Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Systems Client Experience Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2016, Tony celebrates his 30th year anniversary with IBM Storage. He is
author of the Inside System Storage series of books. This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to storage and storage networking hardware, software and services.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson )
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Continuing this week's theme on Storage Area Networks, today I thought I would talkabout the various terms we use for our equipment.
One area of confusion are the adjectives "entry-level", "midrange" and "enterprise-class".What do these mean? Well, as in the case of disk and tape, these three are all relative terms that are a combination of "small, medium, large" as well as "good, better, best".
Entry-level switches are typically only a maximum of 8-16 ports.Ports can connect the switch to a server, a storage device, or another switch.These are sometimes called "edge" switches, as they might be found in the mostremote sections of an office campus, remote branches, or other isolated areasoutside the primary data center.
Midrange switches typically have a maximum of 32-64 ports.More ports on a single switch means fewer switches (and fewer cables) to manage.
These are called "directors" to distinguish them from entry-level and midrange offerings.Directors have a maximum of 140-528 ports, and because so many devices or switches can beconnected to them, they need to be extremely reliable. Directors are designed for 24x7operation, with the ability to make most upgrades and configuration changes while the boxis running (often referred to as "non-disruptive upgrades"). Availability is typically better than "five nines", or 99.999 percent, which means that the box will be up 99.999 percent of the time, or conversely, will be down lessthan 5 minutes per year.
If you are asking yourself "which size is right for my company?" or "is my company big enoughfor a director?" you are asking the wrong questions! Instead, determine a SAN configurationthat meets your workload, and then decide the components for that design.
McData coined a phrase called "core/edge" design that is considered today as "Best Practice" throughout the industry.A good write-up can be found here at SearchStorage.com. Basically, you put your big beefy "core" directors in the center of the room, and then surround it with midrange switches, that then these connect to "edge" switches, that then connect to the servers and storage near them. As you grow, this design can easilyscale to grow with you.
So, if you need help implementing a SAN for the first time, or upgrading the one you have,call IBM, we can help!
In his blog, Paul Gillin agrees with Time Magazine's Person of the Year choice of "all of us", those of us who use the World Wide Web to do business or have fun, and to those who contribute to the internet by creating content, such as people who blog or create websites.
So, in continuing my theme this week to recap the best and worst of last year, I list my personal "tech highlights" of 2006.
Programming my Tivo Remotely.
Last September, I realized on a 3-week business trip that I had not programmed my Tivo to record the premieres of each of the new season's television shows. If you miss the first few weeks, it might be difficult to make sense of the rest of the season. Fortunately, I was able to program my Tivo remotely through the internet.
Purchasing TV shows on iTunes
Despite this, I had a repeat episode of "House" record instead of a new episode of
Still unable to make sense of what was going on in the TV show "Heroes", I was able to read the "wiki" which explained all the subtle imagery and background implied.
Using Linux to rescue lost Windows data
My disk drive failed on my laptop, and although I had most of my data backed up with Tivoli Storage Manager prior to my business trip, I had some files that I acquired or updated during the business trip. Thankfully, there are Linux "LiveCD" images that allow you to access your Windows files. You boot these LiveCD images from your CD drive, so there is no installation of Linux on the hard drive itself. If you travel as much as I do, consider bringing along some Linux CDs to get you out of trouble.
Connecting my home entertainment system to my Mac
I now have an 802.1g (54Mb) wireless hub which allows my Tivo to connect wirelessly to the internet to get daily updates, but also allows me to play all my music stored on my Mac through my home entertainment system, and I can also listen to thousands of radio stations through "Live365.com". My favorite station is "Depeche Mode Inspired" which plays songs by Depeche Mode, as well as cover versions by a variety of others.
Learning to Blog
Believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to blog, and this year has been a good learning experience. IBM has a fairly healthy blogging policy, but nonetheless, say the wrong thing and I could be in serious trouble. Fortunately, that hasn't happened, and I am glad to see a fairly open exchange of ideas among the set of bloggers that discuss storage issues.
Building a Snowman in Second Life
I have been a member of Second Life now since November, but it wasn't until I entered a competition to build avirtual snowman last week that the potential of this new interface became obvious to me. There is still lots to learn, but at least now I see value in spending more time and effort learning more about it.
Getting an all-in-one printer/scanner to work with both my Mac and IBM PC
I didn't think it could be done, but here it is, my all-in-one Printer/Scanner works correctly, seemlessly, from both my Windows PC and my Mac Mini, and I have it on my home network so my laptop can use it also, wirelessly!
