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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IBM Master Inventor, Senior IT Architect, and Event Content Manager
This month, I was in Johannesburg, South Africa for IBM Systems Technical University, or TechU for short. For those not familiar with [Johannesburg], it is South Africa's largest city with a metropolitan area more than eight million people. Like New York City in the USA, Johannesburg is not the capital but serves as the economic and financial center for the country.
(Compared to the rest of Africa, Johannesburg is only the 10th largest city. I spoke at TechU events earlier this year in Africa's largest two cities: Lagos, Nigeria, and Cairo, Egypt. IBM also had a TechU event in Casablanca, Morocco, the 12th largest in Africa, but this was all in French language. My high-school French is a bit rusty so I was not there.)
Here is my recap of Day 1.
Opening Keynote Session
The day started with an opening keynote session. Our emcee was Ronnie Moodley, the new IBM Systems Lab Services GEO Leader for Middle East Africa (MEA). My third line manager, Calline Sanchez, IBM Vice President of IBM Systems Lab Services, gave a welcome and introduction.
We had two distinguished keynote speakers from the IBM Research lab in Johannesburg. Kugendran Naidoo, IBM Research for Business and Strategy, talked about the future of IT, and IBM's role in it. Dr. Ismail Akhalwaya, IBM Research scientist and Q Ambassador, explained Quantum Computing.
2019 Top IT Trends - Understanding the fundamentals of the next generation IT Environment
(Note: For the past many years, my predecessor Glenn Anderson, presented a session called "Top IT Trends You Probably Don't Understand". However, now that I have taken over, our executives felt this title was insulting to our delicate audience, and so it has been officially renamed to "Top IT Trends - Understanding the fundamentals of the next generation IT Environment".)
This was an updated version of the talk I gave in Atlanta and Berlin earlier this year, and is equally relevant for people interested in IBM Storage, IBM Z mainframes or IBM Power systems. The concept is simple, spend about 10 minutes on different topics, just enough to be conversant on the subject. I explained the following six topics:
Internet of Things (IoT)
Big Data Analytics
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Containers and Orchestration
With IBM's recent acquisition of Red Hat, some of these were especially timely. TechU had subsequent full-hour breakout sessions on many of these topics later in the week, so it was a good level-set introduction to help people plan the rest of their schedule.
IBM Cloud Object Storage: How it works and typical use cases
Over 80 percent of the world's unstructured data is stored in object storage. Every major Cloud Service Provider (CSP) uses object storage and makes object storage available as a service to its customers. My presentation explained object storage concepts generically, then covered IBM Cloud Object Storage, IBM's implementation of these concepts.
The day ended with a nice Welcome Reception with drinks and snacks in our Solution Center, followed by dinner with my colleagues at a nice restaurant! Because Johannesburg is south of the equator, this is actually Spring time, heading into Summer, and the weather was just delightful.
IBM has several more TechU events planned for October and November at: Bogota (Columbia), Las Vegas, NV (USA), Sydney (Australia), Prague (Czech Republic), Pernambuco (Brazil), and Bali (Indonesia). Check out the [IBM Technical Events] landing page for details.
IBM Storage Architect supporting customers in Canada and the Caribbean
It's the month of September, and many are going back to school! Whether its your first day of class, or your coming back as an upperclassman it’s a chance to approach something from a new perspective.
I thought this week would be a good chance to think about going back to school and going back to basics. There are two things that come to mind with that; support and monitoring of storage.
When it comes to support, one thing we can always check on is the ‘Call Home’ status of the storage system. In case you didn't know, the IBM Storage systems have the ability to connect back to IBM Support using the [Call Home] function that’s part of the solution.
When Call Home identifies a potential problem, it notifies the administrator and IBM Support of the issue and transmits diagnostic data about the problem to the IBM Support Center.
