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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Fellow blogger Chris Mellor from The Register has an interesting post titled [It's a ratchet: Old storage guard face incoming tech squeeze]. Chris opines that the big traditional storage vendors -- which he refers to as the "old guard": Dell EMC, HDS, HPE, IBM and NetApp -- are being squeezed out by startups with new technologies.
Last week, I saw the play [Fiddler on the Roof], a musical production by Arizona Theater Company (ATC), and thought of various parallels with Chris's post.
For those not familiar, the story centers around a father named Tevye and his wife trying to stick to tradition, with five daughters who are open to breaking with tradition to get married. The family lives in a small rural town, back in a time long ago when people were persecuted for their religious and ethnic background. Aren't you glad we live in [more enlightened times]!
Back to Chris Mellor, he writes in his post:
"This old guard has so far failed to squash newcomers in the all-flash array, hyperscale, object and software-defined storage areas. This is despite the established firms adopting these technologies and acquiring some startups."
Should the old guard try to squash newcomers? Often, these startups provide much needed innovations that move the IT industry forward.
In the play, Tevye wants to stick to tradition, whereby the town's matchmaker would find a husband for each daughter, and he, as father of each bride, would then provide his permission and blessing to the match.
Obviously, these startups are neither asking the old guard for their permission nor their blessing. While I can't speak for the rest of the "old guard", IBM is leading in these various spaces. Let's look at each of these new trends.
All-Flash Arrays (AFA)
The category of "All-Flash Arrays" include both purpose-built hardware as well as traditional devices based on solid-state drives (SSD). While the R&D investment needed for purpose-built hardware can limit this to some of the largest vendors, nearly any startup can slap commodity SSD into traditional HDD controllers and call it AFA.
IBM offers the world's fastest AFA, and has been a leader in the AFA category for the past three years, investing over $1 Billion USD on its FlashSystem, DS8000, Elastic Storage Server (ESS), SVC and Storwize product families.
Software-Defined Storage (SDS)
While the definition for SDS is still in a bit of flux, IDC has tried to identify three characteristics:
Storage software stack that can be installed on commodity resources (x86 hardware, hypervisors, or cloud) and/or off-the-shelf computing hardware
SDS should offer a full suite of storage services
Federation between the underlying persistent data placement resources to enable data mobility of its tenants between these resources
IBM has been ranked [Number 1 in Software Defined Storage] for several years now, investing over $1 Billion USD in its IBM Spectrum Storage family. This collection of software is implemented in a variety of offerings, including pre-built systems, software that you can deploy on commodity off-the-shelf servers, and in the Cloud.
Object storage breaks tradition with block and file-based storage solutions. Rather than reading and writing files using POSIX, NFS or SMB protocols, objects are accessed via HTTP GET and PUT requests. The two most common protocols are Amazon S3 and OpenStack Swift.
Object storage is ideal for static and stable data that either never changes, or changes infrequently. A lot of new workloads are based on unstructured data that falls in this category, such as Big Data Analytics, High-performance Computing (HPC), and active archives.
In the latest IDC Marketscape, [IBM is ranked #1 in Object Storage]. IBM has actually three software-defined storage offerings that support Object access methods. IBM Spectrum Scale, IBM Spectrum Archive and IBM Cloud Object storage System. The latter from 2015 acquisition of Cleversafe.
"Hyperscale leverages commodity servers and a software-defined approach, scaling the resources needed for applications and storage separately. As storage needs grow, companies can add servers running software-defined storage (SDS) to the storage tier to expand capacity... Data is automatically distributed across the entire cluster of storage servers as new nodes are added to the system... With hyperscale, .. cluster nodes network together to form a storage resource pool."
This breaks from the tradition of dual-controller high-end arrays, which scale-up, rather than scale-out. IBM offers its IBM Spectrum Accelerate, IBM Spectrum Scale, and IBM Cloud Object Storage System to fill this hyperscale requirement.
In the play, Tevye realizes the world is changing all around him, he can either fight these changes and stick to tradition, or accept that he must change also, and move on. After 105 years, IBM continues to lead the IT industry, primarily by adopting new trends and technologies, moving to new business opportunities as they present themselves.
IBM is doing a bit of year-end housekeeping. The Storage Community (storagecommunity.org) will be discontinued as of January 1, 2017.
