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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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The proof-of-concept that IBM Haifa research center developed back in 1998 became what we now call the iSCSI protocol.The book iSCSI: The Universal Storage Connection introduces the history as follows:
In the fall of 1999 IBM and Cisco met to discuss the possibility of combining their SCSI-over-TCP/IP efforts. After Cisco saw IBM's demonstration of SCSI over TCP/IP, the two companies agreed to develop a proposal that would be taken to the IETF for standardization.
There are three ways to introduce iSCSI into your data center:
Through a gateway, like the IBM System Storage N series gateway, that allows iSCSI-based servers connect to FC-based storage devices
Through a SAN switch or director, a FC-based server can access iSCSI-based storage, an iSCSI-based server accessing FC-based storage, or even iSCSI-based servers attaching to iSCSI-based storage.
Directly through the storage controller.
IBM has been delivering the first method with its successful IBM System Storage N series gateway products, buttoday we have announced additional support for the second and third methods.Here's a quick recap.
New SAN director blades
Supporting the second method, IBM TotalStorage SAN256B Director is enhanced to deliver iSCSI functionality with a new M48 iSCSI Blade, which includes 16 ports (8 Fibre Channel ports; and 8 Ethernet ports for iSCSI connectivity). We also announced a new Fibre Channel M48 Blade which provides 10 Gbps Fibre Channel Inter Switch Link (ISL) connectivity between SAN256B Directors.
With support for Boot-over-iSCSI, diskless rack-optimized and blade servers can boot Windows or Linux over Ethernet,eliminating the management hassles with internal disk.
All of this is part of IBM's overall push into the Small and Medium size Business marketplace, making it easier to shop for and buy from IBM and its many IBM Business Partners, easier to deploy and install storage, and easier tomanage the storage once you have it.
Wrapping up this week's theme on ways to make the planet smarter, and less confusing, I present IBM's third annual [five in five]. These are five IBM innovations to watch over the next five years, all of which have implications on information storage. Here is a quick [3-minute video] that provides the highlights:
Rather than a target weight, I chose a target waist measurement, but did not quite make this one. I did keep up with my weekly exercise regime, but we recently installed an "ice cream freezer" here at work, and I have failed to resist temptation.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
In my post [Stayingon Budget], I resolved to "reduce, reuse and recycle". I have taken measures to de-clutter and simplify mylife, and already things are paying off. So I am happy about this one.
Learn to Better use Lotus Notes and Office 2007 software
In my post [Honeyour Tools and Skills], I resolved to learn how to better use Lotus Notes and Office 2007. We never got Office 2007.In a surprise move, IBM put out Lotus Symphony, an Office 2007 replacement. Lotus Symphony works on IBM's three approved recognized desktop platforms (Windows XP, Linux and Mac OS X). Here's a collection of [IBM Press Releases about Lotus Symphony].
I did learn how to better use Lotus Notes,thanks to Alan Lepofsky's blog [IBM Lotus Notes Hints, Tips, and Tricks].Ironically, the best help for dealing with Lotus Notes was not the software itself, but the skills in handling emailin general. This includes:
Resist the urge to copy the world, and better use "bcc" to be kind to upper management on "reply all" respondents.
Avoid attaching large documents, but use URL's to NAS file shares, websites, or [YouSendIt.com] instead. Obviously, the recipient has to have access to whatever you point to, but it greatly reduces total email volume and improves transmission over wireless.
Delegate. A lot of times I was the "middleman" between someone asking a question, and someone else Iknew had the answer. Now, I just introduce them together and step out of the way.
Checking email only a few times a day. I use to check my email every 5-10 minutes, now only 2-4 times per day.
In my post, [Lighten Up], I resolved to laugh more, stretch more, get enough sleep, and listen to music more. I participated in monthly[Tucson Laughter Club]events, incorporated stretching in my weekly exercise program, have gotten more sleep, and rediscovered some of my older music that I hadn't listened to in a while. Overall, I feel happy I met this one.
My New Year's Resolutions for 2008:
Improve my writing skills
Going back through my past blog postings, some of my sentences and paragraphs were frightful. I resolve toimprove my sentence and paragraph structure, and make better use of HTML tags to improve the layout andformatting.
Improve my HTML and Web design skills
Contribute to the OLPC Foundation
Last year, as a "Day 1 Donor", I had donated to this important charitable organization to help educate the childrenof third world nations. This year, I plan to learn Python and other programming languages used on the XO laptop,and see how I can contribute my skills and expertise on the OLPC forums.
Eat Healthier and Drink more
I think my downfall with last year's resolution was that it was merely a goal, 35 inch waist, rather thana "call for action". This year, I plan to eat more fish, salads, whole grains and other heart-healthy foods.
While many people resolve to "Quit Drinking", I need to drink more. My doctor, my personaltrainer, and even my interpreter teams, have asked me to do so. We live in Tucson, Arizona, during a centuryof global warming, and dehydration can cause stress on the body.
Attend more movies and film-making events
Last year, I joined the Tucson Film Society, and produced[my first film], part of which was filmedfrom Bogota, Colombia. I got invited to see a lot of independent films, premieres, and film-maker events, but did not attend many. I resolve to attend more in 2008.
Get better Organized
Moving offices from one building to another brought to light that I wasn't well organized. While I havemade some efforts to de-clutter my home, I need to step this up to my work as well.
I decided to start with something very non-tech, a [Hipster PDA]. I have nowmet or heard several people who use this approach successfully, and have decided to give it a try.
Hopefully, this list might inspire you to come up with your own resolutions. Not surprisingly, writing them in a public forum helped me keep most of them, and stick to my resolutions throughout the year.
