This week I'm in beautiful Guadalajara, Mexico teaching at our[System Storage Portfolio Top Gun class
].We have all of our various routes-to-market represented here, including our direct sales force, our technicalteams, our online IBM.COM website sales, as well as IBM Business Partners.Everyone is excited over last week's IBM announcement of [4Q07 and full year 2007 results
], which includesdouble-digit growth in our IBM System Storage business, led by sales of our DS8000, SAN Volume Controller and Tapesystems. Obviously, as an IBM employee and stockholder, I am biased, so instead I thought I would provide someexcerpts from other bloggers and journalists.
New York Times [I.B.M. Posts Strong Preliminary Results] said "The fourth quarter usually is the best time of the year for IBM Corp., but rarely does it look this good." When the final results were posted last Thursday, Steve Lohr wrote[IBM - A Separate Reality?]. Here'san excerpt:
But what was striking in the company’s conference call on Thursday afternoon was the unhedged optimism in its outlook for 2008, given the strong whiff of recession fear elsewhere.
The questions from Wall Street analysts in the conference call had a common theme. Why are you so comfortable about the 2008 outlook? Now, that might just be professional churlishness, since so many of them have been so wrong recently about I.B.M. Wall Street had understandably thought, for example, that I.B.M.’s sales to financial services companies — the technology giant’s largest single customer category — would suffer in the fourth quarter, given the way banks have been battered by the mortgage credit crunch.
But Mr. Loughridge said that revenue from financial services customers rose 11 percent in the fourth quarter, to $8 billion. The United States, he noted, accounts for only 25 percent of I.B.M.’s financial services business.
The other thing that seems apparent is how much I.B.M.’s long-term strategy of moving up to higher-profit businesses and increasingly relying on services and software is working. Its huge services business grew 17 percent to $14.9 billion in the quarter. After the currency benefit, the gain was 10 percent, but still impressive. Software sales rose 12 percent to $6.3 billion.
Trade Radar poses the question[IBM Beats -- but is itrepresentative of entire tech sector?]. Here's an excerpt:
Looking at IBM's business segments, it can be seen that they offer far more coverage of the technology space that those of the typical tech company:
IBM is just so big and diversified that there is little comparison between it and most other tech companies. IBM is a member of an elite group of companies like Cisco Systems (CSCO), Microsoft (MSFT), Oracle (ORCL) or Hewlett-Packard (HPQ).
IBM's wide international coverage and deep technological capabilities dwarf those of most tech companies. Not only do they have sales organizations worldwide but they have developers, consultants, R&D workers and supply chain workers in each geographic region. Their product mix runs from custom software to packaged enterprise software, hardware (mainframes and servers), semiconductors, databases, middleware technology, etc., etc. There are few tech companies that even attempt to support that many kinds and variations of products.
As color on the fourth quarter earnings announcement, there are a couple of observations that I would like to make. The first one speaks to IBM's international prowess. The company indicated that growth in the Americas was only 5%. International sales were a primary driver of IBM's good results. As an insight on the difference between IBM and most other tech companies, it is clear that nowadays, a tech company that isn't adept at selling internationally is going to be in trouble.
Sramana Mitra opines [IBM Also Looks Safe]. Here's an excerpt:
Terrific performance in a terrific year - no doubt a result of its strong global model. IBM operates in 170 countries, with about 65% of its employees outside US and about 30% in Asia Pacific. For fiscal 2007, revenues from Americas grew 4% to $41.1 billion (42% of total revenue), [EMEA] grew 14% to $34.7 billion (35%of total revenue), and Asia-Pacific grew by 11% to $19.5 billion (19.7% of total revenue). IBM sees growth prospects not just in [BRIC] but also countries like Malaysia, Poland, South Africa, Peru, and Singapore.
Meanwhile, Dan Farber and Larry Dignan from ZDnet write[IBM’s alternate universe: Big Blue sees great 2008]. Here'san excerpt:
Thus far 2008–all two weeks of it–hasn’t been a pretty for the tech industry. Worries about the economy prevail. And even companies that had relatively good things to say like Intel get clobbered. It’s ugly out there–unless you’re IBM.