Using Google Language Tools to translate materials to Portuguese
I speak several languages, enough to order food in restaurants and to get around through various modes of transportation, but translation for a technical audience is more challenging. A class we normally conduct in pure English was taken to Sao Paulo, Brazil, and although most students know some amount of English, we thought it would be good to translate the test questions to Brazillian Portuguese. I took the questions and ran them through a number of translation services websites, and had local IBMers review the results. The winner was Google language tools, which required hardly any edits to the generated text. The class was a big success.
Digital Cameras and CD Burners
As I travelled from Brazil to Bolivia last August, I met a young back-packer who was on her way to Peru, but was staying in La Paz for a few days. We had a great time together, and I was able to transfer the digital photos from my Canon PowerShot digital camera into my laptop and burn her a CD to take with her to Peru.
Painting my Dining Room table
After Halloween, I accidently left my pumpkin jack-o-lantern on my kitchen table as I left for a trip, and when I got back, it had decomposed and left a terrible stain on the wood surface. After sanding the table, I determined that the best course of action was just to paint the surface. I could have just painted it a solid color, or maybe a faux finish with two colors, but instead, chose to copy a famous painting, "Le Cafe" by Alberto Magnelli. I was able to scan this into my computer, resize it, and then project the image onto my table, to then outline the image and paint. I know I would not have been able to do this free-hand.
I am sure there are other triumphs I had throughout the year, but these are the first the come to mind.
I hope everyone had some time these past few weeks of the Winter Solstice to enjoy some time off with friends and family. I had a great trip to New York City, got to visit my brother and his friends, went to see my friends in Michigan to celebrate New Years Eve, and see the world premiere of [LexiBaby], an independent film from fellow filmmaker Jonathan Petro.
The latter of course from fellow IBMers, corporate executives receiving bailout money, attorneys that specialize in foreclosures, and the lucky few who will be in Washington DC for the US Presidential Inauguration.In addition to all the bailout money from banks, insurance companies and automakers that will be spent on IBM equipment and services, there might be additional funds from the US Government to improve our country's information infrastructure.In a recent Forbes article titled[The Tech Solution To The Recession], Andy Greenberg writes about US president-elect Barack Obama's ideas about a stimulus to the economy. Here's an excerpt:
"IBM, for starters, believes that a massive infusion of cash should go toward cutting-edge technology. Last month, IBM CEO Sam Palmisano presented a report to Obama's transition team from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) that argues that a $30 billion investment in universal broadband, health information technology and a smarter power grid could create 950,000 jobs.
"Those disparities, and IBM's argument for focusing a stimulus plan on technology in general, come from what economists have dubbed "network multipliers." The computing giant, and ITIF, argue that technology creates more jobs than other types of infrastructure by enabling new types of businesses.
"If you build more roads, people don't buy more tires or GPS systems, but if you build better networks, you create entirely new business applications," says Rob Atkinson, president of ITIF and an author of the think tank's report. "Something like YouTube could never have existed without broadband."
"Regardless of precisely how tech stimulus money gets spent, IBM will likely sweep up a significant chunk of those taxpayer funds, given the computing giant's diverse hardware, software and services businesses. Other IT infrastructure giants like Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Oracle and SAP are also likely to vie for pieces of Obama's stimulus package aimed at technology.
"But among those tech companies, IBM has been especially active in driving home the need for national investment in tech systems. In a November speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Palmisano argued that that the U.S. needs to invest in innovation not just as a solution to our current recession but as a competitive measure in an increasingly integrated and technologically advanced world."
Continuing my week in Auckland, New Zealand, I presented my last three topics for the week.
Selling IBM System Storage against competition - Part 1. You would think that since IBM's storage products are, in general, easier to use, faster, at a lower cost of ownership than the offerings from our competitors, there would not need to be a presentation like this. Since there are so many reasons why IBM is better, I split the session into two parts.
Selling IBM System Storage against competition - Part 2. With so much material, I needed to provide some structure. In the past, some Top Gun instructors organized by category, Enterprise Class, Midrange, and Entry level. I chose, instead, to organize by the different competitors themselves.
Selling IBM PureSystems. IBM PureSystems feature the Storwize V7000 and Flex System V7000 disk systems inside, and support all of IBM's disk and tape offerings outside the frame. I covered Flex Systems, PureFlex, PureApplication and PureData, including the newly announced PureData System for Hadoop.