Continuing this week's theme on Cloud Computing, Dynamic Infrastructure and Data Center Networking, IBM unveiled details of an advanced computing system that will be able to compete with humans on Jeopardy!, America’s favorite quiz television show. Additionally, officials from Jeopardy! announced plans to produce a human vs. machine competition on the renowned show.
For nearly two years, IBM scientists have been working on a highly advanced Question Answering (QA) system, codenamed "Watson" after IBM's first president, [Thomas J. Watson]. The scientists believe that the computing system will be able to understand complex questions and answer with enough precision and speed to compete on Jeopardy!Produced by Sony Pictures Television, the trivia questions on Jeopardy! cover a broad range of topics, such as history, literature, politics, film, pop culture, and science. It poses a grand challenge for a computing system due to the variety of subject matter, the speed at which contestants must provide accurate responses, and because the clues given to contestants involve analyzing subtle meaning, irony, riddles, and other complexities at which humans excel and computers traditionally do not. Watson will incorporate massively parallel analytical capabilities and, just like human competitors, Watson will not be connected to the Internet or have any other outside assistance.
If this all sounds familiar, you might remember some of the events that have led up to this:
In 1984, the movie ["The Terminator"] introduced the concept of [Skynet], a fictional computer system developed by the militarythat becomes self-aware from its advanced artificial intelligence.
In 1997, an IBM computer called Deep Blue defeated World Chess Champion [Garry Kasparov] in a famous battle of human versus machine. To compete at chess, IBM built an extremely fast computer that could calculate 200 million chess moves per second based on a fixed problem. IBM’s Watson system, on the other hand, is seeking to solve an open-ended problem that requires an entirely new approach – mainly through dynamic, intelligent software – to even come close to competing with the human mind. Despite their massive computational capabilities, today’s computers cannot consistently analyze and comprehend sentences, much less understand cryptic clues and find answers in the same way the human brain can.
In 2005, Ray Kurzweil wrote [The Singularity is Near] referring to the wonders that artificial intelligence will bring to humanity.
The research underlying Watson is expected to elevate computer intelligence and human-to-computer communication to unprecedented levels. IBM intends to apply the unique technological capabilities being developed for Watson to help clients across a wide variety of industries answer business questions quickly and accurately.
Continuing my week in Chicago, for the IBM Storage Symposium 2008, I attended several sessions intended to answer the questions of the audience.
In an effort to be cute, the System x team have a "Meet the xPerts" session at their System x and BladeCenter Technical Conference, so the storage side decided to do the same. Traditionally, these have been called "Birds of a Feature", "Q&A Panel", or "Free-for-All". They allow anyone to throw out a question, and have the experts in the room, either
IBM, Business Partner or another client, answer the question from their experience.
Meet the Experts - Storage for z/OS environments
Here were some of the questions answered:
I've seen terms like "z/OS", "zSeries" and "System z" used interchangeably, can you help clarify what this particular session is about?
IBM's current mainframe servers are all named "System z", such as our System z9 or System z10. These replace the older zSeries models of hardware. z/OS is one of the six operating systems that run on this hardware platform. The other five are z/VM, z/VSE, z/TPF, Linux and OpenSolaris. The focus of this session will be storage attached and used for z/OS specifically, including discussions of Omegamon and DFSMS software products.
What can we do to reduce our MIPS-based software licensing costs from our third party vendors?
Consider using IBM System z Integrated Information Processor
What about 8 Gbps FICON?
IBM has already announced
[FICON Express8] host bus adapter (HBA) cards, that will auto-negotiate to 4Gbps and 2Gbps speeds. If you don't need full 8Gbps speed now, you can
still get the Express8 cards, but put 4/2/1 Gbps SFP ports instead. Currently, LongWave (LW) is only supported to 4km at 8Gbps speed.
I want to use Global Mirror for my DS8100 to my remote DS8100, but also make test copies of my production data to
an older ESS 800 I have locally. Any suggestions? Yes, consider using FlashCopy to simplify this process.
I have Global Mirror (GM) running now successfully with DSCLI, and now want to deploy IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Replication. Is that possible? Yes, Productivity Center for Replication will detect existing GM relationships, and start managing them.
I have already deployed HyperPAV and zHPF, is there any value in getting Solid-State Drives as well?
HyperPAV and zHPF impact CONN time, but SSD impacts DISC time, so they are mutually complementary.
How should I size my FlashCopy SE pool? SE refers to "Space Efficient", which stores only the changes
between the source and destination copies of each LUN or CKD volume involved. General recommendation is to start with 20 percent and adjust accordingly.
How many RAID ranks should I configure per DS8000 extent pool? IBM recommends 4 to 8 ranks per pool.
Meet the Experts: Storage for Linux, UNIX and Windows distributed systems
This session was focused on storage systems attached to distributed servers, as well as products from Tivoli used to manage them. Here were some of the questions answered:
When we migrated from Tivoli Storage Manager v5 to v6, we lost our favorite "Operational Reporting" tool. How can we get TOR back? You now get the new Tivoli Common Reporting tool.
How can we identify appropriate port distribution for multiple SVC node pairs for load balancing?
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v4.1 has hot-spot analysis with recommendations for Vdisk migrations.
We tried TotalStorage Productivity Center way back when, but the frequent upgrades were killing us. How has it been lately? It has been much more stable since v3.3, and completely renamed to Tivoli Storage Productivity Center to avoid association with versions 1 and 2 of the predecessor product. The new "lightweight agents" feature of v4.1 resolve many of the problems you were experiencing.