IBM will continue to host a community for all of its followers and contributors to share insights on the latest trends in storage at [ibm.co/StorageSolutions].
All of the most recent IBM content from storagecommunity.org will now be available at this new domain. IBM hopes that you will continue to engage in its community of storage industry thought leaders.
If you would like to contribute to the new community, please [register here]. Simply click the silhouette icon in the top right-hand corner of the page and select "register." Input your email address and create a password, then sign in. You will receive an email from IBM with further instructions to get you set up.
IBM's twitter handle (@SmarterStorage) will also be sunset as of January 1, 2017, but I encourage you to follow @IBMStorage, or my own twitter handle @az990tony, for the latest storage news and announcements from IBM.
Last Thursday, Dec 15, I had the pleasure to present to 162 clients and IBM Business Partners, followed by the premiere showing of [Rogue One, a Star Wars movie]!
(FCC Disclosure: I work for IBM. This blog post can be considered a "paid celebrity endorsement" for IBM products and services. I have no financial interest in Lucasfilm Ltd, or its parent company Disney, LEGO company, or any competitor mentioned in this post.. I was not compensated to review this film or mention it on my blog. All graphics from the film used in this blog and related presentation were publicly available under the U.S. "fair use" doctrine. There are no spoilers in this blog, so keep reading!)
This event was a collaboration between:
Arrow, one of IBM's distributors
Corus360, an IBM Business Partner
Regal Medlock 18, a theater with comfy seats with a bar that serves beer and wine
As a public speaker for IBM, I get to travel all over the world, and throughout the United States. This trip wraps up my travel for 2016, with 34 weeks on the road!
Normally, when I am asked to present, I am given a list of products or topics to cover. This time, I was just given the title "Has Your Data Gone Rogue? -- Using IBM Flash and solutions to obtain enhanced business insights" and the suggestion to keep within the theme of Star Wars.
I had 45 minutes to cover whatever I thought would be something of interest to the clients in the audience, which spanned a variety industries from Healthcare and Financial services, to Retail and Manufacturing.
I turned to mind-mapping software to brainstorm some ideas. On my smartphone, I use an app called [SimpleMind], and on my laptop, I use [View Your Mind (vym)]. Here is what I came up with:
I arrived to the theater early to setup and mingle with the clients in the lobby. The sponsors that organized this event had gifts to raffle off, including two drones, and three Star Wars themed LEGO sets.
I was told to be done by 7:30pm. It turns out that the movie is streamed electronically, rather than having the actual media distributed physically to the theaters, as a way to prevent piracy.
My PowerPoint charts were in 16:9 format to fill the screen. This was perhaps the biggest screen I had ever presented on! I look so tiny in comparison!
IBM has been a leader in all-flash arrays for the past three years in a row, and as an IBM Business Partner, Corus360 has been one of our top sellers in the Southeastern United States. IBM offers a wide array of choices, from DS8000 to FlashSystem to the new [IBM DeepFlash Elastic Storage Server (ESS)].
Rebels are inquisitive. IBM is considered number one in Analytics. For every type of question, IBM has analytics to help answer. Here are some examples:
What is happening? -- Descriptive Analytics
Why did this happen? -- Diagnostic Analytics
What might happen next? -- Predictive Analytics
What actions should we take? -- Prescriptive Analytics
I focused on the use of Hadoop and Spark with the [IBM Spectrum Scale] software pre-installed on the DeepFlash ESS device. The DeepFlash ESS combines powerful POWER8 servers with the DeepFlash 150, a 3U high JBOF that holds up to 64 solid-state boards 8TB each, optimized for analytics of unstructured data content.
Spectrum Scale is supported on any open source distribution of Hadoop and Spark, and is an optional add-on to [IBM BigInsights]. [IBM HDFS Transparency Connector] has 100 percent compatibility, allowing Hadoop and Spark analytics programs run directly without modification.
To provide valuable insight to the storage environment itself, IBM offers IBM Spectrum Control. The newest edition is [IBM Spectrum Control Storage Insights], a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) that charges on a monthly per-capacity basis. Perfect for the Rebel Alliance on a tight budget and schedule!
The Galactic Empire has a different set of problems. They are behind schedule, having worked on the Death Star for the past 20 years, and upper management is growing impatient. A major test is imminent to prove its progress.