I am sure there will be more write-ups and analyses on this over the next coming weeks, and others will probably waituntil more tech companies announce their results for comparison.
technorati tags: IBM, Guadalajara, Mexico, Top Gun, 4Q07, results, DS8000, SAN Volume Controller, SVC, Tape, optimism, confidence, Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, EMEA, BRIC[Read More]
This week was the 2008 MacWorld conference. I thought I would reflect on some of the storage related aspects of the products mentioned by Steve Jobsin his Keynote address.Many were updated version of products introduced last year's MacWorld. (In case you forgot whatthose were, here ismy post that covered [MacWorld 2007
(Disclaimer: IBM has a strong working relationship with Apple, and manufacturers technology used in someof Apple's products. I own both an Apple iPod as well as an Apple G4 Mac Mini. IBM supports its employees usingApple laptops instead of Windows-based ones for work, and IBM has developed software that runs on Apple's OS X.Apple is kind enough to extend its "employee discount prices" to IBM employees.)
- [Apple OS X 10.5 Leopard operating system]
In the first 90 days of its release, Apple sold 5 million copies, representing 19 percent of Mac users. I am stillone of the 81 percent still using 10.4 Tiger, the previous level. My Mac Mini is based on G4 POWER processor, and upgrading is on my [Someday/Maybe] list. I am not taking sides in the [OS X vs. Windows vs. Linux religious debate]; I use all three.
The key storage-related feature of Leopard is their backup software Time Machine, and Steve Jobs announceda companion product called Time Capsule that would serve as the external backup disk wirelessly, over 802.1nWi-Fi. For many households, backup is either never done, or done rarely, so any help to simplify and relieve theburden is welcome.
Time Capsule comes in 500GB and 1TB SATA disk capacities, which Steve Jobs called "server-grade". What about a 750GB model? Looks like Apple followed EMC'sexample and went straight to 1TB instead. After EMC failed to deliver 750GB drives in 2007 that they [promised back in July], EMC blogger Chuck Hollis explains in his post[Enterprise Storage Strikes Back!]:
So there's something in the EMC goodie bag as well for you -- the availability of the new 1TB disk drives you've been hearing about. We skipped the 750GB drive and went right to the 1TB drive.
- Apple iPhone and iPod Touch
In the first 200 days, Apple has sold 4 million phones, and has garnered nearly 20 percent of the smart phone market share. New features include a GPS-like location feature that uses [triangulation] with cell phone towers and Wi-Fi hotspotsto determine where you are located.
I covered last year's introduction of the iPhone in my post on [Convergence].All of the features he presented were software updates to the existing 8GB and 16GB models. No new modelswith larger storage were introduced.
I am a T-mobile customer, so am out of luck until either (a) Apple unlocks their phones from the AT&T network, or(b) Apple signs an agreement with T-mobile in the USA. I reviewed the various hacks to unlock iPhones last year, but was not interested in losing official warranty or future software support.
The iPod Touch is an interesting alternative. It is basically an iPhone with the cell-phone features disabled, whichgives you Wi-Fi over the Safari browser, music, videos, and so on. Steve Jobs mentioned enhanced software updates for this as well. The iPod Touch comes in the same 8GB and 16GB sizes as the iPhone.
- AppleTV and iTunes
Steve Jobs indicated that they have sold over 4 billion songs over iTunes, 125 million TV shows, and 7 million movies.He announced that now iTunes would allow for movie rentals, with the option to see them within 30 days, but once you started watching a movie, you have 24 hours to finish. I found it interesting that he said rentals were to reduce space on your hard drive, versus outright purchase of movie content.
In a rare concession, Steve admitted that the original AppleTV misunderstood the marketplace. The original AppleTV allowed you to view pictures and listen to music through your television, but people wanted to view movies. Thesoftware upgrade would allow this, using the iTunes rental model above, as well as watch video podcasts and over 50 million videos posted on YouTube.
Some television-related stats from [z/Journal] were quite timely. The older non-digital TVs could be usedwith the AppleTV and gaming systems like Nintendo Wii.
