows you to attach up to 48 Solid State Drives (SSD) via 12Gb SAS cables. These are housed in the new 2U-high 24F enclosures that can offer up to 38.4 TB of Flash per SVC I/O group.
IBM also re-designed the host/device ports to use Hardware Interface Card (HIC) slots. In the 2145-CG8, you had four FCP ports, two 1GbE Ethernet ports, with options to add two 10GbE Ethernet ports or four additional FCP ports. If you had mostly an FCoE or iSCSI environment, you didn't need the FCP, and if you were mostly a FCP Storage Area Network (SAN) environment, then most of the Ethernet ports went unused. To solve this, the 2145-DH8 can allow you to have up to six HIC cards that are either FCP, Ethernet, or SAS. There are three 1GbE fixed Ethernet ports which can be used for iSCSI and administration.
If you have SVC today, you can upgrade non-disruptively by either swapping out your current SVC engines with the new 2145-DH8 engines, or you can add the new 2145-DH8 engines to your existing SVC cluster. Either way, there is no outage to your applications!
This is the next generation of the popular Storwize V7000. The previous generation had a 4-core processor and 8GB RAM per canister. The new model has an 8-core processor with 32GB of RAM per canister, with the option to double these to boost Real-time compression. There are two canisters per control enclosure, which gives you 64GB to 128GB of RAM per Storwize V7000 I/O group.
The new Storwize V7000 comes with one hardware-assisted compression chip on the mother board of each canister, with the option to add a second chip per canister.
Each canister offers three HIC slots, which can be used for the additional hardware-assist compression chip, FCP or Ethernet ports.
To accommodate these HIC slots, new canisters were needed. Instead of the flat wide style top and bottom, we now have taller, thinner canisters that sit side to side. This side-to-side design is similar to our existing Storwize V5000 and V3700 models.
The previous model could support up to 9 expansion enclosures per control enclosure. The Storwize V7000 can have up to 24 drives in its control enclosure, and now attach up to 20 expansion enclosures, which allows up to 504 drives per control enclosure, and up to a maximum of 1,056 drives per Storwize cluster.
If you have previous models of Storwize V7000, you can add the new Storwize V7000 into the same cluster, or virtualize the previous storage for migration purposes.
The new software applies new capabilities to both new generation hardware as well as the older models, so people with existing gear can benefit as well.
In prior releases, the sub-LUN automated tiering was limited to two levels: Flash and HDD. This lumped all 15K, 10K and 7200 RPM drives into a common HDD category. In the new v7.3.0 code, you can now have three levels: Flash, Enterprise HDD, and Nearline HDD, or two HDD levels: Enterprise and Nearline. The Enterprise level combines 15K and 10K RPM drives, similar to what is done on the IBM System Storage DS8000 disk systems.
The new code is also able balance your storage pools, and can be used with uniform or mixed storage pools to eliminate performance hot spots.
The new code has been enhanced to detect the hardware-assisted compression chip on the new SVC and Storwize V7000 models, and use those if available.
For the Storwize V3700 and V5000 models, the new code allows up to nine expansion enclosures per control enclosure. In the previous models, the V3700 allowed only four expansions, and the V6000 only six expansions per control enclosure. The V3700 can now support up to 240 drives, and the V5000 can support up to 480 drives.
IBM Storwize V7000 Unified File Module software v1.5
For Storwize V7000 Unified clients, there is new software for the File Modules that provide NFS, CIFS, FTP, HTTPS and SCP protocol capability. The new v1.5 code now adds NFS v4 and SMB 2.1 levels of support. Most NFS users are still on NFSv3, but about 20 percent of NFS users are using NFS v4 which offers stateful access. The SMB 2.1 for CIFS was introduced by Microsoft in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.
Deterministic ID mapping allows you to map Windows userids to UNIX/Linux group and owner id numbers. In the past, the problem is that this mapping is different on each machine, so people often had to stand up a Windows System for Unix Services (SFU) server to provide consistent ID mapping. Now, with v1.5 code, you will no longer have to do this. The deterministic ID mapping will can now replicate the mapping to each machine without an SFU server.
Active Cloud Engine allows up to ten Storwize V7000 Unified to be connected across distance to form a single global name space. WAN caching, however, was restricted to a single site having write capabilities, while the others were read-only. In v1.5 release, IBM now supports multiple independent writers at different locations on the same fileset.
Security enhancements include multi-tenancy, configurable password policies, session policies, and hardened boot and SSH configurations. With NFS v3/v4, you can now use [Kerberos] for security.
Finally, I am please to see that we now have Cinder support for files on the Storwize V7000 Unified on the OpenStack Havana release that just came out last month. The OpenStack Cinder interface can assign LUNs to virtual machines, but the new Havana release allows NAS systems to dole out files that act as LUNs, such as OVA or VMDK files. The advantage is that these files can managed by Active Cloud Engine, cached locally across global name space, have policies place them on appropriate storage tiers, and inactive Virtual Machine images can be migrated to less expensive disk or tape.
Happy Winter Solstice everyone! The Mayan calendar flipped over yesterday, and everything continued as normal.
The next date to watch out for is ... drumroll please ... April 8, 2014. This is the date Microsoft has decided to [drop support for Windows XP].
While many large corporations are actively planning to get off Windows XP, there are still many homes and individuals that are running on this platform.
When [Windows XP] was introduced in 2001, it could support systems with as little as 64MB of RAM. Nowadays, the latest versions of Windows now requires a minimum of 1GB for 32-bit systems, with 2GB or 3GB recommended.
That leaves Windows XP users on older hardware few choices:
Continue to run Windows XP, but without support (and hope for the best)
Upgrade their hardware with more RAM (and possibly more disk space) needed to run a newer level of Windows
Install a different operating system like Linux
Put the hardware in the recycle bin, and buy a new computer
Here is a personal example. A long time ago, I gave my sister a Thinkpad R31 laptop so that she could work from home. When she got a newer one, she passed this down to her daughter for doing homework. When my neice got a newer one, she passed this old laptop to her grandma.
Grandma is fairly happy with her modern PC running Windows XP. She plays all kinds of games, scans photographs, sends emails, listens to music on iTunes, and even uses Skype to talk to relatives. Her problem is that this PC is located upstairs, in her bedroom, and she wanted something portable that she could play music downstairs when she is playing cards with her friends.
"Why not use the laptop you have?" I asked. Her response: "It runs very slow. Perhaps it has a virus. Can you fix that?" I was up for the challenge, so I agreed.
(The Challenge: Update the Thinkpad R31 so that grandma can simply turn it on, launch iTunes or similar application, and just press a "play" button to listen to her music. It will be plugged in to an electrical outlet wherever she takes it, and she already has her collection of MP3 music files. My hope is to have something that is (a) simple to use, (b) starts up quickly, and (c) will not require a lot of on-going maintenance issues.)
Here are the relevant specifications of the Thinkpad R31 laptop:
The system was pre-installed with Windows XP, but was terribly down-level. I updated to Windows XP SP3 level, downloaded the latest anti-virus signatures, and installed iTunes. A full scan found no viruses. All this software takes up 14GB, leaving less than 6GB for MP3 music files.
The time it took from hitting the "Power-on" button to hearing the first note of music was over 14 minutes! Unacceptable!
If you can suggest what my next steps should be, please comment below or send me an email!
Have you ever noticed that sometimes two movies come out that seem eerily similar to each other, released by different studios within months or weeks of each other? My sister used to review film scripts for a living, she would read ten of them and have to pick her top three favorites, and tells me that scripts for nearly identical concepts came all the time. Here are a few of my favorite examples:
1994: [Wyatt Earp] and [Tombstone] were Westerns recounting the famed gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Tombstone, Arizona is near Tucson, and the gunfight is recreated fairly often for tourists.
1998: [Armageddon] and [Deep Impact] were a pair of disaster movies dealing with a large rock heading to destroy all life on earth. I was in Mazatlan, Mexico to see the latter, dubbed in Spanish as "Impacto Profundo".
1998: [A Bug's Life] and [Antz] were computer-animated tales of the struggle of one individual ant in an ant colony.
2000: [Mission to Mars] and [Red Planet] were sci-fi pics exploring what a manned mission to our neighboring planet might entail.
This is different than copy-cat movies that are re-made or re-imagined many years later based on the previous successes of an original. Ever since my blog post [VPLEX: EMC's Latest Wheel is Round] in 2010 comparing EMC's copy-cat product that came our seven years after IBM's SAN Volume Controller (SVC), I've noticed EMC doesn't talk about VPLEX that much anymore.
This week, IBM announced [XIV Gen3 Solid-State Drive support] and our friends over at EMC announced [VFCache SSD-based PCIe cards]. Neither of these should be a surprise to anyone who follows the IT industry, as IBM had announced its XIV Gen3 as "SSD-Ready" last year specifically for this purpose, and EMC has been touting its "Project Lightning" since last May.
Fellow blogger Chuck Hollis from EMC has a blog post [VFCache means Very Fast Cache indeed] that provides additional detail. Chuck claims the VFCache is faster than popular [Fusion-IO PCIe cards] available for IBM servers. I haven't seen the performance spec sheets, but typically SSD is four to five times slower than the DRAM cache used in the XIV Gen3. The VFCache's SSD is probably similar in performance to the SSD supported in the IBM XIV Gen3, DS8000, DS5000, SVC, N series, and Storwize V7000 disk systems.
Nonetheless, I've been asked my opinions on the comparison between these two announcements, as they both deal with improving application performance through the use of Solid-State Drives as an added layer of read cache.
(FTC Disclosure: I am both a full-time employee and stockholder of the IBM Corporation. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission may consider this blog post as a paid celebrity endorsement of IBM servers and storage systems. This blog post is based on my interpretation and opinions of publicly-available information, as I have no hands-on access to any of these third-party PCIe cards. I have no financial interest in EMC, Fusion-IO, Texas Memory Systems, or any other third party vendor of PCIe cards designed to fit inside IBM servers, and I have not been paid by anyone to mention their name, brands or products on this blog post.)
The solutions are different in that IBM XIV Gen3 the SSD is "storage-side" in the external storage device, and EMC VFCache is "server-side" as a PCI Express [PCIe] card. Aside from that, both implement SSD as an additional read cache layer in front of spinning disk to boost performance. Neither is an industry first, as IBM has offered server-side SSD since 2007, and IBM and EMC have offered storage-side SSD in many of their other external storage devices. The use of SSD as read cache has already been available in IBM N series using [Performance Accelerator Module (PAM)] cards.
IBM has offered cooperative caching synergy between its servers and its storage arrays for some time now. The predecessor to today's POWER7-based were the iSeries i5 servers that used PCI-X IOP cards with cache to connect i5/OS applications to IBM's external disk and tape systems. To compete in this space, EMC created their own PCI-X cards to attach their own disk systems. In 2006, IBM did the right thing for our clients and fostered competition by entering in a [Landmark agreement] with EMC to [license the i5 interfaces]. Today, VIOS on IBM POWER systems allows a much broader choice of disk options for IBM i clients, including the IBM SVC, Storwize V7000 and XIV storage systems.
Can a little SSD really help performance? Yes! An IBM client running a [DB2 Universal Database] cluster across eight System x servers was able to replace an 800-drive EMC Symmetrix by putting eight SSD Fusion-IO cards in each server, for a total of 64 Solid-State drives, saving money and improving performance. DB2 has the Data Partitioning Feature that has multi-system DB2 configurations using a Grid-like architecture similar to how XIV is designed. Most IBM System x and BladeCenter servers support internal SSD storage options, and many offer PCIe slots for third-party SSD cards. Sadly, you can't do this with a VFCache card, since you can have only one VFCache card in each server, the data is unprotected, and only for ephemeral data like transaction logs or other temporary data. With multiple Fusion-IO cards in an IBM server, you can configure a RAID rank across the SSD, and use it for persistent storage like DB2 databases.
Here then is my side-by-side comparison:
IBM XIV Gen3 SSD Caching
Selected x86-based models of Cisco UCS, Dell PowerEdge, HP ProLiant DL, and IBM xSeries and System x servers
All of these, plus any other blade or rack-optimized server currently supported by XIV Gen3, including Oracle SPARC, HP Titanium, IBM POWER systems, and even IBM System z mainframes running Linux
Operating System support
Linux RHEL 5.6 and 5.7, VMware vSphere 4.1 and 5.0, and Windows 2008 x64 and R2.
All of these, plus all the other operating systems supported by XIV Gen3, including AIX, IBM i, Solaris, HP-UX, and Mac OS X
FCP and iSCSI
Vendor-supplied driver required on the server
Yes, the VFCache driver must be installed to use this feature.
No, IBM XIV Gen3 uses native OS-based multi-pathing drivers.
External disk storage systems required
None, it appears the VFCache has no direct interaction with the back-end disk array, so in theory the benefits are the same whether you use this VFCache card in front of EMC storage or IBM storage
XIV Gen3 is required, as the SSD slots are not available on older models of IBM XIV.
Shared disk support
No, VFCache has to be disabled and removed for vMotion to take place.
Yes! XIV Gen3 SSD caching shared disk supports VMware vMotion and Live Partition Mobility.
Support for multiple servers
An advantage of the XIV Gen3 SSD caching approach is that the cache can be dynamically allocated to the busiest data from any server or servers.
Support for active/active server clusters
Aware of changes made to back-end disk
No, it appears the VFCache has no direct interaction with the back-end disk array, so any changes to the data on the box itself are not communicated back to the VFCache card itself to invalidate the cache contents.
None identified. However, VFCache only caches blocks 64KB or smaller, so any sequential processing with larger blocks will bypass the VFCache.
Yes! XIV algorithms detect sequential access and avoid polluting the SSD with these blocks of data.
Number of SSD supported
One, which seems odd as IBM supports multiple Fusion-IO cards for its servers. However, this is not really a single point of failure (SPOF) as an application experiencing a VFCache failure merely drops down to external disk array speed, no data is lost since it is only read cache.
6 to 15 (one per XIV module) for high availability.