To speed development and test efforts, IBM offers a variety of FlashSystem products:
IBM FlashSystem 900
the World's Fastest Storage®, roughly 5 to 10 times faster than competitors based on commodity Solid State Drives (SSD) like Dell EMC XtremIO and PureStorage.
IBM FlashSystem V9000
adds the robust functionality of IBM Spectrum Virtualize, with Real-time Compression, Thin Provisioning, FlashCopy snapshots, and remote mirroring. Like the IBM SAN Volume Controller and Storwize family of products, the FlashSystem V9000 can virtualize almost 400 different storage devices from a variety of vendors.
IBM FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R
add the robust functionality of IBM Spectrum Accelerate, offering Real-time compression and data deduplication, making it ideal for Cloud, Virtual Machine and Virtual Desktop deployments.
As we learned in earlier episodes I to III of the Star Wars saga, a big problem was too many clones. IBM Spectrum Storage family has introduced the newest member: IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management. This software creates and catalogs data base clones to help with development and test efforts, reducing the number of rogue copies.
Lastly, the Empire must keep its secrets safe and protected. I covered the basics of data-at-rest encryption, the use of symmetric and asymmetric keys, [IBM Security Key Lifecycle Manager (SKLM), and how these are deployed on IBM flash, disk and tape products.
Then, we watched the movie. I found it quite entertaining!
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
I just got back from my vacation, so this is a guest post from my colleagues Moshe Weiss, Senior Manager, Development and Design, IBM Storage; and Diane Benjuya, Portfolio Marketing Manager for IBM Spectrum Accelerate.
1. What is IBM announcing?
Today IBM announces another leap forward in storage management, with the availability of IBM Hyper-Scale Manager version 5.1. In April 2016, when IBM announced IBM FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R, they also introduced a fully revamped GUI: IBM Hyper-Scale Manager 5.0. That version brought FlashSystem A9000/A9000R clients a terrific new storage management experience, with advanced look and feel, analytics tools, and other enhancements for managing smarter, with greater simplicity and in less time.
Hyper-Scale Manager 5.x dramatically reduces task time -- by 45% for this task
With Hyper-Scale Manager 5.1, IBM is bringing this exceptional GUI and unified user management experience across the entire set of Spectrum Accelerate-based products, which IBMers internally refer to as the "A family":
IBM Spectrum Accelerate software
IBM XIV Storage System
IBM Hyper-Scale Manager lets you view and move quickly across software-defined, disk based, and all-flash storage in seconds, equipping you with the information you need to ensure every application is performing at its peak.
2. What is innovative about the new GUI -- how does it help clients?
IBM Hyper-Scale Manager 5 makes storage management more insightful and easier in multiple ways, helping clients find info, act and troubleshoot faster. Concepts implemented include: web application with tablet-ready design, single page application, strong navigation scheme, smart filter with analytics, capacity trend/forecast, call for action, better communication using social media. All this helps users make fast, informed decisions while being able to see at a glance the impact of any change on the environment, including into the future. IBM team has designed it over the past three years working closely with clients and using Design Thinking methodology.
Get a holistic view of your storage
Provisioning, Monitoring and Troubleshooting
Find everything, get anywhere
Call for action!
The IBM team applied an "emotional design" approach that makes users feel emotionally attached to GUI for its coolness and elegance -- making the experience not just more productive but also more pleasant.
Version 5.1 brings many exciting and important new features to ease the client's day to day activities. Here are some key ones:
Managing your "A Family" in one UI
Instantly gain insights, spot problematic areas
Integrated Capacity Analytics
4. Any unique features that will be focused on?
The IT industry is entering a cognitive era, right? So IBM has brought cognitive into the GUI. The GUI actually learns each user's habits and preferences over time and adapts the experience to the specific user.
5. How does 5.1 add value to the family of products based on Spectrum Accelerate software?
Hyper-Scale manager makes this powerful family for private, public, hybrid block storage clouds that much more attractive and relevant. Just imagine yourself:
Waking up, driving to the office, opening the UI and seeing that your FlashSystem A9000 systems are doing worse than your XIV in terms of IOPS. Scary, but no worries.
