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 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.
This week, I am in Las Vegas for [Edge 2016], IBM's Premiere IT Infrastructure conference of the year. Here is my recap of Day 3 Wednesday.
Become your own Storage Consultant
Gary Graham, IBM Field Technical Specialist for Storage, and Brian Pioreck, IBM Client Technical Specialist for Storage, co-presented this session. This session explained how to use IBM's 30-day free trial of IBM Spectrum Control Storage Insights, a cloud-based services offering.
(Note: 15 years ago, I was the chief architect of version 1 of what we now call IBM Spectrum Control. I am pleased to see how well this product has evolved over the years.)
Storage Insights provides a reporting-only subset of the popular IBM Spectrum Control Standard and Advanced editions. It reports on IBM storage devices, as well as any non-IBM devices that are virtualized behind IBM Spectrum Virtualize products like SAN Volume Controller (SVC), Storwize, and FlashSystem V9000.
If you are a storage administrator, consider trying this out for 30 days, get some immediate results. Since it is cloud-based, you only need a Windows, Linux or AIX system to install a "collector" on site. This collector sends data up to the Cloud at one of IBM SoftLayer facilities. The installation process takes only 30 minutes, and you can download the code from the Internet.
If you find Storage Insights valuable, helping you reclaim some unused space, or provide other insight that saves your company money, consider buying the service, for only 250 US Dollars per 50 TB monitored. If you want more than just monitoring and reporting, consider one of the on-premise solutions like IBM Spectrum Control Standard, or IBM Spectrum Control Advanced edition, which provide provisioning and configuration capabilities as well.
Enhance your Security posture with At-Rest Encryption using the latest IBM Spectrum Virtualize
All of the IBM Spectrum Virtualize products support Data-at-Rest Encryption. For direct-attached storage, the 12Gb SAS controller performs hardware-assisted encryption.
For SAN-attached storage via FCP, FCoE or iSCSI back-end devices, IBM uses the [AES-NI instruction set] that comes included in certain Intel CPU processors.
Last November 2015, [IBM acquired Cleversafe] for $1.3 Billion US dollars because Cleversafe has the brand name recognition as the #1 Object Storage vendor the past two years in a row (2014 and 2015). On July 1 of this year, the transformation was complete, and their flagship product was officially renamed to the IBM Cloud Object Storage System, which some abbreviate informally as IBM COS.
Since then, IBM has been busy integrating IBM COS into the rest of the storage portfolio. I explained how IBM COS can be used for all kinds of static-and-stable data, but not suited for frequently changed data, such as Virtual machines or Databases.
Object storage can be access via NFS or SMB NAS-protocols using a gateway product, like IBM Spectrum Scale, or those from third-party partners like Ctera, Avere, Nasuni or Panzura. It can also be used as an alternative to tape for backup copies, and is already supported by the major backup software like IBM Spectrum Protect, Commvault Simpana, or Veritas NetBackup.
A few years ago, I explained to a client that Converged and Hyperconverged were like a pendulum swinging back. Over the past few decades, we have gone from internal disk, to externally attached disk, to SAN and LAN networks.
Each time, we gained more flexibility, greater connectivity and longer distances. Then I explained that Converged and Hyperconverged is like going backwards, the pendulum swinging back to the days of internal and direct-attached storage. The analogy was a hit, and thus this session was born!
IBM offers multiple Converged Systems. IBM PureSystems, PureData, PurePower and PureApplication solutions offer racks of compute, storage and network gear. Last year, IBM collaborated with Cisco to create VersaStack, a converged system that combines Cisco's x86 blade servers and switches with IBM FlashSystem and Storwize products.
IBM also offers Hyperconverged solutions. IBM Spectrum Accelerate allows the compute, storage and network functions run on 3 to 15 VMware ESXi hosts to form a cluster. The cluster can then make iSCSI-based volumes available to other virtual machines running on these same hosts. The volumes can also be made available to servers outside the cluster, such as bare metal servers or other Hypervisors. This is available as software-only, or you can get pre-built system called the Supermicro Hyperconvergence Appliance.
IBM Spectrum Scale provides a clustered file system that allows the compute, storage and network functions to run on 3 to 16,000 machines. Formerly called General Parallel File System (GPFS), IBM Spectrum Scale has been around for over 18 years. Over 200 of the world's largest "Top 500" supercomputers run IBM Spectrum Scale today.
IBM Spectrum Virtualize and IBM Storwize Birds-of-a-Feather
Barry Whyte, fellow blogger and IBM Master Inventor, presented an overview of the latest features, and where IBM is headed in 2017 for the IBM Spectrum Virtualize family of products. Barry now works in Advanced Technical Skills for Storage Virtualization Asia/Pacific Region.
The group then moved to another room offering delicious food and drink, as Eric Stouffer, IBM Director, Storwize Offering Manager and Business Line Exec, presented the future areas that IBM is consider for this product family.
All of this was done under Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA), preventing me from blogging any details. Back in 2003, Las Vegas started a marketing campaign ["What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas"]. Coincidentally, this is the same year IBM introduced the IBM SAN Volume Controller, the first product in the IBM Spectrum Virtualize family.
This was a long day, but was pleased with the large audiences I had at my sessions.