We often joke that I.B.M. stands for "Information Between Meals"! Here we are at a restaurant in the [Britomart] area. I am on [the Paleo diet], which is low-carb, high-protein, dairy-free and gluten-free, and am trying to stick with it even when on the road traveling. Sometimes it can be challenging. Tonight, I opted for a light dinner, just roasted vegetables and grape-flavored beverage.
The folks in New Zealand love sheep. There are nine sheep for every person in this country. Here are some metal sculpture lawn ornaments.
Hyein and I needed new "desktop wallpaper" photos for our laptops. For those who want to dress up their laptops, here's one for each of us. (Click on each photo to see full size). Hyein kept getting her hair in the way. I didn't have that problem, but was worried my cap would fly off my head. This cap was a gift from my clients at [James Cook University in Brisbane, Australia].
In Top Gun classes, the top students are given "Top Gun" caps and their picture is published on the official website for all to see their success. Overall, the entire class did very well, and these three outstanding students had the top scores.
I am now in Sydney, Australia -- to teach Top Gun class again!
Last week, Paul Weinberg of eChannelLine.com asks Is this the year of the SAN (again)?So, I thought this week I would cover my thoughts and opinions on storage networking. We oftenfocus on servers or storage devices, and forget that the network in between is an entire worldon itself.
I believe Mr. Weinberg is basing this on the idea that in 2007, over 50 percent of disk will beattached over SAN, edging out the alternative: Direct Attached Storage (DAS). But perhaps 50 percentis the wrong number to focus on. In 2007, The United Nations estimates thatcities will surpass rural areas, with just over 50 percent of theworld's population. Does that make this the "Year of the City"? Of course not.
Instead, I prefer to use the methodology that Malcolm Gladwell uses in his book, The Tipping Point.(I have read this book and highly recommend it!)Gladwell indicates that the tipping point happens at the start of the epidemic, not when it is half over.Isn't it better to celebrate the sweet 16 debutante ball when young ladies have completed their years of training and preparation, and are ready to be introduced to the rest of the world, rather than after they are thirty-something, married with children.
Let's explore some of the history. Stuart Kendric has a nice 7-page summary on theHistory & Plumbing of SANs.
IBM announced the first SAN technology calledEnterprise Systems Connection (ESCON) way back in September 1990. This allowed multiplemainframe servers to connect to multiple storage systems over equipment called "ESCON Directors" that directedtraffic from point A to point B. Before this, mainframes sent "ChannelCommand Words" or CCWs, across parallel "bus and tag" copper cables. ESCON was serial overfiber optic wiring. SANs solved two problems: first, it reduced the "rat's nest" of cables between many serversand many storage systems, and second, it extended the distance between server and storage device.
For distributed systems running UNIX or Windows, the CCW-equivalent over parallel cables was called Small ComputerSystem Interface (SCSI). The SCSI command had over 1000 command words, so for its Advanced Technology (AT) personal computers (PC AT), IBM introduced a subset of SCSI commands called ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment). ATA drives supportedfewer commands, ran at slower speeds, and were manufactured with a less rigorous process. Today ATA drives are about 55 percent the cost per MB as comparable SCSI drives.
Anyone who has ever opened their PC and found flat ribbon cable with eight or sixteen wires in parallel, can understand that the same issues applied externally. Parallel technologies arelimited to distance and speed, as all the bits have to arrive at the end of the wire at approximately thesame time. Direct attach schemes with every server attaches directly to every storage device were also problematic.Imagine 100 servers connected to 100 storage devices, that would be 10,000 wires!
So, a new technology standard was developed, called Fibre Channel, ratified in 1994.The spelling of "Fibre" was intentionally made different than "Fiber" on purpose. "Fibre" is a protocol thatcan travel over copper or glass wires. "Fiber" represents the glass wiring itself.
Fibre Channel is amazingly versatile. For today's Linux, UNIX and Windows servers, it can carry SCSI commands, and the combination of SCSI over FC is called Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP). For the mainframe servers, it can carry CCW commands. Running CCW over Fibre Channel is called FICON. This convergence allows mainframes and distributed systems to share a common Fibre Channel network, using the same set of switches and directors.
We saw the use of SANs explode in the marketplace over the past 10 years, and then cool down with a series of mergers and acquisitions. Last year, Brocade announced it was acquiring rival McData, so we will be down to two major players, Cisco and Brocade.
So, IMHO, I think we are well past the "Year of the SAN".
Welcome back everyone! Were you the IT Support for your friends and family during the holidays?