You drill down to the specific FlashSystem A9000 by comparing IOPS. You find that a QoS performance class is deliberately reducing performance for the host. A quick analysis, and you find that it is due to the contract with the host. After a short chat with the host admin, you establish better terms, and decide to stop the IO limitation on the volumes and move them to a disk-based XIV to reduce dollar-per-TB cost.
You look for the best candidate by looking at the capacity trend/forecast charts for each XIV and at growth rate per month. You compare performance metrics and chose the preferred XIV to move the volumes to.
You migrate the volumes from the A9000 to the chosen XIV using the same interface, creating connectivity in one click. You then add the same host configuration as for the A9000 to the XIV in a second click. Then just map and monitor the new IO statistics with a third click. Easy!
Imagine carrying out your daily work and decisions -- creating volumes, monitoring, mirroring, troubleshooting and configuring -- across different systems of different types within the family in single clicks -- without the need to move between user interfaces. You can think of Hyper-Scale Manager 5.1 as a GUI come alive: a dynamic, breathing, thinking work enhancer that simplifies and helps you make the most of your investment.
Come see it in action! Register now for the [Live demo webinar], scheduled for Wednesday, November 9, 2016, from 10am to 11:30am MST!
Download the software from [IBM Fix Central], installation is one click and takes just seconds!
Here is an infographic!
Comments? Feedback? Enter them below. Both Moshe and Diane would be pleased to hear from you!
Last month, I presented at the "IBM Technical University" event in beautiful Atibaia, Brazil. Here is my recap of the event.
Marcelo Porto, IBM General Manager for Brazil and Client Unit Executive for Retail
What a great way to start a conference! Marcelo asked if everyone was comfortable? Everyone cheered in the affirmative.
He then said "Well, not for long. We will take you out of your comfort zone! You will disrupt yourself, and disrupt your companies. You will learn about new technologies and solutions that will make you very uncomfortable."
He explained how everything is virtual, specifically the three companies Airbnb, Waze, Uber. All of these three have new transformational business models, and he suggested all companies should follow suit.
He then said people need to be focused on four things:
Adopting an "agile attitude"
Act like you own the company
Don't cling to the past
Have the courage to re-invent yourself and your company
Frank Koja, IBM Vice President for Sales, Enterprise Systems Hardware
(Managers and business leaders could probably raise this percentage considerably if they talked to their employees before making decisions, but that's another blog post!)
Frank showed a video of an IBM client, Plenty of Fish (POF). This is a worldwide dating site with three million POF members in Brazil. They now process over 30,000 requests and/or messages per minute. FlashSystem connected to 30 servers makes that possible.
OpenPower consortium started with just 5 companies in 2014 for technology collaboration. Today, 250 members across 26 countries in six continents collaborate to make POWER technology as ubiquitous a commodity as Intel x86.
Frank then switched to "Business models" innovation. Out of the audience of about 800 people, only 10 raised their hands that have heard of Blockchain (he asked IBMers not to raise their hands, as all IBMers have heard of Blockchain!).
Frank feels that Blockchain is the most disruptive innovation since Internet banking. Blockchain affects supply chain, finance, insurance, shipping logistics, customs inspections, and government registrations.
A video showed a woman from Everledger, which uses Blockchain for shipping diamonds. IBM offers Blockchain on LinuxOne mainframe servers.
Hybrid Cloud is point of no return, including Local, Dedicated and Public clouds. Frank feels we need to cloudify all business processes.
Mauro Angelo, IBM Enterprise Strategy & Industry Solutions Director
Mauro explained that ideas are turned into inventions, and inventions are put to good use to bring forth innovations.
If your business is not cognitive you are a full era behind. Machine learning is not knew. IBM DeepBlue beat Grandmaster in Chess tournament back in 1997.
Mauro then focused on eight specific trends:
Systems of Engagement (SoE)
This is the combination of Mobile applications and Social business. IBM invited the first smartphone, the Simon, back in 1994. Apple's iPhone came later in 2007. Pokemon Go is example of augmented reality.
Cloud offers new service and location models. IBM [SoftLayer], [Bluemix], and [Kenexa] are a few examples.
There have been a lot of enhancements in this space, including Natural Language Processing (NLP), visual recognition, even smell recognition. Cognitive solutions can also identify the appropriate context, such as GPS location. And Cognitive solutions can interact with users to ask for clarifications. It can process "Big Data", the collection of non-structured data that normal Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) do not touch. Finally, they can learn, something often referred to as "Machine Learning".
