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Well, it's Tuesday again, and that means IBM announcements! Right on the heels of our big storage launch on February 9, today IBM announced some exciting options for its modular disk systems. Let's take a look:
It also appears that the reports and rumors of the death of the DS6800 are premature. Don't believe misleading statements from competitors, such as those found written by fellow blogger BarryB (EMC), aka "the Storage Anarchist", in his latest post [Bring Out Your Dead] showing a cute little tombstone with "Feb 2010" on the bottom. Actually, if he had bothered to read IBM's [Announcement Letter], he would have realized that IBM plans to continue to sell these until June. Of course, IBM will continue to support both new and existing DS6800 customers for many years to come.
Technically, BarryB does not make any factually incorrect statements for me to correct on his blog. The idea that a product is "dead" is, of course, just opinion, and competitors poke fun at each others' announcements every day. One could argue that the EMC V-Max was "dead" after the ITG whitepaper [Cost/Benefit Case for IBM XIV Storage System - Comparing Costs for IBM XIV and EMC V-Max Systems] demonstrated that the IBM XIV cost 63 percent less than a comparable EMC V-Max over the life of three years total cost of ownership (TCO) back in July 2009. The comparison was made with data from clients in a variety of industries including manufacturing, health care, life sciences, telecommunications, financial services, and the public sector. This could explain why so many EMC customers are buying or investigating the IBM XIV and the rest of the IBM storage portfolio.
technorati tags: announcements, exp420, exp520, ds5300, exp5060, exp810, ds6800, ds5020, ds3950, ds4200, ds4700, ds5100, ds4000, exp5000, ds6000, DS6800, XIV, EMC, Barry Burke, BarryB, V-Max
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In addition to dominating the gaming world, producing chips for the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation, and Microsoft Xbox 360, IBM also dominates the world of Linux and UNIX servers. Today, IBM announced its new POWER7 processor, and a line of servers that use this technology. Here is a quick [3-minute video] about the POWER7.
While others might be [Dancing on Sun's grave], IBM instead is focused on providing value to the marketplace. Here is another quick [2-minute video] about why thousands of companies have switched from Sun, HP and Dell over to IBM.
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Am I dreaming? On his Storagezilla blog, fellow blogger Mark Twomey (EMC) brags about EMC's standard benchmark results, in his post titled [Love Life. Love CIFS.]. Here is my take:
So, I am glad to see EMC starting to cite standard benchmarks. Hopefully, SPC-1 and SPC-2 benchmarks are forthcoming?
technorati tags: IBM, tape, EMC, Mark+Twomey, Storagezilla, CIFS, NFS, Celerra, V-Max, N7900, VMware, VMDK, Sun, Oracle, StorageTek, tape, benchmarks, SPEC, SPECsfs, SPECsfs2008, SPC, SPC-1, SPC-2, NetApp, FAS6080
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I almost sprayed coffee all over my screen when I read this post from fellow blogger from EMC Mark Twomey on his StorageZilla blog titled [Dead End]. In it he implies that you should only consider storage technologies based on x86 technologies such as those from Intel, not other CPU technologies like POWER or MIPS.
When IBM first came out with the SAN Volume Controller in 2003, we were able to show that adding Intel-based SVC nodes can improve the performance and functionality of POWER-based DMX boxes from EMC. EMC salesmen often retorted with "Yes, but do you really want to risk your mission-critical data going through an Intel-based processor solution?" This FUD implied that Intel had a bad reputation for quality and reliability. The original Symmetrix were based on Motorolla 68000's but they modernized to use IBM's POWER chips in their later models. EMC's previous attempt to use Intel technology was their EMC Invista, a commercial failure. It is no surprise then that EMC DMX customers are scared to death to move their mission critical data over to Intel-based V-max.
I have found the primary reason people fear Intel-based solutions is their experience with poorly-written Windows programs. There were enough of these poorly-written Windows programs that everyone has either personal experience, or knows someone who has, and that was enough.