Pin data in SSD cache
Yes, using split-card mode, you can designate a portion of the 300GB to serve as Direct-attached storage (DAS). All data written to the DAS portion will be kept in SSD. However, since only one card is supported per server and the data is unprotected, this should only be used for ephemeral data like logs and temp files.
No, there is no option to designate an XIV Gen3 volume to be SSD-only. Consider using Fusion-IO PCIe card as a DAS alternative, or another IBM storage system for that requirement.
Pre-sales Estimating tools
Yes! CDF and Disk Magic tools are available to help cost-justify the purchase of SSD based on workload performance analysis.
IBM has the advantage that it designs and manufactures both servers and storage, and can design optimal solutions for our clients in that regard.
Wrapping up my coverage of the annual [2010 System Storage Technical University], I attended what might be perhaps the best session of the conference. Jim Nolting, IBM Semiconductor Manufacturing Engineer, presented the new IBM zEnterprise mainframe, "A New Dimension in Computing", under the Federal track.
The zEnterprises debunks the "one processor fits all" myth. For some I/O-intensive workloads, the mainframe continues to be the most cost-effective platform. However, there are other workloads where a memory-rich Intel or AMD x86 instance might be the best fit, and yet other workloads where the high number of parallel threads of reduced instruction set computing [RISC] such as IBM's POWER7 processor is more cost-effective. The IBM zEnterprise combines all three processor types into a single system, so that you can now run each workload on the processor that is optimized for that workload.
IBM zEnterprise z196 Central Processing Complex (CPC)
Let's start with the new mainframe z196 central processing complex (CPC). Many thought this would be called the z11, but that didn't happen. Basically, the z196 machine has a maximum 96 cores versus z10's 64 core maximum, and each core runs 5.2GHz instead of z10's cores running at 4.7GHz. It is available in air-cooled and water-cooled models. The primary operating system that runs on this is called "z/OS", which when used with its integrated UNIX System Services subsystem, is fully UNIX-certified. The z196 server can also run z/VM, z/VSE, z/TPF and Linux on z, which is just Linux recompiled for the z/Architecture chip set. In my June 2008 post [Yes, Jon, there is a mainframe that can help replace 1500 servers], I mentioned the z10 mainframe had a top speed of nearly 30,000 MIPS (Million Instructions per Second). The new z196 machine can do 50,000 MIPS, a 60 percent increase!
The z196 runs a hypervisor called PR/SM that allows the box to be divided into dozens of logical partitions (LPAR), and the z/VM operating system can also act as a hypervisor running hundreds or thousands of guest OS images. Each core can be assigned a specialty engine "personality": GP for general processor, IFL for z/VM and Linux, zAAP for Java and XML processing, and zIIP for database, communications and remote disk mirroring. Like the z9 and z10, the z196 can attach to external disk and tape storage via ESCON, FICON or FCP protocols, and through NFS via 1GbE and 10GbE Ethernet.
IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (zBX)
There is a new frame called the zBX that basically holds two IBM BladeCenter chassis, each capable of 14 blades, so total of 28 blades per zBX frame. For now, only select blade servers are supported inside, but IBM plans to expand this to include more as testing continues. The POWER-based blades can run native AIX, IBM's other UNIX operating system, and the x86-based blades can run Linux-x86 workloads, for example. Each of these blade servers can run a single OS natively, or run a hypervisor to have multiple guest OS images. IBM plans to look into running other POWER and x86-based operating systems in the future.
If you are already familiar with IBM's BladeCenter, then you can skip this paragraph. Basically, you have a chassis that holds 14 blades connected to a "mid-plane". On the back of the chassis, you have hot-swappable modules that snap into the other side of the mid-plane. There are modules for FCP, FCoE and Ethernet connectivity, which allows blades to talk to each other, as well as external storage. BladeCenter Management modules serve as both the service processor as well as the keyboard, video and mouse Local Console Manager (LCM). All of the IBM storage options available to IBM BladeCenter apply to zBX as well.
Besides general purpose blades, IBM will offer "accelerator" blades that will offload work from the z196. For example, let's say an OLAP-style query is issued via SQL to DB2 on z/OS. In the process of parsing the complicated query, it creates a Materialized Query Table (MQT) to temporarily hold some data. This MQT contains just the columnar data required, which can then be transferred to a set of blade servers known as the Smart Analytics Optimizer (SAO), then processes the request and sends the results back. The Smart Analytics Optimizer comes in various sizes, from small (7 blades) to extra large (56 blades, 28 in each of two zBX frames). A 14-blade configuration can hold about 1TB of compressed DB2 data in memory for processing.
IBM zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager
You can have up to eight z196 machines and up to four zBX frames connected together into a monstrously large system. There are two internal networks. The Inter-ensemble data network (IEDN) is a 10GbE that connects all the OS images together, and can be further subdivided into separate virtual LANs (VLAN). The Inter-node management network (INMN) is a 1000 Mbps Base-T Ethernet that connects all the host servers together to be managed under a single pane of glass known as the Unified Resource Manager. It is based on IBM Systems Director.
By integrating service management, the Unified Resource Manager can handle Operations, Energy Management, Hypervisor Management, Virtual Server Lifecycle Management, Platform Performance Management, and Network Management, all from one place.
IBM Rational Developer for System z Unit Test (RDz)
But what about developers and testers, such as those Independent Software Vendors (ISV) that produce mainframe software. How can IBM make their lives easier?
Phil Smith on z/Journal provides a history of [IBM Mainframe Emulation]. Back in 2007, three emulation options were in use in various shops:
Open Mainframe, from Platform Solutions, Inc. (PSI)
FLEX-ES, from Fundamental Software, Inc.
Hercules, which is an open source package
None of these are viable options today. Nobody wanted to pay IBM for its Intellectual Property on the z/Architecture or license the use of the z/OS operating system. To fill the void, IBM put out an officially-supported emulation environment called IBM System z Professional Development Tool (zPDT) available to IBM employees, IBM Business Partners and ISVs that register through IBM Partnerworld. To help out developers and testers who work at clients that run mainframes, IBM now offers IBM Rational Developer for System z Unit Test, which is a modified version of zPDT that can run on a x86-based laptop or shared IBM System x server. Based on the open source [Eclipse IDE], the RDz emulates GP, IFL, zAAP and zIIP engines on a Linux-x86 base. A four-core x86 server can emulate a 3-engine mainframe.
With RDz, a developer can write code, compile and unit test all without consuming any mainframe MIPS. The interface is similar to Rational Application Developer (RAD), and so similar skills, tools and interfaces used to write Java, C/C++ and Fortran code can also be used for JCL, CICS, IMS, COBOL and PL/I on the mainframe. An IBM study ["Benchmarking IDE Efficiency"] found that developers using RDz were 30 percent more productive than using native z/OS ISPF. (I mention the use of RAD in my post [Three Things to do on the IBM Cloud]).
What does this all mean for the IT industry? First, the zEnterprise is perfectly positioned for [three-tier architecture] applications. A typical example could be a client-facing web-server on x86, talking to business logic running on POWER7, which in turn talks to database on z/OS in the z196 mainframe. Second, the zEnterprise is well-positioned for government agencies looking to modernize their operations and significantly reduce costs, corporations looking to consolidate data centers, and service providers looking to deploy public cloud offerings. Third, IBM storage is a great fit for the zEnterprise, with the IBM DS8000 series, XIV, SONAS and Information Archive accessible from both z196 and zBX servers.
Jon Toigo has a funny cartoon on his post, [As I Listen to EMC Brag on “New” Functionality…]. Basically, it pokes fun that many of us bloggers argue which vendor was first to introduce some technology or another. We all do this, myself included.
Recently, Claus Mikkelsen's, currently with HDS, [brought up accurately some past history from the 1990s], which is before many storage bloggers hired on with their current employers. Claus and I worked together for IBM back then, so I recognized many of the events he mentions that I can't talk about either. In many cases, IBM or HDS delivered new features before EMC.
I've been reading with some amusement as fellow blogger Barry Burke asked Claus a series of questions about Hitachi's latest High Availability Manager (HAM) feature. Claus was too busy with his "day job" and chose to shut Barry down. Sadly, HDS set themselves up for ridicule this round, first by over-hyping a function before its announcement, and then announcing a feature that IBM and EMC have offered for a while. The problem and confusion for many is that each vendor uses different terminology. Hitachi's HAM is similar to IBM's HyperSwap and EMC's AutoSwap. The implementations are different, of course, which is often why vendors are often asked to compare and contrast one implementation to another.
In his latest response,[how to mind the future of a mission-critical world], Barry reports that several HDS bloggers now censor his comments.That's too bad. I don't censor comments, within reason, including Barry's inane questions about IBM's products, and am glad that he does not censor my inane questions to him about EMC products in return. The entire blogosphere benefits from these exchanges, even if they are a bit heated sometimes.
We all have day jobs, and often are just too busy, or too lazy, to read dozens or hundreds of pages of materials, if we can even find them in the first place. Not everyone has the luxury of a "competitive marketing" team to help do the research for you, so if we can get an accurate answer or clarification about a product that is generally available directly from a vendor's subject matter expert, I am all for that.
(Note: IBM [Guidelines] prevent me from picking blogfights, so this post is only to set the record straight on some misunderstandings, point to some positive press about IBM's leadership in this area, and for me to provide a different point of view.)
First, let's set the record straight on a few things. The [RedPaper is still in draft form] under review, and so some information has not yet been updated to reflect the current situation.
You can have 16 or 32 SSD per DA pair. However, you can only have a maximum of 128 SSD drives total in any DS8100 or DS8300. In the case of the IBM DS8300 with 8 DA pairs, it makes more senseto spread the SSD out across all 8 pairs, and perhaps this is what confused BarryB.
Yes, you can order an all-SSD model of the IBM DS8000 disk system. I don't see anywhere in the RedPaper that suggests otherwise, and I have confirmed with our offering manager that this is the case.
The 73GB and 146GB are freshly manufactured from STEC. The 146GB drive and 200GB drives are actually the same drive but just formatted differently. The 200GB format does not offer as much spare capacity for wear-leveling, and are therefore intended only for read-intensive workloads. (Perhaps EMC wants you to find this out the hard way so that you replace them more often???) These reduced-spare-capacity formats may not be appropriate with some write-intensive workloads. Don't let anyone from EMC try to misrepresent the 73GB or 146GB drives from STEC as older, obsolete, collecting dust in a warehouse, or otherwise no longer manufactured by STEC.
You can relocate data from HDD to SSD using "Data Set FlashCopy", a feature that does not involve host-based copy services, does not consume any MIPS on your System z mainframe, and is performed inside the DS8000 disk system. You can also use host-based copy services as well, but it is not the only way.
You can use any supported level of z/OS with SSD in the IBM DS8000. There is ENHANCED support mentioned in the RedPaper that you get only with z/OS 1.8 and above, allowing you to create automation policies that place data sets onto SSD or non-SSD storage pools. This synergy makes SSD with IBM DS8000 superior to the initial offerings that EMC had offered without this OS support.
I find it amusing that BarryB's basic argument is that IBM's initial release of SSD disk on DS8000 is less than what the potential architecture could be extended to support much more. Actually, if you look at EMC's November release of Atmos, as well as their most recent announcement of V-Max, they basically say the same thing "Stay Tuned, this is just our initial release, with various restrictions and limitations, but more will follow." Architecturally, IBM DS8000 could support a mix of SSD and non-SSD on the same DA pairs, could support RAID6 and RAID10 as well, and could support larger capacity drives or use higher-capacity read-intensive formats. These could all be done via RPQ if needed, or in a follow-on release.
BarryB's second argument is that IBM is somehow "throwing cold water" on SSD technology. That somehow IBM is trying to discourage people from using SSD by offering disk systems with this technology. IBM offered SSD storage on BladeCenter servers LONG BEFORE any EMC disk system offering, and IBM continues to innovate in ways that allow the best business value of this new technology. Take for example this 24-page IBM Technical Brief:[IBM System z® and System Storage DS8000:Accelerating the SAP® Deposits Management Workload With Solid State Drives]. It is full of example configurations that show that SSD on IBM DS8000 can help in practical business applications. IBM takes a solution view, and worked with DB2, DFSMS, z/OS, High Performance FICON (zHPF), and down the stack to optimize performance to provide real business value innovation. Thanks to this synergy,IBM can provide 90 percent of the performance improvement with only 10 percent of the SSD disk capacity as EMC offerings. Now that's innovative!
The price and performance differences between FC and SATA (what EMC was mostly used to) is only 30-50 percent. But the price and performance differences between SSD and HDD is more than an order of magnitude in some cases 10-30x, similar to the differences between HDD and tape. Of course, if you want hybrid solutions that take best advantage of SSD+HDD, it makes more sense to go to IBM, the leading storage vendor that has been doing HDD+Tape hybrid solutions for the past 30 years. IBM understands this better, and has more experience dealing with these orders of magnitude than EMC.
But don't just take my word for it. Here is an excerpt from Jim Handy, from [Objective Analysis] market research firm, in a recent Weekly Review from [Pund-IT] (Volume 5, Issue 23--May 6, 2009):
"What about IBM? One thing that we are finding is that IBM really “Gets It” in the area offlash in the data center. Readers of the Pund-IT Review will not only recall that IBM Researchpushed its SSD-based “Quicksilver” storage system to one million IOPS using Fusion-ioflash-based storage, but they also may have noticed that the recent MySQL and mem-cachedappliances recently introduced by Schooner Information Technology are both flash-enableddevices introduced in partnership with IBM. Ironically, while other OEMs are takingthe cautious approach of introducing a standard SSD option to their systems first, IBM appearsto have been working on several approaches simultaneously to bring flash to thedata center not only in SSDs, but in innovative ways as well."
As for why STEC put out a press release on their own this week without a corresponding IBM press release, I can only say that IBM already announced all of this support back in February, and I blogged about it in my post [Dynamic Infrastructure - Disk Announcements 1Q09]. This is not the first time one of IBM's suppliers has tried to drum up business in this manner. Intel often funds promotions for IBM System x servers (the leading Intel-based servers in the industry) to help drive more business for their Xeon processor.