Last year, in my infamous "Laptop for Grandma" blog post series, I discussed my week exploring various Linux distributions (aka "distros") to find one that would re-purpose Grandma's laptop into an MP3 player. Here is the entire series for your reference.
So what happens to the old machines? They come to me, of course, with three requests:
If possible, rescue existing documents and photos from the old PC
Wipe the hard drive clean, what we in the IT storage industry call a "Secure Erase"
Give the old PC to charity or appropriate recycling facility
I had six old machines to work on this year. Generally, I only get the towers, as most people keep their mouse, keyboard and monitor for their next machine.
For five of them, the process was fairly straightforward. First, I would boot up the system to see what it was running, typically Windows XP or Windows Vista, and simply transfer the "My Documents" folder to an external USB drive.
If the system doesn't boot on its own, perhaps because the OS is corrupted on the hard drive or infected by a virus, then I would boot a Linux-based LiveCD, such as my favorite [SystemRescueCD], and copy the data over to USB external drive that way.
Second, from the SystemRescueCD, I would run [fdisk] to delete all the existing partitions and create a new partition, and then run [shred] or [scrub] to perform a secure erase.
(The shred tool is more thorough, but I prefer scrub for its ease-of-use. Its default National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) method writes over the entire disk four times with different random patterns of data.)
Third, I would do a fresh install of the now out-dated Linux Mint 12 LXDE from CD. Why Linux Mint 12 LXDE? I don't have to worry about any licensing issues with Linux. Linux Mint is the [fourth most widely used home operating system] in the world.
The latest version of Linux Mint is 16, and version 13 has Long Term Support through 2017, but version 12 is the last release small enough to fit on a 700MB CD for the old machines that cannot read the higher capacity DVD media.
Linux Mint comes with various graphical interfaces, but the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment [LXDE] edition runs in as low as 256MB of memory, the minimum that Windows XP requires. Many newer operating systems expect 1GB or more. The machine is then ready to give to charity. Whomever gets it can certainly install a different OS if they prefer.
So, the process went smoothly for the first five, but the sixth machine gave me an interesting challenge. Here are the specs:
Operating System: Windows 98
Processor: AMD-K6 (Pentium II-class) 150 MHz
Hard disk: 10GB
Removable media: 3.5-inch floppy and CD-ROM drive
Keyboard port: standard PS/2
mouse port: 6-pin DIN
Ethernet NIC: 10Mb
USB ports: none
Yikes! Windows 98? 32MB of RAM? Even a [Raspberry Pi] has more than this!
My keyboard fits, but my mouse doesn't, so I had to look up Windows 98 keyboard shortcuts to navigate the system. The age of the files indicates this machine was actively used from 1999 to 2005. While most people only keep a PC for 3-5 years, this hardware is 14 years old! It has been sitting in Judy's closet collecting dust the rest of the time.
Without USB port or CD burner, there were only two ways to get data off this system. First, was the 1.44MB floppy disk, and the second was through the Ethernet card. I was able to configure TCP/IP and connect via FTP back to my FTP server, allowing me to copy the files over.
Most of my LiveCDs that I tried just froze mid-boot without sufficient memory. Not even my SystemRescueCD would boot. I was able to use [Basic Linux BL3 version 3.5] which boots from two floppy diskettes and requires only 12MB of RAM.
Basic Linux has neither shred nor scrub utilities, so I used old school "dd" command, which was painfully slow.
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda1
While this was not as secure as NNSA, Department of Defense (DoD), or Guttman methods of erasure, I figured it was good enough for a 14-year old machine that had not been used since 2005.
While BL3 includes an install-to-hd script to copy the files over to the hard drive, I could not get LILO to boot natively from /dev/hda1. So, I switched to booting from Damn Small Linux [DSL] LiveCD. Using the "dsl 2" boot cheat code, I was able to boot directly to a superuser text-based prompt, allowing me to create two partitions, a 128MB swap and the rest for an ext2 file system.
DSL only requires 8MB of RAM, but having the extra 128MB swap ensures success. I was able to install DSL on the hard drive, fix up lilo.conf, and boot directly from it.
What a great way to start a new year! Happy New Year everyone!
Are you going to Edge 2013 in Las Vegas, June 10-14?
In my talks with clients about storage, I find similar hesitation on turning on various storage efficiency features that IBM (and other vendors) have to offer. Let's examine a few of them.