In 2011, IBM Watson beat two humans at the TV show game Jeopardy! Today, [Dino, a toy from CogniToys] provides Watson-like capabilities to children.
Mauro got one for his daughter. She naturally interacts with toy. "How much does an elephant weigh?" she asks. "It depends on the elephant, but a fully grown elephant weighs more than 2,000 kilos" it responds. That's cool.
Wearables like Fitbit can track blood pressure, minutes of exercise, total steps walked. IBM helped Under Armour company develop an app in this space.
Eliminates middlemen or trusted third party (TTP). The hotel chain, Hilton, is testing out a robot called Pepper, which can use Blockchain to book tennis courts.
These are technologies thinner than a strand of hair, measured in nanometers. The focus is to develop stronger, lighter materials, and macromolecules for life sciences for medicine delivery.
Mass customization meets personalization and fast design prototypes. This is not just limited to plastic, but also metal, paper, wood, biomaterials, ceramics, food, and even cement.
Cement? That's right. A Chinese company prints houses using a cement 3D printer. In a country of over one billion people, this company has figured out how to build houses without human laborers.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Olli, a 12-person self-driving bus, is the brainchild of Local Motors. They are testing it out in National Harbor, and hope to roll it out to cities like Copenhagen, Miami, and Las Vegas.
Luis Liguori, IBM Distinguished Engineer and CTO for IBM Brazil
What does IBM mean by "Digital transformation?" What separates success from failure? Developed countries from less developed countries?
Is it culture? Whether people focus on the long term, or just the short term? Does the culture encourage you to foresee the future, and adapt accordingly? Does the culture encourage you to be brave and bold? Do you hide behind Business case return on investments (ROI)? Does your culture consider conflict to be good or bad? The answer: Good!
Does your company have a purpose? When humans no longer serve purpose, they die. The same is true for companies. He said the secret to success is the four "R's" -- Relevant, Resources, Reputation and Rigor.
For example, in 1996, the Kodak was ranked the 4th largest, it filed bankruptcy in 2012 because it was no longer relevant.
Consider Samsung. Samsung has lost its reputation with the latest "Samsung Galaxy Note7" fiasco of exploding batteries!
Airbnb is an example of Digital Transformation. Who knew that there were lots of people who wanted to rent out their bedrooms and bathrooms to strangers!
Luis feels that successful companies are either born digital, or transforming to digital. Industries are merging. Lines are blurring between industries. The latest acquisition between AT&T and Time Warner is an example.
Cognitive brings intelligence to decision making. For example, Watson health has been put to task to focus on Leukemia. In one case, Watson was able to [pinpoint a rare form of Leukemia] that had misdiagnosed and being treated incorrectly with little effect.
Why cognitive? Because human beings cannot read or remember as well as computers. There are thousands of peer-reviewed articles published every day. People are afraid to act to avoid mistakes. Computers are fearless.
Did you know that Brazil celebrates "Black Friday"? There is no "Thanksgiving" in Brazil, but retailers liked the idea of having people stand outside in the middle of the night to start their Christmas shopping! A few years ago, there were [a few problems], but in most recent years, it has shown to help [boost retail sales.] Based on these initial purchases, Watson can be used to help drive the rest of the Christmas retail season.
Watson can analyze personality based on social media writings. The world will be taken over by digital natives. The last century was focused inward, or "ego-centric", but in this 21st century, we will be focused outward, towards a complete "ecosystem".
Who are your competitors? Are they the companies that make products and services similar to yours? No! They are the companies that are competing for your customer's time and attention.
While I speak English and Spanish fluently, my Brazilian Portuguese is terribly rusty. We had several rooms with a pair of real-time translators. I presented the following:
Software Defined Storage -- Why? What? How?
The Pendulum Swings Back -- Understanding Converged and Hyperconverged Environments
IBM Spectrum Scale for File and Object Storage
IBM Storage integration with OpenStack
Introduction to IBM Cloud Object Storage System and its Applications (powered by Cleversafe)
IBM's Cloud Storage Options
All of my sessions were well received, and well attended!
