This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to IBM Systems, storage and storage networking hardware, software and services.
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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor, Senior IT Architect and Event Content Manager for [IBM Systems for IBM Systems Technical University] events. With over 30 years with IBM Systems, Tony is frequent traveler, speaking to clients at events throughout the world.
Lloyd Dean is an IBM Senior Certified Executive IT Architect in Infrastructure Architecture. Lloyd has held numerous senior technical roles at IBM during his 19 plus years at IBM. Lloyd most recently has been leading efforts across the Communication/CSI Market as a senior Storage Solution Architect/CTS covering the Kansas City territory. In prior years Lloyd supported the industry accounts as a Storage Solution architect and prior to that as a Storage Software Solutions specialist during his time in the ATS organization.
Lloyd currently supports North America storage sales teams in his Storage Software Solution Architecture SME role in the Washington Systems Center team. His current focus is with IBM Cloud Private and he will be delivering and supporting sessions at Think2019, and Storage Technical University on the Value of IBM storage in this high value IBM solution a part of the IBM Cloud strategy. Lloyd maintains a Subject Matter Expert status across the IBM Spectrum Storage Software solutions. You can follow Lloyd on Twitter @ldean0558 and LinkedIn Lloyd Dean.
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Well, I'm back safely from my tour of Asia. I am glad to report that Tokyo, Beijing and Kuala Lumpur are pretty much how I remember them from the last time I was there in each city. I have since been fighting jet lag by watching the last thirteen episodes of LOST season 6 and the series finale.
Recently, I have started seeing a lot of buzz on the term "Storage Federation". The concept is not new, but rather based on the work in database federation, first introduced in 1985 by [A federated architecture for information management] by Heimbigner and McLeod. For those not familiar with database federation, you can take several independent autonomous databases, and treat them as one big federated system. For example, this would allow you to issue a single query and get results across all the databases in the federated system. The advantage is that it is often easier to federate several disparate heterogeneous databases than to merge them into a single database. [IBM Infosphere Federation Server] is a market leader in this space, with the capability to federate DB2, Oracle and SQL Server databases.
Storage expansion: You want to increase the storage capacity of an existing storage system that cannot accommodate the total amount of capacity desired. Storage Federation allows you to add additional storage capacity by adding a whole new system.
Storage migration: You want to migrate from an aging storage system to a new one. Storage Federation allows the joining of the two systems and the evacuation from storage resources on the first onto the second and then the first system is removed.
Safe system upgrades: System upgrades can be problematic for a number of reasons. Storage Federation allows a system to be removed from the federation and be re-inserted again after the successful completion of the upgrade.
Load balancing: Similar to storage expansion, but on the performance axis, you might want to add additional storage systems to a Storage Federation in order to spread the workload across multiple systems.
Storage tiering: In a similar light, storage systems in a Storage Federation could have different capacity/performance ratios that you could use for tiering data. This is similar to the idea of dynamically re-striping data across the disk drives within a single storage system, such as with 3PAR's Dynamic Optimization software, but extends the concept to cross storage system boundaries.
To some extent, IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC), XIV, Scale-Out NAS (SONAS), and Information Archive (IA) offer most, if not all, of these capabilities. EMC claims its VPLEX will be able to offer storage federation, but only with other VPLEX clusters, which brings up a good question. What about heterogenous storage federation? Before anyone accuses me of throwing stones at glass houses, let's take a look at each IBM solution:
IBM SAN Volume Controller
The IBM SAN Volume Controller has been doing storage federation since 2003. Not only can IBM SAN Volume Controller bring together storage from a variety of heterogenous storage, the SVC cluster itself can be a mix of different hardware models. You can have a 2145-8A4 node pair, 2145-8G4 node pair, and the new 2145-CF8 node pair, all combined together into a single SVC cluster. Upgrading SVC hardware nodes in an SVC cluster is always non-disruptive.