So, BarryB, perhaps its time for you to take out your green pen and work up another one of your all-too-common retraction and corrections.[Read More]
Well, it's Tuesday again, and that means more IBM announcements!
Today, IBM announced the enhanced IBM System Storage DS3200 disk system.It is in our DS3000 series, the DS3200 is SAS-attach, DS3300 is iSCSI-attach, and DS3400 is FC-attach. All of them support up to 48 drives, which can be a mix of SAS and SATA drives.
The DS3200 supports the following operating environments (see IBM's [Interop Matrix] for details):
Linux (both Linux-x86 and Linux on POWER)
With today's announcements, the DS3200 can be used to boot from, as well as contain data. This is ideal to combine with IBM BladeCenter. With the IBM BladeCenter you can have 14 blades, either x86 or POWER based processors, attached to a DS3200 via SAS switch modules in the back of the chassis.
Let's take an example of how this can be used for a Scale-Out File Services[SoFS] deployment.
First, we start with servers. We can have either three [IBM System x3650] servers, but this would use up all six of the direct-attach ports. Instead, we'll choose the [BladeCenter H chassis], with three HS21 blades for SoFS, and that leaves us with eleven empty blade slots we could put in a management node, or other blades to run applications.
SAS connectivity modules
The IBM BladeCenter [SAS Connectivity Module] allows the blade servers to connect to a DS3200. Two of them fit right in the back of the BladeCenter chassis, providing full redundancy without consuming additional rack space.
DS3200 and EXP3000 expansion drawers
We'll have one DS3200 controller with twelve internal drives, and three expansion EXP3000 drawers with twelve drives each, for a total of 48 drives. Using 1TB SATA, this would be 48 TB raw capacity.
The end result? You get a 48TB NAS scalable storage solution, supporting up to 7500 concurrent CIFS and NFS users, with up to 700 MB/sec with large block transfers. By using BladeCenter, you can expand performance by adding more blades to the Chassis, or have some blades running SAP or Oracle RAC have direct read/write access to the SoFS data.
Just another example on how IBM can bring together all the components of a solution to provide customer value!
Storage Networking World conference is over, and the buzz from the analysts appears to be focused onXiotech's low-cost RAID brick (LCRB) called Intelligent Storage Element, or ISE.
(Full disclosure: I work for IBM, not Xiotech, in case there weren't enough IBM references on this blog page to remindyou of that. I am writing this piece entirely from publicly available sources of information, and notfrom any internal working relationships between IBM and Xiotech. Xiotech is a member of the IBM BladeCenteralliance and our two companies collaborate together in that regard.)
Fellow blogger Jon Toigo in his DrunkenData blog posted [I’m Humming “ISE ISE Baby” this Week] and then a follow-up post[ISE Launches]. I looked up Xiotech's SPC-1benchmark numbers for the Emprise 5000 with both 73GB and 146GB drives, and at 8,202 IOPS per TB, does not seem to be as fast as IBM SAN VolumeControllers 11,354 IOPS per TB. Xiotech offers an impressive 5 year warranty (by comparison, IBM offers up to 4 years, and EMC I think is stillonly 90 days).Jon also wrote a review in [Enterprise Systems]that goes into more detail about the ISE.
Fellow blogger Robin Harris in his StorageMojo blog posted [SNW update - Xiotech’s ISE and the dilithium solution], feeling that Xiotech should win the "Best Announcement at SNW" prize. He points to the cool video on the[Xiotech website]. In that video, they claim 91,000 IOPS.Given that it took forty(40) 73GB drives (or 4 datapacs) in the previous example to get 8,202 IOPS for 1TB usable, I am guessing the 91,000 IOPS is probably 44 datapacs (440 drives) glommed together, representing 11TB usable.The ISE design appears very similar to the "data modules" used in IBM's XIV Nextra system.
Fellow blogger Mark Twomey from EMC in his StorageZilla blog posted[Xiotech: Industry second]correctly points out that Xiotech's 520-byte block (512 bytes plus extra for added integrity) was not the firstin the industry. Mark explains that EMC CLARiiON had this since the early 1990's, and implies in the title that this must have been the first in the industry, making Xiotech an industry second. Sorry Mark, both EMC and Xiotech were late to the game. IBM had been using 520-byte blocksize on its disk since 1980 with the System/38. This system morphed to the AS/400, and the blocksize was bumped up to 522 bytes in 1990, and is now called the System i, where the blocksize was bumped up yet again to 528 bytes in 2007.
While IBM was clever to do this, it actually means fewer choices for our System i clients, being only able to chooseexternal disk systems that explicitly support these non-standard blocksize values, such as the IBM System Storage DS8000and DS6000 series. (Yes, BarryB, IBM still sells the DS6000!) The DS6000 was specifically designed with the System i and smaller System z mainframes in mind, and in that niche does very well. Fortunately, as I mentioned in my February post [Getting off the island - the new i5/OS V6R1], IBM has now used virtualization, in the form of the VIOS logical partition, to allow i5/OS systems to attach to standard 512-byte block devices, greatly expanding the storage choices for our clients.
(Side note: SNW happens twice per year, so the challenge is having something new and fresh to talk about each time. While Andy Monshaw, General Manager of IBM System Storage, highlighted some of the many emerging technologies in his keynote address, IBM shipped on many of them prior to his last appearance in October 2007: thin provisioning in the IBM System Storage N series, deduplication in the IBM System Storage N series Advanced Single Instance Storage (A-SIS) feature, and Solid State Disk (SSD) drives in the IBM BladeCenter HS21-XM models. Of course, not everyone buys IBM gear the first day it is available, and IBM is not the only vendor to offer these technologies. My point is that for many people, these are still not yet deployed in their own data center, and so they are still in the future for them. However, since these IBM deliveries happened more than six months ago, they're old news in the eyes of the SNW attendees. While those who follow IBM closely would know that, others like[Britney Spears] may not.)
Back in the 1990s, when IBM was developing the IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC), we generically called the managed disk arrays that were being virtualized by the SVC as "low-cost RAID brick" or LCRB. The IBM DS3400 is a good example of this. However, as we learned, SVC is not just for LCRB, it adds value in front of all kinds of disk systems, including the not-so-low-cost EMC DMX and IBM DS8000 disk systems. ISE might make a reasonable back-end managed disk device for IBM SVC to virtualize. This gives you the new cool features of Xiotech's ISE, with IBM SVC's faster performance, more robust functionality and advanced copy services.
Next week, I'll be in South America in meetings with IBM Business Partners and storage sales reps.
EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC) today announced it has been positioned as a leader in the Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Open Systems Virtual Tape Library (VTL), Q1 2008 by Forrester Research, Inc. (January 31, 2008), an independent market and technology research firm. EMC achieved a position as a leader in the Forrester Wave report on virtual tape libraries based on the largest installed base of the EMC® Disk Library family of systems, its broad ecosystem interoperability. Virtual tape libraries emulate tape drives and work in conjunction with existing backup software applications, enabling fast backup and restoration of data by using high-capacity, low-cost disk drives.
EMC was the first major vendor in the open systems virtual tape library market as it introduced the EMC Disk Library in April 2004 and today is a leading provider of open systems virtual tape solutions, with systems that are designed for businesses and organizations of all sizes.
While the press release implies that "EDL equals VTL", Chuck tries to explain they are in fact very different. Here is an excerpt from his blog post:
Virtual Tape Libraries vs. Disk Libraries
As many of you know, VTLs have been around for a while. They use disk as a cache -- they buffer the incoming backup streams, do some housekeeping and stacking, then turn around and write tape efficiently. When you go to restore, you're usually coming back off of tape, unless the backup image in question is sitting in the disk cache.
Now, there is nothing wrong with the VTL approach, but it was conceived in a time when disks were horribly expensive. It was also pretty clear to many of us that disks were going to be a whole lot cheaper in the near future, and this fundamental assumption wouldn't be valid for much longer.
I kept thinking in terms of disk as a direct target for a backup application. No modifications to the backup application. Native speed of sequential disks for both backup and restore. Tape positioned as a backup to the backup. Use the strengths of the underlying array (e.g. CLARiiON) for performance, availability, management, etc.
We ended up calling the concept a "disk library" to differentiate from the VTLs that had come before it. It was a different value proposition and offering, based on the emergence of lower-cost disk media.
... It's nice to see we're at 1,100+ customers, and still going strong.
For those new to the blogosphere, there is a difference between "Press Releases" as formalcorporate communications versus "Blog Posts" which are informal opinions of the individual blogger, whichmay or may not match exactly the views of their respective employer.As we've learned many times before, one should not treat termslike "first" or "leader" in corporate press releases literally! Let's explore each.
Was EDL the first "open systems" Virtual Tape Library?
This is implied by the Forrester report. Chuck mentions the "VTLs that had came before it" in his blog, and many people are aware that IBM and StorageTek had introduced mainframe-attached VTLs in the 1990s. But what about VTL for "open systems"?
(Hold aside for the moment that IBM System zmainframe is an open system itself, with z/OS certified as a bona fide UNIX operating system by the [the Open Group] standards body. Most analysts and research firms usually refer only to the non-mainframe versions of UNIX and Windows. Alternative definitions for "open systems" can be foundin [Web definitions or Wikipedia]. I will assume Forrester meantnon-mainframe servers.)
IBM announced AIX non-mainframe attachment via SCSI connectivity to the IBM 3494 Virtual Tape Server (VTS) on Feb 16, 1999, with general availability in May 28, 1999. That's nearly FIVE YEARS before the April 2004 introduction of EDL. IBM VTS support for Sun Solaris and Microsoft Windows came shortly thereafter in November 2000, and support for HP-UX a bit later in June 2001. One of my 17 patents is for the software inside the IBM 3494 VTS, so like Chuck, I can takesome pride in the success of a successful product.
(I don't remember if StorageTek, which was subsequently acquired by Sun, had ever supported non-mainframe operating systems with their Virtual Storage Manager[VSM] offering, but if they did, I am sure it was also before EMC.)
Last week, another EMC blogger, BarryB (aka [the Storage Anarchist]),took me to task in comments on my post [IBM now supports 1TB SATA drives]. He felt that IBM should not claim support, given that the software inside the IBM System Storage N series is developed by NetApp. He compared this to the situation of HP and Sun re-badging the HDS USP-V disk system. If someone else wrote the software, BarryB opines, IBM should not claim credit for it. I tried to explain how IBM provides added value and has full-time employees dedicated to N series development and support, butdoubt I have changed his mind.
Why do I bring that up? Because the EMC Disk Library runs OEM software from FalconStor. Basically EMC is assembling a hardware/software solution with components provided from OEM suppliers. Hmmm? Sound familiar? Who is calling the kettle black?
If there is a clear winner here, it is FalconStor itself.Perhaps one of the worst kept industry secrets is that FalconStor software is also used in VTL offerings from Sun, Copan, and IBM, the latter embodied as the [IBM TS7520 Virtualization Engine] offering. If you like the concept of an EDL,but prefer instead one-stop shopping from an "information infrastructure" vendor, IBM can offer the TS7520 along with servers, software and services for a complete end-to-end solution.
Can EMC claim to be "a leader" in Virtual Tape Libraries?
During the measured quarter, IBM shipped its 10 millionth LTO-4 tape drive cartridge to Getty Images, the world's leading creator and distributor of still imagery, footage and multi-media products, as well as a recognized provider of other forms of premium digital content, including music. Getty Images is using the LTO-4 drives as part of a tiered infrastructure of IBM disk and tape solutions that help support the backup needs of their digital imagery;
IBM shipped more than 1,500 Petabytes of tape storage in Q3'07 alone;
During Q3'07, IBM shipped the 10,000th IBM System Storage TS3500 Tape Library. The TS3500 is a highly scalable tape library with support from 1 to 192 tape drives and up to 6,400 cartridge slots for open system, mainframe and virtual tape system attachment.
Let's take a look at the numbers. IBM has sold over 5,400 virtual tape libraries. Sun/STK has sold over 4,000 virtual tape libraries. Both are drastically more than the 1,100 mentioned in Chuck's post. Does IDC recognize EMC in third place? No, EMC chooses instead to declare EDL as disk arrays (probably toprop up their IDC "Disk Tracker" numbers), so they don't even earn an honorable mention under the virtual tape librarycategory. This of course includes the number of mainframe-attached models from IBM and Sun/STK. So, if EMC did call these tape systems instead, they might showup in third place, and as such EMC could claim to be "a leader" in much the same way an athlete can claim to be an "Olympic medalist" winning the bronze for third place. (If you limit thecount to just the FalconStor-based models from IBM, EMC, Sun and Copan, then EMC moves up to first or second, but then press release titles like "EMC a Leader in FalconStor-based non-mainframe Virtual Tape Libraries" can get too confusing.)
Chuck, if you are reading this, I feel you have every right to celebrate your involvement with the EDL. Despite having common software and hardware components, both IBM and EMC can rightfully declare their own unique value-add through their respective VTL offerings. Like the IBM N series, the EMC Disk Library is not diminished by the fact the software was written by someone else. BarryB might disagree.
Fellow Blogger BarryB mentions "chunk size" in his post [Blinded by the light],as it relates to Symmetrix Virtual Provisioning capability. Here is an excerpt:
I mean, seriously, who else but someone who's already implemented thin provisioning would really understand the implications of "chunk" size enough to care?
For those of you who don't know what the heck "chunk size" means (now listen up you folks over at IBM who have yet to implement thin provisioning on your own storage products), a "chunk" is the term used (and I think even trademarked by 3PAR) to refer to the unit of actual storage capacity that is assigned to a thin device when it receives a write to a previously unallocated region of the device.
For reference, Hitachi USP-V uses I think a 42MB chunk, XIV NEXTRA is definitely 1MB, and 3PAR uses 16K or 256K (depending upon how you look at it).