Depending on your IBM Storage platform, from the IBM Spectrum Virtualize / Storwize platform to the IBM DS8000, to the IBM FlashSystem family, you can find out how to [enable Call Home here]. It’s a good time of year just to check to make sure Call Home is working and enabled for your Storage solution.
As for monitoring, did you know that [IBM Storage Insights] is available for IBM Storage solutions? IBM Storage Insights provides an excellent level of visibility across your entire storage environment from performance to support needs, as you can see in this [guided tour].
There are [two editions] of the tool, but they only require one data collector.
IBM Storage Insights offers an enterprise-wide dashboard for monitoring the basic health, capacity and performance of your IBM block storage systems. This edition is included at no additional charge with most IBM storage maintenance contracts.
IBM Storage Insights Pro is an upgrade available by subscription, and supports the same block storage, adds file and object storage, and provides additional details, analysis, and longer data history for even greater insight. This tracks a full year of metrics, rather than the most recent 24 hours kept by the standard edition.
IBM Storage Insights also streamlines your interaction with IBM support. It leverages the Call Home features of the system as well as provides a data collector, automatic support for log uploading, and easy ticket creation and management. IBM support staff use read-only access to diagnostic information about monitored storage systems to proactively help resolve problems and provide recommendations.
You can start using IBM Storage Insights today! It will change how you look at your Storage environment and how you engage with IBM Support. If you want to learn even more about IBM Storage Insights,
Call Home support or really any topic when it comes to IBM Systems, IBM TechU is continuing this fall and you can attend one of the [IBM Systems Technical University]. events we have coming up in Bogota, Las Vegas, Sydney, Prague, and Bali.
IBM Master Inventor, Senior IT Architect, and Event Content Manager
Earlier this month, at the SHARE conference in Pittsburgh, my predecessor, Glenn Anderson, received the John R. Ehrman award for sustained excellence in Training Education. John Ehrman was "the father of High Level Assembler (HL-ASM)" which is still used today.
Here is SHARE president, Jason Bastin (left), with Glenn Anderson (right).
Here is a close-up picture of the award itself.
For the past 18 years, Glenn was the Content Manager for IBM Z and LinuxONE at IBM Systems Technical University (TechU) events. He also was active at SHARE and other Z-related events.
But managing IBM Z and LinuxONE content was not all he did. Several years ago, Glenn also launched "Leadership and Professional Development" track at TechU. This track helped IT leaders, and those aspiring to become leaders, to learn technical direction to implement projects from proof-of-concept into production. He also included soft skills, such as how to be a better public speaker, how to lead projects, or how to run meetings better.
IBM Master Inventor, Senior IT Architect, and Event Content Manager
Last week marked the 50th anniversary of landing a human on the moon. Over 4,000 IBM employees were involved. So much has been written about this, that I thought it would be better to point you to some articles and interviews I found of interest.
(While most people focus on the single day, July 20, when Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin stepped foot on the moon, the entire journey lasted a week, from take off July 16, to splash down on July 24.)
"The Real-Time Computer Complex (RTCC) in Houston, Texas, was an IBM computing and data processing system at NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center—now called the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center—that collected, processed and sent to Mission Control information to direct every phase of an Apollo mission. The RTCC was so fast, there was virtually no time between receiving and solving a computing problem. Initially, IBM 7094-11 computers were used in the RTCC. Later, IBM System/360 Model 75J mainframes, and peripheral storage and processing equipment were used."
Those peripheral storage were IBM tape and disk systems, of course. IBM Tape systems were developed in 1952, and disk systems in 1956, in time to be used for the Apollo missions.
These were the modern forerunners of today's zSeries systems as far as their very basic systems architecture is concerned. (The IBM Z mainframe is still backward compatible with software written for the S/360, S/370, and the S/390 through machine virtualization and software emulation.)
IBM's legacy in the Space Program lives on in not just its continued involvement in NASA's current and future efforts with its computer systems and support services, but also in some of the software that was built for the Apollo program.