Photo by Dominique Salomon,
IBM Certified IT Specialist
On Wednesday night, we had a nice pool-side reception. Beers, Caiparinhas, and Caiparoskies. Caiparinhas combine a sugarcane juice-based distilled alcohol called cachaça with muddled limes and added sugar. Caiparoskies combined vodka with muddled kiwi fruit.
(Many of the IBMers from United States skipped this event to get dinner early, so they could then come back in time to watch the third and final US Presidential Debate. Because of the time zone changes, this didn't start til 11:00pm, so they could have easily attended the event and had dinner, with plenty of time to spare!)
There was also a live band! This three part band had two guitarists and one lead singer. The lead singer also did maracas and drums while singing. They covered both English and Portuguese language songs.
Rodrigo Giaffredo, IBM Engagement Catalyst
Rodrigo gave the closing session. Wearing jeans and sneakers, he reminded me of the casual storytelling style of Jeff Jonas. He organized his stories around four points:
Consider the battle between Twitter vs. Pownce in 2007. Twitter won because it offered better ways to limit what you read, or who you communicate to, through methods like Hashtags, groups, etc.
Henry Ford disrupted transportation. He realized that Time and space is money. However, as he famously said "If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses!"
Today the challenge is processing data faster. The company that is able to process faster has economic advantage.
Strong ideas focus on user needs. Weak ideas are tactical and features. Consider the [Hippo Roller]. For centuries, African women and children carried water from far away wells either on their hands on or their heads. Much of it would fall out during the long walks. The Hippo Roller holds 90 liters (about 24 gallons) and rolls easily over rough terrain.
Rodrigo showed an graph. On the y-axis was "Importance" and the x-axis "Feasibility". Solutions in the upper right corner are obvious choices. Solutions in the upper left, important but not very feasible, are considered "big bets". Solutions in the lower right, feasible but not very important, he labeled "amenities".
Most designers, architects and developers know that the later the error is found, the more expensive it is to fix. A prototype is worth a thousand meetings.
Take the company Zappos, which sells shoes online over the Internet. The founder, Nick Swinmurn, tried to get investors, getting a typical response: "What are you drinking?" (In USA, we would ask what are you smoking, but this is the way the Brazilians say it.)
With no investors, Nick built a simple website, took pictures of shoes, and fulfilled orders by purchasing the shoes from local San Francisco retailers and shipping them to the clients.
Nick started this in 1999, and finally got some $20 Million USD in funding in 2004. His simple prototype allowed him to focus on post sales support. Zappos was recognized as having the best call center, moving his operations to Las vegas, NV.
Consider the challenges of urban mobility.
Both methods eventually result in a car, but the agile prototypes allow for more effective experimental milestones.
As for Zappos, its prototype proved successful. Amazon acquired them for $1.2 Billion USD in 2009.
It is that simple: Understand, explore, prototype, and evaluate. IBM has adopted "Design Thinking" across its development organizations to better meet the needs of the marketplace.
Overall, it was a delightful event. It is nearly summer down in the Southern hemisphere, so a bit warm and humid. The attendees were all looking forward to a turn-around in the Brazilian economy, and the business opportunities that brings.
Well it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM announcements!
Today, IBM announced a few things related to storage.
IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management
This new member of the IBM Spectrum Storage family helps manage all of those snapshot and FlashCopy images made to support DevOps, data protection, disaster recovery, and Hybrid Cloud computing environments.
The software automates the creation and catalog the copy data on existing storage infrastructure, such as snapshots, vaults, clones, and replicas. This can be especially useful with Oracle, Microsoft SQL server, and other databases that are often copied to support application development, testing, and data protection.
Initially, the following storage devices are supported:
IBM storage systems running IBM Spectrum Virtualize™ Software V7.3, and later, including IBM SAN Volume Controller, IBM Storwize®, and IBM FlashSystem® V9000
Storage systems running IBM Spectrum Accelerate™ 11.5.3, and later, including IBM FlashSystem A9000, A9000R, and IBM XIV® and the Supermicro Hyperconverged Appliance
IBM SKLM is IBM's lead offering for creating and managing encryption keys used by various Flash, Disk, Tape and SAN products.
This software release enhances the separation of duties for better alignment with regulatory requirements, simplifying the administrative access, LDAP integration, and device certificate TrustStore management. Device-group key import and export improves the flexibility in key management across multiple organizations.