IBM XIV storage system
The IBM XIV has two kinds of independent modules. Data modules have processor, cache and 12 disks. Interface modules are data modules with additional processor, FC and Ethernet (iSCSI) adapters. Because these two modules play different roles in an XIV "colony", that number of each type is predetermined. Entry-level six-module systems have 2 interface and 4 data modules. Full 15-module systems have 6 interface and 9 data modules. Individual modules can be added or removed non-disruptively in an XIV.
IBM Scale-Out NAS
The SONAS is comprised of three kinds of nodes that work together in concert. A management node, one or more interface nodes, and two or more storage nodes. The storage nodes are paired to manage up to 240 nodes in a storage pod. Individual interface or data nodes can be added or removed non-disruptively in the SONAS. The underlying technology, the General Parallel File System, has been doing storage federation since 1996 for some of the largest top 500 supercomputers in the world.
IBM Information Archive (IA)
For the IA, there are 1, 2 or 3 nodes, which manages a set of collections. A collection can either be file-based using industry-standard NAS protocols, or object-based using the popular System Storage™ Archive Manager (SSAM) interface. Normally, you have as many collections as you have nodes, but nodes are powerful enough to manage two collections to provide N-1 availability. This allows a node to be removed, and a new node added into the IA "colony", in a non-disruptive manner.
Even in an ant colony, there are only a few types of ants, with typically one queen, several males, and lots of workers. But all the ants are red. You don't see colonies that mix between different species of ants. For databases, federation was a way to avoid the much harder task of merging databases from different platforms. For storage, I am surprised people have latched on to the term "federation", given our mixed results in the other "federations" we have formed, which I have conveniently (IMHO) ranked from least effective to most effective:
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
My father used to say, "If the Soviet Union were in charge of the Sahara desert, they would run out of sand in 50 years." The [Soviet Union] actually lasted 68 years, from 1922 to 1991.
The United Nations (UN)
After the previous League of Nations failed, the UN was formed in 1945 to facilitate cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and the achieving of world peace by stopping wars between countries, and to provide a platform for dialogue.
The European Union (EU)
With the collapse of the Greek economy, and the [rapid growth of debt] in the UK, Spain and France, there are concerns that the EU might not last past 2020.
The United States of America (USA)
My own country is a federation of states, each with its own government. California's financial crisis was compared to the one in Greece. My own state of Arizona is under boycott from other states because of its recent [immigration law]. However, I think the US has managed better than the EU because it has evolved over the past 200 years.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries [OPEC]
Technically, OPEC is not a federation of cooperating countries, but rather a cartel of competing countries that have agreed on total industry output of oil to increase individual members' profits. Note that it was a non-OPEC company, BP, that could not "control their output" in what has now become the worst oil spill in US history. OPEC was formed in 1960, and is expected to collapse sometime around 2030 when the world's oil reserves run out. Matt Savinar has a nice article on [Life After the Oil Crash].
United Federation of Planets
The [Federation] fictitiously described in the Star Trek series appears to work well, an optimistic view of what federations could become if you let them evolve long enough.
Given the mixed results with "federation", I think I will avoid using the term for storage, and stick to the original term "scale-out architecture".
Now that the US Recession has been declared over, companies are looking to invest in IT again. To help you plan your upcoming investments, here are some upcoming events in April.
SNW Spring 2010, April 12-15
IBM is a Platinum Plus sponsor at this [Storage Networking World event], to be held April 12-15 at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida. If you are planning to go, here's what you can go look for:
IBM booth at the Solution Center featuring the DS8700 and XIV disk systems, SONAS and the Smart Business Storage Cloud (SBSC), and various Tivoli storage software
IBM kiosk at the Platinum Galleria focusing on storage solutions for SAP and Microsoft environments
IBM Senior Engineer Mark Fleming presenting "Understanding High Availability in the SAN"
IBM sponsored "Expo Lunch" on Tuesday, April 13, featuring Neville Yates, CTO of IBM ProtecTIER, presenting "Data Deduplication -- It's not Magic - It's Math!"