We have over 1600 SVC virtual disks, how do we handle this in IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center? Use the Filter capability in combination with clever naming conventions for your virtual disks.
How can we be clever when we are limited to only 15 characters? Ok. We understand.
We are currently using an SSPC with Windows 2003 and 2GB memory, but we are only using the Productivity Center for Replication feature of it. Can we move the DB2 database over to a Windows 2008 server with 4GB of memory?
Consider using the IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Replication software instead of SSPC for special
circumstances like this.
We love the XIV GUI, how soon will all other IBM storage products have it also? As with every acquisition,
IBM evaluates if there are technologies from new products that can be carried back to existing products.
We are currently using 12 ports on our existing XIV, and love it so much we plan to buy a second frame, but are concerned about consuming another 12 ports on our SAN switch. Any suggestions? Yes, use only six ports per frame. Just because you have more ports, doesn't mean you are required to use them.
We have heard there are concerns from the legal community about using deduplication technology, any ideas how to address that?
Nobody here in the room is a lawyer, and you should consult legal counsel for any particular situation.
None of the IBM offerings intended for non-erasable, non-rewriteable (NENR) data retention records (DR550, WORM tape, N series SnapLock) support dedupe today, and none of IBM's deduplication offerings (TS7650,N series A-SIS,TSM) make any claims for fit-for-purpose for compliance regulatory storage. However, be assured that all of IBM's dedupe technology involves byte-for-byte comparisons so that you never lose any data due to false hash collisions. For all IBM compliance storage, what you write will be read back in the correct sequence of ones and zeros.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and we have more IBM announcements.
XIV asynchronous mirror
For those not using XIV behind SAN Volume Controller, [XIV now offers native asynchronous mirroring] support to another XIV far, far away. Unlike other disk systems that are limited to two or three sites, an XIV can mirror to up to 15 other sites. The mirroring can be at the individual volume, or a consistency group of multiple volumes. Each mirror pair can have its own recovery point objective (RPO). For example, a consistency group of mission critical application data might be given an RPO of 30 seconds, but less important data might be given an RPO of 20 minutes. This allows the XIV to prioritize packets it sends across the network.
As with XIV synchronous mirror, this new asynchronous mirror feature can send the data over either its
Fibre Channel ports (via FCIP) or its Ethernet ports.
The IBM System Storage SAN384B and SAN768B directors now offer [two new blades!]
A 24-port FCoCEE blade where each port can handle 10Gb convergence enhanced Ethernet (CEE). CEE can be used to transmit Fibre Channel, TCP/IP, iSCSI and other Ethernet protocols. This connect directly to server's converged network adapter (CNA) cards.
A 24-port mixed blade, with 12 FC ports (1Gbps, 2Ggbs, 4Gbps, 8Gbps), 10 Ethernet ports (1GbE) and 2 Ethernet ports (10GbE). This would connect to traditional server NIC, TOE and HBA cards as well as traditional NAS, iSCSI and FC based storage devices.
IBM also announced the IBM System Storage [SAN06B-R Fibre Channel router]. This has 16 FC ports (1Gbps up to 8Gbps) and six Ethernet ports (1GbE), with support for both FC routing as well as FCIP extended distance support.
With the holiday season coming up at the end of the year, now is a great time to ask Santa for a new shiny pair of XIV systems, and some extra networking gear to connect them.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and that means IBM announcements!
We've got a variety of storage-related items today, so here's my quick recap:
DS5020 and EXP520 disk systems
[IBM System Storage DS5020]
provides the functional replacement for DS4700 disk systems. These are combined controller
and 16 drives in a compact 3U package.
The EXP520 expansion drawer provides additional 16 drives per 3U drawer. A DS5020 can
support upo to six additional EXP520, for a total of 112 drives per system.
The DS5020 supports both 8 Gbps FC as well as 1GbE iSCSI.
New Remote Support Manager (DS-RSM model RS2)
The [IBM System Storage DS-RSM Model
RS2] supports of up to 50 disk systems, any mix of DS3000, DS4000 and DS5000 series.
It includes "call home" support, which is really "email home", sending error alerts to IBM
if there are any problems. The RSM also allows IBM to dial-in to perform diagnostics before
arrival, reducing the time needed to resolve a problem. The model RS2 is a beefier model
with more processing power than the prior generation RS1.
New Ethernet Switches
With the increased interest in iSCSI protocol, and the new upcoming Fibre Channel over
Convergence Enhanced Ethernet (FCoCEE), IBM's re-entrance into the ethernet switch market
has drawn a lot of interest.
The [IBM Ethernet Switch r-
series] offers 4-slot, 8-slot, 16-slot, and 32-slot models. Each slot can handle either
16 10GbE ports, or 48 1GbE ports. This means up to 1,536 ports.
The [c-series] now offers a
24-port model. This is either 24 copper and 4 fiber optic, or 24 fiber optic.
The "hybrid fiber" SFP fiber optic can handle either single or multi-mode, eliminating the
need to commit to one or the other, providing greater data center flexibility.
The [IBM Ethernet Switch B24X]
offers 24 fiber optic (that can handle 10GbE or 1GbE) and 4 copper (10/100/1000 MbE RJ45)
Storage Optimization and Integration Services
[IBM Storage Optimization and
Integration Services] are available. IBM service consultants use IBM's own
Storage Enterprise Resource Planner (SERP) software to evaluate your environment and provide
recommendations on how to improve your information infrastructure. This can be especially
helpful if you are looking at deploying server virtualization like VMware or Hyper-V.