For those using Hardware Security Modules [HSM], this software now offers HSM-based backup and restore of the encryption key database.
IBM is also enhancing its support of the Key Management Interoperability Protocol [KMIP], an industry standard to support encryption keys and the products that use them. This release now supports integration with any KMIP-compliant device from any vendor, including the introduction of KMIP Opaque and Suite B profiles.
IBM Storage Networking MDS 9000 24/10-port SAN Extension Module
The new MDS 9000 24/10-port SAN Extension Module is supported on MDS 9700 Series Multilayer SAN Fabric Directors. It supports 24 Fibre Channel Ports (auto-negotiating 2/4/8/10/16 Gbps), eight (1/10) GbE Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) for long-distance replication, and two 40 GbE FCIP ports.
The modules support virtual SAN (VSAN), Hardware-based encryption to help secure sensitive traffic with Internet Protocol Security (IPsec), and hardware-based compression to dramatically enhance performance for both high-speed and low-speed links. This can help reduce costs for long-distance replication over expensive WAN infrastructure.
Two years ago, the folks at University of Toronto asked me to help their graduate students build a "Watson" running entirely on IBM SoftLayer to see if this would be a worthwhile class project. Needless to say, it was more difficult than they expected, but we managed to pull it off during that summer, able to answer a handful of simple questions from a single page corpus.
Last month, [Industry Leaders Establish Partnership on AI], combining the talents from Amazon, DeepMind/Google, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft, to form a non-profit to explore best practices and ethical questions related to Watson and other Artificial Intelligence applications.
Since data is at the core of any Artificial Intelligence, IBM is pleased to announce today that IBM Cloud Object Storage System is now available on IBM SoftLayer. This is based on the Cleversafe technology IBM acquired last year.
While other cloud service providers have offered data storage in the cloud, this new offering also allows hybrid configurations with geographically dispersed erasure coding. Unlike RAID which protects against the loss of one or two drives, erasure coding can protect against a larger number of concurrent failures. For example, using an Information Dispersal Algorithm of "7+5", where seven pieces of data are encoded on twelve independent disks, the system can lose up to five disk drives without losing any data.
Click graphic to view larger
Combining this with Geographically Dispersed Configuration across three or more sites means that you can lose an entire data center, four of the twelve disks, and still have instant full access to all of your data from eight drives at the other locations. In the graphic, you see two on-premise data centers combined with a third location in IBM SoftLayer.
Today, I met with Teresa Ferraro and Mike Buttrum from FirstRain in their Manhattan office in downtown New York City. IBM recently contracted FirstRain to provide IBMers like myself with analytics on publicly-available news to keep us informed for business meetings. Here's how IBMers can get the most out of this service.
Basically, FirstRain takes a list and generates the best summaries of publicly-available news that are most relevant. You can organize into different channels. Here I have seven channels.
Companies to watch refer to existing or prospective clients that I plan to be talking with soon. Some of my colleagues are assigned to specific clients, so they can set this up once and enjoy the news for the rest of the year. I, on the other hand, meet with different clients every week, so I will be updating this list on a frequent basis.
I have divided the Competitors between major ones, and smaller startups. Since I am often working with business partners and distributors, I made that a separate channel as well.
For product lines, I picked three: Data migration, Data storage solutions, and Software defined storage.
For conferences where I don't know which companies will attend, such as the IBM Technical University, I can set up information by territory. Here is one for Brazil.
I also attend industry-oriented events, so I can pick those vertical markets that might be helpful with dinner conversations. In this example, I chose Energy, Electric Utilities and Gas Utilities.
Once you have your channels configured, you get your results in various sections:
Management Changes lists any changes in top C-level positions, who left the company, who got recently hired.
Key Developments indicates news like mergers and acquisitions and government regulations.
First Reads prioritizes the top six articles for your channel. You can access more, but these six will get you started as you have your morning coffee.
First Tweets gives you the six most relevant tweets, if those articles above were just "TL;DR"
A section on Business Influencers and Market Drivers is interesting to see who the big players are, and what topics are driving the most conversation. Here's an example from my Energy/Electric/Gas channel:
The Most Talked About section covers quotes and commentary about the most talked about companies in your channel.
With most news sources focused on politics, weather and celebrity gossip, it is nice to have a quicker, more focused approach to get the news I need to prepare for my client briefings. Special thanks to my hosts Teresa and Mike for their hospitality!