IBM CTO Vincent Hsu presenting "Intelligent Storage: High Performance and Hot Spot Elimination"
IBM Senior Technical Staff Member (STSM) Gordon Arnold presenting "Cloud Storage Security"
One-on-One meetings with IBM executives
I have personally worked with Mark, Neville, Vincent and Gordon, so I am sure they will do a great job in their presentations. Sadly, I won't be there myself, but fellow blogger [Rich Swain from IBM] will be at the event to blog about all the actviities there.
Jim Stallings - General Manager, Global Markets, IBM Systems and Technology Group
Scott Handy - Vice President, WW Marketing, Power Systems, IBM Systems and Technology Group
Dan Galvan - Vice President, Marketing & Strategy, Storage and Networking Systems, IBM Systems and Technology Group
Inna Kuznetsova - Vice President, Marketing and Sales Enablement, Systems Software, IBM Systems and Technology Group
Jeanine Cotter - Vice President, Systems Services, IBM Global Technology Services
The webinar will include client testimonials from various companies as well.
Dynamic Infrastructure Executive Summit, April 27-29
I will be there, at this this 2-and-a-half-day [Executive Summit] in Scottsdale, Arizona, to talk to company executives. Discover how IBM can help you manage your ever-increasing amount of information with an end-to-end, innovative approach to building a dynamic infrastructure. You will learn all of our innovative solutions and find out how you can effectively transform your enterprise for a smarter planet.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and that means IBM announcements! Right on the heels of our big storage launch on February 9, today IBM announced some exciting options for its modular disk systems. Let's take a look:
2TB SATA-II drives
That's right, you can now DOUBLE your capacity with 2TB SATA type-II drives on the DS3950, DS4200, DS4700, DS5020, DS5100 and DS5300 disk controllers, as well as the DS4000 EXP420, EXP520, EXP810, EXP5000 and EXP5060 expansion drawers. Here are the Announcement Letters for the [HVEC] and [AAS] ordering systems.
300GB Solid State Drives
IBM also announces 300GB solid state drives (SSD) for the DS5100 and DS5300. These are four times larger than the 73GB drives IBM offered last year, for those workloads that need high read IOPS such as Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications. Here is the [Announcement Letter].
New N series model N3400
For customers that need less than the minimum 21TB that our IBM Scale-Out Network Attach Storage (SONAS) can provide, IBM offers the new N3400 unified storage disk system, with support for NFS, CIFS, iSCSI and FCP. This is a 2U high 12 drive model that can be expanded up to 136 drives, basically doubling all the stats from last year's N3300 model. Fellow blogger, Rich Swain (IBM), does a great job recapping the speeds and feeds over on his blog [News and Information about IBM N series].
It also appears that the reports and rumors of the death of the DS6800 are premature. Don't believe misleading statements from competitors, such as those found written by fellow blogger BarryB (EMC), aka "the Storage Anarchist", in his latest post [Bring Out Your Dead] showing a cute little tombstone with "Feb 2010" on the bottom. Actually, if he had bothered to read IBM's [Announcement Letter], he would have realized that IBM plans to continue to sell these until June. Of course, IBM will continue to support both new and existing DS6800 customers for many years to come.
Technically, BarryB does not make any factually incorrect statements for me to correct on his blog. The idea that a product is "dead" is, of course, just opinion, and competitors poke fun at each others' announcements every day. One could argue that the EMC V-Max was "dead" after the ITG whitepaper [Cost/Benefit Case for IBM XIV Storage System - Comparing Costs for IBM XIV and EMC V-Max Systems] demonstrated that the IBM XIV cost 63 percent less than a comparable EMC V-Max over the life of three years total cost of ownership (TCO) back in July 2009. The comparison was made with data from clients in a variety of industries including manufacturing, health care, life sciences, telecommunications, financial services, and the public sector. This could explain why so many EMC customers are buying or investigating the IBM XIV and the rest of the IBM storage portfolio.
In addition to dominating the gaming world, producing chips for the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation, and Microsoft Xbox 360, IBM also dominates the world of Linux and UNIX servers. Today, IBM announced its new POWER7 processor, and a line of servers that use this technology. Here is a quick [3-minute video] about the POWER7.
