Continuing this week's theme on Storage Area Networks, today I thought I would talkabout the various terms we use for our equipment.
One area of confusion are the adjectives "entry-level", "midrange" and "ent If you are asking yourself "which size is right for my company?" or "is my company big enoughfor a director?" you are asking the wrong questions! Instead, determine a SAN configurationthat meets your workload, and then decide the components for that design. McData coined a phrase called "core/edge" design that is considered today as "Best Practice" throughout the industry.A good write-up can be found here at SearchStorage.com. Basically, you put your big beefy "core" directors in the center of the room, and then surround it with midrange switches, that then these connect to "edge" switches, that then connect to the servers and storage near them. As you grow, this design can easilyscale to grow with you. So, if you need help implementing a SAN for the first time, or upgrading the one you have,call IBM, we can help!
If you are asking yourself "which size is right for my company?" or "is my company big enoughfor a director?" you are asking the wrong questions! Instead, determine a SAN configurationthat meets your workload, and then decide the components for that design.
McData coined a phrase called "core/edge" design that is considered today as "Best Practice" throughout the industry.A good write-up can be found here at SearchStorage.com. Basically, you put your big beefy "core" directors in the center of the room, and then surround it with midrange switches, that then these connect to "edge" switches, that then connect to the servers and storage near them. As you grow, this design can easilyscale to grow with you.
So, if you need help implementing a SAN for the first time, or upgrading the one you have,call IBM, we can help!Read More]
Last week, Paul Weinberg of eChannelLine.com asks Is this the year of the SAN (again)?So, I thought this week I would cover my thoughts and opinions on storage networking. We oftenfocus on servers or storage devices, and forget that the network in between is an entire worldon itself.
I believe Mr. Weinberg is basing this on the idea that in 2007, over 50 percent of disk will beattached over SAN, edging out the alternative: Direct Attached Storage (DAS). But perhaps 50 percentis the wrong number to focus on. In 2007, The United Nations estimates thatcities will surpass rural areas, with just over 50 percent of theworld's population. Does that make this the "Year of the City"? Of course not.
Instead, I prefer to use the methodology that Malcolm Gladwell uses in his book, The Tipping Point.(I have read this book and highly recommend it!)Gladwell indicates that the tipping point happens at the start of the epidemic, not when it is half over.Isn't it better to celebrate the sweet 16 debutante ball when young ladies have completed their years of training and preparation, and are ready to be introduced to the rest of the world, rather than after they are thirty-something, married with children.
Let's explore some of the history. Stuart Kendric has a nice 7-page summary on theHistory & Plumbing of SANs.
IBM announced the first SAN technology calledEnterprise Systems Connection (ESCON) way back in September 1990. This allowed multiplemainframe servers to connect to multiple storage systems over equipment called "ESCON Directors" that directedtraffic from point A to point B. Before this, mainframes sent "ChannelCommand Words" or CCWs, across parallel "bus and tag" copper cables. ESCON was serial overfiber optic wiring. SANs solved two problems: first, it reduced the "rat's nest" of cables between many serversand many storage systems, and second, it extended the distance between server and storage device.
For distributed systems running UNIX or Windows, the CCW-equivalent over parallel cables was called Small ComputerSystem Interface (SCSI). The SCSI command had over 1000 command words, so for its Advanced Technology (AT) personal computers (PC AT), IBM introduced a subset of SCSI commands called ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment). ATA drives supportedfewer commands, ran at slower speeds, and were manufactured with a less rigorous process. Today ATA drives are about 55 percent the cost per MB as comparable SCSI drives.
Anyone who has ever opened their PC and found flat ribbon cable with eight or sixteen wires in parallel, can understand that the same issues applied externally. Parallel technologies arelimited to distance and speed, as all the bits have to arrive at the end of the wire at approximately thesame time. Direct attach schemes with every server attaches directly to every storage device were also problematic.Imagine 100 servers connected to 100 storage devices, that would be 10,000 wires!
So, a new technology standard was developed, called Fibre Channel, ratified in 1994.The spelling of "Fibre" was intentionally made different than "Fiber" on purpose. "Fibre" is a protocol thatcan travel over copper or glass wires. "Fiber" represents the glass wiring itself.
Fibre Channel is amazingly versatile. For today's Linux, UNIX and Windows servers, it can carry SCSI commands, and the combination of SCSI over FC is called Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP). For the mainframe servers, it can carry CCW commands. Running CCW over Fibre Channel is called FICON. This convergence allows mainframes and distributed systems to share a common Fibre Channel network, using the same set of switches and directors.