This week, I am in Las Vegas for [Edge 2016], IBM's Premiere IT Infrastructure conference of the year.
Day 4, the last day of the conference, is only a partial day, and many people opted to leave on Wednesday evening, or Thursday morning instead. The breakfast and lunch meals had fewer people than the previous days. Here is my recap of day 4 Thursday breakout sessions.
Building Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Next-Generation Workloads
Supermicro is more than happy to customize these, upgrading the CPU, RAM, disk or networking connectivity as needed. This solution is roughly half the price of Nutanix, and offers a better Next-Business-Day/9am-to-5pm support package .
The last time I was in Las Vegas, I presented this topic at [IBM Interconnect conference]. Back then, I was given only 20 minutes, was placed on the Solutions Expo showroom floor, competing with the noise and traffic of attendees going to lunch.
This time, it was much better, a large room, and a bigger-than-expected audience given that it was scheduled on Thursday morning.
Cloud storage comes in four flavors: persistent, ephemeral, hosted, and reference. The first two I refer to as "Storage for the Computer Cloud" and the latter two I refer to as "Storage as the Storage Cloud".
I also explained the differences between block, file and object access, and why different Cloud storage types use different access methods. I wrapped up the session covering the various storage solutions that IBM offers for all four Cloud Storage types.
IBM Storwize and IBM FlashSystem with VersaStack versus NetApp FlexPod
Norm Patten, part of the IBM Competitive Project Office Storage Team, presented a competitive comparison between VersaStack with IBM storage, versus FlexPod with NetApp storage.
Commodity Solid State Drives (SSD) and Shingled Magnetic Recording [SMR] offer low-cost, high-capacity storage.
However, they have their own set of problems, so IBM is developing software that can be included in IBM Spectrum Accelerate, Spectrum Scale, and Spectrum Virtualize to optimize their utility.
The concept of Log-Structured Array has been around since 1988. The IBM RAMAC Virtual Array back in the 1990s used it. NetApp's Write-Anywhere File System (WAFL) is an implementation of the [Log-Structured File System] general concept.
SALSA combines Log-Structured Array with enhancements borrowed from the IBM FlashSystem design, that I covered in my Monday and Wednesday presentations, to enhance write endurance by as much as 4.6 times!
This was an NDA session, so I cannot blog any of the details.
World-class Flash-optimized Data Reduction and Efficiency with IBM FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R
Tomer Carmeli, IBM Offering Manager for the A9000 and A9000R presented. He presented an overview of these models on Monday, so this session was focused on the data footprint reduction technologies.
Basically, it is a three step process. First, all "standard patterns" are removed. IBM has identified some 260 standard patterns that are 8KB in length, such as all zeros, all ones, or all spaces, and replaces these blocks immediately with a pattern token.
Second, [SHA-1] 20-byte hash codes are computed on 8KB pieces on a rolling 4KB alignment boundary. In other words, if a 64KB block of data is written, bytes 0-to-8KB are hashed an compared to existing hash codes. If no match, then bites 4KB-to-12KB are hashed, and so on. This approach nearly doubles the likelihood of finding duplicates. When a block match is found, the algorithm can replacing them with pointer and reference count.
Third, any unique data that still remains is compressed using Lempel-Ziv algorithm. This is done using the [Intel® QuickAssist]. This co-processor can compress data 20 times faster than software algorithms running on general-purpose x86 processors.
Do you want an estimate of how much "reduction ratio" you may achieve? IBM has developed two estimator tools to help. The first tool is a complete scan for data expected to be dedupe-friendly. It is a slow process, taking 8 hours per TB. This would be ideal for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or backup copies.
The second tool is the infamous [Comprestimator] that IBM has had for awhile to help estimate compression savings for IBM Spectrum Virtualize storage solutions like SVC, Storwize and FlashSystem V9000. This tool is very fast, looking at only a statistically-valid subset of the data.
The results of both tools are merged, and the result is within five percent accuracy. This allows IBM to offer guidance on which data to place on these new A9000 and A9000R models, as well as offer a "reduction ratio" guarantee.
A client asked me why I bother to attend other sessions, when I probably know most of the material they present. I explained that I can always learn from others. I can honestly say that I learned something new and useful at every session I attended.