Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means! IBM Announcements!
Starting today, April 1, 2014, the IBM Executive Briefing Centers (EBC) are adopting a new self-hosted model. In the past, each briefing was assigned a "Briefing Host", a member of the EBC staff, who acted as [master of ceremonies] for the day (or more) for the clients. At some locations, if there were three rooms, there would be three or more briefing hosts so that concurrent briefings could be held.
However, the method does not scale. Having a person per briefing means that you are limited to the number of total concurrent briefings. Inspired by self-service provisioning and scalability of the Cloud, IBM has adopted a new methodology.
In the new model, the visiting client rep, sales rep, or IBM Business Partner will be handed instructions and a map. This will include the agenda, the schedule, biographies of each speaker, the locations of the nearest restrooms, and so on.
I can take partial credit for the idea. In 2012, I made the analogy that having briefing centers at each development lab made a lot of sense, because it allowed clients to interact directly with the engineers and executives that made development decisions. I also made the analogy that having a fully-staffed EBC was like a fire department, whether you have five briefings per month, or fifty, you need a team that is ready, staying abreast of the latest technological changes.
In my post, [Like animals in the zoo], I argued there are two kinds of zoos, the self-guided kind, where visitors are handed a map, versus the docent-guided kind, where a member of the zoo staff introduces you to each animal.
The EBC briefing hosts in this analogy were the docents, and the animals that people came to visit were the engineers and executives.
As with zoo docents who are highly trained about every animal to answer every conceivable question, briefing hosts at IBM went through extensive training by [Mandel Communications] to achieve the certification requirements of the [Association of Briefing Program Managers], or ABPM for short.
As for the fire department, IBM management flipped the analogy around. They argued that many smaller communities had "volunteer fire departments", eliminating the need to keep full-time employees doing nothing but playing cards and sliding down brass poles in between fire fighting sessions. When a fire happens, phones calls are made, and this will help get everyone notified to get involved.
In my past 28 years at IBM, I have to say that you know you have good analogies when they can be used in both directions. The zoo analogy was used to prevent management from consolidating all of the EBC staff to Austin, TX. The fire department analogy helped us keep all of our lab equipment to run demonstrations.
The new self-hosted model will address both scheduling and scalability issues. We often had two-day and three-day briefings, and scheduling the rooms, and the briefing managers, based on their availability, was quite challenging.
There are three advantages to the new method:
March 31 is [World Backup Day]!
Recently, a client asked how to backup their IBM PureData System for Analytics devices. IBM had [acquired Netezza in November 2010], and later renamed their TwinFin devices as the IBM PureData for Analytics, powered by Netezza.
The [IBM PureData System for Analytics] is incredibly fast for performing deep, ad-hoc analytics. However, the people who use them are "data scientists", not backup experts.
Likewise, there are backup administrators who may not be familiar with the unique characteristics of this expert-integrated system to know what backup options are available.
As with the rest of the IBM PureSystems line, the IBM PureData System for Analytics (or, PDA for short) has a combination of servers, storage and switches inside.
In a full-frame PDA, there are two servers in Active/Passive mode, these coordinate activity to FPGA-based blade servers, which have parallel access to hundreds of disk drives, storing nearly 200 TB of compressed database data. A system can span up to four frames.
But what do you backup? And why? You don't need to worry about backing up the Linux operating system or NPS server code, that is considered firmware and if anything every got corrupted, IBM would help restore it for you. System-wide metadata, such as the host catalog and global users, groups, and permissions should be backed up periodically to protect against data corruption.
There are a number of reasons to backup your user databases:
The PDA has three backup formats. You can backup the entire user database in compressed format, backup individual tables in compressed format, or export to a text-format file.
Compressed format is faster, but can only be restored to the same PDA, or a PDA that has the same or higher level of NPS firmware. The text-format is slower, but can be used to restore to lower levels of NPS firmware, or to other database systems.
There are basically two methods to backup your PDA. The first is called the "Filesystem" method. Basically, you can attach an external storage device to the NPS server, and use the built-in command line interface (CLI) to store the backups onto its file system.
You may find that your databases are so large, they will exceed the limits of the filesystem on the external storage device. For SAN or NAS deployments, I recommend the IBM Storwize V7000 Unified with IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS). However, if you are using something else, you may need to use the "nz_backup" scripts provided which split up the backup images into smaller pieces that most other filesystems can handle.