The IMS suite of hierarchical database management applications, which is still an important part of IBM's mainframe software portfolio, was originally designed by IBM in conjunction with Rockwell and Caterpillar so that the huge Bill of Materials (BOM) for the Saturn V, composed of hundreds of thousands of parts, could be inventoried and managed."
Chuck Yeager, test pilot who broke the sound barrier.
Alan Shepard, the first American to reach space. (Of course, Russia takes the prize of first man to orbit the earth, with Yuri Gagarin's flight back in 1961.) Later, Alan would be the first man to hit a golf ball on the moon.
Michael Collins, the third astronaut of the Apollo 11 mission. While Neil and Buzz were down on the surface of the moon, Michael kept the command module in orbit, effectively "driving around the block" to pick them up when they were ready to head home.
Chris Hadfield, a modern-day astronaut, famous for his cover of the [Space Oddity] song.
Real-time images from the moon were sent in 10-frames-per-second format to three places on earth, two in Australia and one in California. Television cameras pointed at those monitors were then used to for the live feed to the rest of the world. The live feed was also recorded in Houston Texas, to capture the best parts from each of the three sources, in case there were problems with the live feed. However, since there were no problems with the live feed, these video tapes were never used.
Years later, Gary George, a NASA intern, would purchase a whole bunch of surplus video tapes for just $218 dollars, which included three of the video tapes from Houston of the Apollo 11 landing. Today, they happen to be the only remaining recordings of the event, and [were sold last week for $1.82 Million dollars at Sotheby's auction!
This whole episode exposes the [Digital Dark Age]. Created on perishable plastic, film decays within years if not properly stored. According to [National Film Preservation Foundation], the losses are high. The Library of Congress has documented that only 20 percent of U.S. feature films from the 1910s and 1920s survive in complete form in American archives; of the American features produced before 1950, about half still exist.
To learn more on IBM's impressive capabilities to pull of projects like this, or just how to store data for long term retention, attend one of the [IBM Systems Technical University] events we have coming up in Bangkok, Sao Paulo, Johannesburg, Las Vegas, Sydney, and Prague.
Lots of changes in the latest releases of IBM Spectrum Protect and Spectrum Protect Plus, respectively. Enough perhaps to save for a future post. I will point out a few key changes that I think are quite significant:
Cloud-based protection for currently supported databases hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) including IBM Db2, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and MongoDB databases
Tier from disk-based storage pools to tape. Tape is less expensive than disk-based SAN, NAS or object storage. This features moves older backup copies that are not likely to be recovered to lower cost storage.
Internationalization: User Interface (UI) translations for Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, German, and Chinese languages.
IBM's FlashSystem products are recognized by the industry as the "World's Fastest Storage™" Here are some of the enhancements:
FlashSystem 900 now supports Remote Code Load and Remote Code Update. This is a feature we have already for the IBM DS8000 Storage System, and it has been wildly popular, eliminating the need to send a human being from IBM to your data center to update your firmware.
VersaStack™ Cisco Validated Design (CVD) for IBM FlashSystem 9100. This provides a converged system, a single rack with the leading-edge x86 servers and switches from Cisco, with IBM FlashSystem 9100 all-flash arrays.
(Note: We'll go back to storage tomorrow, but for today, I will talk only about the IBM Red Hat acquisition)
Back in 2007, my blog post [Double Happy Wedding] compared IBM's acquisition for a company that produced data migration software to the practice in Japan of waiting until the bride is five to seven months pregnant to have a wedding.
In business, the best acquisitions are the ones where both parties have been working together already. IBM and Red Hat have been working together for the past 20 years!
From 1999-2002, I was part of the team that help port Linux to the mainframe, based on Red Hat components. I was the first person to install Linux on a mainframe in Arizona, on a z800 machine, if you can remember that far back. My involvement with Linux was three-fold:
Back then, I was the chief architect of DFSMS on the MVS operating system (now called z/OS). We needed a way to backup Linux data on the mainframe, so I helped develop the "Compatible Disk Layout" (CDL) which made the disk volume compatible between MVS, z/OS and Linux operating systems. Linux would read and write data on the volume, and then the Linux volume could be backed up or dumped to tape using existing DFSMS utilities.