As people look towards deploying a dynamic infrastructure, these new offerings can be a
Tonight I had dinner with Henry Daboub (an SVC expert from Houston, TX) and some clients, who asked what I would blog about tonight, and I figured it made sense to blog about the SVC.
Hu Yoshida clarifies his position about storage virtualization, including the statement: "As a result they can not provide the availability, scalability, and performance of a DS8300. If they could, there would be no need for a DS8300."
Of course, if humans descended from apes, why are there still apes? Now that we have cars, why are there still trains? But perhaps a better question is: now that there are supercomputers, why are there still mainframe servers?
The issue is the difference between scale-up versus scale-out. Scale-up is making a single box as big and beefy as possible. When the SVC was introduced, the major vendors all had scale-up designs: IBM ESS 800, HDS Lightning, EMC Symmetrix. Like the mainframe, they were for customers that wanted everything in a single monolithic container.
SAN Volume Controller was the result of IBM Research asking the question, if you could put anyone's software (feature and functionality) on anyone's hardware (monolithic scale-up design), what combination would you choose? What if the brains inside today's monolithic systems could be snapped into the another vendor's frame? What if you could run SRDF on an HDS box, or ShadowImage on an IBM box? The surprising response was that most customers would want a single software for consistency, but wanted the option to choose from different vendors hardware, to negotiate the best price of the commodity iron. Based on this feedback, the SVC was born.
The idea was simple, put all the brains in a separate appliance. The appliance would do the non-disruptive migrations, the caching, the striping, and all the copy services. This lets the customer chose then the hardware they want, any mix of FC and ATA disk, from any vendor.
The SVC design was based on IBM's long history in supercomputers. Using the same "scale-out" technology, the power comes not from having it all in one monolithic box, but rather in a design that combines small nodes together. While the cache is not globally shared, the data is shared between node-pairs, and the logical-to-physical mapping is routed around to all nodes in a cluster. Each SVC node talks to each other SVC node through the FCP ports, eliminating the need for additional wiring. For the most part, each node does its own separate work, but when it needs to, they can communicate across, just like nodes in a supercomputer.
Both the SVC and the DS8300 Turbo have better than 99.999 percent availability, based on redundant components designed for no single point of failure (SPOF). IBM has sold thousands of each, and they have been in the field enough time that we can make that claim. There is nothing between scale-up versus scale-out that makes on inherently more available than the other.
Both the SVC and the DS8300 Turbo can scale from as little as a few TB of disk, to hundreds of TB of disk. We have yet to meet a customer that is too big for the SVC. The DS8300 Turbo is able to scale by adding up to four extension frames, but is still considered a single box from a scale-up perspective. From a processor perspective, an 8-node SVC cluster has 16 Intel Xeon processors, and the DS8300 has 8 POWER5+ processors (dual 4-way). The key advantage of scale-out is that you can add capacity to the SVC in smaller increments. Jumping from a DS8100 (dual 2-way) to a DS8300 (dual 4-way) is a big jump.
SVC remains the fastest disk system in the industry, based on both the SPC-1 and SPC-2 benchmarks. The latest model now supports 8GB per node, for a total of 64GB for an 8-node cluster. This can be used for both read and write non-volatile storage. By comparison, DS8300 Turbo has 32GB write non-volatile storage, and up to 256 GB of read-only cache. The SVC is able to do 155,519 IOPS, faster than the 123,030 IOPS for the DS8300, and of course faster than anything from EMC, HDS, HP or Texas Memory Systems. Of course, workloads vary, and there might be some workloads where the 256GB of read-only cache of the monolithic DS8300 is the better choice.
Both SVC and DS8300 Turbo offer FlashCopy (point-in-time copy), Metro Mirror (synchronous) and Global Mirror (asynchronous). SVC provides the additional benefit that it can perform a FlashCopy from one frame to another, and the ability to migrate data seemlessly from one box to another.
Interestingly, IBM has seen a resurgence in both mainframe sales, as well as interest in supercomputers. Both have their place, based on the workload characteristics, and so IBM will continue to offer both modular scale-out designs, as well as monolithic scale-up designs, to meet the different needs of the marketplace.
This week and next, I am down under in Australia and New Zealand for a seven-city Storage Optimisation Breakfast series of presentations to clients and prospects. My first city for this seven-city tour was Sydney, Australia.
Here is the view from my room at the [Shangri-La hotel], including the famous [Sydney Opera House] and Circular Quay, from which to take a water taxi or ride the Manly Ferry. [Sydney harbour] is the deepest harbour in the Southern Hemisphere, allowing boats of all sizes to enter. This section of the city is known as "The Rocks".
Sydney is a very modern metropolis. The last time I was in Sydney was in May 2007 to teach an IBM Top Gun class. My post back then on [Dealing with Jet Lag] is as relevant now as it was back then. In addition to being 9 hours off-shifted from last week in Dallas, Texas, I also have to deal with the colder climate, about 40 degrees F cooler down here. The weather is crisp and clear, it is Winter going into Spring down here as the seasons are flipped below the equator.
Many of the buildings are recognizable from the movie ["The Matrix"] which was filmed here. We joked that this seven-city trip was also similar to [The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert], in that both journeys started in Sydney. If you haven't seen the latter, I highly recommend it to get to learn more about Australia as a country.
(Completely useless trivia: Actor Hugo Weaving appeared in both movies. While most people associate him with Australia, where he has lived since 1976, he actually was born in Nigeria, and traveled extensively because his father worked in the computer industry.)
Here I am standing next to our banner.