It reminds me of the time I was in Vac, Hungary, giving a lab tour to a set of prospective clients where we manufacture the DS8000 series and SAN Volume Controller. Rows and rows of beautiful Hungarian women sliding disk drives in place, and big hefty Hungarian beefcake moving the finished units to their appropriate places. The head of the facility explained all about the hardware technology, how we check and double check all of the equipment individually, and together as a system. One client stated "Yes, but how often are problems from the hardware? We find nearly all of our problems on disk systems from whichever storage vendor we buy from are in the microcode." It's true.
Both Intel-based processors and POWER-based processors have all the technological functions needed to run storage systems. The difference is all in the microcode. So, if you are looking for safe and stable microcode, the IBM System Storage DS8700 continues its POWER-based tradition for compatibility with previous models. For those that demand x86-based units, the IBM SAN Volume Controller has been around since 2003, the XIV Storage System has been in production since 2005, and our IBM N series are also Intel-based, running Version 7 of the ONTAP operating system.
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This week, scientists at IBM Research and the California Institute of Technology announced a scientific advancement that could be a major breakthrough in enabling the semiconductor industry to pack more power and speed into tiny computer chips, while making them more energy efficient and less expensive to manufacture. IBM is a leader in solid-state technology, and this scientific breakthrough shows promise.
But first, a discussion of how solid-state chips are made in the first place. Basically, a round thin wafer is etched using [photolithography] with lots of tiny transistor circuits. The same chip is repeated over and over on a single wafer, and once the wafer is complete, it is chopped up into little individual squares. Wikipedia has a nice article on [semiconductor device fabrication], but I found this [YouTube video] more illuminating.
Up until now, the industry was able to get features down to 22 nanometers, and were hitting physical limitations to get down to anything smaller. The new development from IBM and Caltech is to use self-assembling DNA strands, folded into specific shapes using other strands that act as staples, and then using these folded structures as scaffolding to place in nanotubes. The result? Features as small as 6 nanometers. How cool is that? While NAND Flash Solid-State Drives are available today, this new technique can help develop newer, better technologies like Phase Change Memory (PCM).
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Back in June, I mentioned this blog was [Moving to MyDeveloperWorks] which is based on IBM Lotus Connections. Finally, the move is complete for all bloggers. If you are having problems with the redirects, you might need to unsubscribe and re-subscribe in your RSS feed reader. Here are the new links for several IBM bloggers that have moved over:
Let me know what you think of the "XIV" color scheme of Black and Orange. I have not yet "tricked out" the template with all the latest bells and whistles, widgets and so on, that is still work to do.
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Well, it's Tuesday, and you know what that means? IBM announcements!
Today we had several for the IBM System Storage product line. Here are some of them:
technorati tags: IBM, DS8000, thin provisioning, Linux, UNIX, Windows, zHPF, z/OS, XIV, SMI-S, asynchronous mirroring, TSM, LDAP, SVC, TS7650, deduplication, dedupe, replication, GPFS, supercomputers, cloud computing, cloud storage, burning man[Read More]
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As I mentioned in my post [Moving Over to MyDeveloperWorks], those of us bloggers on IBM's DeveloperWorks are moving over to a new system called "MyDeveloperWorks" which has a host of new features.
Fortunately for me, I missed the note to volunteer to be one of the first bloggers on the block to volunteer to move over. I was traveling and decided not to deal with it until I got back.However, fellow IBM Master Inventor, Barry Whyte, was not so lucky. It is safe to say he was stupid enough to volunteer, and is probably regretting the decision every day since. In case you lost his RSS feed, or can't find him anymore on Google or whatever search engine, here is his[new blog].
Today, he posted an interesting discussion on [SVC Split Cluster - How it works].
As for my blog, I have asked to postpone the move until all the problems that Barry has encountered are resolved. That might be a awhile, but if you lose access to mine sometime in the near future, hopefully at least you have been warned as to what might have happened.Read More]
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Continuing this week's theme of doing important things without leaving town, I present our results foran exciting project I started earlier this year.
For seven weeks, my coworker Mark Haye and I voluntarily led a class of students here in Tucson, Arizona in an after-school pilot project to teach the ["C" programming language] using [LEGO® Mindstorms® NXT robots]. The ten students, boys and girls ages 9 to 14 years old, were already part of the FIRST [For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology] program, and participated in FIRST Lego League[FLL] robot competitions.Since the students were already familiar building robots, and programming them with a simple graphical system of connecting blocks that perform actions. However, to compete in the next level of robot competitions, FIRST Tech Challenge [FTC],we need to leave this simple graphical programming behind, and upgrade to more precise "C" programming.