Thin Provisioning currently offered in IBM System Storage N serieswas technically "implemented" by NetApp, and that the Thin Provisioning that will be offered in our IBM XIV Nextrasystems will have been acquired from XIV. Lest I remind you that many of EMC's products were developed by other companies first, then later acquired by EMC, so no need for you to throw rocks from your glass houses in Hopkington.
"Thin provisioning" was first introduced by StorageTek in the 1990's and sold by IBM under the name of RAMAC Virtual Array (RVA). An alternative approach is "Dynamic Volume Expansion" (DVE). Rather than giving the host application a huge 2TB LUN but actually only use 50GB for data, DVE was based on the idea that you only give out 50GB they need now, but could expand in place as more space was required. This was specifically designed to avoid the biggest problem with "Thin Provisioning" which back then was called "Net Capacity Load" on the IBM RVA, but today is now referred to as "over-subscription". It gave Storage Administrators greater control over their environment with no surprises.
In the same manner as Thin Provisioning, DVE requires a "chunk size" to work with. Let's take a look:
On the DS4000 series, we use the term "segment size", and indicate that the choice of a segment size can have some influence on performance in both IOPS and throughput. Smaller segment sizes increase the request rate (IOPS) by allowing multiple disk drives to respond to multiple requests. Large segment sizes increase the data transfer rate(Mbps) by allowing multiple disk drives to participate in one I/O request. The segment size does not actually change what is stored in cache, just what is stored on the disk itself.It turns out in practice there is no advantage in using smaller sizes with RAID 1; only in a few instances does this help with RAID-5 if you can writea full stripe at once to calculate parity on outgoing data. For most business workloads, 64KB or 128KB are recommended. DVE expands by the same number of segments across all disks in the RAID rank, so for example in a 12+P rank using 128KB segment sizes, the chunk size would be thirteen segments, about 1.6MB in size.
SAN Volume Controller
On the SAN Volume Controller, we call this "extent size" and allow it to be various values 64MB to 512MB. Initially,IBM only managed four million extents, so this table was used to explain the maximum amount that could be managedby an SVC system (up to 8 nodes) depending on extent size selected.
IBM thought that since we externalized "segment size" on the DS4000, we should do the same for the SANVolume Controller. As it turned out, SVC is so fast up in the cache, that we could not measure any noticeable performance difference based on extent size. We did have a few problems. First, clients who chose 16MB andthen grew beyond the 64TB maximum addressable discovered that perhaps they should have chosen something larger.Second, clients called in our help desk to ask what size to choose and how to determine the size that was rightfor them. Third, we allowed people to choose different extent sizes per managed disk group, but that preventsmovement or copies between groups. You can only copy between groups that use the same extent size. The generalrecommendation now is to specify 256MB size, and use that for all managed disk groups across the data center.
The latest SVC expanded maximum addressability to 8PB, still more than most people have today in their shops.
Getting smarter each time we introduce new function, we chose 1GB chunks for the DS8000. Based on a mainframebackground, most CKD volumes are 3GB, 9GB, or 27GB in size, and so 1GB chunks simplified this approach. Spreadingthese 1GB chunks across multiple RAID ranks greatly reduced hot-spots that afflict other RAID-based systems.(Rather than fix the problem by re-designing the architecture, EMC will offer to sell you software to help you manually move data around inside the Symmetrix after the hot-spot is identified)
Unlike EMC's virtual positioning, IBM DS8000 dynamic volume expansion does work on CKD volumes for our System z mainframe customers.
The trade-off in each case was between granularity and table space. Smaller chunks allow finer control on the exact amount allocated for a LUN or volume, but larger chunks reduced the number of chunks managed. With our advanced caching algorithms, changes in chunk size did not noticeably impact performance. It is best just to come up with a convenient size, and either configure it as fixed in the architecture, or externalize it as a parameter with a good default value.
Meanwhile, back at EMC, BarryB indicates that they haven't determined the "optimal" chunk size for their newfunction. They plan to run tests and experiments to determine which size offers the best performance, and thenmake that a fixed value configured into the DMX-4. I find this funny coming from the same EMC that won't participate in [standardized SPC benchmarks] because they feel that performance is a personal and private matter between a customer and their trusted storage vendor, that all workloads are different, and you get the idea. Here's another excerpt:
Back at the office, they've taking to calling these "chunks" Thin Device Extents (note the linkage back to EMC's mainframe roots), and the big secret about the actual Extent size is...(wait for it...w.a.i.t...for....it...)...the engineers haven't decided yet!
That's right...being the smart bunch they are, they have implemented Symmetrix Virtual Provisioning in a manner that allows the Extent size to be configured so that they can test the impact on performance and utilization of different sizes with different applications, file systems and databases. Of course, they will choose the optimal setting before the product ships, but until then, there will be a lot of modeling, simulation, and real-world testing to ensure the setting is "optimal."
Finally, BarryB wraps up this section poking fun at the chunk sizes chosen by other disk manufacturers. I don't knowwhy HDS chose 42MB for their chunk size, but it has a great[Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy]sound to it, answering the ultimate question to life, the universe and everything. Hitachi probably went to theirDeep Thought computer and asked how big should their "chunk size" be for their USP-V, and the computer said: 42.Makes sense to me.
I have to agree that anything smaller than 1MB is probably too small. Here's the last excerpt:
Now, many customers and analysts I've spoken to have in fact noted that Hitachi's "chunk" size is almost ridiculously large; others have suggested that 3PAR's chunks are so small as to create performance problems (I've seen data that supports that theory, by the way).
Well, here's the thing: the "right" chunk size is extremely dependent upon the internal architecture of the implementation, and the intersection of that ideal with the actual write distribution pattern of the host/application/file system/database.
So my suggestion to EMC is, please, please, please take as much time as you need to come up with the perfect"chunk size" for this, one that handles all workloads across a variety of operating systems and applications, from solid-state Flash drives to 1TB SATA disk. Take months or years, as long as it takes. The rest of the world is in no hurry, as thin provisioning or dynamic volume expansion is readily available on most other disk systems today.
Maybe if you ask HDS nicely, they might let you ask their computer.
Well, it's 2008, which could mark the end to RAID5 and mark the beginnings of a new disk storagearchitecture. IBM starts the year with exciting news, acquiring new disk technology from a smallstart-up called XIV, led by former-EMCer Moshe Yanai. Moshe was ousted publicly in 2001 from hisposition as EMC's VP of engineering, and formed his own company. It didn't take long for EMC bloggersto poke fun at this already. Mark Twomey, in his StorageZilla blog, had mentioned XIV before back in August,[XIV], and again todayin [IBM Buys XIV].
To address the new requirements associated with next generation digital content, IBM chose XIV and its NEXTRA™ architecture for its ability to scale dynamically, heal itself in the event of failure, and self-tune for optimum performance, all while eliminating the significant management burden typically associated with rapid growth environments. The architecture also is designed to automatically optimize resource utilization of all the components within the system, which can allow for easier management and configuration and improved performance and data availability.
"We are pleased to become a significant part of the IBM family, allowing for our unique storage architecture, our engineers and our storage industry experience to be part of IBM's overall storage business," said Moshe Yanai, chairman, XIV. "We believe the level of technological innovation achieved by our development team is unparalleled in the storage industry. Combining our storage architectural advancements with IBM's world-wide research, sales, service, manufacturing, and distribution capabilities will provide us with the ability to have these technologies tackle the emerging Web 2.0 technology needs and reach every corner of the world."
The NEXTRA architecture has been in production for more than two years, with more than four petabytes of capacity being used by customers today.
Current disk arrays were designed for online transaction processing (OLTP) databases. The focus was onusing fastest most expensive 10K and 15K RPM Fibre Channel drives, with clever caching algorithmsfor quick small updates of large relational databases. However, the world is changing, and peoplenow are looking for storage designed for digital media, archives, and other Web 2.0 applications.
One problem that NEXTRA architecture addresses is RAID rebuild. In a standard RAID5 6+P+S configuration of 146GB 10K RPM drives, the loss of one disk drive module (DDM) was recovered by reconstructing the data from parity of the other drives onto the spare drive. The process took46 minutes or longer, depending on how busy the system was doing other things. During this time,if a second drive in the same rank fails, all 876GB of data are lost. Double-drive failures are rare,but unpleasant when they happen, and hopefully you have a backup on tape to recover the data from.Moving to slower, less expensive SATA drives made this situation worse. The drives have highercapacity, but run at slower speeds. When a SATA drive fails in a RAID5 array, it could take severalhours to rebuild, and that is more time exposure for a second drive failure. A rebuild for a 750GBSATA drive would take five hours or more,with 4.5 TB of data at risk during the process if a second drive failure occurs.
The Nextra architecture doesn't use traditional RAID ranks or spare DDMs. Instead, data is carved up into 1MBobjects, and each object is stored on two physically-separate drives. In the event of a DDM loss, allthe data is readable from the second copies that are spread across hundreds of drives. New copies aremade on the empty disk space of the remaining system. This process can be done for a lost 750GB drive in under20 minutes. A double-drive failure would only lose those few objects that were on both drives, so perhaps1 to 2 percent of the total data stored on that logical volume.
Losing 1 to 2 percent of data might be devastating to a large relational database, as this could impactthe entire access to the internal structure. However, this box was designed for unstructuredcontent, like medical images, music, videos, Web pages, and other discrete files. In the event of a double-drivefailure, individual files would be recovered, such as with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager backup software.
IBM will continue to offer high-speed disk arrays like the IBM System Storage DS8000 and DS4800 for OLTP applications, and offer NEXTRA for this new surge in digital content of unstructured data. Recognizing this trend, diskdrive module manufacturers will phase out 10K RPM drives, and focus on 15K RPM for OLTP, and low-speedSATA for everything else.
Update: This blog post was focused on the version of XIV box available as of January 2008 that was built by XIV prior to the IBM acquisition. IBM has since made a major revision, made available August 2008 thataddresses a variety of workloads, including database, OLTP, email, as well as digital content and unstructuredfiles. Contact your IBM or IBM Business Partner for the latest details!
Bottom line, IBM continues to celebrate the new year, while the EMC folks in Hopkington, MA will continue to nurse their hangovers. Now that's a good way to start the new year!
Array-based replication does have drawbacks; all externalised storage becomes dependent on the virtualising array. This makes replacement potentially complex. To date, HDS have not provided tools to seamlessly migrate away from one USP to another (as far as I am aware). In addition, there's the problem of "all your eggs in one basket"; any issue with the array (e.g. physical intervention like fire, loss of power, microcode bug etc) could result in loss of access to all of your data. Consider the upgrade scenario of moving to a higher level of code; if all data was virtualised through one array, you would want to be darn sure that both the upgrade process and the new code are going to work seamlessly...
The final option is to use fabric-based virtualisation and at the moment this means Invista and SVC. SVC is an interesting one as it isn't an array and it isn't a fabric switch, but it does effectively provide switching capabilities. Although I think SVC is a good product, there are inevitably going to be some drawbacks, most notably those similar issues to array-based virtualisation (Barry/Tony, feel free to correct me if SVC has a non-disruptive replacement path).
I would argue that the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) is more like the HDS USP, and less like the Invista. Both SVC and USP provide a common look and feel to the application server, both provide additional cache to external disk, both are able to provide a consistent set of copy services.
IBM designed the SVC so that upgrades can occur non-disruptively. You can replace the hardware nodes, one node at a time, while the SVC system is up and running, without disruption to reading and writing data on virtual disk. You can upgrade the software, one node at a time, while the SVC system is up and running, without disruption to reading and writing data on virtual disk. You can upgrade the firmware on the managed disk arrays behind the SVC, again, without disruption to reading and writing data on virtual disk.
More importantly, SVC has the ultimate "un-do" feature. It is called "image mode". If for any reason you want to take a virtual disk out of SVC management, you migrate over to an "image mode" LUN, and then disconnect it from SVC. The "image mode" LUN can then be used directly, with all the file system data in tact.
I define "virtualization" as technology that makes one set of resources look and feel like a different set of resources with more desirable characteristics. For SVC, the more desirable characteristics include choice of multi-pathing driver, consistent copy services, improved performance, etc. For EMC Invista, the question is "more desirable for whom?" EMC Invista seems more designed to meet EMC's needs, not its customers. EMC profits greatly from its EMC PowerPath multi-pathing driver, and from its SRDF copy services, so it appears to have designed a virtualization offering that:
Continuesthe use of EMC Powerpath as a multi-pathing driver. SVC supports driversthat are provided at no charge to the customer, as well as those built-in to each operating system like MPIO.
and, continuesthe use of Array-based copy services like SRDF of the underlying disk. SVC providesconsistent copy services regardless of storage vendor being managed.
A post from Dan over at Architectures of Control explains the anti-social nature of public benches. City planners, in an effort to discourage homeless people from sleeping on benches in parks or sidewalks, design benches that are so uncomfortableto use, that nobody uses them. These included benches made of metal that are too hot or too cold during certainmonths, benches slanted at an angle that dump you on the ground if you lay down, or benches that have dividers sothat you must be in an upright seated position to use.
This is not a disparagement of split-path switch-based designs. Rather, EMC's specific implementation appears to be designed for it to continuevendor lock-in for its multi-pathing driver, continuevendor lock-in for its copy services when used with EMC disk, and only provide slightly improved data migration capability for heterogeneous storage environments. Other switch-based solutions, such as those from Incipient or StoreAge, had different goals in mind.
Sadly, my IBM colleague BarryW and I have probably spent more words discussing Invista than all eleven EMC bloggers combined this year. While everyone in the industry is impressed how often EMC can sell "me, too" products with an incredibly large marketing budget, EMC appears not to have set aside funds for the Invista.
If a customer could design the ideal "storage virtualization" solution that would provide them the characteristics they desire the most from storage resources, it would not be anything like an Invista. While there are pros and cons between IBM's SVC and HDS's TagmaStore offerings, the reason both IBM and HDS are the market leaders in storage virtualization is because both companies are trying to provide value to the customer, just in different ways, and with different implementations.
