It's been a while since I've talked about [Second Life
The latest post on eightbar[Spimes, Motes and Data centers]discusses IBM's use of virtual world technology to analyze data centers in three dimensions.New World Note asks[What's The Point Of 3D Data Centers?]One would think that a simple monitoring tool based on a two-dimensional floor plan would be enough to evaluate a data center.
Enter Michael Osias, IBM (a.k.a Illuminous Beltran in Second Life). Some of the leading news sites havebegun to notice some 3D data centers that he has helped pioneer. UgoTrade writes up an article aboutMichael and the media attention in [The Wizard of IBM's 3DData Centers].
Of course, in presenting these "Real Life/Second Life" (RL/SL) interactive technologies, IBM is sometimes the target of ridicule. Why? Because IBM is 10 years ahead of everyone else. So, are there aspects of a data center where 3D interfaces makes sense? I think there is.
- Topology Viewer
IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center has an awesome "topology viewer" that shows what servers are connectedto which switches, to which disk systems and tape libraries. This is all done in a 2D diagram, generated dynamicallywith data discovered through open standard interfaces, similar to what you might draw manually with toolslike Visio. Imagine, however, howmore powerful if it were a 3D viewer, with virtual equipment mapped to the physical location of each pieceof hardware on the data center floor, including the position on the rack and location on the data center floor.
- Temperature Flow
Designing computer room air conditioning (CRAC) systems is actually a three dimensional problem. Cold air isfed underneath the raised floor, comes up through strategically placed "vent" tiles, taken in the front ofeach rack. Hot air comes out the back of each rack, and hopefully finds ceiling duct intake to get cooled again.The temperature six inches off the floor is different than the temperature six feet off the floor, and 3Dmonitor tools could be helpful in identifying "hot spots" that need attention. In this case "spimes" representsensors in the 3D virtual world, able to report back information to help diagnose problems or monitor events.
- Server consolidation
After many people left the mainframe in favor of running a single application per distributed server, the pendulumhas finally swung back. Companies are discovering the many benefits of changing this behavior. "Re-centralization" is the task at hand. Thanks to virtualization of servers, networks and storage, sharing common resources canonce again claim the benefits of economies of scale. In many cases, servers work together in collective unitsfor specific applications that might benefit better if consolidated together onto the same equipment.
IBM's "New Enterprise Data Center" vision recognizes that people will need to focus on the management aspectsof their IT infrastructure, and 3D virtual world technologies might be an effective way to getthe job done.
technorati tags: secondlife, eightbar, spimes, motes, 3D, data center, virtual world, IBM, TotalStorage, Productivity Center, CRAC, re-centralization, New Enterprise Data Center
I am always amused in the manner the IT industry tries to solve problems. Take, for example, theprocess of backups. The simplest approach is to backup everything, and keep "n" versions of that.Simple enough for a small customer who has only a handful of machines, but does not scale well. Inmy post [Times a Million
],I coined the phrase "laptop mentality", referring to people's inability to think through solutions in large scale.
Apparently, I am not alone.Steve Duplessie (ESG) wrote in his post[Random Thoughts]:
"I may even get to stop yelling at people to stop doing full backups every week on non-changing data (which is 80 %+) just because that's how they used to do it. They won't have a choice. You can't back up 5X your current data the way you do (or don't) today."
Hu Yoshida (HDS) does a great job explaining that thereare three ways to perform deduplication for backups:
- Pre-processing. Have the backup software not backup unchanged data.
- Inline processing. Have an index to filter the output of the backup as it sends data to storage.
- Post-processing. Have the receiving storage detect duplicates and handle them accordingly.
Here's an excerpt from his post[Deduplication Ratios]:
"A full backup of 1TB data base tablespace is taken on day one. The next day another full backup is taken and only 2GB of that backup has any changes.
Using traditional full backup approaches after 2 nights, the backup capacity required is 2 x 1TB = 2TB
One method of calculating de-duplication ratios could yield a low ratio:
- Total de-duplicated backup capacity used = 1TB + 2GB = 1.002TB
- If the de-duplication ratio compares the amount of total physical storage used to the total amount that would have been used by traditional backup methods, the ratio = 2TB / 1.002TB = approximately 2:1
Another method of calculating de-duplication ratios could yield a high ratio:
- Total de-duplicated backup capacity used still = 1.002TB
- If the de-duplication ratio compares the amount of data stored in the most recent (second) backup to the amount that would have been used by traditional backup methods, the ratio 1TB / 2GB = 1000GB / 2GB = 500:1"
While IBM also offers deduplication in the IBM System Storage N series disk systems, I find that for backup, itis often more effective to apply best practices via IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM). Let's take a look at some:
- Exclude Operating System files
Why take full backups of your operating system every day? Yes, deduplication will find a lot to reduce fromthis, but best practices would exclude these. TSM has an include/exclude list, and the default version excludesall the operating system files that would be recovered from "bare machine recovery" or "new system install"procedures. Often, if the replacement machine has different gear inside, your OS backups aren't what you need,and a fresh OS install may determine this and install different drivers or different settings.