Mark is a software engineer for IBM Tivoli Storage Manager and has participated in FLL competitions over the past nine years. This week, he celebrates his 25th anniversary at IBM, and I celebrate my 23rd. The teacher, Ms. Ackerman, and the students referred to us as "Coach Mark" and "Coach Tony".
This was the first time I had worked with LEGO NXT robots. For those not familiar with these robots, you can purchase a kit at your localtoy store. In addition to regular LEGO bricks, beams, and plates, there are motors, wheels, and sensors. A programmable NXT brick has three outputs (marked A,B, and C) to control three motors, and four inputs (marked 1,2,3,4) to receive values from sensors. Programs are written and compiled on laptops and then downloaded to the NXT programmable brick through an USB cable, or wirelessly via Bluetooth.
We used the [RobotC programming firmware] and integrated development environment (IDE) from [Carnegie Mellon University].The idea of this pilot was to see how well the students could learn "C". With only a few hours after class on each Wednesday, could we teach young students "C" programming in just seven weeks?
My contribution? I have taught both high school and college classes, and spent over 15 years programming for IBM, so Mark asked me to help.We started with a basic lesson plan:
At the completion of these seven weeks, I sat down to interview "Coach Mark"on his thoughts on this pilot project.
This is a practical programming skill. The "C" language is used throughout the world to program everything from embedded systems to operating systems, and even storage software. This would allow the robots to handle more precise movements, more accurate turns, and more complicated missions.
Can kids learn "C" in only seven weeks?
Part of the pilot project was to see how well the students could understand the material. They were already familiar with building the robots, and understood the basics of programming sensors and motors, so we were hoping this was a good foundation to work from. Some kids managed very well, others struggled.
Did everything go according to plan?
The first two weeks went well, turning on motors and having robots move forward and backward were easy enough. We seemed to lose a few students on week 3, and things got worse from there. However, several of the students truly surprised us and managed to implement very complicated missions. We were quite pleased with the results.
What kind of problems did the kids encounter?
Touch sensor required loops waiting for pressing. Motors did not necessarily turn as expected until more advanced methods were used. Making 90 degree left and right turns accurately was more difficult than expected.
Any funny surprises?
Yes, we had a Challenge Map representing the Mars planetary surface from a previous FLL competition that was dark red and divided into squares with thick black lines. An active light sensor returns a value of "0" (complete darkness) to "100" (bright white).However, the Mars surface had craters that were dark enough to be misinterpreted as a black line causing some unusual results. This required some enhanced programming techniques to resolve.
Did robots help or hurt the teaching process?
I think they helped. Rather than writing programs that just display "Hello World!" on a computer screen, the students can actually see robots move, and either do what they expect, or not!
And when the robots didn't do what they were expected to?
The students got into "debug" mode. They were already used to doing this from previous FLL competitions, but with RobotC, you can leave the USB cable connected (or use wireless Bluetooth) and actually gather debugging information while the robot is running, to see the value of sensors and other variables and help determine why things are not working properly.
Any applicability to the real world of storage?
We have robots in the IBM System Storage TS3500 tape library. These robots scan bar code labels, pull tapes out of shelves and mount them into drives.The programming skills are the same needed for storage software, suchas IBM Tivoli Storage Manager or IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center.
The world is becoming smarter, instrumented with sensors, interconnected over a common network, and intelligent enough to react and respond correctly. The lessons of reading sensor values and moving motors can be considered the first step in solutions that help to make a smarter planet.Read More]
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This week, the [Global Language Monitor] announced that "Web 2.0" became the One Millionth word of the English language. The average American only uses about 10,000 word vocabulary.
One way to improve your vocabulary is to read my blook (blog-based book), Inside System Storage: Volume I, which includes a 900-word glossary of storage-related terms. My blook is now available in hardcover or paperback at [Amazon] as well as direct from my publisher[Lulu]:
I have started working on a new book which I hope to have available for purchase later this year.Read More]