When new technologies are introduced to the marketplace, it is normal for customers to be skeptical.
My sister is a mechanical engineer, so when she needs to configure a part or component, she candesign it on the computer, and then use a "Rapid Prototyping Machine"that acts like a 3D printer, to generate a plastic part that matches the specifications. Some machinesdo this by taking a hunk of plastic and cutting it down to the appropriate shape, and others use glue andpowder to assemble the piece.
But not everything is that simple. Harry Beckwith deals with the issue of selling services and software featuresin his book "Selling the Invisible". How do you sell a service before it is performed? How do you sell a softwarefeature based on new technology that the customer is not familiar with?
Our good friends over at NetApp, our technology partners for the IBM System Storage N series, developed a"storage savings estimator" tool that can provide good insight into the benefits of Advanced Single InstanceStorage (A-SIS) deduplication feature.
I decided to run the tool to analyze my own IBM Thinkpad C: drive (Windows operating system and programs) and D: drive ("My Documents" folder containing all my data files) to see how much storage savings thetool would estimate. Here are my results:
WINXP-C-07G (C: drive)Total Number of Directories: 1272Total Number of Files: 56265Total Number of Symbolic Links: 0Total Number of Hard Links: 41996Total Number of 4k Blocks: 2395884Total Number of 512b Blocks: 18944730Total Number of Blocks: 2395884Total Number of Hole Blocks: 290258Total Number of Unique Blocks: 1611792Percentage of Space Savings: 20.61Scan Start Time: Wed Sep 5 14:37:06 2007Scan End Time: Wed Sep 5 14:53:51 2007
WINXP-D-07H (D: drive)Total Number of Directories: 507Total Number of Files: 7242Total Number of Symbolic Links: 0Total Number of Hard Links: 11744Total Number of 4k Blocks: 3954712Total Number of 512b Blocks: 31610595Total Number of Blocks: 3954712Total Number of Hole Blocks: 3204Total Number of Unique Blocks: 3524605Percentage of Space Savings: 10.79Scan Start Time: Wed Sep 5 14:21:16 2007Scan End Time: Wed Sep 5 14:34:30 2007
I am impressed with the results, and have a better understanding of the way A-SIS works. A-SIS looks at every4kB block of data, and creates a "fingerprint", a type of hash code of the contents. If two blocks have different "fingerprints", then the contents are known to be different. If two blocks have the same fingerprint, it is mathematically possible for them to be unique in content, so A-SIS schedules a byte-for-byte comparison to be sure they are indeed the same. This might happen hours after the block is initially written to disk, but is a much safer implementation, and does not slow down the applications writing data.
(In an effort to provide support "real time" as data was being written, earlier versions of deduplication
had to either assume that a hash collision was a match, or take time to perform the byte-for-byte comparisonrequired during the write process. Doing this byte-for-byte comparison when the device is the busiest doingwrite activities causes excessive undesirable load on the CPU.)
The estimator tool runs on any x86-based Laptop, personal computer or server, and can scan direct-attached, SAN-attached, or NAS-attached file systems. If you are a customer shopping around for deduplication, ask your IBM pre-sales technical support, storage sales rep, or IBM Business Partner to analyze your data. Tools like this can help make a simple cost-benefit analysis: the cost of licensing the A-SIS software feature versus the amount of storage savings.
Sometimes, it's difficult to explain the products I manage to people outside the IT storage industry. How do you explain FCP vs. FICON, Giant Magnetoresistive (GMR) heads, the SMI-S interface, etc. enough to then explain how your job relates to those technologies. At least my friends and family read this blog, so they can somewhat understand some of the things I am working on. When I visit my folks on Sundays, we sometimes discuss items they read in my blog that week.
In addition to a "take your children to work day", we have discussed within IBM a "take your parents to work day", especially for the young new hires who have a hard time explaining what their new job is to the rest of their family.
The problem is not just your parents, but any of your co-workers old enough to be parents who haven't bothered to keep up with the latest advancements in Web 2.0 technology. Here are some examples:
A project leader working with a technology partner asked if me if there was a difference between a "blog" and a "wiki" and which should his team use. This was not a simple yes/no answer, and involved some explanation, conversation and understanding of what he was trying to accomplish.
For one of my meetings, someone instant-messaged me asking where it was, was it "face-to-face" (F2F) or Conference call (CC). I replied back, "A2A w/CC" (avatar-to-avatar with voice over conference call). When you are meeting other avatars in-world in Second Life, it gets quite distracting having everyone typing away, with their hands and fingers moving furiously, so we use a conference call to complement our 3D interaction.
That's why I was very excited to seeLinden Lab announces voice beta in Second Life. It won't be fully ready until later this year, but adding voice to Second Life will greatly reduce the hurdles we now have trying to coordinate conference calls with in-world activity.
I realize not everyone can keep up with all the new and different technologies, but the social networking aspects of some of these new developments are worth looking into.
Wrapping up my week's theme of "diversity", with posts on a diverse set of topics,today I will suggest ways to spendyour time while you are walking 10,000 steps per day, as recommended by the authorsof the book "You: On a Diet".
(If you thought this was about the 10,000 steps it might take to implement a storage solution, you should switch over to IBM as your storage vendor. For example, the DS3200 and DS3400 can beimplemented in as little as SIX steps. That's pretty cool.)
Blogs like Lifehacker are an excellent resource for neat littletips and tricks to help you throughout your day, like how to use your iPod, cell phone or computer better, for example. These suggestions are based on the idea that you can walk your 10,000 steps with access to an iPod and cell phone.
Learning a language
... or refreshing yourself on a language you might not have spoken in a while. In addition to formal audio-based lessons from Pimsleur, there are podcasts you can get for various languages. In preparation for my upcoming trip to Japan and China, I have been listening to JapanesePod101.com and ChinesePod.com which have quick lessons that complement the formal training.This Lifehacker postindicates there are similar ones for French, Spanish, Italian, and Brazillian Portuguese.
Practicing your presentation
Walking while practicing your 30-60 minute presentation would be good exercise.MicroPersuasion explains how to turn your iPod into the ultimate PowerPoint accessory, and this article in PlayListmag.com providesthe steps to get a PowerPoint presentation onto your iPod. I did this, and the slides are found underPhotos->Photo Library. The images are small, but heck, they are your charts and you should recognize themwell enough to remind yourself what to say on each slide.Also, I am able to record my practice sessions using MP3 Recorder and listen as I page through each slide. (In theory, you can use your iPod to present your slides to your audience, plugging the iPod directly into the laptop projector, instead of a laptop, using cables available at your local Apple store, and use the iPod controls as your forward/backward remote.)
Working your To-Do list
You can download your to-do list to your iPod. I use BackPackIt from 37 Signals. You can sign up for a free account, or upgrade to a paid account, and have anamazingly simple browser-based tool to develop your to-do lists, one for each project or aspect of your life. Oncedone, the list can be emailed to you as plain text. Enable your iPod as an "external disk drive" and copy this text file to your NOTES directory on the iPod drive. Voila! You can now read your to-do list! (I could also send it to my cell phone, using firstname.lastname@example.org, but I find the iPod easier to read and navigate)
Think of something to add? Send an email from your cell phone. With BackPackit, I can send an email that will directly add my text as a note or todo list item. On my phone, this is simply sending a text message to "500" with text like:
"email@example.com todo # buy bread".
The hash mark (#) separates the subject line from the body of the email, and this is how Backpackit knows its a todo item or a note. If you pre-program the huge email address in advance on your phone, then it isn't as bad as it looks. It will be on your packpackit page the next time you log in.
Well, that's three suggestions. The next time you complain that there is no time to walk, you now have no excuse.
In general, people agree that IBM, HP and EMC are the top three vendors in storage,with HDS, Sun and Dell rounding out the top six.
The fun begins when a respected analyst like IDC Corp. publishes their calculations,and individual vendors re-swizzle the results because they are not happy with theirfindings.
I thought it would be helpful to illustrate how this all works. First, you need to comeup with a defintion of what you are going to count. You could count units sold, revenue dollars, or capacity Terabytes, or some other generally accepted metric.
Next, you need to define what's in and what's out. For example, you can say "storage"which would include both disk drives and tape drives, both internal to servers, orexternal to servers, or you can choose a more narrow definition, say external disksystems, which might suit you better if you aren't in the tape business, and don't sell servers.
By some definitions, my Apple iPod, Motorolla cell phone, and Canon digital camera,could all be counted as external disk systems, as they all connect via USB cableto my IBM laptop, and act like a disk drive to my Windows operating system, allowingme to read and write data back and forth. It is necessary to define exactly what you plan to include,and what to exclude, based on the reported numbers available.
The last rule is that nothing gets double-counted. In our complicated industry ofmanufacturers and vendors, sometimes storage is manufactured by one company, but soldby another, typically under the vendor's brand, not the manufacturer's brand. Youcan either count manufactured units, or vendor units, but you can't mix and match.
IBM is both manufacturer and vendor. However, IDC only counts vendor units, so storagemanufactured by someone else, but sold by IBM is counted as IBM, and storage manufacturedby IBM but branded by someone else goes to that other vendor. Likewise, HP and Sun re-brandHitachi storage, and Dell re-brands EMC storage.
EMC would like to treat all EMC-manufactured storage re-branded by Dell as EMC vended storage,so that it can move up in the ratings. But Dell wants to count it too, so that it can appearin the top six. You can't have it both ways.
But are these ratings just "bragging rights"? Not always. When big purchases are planned fornew projects, or a client decides its time to throw out the current vendor and shop for a newone, the ratings could influence that decision. In that regard, IDC 4Q05 Storage Tracker reportedIBM as number one over all in storage hardware at the end of 2005, which includes both internal and external disk systems, as well as tape drives sold under the IBM brand, based on dollar revenues. By this method of counting, HP came in at number 2, EMC at number 3, and the rest round out thetop six as before.
In the end, this is just one factor when deciding which brand to choose for your storage needs.
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.
Now an avid reader of my blog has brought this to my attention. Apparently,
EMC has been showing customers a presentation
[Accelerating Storage Transformation with VMAX and VPLEX] with false and misleading comparison claims between IBM DS8000, HDS VSP and EMC VMAX 40K disk system performance.
(FTC Disclosure: This would be a good time to remind my readers that I work for IBM and own IBM stock. I do not endorse any of the EMC or HDS products mentioned in this post, and have no financial affiliation or investments directly with either EMC nor HDS. I am basing my information solely on the presentation posted on the internet and other sources publicly available, and not on any misrepresentations from EMC speakers at the various conferences where these charts might have been shown.)
The problem with misinformation is that it is not always obvious. The EMC presentation is quite pretty and professional-looking. It is the typical slick, attention-getting, low-content, over-simplified marketing puffery you have come to expect from EMC. There are two slides in particular that I have issue with.
This first graphic implies that IBM and HDS are nearly tied in performance, but that EMC VMAX 40K has nearly triple that bandwidth. Overall the slide has very little detail. That makes it difficult to determine what exactly is being claimed and whether a fair comparison is being made.
The title claims that VMAX 40K is "#1 in High Bandwidth Apps". Only three disk systems are shown so the claim appears to be relative to only the three systems. The wording "High Bandwidth Apps" is confusing considering the cited numbers are for disk systems and no application is identified. By comparison, IBM SONAS can drive up to 105 GB/sec sequential bandwidth, nearly double what EMC claims for its VMAX 40K, so EMC is certainly not even close to #1.
Is the workload random or sequential? That is not easy to determine. The use of "GB/s" along with the large block size of 128KB implies the I/O workload is sequential, which is great for some workloads like high performance computing, technical computing and video broadcasts. Random workloads, on the other hand, are usually measured in I/Os per second (IOPS) with a block size ranging 4KB to 64KB. (I am assuming the 128K blocks refers to 128KB block size, and not reading the same block of cache 128,000 times.)
The slide states "Maximum Sustainable RRH Bandwidth 128K Blocks". The acronym "RRH" is not defined; but I suspect this refers to "random read hits". For random workloads, 100 percent random read hits from cache represents one corner of the infamous "four corners" test. Real-world workloads have a mix of reads and writes, and a mix of cache hits and cache misses. It is also unclear whether the hits are from standard data cache or from internal buffers in adapters (perhaps accessing the same blocks repeatedly) or something else. So is this really for a random workload, or a sequential workload?
(The term "Hitachi Math" was coined by an EMC blogger precisely to slam Hitachi Data Systems for their blatant use of four-corners results, claiming that spouting ridiculously large, but equally unrealistic, 100 percent random read hit results don't provide any useful information. I agree. There are much better industry-standard benchmarks available, such as SPC-1 for random workloads, SPC-2 for sequential workloads, and even benchmarks for specific applications, that represent real-world IT environments. To shame HDS for their use of four-corners results, only for EMC themselves to use similar figures in their own presentation is truly hypocritical of them!)
The IBM system is identified as "DS8000". DS8000 is a generic family name that applies to multiple generations of systems first introduced in 2004. The specific model is not identified, but that is critical information. Is this a first generation DS8100, or the latest DS8800, or something in between?
The slide says "Full System Configs", but that is not defined and configuration details are not identified. Configuration details, also critical information in assessing system performance capabilities, are not specified. If the EMC box costs seven times more than IBM or HDS, would you really buy it to get 3x more performance? Is the EMC packed with the maximum amount of SSD? Were there any SSD in the IBM or HDS boxes to match?
The source of the claimed IBM DS8000 performance numbers is not identified. Did they run their own tests? While I cannot tell, the VMAX may have been configured with 64 Fibre Channel 8Gbps host connections. In that case each channel is theoretically capable of supporting about 800 MB/s at 100% channel utilization. Multiplying 64 x 800MB/s = 51.2GB/s, so did EMC just do the performance comparison on the back of a napkin, assuming there are no other bottlenecks in the system? Even then, I would not round up 51.2 to 52!