I led a team to test and debug all of the disk and tape storage drivers for Linux on the mainframe. One of my colleagues, who worked with Tom West, gave me a copy of Tracy Kidder's book [The Soul of a New Machine] as it seemed similar to our efforts. I highly recommend this book!
I ran a series of roadshows, traveling to promote Linux. At each event we had two speakers. I was the key speaker, and one of my teammates would be working the keyboard to run all of the live demos. I played the role of a reporter, hot on the story of Linux, and my teammate would play the role of my newspaper editor/boss who would ask me questions from a script. I would then answer the question by showing off a Linux demo, while my teammate hit the appropriate keys to make it happen.
At the time, many in IBM did not understand the concept of "open source", or the idea of an operating system written by people on the Internet. I saw that Linux and Open Source was the future, but not everybody I worked with at that time shared that vision. Today, open source is the default choice for business.
On the surface, the deal appears fairly straightforward. IBM paid $34 Billion, and in return gets 13,000 new employees and $3.4 Billion in new annual revenues. But this deal is more than that. This acquisition redefines the cloud market for business. Here are some excerpts from the press release:
"Red Hat's open hybrid cloud technologies are now paired with the unmatched scale and depth of IBM's innovation and industry expertise, and sales leadership in more than 175 countries. Together, IBM and Red Hat will accelerate innovation by offering a next-generation hybrid multicloud platform. Based on open source technologies, such as Linux and Kubernetes, the platform will allow businesses to securely deploy, run and manage data and applications on-premises and on private and multiple public clouds.
Red Hat will continue to be led by Jim Whitehurst and its current management team. Whitehurst is joining IBM's senior management team, reporting to Ginni Rometty. IBM will maintain Red Hat's headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina, its facilities, brands and practices. Red Hat will operate as a distinct unit within IBM and will be reported as part of IBM's Cloud and Cognitive Software segment.
Most enterprises today are approximately 20 percent into their transition to the cloud. In this first chapter of their cloud journey, businesses made great strides in reducing costs, boosting productivity and revitalizing their customer-facing innovation programs.
The collective ability of IBM and Red Hat to unlock the true value of hybrid cloud for businesses is already resonating among customers moving to the next chapter of digital reinvention.
With Red Hat, IBM has acquired one of the most important software companies in the IT industry. Red Hat's pioneering business model helped bring open source – including technologies like Linux, Kubernetes, Ansible, Java, Ceph and many more – into the mainstream for enterprises. Today, Linux is the most used platform for development. Red Hat Enterprise Linux alone is expected to contribute to more than $10 trillion worth of global business revenues in 2019. By 2023, an additional 640,000 people are expected to work in Red Hat-related jobs.
IBM has committed to scaling and accelerating open source and hybrid cloud for businesses across industries, as well as preserving the independence and neutrality of Red Hat's open source heritage. This includes its open source community leadership, contributions and development model; product portfolio, services, and go-to-market strategy; robust developer and partner ecosystems, and unique culture."
This independence and neutrality works both ways: Red Hat will continue to work with other hardware manufacturers and IBM Power, Z and LinuxONE servers will continue to support all of the same distributions of Linux it did before, including Canonical Ubuntu Linux, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES).
To this day, I still run Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) on my work laptop. This blog post was written using "gedit", a text-based editor that is part of the GNOME platform.
IBM Storage Architect supporting customers in Canada and the Caribbean
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements! Lloyd and Tony are enjoying 4th of July, so its up to me now that I'm back from Canada Day!