The line-up for each event is simple. After all the attendees sit down for breakfast, we have the following three sessions:
First, Anna Wells, local IBM Executive for Storage Sales in Australia and New Zealand presents IBM's strategy for storage, and how IBM plans to address Storage Efficiency, Data Protection and Service Delivery. She then highlights various products that are currently available to help meet customer needs, including XIV and the SAN Volume Controller (SVC).
Second, we have a client or two share their success story. We will have different speakers at the different locations.
Third, I present on future trends that will impact the storage marketplace. With only 40 minutes for my section, I decided to focus on just three specific trends, with a mix of some colorful analogies to help emphasize my key points.
We had a great turn-out for our first event in Sydney, lots of clients and prospects came out for this. There is a lot of enthusiasm for IBM's vision, thought leadership, and broad portfolio of storage solutions.
I have arrived safely in Las Vegas for the IBM System Storage and Storage Networking Symposium. This eventis held once every year. The gold sponsors were: Brocade, Cisco, Finisar, Servergraph, and VMware. Our silversponsor was Qlogic.
I presented IBM's System Storage strategy and an overview of our product line. For those who missed it,our strategy is focused on helping customers in four key areas:
Optimize IT - to simplify and automate your IT operations and optimize performance and functionality, through server/storage synergies, storage virtualization, and intergrated storage infrastructure management.
Leverage Information - to enable a single view of trusted business information through data sharing, and to get the most value from information through Information Lifecycle Management (ILM).
Mitigate Risk - to comply with security and regulatory requirements, and keep your business running with a complete set of business continuity solutions. IBM offers a range of non-erasable, non-rewriteable storage, encryption on disk and tape, and support for IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) service management disciplines.
Enable Business Flexibility - to provide scalable solutions and protect your IT investment through the use of open industry standards like Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S). IBM offers scalability in three dimensions: Scale-up, Scale-out, and Scale-within.
IBM has a broad storage portfolio, in seven offering categories:
Disk Systems, including our SAN Volume Controller, DS family, and N series.
Tape Systems, including tape drives, libraries and virtualization.
Storage Networking, a complete set of switches, directors and routes
Infrastructure Management, featuring the IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center software
Business Continuity, advanced copy services and the software to manage them
Lifecycle and Retention, our non-erasable, non-rewriteable storage including DR550, N series with SnapLock, and WORM tape support, Grid Archive Manager and our Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS)
Storage Services, everything from consulting, design and deployment to outsourcing and hosting.
I could talk all day on this, but given that the room was packed, every seat taken and the rest of the audience standing along the walls, I had to keep it down to one hour.
SAN Volume Controller Overview
I presented an overview of the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC), IBM's flagship disk virtualizationproduct. Rather than giving a long laundry list of features and benefits,I focused on the five that matter most:
Reduces the cost and complexity of managing storage, especially for mixed storage environments
Simplifies Business Continuity through non-disruptive data migration and advanced copy services
Improves storage utilization, getting more value from the storage hardware you already have
Enhances personnel productivity, empowering storage administrators to get their job done
Delivers high availability and performance
SAN Volume Controller - Customer Success Stories
A good part of this conference are presented by non-IBMers, which include Business Partners and clientssharing their experiences. In this session, we had two speakers share their experiences with SVC.
David Snyder keeps over 80 web sites online and available. His digital media technologiesteam uses SVC to make their storage administration easier, and ensure high availability for web site content creation and publishing.
Mark Prybylski manages storage at his company, a financial bank. His storage management team uses SVC Global Mirror which provides asynchronous disk mirroring between different types of disk, as part oftheir Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery plan.
The last session I attended was "Storage .. to Optimize your ECM depoloyments" by Jerry Bower, now working for IBM as part of our recent acquisition of the Filenet company. ECM stands for Enterprise Content Management, and IBM is the market leader in this space. Jerry gave a great overview of IBM Content Manager software suite, our newly acquired Filenet portfolio, and the storage supported.
After the sessions was a reception at the Solution Center with dozens of exhibitor booths. For example,Optica Technologies had their PRIZM productswhich are able to connect FICON servers to ESCON storage devices.
Last week, US President Barack Obama declared September 2011 as "National Preparedness Month". Here is an excerpt of the press release:
Whenever our Nation has been challenged, the American people have responded with faith, courage, and strength. This year, natural disasters have tested our response ability across all levels of government. Our thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives have been impacted by recent storms, and we will continue to stand with them in their time of need. This September also marks the 10th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, which united our country both in our shared grief and in our determination to prevent future generations from experiencing similar devastation. Our Nation has weathered many hardships, but we have always pulled together as one Nation to help our neighbors prepare for, respond to, and recover from these extraordinary challenges.
In April of this year, a devastating series of tornadoes challenged our resilience and tested our resolve. In the weeks that followed, people from all walks of life throughout the Midwest and the South joined together to help affected towns recover and rebuild. In Joplin, Missouri, pickup trucks became ambulances, doors served as stretchers, and a university transformed itself into a hospital. Local businesses contributed by using trucks to ship donations, or by rushing food to those in need. Disability community leaders worked side-by-side with emergency managers to ensure that survivors with disabilities were fully included in relief and recovery efforts. These stories reveal what we can accomplish through readiness and collaboration, and underscore that in America, no problem is too hard and no challenge is too great.
Preparedness is a shared responsibility, and my Administration is dedicated to implementing a "whole community" approach to disaster response. This requires collaboration at all levels of government, and with America's private and nonprofit sectors. Individuals also play a vital role in securing our country. The National Preparedness Month Coalition gives everyone the chance to join together and share information across the United States. Americans can also support volunteer programs through www.Serve.gov, or find tools to prepare for any emergency by visiting the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Ready Campaign website at [www.Ready.gov] or [www.Listo.gov].
