This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to IBM Systems, storage and storage networking hardware, software and services.
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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor, Senior IT Architect and Event Content Manager for [IBM Systems for IBM Systems Technical University] events. With over 30 years with IBM Systems, Tony is frequent traveler, speaking to clients at events throughout the world.
Lloyd Dean is an IBM Senior Certified Executive IT Architect in Infrastructure Architecture. Lloyd has held numerous senior technical roles at IBM during his 19 plus years at IBM. Lloyd most recently has been leading efforts across the Communication/CSI Market as a senior Storage Solution Architect/CTS covering the Kansas City territory. In prior years Lloyd supported the industry accounts as a Storage Solution architect and prior to that as a Storage Software Solutions specialist during his time in the ATS organization.
Lloyd currently supports North America storage sales teams in his Storage Software Solution Architecture SME role in the Washington Systems Center team. His current focus is with IBM Cloud Private and he will be delivering and supporting sessions at Think2019, and Storage Technical University on the Value of IBM storage in this high value IBM solution a part of the IBM Cloud strategy. Lloyd maintains a Subject Matter Expert status across the IBM Spectrum Storage Software solutions. You can follow Lloyd on Twitter @ldean0558 and LinkedIn Lloyd Dean.
Tony Pearson's books are available on Lulu.com! Order your copies today!
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I get a lot of suggestions for what to put on my blog.I realize that tweets are limited to 140 characters, so pointing to a video URL without muchexplanation or warning can be dangerous. An email can at least add appropriate warnings,such NSFW (Not Safe For Work) or "sorry if this offends you". The only warning I got fora video posted to YouTube by "StorageNetworkDud" was this short email:
"Sorry about the language they have used in some translations, but not sure who put this. It was on twitter."
Fortunately, I have my browser set up not to automatically play YouTube videos. The titlehelped warn me of the content, which turned out to be a [fan-subbed] scene from a World War II movie with brown-shirted tyrannical leader of an evil empire talking to his top generals. He dismisses all but threewith "Hollis, Burke, and Twomey stay in here" followed by a lengthy recap of EMC's recent troublesin the marketplace. At least in the video, the fuhrer correctly follows Tim Sander's advice:"if you have to tell someone bad news, say it in person."
While I understand that many people don't like EMC, the #3 storagevendor in the world, this type of "geek humor" hits a new low. The video was posted over amonth ago, but in light of the recent [shooting in Washington DC], I felt it was just notappropriate to post it here.
Readers, I appreciate all the suggestions, but give me some better warning next time!
Continuing this week's theme on Cloud Computing, Dynamic Infrastructure and Data Center Networking, IBM unveiled details of an advanced computing system that will be able to compete with humans on Jeopardy!, America’s favorite quiz television show. Additionally, officials from Jeopardy! announced plans to produce a human vs. machine competition on the renowned show.
For nearly two years, IBM scientists have been working on a highly advanced Question Answering (QA) system, codenamed "Watson" after IBM's first president, [Thomas J. Watson]. The scientists believe that the computing system will be able to understand complex questions and answer with enough precision and speed to compete on Jeopardy!Produced by Sony Pictures Television, the trivia questions on Jeopardy! cover a broad range of topics, such as history, literature, politics, film, pop culture, and science. It poses a grand challenge for a computing system due to the variety of subject matter, the speed at which contestants must provide accurate responses, and because the clues given to contestants involve analyzing subtle meaning, irony, riddles, and other complexities at which humans excel and computers traditionally do not. Watson will incorporate massively parallel analytical capabilities and, just like human competitors, Watson will not be connected to the Internet or have any other outside assistance.
If this all sounds familiar, you might remember some of the events that have led up to this:
In 1984, the movie ["The Terminator"] introduced the concept of [Skynet], a fictional computer system developed by the militarythat becomes self-aware from its advanced artificial intelligence.
In 1997, an IBM computer called Deep Blue defeated World Chess Champion [Garry Kasparov] in a famous battle of human versus machine. To compete at chess, IBM built an extremely fast computer that could calculate 200 million chess moves per second based on a fixed problem. IBM’s Watson system, on the other hand, is seeking to solve an open-ended problem that requires an entirely new approach – mainly through dynamic, intelligent software – to even come close to competing with the human mind. Despite their massive computational capabilities, today’s computers cannot consistently analyze and comprehend sentences, much less understand cryptic clues and find answers in the same way the human brain can.
In 2005, Ray Kurzweil wrote [The Singularity is Near] referring to the wonders that artificial intelligence will bring to humanity.
The research underlying Watson is expected to elevate computer intelligence and human-to-computer communication to unprecedented levels. IBM intends to apply the unique technological capabilities being developed for Watson to help clients across a wide variety of industries answer business questions quickly and accurately.