Response times were not identified. For random I/Os, response time is a very important metric. It is possible that the Symmetrix was operating with some resources at 100% utilization to get the highest GB/s result, but that would likely make I/O response times unacceptable for real-world random I/O workloads.
IBM and HDS have both published Storage Performance Council [SPC] industry-standard performance benchmarks. EMC has not published any SPC benchmarks for VMAX systems. If EMC is interested in providing customers with audited, detailed performance information along with detailed configuration information, all based on benchmarks designed to represent real-world workloads, EMC can always publish SPC benchmark results as IBM and other vendors have done. In past blog fights, EMC resorts to the excuse that SPC isn't perfect, but can they really argue that vague and unrealistic claims cited in its presentation are better?
The second graphic is so absurd, you would think it came directly from Larry Ellison at an Oracle OpenWorld keynote session. EMC is comparing a configuration with VMAX 40K plus an EMC VFCache host-side flash memory cache card to a configuration with an IBM and HDS disk system without host-side flash memory cache also configured. The comparison is clearly apples-to-oranges. Other disk system configuration details are also omitted.
FAST VP is EMC's name for its sub-volume drive tiering feature, comparable to IBM Easy Tier and Hitachi's Dynamic Tiering. The graph implies that IBM and HDS can only achieve a modest increment improvement from their sub-volume tiering. I beg to differ. I have seen various cases where a small amount of SSD on IBM DS8000 series can drastically improve performance 200 to 400 percent.
The "DBClassify" shown on the graph is a tool run as part of an EMC professional services offering called Database Performance Tiering Assessment, makes recommendations for storing various database objects on different drive tiers based on object usage and importance. Do you really need to pay for professional services? With IBM Easy Tier, you just turn it on, and it works. No analysis required, no tools, no professional services, and no additional charge!
VFCache is an optional product from EMC that currently has no integration whatsoever with VMAX. A fair comparison would have included a host-side flash memory cache (from any vendor) when the IBM or HDS storage system was configured. Or leave it out altogether and just focus on the sub-volume tiering comparison.
Keep in mind that EMC's VFCache supports only selected x86-based hosts. IBM has published a [Statement of Direction] indicating that it will also offer this for Power systems running AIX and Linux host-side flash memory cache integrated with DS8000 Easy Tier.
I feel EMC's claims about IBM DS8000 performance are vague and misleading. EMC appears to lack the kind of technical marketing integrity that IBM strives to attain.
Since EMC is not able or willing to publish fair and meaningful performance comparisons, it is up to me to set the record straight and point out EMC's failings in this matter.
Reminder: It's not to late to register for my Webcast "Solving the Storage Capacity Crisis" on Tuesday, September 25. See my blog post [Upcoming events in September] to register!
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.
Tonight PBS plans to air Season 38, Episode 6 of NOVA, titled [Smartest Machine On Earth]. Here is an excerpt from the station listing:
"What's so special about human intelligence and will scientists ever build a computer that rivals the flexibility and power of a human brain? In "Artificial Intelligence," NOVA takes viewers inside an IBM lab where a crack team has been working for nearly three years to perfect a machine that can answer any question. The scientists hope their machine will be able to beat expert contestants in one of the USA's most challenging TV quiz shows -- Jeopardy, which has entertained viewers for over four decades. "Artificial Intelligence" presents the exclusive inside story of how the IBM team developed the world's smartest computer from scratch. Now they're racing to finish it for a special Jeopardy airdate in February 2011. They've built an exact replica of the studio at its research lab near New York and invited past champions to compete against the machine, a big black box code -- named Watson after IBM's founder, Thomas J. Watson. But will Watson be able to beat out its human competition?"
Like most supercomputers, Watson runs the Linux operating system. The system runs 2,880 cores (90 IBM Power 750 servers, four sockets each, eight cores per socket) to achieve 80 [TeraFlops]. TeraFlops is the unit of measure for supercomputers, representing a trillion floating point operations. By comparison, Hans Morvec, principal research scientist at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) estimates that the [human brain is about 100 TeraFlops]. So, in the three seconds that Watson gets to calculate its response, it would have processed 240 trillion operations.
Several readers of my blog have asked for details on the storage aspects of Watson. Basically, it is a modified version of IBM Scale-Out NAS [SONAS] that IBM offers commercially, but running Linux on POWER instead of Linux-x86. System p expansion drawers of SAS 15K RPM 450GB drives, 12 drives each, are dual-connected to two storage nodes, for a total of 21.6TB of raw disk capacity. The storage nodes use IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS) to provide clustered NFS access to the rest of the system. Each Power 750 has minimal internal storage mostly to hold the Linux operating system and programs.
When Watson is booted up, the 15TB of total RAM are loaded up, and thereafter the DeepQA processing is all done from memory. According to IBM Research, "The actual size of the data (analyzed and indexed text, knowledge bases, etc.) used for candidate answer generation and evidence evaluation is under 1TB." For performance reasons, various subsets of the data are replicated in RAM on different functional groups of cluster nodes. The entire system is self-contained, Watson is NOT going to the internet searching for answers.
Continuing this week's coverage of IBM's 3Q announcements, today it's all about storage for our mainframe clients.
IBM System Storage DS8700
IBM is the leader in high-end disk attached to mainframes, with the IBM DS8700 being our latest model in a long series of successful products in this space. Here are some key features:
Full Disk Encryption (FDE), which I mentioned in my post [Different Meanings of the word "Protect"]. FDE are special 15K RPM Fibre Channel drives that include their own encryption chip, so that IBM DS8700 can encrypt the data at rest without impacting performance of reads or writes. The encryption keys are managed by IBM Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager (TKLM).
Easy Tier, which I covered in my post [DS8700 Easy Tier Sub Lun Automatic Migration] which offers what EMC promised but has yet to deliver, the ability to have CKD volumes and FBA LUNs to straddle the fence between Solid State Drives (SSD) and spinning disk. For example, a 54GB CKD volume could have 4GB on SSD and the remaining 50GB on spinning drives. The hottest extents are moved automatically to SSD, and the coldest moved down to spinning disk. To learn more about Easy Tier, watch my [7-minute video] on IBM [Virtual Briefing Center].
z/OS Distributed Data Backup (zDDB), announced this week, provides the ability for a program running on z/OS to backup data written by distributed operating systems like Windows or UNIX stored in FBA format. In the past, to backup FBA LUNs involved a program like IBM Tivoli Storage Manager client to read the data natively, send it over Ethernet LAN to a TSM Server, which could run on the mainframe and use mainframe resources. This feature eliminates the Ethernet traffic by allowing a z/OS program to read the FBA blocks through standard FICON channels, which can then be written to z/OS disk or tape resources. Here is the [Announcement Letter] for more details.
One program that takes advantage of this new zDDB feature already is Innovation's [FDRSOS], which I pronounce "fudder sauce". If you are an existing FDRSOS customer, now is a good time to get rid of any EMC or HDS disk and replace with the new IBM DS8700 system.
IBM System Storage TS7680 ProtecTIER Deduplication Gateway for System z
When it comes to virtual tape libraries that attach to mainframes, the two main players are IBM TS7700 series and Oracle StorageTek Virtual Storage Manager (VSM). However, mainframe clients with StorageTek equipment are growing frustrated over Oracle's lack of commitment for mainframe-attachable storage. To make matters worse, Oracle recently missed a key delivery date for their latest enterprise tape drive.
What's new this week is that IBM now supports native IP-based asynchronous replication of virtual tapes at distance, from one TS7680 to another TS7680. This replaces the method of replication using the back end disk features. The problem with using disk replication is that all the virtual tapes will be copied over. Instead, the ProtecTIER administrator can decide which subset of virtual tapes should be replicated to the remote site, and that can reduce both storage requirements as well as bandwidth costs. See the [Announcement Letter] for more details.
Are you tired of hearing about Cloud Computing without having any hands-on experience? Here's your chance. IBM has recently launched its IBM Development and Test Cloud beta. This gives you a "sandbox" to play in. Here's a few steps to get started:
Generate a "key pair". There are two keys. A "public" key that will reside in the cloud, and a "private" key that you download to your personal computer. Don't lose this key.
Request an IP address. This step is optional, but I went ahead and got a static IP, so I don't have to type in long hostnames like "vm353.developer.ihost.com".
Request storage space. Again, this step is optional, but you can request a 50GB, 100GB and 200GB LUN. I picked a 200GB LUN. Note that each instance comes with some 10 to 30GB storage already. The advantage to a storage LUN is that it is persistent, and you can mount it to different instances.
Start an "instance". An "instance" is a virtual machine, pre-installed with whatever software you chose from the "asset catalog". These are Linux images running under Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) which is based on Linux's kernel virtual machine (KVM). When you start an instance, you get to decide its size (small, medium, or large), whether to use your static IP address, and where to mount your storage LUN. On the examples below, I had each instance with a static IP and mounted the storage LUN to /media/storage subdirectory. The process takes a few minutes.
So, now that you are ready to go, what instance should you pick from the catalog? Here are three examples to get you started:
IBM WebSphere sMASH Application Builder
Base OS server to run LAMP stack
Next, I decided to try out one of the base OS images. There are a lot of books on Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP (LAMP) which represents nearly 70 percent of the web sites on the internet. This instance let's you install all the software from scratch. Between Red Hat and Novell SUSE distributions of Linux, Red Hat is focused on being the Hypervisor of choice, and SUSE is focusing on being the Guest OS of choice. Most of the images on the "asset catalog" are based on SLES 10 SP2. However, there was a base OS image of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.4, so I chose that.
To install software, you either have to find the appropriate RPM package, or download a tarball and compile from source. To try both methods out, I downloaded tarballs of Apache Web Server and PHP, and got the RPM packages for MySQL. If you just want to learn SQL, there are instances on the asset catalog with DB2 and DB2 Express-C already pre-installed. However, if you are already an expert in MySQL, or are following a tutorial or examples based on MySQL from a classroom textbook, or just want a development and test environment that matches what your company uses in production, then by all means install MySQL.
This is where my SSH client comes in handy. I am able to login to my instance and use "wget" to fetch the appropriate files. An alternative is to use "SCP" (also part of PuTTY) to do a secure copy from your personal computer up to the instance. You will need to do everything via command line interface, including editing files, so I found this [VI cheat sheet] useful. I copied all of the tarballs and RPMs on my storage LUN ( /media/storage ) so as not to have to download them again.
Compiling and configuring them is a different matter. By default, you login as an end user, "idcuser" (which stands for IBM Developer Cloud user). However, sometimes you need "root" level access. Use "sudo bash" to get into root level mode, and this allows you to put the files where they need to be. If you haven't done a configure/make/make install in awhile, here's your chance to relive those "glory days".
In the end, I was able to confirm that Apache, MySQL and PHP were all running correctly. I wrote a simple index.php that invoked phpinfo() to show all the settings were set correctly. I rebooted the instance to ensure that all of the services started at boot time.
Rational Application Developer over VDI
This last example, I started an instance pre-installed with Rational Application Developer (RAD), which is a full Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Java and J2EE applications. I used the "NX Client" to launch a virtual desktop image (VDI) which in this case was Gnome on SLES 10 SP2. You might want to increase the screen resolution on your personal computer so that the VDI does not take up the entire screen.
From this VDI, you can launch any of the programs, just as if it were your own personal computer. Launch RAD, and you get the familiar environment. I created a short Java program and launched it on the internal WebSphere Application Server test image to confirm it was working correctly.
If you are thinking, "This is too good to be true!" there is a small catch. The instances are only up and running for 7 days. After that, they go away, and you have to start up another one. This includes any files you had on the local disk drive. You have a few options to save your work:
Copy the files you want to save to your storage LUN. This storage LUN appears persistent, and continues to exist after the instance goes away.
Take an "image" of your "instance", a function provided in the IBM Developer and Test Cloud. If you start a project Monday morning, work on it all week, then on Friday afternoon, take an "image". This will shutdown your instance, and backup all of the files to your own personal "asset catalog" so that the next time you request an instance, you can chose that "image" as the starting point.
Another option is to request an "extension" which gives you another 7 days for that instance. You can request up to five unique instances running at the same time, so if you wanted to develop and test a multi-host application, perhaps one host that acts as the front-end web server, another host that does some kind of processing, and a third host that manages the database, this is all possible. As far as I can tell, you can do all the above from either a Windows, Mac or Linux personal computer.
Getting hands-on access to Cloud Computing really helps to understand this technology!
Continuing my quest to "set the record straight" about [IBM XIV Storage System] and IBM's other products, I find myself amused at some of the FUD out there. Some are almost as absurd as the following analogy:
Humans share over 50 percent of DNA with bananas. [source]
If you peel a banana, and put the slippery skin down on the sidewalk outside your office building, it couldpose a risk to your employees
If you peel a human, the human skin placed on the sidewalk in a similar manner might also pose similar risks.
Mr. Jones, who applied for the opening in your storage administration team, is a human being.
You wouldn't hire a banana to manage your storage, would you? This might be too risky!
The conclusion we are led to believe is that hiring Mr. Jones, a human being, is as risky as puttinga banana peel down on the sidewalk. Some bloggers argue that they are merely making a series of factual observations,and letting their readers form their own conclusions. For example, the IBM XIV storage system has ECC-protected mirrored cache writes. Some false claims about this were [properly retracted]using strike out font to show the correction made, other times the same statement appears in another post from the same blogger that[have not yet beenretracted] (Update: has now been corrected). Other bloggers borrow the false statement [for their own blog], perhaps not realizing theretractions were made elsewhere. Newspapers are unable to fix a previous edition, so are forced to publishretractions in future papers. With blogs, you can edit the original and post the changed version, annotated accordingly, so mistakes can be corrected quickly.
While it is possible to compare bananas and humans on a variety of metrics--weight, height, and dare I say it,caloric value--it misses the finer differences of what makes them different. Humans might share 98 percent withchimpanzees, but having an opposable thumb allows humans to do things that chimpanzeesother animals cannot.