Less than half of businesses have activated "thin provisioning" on storage devices that support this feature. Why? IBM introduced thin provisioning on its RAMAC Virtual Array back in 1997! The technology is well proven in the field. Don't know how to report this for charge-back activity? Charge your end-users for the maximum capacity upper limit. Simple enough!
What about Data Deduplication? IBM has had this feature on its N series since 2007, but it wasn't until IBM came out with the IBM ProtecTIER gateway and appliance models that people started to take notice of this technology. Yes, I agree Hash Collisions can be quite scary on competitive gear, but on IBM ProtecTIER we do not use hash codes, and all data is compared byte-for-byte. For those considering hash-based deduplication, hash collisions in general are quite rare. Jeff Preshing does the math for you in his blog post: [Hash Collision Probabilities]. Of course, if you want to leave no doubt in the minds of a jury of your peers, stick with byte-for-byte comparison methods in the IBM ProtecTIER.
Lastly, I have heard concerns of using real-time compression? Really? Real-time compression has been used in wide-area network (WAN) transmissions ever since IBM developed the Houston Aerospace Spooling Protocol (HASP) for NASA back in 1973. IBM has offered real-time compression on tape cartridges since 1986, the year I started with IBM, some 27 years ago. And now, real-time compression is available for file-based and block-based disk systems. All of these solutions are based on the Lempel-Ziv lossless compression algorithms introduced in 1977. One customer I spoke with was unwilling to try compression, because it requires thin provisioning as a pre-requisite. How is that for having one fear based on another one!
IBM places a high value on data integrity. For each data footprint reduction method, IBM has designed a solution that returns back the exact ones and zeros, in the correct quantity and order, as was originally stored.
For more on this topic, come see me present "Data Footprint Reduction -- Understanding IBM Storage Efficiency Options" at [IBM Edge 2013 conference] in Las Vegas, June 10-14.
I am in Toronto, Canada. It is a lot cold and rainy here, worse than last week in Seoul, Korea.This looks like a slow news week, so slow that the only news here in Canada is the possibility of anew 5-dollar coin. I thought I would make this week's theme about enterprise applications.
IBM doesn't make these applications anymore, we have decided to focus on our core strength, to be the best IT platform to run other people's applications. This means being the best IT systems, software and services company. However, many of the companies that make enterprise applications are both cooperate and compete against parts of IBM, what we call "coopetition".
Let's take a look at some acronyms in this space:
"Enterprise Resource Planning" represents all the basic applications that business need to run theirbusiness, including: finance, accounting, human resources, and manufacturing. The focus here is to streamline operations and make the workforce more productive. Before IBM, I ran my ownsoftware development company, Pearson Kurath Systems, and we developed ERP applications for clients oneby one, customized to their industry requirements.
"Customer Relationship Management" or sometimes "Client Relationship Management" help companies identifyand retain their customer base. Focus here is to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.
"Supply Chain Management" help track supply and just-in-time inventory demand, sharing the information withkey suppliers and distributors. The focus is to manage inventories down to nothing, and improve speed to get products out to market.
"Business to Business" refer to procurement, purchase orders, and collecting payments over the internet.One of my pet peeves are acronyms that use "2" to mean "to" and "4" to mean "for".
"Human Capital Management" deals with managing costs of Human Resources (HR) and coordinating servicesfrom outside organizations.
"Knowledge Management" refers to sharing and collaborating information. This is not just email and instant messaging, but also online calendaring, experience repositories, client case studies, and anecdotes.
This week I will cover applications that address these, and how they relate to storage.
Besides, I have been in airplanes and airports nearly every week since March 1, so driving to Las Vegas was a pleasent alternative.
While driving to Las Vegas was pleasant, driving in Las Vegas was not. I would go crazy as a taxi driver here! I think I will leave my car in the free parking garage all week, and limit myself mostly to the Mandalay Hotel where the conference is being held, and only venture out to other hotels that are walking distance, like the Luxor next door.
In the evening, IBM hosted some of the industry's top analysts and press at an invitation-only reception. Several other IBMers were there, including Barry Whyte, Steve Kenniston, Nicki Rich and Ron Riffe. This event was organized by IBM Analyst Relations, including David Rasmussen and Leanna Holmquist.
Ron mentioned my penchant for taking pictures with other people and posting them on my blog, so I am glad that Leanna volunteered to take a picture with me for my first post of the week!
I would also like to mention that Ron Riffe has joined the ranks of storage bloggers. His blog is called [The Line]. Here is Ron's post on his "Day 0" observations here at Edge: [Rainy Days and Sunshine].