- 33 percent of U.S. households do not know what to do with (their older) TVs after digital switch (Feb 2009)
- 69 percent of Americans think PCs are more entertaining than TV
Rather than try to fight peer-to-peer website piracy, Apple cleverly decided to compete head-to-head against it. This iswell summarized in Matt Mason's 6-minute video [The Pirate's Dilemma]. Eleven major movie studios are on board with Apple's movie rental plans, making thousands of movietitles available for this, with hundreds in High Definition (HD).
I personally have a Tivo, connected wirelessly to a regular non-HD television, as well as my PC, Mac and internet hub, and this allows me to view my photos, listen to my iTunes collection of music and internet radio stations from [Live365], as well as rent movies and TV shows from Amazon Unbox, with prices ranging from free to four dollars.
- MacBook Air
The theme of this week was "Something is in the Air", an obvious reference to this product, billed as the world's thinnest laptop.John Windsor on his YouBlog writes[Making it Memorable] aboutthe use of a standard office envelope to demonstrate how thin this new MacBook Air laptop is. It is 0.16 inchesat one end, and 0.76 inches as the other end. Unlike other "ultra-thin" laptops, this has a full-size back-lit keyboardand full-size 13.3 inch widescreen. The touchpad supports multi-touch gestures similar to the iPhone and iPod Touch.Intel managed to shrink down their Core 2 Duo processor chip by 60 percent to fit inside this machine. Thebattery is reported to last five hours.
This laptop was designed for wireless access, with 802.1n and BlueTooth enabled. No RJ-45 connection for traditionalLAN ethernet connection, but I guess you can use a USB-to-RJ45 converter.
Storage-wise, you can choose between the 1.8-inch 80GB HDD or a pricey-but-faster 64GB Flash Solid-State Disk (SSD).In a move similar to [getting rid of the 3.5-inch floppy disk in 1998's iMac G3], the MacBook Air got rid of the CD/DVDdrive. While they offer a USB-attachable SuperDrive as an optional peripheral, Steve Jobs gave alternative methods:
|Watching movies on DVD||Rent or Buy from iTunes instead|
|Burning music CDs for your car stereo||Attach your iPod to your car stereo|
|Taking backups to CD or DVD||Use Time Machine and Time Capsule instead|
|Installing Software from CD||Wirelessly connect to a "Remote Optical Disc" on a Mac or PC, running special Apple-provided software that allows you to make this connection|
Here's a list to the 90-minute[keynote address video]. If you arenot a fan of recycling, saving the environment, free speech or democracy, you can safely skip the last 15 minutes when musical artist Randy Newman performs.For alternative viewpoints on the keynote, see posts from [John Gruber] and [Tara MacKay].
technorati tags: Apple, MacWorld, IBM, OS X, Leopard, Tiger, iPod, Mac Mini, G4, Time Machine, Time Capsule, 500GB, 1TB, SATA, EMC, Chuck Hollis, 750GB, 802.1n, Wi-Fi, iPhone, iPod Touch, T-mobile, unlock, AppleTV, iTunes, movie rentals, Tivo, Amazon, Unbox, Live365, John Windsor, YouBlog, MacBook Air, Flash, SSD, BlueTooth, Remote Disc, CD/DVD drive, iMac, G3, John Gruber, Randy Newman, Tara MacKay, recycling, environment, free speech, democracy, HD, piracy, Matt Mason
Continuing my week's theme on the XO laptop from the One Laptop Per Child [OLPC
] foundation, I successfully managedto emulate my XO on another system.
Part of what is attractive of the XO laptop is the hardware, the high-resolution200dpi screen, the clever screen that rotates and folds flat into an eBook reader,and the water-tight, dust-proof keyboard. The other part is the software, howthey managed to pack an entire operating system, with useful applications, intoa 1GB NAND flash drive.
The drawback for developers like me is the risk of changing something that breaks the system. For example, my first attempt to create my own activityresulted in a blank space in my action bar, and my journal went into someinfinite loop, blinking as if it were still loading for minutes on end. I fixed it by deleting out the activity I created and rebooting.