In the last few days, we have been tested once again by Hurricane Irene. While affected communities in many States rebuild, we remember that preparedness is essential. Although we cannot always know when and where a disaster will hit, we can ensure we are ready to respond. Together, we can equip our families and communities to be resilient through times of hardship and to respond to adversity in the same way America always has -- by picking ourselves up and continuing the task of keeping our country strong and safe.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2011 as National Preparedness Month. I encourage all Americans to recognize the importance of preparedness and observe this month by working together to enhance our national security, resilience, and readiness.
IBM has several webinars to help you prepare for upcoming disasters.
Today, September 8, at 4pm EDT, IBM is hosting a [CloudChat on Business Resilience] will focus on resiliency and continuity in the cloud—a timely topic considering the recent weather events on the East Coast of the U.S. This chat will include Richard Cocchiara, IBM Distinguished Engineer and CTO, IBM Business Continuity and Resiliency Services (@RichCocchiara1) and Patrick Corcoran, Global Business Development, IBM Business Continuity and Resiliency Services (@PatCorcoranIBM).
Don't think you can afford Disaster Recovery planning? Next week, September 13, I will be joined with a few other experts on freeing up much needed funds from your tight IT budget, by being more efficient. The Webinar [Taming Data Growth Made Easy] is part of IBM's "IT Budget Killer" series.
Lastly, on September 21, IBM will have the Webinar [Planning for Disaster Recovery in a Power Environment: Best Practices to Protect Your Data]. This will cover principal lessons learned from disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the World Trade Center, local and regional considerations for Disaster Recovery Planning, planning Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs), and best practices for automation, mirroring and multiple Site Operational Efficiencies. A customer case study from University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) will help reinforce the concepts, with a discussion on how a major hospital ensures Business Continuity via Contingency Planning using IBM Power Systems. The speakers in clude Steve Finnes, World Wide Offering Manager for IBM Power Systems, Vic Peltz, Consulting IT Architect for WW Business Continuance Technical Marketing, and Rick Haverty, Director of IT Infrastructure at University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC).
Hopefully, you will find these webinars useful and informative!
This week, I am in Orlando, Florida presenting, blogging and tweeting at the IBM Edge conference. The first day began with opening main tent sessions. Deon Newman, IBM VP of Marketing, was the emcee. The four-person [Bella Electric Strings] rocked the house with some electric violins.
Game Change on a Smarter Planet: A New Era in IT
Rod Adkins, IBM Senior VP for the Systems and Technology Group, presented IBM's Smarter Computing strategy. For those not familiar with this, a little context might help.
Back in 2008, IBM launched its corporate-wide strategy called "Smarter Planet", which focused on solving the world's biggest problems through the effective use of Information Technology. To get there, everything needs to be instrumented to monitor and gather information, interconnected with centralized processing, and analyzed through intelligent algorithms.
Over the past few years, this general approach has been made more specific to tackle problems in particular industries. Detailed approaches like Smarter Cities, Smarter Energy, Smarter Education, Smarter Retail, Smarter Water and Smarter Food, are a few examples of this.
As IBM pursued solutions in each of these areas, clients realized they needed some guidance on the underlying IT infrastructure needed to deploy these solutions. Last year, IBM launched the Smarter Computing, which I [explained in great detail in my blog post last March].
Designed for the Data - to be fair, IBM systems have always been designed for the data. When the System/360 first came out, the bulk of data was stored in structured databases, so systems were designed for this. Today, over 80 percent of data is unstructured, not in a database, so the design and approach for systems today must reflect that new reality. For example, Big Data analytics is often used against spreadsheets, documents, social media feeds, and other unstructured sources.
Workload-Optimized Systems - There are two ways to have a workload-optimized system. The first is to start with general purpose components and tune them, and the second is to integrate expertise into the design.
Managed with Cloud technologies - Cloud computing has introduced new levels of standardization, automation and virtualization.
Rod wrapped up his session discussing the IBM PureSystems family of expert-integrated systems that IBM announced in April. This includes the PureFlex infrastructure system and the PureApplication platform system.
A New Approach to Storage
Brian Truskowski, IBM General Manager for System Storage and Networking, presented IBM's new approach to storage to support Smarter Computing environments.
Efficient by Design - Storage needs to be designed for the data, to store it efficiently, and be able to scale in the expected growth, driven by trends such as Big Data analytics.
Self-Optimizing - Storage needs to be self-optimizing for their particular application workloads, to avoid manual performance tuning efforts. Policies to handle Qualities of Service help optimize performance and costs based on business requirements.
Cloud Agile - Storage needs to be part of a virtualized environment, managed by Cloud technologies. This includes working seemlessly in environments with server hypervisors, storage hypervisors, virtual LANs, SANs and tape libraries.
With this new approach, clients will be able to increase competitiveness, while reducing both capital and operational expenses.
Yoni Cohen is the founder and CEO of Snowball Studios. They started with five artists, and grew to 60 people in a few years to take on bigger projects. They produce digital animation for television shows and commercials.
Despite their small size, they have a dedicated "IT" department. In addition to developing in-house tools for the artists to produce animation, they also were tasked to find the best storage solutions. Files storing 3D video can be quite large. After exhausting research into all the storage options, they chose IBM, and complemented this with the Real-Time Compression appliance for their NAS environments.
The results were stunning. A project that took 417GB before took only 148GB. a 64 percent data footprint reduction! He found he got this 3x reduction across his environment.