From a technology-oriented to a service-oriented approach to IT management
Companies are challenged with shifting from a technology/resource-oriented to a service-oriented approach to IT management. This involves new processes, a new reportingstructure for the IT staff, new tools and technologies, and new data to be captured.A top-down approach is recommended for large organizations, but a bottom-up approachmight be easier to implement for small and medium sized businesses.
IT service management architecture and autonomic computing
IBM has been promoting the concept of Autonomic Computing since 2001. A self-managed resource can have an autonomic manager with sensor and effector. The sensor is used to monitor status, a knowledge basecan analyze and plan for appropriate modifications, and execute these through theeffector. The Autonomic Computing Reference Architecture (ACRA) aligns with the Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) model well, with the CMDB acting asthe knowledge base for the autonomic managers. See my earlier post[Self tuning guitars and storage].
Evolving standards for IT service management
Changes to the IT infrastructure must be closely managed to avoid disruptions.IT organizations recognize that standards-based solutions enable interoperability,with less risk, to connect internal and external applications. Standards can be formally developed by standards bodies like ISO, IETF, W3C, OASIS, and DMTF; or be de facto standards that become widely used by companies, which can then laterbe adopted by standards bodies. SML and SDD are emerging standards that are incompatible with the current set of Web Services-based protocols, like WSDM, but work isunderway to try to determine a unifying standard to support all of these under ITSM.
Prospects for simplifying ITSM-based management through self-managing resources
An ideal computing system would take over a great deal of its own management.Today's IT systems are brittle, difficult to understand, and dangerous to change.The savings from automating some tasks are dwarfed by the irreducible costs of humandecision making, agreements and approvals built in formal processes. A true self-managing, scalable IT system would consist of a number of nearly-identical boxes,with a web interface to define high-level policies and provide information on utilization and performance. As the system needs to expand, it can automatically place the order. When the new boxes arrive, they are placed and connectedinto the data center, and the system configures and provisions them appropriately.
IT Autopilot: A flexible IT service management and deliver platform for smalland medium business
Using an airplane analogy, the pilot performs manual steps to get the plane safelyoff the ground, then turns it over to the autopilot for normal operations. The ITAutopilot intends to do this for IT service management in small and medium business (SMB)that may not have a large dedicated IT staff, using an SOA approach that isloosely coupled, stateless, and adhering to Web Services standards. The IT Autopilotemploys workflow-based controls, the autonomic computing MAPE model, and customizedpolicies to address SMB requirements. It could be deployed as an appliance, similarto IBM System Storage Productivity Center.
This week and next I am touring Asia, meeting with IBM Business Partners and sales repsabout our July 10 announcements.
Clark Hodge might want to figure out where I am, given the nuclearreactor shutdowns from an earthquake in Japan. His theory is that you can follow my whereabouts just by following the news of major power outages throughout the world.
So I thought this would be a good week to cover the topic of Business Continuity, which includes disaster recovery planning. When making Business Continuity plans, I find it best to work backwards. Think of the scenarios that wouldrequire such recovery actions to take place, then figure out what you need to have at hand to perform the recovery, and then work out the tasks and processes to make sure those things are created and available when and where needed.
I will use my IBM Thinkpad T60 as an example of how this works. Last week, I was among several speakers making presentations to an audience in Denver, and this involved carrying my laptop from the back of the room, up to the front of the room, several times. When I got my new T60 laptop a year ago, it specifically stated NOT to carry the laptop while the disk drive was spinning, to avoid vibrations and gyroscopic effects. It suggested always putting the laptop in standby, hibernate or shutdown mode, prior to transportation, but I haven't gotten yet in the habit of doing this. After enough trips back and forth, I had somehow corrupted my C: drive. It wasn't a complete corruption, I could still use Microsoft PowerPoint to show my slides, but other things failed, sometimes the fatal BSOD and other times less drastically. Perhaps the biggest annoyance was that I lost a few critical DLL files needed for my VPN software to connect to IBM networks, so I was unable to download or access e-mail or files inside IBM's firewall.
Fortunately, I had planned for this scenario, and was able to recover my laptop myself, which is important when you are on the road and your help desk is thousands of miles away. (In theory, I am now thousands of miles closer to our help desk folks in India and China, but perhaps further away from those in Brazil.) Not being able to respond to e-mail for two days was one thing, but no access for two weeks would have been a disaster! The good news: My system was up and running before leaving for the trip I am on now to Asia.