The PDA comes with 10GbE Ethernet ports that you can attach a NAS storage device over a Local Area Network (LAN), or add Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) ports and connect over a Storage Area Network (SAN). To keep things simple, I will refer to whichever network you decide as the "Backup Network" in the drawings.
The second method for backup is called the "External Backup Software" method. As you have probably guessed, it involves sending the backups to a supported software product like IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (or, TSM for short).
In this case, the PDA acts as a client node, similar to a laptop, desktop, or application server with internal disk. Backup data is sent over the LAN to the designated TSM server, and the TSM server in turn writes over the SAN to its storage hierarchy of disk, virtual tape and/or physical tape resources.
Backups can be done by command "on demand", or automated on a schedule. For the /nz/data directory, direct the nzhostbackup command to send the backup copy to local disk, then use TSM's dsmc archive command to transfer this backup copy to the TSM server.
For nzbackup with the users or db parameters, you can send the data directly to the appropriate TSM server by specifying the connector and connectorArgs parameters.
To reduce traffic on the TSM Server, an intermediary "TSM Proxy Node" can be put in between. In this case, the PDA sends the backup to the Proxy Node, the Proxy Node uses a "LAN Free Storage Agent" to send the backups directly to the virtual tape and/or physical tape, and then notifies the TSM Server to updates its system catalog to record which tape holds these new backups.
Another configuration involves installing the TSM LAN Free storage agent directly on the PDA. While this will require FCP ports to be added and consume more CPU resources on the NPS server, it eliminates most of the LAN traffic, allowing the PDA to send its backups directly to virtual or physical tape.
To learn more about this, see my full presentation [Backup Options: IBM PureData System for Analytics, powered by Netezza] on the IBM Expert Network powered by SlideShare, or attend the upcoming [IBM Edge 2014] conference in Las Vegas, May 19-23. I will be there!
technorati tags: IBM, Netezza, PureData, PureData for Analytics, PDA, World Backup Day, Backup, NPS, nzhostbackup, nzbackup, expert-integrated, Tivoli, Tivoli Storage Manager, TSM, dsmc, #ibmedge, Slideshare
My how time flies! It has been nearly a year since our new Tucson Executive Briefing Center had its [Ribbon Cutting Ceremony].
To celebrate this achievement, IBM asked me to write and direct a short film to remind everyone we are here to help clients solve problems, determine an appropriate strategy and make solid purchase decisions.
I have produced other videos for IBM. See my October 2013 blog post [Incorporating Videos] for other examples. This was my first time as writer/director for a project.
This video won't win any Oscars, but I would still like to thank the Academy, my colleagues IBM VP Calline Sanchez, Lee Olguin, Joe Hayward and Kris Keller agreeing to be filmed on camera. Behind the scenes, I want to thank IBM Fellow John Cohn for his superb narration, Andrew Greenfield as cinematographer and editor, Shelly Jost as creative consultant selecting the musical tracks, and Denise White for reviewing the screenplay. Finally, I want to thank our producer, Bill Terry, for funding this effort.
What do you think? Will it go viral? Enter your comments below!
IBM Cloud announcements at Pulse 2014
Well it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM announcements! Many of the announcements were made by IBM Executives at the [IBM Pulse 2014 conference].
I am not at Pulse 2014 this year, but I managed to watch many of these announcements on the [IBM Pulse livestream].
Continuing my series on building a Desktop computer for a kindergarten class, I look at Fedora with Sugar mentioned in the article [Top 6 Linux Distributions for Children (Ages 2 and Up)].
(This series started with my post [Kindergarten desktop - The Challenge]. I have a 512MB RAM system with 40GB disk drive that I will install Linux and educational software for a class full of kindergarten children. My previous post covered three other Linux distributions [LinuxKidX, Qimo, and Foresight for Kids].)
I am not stranger to the Sugar learning platform, developed as part of the One Laptop per Child [OLPC] project.
As I mentioned in my post [Helping Young Students - part 1], I was part of the OLPC development team back in 2008, helped local volunteers deploy laptops to children in Nepal and Uruguay, mentored a college student in India, and learned a lot of Python programming language in the process.
Sugar is now developed by Sugar Labs, a nonprofit spin-off of OLPC. The code is free and open source desktop environment for many other machines, including as a "Desktop Environment" for Fedora Linux.