While others might be [Dancing on Sun's grave], IBM instead is focused on providing value to the marketplace. Here is another quick [2-minute video] about why thousands of companies have switched from Sun, HP and Dell over to IBM.
Am I dreaming? On his Storagezilla blog, fellow blogger Mark Twomey (EMC) brags about EMC's standard benchmark results, in his post titled [Love Life. Love CIFS.]. Here is my take:
A Full 180 degree reversal
For the past several years, EMC bloggers have argued, both in comments on this blog, and on their own blogs, that standard benchmarks are useless and should not be used to influence purchase decisions. While we all agree that "your mileage may vary", I find standard benchmarks are useful as part of an overall approach in comparing and selecting which vendors to work with, and which architectures or solution approaches to adopt, and which products or services to deploy. I am glad to see that EMC has finally joined the rest of the planet on this. I find it funny this reversal sounds a lot like their reversal from "Tape is Dead" to "What? We never said tape was dead!"
Impressive CIFS Results
The Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) has developed a series of NFS benchmarks, the latest, [SPECsfs2008] added support for CIFS. So, on the CIFS side, EMC's benchmarks compare favorably against previous CIFS tests from other vendors.
On the NFS side, however, EMC is still behind Avere, BlueArc, Exanet, and IBM/NetApp. For example, EMC's combination of Celerra gateways in front of V-Max disk systems resulted in 110,621 OPS with overall response time of 2.32 milliseconds. By comparison, the IBM N series N7900 (tested by NetApp under their own brand, FAS6080) was able to do 120,011 OPS with 1.95 msec response time.
Even though Sun invented the NFS protocol in the early 1980s, they take an EMC-like approach against standard benchmarks to measure it. Last year, fellow blogger Bryan Cantrill (Sun) gives his [Eulogy for a Benchmark]. I was going to make points about this, but fellow blogger Mike Eisler (NetApp) [already took care of it]. We can all learn from this. Companies that don't believe in standard benchmarks can either reverse course (as EMC has done), or continue their downhill decline until they are acquired by someone else.
(My condolences to those at Sun getting laid off. Those of you who hire on with IBM can get re-united with your former StorageTek buddies! Back then, StorageTek people left Sun in droves, knowing that Sun didn't understand the mainframe tape marketplace that StorageTek focused on. Likewise, many question how well Oracle will understand Sun's hardware business in servers and storage.)
What's in a Protocol?
Both CIFS and NFS have been around for decades, and comparisons can sometimes sound like religious debates. Traditionally, CIFS was used to share files between Windows systems, and NFS for Linux and UNIX platforms. However, Windows can also handle NFS, while Linux and UNIX systems can use CIFS. If you are using a recent level of VMware, you can use either NFS or CIFS as an alternative to Fibre Channel SAN to store your external disk VMDK files.
The Bigger Picture
There is a significant shift going on from traditional database repositories to unstructured file content. Today, as much as [80 percent of data is unstructured]. Shipments this year are expected to grow 60 percent for file-based storage, and only 15 percent for block-based storage. With the focus on private and public clouds, NAS solutions will be the battleground for 2010.
So, I am glad to see EMC starting to cite standard benchmarks. Hopefully, SPC-1 and SPC-2 benchmarks are forthcoming?
I almost sprayed coffee all over my screen when I read this post from fellow blogger from EMC Mark Twomey on his StorageZilla blog titled [Dead End]. In it he implies that you should only consider storage technologies based on x86 technologies such as those from Intel, not other CPU technologies like POWER or MIPS.
When IBM first came out with the SAN Volume Controller in 2003, we were able to show that adding Intel-based SVC nodes can improve the performance and functionality of POWER-based DMX boxes from EMC. EMC salesmen often retorted with "Yes, but do you really want to risk your mission-critical data going through an Intel-based processor solution?" This FUD implied that Intel had a bad reputation for quality and reliability. The original Symmetrix were based on Motorolla 68000's but they modernized to use IBM's POWER chips in their later models. EMC's previous attempt to use Intel technology was their EMC Invista, a commercial failure. It is no surprise then that EMC DMX customers are scared to death to move their mission critical data over to Intel-based V-max.