Following my three-step process, here's how this looks:
Step 1: Identify the scenario
In this case, my scenario is that the file system the runs my operating system is corrupted, but my drive does not have hardware problems. Running PC-Doctor confirmed the hardware was operating correctly. This can happen in a variety of ways, from errant application software upgrades, malicious viruses, or in my case, picking up your laptop and carrying it across the room while the disk drive is spinning.
Step 2: Figure out what you need at hand
All I needed to do was repair or reload my file sytem. "Easier said than done!" you are probably thinking. Many people use IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) to back up their application settings and data. Corporate include/exclude lists avoid backing up the same Windows files from everyone's machines. This is great for those who sit at the same desk, in the same building, and would be given a new machine with Windows pre-installed as the start of their recovery process. If on the other hand you are traveling, and can't access your VPN to reach your TSM server, you have to do something else. This is often called "Bare Metal Restore" or "Bare Machine Recovery", BMR for short in both cases.
I carry with me on business trips bootable rescue compact discs, DVDs of full system backup of my Windows operating system, and my most critical files needed for each specific trip on a separate USB key. So, while I am on the road, I can re-install Windows, recover my applications, and copy over just the files I need to continue on my trip, and then I can do a more thorough recovery back in the office upon return.
Step 3: Determine the tasks and processes
In addition to backing up with IBM TSM, I also use IBM Thinkvantage Rescue and Recovery to make local backups. IBM Rescue and Recovery is provided with IBM Thinkpad systems, and allows me to backup my entire system to an external 320GB USB drive that I can leave behind in Tucson, as well as create bootable recovery CD and DVDs that I can carry with me while traveling.
The problem most people have with a full system backup is that their data changes so frequently, they would have to take backups too often, or recover "very old" data. Most Windows systems are pre-formatted as one huge C: drive that mixes programs and data together. However, I follow best practice, separating programs from data. My C: drive contains the Windows operating system, along with key applications, and the essential settings needed to make them run. My D: drive contains all my data. This has the advantage that I only have to backup my C: drive, and this fits nicely on two DVDs. Since I don't change my operating system or programs that often, and monthly or quarterly backup is frequent enough.
In my situation in Denver, only my C: drive was corrupted, so all of my data on D: drive was safe and unaffected.
When it comes to Business Continuity, it is important to prioritize what will allow you to continue doing business, and what resources you need to make that happen. The above concepts apply from laptops to mainframes. If you need help creating or updating your Business Continuity plan, give IBM a call.
Continuing my coverage of the [IBM Edge2014 conference], IBM's premiere conference for System Storage and related products, here are my notes from the afternoon of Day 1 at the general keynote sessions.
Stephen Leonard, IBM General Manager, STG Sales, served as emcee for the general session.
Tom Rosamilia, IBM Senior Vice President, STG and ISC
Tom (my fifth-line manager, BTW) started off with a joke: "All this talk about Cloud, but it has to run on hardware somewhere!"
Tom insists it is imperative for clients to build an infrastructure that enables business growth. However, less than 10 percent of clients are ready for Cloud, Analytics, Mobile or Social (CAMS) initiatives. Clients need to embrace these new workloads, ensure right-time decision making, and integrate front-office with back-office IT systems.
Tom is also proud that IBM's Software Define Storage solutions manage over 1 [Yottabyte] of information today. That's a billion Petabytes, in case you were wondering. If all of this data was stored on 1TB disk drives, instead of a mix of disk and tape, it would take over one million city blocks to house all the data centers required.
Tom indicated that data is to the 21st century what steam was for the 18th century, electricity was for the 19th century, and hydrocarbons were for the 20th century.
Tom invited Mike Reagan, CIO of Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi, to say a few words on why Infrastructure matters to his IT environment. The [Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi] is a 364-bed multi-specialty facility, the first US-hospital replicated outside of North America.
Mike explained their great success partnering with IBM to develop a private cloud solution. Each patient has a bedside tablet that can be used to control the entertainment, lighting, temperature and window shades. It can also be used to Skype with family and friends. The facility is four times the floorspace of the Sands Expo that this event is being helenovo 61 CES awardsld in.
Jamie Thomas, IBM General Manager, Storage and Software Defined Systems
Jamie feels that data is all about security and economics. Storage admins must become the new [data scientists] for IT.
It is important to integrate traditional "Systems of Record" with new "Systems of Engagement" workloads. Her focus areas are Software Defined Storage, Flash technologies, and storage virtualization. Specific examples included:
Mike talked about how important Electronic Health Record [EHR] systems and advanced clinical diagnostics are to help make the right medical decisions.
