Continuing my coverage of the IBM Systems Technical University in Orlando, here are the sessions that I presented or attended on Days 4 (Thursday).
Most IBM conferences are 4.5 days long, which means that there are typically two or three sessions on Friday morning. Unfortunately, the two sessions I was planning to attend on Friday were both cancelled, so Day 4 was the end of my week for this conference.
technorati tags: IBM, #ibmtechu, Jack Arnold, Andrea Sipka, Mo McCullough, Vinyl LP, Spectrum Scale, Elastic Storage Server, ESS, IP Replication, SVC, Storwize V7000, LTO-7, TS4500, Spectrum Virtualize, Mike Griese, Jim Blue
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.
With Microsoft [dropping support for Windows XP this April], many people got new PCs for the holidays.
(Why not just upgrade to a newer version of Windows in place? Well, [Microsoft Windows 7 requires a minimum of 1GB of RAM, with 4GB recommended], and these old machines simply do not have enough memory. If the motherboard could support the hardware and software upgrades, the cost of Windows 7 license and 4GB of RAM might get into hundreds of dollars!)
So what happens to the old machines? They come to me, of course, with three requests:
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.
(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 RAM: 32MB 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!
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.
I am sure there are other triumphs I had throughout the year, but these are the first the come to mind.
This week, I was in Sydney, Australia teaching IBM Storage Portfolio Top Gun class.
Our hotel is near [Circular Quay], and our class is at the IBM Centre at St. Leonards, just six metro stops away. There are also ferry boats from Circular Quay to other parts of the city.
Here are other members of the teach team. Scott McPeek covers the IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center, SAN Volume Controller and Tivoli Storage Productivity Center. Vic Peltz covers high-end disk, disk replication, and competitive issues. Here we are in front of the [Sydney Opera House].
We arrived at 4:15pm to discover they weren't open for dinner until 5:30pm. We managed to find some beverages at the bar next door. Corona beer?!?! I just travelled thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean to be offered Mexican beer I can get locally in Tucson? I don't think so! Instead, we got some local Tasmanian brew.
Once seated, our table at Doyles was outdoors on the patio, with stunning views of the sunset. The weather was just right, cool and crisp sea air, but not windy.
I tried their Sydney Sangria which combines red wine, fruit juices and ginger beer. This had an interesting kick. If you have never tried Ginger beer, I highly recommend it! For dinner, I had the Flathead fish and chips. All of the fish at Doyles is locally sourced.
We got done with dinner just in time to catch the last ferry boat at 6:55pm! We literally were the last three to get on the boat before they pulled up the gangplank!
On Monday night, after the first day of class, our friends at [Brocade] invited us to a Pizza-and-Beer reception at the [Cabana Bar and Lounge], similar to the Brocade reception at Sale Street Bar last week in Auckland. Here I am with Katie, one of the Brocade employees hosting the event.
While at the reception, we had a terrible rain storm. I am so glad we were not on the street at that time. Some of our colleagues were not so lucky, and arrived soaking wet!
Special thanks to Tim Lees, the Brocade partner manager to IBM in ANZ, for hosting these receptions in both Auckland and Sydney!
On Tuesday, I once again presented the [Storwize family, DS3500 and DCS3700 disk systems]. Based on student feedback from last week's Auckland class, we took out some of the more technical details of each product, and added more information on the business value of each feature.
For my presentation on "IBM's Big Four Initiatives - Understanding Social, Media, Analytics and Cloud", I added more explanation on Hadoop for the big data analytics section. I even installed [IBM InfoSphere BigInsights] on my laptop to run a sample MapReduce job. The [Basic Edition 2.0 version can be downloaded from developerWorks] for free!
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".