We saw the use of SANs explode in the marketplace over the past 10 years, and then cool down with a series of mergers and acquisitions. Last year, Brocade announced it was acquiring rival McData, so we will be down to two major players, Cisco and Brocade.
So, IMHO, I think we are well past the "Year of the SAN".
Continuing this week's theme of New Year's Resolutions for the data center, today we'll talk about one that people don't always think about on a personal level, that is to hone your tools and skills.
A long time ago, I used to be a regular speaker at the SHARE user group conference. One of the most attended sessions was Sam Golob presenting the latest CBT Tape set of tools. Over time, this large collection of "mainframe shareware" was handed out on 3480 tape cartridges, then on CDs, and finally made downloadable off the web.Sam's main point, which I remember to this day, was that everyone who has a job should figure out what tools they use, keep those tools functioning properly, and learn to use them well.
Later, I took some cooking classes at a culinary school. Among other things, we learned:
This last point hits close to home, as many people like me have too many tools that they do not use often enough to know how to use them well. Do I really need my strawberry corer, garlic press, or a tray designed for the storage and delivery of deviled eggs?
The same could be said about software tools. What tools do you use in your job? Do you feel you know how to take full advantage of their power and capabilities?If you develop software, do you know all the features for your debugging tools? If you develop advertising or marketing materials, do you know all the features of your photo or video editing software? If you manage storage in a data center, do you know all the tools for managing your storage area network (SAN), disk systems, tape libraries, and reporting tools to identify all of your files and databases across your entire IT environment?I would not be surprised if you could replace a whole mess of tools with just one, such as the IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center.Read More]
Wrapping up this week's theme of New Year's Resolutions for the data center, the New York Times argues we should go easy on the resolutions, so I'll conclude with reducing stress. Lighten up! Relax, and try not to take your job so seriously.
(I know you're probably thinking, "That's easy for you to say, Mr. paid
technorati tags: New Years, resolutions, reducing stress, laughter, Tucson Laughter Club, Laughter Yoga, Sun, StorageTek, Kodak, Work/Life Balance, sleep, blogfights, assertive, music, LifeHacker, Live365, Pink Noise[Read More]
Happy New Year!
This year I resolve to be more consistent in my blogging, and my goal is to give you one to five entries per week, every week, based on the advice from Glenn Wolsey, Jennette Banks, and others.On some weeks, I will have a running theme, so rather than super-long entries to cover everything I can think of on a topic, make the entries short and readable. This week is a good time to review last year's "New Year's Resolutions" and to make new ones for 2007. I will discuss actions that companies can adopt for their data centers.
A common resolution is to lose weight, as in this Dilbert comic. Last year, I resolved to lose weight in 2006, and am delighted with myself that I lost eight pounds. When people ask for the secret of my success, I whisper in their ear "Eat less, exercise more." In general, people (and companies) know what to do, but just don't do it, which Pfeffer and Sutton document in their book The Knowing-Doing Gap. In my case, it involved lifestyle change: I exercised at a gym three times per week in Tucson, with a personal trainer, and revamped my diet.
Not everyone subscribes to the "eat less exercise more" philosophy. For example, Ric Watson argues in his blog that you can eat fewer calories, but eat more in actual volume, by choosing the right foods. This brings up the issues of "metrics" that most data centers are familiar with. Last year, I read the book "You: On a Diet" which explains that it is better to focus on "waist reduction" as measured in inches around your mid-section at the belly button, than "weight reduction" as measured in pounds. This year, I resolve to get down to 35 inches by the end of 2007.
The problem with measuring "weight" is that you are weighing bones, muscle and fat. A person can gain ten pounds of muscle, lose ten pounds of fat, and the scale would indicate no progress. The same problem occurs in data centers. How many TB of data do you have? Storage admins can easily tell you, but can they tell how much of this is bone (data needed for operating infrastructure), muscle (data used in daily operations that generates revenue) or fat (obsolete or orphaned data)?
We at IBM often state that "Information Lifecycle Management (ILM)" is more lifestyle change than a "fad diet". Figuring out what data you should capture in the first place, where to place it, when to move it, and when to get rid of it, is more important that just buying different tiers of storage hardware. So, for those looking to make new data center resolutions, I suggest the following actions:
Continuing this week's theme of recap for 2006, I thought it would be good to look back at the various videos made available on the internet.