- Exclude Application programs
Again, yes if there are several machines running the same application, you probably have opportunity for deduplication. However, unless you match these up with the appropriate registry or settings buried down in theoperating system, recovering just application program files may render an unusable system. Applications are bestinstalled from a common source that are either "pushed" through software distribution, or "pulled" from an application installation space.
If you have TB-sized databases, and are only doing full backups daily to protect it, have I got a solution for you.IBM and others have software that are "application-aware" and "database-aware" enough to determine what haschanged since the last backup and copy only that delta. Taking advantage of the TSM Application ProgrammingInterface (API) allows for both IBM and third party tools to take these delta backups correctly.
- User Files
Which leaves us with user files, which are often unique enough on their own from the files of other users,that would not benefit from file-level deduplication. Backing up changed data only, as TSM does with its patented ["progressive incremental backup"] method, generally gets most of the benefits described by deduplication, without having to purchase storage hardware features.
Of course, if two or more users have identical files, the question might be why these are not stored on acommon file share. NAS file share repositories can greatly reduce each user keeping their own set of duplicates.It is interesting that some block-oriented deduplication,such as that found in the IBM System Storage N series, can get some benefit because some user files are oftenderivatives of other files, and there might be some 4 KB blocks of data in common.
Last November, I visited a customer in Canada. All of their problems were a direct result of taking full backupsevery weekend. It put a strain on their network; it used up too many disk and tape resources; and it took too long tocomplete. They asked about virtual tape libraries, deduplication, and anything else that could help them. The answer was simple: switch to IBM Tivoli Storage Manager and apply best practices.
technorati tags: Steve Duplessie, ESG, Hu Yoshida, HDS, deduplication, N series, application-aware, database-aware, database, tablespace, best practice, Tivoli, Storage Manager, TSM, progressive, incremental, backup
Last year, in my post [Inaugural Brand Impact 2007 Awards
], I mentioned how IBM beat out other major storage vendors for the best brand "IBM System Storage". I am proud of this, and highlighted it as one of my team's key accomplishments during my brief20-month career in marketing, which I recapped in my post[Switching Over from What and Why
] when I switched over to consulting.
This year, IBM did it again. For a second consecutive year, IBM System Storage was recognized by [Liquid Agency]as the leading brand for enterprise storage. Here is an excerpt from the [IBM Press Release]:
"IBM System Storage is the most trusted storage portfolio in the world, providing our clients leading disk, tape and storage software solutions and services. This award reflects IBM's priority in delivering information infrastructure solutions to solve our client's most critical storage challenges," said Barry Rudolph, Vice President, IBM System Storage. "We are helping clients -- from large corporations to small businesses -- intelligently manage information as a strategic business asset. We are proud to be recognized as the clear market leader in delivering solutions that help our clients manage and extract value from their information."
Liquid Agency reviewed over 250 technology brands to make this assessment.
IBM also swept a variety of other awards. Here are a few excerpts from[Datamation Announces 2008 Product of the Year Winners]:
- IBM Business Process Simulator: Innov8
The Business/IT Alignment category is critical for many companies; getting these two key divisions in sync provides a huge competitive advantage. This year’s winner – by a landslide – is IBM's [Innov8].
This Big Blue product has a touch of the sci-fi to it: it’s an interactive, 3-D business simulator intended to close the divide between IT staff and business executives. In other words, it’s…a video game. I guarantee you that in all the decades that Datamation has done its Product of the Year awards, never has a video game won. The times they are a-changin’.
- IBM System p 570 enterprise server
Whether a server is the “best” server is, in truth, based on your company’s individual needs and budgets. In the server world, with its myriad options and add-ons, one size definitely does not fit all. That said, IBM p 570 Server must fit plenty of needs; the box easily won the Enterprise Server category. IBM claims this workhorse doubles the speed of its predecessor without requiring a larger energy footprint.