Full Disclosure: I am neither vegetarian nor cannibal, and harbor no ill will toward bananas nor chimpanzees.No bananas or chimpanzees were harmed in the writing of this blog post. Any similarity between the fictitiousMr. Jones in the above analogy and actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
So let's take a look at some of IBM XIV Storage System's "opposable thumbs".
The IBM XIV system comes pre-formatted and ready to use. You don't have to spend weeks in meetings deciding betweendifferent RAID levels and then formatting different RAID ranks to match those decisions. Instead, you can start using the storage on the IBM XIV Storage System right away.
The IBM XIV offers consistent performance, balancing I/O evenly across all disk drive modules, even when performing SnapShot processing, or recovering from component failure. You don't have to try to separate data to prevent one workload from stealing bandwidth from another. You don't have to purchase extra software to determine where the "hot spots" are on the disk. You don't have to buy othersoftware to help re-locate and re-separate the data to re-balance the I/Os. Instead, you just enjoy consistentperformance.
The IBM XIV offers thin provisioning, allowing LUNs to grow as needed to accommodate business needs. You don'thave to estimate or over-allocate space for planned future projects. You don't have to monitor if a LUN is reaching80 or 90 percent full. You don't have to carve larger and larger LUNs and schedule time on the weekends to move thedata over to these new bigger spaces. Instead, you just write to the disk, monitoring the box as a whole, ratherthan individual LUNs.
The IBM XIV Storage System's innovative RAID-X design allows drives to be replaced with drives of any larger or smaller capacity. You don't have to find the exact same 73GB 10K RPM drive to match the existing 73GB 10K RPM drive that failed. Some RAID systems allow "larger than original" substitutions, for example a 146GB drive to replace a 73GB drive, but the added capacity is wasted, because of the way most RAID levels work. The problemis that many failures happen 3-5 years out, and disk manufacturers move on to bigger capacities and differentform factors, making it sometimes difficult to find an exact replacement or forcing customers to keep their own stockof spare drives. Instead, with the IBM XIV architecture, you sleep well at night, knowing it allows future drive capacities to act as replacements, and getting the full value and usage of that capacity.
In the case of IBM XIV Storage System, it is not clear whether
"Vendors" are those from IBM and IBM Business Partners, including bloggers like me employed by IBM,and "everybody else" includes IBM's immediate competitors, including bloggers employed by them.
-- or --
"Vendors" includes IBM and its competitors including any bloggers, so that "everybody else" refers instead to anyone not selling storage systems, but opinionated enough to not qualify as "objective third-party sources".
-- or --
"Vendors" includes official statements from IBM and its competitors, and "everybody else" refers to bloggerspresenting their own personal or professional opinions, that may or may not correspond to their employers.
That said, feel free to comment below on which of these you think the last two points of Steinhardt's rule istrying to capture. Certainly, I can't argue with the top two: a customer's own experience and the experiencesof other customers, which I mentioned previously in my post[Deceptively Delicious].
In that light, here is a 5-minute video on IBM TV with a customer testimonial from the good folksat [NaviSite], one of our manycustomer references for the IBM XIV Storage System.
I am still wiping the coffee off my computer screen, inadvertently sprayed when I took a sip while reading HDS' uber-blogger Hu Yoshida's post on storage virtualization and vendor lock-in.
HDS is a major vendor for disk storage virtualization, and Hu Yoshida has been around for a while, so I felt it was fair to disagree with some of the generalizations he made to set the record straight. He's been more careful ever since.
However, his latest post [The Greening of IT: Oxymoron or Journey to a New Reality] mentions an expert panel at SNW that includedMark O’Gara Vice President of Infrastructure Management at Highmark. I was not at the SNW conference last week in Orlando, so I will just give the excerpt from Hu's account of what happened:
"Later I had the opportunity to have lunch with Mark O’Gara. Mark is a West Point graduate so he takes a very disciplined approach to addressing the greening of IT. He emphasized the need for measurements and setting targets. When he started out he did an analysis of power consumption based on vendor specifications and came up with a number of 513 KW for his data center infrastructure....
The physical measurements showed that the biggest consumers of power were in order: Business Intelligence Servers, SAN Storage, Robotic tape Library, and Virtual tape servers....
Another surprise may be that tape libraries are such large consumers of power. Since tape is not spinning most of the time they should consume much less power than spinning disk - right? Apparently not if they are sitting in a robotic tape library with a lot of mechanical moving parts and tape drives that have to accelerate and decelerate at tremendous speeds. A Virtual Tape Library with de-duplication factor of 25:1 and large capacity disks may draw significantly less power than a robotic tape library for a given amount of capacity.
Obviously, I know better than to sip coffee whenever reading Hu's blog. I am down here in South America this week, the coffee is very hot and very delicious, so I am glad I didn't waste any on my laptop screen this time, especially reading that last sentence!
In that report, a 5-year comparison found that a repository based on SATA disk was 23 times more expensive overall, and consumed 290 times more energy, than a tape library based on LTO-4 tape technology. The analysts even considered a disk-based Virtual Tape Library (VTL). Focusing just on backups, at a 20:1 deduplication ratio, the VTL solution was still 5 times per expensive than the tape library. If you use the 25:1 ratio that Hu Yoshida mentions in his post above, that would still be 4 times more than a tape library.
I am not disputing Mark O'Gara's disciplined approach. It is possible that Highmark is using a poorly written backup program, taking full backups every day, to an older non-IBM tape library, in a manner that causes no end of activity to the poor tape robotics inside. But rather than changing over to a VTL, perhaps Mark might be better off investigating the use of IBM Tivoli Storage Manager, using progressive backup techniques, appropriate policies, parameters and settings, to a more energy-efficient IBM tape library.In well tuned backup workloads, the robotics are not very busy. The robot mounts the tape, and then the backup runs for a long time filling up that tape, all the meanwhile the robot is idle waiting for another request.
(Update: My apologies to Mark and his colleagues at Highmark. The above paragraph implied that Mark was using badproducts or configured them incorrectly, and was inappropriate. Mark, my full apology [here])
If you do decide to go with a Virtual Tape Library, for reasons other than energy consumption, doesn't it make sense to buy it from a vendor that understands tape systems, rather than buying it from one that focuses on disk systems? Tape system vendors like IBM, HP or Sun understand tape workloads as well as related backup and archive software, and can provide better guidance and recommendations based on years of experience. Asking advice abouttape systems, including Virtual Tape Libraries, from a disk vendor is like asking for advice on different types of bread from your butcher, or advice about various cuts of meat at the bakery.
The butchers and bakers might give you answers, but it may not be the best advice.
Last July, IBM and EMC traded blog postings over SPC-1 benchmark results. Fellow EMC bloggerChuck Hollis wrote his post [Does Anyone Take The SPC Seriously?]. Here is an excerpt:
I think most storage users have figured this out. We've never done an SPC test, and probably will never do one. Anyone is free, however, to download the SPC code, lash it up to their CLARiiON, and have at it.
I responded with [Getting Under EMC Skin], and then followed up with a series explaining IBM SVC and SPC benchmarks here:
So what is the good news?Yesterday, our friends at NetApp took up Chuck's challenge and posted results on their FAS3040 as well as their EMC CLARiiON devices. IBM sells the FAS3040 under the name IBM System Storage N5300 disk system. Knowing that NetApp maintains excellent performance when it is doing point-in-time copies, NetApp ran both with and without on both boxes. I include DS4700 and DS4800 as well for comparison purposes, but only have them without FlashCopy running.
NetApp FAS3040 (IBM N5300)
NetApp FAS3040 (IBM N5300)
EMC CLARiiON CX3-40
IBM DS4700 Express
EMC CLARiiON CX3-40
One would expect some performance degradation with a box running point-in-time copies at the same time it is reading and writing data, but NetApp/IBM N5300 does not degrade by much, but EMC's drops a significant amount.
So what is the bad news? Last October, I welcomed HDS USP-V to the [Super High-End Club], but now we need to invite Texas Memory Systems as well.In 2006, I posted [Hybrid, Solid State and the future of RAID], and poked fun at Texas Memory Systems using the slogan "World's Fastest Storage", which at the time that honor belonged to IBM SAN Volume Controller instead.The VP of Texas Memory Systems, Woody Hutsell, explained the only reason their solid-state disk system, RAMSAN-320, didn't have faster results is that they didn't have the fastest IBM server to run against it. It may not surprise you that nearly everyone's SPC benchmarks use IBM servers because IBM has the fastest servers as well. I didn't have a million-dollar System p UNIX server to send Woody for this, but it looks like they have finally gotten one, and a new RAMSAN-400 device, as they have posted their latest results.
Texas Memory Systems RAMSAN-400
IBM SAN Volume Controller 4.2
EMC doesn't publish numbers for their Symmetrix box, despite their announcement of faster SSD drives. They claim that SSD drives make their overall disk system performance faster, but without SPC benchmarks, we will never know. If you have a Symmetrix, this YouTube video may help you decide where it belongs:
Wrapping up this week's theme on the XO laptop, I decided to take on thechallenge of printing. I managed to print from my XO laptop to my laserjet printer.I checked the One Laptop Per Child [OLPC] website,and found there is no built-in support for printers, but there have been several peopleasking how to print from the XO, so here are the steps I did to make it happen.
(Note: I did all of these steps successfully on my Qemu-emulated system first, and then performed them on my XO laptop)
Step 1: Determine if you have an acceptable printer
The XO laptop can only connect to a printer via USB cable or over the network.Check your printer to see if it supports either of these two options. In my case, my printer is connected to my Linksys hub that offers Wi-Fi in my home.
The XO runs a modified version of Red Hat's Fedora 7, so we need to also determineif the printer is supported on Linux.Check the [Open Printing Database]for the level of support. This database has come up with the following ranking system.Printers are categorized according to how well they work under Linux and Unix. The ratings do not pertain to whether or not the printer will be auto-recognized or auto-configured, but merely to the highest level of functionality achieved.
Perfectly - everything the printer can do is working also under Linux
Mostly - work almost perfectly - funny enhanced resolution modes may be missing, or the color is a bit off, but nothing that would make the printouts not useful
Partially - mostly don't work; you may be able to print only in black and white on a color printer, or the printouts look horrible
Paperweight - These printers don't work at all. They may work in the future, but don't count on it
If your printer only supports a parallel cable connection, or does not have a high enough ranking above, go buy another printer. The [Linux Foundation] websiteoffers a list of suggested printers and tutorials.
In my case, I have a Brother HL5250-DN black-and-white laserjet printer connected over a network to Windows XP, OS X and my other Linux systems. It is rated as supporting Linux perfectly, so I decided to use this for my XO laptop.
Step 2: Install Common UNIX Printing System (CUPS)
Technically, Linux is not UNIX, but for our purposes, close enough. Start the Terminalactivity, use "su" to change to root, and then use "yum" to install CUPS. Yum will automatically determine what other packages are needed, in this case paps and tmpwatch. Once installed, use "/usr/sbin/cupsd" to get the CUPS daemon started, and add this to the end ofrc.local so that it gets started every time you reboot.
Click graphic on the left to see larger view
[olpc@xo-10-CC-6F ~]$ subash-3.2# yum install cups...Total download size = 3.0 MIs this OK [y/N]? y
To download the appropriate drivers, you may need a browser that can handle file downloads. I have triedto do this with the built-in Browse activity (aka Gecko) but encountered problems. I have both Opera and Firefox installed, but I will focus on Opera for this effort.I also installed the older126.96.36.199 version of the Flash player (worked better than the latest 188.8.131.52 version) and Java JRE.Follow the OLPC Wiki instructions for [Opera, Adobe Flash,and Sun Java] installation, thenverify with the following [Java and Flash] testers.
Step 4: Download drivers and packages unique for your printer
In my case, I used Opera to get to the [Brother Linux Driver Homepage], and downloaded the RPM's for LPR and CUPS wrapper. These are the ones listed under "Drivers for Red Hat, Mandrake (Mandriva), SuSE". I saved these under "/home/olpc" directory.
By default, the root user has no password. However, you will need it to be something for later steps,so here is the process to create a root password. I set mine to "tony" which normallywould be considered too simple a password, but ignore those messages and continue.We will remove it in step 8 (below) to put things back to normal.
[olpc@xo-10-CC-6F ~]$ subash-3.2# passwdChanging password for user root.New UNIX password: tonyBAD PASSWORD: it is too shortRetype new UNIX password: tonypasswd: all authentication tokens updated successfullybash-3.2# exit[olpc@xo-10-CC-6F ~]$
Step 6: Launch CUPS administration
Here I followed the instructions in Robert Spotswood's [Printing In Linux with CUPS] tutorial.Launch the Opera browser, and enter "http://localhost:631/admin" as the URL. The localhostrefers to the laptop itself, and 631 is the special port that CUPS listens to from browsers. You can alsouse 127.0.0.1 as a shortcut for "localhost", and can be used interchangeably.
In my case, it detected both of my networked printers, so I selected the HL5250DN, entered thelocation of my PPD file "/usr/share/cups/model/HL5250DN.ppd" that was created in Step 4. I set the URI to "lpd://192.168.0.75/binary_p1" per the instructions [Network Setting in CUPS based Linux system] in the Brother FAQ page. I chage the page size from "A4" to "Letter".I set this printer as the default printer. When it asks for userid and password, that is whereyou would enter "root" for the user, and "tony" or whatever you decided to set your root password to.
Select "Print a Test Page" to verify that everything is working.
Step 7: Printing actual files
Sadly, I don't know Opera well enough to know how to print from there. So, I went over to my trustedFirefox browser. Select File->Page Setup to specify the settings, File->Print Preview tosee what it will look like, and then File->Print to send it to the printer.
To print the file "out.txt" that is in your /home/olpc directory, for example, enter"file:///home/olpc/out.txt" as the URL of the firefox browser. This will show the file,which you can then print to your printer. I had to specify 200% scaling otherwise the fontswere too small to read.
Step 8: Remove the "root" password
If you want to remove the root password, here are the steps.