"These days, visitors can still see amazing biodiversity all over Costa Rica — more than 25 percent of the country is protected area — thanks to a unique system it set up to preserve its cornucopia of plants and animals. Many countries could learn a lot from this system.
More than any nation I’ve ever visited, Costa Rica is insisting that economic growth and environmentalism work together. It has created a holistic strategy to think about growth, one that demands that everything gets counted. So if a chemical factory sells tons of fertilizer but pollutes a river — or a farm sells bananas but destroys a carbon-absorbing and species-preserving forest — this is not honest growth. You have to pay for using nature. It is called “payment for environmental services” — nobody gets to treat climate, water, coral, fish and forests as free anymore.
The process began in the 1990s when Costa Rica, which sits at the intersection of two continents and two oceans, came to fully appreciate its incredible bounty of biodiversity — and that its economic future lay in protecting it. So it did something no country has ever done: It put energy, environment, mines and water all under one minister.
“In Costa Rica, the minister of environment sets the policy for energy, mines, water and natural resources,” explained Carlos M. Rodríguez, who served in that post from 2002 to 2006. In most countries, he noted, “ministers of environment are marginalized.” They are viewed as people who try to lock things away, not as people who create value. Their job is to fight energy ministers who just want to drill for cheap oil.
But when Costa Rica put one minister in charge of energy and environment, “it created a very different way of thinking about how to solve problems,” said Rodríguez, now a regional vice president for Conservation International. “The environment sector was able to influence the energy choices by saying: ‘Look, if you want cheap energy, the cheapest energy in the long-run is renewable energy. So let’s not think just about the next six months; let’s think out 25 years.’ ”
As a result, Costa Rica hugely invested in hydro-electric power, wind and geo-thermal, and today it gets more than 95 percent of its energy from these renewables. In 1985, it was 50 percent hydro, 50 percent oil. More interesting, Costa Rica discovered its own oil five years ago but decided to ban drilling — so as not to pollute its politics or environment! What country bans oil drilling?
Rodríguez also helped to pioneer the idea that in a country like Costa Rica, dependent on tourism and agriculture, the services provided by ecosystems were important drivers of growth and had to be paid for. Right now, most countries fail to account for the “externalities” of various economic activities. So when a factory, farmer or power plant pollutes the air or the river, destroys a wetland, depletes a fish stock or silts a river — making the water no longer usable — that cost is never added to your electric bill or to the price of your shoes.
Costa Rica took the view that landowners who keep their forests intact and their rivers clean should be paid, because the forests maintained the watersheds and kept the rivers free of silt — and that benefited dam owners, fishermen, farmers and eco-tour companies downstream. The forests also absorbed carbon."
I start my visit at Arenal, where there is a hydro-electric dam at Lake Arenal that produces electricity, a large volcano, and natural hot springs.I found [more stats on Costa Rica's energy consumption] that provide more details.
At left is a photo I took of the Volcano Arenal. This is just one of the 112 volcanoes in thecountry.
At the [Springs Resort and Spa], they have clear (chlorinated) swimming pools maintained at three different temperatures. I asked our guide,Alan, if the pools were being heated from the electricity generated from the dam at the lake.No, they use green water for green energy. Taking advantage of "geo-thermal" energy, the natural hot springs are run through a [Heat Exchanger], to heat the pools. The waters do not mix, keeping the clean water clean. The process is similar to IBM's [Rear Door Heat eXchanger].
Why don't people just soak directly in the green water directly? Alan responded, "You can certainly enjoy soaking in the green water, but I recommend you buy some storage, which will cost you extra, as a souvenir."
The storage, shown here at right, holds cash and credit cards with a water-tight seal. Normal pool water won'teffect cash or credit cards, and I have certainly seen people pay for food and drinks with soggy dollars in other places. This water is literally green, and perhaps not for everyone. How green is it? Think watered-down version of [split-pea soup] and you will have a close approximation.I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but am going to need some industrial-strength scum-and-lime remover to clean the glass face of my waterproof watch when I get back home.
Fortunately, I speak the Castellano dialect of Spanish that is spoken here in Costa Rica,and this will allow me to continue to gather more information about how Costa Rica leads the way in being more energy efficient and environmentally responsible.
Well, it is Tuesday, and that means IBM announcements. This week many of my colleagues are attending Storage Networking World [SNW] conference. Normally, the most exciting announcements are reserved for the weeks these conferences are held, but IBM apparently made an exception this week.
New Factory configurations for XIV
The first announcement is for new [factory configurations] for the IBM XIV disk system. In the past, you could only order a partial 6-module or a full 15-module rack. Today, IBM announced that there will also be 9-, 10-, 11-, 12-, 13- and 14-module configurations orderable as well.