I have found the primary reason people fear Intel-based solutions is their experience with poorly-written Windows programs. There were enough of these poorly-written Windows programs that everyone has either personal experience, or knows someone who has, and that was enough.
It reminds me of the time I was in Vac, Hungary, giving a lab tour to a set of prospective clients where we manufacture the DS8000 series and SAN Volume Controller. Rows and rows of beautiful Hungarian women sliding disk drives in place, and big hefty Hungarian beefcake moving the finished units to their appropriate places. The head of the facility explained all about the hardware technology, how we check and double check all of the equipment individually, and together as a system. One client stated "Yes, but how often are problems from the hardware? We find nearly all of our problems on disk systems from whichever storage vendor we buy from are in the microcode." It's true.
Both Intel-based processors and POWER-based processors have all the technological functions needed to run storage systems. The difference is all in the microcode. So, if you are looking for safe and stable microcode, the IBM System Storage DS8700 continues its POWER-based tradition for compatibility with previous models. For those that demand x86-based units, the IBM SAN Volume Controller has been around since 2003, the XIV Storage System has been in production since 2005, and our IBM N series are also Intel-based, running Version 7 of the ONTAP operating system.
This week, scientists at IBM Research and the California Institute of
Technology announced a scientific advancement that could be a major
breakthrough in enabling the semiconductor industry to pack more power
and speed into tiny computer chips, while making them more energy
efficient and less expensive to manufacture. IBM is a leader in
solid-state technology, and this scientific breakthrough shows promise.
But first, a discussion of how solid-state chips are made in the first place. Basically, a round thin wafer is etched using [photolithography]
with lots of tiny transistor circuits. The same chip is repeated over
and over on a single wafer, and once the wafer is complete, it is
chopped up into little individual squares. Wikipedia has a nice article
on [semiconductor device fabrication], but I found this
[YouTube video] more illuminating.
Up until now, the industry was able to get features down to 22
nanometers, and were hitting physical limitations to get down to
anything smaller. The new development from IBM and Caltech is to use
self-assembling DNA strands, folded into specific shapes using other
strands that act as staples, and then using these folded structures as
scaffolding to place in nanotubes. The result? Features as small as 6 nanometers. How cool is that?
While NAND Flash Solid-State Drives are available today, this new
technique can help develop newer, better technologies like Phase Change
Back in June, I mentioned this blog was [Moving to MyDeveloperWorks] which is based on IBM Lotus Connections.
Finally, the move is complete for all bloggers. If you are having problems with the redirects, you might need to unsubscribe and re-subscribe in your RSS feed reader. Here are the new links for several IBM bloggers that have moved over:
Well, it's Tuesday, and you know what that means? IBM announcements!
Today we had several for the IBM System Storage product line. Here are some of them:
DS8000 gets thinner, leaner and faster
The 4.3 level of microcode for the IBM System Storage DS8000 series disk systems [announced enhancements] for both fixed block architecture (FBA) LUNs and count key data (CKD) volumes.
For FBA LUNs that attach to Linux, UNIX and Windows distributed systems, IBM announced DS8000 Thin Provisioning native support. Of course, many people already had this by putting IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) in front, but now DS8000 clients out there without SVC can also achieve benefits ofthin provisioning. This support also improves quick initialization a whopping 2.6 times faster.
For CKD volumes attached to z/OS on System z mainframes, IBM announced zHPF multitrack support for z/OS 1.9 and above. zHPF provide high performance FICON performance, and can now handle multitrack I/O transfers foreven better performance for zFS, HFS, PDSE, and extended striped data sets.
XIV gets better connected
A lot of XIV[announced enhancements] and preview announcements centered around better connectivity. Here's a run down:
Better host attachment connectivity by beefing up the interface modules that hold the FCP and iSCSI interface cards. XIV disk arrays have 3 to 6 of these in different configurations, and since they manage both their own disks,as well as receive host I/O requests for other disks, are basically doing double-duty.These interface modules can now be ordered as [Dual-CPU] modules.