IBM Storage Solutions for blockchain
This week IBM Storage announced an expansion of the IBM reference architecture for on-premise blockchain solutions. This announcements centers around being able to leverage cloud-based and on-premises storage solutions for off-chain data. An example of this would be IBM Cloud Object Storage (COS), which can expand your on-premises off-chain data store for your blockchain peer, regardless where your blockchain peer resides.
For all of us just starting to look at Blockchain, there's a couple things to keep in mind, the environment must provide a reliable platform-as-a-service for its users, it leverages IBM Cloud Private, and the IBM Blockchain Platform for IBM Cloud Private. If you want a good place to start looking into Blockchain there is a good place to start, with the [IBM Blockchain for Dummies] publication that gives a good overview of the general technology. Data for a blockchain solution can either be stored on-chain as part of the core ledger managed by the blockchain protocol, or off-chain, using more traditional data stores. Off-chain data is any non-transactional data that is too large to be stored in the blockchain efficiently, or, requires the ability to be changed or deleted.
What's new in this annoucement which is part of the latest version of the [IBM Storage Solutions for Blockchain Platform Version 1.2], is the ability to leverage IBM Cloud Object Storage as an on-prem storage option and the ability to use the IBM Blockchain cloud peer for test and validation. It leverages the IBM Blockchain Document Store that allows secure sharing of documents across multiple participants on a permissioned-blockchain network. It provides an abstraction for handling documents or unstructured data like text, PDF, JPG files and JSON that uses APIs. It also maintains proof of the existence of the documents by using the immutable property of the blockchain and supports verification and secure sharing of the files.
IBM Storage Solutions for blockchain incorporates elements from across the IBM Storage portfolio, including hardware and software components, ordering and installation instructions and support, and several different expansion options. Pretested blueprints tie each solution together with a set of instructions defining each component and providing configuration details. Plus, IBM subject matter experts (SMEs) are available to help clients through their journey. IBM is also deeply involved in developing and offering IT infrastructure solutions designed to enable enterprises of all types and sizes to implement individualized blockchains that leverage both existing data centers systems as well as new technologies and multicloud architectures. One example of this is leveraging the [IBM LinuxONE] for these deployments
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
IBM Cloud Object Storage Gen2
Today, I want to look at a recent announcement around IBM Cloud Object Storage. On May 14th, IBM announced the [IBM Cloud Object Storage Gen2] hardware offerings, with a planned General Availability of June 7th so the timing is perfect to look at them. This announcement has benefits around performance, capacity and cost for the platform.
This enhancement to the platform takes the best of the current Cloud Object Storage architecture and extends it to allow for newer technologies, components, and approaches. These modifications incorporate new features, functionalities, and capabilities in an easily manageable manner. The same Cloud Object Storage software runs the same on both existing and new generation hardware. Clients can intermix past and present generations of hardware in the same storage pool and cluster.
As a part of this announcement, the IBM Cloud Object Storage Gen2 hardware brings with it a new COS Manager (Model M10), a new Accessor node (model A10) and a new SliceStor Controller Node (Model C10) which are all provided using the same physical 1U server that can be configured to suit as fit for purpose.
The Gen2 hardware leverages the latest Intel Xeon processors, new SAS controllers, and more options around high speed memory RDIMMs. Interestingly, provides the ability to implement an architecture that has a higher capacity in fewer rack units (RUs).
Previously, the SliceStor node was a single server with both controller and internal storage capacity. Now, a SliceStor is a new controller node, with externally-attached disk enclosures. This new approach is more elegant, in that the new server node becomes a common building block and now there are options around the disk enclosure. The disk enclosure options, small, medium and large, are listed in the table below to highlights the differences in capacity, density and drive options.
Disk enclosures (models J10, J11, and J12
Capacity enclosures (rack space/disks)
Slicestore Total Rack Space (Controller + Capacity Rack)
Drive sizes (TB)
4, 8, 12
4, 8, 12
4, 8, 12
Node raw capacity (min/max TB)
The combination of the new architecture with industry standard components results in an initial system that achieves up to 15% more GETs and PUTs per second as the previous generation of hardware.