To get around this, I successfully ran the disk-image under Linux's Virtual Machinesoftware called Qemu. This is an open source offering, with a proprietary add-onaccelerator called Kqemu. Here were the steps involved:
- Base Operating System
Qemu is now available to run on Linux, Windows and OS X-Intel. I have an Ubuntu 7.04"Feisty Faun" version of Linux installed on my system from a project I did last year, so decided to use that.
Normally, "apt-get install qemu" would be enough, but I wanted to get the latest release, so I downloaded the [0.9.0 version]tarball of compiled binaries. Note that trying to compile Qemu from source requiresa downlevel gcc-3.x compiler, and my attempts to do this failed. The compiled binariesworked fine.
The Kqemu author hasn't packaged this for distribution, so I download the source code anddid my own compiles. You can do the "configure-make-install" using the regular gcc 4.1compiler and it went smoothly.
Getting Kqemu active was bit of a challenge. I had to make sense of Nando Florestan's[Installing Kqumu in Ubuntu] article,and the subsequent comments that followed.
There is a tiny [8MB Linux image]that should be used to verify the Kqemu is activated correctly.
- The Disk Image
As with other development efforts, there are the older stable versions, and the bleedingedge development versions. I chose the 650 Build from the [Ship.2 stable versions], whichmatches the version on my XO laptop. The image comes as a *.bz2, which is a highly-compressedfile. Using "Bunzip2", the 221MB file expands to something like 932MB.
I renamed the resulting file to "build650.img"
Once I got all this done, I then made a simple script "launch" in my /home/tpearson/bin directory:
#!/bin/shqemu -m 256 -full-screen -kernel-kqemu -soundhw es1370 -net nic,model=rtl8139 -net user -hda $1
Then "launch build650.img" was all I needed to run the emulation. The full-screen mode helpsemulate the view on XO laptop. I was able to change the jabber server to "xochat.org" and see otherXO laptops online on my neighborhood view.
When running under Qemu, you can't just press Ctrl-Alt-something. For example, Ctrl-Alt-Erase onthe XO reboots the Sugar interface. However, do this on a Linux system, and it reboots your nativeX interface, blowing away everything.Instead, you press Ctrl-Alt-2 to get to the Qemu console, designated by (qemu) prompt,and then type:
Press "Ctrl-Alt-1" followed by "Ctrl-Alt" to get back to the emulated XO screen.
With this emulation, I am more likely to try new things, change files around, edit system files,and so on, without worrying about rendering my actual XO laptop unusable. Once debugged, I canthen work on moving them over to my XO, one at a time.
technorati tags: OLPC, XO, laptop, Qemu, Kqemu, Ubuntu, Linux, Activity, Journal
Well, tomorrow is the Winter solstice, at least for those of us in the Northern hemisphere of the planet.As often happens, I have more vacation days left than I can physically take before they evaporateat the end of the year, so next week I will be off, going to see movies like the new["Golden Compass"
]or perhaps read the latest book from [Richard Dawkins
Next week, I suspect some of the kids on my block will be playing with radio-controlled cars orplanes. If you are not familiar with these, here's a [video on BoingBoing]that shows Carl Rankin's flying machines that he made out of household materials.
Which brings me to the thought of scalability. For the most part, the physics involvedwith cars, planes, trains or sailboats apply at the toy-size level as well as the real-world level. One human operator can drive/manage/sail one vehicle. While I have seen a chess master play seven opponents on seven chess boards concurrently, itwould be difficult for a single person to fly seven radio-controlled airplanes at the same time.
How can this concept be extended to IT administrators in the data center? They have to deal withhundreds of applications running on thousands of distributed servers.In a whitepaper titled [Single System Image (SSI)], the threeauthors write:
A single system image (SSI) is the property of a systemthat hides the heterogeneous and distributed nature of theavailable resources and presents them to users and applicationsas a single unified computing resource.
IBM has some offerings that can help towards this goal.