- IBM Lotus Symphony
When it comes to total numbers of users, there’s no question that Microsoft Office is the 800-pound gorilla of this category. The deeply entrenched Office makes the corporate world go ‘round. Given Office’s status, it’s a major eyebrow raiser that this category was won by relative newcomer IBM Lotus Symphony. Perhaps it’s because Big Blue’s product is free (that always helps), or because IBM is itself such an established vendor. Whatever the case, consider this vote as a huge upset.
(Note: IBM Lotus Symphony is available for [free download] for Windows and Linux.When my friend purchased a new laptop that came pre-installed with Windows Vista, he was surprised to see that Microsoft Office was not included. I pointed him to Lotus Symphony, and he is running great with his existing Word, Powerpoint and Excel documents! I use Lotus Symphony on both Windows and Linux, and IBM plans to make a version available for Mac OS X-- when that happens, I have my Mac Mini G4 waiting to try it out.)
- IBM Wireless Software for Business Intelligence (BI) on the go
For most of 2007, IBM Cognos 8 Go! Mobile software supported only Blackberry units. At the end of last year, Cognos upgraded its wireless business intelligence software – which delivers business reports to on-the-go staffers – to support handhelds that run Windows Mobile OS. Naturally, this expanded the company’s user base, and likely helped Cognos 8 Go! Mobile win the Wireless Software category.
(If you have a RIM Blackberry handheld device, you can try out this[actual demo].)
Wow! That's a lot of awards. Congratulations to all my IBM colleagues who made this happen!
technorati tags: IBM, System Storage, Liquid Agency, Barry Rudolph, Datamation, awards, Innov8, System p, p570, Lotus Symphony, Microsoft Office, IBM Cognos, RIM, Blackberry
Yesterday, I promised I would cover other products from the Feb 12 announcement. Today I will focus on the IBM SAN768B director. Some people are confused on the differences between switchesand directors. I find there are three key differences:
- Directors are designed to be 24x7 operation, highly available with no single points of failure or repair. Generally, all components in directors are redundant and hot-swappable, including Control Processors. In switches, some components are redundant and hot-swappable, such as fans and power supplies), but not the “motherboard” or controller. Often you have to take down a switch to make firmware or major hardware changes or upgrades.
- Directors are designed to take in "blades" with different features, port counts, or protocol capabilities. You can add or remove blades while the system is up and running. Switches have a fixed number of ports. (A Small Form-factor Pluggable optical transceiver [SFP] is the component that turns electric pulses into light pulses (and visa versa). You plug the SFP into the switch, and then the fiber optic cable is plugged into the SFP).
With switches, you often start with a base number of active ports, and then can enable the rest of the ports as you need them.
- Directors have hundreds of ports. Switches tend to have 64 ports or less.
Last year, Brocade acquired McDATA. Both were OEMs for IBM, and IBM distinguished that in the naming convention. The IBM SAN***B name was used to denote products manufactured for IBM by Brocade, and a SAN***M name was used to denote products manufactured by McDATA.
At that time, Brocade and McDATA equipment did not mix very well on the same fabric, so IBM retained the naming convention so that you as a customer knew what it worked with.
Brocade now has released with new levels of both operating systems--Brocade's FOS and McDATA's EOS--and their respective fabric managers--Brocade Fabric Manager (FM) and McDATA's Enterprise Fabric Connectivity Manager (EFCM)--so that they have full interoperability.
Brocade's goal is to enhance EFCM to be a common software management platform for all of their products going forward.
IBM used the maximum port count in the name to provide some clue as to the size of the switch or director. The SAN16B-2 or the SAN32B-3 are switches that have a maximum of 16 and 32 ports. The SAN256B supports a maximumeight blades of your choosing.Two different types were supported for FC ports, a 16-port blade and a 32-port blade.If all eight were 32-port blades then the maximum was 256 ports, hence the name. But then Brocade began offering 48-port blades. Should IBM change the name? No, it decided to leave itthe SAN256B even though it can now have a maximum of 384 ports.
Not to confuse anyone, the SAN768B also has a maximum of 384 ports, in the same 14U dimensions, but with a special twist. Normally to connect two directors together you use up ports from each, in what are called "inter-switch links" (ISL).These are ports you are taking away from availability from the servers and storage controllers. The SAN768Boffers a new alternative called "inter-chassis links". Each SAN768B has two processing blades, and each has two ICL ports, so with just four two-meter (2m) cables, you get the equivalent of 128 FC 8 Gbps ISL links without using 128 individual ports on each side. That is like giving you 256 ports back for use with servers and storage!