Some FUD out in the blogosphere led some to believe that these partial configurations had to be made full 15 modules within 12 months. That is false. You can order any of these partial rack configurations and leave them as is until you need more capacity. There is no obligation to buy more capacity with these partial rack configurations.
IBM N series N6060 configurations
This second announcement indicates that the N6060 supports[672 drives]. The N6060 is the latest midrange model of IBM N series unified storage.
If you are asking "What is a 672 drive?" don't feel stupid. It actuallyrefers to the number of external drives that can be attached to the N6060. Previously, it was mis-reported that the N6060 could support as many as 840 drives, but this was not correct, and this announcement is to fixthat typo.
IBM Passport Advantage Sub-Capacity Licensing
This last announcement today relates to IBM Passport Advantage[sub-capacity licensing].Pricing products is always a challenge. You want to come up with a pricing methodology such that people who get the most use pay the most, and those who get less pay less, in a manner that everyone thinks is fair. With commodities, it is simple to price rice by the pound, or fabric by the yard, but what about IT solutions?
Some of the IBM software is based on number of processors used, so that people who have the software running on multiple machines, or machines with multiple cores, should pay more because they are getting more value. This makes sense if this software is the only thing running on that server, but today you can also have server virtualization and are running many guest operating systems, each with different applications. The solution is to use "sub-capacity" licensing. If you have a quad-core processor server, but have four guest operating systems using 25 percent of this, then each OS should only pay for one processor's worth of licensing. Since different processors have different clock speeds, IBM has standardized the calculations to a mythical "Processor Value Unit" or PVU, with a corresponding IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT).
Initially, this will cover specific versions of Citrix Xen Server, Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware, but IBM has made as a "statement of direction" that it will extend this sub-capacity licensing and ILMT support to IBM PowerVM capability for its POWER systems.
I have often heard clients complain that their third party software vendor does not support these hypervisors. Sometimes, this means the third party vendor will not fix or provide assistance if the problem occurs in this environment, and other times, it is that the pricing does not favor this environment, you get charged for all the processors, even if your slice of the processor is much smaller.
If you are at SNW this week, stop by and say "Hi" to my fellow IBM collegues for me.
Now that IBM XIV has proven that 1TB SATA are safe for high-end tier-1 enterprise class use, we extended DS8000 support to include SATA support also. DS8000 supports RAID-6 and RAID-10 for these.
Intelligent Write Caching
IBM Research conducts extensive investigations into improved algorithms for cache management. Intelligent Write Caching boosts performance for both temporal and spatial locality.
Remote Pair FlashCopy®
This allows you to FlashCopy volume A to volume B, with Volume B remotely mirrored to Volume C at a secondary location, via Metro Mirror. This allows you to have a consistent copy of your data at both locations.
IBM was the first in the industry to deliver tape-drive encryption, so it makes sense that IBM is also the first in the industry to deliver disk-drive encryption. These are 15K rpm drives in standard 146GB, 300GB and 450GB capacities. As with tape, encrypting at the disk device eliminates the huge overhead from server-based encryption methods.
Solid State Drive (SSD)
You can also have Solid State Disk drives in your DS8000, in 73GB and 146GB capacities, protected by RAID-5.If you are wondering what data to put on these much-faster drives, IBM has taken the work and worry out by havingintelligence in DB2 to optimize what gets placed on SSD to get the most performance improvement.
IBM System Storage XIV
Continuing the incredible marketplace excitement over its Cloud-Opimized Storage[XIV series], IBM now has announced[new capacity options]. The IBM XIV R2 that we announced last August 2008 was a fixed 15 module configuration. In thenew configurations, you can start with as little as six modules, representing a 40% partial rack of the originalfull model. Here is a table that shows the details:
Useable Capacity (TB)
Fibre Channel Ports
Cache Memory (GB)
IBM System Storage N series
And last, but not least, we have two new models in IBM's[N6000 series].The [N6060]has model A12 (single controller) and model A22 (dual controller). These are disk-less controllers thatyou can configure in either appliance mode or gateway mode. In appliance mode, you can attachdisk drawers such as the EXN1000, EXN2000 or EXN4000. In gateway mode, you attach external disk systems, suchas the IBM DS8000 or XIV above.
It's ruggedized to handle earthquakes. IBM brings a feature that we've had for a while on other disk systems to the N series with a collection of bolts and anchors to secure the rack from physical tremors.
It's instrumented for IBM Active Energy Manager, a component of IBM Systems Director. New iPDUs are designed to help measure and monitor energy management components. As companies get more concerned about thefate of the planet, monitoring energy consumption can help reduce carbon footprint.
I'll cover the rest of the announcements tomorrow!