Better infrastructure management by connecting XIV with the industry standard SMI-S interface to IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center. Now, XIV can be part of the single pane of glass console that manages all of your other disk arrays, tape libraries and SAN fabrics.
Better copy services for backups by connecting XIV with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Advanced Copy Services. TSM for Advanced Copy Services is application aware and can coordinate XIV Snapshots similar to its current support for SVC and DS8000 FlashCopy capabilities.
Better connectivity to security systems by supporting LDAP credentials. Before, you had individual userid and passwords for each XIV, and these were probably different than all the other userid/password combinations you have for every other box on your data center floor. IBM is working on getting all products to support theLightweight Directory Access Protocol, or [LDAP] so that we can reach the nirvana of "single sign-on",one userid/password per administrator for all IT devices in the company.
Better support with flexible warranty periods and non-disruptive code load options.
Better remote copy support by connecting to sites far, far away. IBM previewed that it will provideasynchronous disk mirroring from one XIV to another XIV natively. Before this, XIV's synchronous mirroring was limited to 300km distances. Many of our clients do long distance global mirroring of their XIV today behind an SVC, but again, for those out there that don't yet have an SVC, this can be a reasonable alternative.
TS7650 ProtecTIER data deduplication appliance now offers "no dedupe" option
In what some might consider a surprising move, IBM announced a "no dedupe" licensing option on their premiere deduplication solution, which somewhat reminds me of IBM's NOCOPY option on DS8000 FlashCopy. At first I thought "Are you kidding me?!?!" However, this new license option allows the TS7650 appliance to compete with other virtual tape libraries (VTL) that do not offer deduplication capability on an even playing field. It also allows TS7650 to be used for data that doesn'tdedupe very well, such as seismic recordings, satellite images, or what have you. There are also clients who do not yet feel comfortable to dedupe their financial records for compliance reasons.This option now allows IBM to withdraw from marketing the TS7530 non-dedupe library. Having one technology thatdoes both dedupe and no-dedupe is better than offering two separate libraries based on different technologies.
The ProtecTIER series also announced [IP remote distance replication]. This can be used to replicate virtualtape cartridges in one ProtecTIER over to another ProtecTIER at a remote location. You can decide to replicateall or just a subset of your virtual tapes, and this feature can be used to migrate, merge or split ProtecTIERconfigurations as your needs grow. Before this support, our TS7650G clients replicated the disk repositoryusing native disk array replication technology, such as Global Mirror on the DS8000, but that meant that all data was replicated over to the secondary site. Now, with this new IP replication feature, you can be selective, and replicate only those virtual tapes that are mission critical.
The appliance now supports up to 36TB of disk capacity, and the new "IBM i" operating system on System i servers,formerly known as i5/OS.
GPFS does Windows
IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS) has the lion's marketshare of file systems used in the [Top 500 Supercomputers]. For a while, it was limited to just Linux and AIX operating system support, but version 3.3 [extends this to Windows 2008 on 64-bit architectures]. GPFS isthe file system used in IBM's Scale-Out File Services, the underlying technology of IBM's Cloud Computing and Storage offerings.
As I mentioned in my post [Moving Over to MyDeveloperWorks], those of us bloggers on IBM's DeveloperWorks are moving over to a new system called "MyDeveloperWorks" which has a host of new features.
Fortunately for me, I missed the note to volunteer to be one of the first bloggers on the block to volunteer to move over. I was traveling and decided not to deal with it until I got back.However, fellow IBM Master Inventor, Barry Whyte, was not so lucky. It is safe to say he was stupid enough to volunteer, and is probably regretting the decision every day since. In case you lost his RSS feed, or can't find him anymore on Google or whatever search engine, here is his[new blog].
As for my blog, I have asked to postpone the move until all the problems that Barry has encountered are resolved. That might be a awhile, but if you lose access to mine sometime in the near future, hopefully at least you have been warned as to what might have happened.