- Server clusters
Even in the case where yourvehicle is being pulled by eight horses--(or eight reindeer?)--a single operator can manage it, holding the reins in both hands. In the same manner,IBM has spent a lot of investment and research into supercomputers, where hundreds of individualservers all work together towards a common task. The operator submits a math problem, for example,and the "system system image" takes care of the rest, dividing the work up into smaller chunksthat are executed on each machine.
When done with IBM mainframes, it is called a Parallel Sysplex. The world's largest business workloadsare processed by mainframes, and connecting several together and working in concert makes this possible.In this case, the tasks are typically just single transactions, no need to divide them up further, justbalance the workload across the various machines, with shared access to a common database and storageinfrastructure so they can all do the work equally.
Last August, in my post [Fundamental Changes for Green Data Centers], I mentioned that IBM consolidated 3900 Intel-based servers onto 33 mainframes. This not only saves lots of electricity, but makes it much easier for the IT administratorsto manage the environment.
- Storage virtualization
Parallel Sysplex configurations often require thousands of disk volumes, which would have been quitea headache dealing with them individually. With DFSMS, IBM was able to create "storage groups" wherea few groups held the data. You might have reasons to separate some data from others, put them inseparate groups. An IT administrator could handle a handful of storage groups much easier than thousandsof disk volumes. As businesses grow, there would be more data in each storage group, but the numberof storage groups remains flat, so an IT administrator could manage the growth easily.
IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) is able to accomplish this for other distributed systems.All of the physical disk space assigned to an SVC cluster is placed into a handful of "managed diskgroups". As the system grows in capacity, more space is added to each managed disk group, but few IT administrators can continue to manage this easily.
The new IBM System Storage Virtual File Manager (VFM) is able to aggregate file systems into one globalname space, again simplifying heterogeneous resources into a single system image. End users have a singledrive letter or mount point to deal with, rather than many to connect to all the disparate systems.
- Centralized Administration
Lastly we get to the actual management aspect of it all. Wouldn't it be nice if your entire data centercould be managed by a hand-held device with two joysticks and a couple of buttons? We're not quite there yet, but last October we announced the [IBM System Storage Productivity Center (SSPC)]. This is a master consolethat has a variety of software pre-installed to manage your IBM and non-IBM storage hardware, includingSAN fabric gear, disk arrays and even tape libraries. It lets the storage admin see the entire data centeras a single system image, displaying the topology in graphical view that can be drilled down using semanticzooming to look at or manage a particular device or component.
Customers are growing their storage capacity on average 60 percent per year. They could do this by havingmore and more things to deal with, and gripe about the complexity, or they can try to grow theirsingle system image bigger, with interfaces and technologies that allow the existing IT staff to manage.
technorati tags: Winter solstice, Golden Compass, Richard Dawkins, radio-controlled, cars, planes, trains, sailboats, automobiles, IBM, mainframe, system z, parallel sysplex, single system image, DFSMS, SAN Volume Controller, SVC, Virtual File Manager, VFM, System Storage, Productivity Center, SSPC, master console, SAN, fabric, gear, disk, tape, libraries, data center, topology, semantic zooming
Web Worker Daily has an article[Bill Gates on Collaboration and Continued Learning
] discussing Bill Gates' essay [The skills you need to succeed
].Bill talks about the importance of software, and how it has turned nearly everyone into information workers.
While Bill Gates is personally benefiting from code he wrote 30 years ago, most software engineers don't getroyalties for their creative efforts. Robin Harris on StorageMojo has a great piece on [Why are the writers striking?]The writers in this case are those who write scripts for television programs. They get 4 cents for every$19.99 DVD sold today, and want this bumped up to 8 cents. More importantly, they want the same deal forcontent shown over the internet. Currently, they get nothing when content they wrote for is shown on the internet, and they would like that fixed also.
Paying royalties to creative writers encourages them to write good stuff. The best stuff will result in moreroyalties, and we want to encourage this. What about software engineers? Don't we want them to write the beststuff also? Shouldn't they get royalties too, not just a flat salary and continued employment?
Something to think about...
technorati tags: Web Worker Daily, Bill Gates, collaboration, continued learning, skills, succeed, software, information workers, Robin Harris, StorageMojo, writers, strike, royalties, software engineers