The new Cloud Object Storage Gen2 hardware can also reduce CAPEX expenditures on new hardware models up to 25%-50% compared to the prior generation.
For more information on that see your IBM Business Partner or IBM Specialist.
IBM Senior Certified Executive IT Architect
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
Today I want to write about the latest IBM Flash Storage for the IBM DS8880.
IBM Supports three types of Flash Drives in the DS8880 Storage Servers. The first is the High-Performance Flash (HPF) drives and the second the High-Capacity Flash (HCF) drives. Both of these reside in the High Performance Flash Enclosure (HPFE) for low latency access. The third are regular Solid-State Drives (SSD) that can be intermixed with the 10K and 15K drives attached via Device Adapater (DA) loop pairs.
Last week, IBM announced a new smaller high-capacity drive size, the 1.92TB High-Capacity flash drive. This flash drive is available for the DS8882F or DS8884/F models.
The expected use case is clients seeking smaller high performing solutions below the 20 to 40 TB capacity level, while still providing the full enterprise capabilities in the IBM DS8882 and DS8884/F storage solutions. For example, if you need a small configuration to keep certain sensitive data in specific countries to comply with government regulations.
The new drive is fully supported as part of the DS8880 Easy Tier solution as a Tier-2 drive, because the performance numbers on the 1.92TB HCF drives are expected to be similar to the 7.6/15.3 TB HCF drives.
Last week, I was asked as both an Alumni and Industry Expert to participate in the University of Arizona's Boot Camp Demo Day. This is run as part of the University's Continuing and Professional Education program.
Anne (standing, left) and Aretha (sitting)
This intense boot camp takes students with little or no prior knowledge of programming, and teaches them coding, web design, database, and client/server communications over a short six months.
During the first five months, an instructor teaches them the basics, and then the last month teams of four students each are formed. Each team must come up with an idea for a website, and implement it. Typically two students will work on the front end user interface, and the other two will work on the back end server and database configuration.
At the end of the boot camp, each team is expected to demo their work to industry experts for their opinion and advice, and to answer any questions about the project.
Joshua (front left), Bradley, and Ashley
This is where we come in. I was joined by a dozen other CEOs, CTOs and Software Engineers from prominent businesses in Tucson to walk around and watch each team give us their demo.
(In a way, this is a lot like the "Poster Sessions" we do at the IBM Systems Technical University events, but instead of posters, the teams had laptops or large computer screens to show off their website.)
This evening was organized by Lauren Loeffler, Director of Industry Engagement.
The first team, shown here with Anne Chen and Aretha Walls, had a website called Quest, to help people design their quest, such as planning out for a computer game. However, as a drag-and-drop designing tool, it could also be used to plan a variety of flowchart-like activity.
Their biggest challenge was using an open source API library that didn't quite do what they wanted, so they had to figure out how to get what they needed, and write some glue code.
The next team--Joshua Romea, Ashley Alofs, Bradley King and Brando Harrell--had an interesting website called "Restaurant Roulette", helping people decide the age-old question: What restaurant should we go to tonight?
This site was clever, in that it figured out from GPS where you were, then used an API to access local restaurants from Yelp, identified eight of the closest ones with the highest ratings, and then created a colorful wheel you could spin. It would spin and spin and finally land on the recommended choice.
This could also be used to help people pick what to cook at home for dinner, or what movie to watch on television.
A third team had a website called InstaTutor to help students find tutors based on zip code and subject matter. Similar to a dating site, students can write reviews of the tutors to help others in their decision making process. Bonnie Acuna, Angel Demerutis, William Higareda, and Jose Hernandez Torres were on that team.
A fourth team called their site "The Minimalist" which allowed people to rent out personal stash of tools, DVDs or other things to your neighbors. This eliminates having everyone maintain their own duplicate collection.
This was a great event, and look forward to the next one!