[olpc@xo-10-CC-6F ~]$ suPassword: tonybash-3.2# passwd -d rootRemoving password for user root.passwd: Successbash-3.2# exit[olpc@xo-10-CC-6F ~]$
Now the problem is that there is no way to print stuff from any of the Sugar activities. The best place toput in print support would be the Journal activity. Along the bottom where the mounted USB keys arelocated could be an icon for a printer, and dragging a file down to the printer ojbect could cause it tobe send to the printer.
The alternative is to write some scripts invocable from the Terminal activity to determine what isin the journal, and send them to LPR with the appropriate parameters.
I did not have time to do either of these, but perhaps someone out there can take on that as a project.
As we wrap up the year, people's thoughts turn to archive anddata retention.
The [Robert Frances Group] have put out a research paper titled Optimizing Data Retention and Archiving - November 2007 that helps IT executives understand the cost differences for a disk-only archive approach versus disk/tape archive approach and how an [IBM System Storage DR550] offering can help address the long-term storage archive requirements with a world-class storage strategy that reduces cost, improves efficiency and supports compliance. Here is an excerpt:
Ongoing legal, audit, and regulatory requirementswill continue to drive IT groups to improvearchive policies, processes, strategy, andefficiency. The choice of which technologies touse will have a profound impact on the success ofsuch efforts, since technologies like the DR550embody many aspects of the strategy, processes,and policies that must be decided upon. When itcomes to tape, IBM's DR550 is unique inproviding that support. Competitors tout disk-onlysolutions as the wave of the future, but researchindicates otherwise. The most basic benefits arecost and mobility, and despite the various vendorproclamations to the contrary, tape is still only afraction of the cost of disk and will remain so inthe foreseeable future.
This paper is yet another nail in the coffin of EMC Centera.In his post [Anyone Naughty on Your List…], Jon W Toigo points to an eBay fire sale of an EMC Centera Gen 4.
There has never been a better time to switch from EMC Centera to theIBM System Storage DR550.
IBM doesn't publicly report subset numbers on individual product lines, but we are growing, albeit single-digit growth, on the high-end with our IBM System Storage DS8000 and DS6000 series products. Single digit growth is not "booming", but it is what we expected in this space, so it is not like we are"feeling the chill" as Robin stated.Obviously, if the U.S. market overall is doing poorly, then it must be from something else. IBM's success appears to be from organic growth in our Asia and Europe markets, and taking marketshare away from the top two contenders, EMC and HDS. Here are my thoughts why:
EMC is remodeling its kitchen
Not happy with its status as #1 disk hardware specialty shop, EMC is admirably trying to redefine itself as an ["information infrastructure"] company, buying up software companies and introducing new storage services. [Byte and Switch] reports onEMC's recent acquisitions:
EMC is the latest vendor to pin its colors to the SaaS mast, revealing its plan to offer SaaS-based archiving services during its recent Innovation Day in Boston.
EMC gave another clear indication of its SaaS intentions last month, when it spent $76 million to acquire online backup specialist Mozy.
IBM has offered[Managed Storage Services] foryears through our Global Technology Services (GTS) division. Gartner recognized IBM as the #1 leader in storageservices, with three times more revenues than EMC in this space.
As with a restaurant that is remodeling its kitchen, it can expect a temporary drop inrevenue. If it is done right, customers will come back to a bigger brighter restaurant. If not, the restaurant re-opens as a much smaller lesser version of itself. Recent events this year might incent EMC to get that kitchen done quickly:
A recent [class-action lawsuit]might result in having EMC's "86 percent male" sales force goes to sexual harassment sensitivity training, takingtime away from selling high-end storage arrays in the field. Analysts consider "high-end" boxes as those costingover $300,000 US dollars. Because of the money involved, there is a lot of competition for high-end storage, so face-to-face time with prospective customers is crucial to making the sale.Anytime any vendor is mentioned in a lawsuit (andcertainly IBM has had its share in the past, as Chuck Hollis correctly points out in the comment below), priorities get shifted, and there is potential dip in revenues.
Dell acquires EMC's rival EqualLogic. Dell resold EMC midrange storage, like CLARiiON, so this should notimpact their high-end storage sales. While Dell will be allowed to sell EMC until 2011, this new acquisition mightmean Dell leads with the EqualLogic offerings, and that could potentially reduce EMC revenues in the midrange space.
IBM went through a similar phase in the 1990's, redefining itself from an "IT Technology" company, intoa "Systems, Software and Services" company. These transitions can't be done in a quarter, or even a year, theytake several years. IBM lost business to EMC in the 1990s, but is back with a stronger portfolio in the 2000's, and so IBM's kitchen remodeling effort appears to be paying off. We will see what happens with EMC in a few years.
HDS puts on the white lab coats
Meanwhile, HDS appears interested in taking over as #1 disk hardware specialty shop.For years, Hitachi was the stereotypical JCM (Japanese IBM-compatible manufacturer) that made well-engineered"me, too" storage arrays. They would see what innovators like IBM and EMC were doing, and copy them. Recently,however, they seemed to have changed strategy, introducing new featuresand functions on their high-end USP-V device, like[Dynamic Provisioning].
The problem is that customers don't want to feel like [Guinea pigs] in an experimental lab, especially withmission-critical data that they trust to their most-available, most-reliable high-end disk storage systems.Like IBM and EMC and the rest of the major storage vendors, Hitachi has top-notch engineers making quality products, but new features scare people, and so there is a lag in the adoption of new technologies.
In our youth, we might have preferred beer with recent born-on dates, and tequila aged less than 90 days. But as weget older, we switch to drinks like wine and whiskey, aged years, not weeks. The same is true for themarketplace. New start-ups and other "early adopters"might be willing to try fresh new features and functions on their storage systems, but more established enterprises prefer storage with more mature and stable microcode.Storage admins want to leave at the end of the day, knowing that the data will still be there the next morning. In tough financial times, many established companies want the technological equivalent to ["comfort food"], nothing spicy or exotic, but simplehearty fare that fills the belly and keeps you satisfied.
Recognizing this, IBM often introduces new features and functions on its midrange lines first, and position them accordingly. Once customers are comfortable with the concepts, IBM then can consider moving them into the high-end lines. For example, dynamic volume expansion was introduced on the DS4000 and SAN Volume Controller first, and once proven safe and effective, brought over to the DS8000 series. This strategy has served us well.
Well those are my theories. If you have a different explanation of why storage vendors are not doing well in thehigh-end, drop me a comment!
It's official! My "blook" Inside System Storage - Volume I is now available.
This blog-based book, or “blook”, comprises the first twelve months of posts from this Inside System Storage blog,165 posts in all, from September 1, 2006 to August 31, 2007. Foreword by Jennifer Jones. 404 pages.
IT storage and storage networking concepts
IBM strategy, hardware, software and services
Disk systems, Tape systems, and storage networking
Storage and infrastructure management software
Second Life, Facebook, and other Web 2.0 platforms
IBM’s many alliances, partners and competitors
How IT storage impacts society and industry
You can choose between hardcover (with dust jacket) or paperback versions:
This is not the first time I've been published. I have authored articles for storage industry magazines, written large sections of IBM publications and manuals, submitted presentations and whitepapers to conference proceedings, and even had a short story published with illustrations by the famous cartoon writer[Ted Rall].
But I can say this is my first blook, and as far as I can tell, the first blook from IBM's many bloggers on DeveloperWorks, and the first blook about the IT storage industry.I got the idea when I saw [Lulu Publishing] run a "blook" contest. The Lulu Blooker Prize is the world's first literary prize devoted to "blooks"--books based on blogs or other websites, including webcomics. The [Lulu Blooker Blog] lists past year winners. Lulu is one of the new innovative "print-on-demand" publishers. Rather than printing hundredsor thousands of books in advance, as other publishers require, Lulu doesn't print them until you order them.
I considered cute titles like A Year of Living Dangerously, orAn Engineer in Marketing La-La land, or Around the World in 165 Posts, but settled on a title that matched closely the name of the blog.
In addition to my blog posts, I provide additional insights and behind-the-scenes commentary. If you go to the Luluwebsite above, you can preview an entire chapter in its entirety before purchase. I have added a hefty 56-page Glossary of Acronyms and Terms (GOAT) with over 900 storage-related terms defined, which also doubles as an index back to the post (or posts) that use or further explain each term.
So who might be interested in this blook?
Business Partners and Sales Reps looking to give a nice gift to their best clients and colleagues
Managers looking to reward early-tenure employees and retain the best talent
IT specialists and technicians wanting a marketing perspective of the storage industry
Mentors interested in providing motivation and encouragement to their proteges
Educators looking to provide books for their classroom or library collection
Authors looking to write a blook themselves, to see how to format and structure a finished product
Marketing personnel that want to better understand Web 2.0, Second Life and social networking
Analysts and journalists looking to understand how storage impacts the IT industry, and society overall
College graduates and others interested in a career as a storage administrator
And yes, according to Lulu, if you order soon, you can have it by December 25.
In North America, today marks the start of the "Give 1 Get 1" program.
Children using the XO laptop
I first learned from this when I was reading about Timothy Ferriss' [LitLiberation project] on his [Four Hour Work Week] blog, and was surfing around for related ideas, and chanced upon this. I registered for a reminder, and it came today(the reminder, not the laptop itself).
Here's how the program works. You give $399 US dollars to the "One Laptop per Child" (OLPC)[laptop.org] organization for two laptops: One goes to a deserving child ina developing country, the second goes to you, for your own child, or to donate to a localcharity that helps children. This counts as a $199 purchase plus a $200 tax-deductible donation.For Americans, this is a [US 501(c)(3)] donation, and for Canadians and Mexicans, take advantage of the low-value of the US dollar!
If your employer matches donations, like IBM does, get them to match the $200donation for a third laptop, which goes to another child in a developing country. As for shipping, you pay only for the shipping of the one to you, each receiving country covers their own shipping. In my case, the shipping was another $24 US dollars for Arizona.No guarantees that it will arrive in time for the holidays this December, but it might.
To sweeten the deal, T-mobile throws in a year's worth of "Wi-Fi Hot Spot"that you can use for yourself, either with the XO laptop itself, or your regular laptop, iPhone, or otherWi-Fi enabled handheld device.
National Public Radio did a story last week on this:[The $100 Laptop Heads for Uganda]where they interview actor [Masi Oka], best known from the TV show ["Heroes"], who has agreed to be their spokesman.At the risk of sounding like their other spokesman, I thought I would cover the technology itself, inside the XO,and how this laptop represents IBM's concept of "Innovation that matters"!
The project was started by [Nicholas Negroponte] from [MIT University] as the "$100 laptop project". Once the final designwas worked out, it turns out it costs $188 US dollars to make, so they rounded it up to $200. This is stillan impressive price, and requires that hundreds of thousands of them be manufactured to justify ramping upthe assembly line.
Two of IBM's technology partners are behind this project. First is Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) that providesthe 433Mhz x86 processor, which is 75 percent slower than Thinkpad T60. Second is Red Hat,as this runs lean Fedora 6 version of Linux. Obviously, you couldn't have Microsoft Windows or Apple OS X, as both require significantly more resources.
The laptop is "child size", and would be considered in the [subnotebook] category. At 10" x 9" x 1.25", it is about the size of class textbook,can be carried easily in a child's backpack, or carried by itself with the integrated handle. When closed, it is sealedenough to be protected when carried in rain or dust storms. It weighs about 3.5 pounds, less than the 5.2 pounds of myThinkpad T60.
The XO is "green", not just in color, but also in energy consumption.This laptop can be powered by AC, or human power hand-crank, with workin place to get options for car-battery or solar power charging. Compared to the 20W normally consumed bytraditional laptops, the XO consumes 90 percent less, running at 2W or less. To accomplish this, there is no spinning disk inside. Instead, a 1GB FLASH drive holds 700MB of Linux, and gives you 300MB to hold your files. There isa slot for an MMC/SD flash card, and three USB 2.0 ports to connect to USB keys, printers or other remote I/O peripherals.
The XO flips around into three positions:
Standard laptop position has screen and keyboard. The water-tight keyboard comes in ten languages:International/English, Thai, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, West African, Urdu, Mongolian, Cyrillic, and Amharic.(I learned some Amharic, having lived five years with Ethiopians.)There does not appear be a VGA port, so don't be thinking this could be used as an alternative to project Powerpoint presentations onto a big screen.
Built-in 640x480 webcam, microphone and speakers allow the XO to be used as a communication device. Voice-over-IP (VOIP) client software, similar to Skype or [IBM Lotus Sametime], is pre-installed for this purpose.
The basic built-in communication are 802.1g (54Mbs) that you can use to surf the web usingthe Wi-Fi at your local Starbucks; and 802.1s which forms a "mesh network" with other XO laptops, and can surf theweb finding the one laptop nearby that is connected to the internet to share bandwidth. This eliminates the need to build a separate Wi-Fi hub at the school. There are USB-to-Ethernet and USB-to-Cellular converters, so that might be an alternative option.
Flipped vertically, the device can be read like a book.The screen can be changed between full-color and black-white, 200 dpi, with decent 1200x900 pixel resolution. The full-color is back-lit, and can be read in low-lighting. The black-white is not back-lit, consumes much less power, andcan be read in bright sunlight. In that regards, it is comparable to other [e-book devices], like a Cybook or Sony Reader.
Software includes a web-browser, document reader, word processor and RSS feed reader to read blogs.The OLPC identifies all of the software, libraries and interfaces they use, so that anyone that wants to developchildren software for this platform can do so.
With the keyboard flipped back, the 6" x 4.5" screen has directional controls and X/Y/A/B buttons to run games. This would make it comparable to a Nintendo DS or Playstation Portable (PSP). Again, the choice between back-lit color,or sunlight black-white screen modes apply. Some games are pre-installed.
So for $399, you could buy a Wi-Fi enabled[16GB iPod Touch] for yourself, which does much the same thing, or you can make a difference in the world.I made my donation this morning, and suggest you--my dear readers in the US, Canada and Mexico--consider doing the same.Go to [www.laptopgiving.org] for details.