I kept my 40GB hard drive partitioned as follows. On the extended partition, sda5 will hold my system utilities, like Clonezilla and SystemRescue, and sda6 is my swap space, increased to 1500MB. Partition sda1 has Edubuntu 12.04 on it, and I will use sda2 to install Fedora with Sugar.
[Sugar-on-a-stick], is so named because it is designed so that each child has their own LiveUSB. This can run on PC with Windows or Mac OS without affecting those operating systems, allowing a child to use Sugar in the classroom, then take the stick home and continue on their home PC.
A 2GB or greater USB memory stick can hold both Fedora and Sugar, and use that to boot your desktop. Unfortunately, it requires 1GB of RAM, and I have only 512MB. Can I just run Sugar natively on a Fedora install? Yes, thanks to the [Sugar not "on a stick"] instructions, I can install Fedora first, then just:
$sudo bash #yum groupinstall "Sugar Desktop Environment"
Unfortunately, the latest Fedora release (F20) recommends 1GB of RAM. Fortunately, I found Dean Howell's rant [Fedora Irresponsibly Lowers Memory Requirement To 512MB] about the Fedora F17 release. I gave this a try.
There are three ways to install Fedora:
I chose method 3 and downloaded the appropriate ISO file. While F17 only requires 512MB of RAM to run, the graphic installer requires 768MB, and is fully explained in this [29-step F17 installation guide].
To get around this, select "Troubleshooting" which then lets you select low-graphics/text mode installation that ran well under 512MB. I installed both LXDE and Sugar, and everything worked fine!
Why both LXDE and Sugar? Well, Sugar is quite a different environment, and I wanted LXDE as an alternative for the admin and teacher to use.
The article on [Sugar software on Wikipedia] sums it up well:
"Unlike most other desktop environments, Sugar does not use the 'desktop', 'folder' and 'window' metaphors. Instead, Sugar's default full-screen activities require users to focus on only one program at a time. Sugar implements a novel file-handling metaphor (the Journal), which automatically saves the user's running program session and allows him or her to later use an interface to pull up their past works by date, activity used or file type."
Now that I have that working, it is time to upgrade from non-supported F17 to a supported level. Ravi Saive explains the [Four Ways to Upgrade from Fedora 17 to Fedora 18]:
As you can probably guess from the title of this post, I chose method 2 "FedUp" as it seemed to be the least invasive. I was unsure if method-1 "Clean Install" of F18 would work with 512MB of RAM, and I have been through enough horrors of failed yum upgrades on my own Red Hat Enterprise Linux [RHEL] at work to avoid method 3. Method 4 is just a script to automate the steps of method 3.
The steps are fairly straightforward. First, install the FedUp package, run "yum update" to ensure you have all the latest kernel and F17 packages for everything else, and reboot.
Then run the fedup-cli command, which upgrades all the packages to F18 level and creates a special kernel level that will then finish the install after the second reboot. It took a while, so I let it run unattended. I put the debug log on partition sda5 in case anything went wrong.
#fedup-cli --reboot --network 18 --de
What could go wrong? Well, it turns out that fedup works by updating the Grub2 boot loader configuration, but my grub2 resides on sda1 partition instead, owned by my existing Edubuntu. The reboot did not give me the option to run the specialized kernel to finish the process.
Fixing this was a hot mess, but I managed to configure Grub2 on Fedora, and complete the upgrade and get everything working as before. However, even though it just came out last year, [F18 version is already out of support]! This means I get a second chance to do FedUp, this time to F19 release. Oh boy! Fun!
While the second time went smoother, the problem was that F19 doesn't seem to run well in 512MB of RAM, and chances are F20 won't either.
So what have I learned from this?
If you have any experience with Fedora or Sugar in the classroom, comment below!
Next week, thousands will convene in Las Vegas for [IBM Pulse 2014], an IBM conference that will focus on Cloud, Service and Storage Management.
To lead up to this event, my colleague Steve Wojtowecz, or 'Woj' as we like to call him, IBM VP of Storage and Network Management Software Development, has a five part series that is worth a read. Here are some excerpts:
For more insights into these predictions, attend [IBM Pulse 2014] in Las Vegas, next week, February 23-26.
Sadly, I won't be there in person. Although I helped launch the original IBM Pulse back in 2008, I have only been invited once to come back, and that was as a last minute replacement for another speaker in 2012. Unfortunately, I could not accept because of my [near-death experience].