University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC)
University of Rochester is in New York state, about 60 miles east of Buffalo, and 90 miles from Toronto across Lake Ontario. Six years ago, Rick Haverty joined URMC as the Director of Infrastructure services, managing 130 of the 300 IT personnel at the Medical Center. I met Rick last year, when he presented at the [IBM Storage Innovation Executive Summit] in New York City. Last December, I co-presented with Rick on a session for SONAS at the [Data Center Conference].
URMC has DS8000, DS5000, XIV, SONAS, Storwize V7000 and is in the process of deploying Storwize V7000 Unified. He presented how he has used these for his Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA). For Rick, the IT Infrastructure has become the new "dial tone", everyone expects it to work 100 percent of the time.
For those not familiar with VNA, Rick has 36 different departments, and each was storing archives of their medical images in separate silos of storage. Using software from [Acuo Technologies], he was able to have all 36 different PACS systems store data onto a single storage repository. The side benefit is that all medical images are now readily available to the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system.
Main Tent for Technical Edge
After the opening session, the folks in Technical Edge moved to a different room for the main tent session. Mike Kuhn, IBM VP of Systems Lab Services, was the emcee. There were three guest speakers:
Clod Barrera, IBM Distinguished Engineer and Chief Technical Strategist for IBM System Storage, presented on storage trends and directions, and how this will influence workload-optimized systems, Cloud computing, Easy Tier, and Active Cloud Engine.
Jeff Jonas, IBM Fellow and Chief Scientist for IBM Entity Analytics, presented "Fantasy Analytics" which explained his work in the Business Analytics. He used "jigsaw puzzles" as an analogy to help explain for the type of work he is researching.
Dan McMillan, Chief Comedy Officer of his own company, was formerly an engineer, but now stand-up comedian. He poked fun at the IT industry, how things have changed since he was an engineer, and his ideal "Universal Business Translator".
Well, another week has gone by, and I am now back from my grand "Digital IBMer" trip to Europe! Here's what the second week involved.
Prague, Czech Republic
The cold and rainy weather followed us from Berlin! We were able to go to the old castle, light a candle for a friend in the hospital at the St. Vitus Cathedral, and walk across the famous Charles Bridge to go see the Astronomical Clock.
We stayed in the "Blind Eye" hostel, which was an awesome place, with friendly and helpful staff.
The weather was much nicer in Vienna, giving us a chance to see the palace and surrounding gardens. In front of the palace was an "Easter Market" where booths sold various arts and crafts, as well as delicious food and drink. I had a slab of ham, a pile of mustard, and a cup of [Glühwein], a hot drink made from mulled red wine.
I met several people at the hostel Ruthensteiner, from the UK, Argentina and Spain, and we all went out drinking at a Polish pub down the street.
The next morning we walked through the city center. We learned that this week leading up to Easter Sunday--known as Semana Santa in some countries--was also "Spring Break" for many students, which explained why we were starting to have a harder time finding hostels to stay at.
Salzburg means "City of Salt" and the salt mines in the area allowed the landlords to get rich. If you have seen the movie [The Sound of Music] then you already know how beautiful Salzburg is. The castle was incredible, and was used for military purposes until 1861, when it was opened to the public.
Inside the castle is an awesome museum for [Marionettes], which are puppets controlled from above by strings, still used in productions today.
Unable to find a youth hostel, we stayed in the lovely Alderhof Pension Hotel. It was quiet and well-situated near the main train station.
At Munich, we decide to take [Sandeman's "New Europe" free guided city walking tour]. It is free, in that the tour guides work entirely for tips. Tours were available in English or Spanish. This was about three hours long, and we gladly tipped heavily for such an informational tour of everything from the Glockenspiel to the Residenz palace. One stop on the tour was to see the main "Beer Garden" where rows and rows of people enjoying beer in the beautiful weather.
While in Munich, I was invited to see a sneak preview of the movie [Iron Sky], a campy, politically-incorrect, low-budget sci-fi comedy made in Europe with a mix of English language dialogue, and German language dialogue with English subtitles. The year is 2018, a woman that looks a lot like Sarah Palin is now president of the United States, and Nazis that have set up a moon-based space station back in 1945 are ready to attack. If you liked the movies "White Chicks" and "Battlefield Earth", then you might enjoy this one as well. You may need to know a bit about the history of the third Reich, the operas of Wagner, and the movie [The Great Dictator] by Charlie Chaplin, to make sense of some of the inside jokes.
We visited Heidelberg on [Good Friday and the place was a ghost town. The streets were nearly empty, and the tourist shops didn't open until 10am. Despite this, we managed to take the funicular train up the mountain to visit the castle, visit an interesting Pharmacy Museum, see the world's largest wine barrel, have a traditional German lunch, and take pictures of the old stone bridge.
We got back to Frankfurt and left Saturday morning to fly back to the United States.
We managed to visit 11 cities in six different countries over the course of 16 days. I was able to learn quite a lot about the use of mobile apps to book hotels and find the appropriate trains to get around each country, take advantage of social media to determine what to see and do, and the use of cloud to store my photos, videos and notes along the way.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
IBM ProtecTIER TS7650G model DD6 supports File System Interface (FSI)
The IBM ProtecTIER Data Deduplication appliance (TS7620) and gateway (TS7650G) support three protocols used by major backup software products:
VTL - Virtual Tape Library. Originally, backup software products were designed exclusively to work with tape drives and libraries. To introduce disk-based storage and data deduplication, the easiest way was for disk-based systems to pretend to be a tape library. Hence, "Virtual Tape Library" acts just like a physical tape library.
