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Our industry is full of acronyms, and sometimes spelling out what words an acronym stands for is not enough to explain it fully.
It reminds me of an old story within IBM. A customer engineer (or "CE" for short) was repairing an air-cooled server, and found the failing part being a "FAN". Not knowing what this stood for, he looked up the acronym in the offical "IBM list of acronyms" and found that it stood for "Forced Air Network". Apparently, so many people did not realize that a FAN was just a "fan" that they needed to add an entry to remind people what this little motorized propeller was for.
This brings me to Tony Asaro's Fun with FAN blog entry which mentions yet another definition for FAN, that of "File Area Network". The concept is not new, but some developments this year help make it more a reality.
To join the rest of the world, new types of data set were created for the z/OS operating system, known as HFS and zFS. These held file systems in the sense we know them today, comparable in hierarchical organization of files on Windows, Linux and UNIX platforms. These could be linked and mounted together in larger hierarchical structures across the sysplex.
The concept of files and file systems is a fairly new concept. Prior to this, applications read and wrote directly in terms of blocks, typically fixed length multiples of 512 bytes. For a while, database management systems offered a choice, direct block access or file level access. The former may have offered slightly better performance, but the latter was easier to administer. Without file system, specialized tools were often required to diagnose and fix problems on block-oriented "raw logical" volumes.
This launched a "my file system is better than yours" war which continues today. The official standard is POSIX, but every file system tries to give some proprietary advantage by offering unique features. Sun's file system offers support for "sparse" files, which is ideal for certain mathematical processing of tables. Microsoft's NTFS offers biult-in compression, designed for the laptop user. IBM's JFS2 and Linux's EXT3 file systems support journaling, which tracks updates to file system structures in a separate journal to minimize data corruption in the event of a power outage, and thus speed up the re-boot process. Anyone who has ever waited for a "Scan Disk" or "fsck" process to finish knows what I'm talking about. Of course, if an application deviates from POSIX standards, and exploits some unique feature of a file system, it then limits its portability and market appeal.
The two competing NAS file systems are also different. Common Internet File System (CIFS) was developed initially by IBM and Microsoft to provide interoperability between DOS, Windows and OS/2. Meanwhile, Network File System (NFS) was the darling of nearly every UNIX and Linux distribution, and even has clients on operating platforms as diverse as MacOS, i5/OS, and z/OS. Today, nearly every platform supports one or both of these standards.
Bottom line, file systems are here to stay. Any slight advantages to use raw logical volumes for databases and applications are losing out to the robust set of file system utilities that can be used across a broad set of platforms and applications.Read More]
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For those of you worried about my mysterious absence on the blogosphere, I am getting better. Sorry for not posting much lately, I have had more serious issues to worry about. I am awaiting results on whether I have Dengue fever from Brazil, Avian flu from Thailand, Malaria from Kenya, or perhaps it is just food poisoning from the otherwise fabulous French cuisine I ate last week in the South Pacific. Well, I am back in town for a while, and hopefully will recover to full health, and have some time to reflect my thoughts on storage topics.
Speaking of which, a lot has happened while I was out. Let's take a quick look.
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Hello Everyone! I am back from my safari vacation in Kenya.
One of the interesting parts of the journey was to visit a village of the Samburu tribe. Each village is a circle of huts surrounded by thorned branches to keep the wild lions out. In the center is another ring of thorned branches to keep all the cattle, sheep and goats.
One of the tribewomen invited us to show us her home. Each hut is made of sticks, stuck into the ground and then woven with other sticks, then covered in cow dung along the walls, and scraps of cardboard and newspaper as the roof.
Although the hut looks small from the outside, it was surprisingly roomy inside; it was divided into four rooms or partitions. The first was for the adults, the second for children, and the third for newborn animals and sometimes relatives visiting from other villages.
I asked what was the fourth room used for, and of course, her answer was: Storage.[Read More]
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Well,This is completely off-topic, but now that I have a bluetooth-enabled Thinkpad T60, I have been interested in this new wireless technology. I have a bluetooth cell phone, a bluetooth wireless headset, and my thinkpad, and they all work together seemlessly. I am able to speak on my cell phone through my headset, listen to music and videos on my laptop through my headset, and even dial in to the IBM network through my cell phone, all without any cables!
A variation of the Wi-Fi soup-cantenna has emerged to intercepting bluetooth signals. Check out this coolBlueSniper Rifle
Now that's innovation.[Read More]
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