Since IBM directors require 240 volt power, IBM TotalStorage SAN Cabinet C36 include power distribution units (PDUs). PDUs are just glorified power strips, but a new intelligent PDU (iPDU) option introduces additional intelligence to monitor energy consumption for customers looking to measure, and perhaps charge back, energy consumption to the rest of the business. You can stack two SAN768B in one cabinet, one on top of the other, and connected via ICLs, it wouldlook like one huge 768-port backbone.
As a backbone for your data center, the SAN768B is positioned for two emerging technologies:
- 8 Gbps Fibre Channel (FC)
The SAN768B is powerful enough to have 32-port blades run full speed on all ports off-blade without oversubscription. Oversubscription is an emotional topic.
Normally, blades (like switches) can handle all traffic at full speed without delays provided the in-bound and out-bound ports involved are all on the same blade. In a director, however, if you need to communicate from a port on one blade to a port on a different blade, it is possible that off-blade traffic might be constrained or delayed in its transit across the backplane.
On the SAN768B, both the 16-port and 32-port blades can run at full 8 Gbps speed, and the 48-port is exposed to oversubscription only if you have more than 32-ports running at full 8 Gbps transferring data off-blade concurrently.
The new 8 Gbps SFPs support auto-negotiation at N-1 and N-2 generation link speeds. This means that they will automatically slow down when communicating with 4Gpbs and 2 Gbps devices, but they cannot communicate with 1 Gbps devices. If you are still using 1 Gbps devices in your data center, you will need to use 4 Gbps SFPs (which also support 2 Gbps and 1 Gbps link speeds) to communicate with those older devices.
- Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE)
Wikipedia has a good summary of [FCoE].
Basically, this new technology enables transport of Fibre Channel packets over 10 Gbps Ethernet links. This 10 Gbps Ethernet can also be used to carry traditional iSCSI and TCP/IP traffic. FCoE introduces new extensions to provide Fibre Channel characteristics, like being lossless, and offering consistent performance. The ANSI T11 team is driving FCoE as an open standard, and at the moment it is not fully baked. I suggest you don't buy any FCoE equipment prematurely, as pre-standard devices or host bus adapters could get you burned later when the standard is finalized.
The idea is that FCoE blades can be installed in a SAN768B along with traditional FC blades, allowing routing of traffic between traditional FC and new FCoE ports. Those who have invested in FCIP for long distance replication will be able to continue using either FC or FCoE inputs.
One of the big drivers of FCoE is IBM BladeCenter. Currently, most BladeCenter blades support both Ethernet and FC connectivity and are connected to both Ethernet and FC switches on the back of each BladeCenter chassis. With FCoE, we have the potential to run both FC and IP traffic across simpler all-Ethernet blades, connecting through all-Ethernet switches on the backs of each chassis.
For more information on the IBM SAN768B, see the [IBM Press Release]. For more detailson Brocade's strategy, here is an 8-page white paper on their[Data Center Fabric] vision.
technorati tags: IBM, SAN768B, SAN, switch, director, backbone, SFP, Brocade, McDATA, BOS, EOS, BFM, EFCM, blade, ISL, ICL, FC, FCP, FCIP, FCoE, BladeCenter, Ethernet, 8Gbps, 10GbE, Data Center Fabric
Today is Tuesday, a good day for announcements and good news!
This week I am in Guadalajara, Mexico, and the focus in Mexico is Small and Medium sized Business (SMB). SmallBusinessComputing.COM put out their [2008 Awards: The Absolute Best in Small Business], and IBM disk and server systems were recognized. Here is an excerpt:
As companies expand, so does the data, and often at an alarming rate. Adding dedicated storage to your network can ease both system performance and efficiency woes, making your work life a bit easier.
This year, 42 percent our readers cast their lot with the [IBM System Storage DS3400]. The $6,495 system supports 12 hard disk drives for capacity of up to 3.6 terabytes a good match for tasks such as managing databases, e-mail and Web serving.
Last year's winner, NetApp, takes a very respectable runner-up slot for the NetApp Store Vault S300, a $3,000 storage appliance that offers security, scalability, data protection and simplified management.
Also, IBM's SMB departmental machine, the [System i515 Express] was named runner-up for servers.
technorati tags: IBM, Guadalajara, Mexico, SMB, DS3400, i515, NetApp[Read More]