Greg explained that Citi was operating at global scale in 100 countries. Citi partnered with IBM to deploy commodity compute servers, 10GbE/40GbE Ethernet networking and IBM Software Defined Storage to achieve Cloud economics and Cloud scale. Citi can't afford for server, storage and network admins to work separately.
Rather than contesting [Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman's FUD about this deal], Adalio took the high road, and focused on IBM's success in the x86 server space. New offerings include the X6 architecture, including PureSystems and the NextScale dense computing platform.
Adalio invited Christian Teismann, Lenovo, on stage. Christian re-iterated that IBM and Lenovo are both committed to a smooth transition, continuing IBM's roadmap for the x86 server platform, and full consideration for the x86 servers and related storage, software, service and maintenance.
IBM has had a strong relationship with Lenovo already with the acquisition of IBM's PC division, and now this deal brings together Chinese supply chain efficiency with Western ideals and design principles. Lenovo has about 46,000 employees, nearly 4,000 R&D engineers, and will acquire an additional 7,500 IBMers when the deal completes.
Adalio then invited two clients to join him on stage: Ron Grabyan, Manager of Data Warehousing Services at [Southern California Edison], and Rohit Lal, IT Direction of Coca-Cola.
Ron indicated that actionable insights must be fast for productivity. He mentioned the funny [MetLife television commercial featuring Charlie Brown and Lucy] declaring that term-life insurance should cost only "five cents" per month. In the same manner, end users often request that response times should be short. IBM was able to get response times from 40 seconds down to "5 seconds" by helping Ron deploy SAP HANA. Another process that took 53 minutes was down to 1 minute 20 seconds.
Rohit talked about their exciting new "Coke One North America" (CONA) project. This will provide consolidated IT services for 6 different Coca-Cola bottlers in North America. With $46 Billion USD in revenue serving 1.8 billion servings of beverage per day, the use of Analytics, SAP HANA and private cloud were critical to their business.
The industry recognizes Lenovo as a major x86 player, having had 20 quarters of growth outpacing the market. Lenovo has [won 61 CES 2014 awards], more than the other top five x86 vendors combined. IBM x86 servers are ideal for Enterprise solutions, Cloud, HPC, embedded designs, and IT infrastructure deployments. IBM is #1 in x86 server customer satisfaction, #1 in x86 server up-time, and boasts the #1 fastest x86-based supercomputer. IBM and Lenovo want to take this to the next level: #1 leadership in every x86 category.
For those on Twitter, my handle is @az990tony and the hashtag for this event is #IBMEdge.
The Harvard Extension School is running a course focused on virtual law with a Second Life component. Rebecca Nesson (’Rebecca Berkman’ in Second Life) is teaching the class. The lectures, which look fascinating, are available to at-large participants on Berkman Island [SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Berkman/113/70/24].
You can attend the lectures in Second Life on Monday evenings from 8:00-10:00pm EST (5:00-7:00pm SL time). Videos of past lectures are linked on the course’s web site, where you can also find the syllabus, a wiki, and more.
The US version of The Office (which does an excellent job of being almost as funny as the BBC version) is no stranger to life online. It’s fun to spot Kevin, Meredith, Creed, Roy, Pam all on MySpace, and Dwight has a blog. This week they dipped into Second Life. The very same week as CSI:NY; It’s all getting very mainstream.
Of course, the Office’s treatment of SL was as tongue-in-cheek as you’d expect…
Dwight:“Second Life is not a game. It is a Multi User Virtual Environment. It doesn’t have points or scores or winners or losers.”
Jim:“Oh, it has losers.”
Steve Nelson at Clear Ink, the team behind bringing the office into SL for the episode, has [written about the project] and carefully lists the locations and clothing used.
I watched this episode and loved how they were able to blend it in seamlessly without looking out of placeor awkward reference.
Cisco Systems Inc. has been staging virtual meetings between developers and channel partners in Second Life for more than a year, but this invitation was a first for me. So a presentation announcing the winners of a networking technology innovation contest -- inside a Second Life simulation -- seemed like the place to be.
I'm probably an SL noob (for newbie) by most standards, but I've spent enough time there to know most of the ways to move and how to search out islands and events.
In all, I would say the Cisco event sparked my interest in the SL virtual meeting format, but my attention was focused more on making things in SL work smoothly than on the material presented.
I've had some interesting conversations with event-coordinators looking for advice on setting up events in Second Life, so I suspect that is a good sign that this is still growing momentum.