Last month, my post [ IBM System Storage Announcements for January 2014] introduced the IBM FlashSystem 840. Last week, I had blog post [Fall in Love with IBM FlashSystem V840 Enterprise Performance Solution]. The similarity in names has raised some confusion.
The first, "Without V" is a 2U storage array that uses Flash to offer 90-135 microsecond latency. Here are some IBM Redbooks that provide guidance:
The second solution, "With V" (for Valentine's Day, of course) is a storage virtualization solution that not only contains the technology from the FlashSystem 840 above, but also borrows technology from our SAN Volume Controller to provide added functionality, like Real-time Compression, Remote Mirroring and Thin provisioning.
We don't have an IBM Redbook specifically yet for the V840, so for now, consider using the [Implementing FlashSystem 840 with SAN Volume Controller] solution guide to get you started.
(Update: Now available! [IBM FlashSystem V840 Enterprise Performance Solution - IBM Redbooks Product Guide])
To learn more about new IBM Redbooks as they get published, follow Burt Dufrasne and team on the [IBM System Storage Redbooks blog]!
Continuing my series on building a Desktop computer for a kindergarten class, I look at three other Linux systems mentioned in the article [Top 6 Linux Distributions for Children (Ages 2 and Up)].
(This series started with my post [Kindergarten desktop - The Challenge]. I have a 512MB RAM system with 40GB disk drive that I will install Linux and educational software for a class full of kindergarten children.
First, I re-partitioned the 40GB hard drive as follows. On the extended partition, sda5 will hold my system utilities, like Clonezilla and SystemRescue, and sda6 is my swap space. This gives me three primary partitions to install three flavors of Linux to try out.
The first was [LinuxKidX], which actually started out as a Portuguese-language effort in Brazil. It was then translated to the English language to extend its reach. It is based on the KDE desktop familiar to users of OpenSUSE Linux.
Many of the education software were similar or the same as those from Edubuntu I mentioned in my last post. However, not everything was translated, and unless you are able to read Portuguese, you may not want this one.
Next, I wanted to look at [Qimo for Kids], but first I had to look for the distribution, as the mirrors listed seemed to be unavailable. I was able to find an qimo
Unlike Edubuntu, Qimo fits on a CD-ROM for older PCs that may not have DVD drives. Based on lightweight XFCE desktop, the LiveCD runs comfortably in 512MB, with a kid-friendly app launcher at the bottom of the screen. However, Qimo 2.0 is based on Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) LTS, with long term support expiring this May 2013. The Firefox 3.6.3 was too old to run Gmail.
Why hasn't Qimo been enhanced since 2010? It looks like you can just install the packages qimo-session and qimo-wallpaper on newer levels of Ubuntu.
Third, I tried Foresight Linux for Kids 1.0 release. The most recent Foresight is 2.5.3, but Linux for Kids is still at the 1.0 level. The "installer" was very outdated, so the website suggested following the [power-user install HOWTO].
The HOWTO can be a bit intimidating, but I was able to install just fine in 512MB of RAM. Foresight detected I had pre-configured a swap space, and used that to help finish the install process.
Like the others, it had many of the same educational software as before. A key difference is the [Conary package management]. Most systems use either Debian (DEB) or Redhat Package Manager (RPM), but this one is different, and the use of Conary may reduce the number of software applications available.
So what have I learned from these?
If you have had any experience with any of these three distros, please comment below.
Well, it's Thursday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
(OK, OK, my long-time readers already know that [storage announcements are usually on Tuesdays], not Thursdays.
Here, then, is a quick review of the storage portion of today's announcements.
In other news, IBM had once again filed [the most U.S. Patents for the 21st year in a row], and our brothers and sisters over in server land introduced [the X6 architecture for x86 servers] for the System x and PureSystems product lines, optimized for Cloud and Analytics.
technorati tags: IBM, FlashSystem, FlashSystem 810, FlashSystem 820, FlashSystem 840, Jim Kelly, FCP, InfiniBand, FcoE, iSCSI, SVC, SAN Volume Controller, FlashSystem Solution, RPQ, Network Advisor, Brocade, SAN, Cisco, MDS, FICON, Mainframe, Patents, IBM X6, x86 servers, Cloud, Analytics,