In his blog, Paul Gillin agrees with Time Magazine's Person of the Year choice of "all of us", those of us who use the World Wide Web to do business or have fun, and to those who contribute to the internet by creating content, such as people who blog or create websites.
So, in continuing my theme this week to recap the best and worst of last year, I list my personal "tech highlights" of 2006.
I am sure there are other triumphs I had throughout the year, but these are the first the come to mind.
'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.'
This last week of 2006 seems like a good time to recap the past year, and review the upcoming new year.That said, a good start is PC World's Top 21 Tech Screwups of 2006.
I got an interesting email from a new blogger asking me for advice on how frequently to post entries.I am probably not the right person to ask, as I blog whenever a thought comes to mind that I think otherswould enjoy reading, and sometimes that means several times a day, and other times only a few per month.I actually have a day job, busy doing other things, and blogging is just now part of my general set of activities.My focus is quality not quantity.
With that in mind, I was delightfully surprised that this blog was ranked among theTop 10 Storage Blogs by Network World, which explains my recent spike in traffic.
I shared the news with my 72-year-old father, and he exclaimed "There are actually 10 or more blogsto cover the IT storage industry?" He couldn't understand why the world would read more than two or three. I personally track thirty-five of them, and I suspect there are hundredsothers out there. Of these, some blog quite regularly, while others do not, so I am in good company. Deni Connor, the author who selected these top 10, gave a nice general complement tothe entire list of blogs:
The blogs written by storage company executives can be surprisingly vendor-agnostic, though the analysts and consultants still tend to pull fewer punches.
And this was my goal as well, to enlighten and entertain, in a fair and balanced manner, that adds value to the blogosphere, rather than just repeat the IBM press releases of each day. If you are just looking for "announcements" there is an RSS feed for IBM System Storage you cansubscribe to.
Not surprisingly, two of the blog entries that Deni mentions are the ones I get the most comments on:
Last week, David Pogue (New York Times) wrote a blog entry on The Dilemma Over Future Storage Formats.
Of course, he is focused on the home user, and not the bigger mess found in the corporate world, where Federal Rules like the one past last week that begin to mandate that all U.S. companies archive every e-mail and instant message (IM) generated by their employees.
However, the article does bring up issues that effect the corporate world as well. Its not the "format" as much as the medium/player interface. A friend of mine just bought a vintage 8-track-tape player, but has only one 8-track tape to try it out with. He is now looking on eBay for other 8-track tapes.
The idea of keeping old drives around to read back data is not new. A company called eMag Solutions has all kinds of older tape drives to help companiesretrieve data on their older 3420 and 3480 tape cartridges.
The problem is not just accessing the data on the media, but rendering the "ones" and "zeros" into meaningful information. For example, suppose I saved a copy of my Quicken Tax file every year, and copied them onto a singleDVD for long term storage. The problem is that to access 2002 tax data, I have to run that version of the Quicken 2002 program, and hopefully that version will run on my current computer equipment and operating system.
A client I visited earlier this year had to retrieve 4-year-old Oracle data for litigation reasons. However, to make sense of the data, they had to build a server with a down-level version of AIX and down-level version of Oracle to match the level supported by their homegrown application.
One solution might be to find a new format that is appl Luckily, for the corporate world, IBM has a lot of experience in this area, is the leader in Content Management, offers the world's fastest archive/compliance storage, the DR550, clocked at three times faster than the EMC Centera, WORM tape on LTO Generation 3 and 3592 tape cartridges, and software designed to render older formats into readable form. For the home user, IBM's recent "Innovation Jam" identified this as one of the top 10 ideas, the idea of "Digital Me", storing not just old tax documents, but photos, music, home videos, and so on. My aunt Nancy passed away, leaving me a box of old VHS tapes, which I will watch this month as I sort through all my paper receipts getting ready to file for 2006 taxes.
Luckily, for the corporate world, IBM has a lot of experience in this area, is the leader in Content Management, offers the world's fastest archive/compliance storage, the DR550, clocked at three times faster than the EMC Centera, WORM tape on LTO Generation 3 and 3592 tape cartridges, and software designed to render older formats into readable form.
For the home user, IBM's recent "Innovation Jam" identified this as one of the top 10 ideas, the idea of "Digital Me", storing not just old tax documents, but photos, music, home videos, and so on. My aunt Nancy passed away, leaving me a box of old VHS tapes, which I will watch this month as I sort through all my paper receipts getting ready to file for 2006 taxes.Read More]