OST - OpenStorage Technology API, a proprietary interface used exclusively by the Veritas NetBackup software to talk to disk-based backup repositories.
FSI - File System Interface, which are your familiar NAS interfaces like NFS and SMB (formerly known as CIFS). Some backup software like Commvault Simpana are optimized for NAS storage pools.
In the past, FSI was limited to the single-controller models. This is because having an active/active file system sharing was very complicated to implement.
In the new DD6 dual-controller model, you can now run two independent FSI instances, each controller owns its own set of files. To learn more, see the IBM Press Release [IBM ProtecTIER DD6 supports FSI].
IBM TS3000 System Console enhancements
The Tape Storage System Console (TSSC) is a console that allows administrators to manage up to 24 systems in tape libraries (such as TS3500 and TS4500) and virtual tape systems (such as TS7720T and TS7650G). The new features include:
Error-initiated problem reporting, often called "Call Home" support, with staged, error-specific data gathering for support
Automatic wellness checking
Remote services such as remote monitoring support and call-in capability with authenticated access through a modem or broadband, including file transfers and multiple connections with attached systems
IBM offers two sets of products for entry-level and midrange disk systems:
Storwize V7000 and V5000 products are optimized for random-access workloads like Virtual Machines (VMs), Databases, Email and other Online Transaction Processing (OLTP).
The DCS3860 and DCS3700 are optimized for sequential throughput, like video streaming, batch processing or big data analytics.
Prior to this announcement, the DCS3700 and DCS3860 supported 4TB and 6TB Nearline 7200 rpm drives, and 800GB and 1.6TB Solid-State Drives (SSD). Obviously, it doesn't make sense to offer SSD on sequential-oriented solutions. To align better with this worldview, IBM is discontinuing the SSD options, and adding a new 8TB Nearline drive option.
IBM Spectrum Control Advanced Edition and IBM Virtual Storage Center
Earlier in my career, I was the chief architect of what is now called IBM Spectrum Control. If you still have IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center (TPC) Standard Edition V4.x products, you can now migrate to IBM Spectrum Control Advanced Edition V5.2 by ordering a trade-up part number through Passport Advantage.
IBM Virtual Storage Center (VSC) Entry uses a per-TB pricing model. This is a discounted version of VSC "Classic" for those with four or fewer SAN Volume Controller (SVC) node pairs, and 500 TB or less managed storage capacity per enterprise.
I love Hollywood movies where the main character joins the [Witness Protection Program]! For those not familiar, this is when a person witnesses a horrible or obscene crime. To protect the witness from the criminals, the US Government would change your name, create a new identity, and move you to a new city until the trial is over. While this hides the witness from the bad guys, it also means losing touch with all your friends and family.
I mention this because every time IBM renames an existing product, modifies the code to meet IBM standards, translate to other international languages, and all the other activities needed to [assimilates the product into the IBM "Borg"], it is very similar to joining the Witness Protection Program.
(Internally, we refer to this renaming and assimilating as "blue-washing", not to be confused with the traditional definition of "bluewash" -- To tout a corporation's commitment to social responsibility, and to use this perception for public relations and economic gain; to present a humanitarian front in this manner, which IBM also does. See this article [Sesame Workshop and IBM Watson Team Up to Advance Early Childhood Education] for an example.)
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). Unfortunately, Cleversafe has "witnessed" a huge rise in obscene profits and revenues, and is now joining the "Witness Protection Program".
Renaming Cleversafe software, pre-built appliance hardware, and related cloud services to [IBM Cloud Object Storage System] is like someone acquiring the Coca-Cola company and renaming their namesake soft drink product to "Brown Carbonated Sugar Liquid", which adults might shorten to "Bro-Carbo" and the kids would nickname "Sugar-Liq".
(FCC Disclosure: I work for IBM. This blog post can be considered a "paid celebrity endorsement" for IBM Storage products. I have no financial interest in the Coca-Cola Company, CBS Television, Paramount Pictures, or Warner Bros. I have no knowledge of any IBM's future plans in acquiring any beverage-based manufacturing or bottling companies. I use Coca-Cola® merely as a well-recognized brand for illustrative purposes.)
Honestly, I don't know if "IBM Cloud Object Storage System version 3.8" offers any new features over "Cleversafe 3.7", or if the numbering change was just to help avoid confusion with existing v3.7 clients.
The IBM 3592 Tape Controller Model C07 which provides FICON access for mainframe attachment did not meet the Restriction of Hazardous Substances [RoHS] directive. This is the directive to not have lead-based paint or other hazardous substances in the paint, plastic or other materials in IT equipment.
IBM had a tough business choice. Either fix it, or stop selling it. Our mainframe clients just don't use physical tape anymore. Instead, IBM offers IBM Virtual Tape Systems (TS7720, TS7720T and TS7740) as well as the IBM ProtecTIER TS7650G Mainframe Edition.
In journalism, this is called [burying the lede]. IBM has combined the world's fastest storage, IBM FlashSystem 900, with IBM FlashSystem® A9000/A9000R Software V12.0, based on IBM Spectrum Accelerate and XIV v11 software technology.
This new software has many of the features you love from IBM Spectrum Accelerate and XIV, but adds excellent data footprint reduction. First, we eliminate repeated patterns, then apply data deduplication, and finally apply advanced compression.
This combination works great for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, Virtual Machines for traditional applications, and even databases. Since this applies to all data, the models are priced based on their "effective capacity" based on 5.26x reduction. Different data dedupes or compresses at different rates. Your mileage may vary.
Two models were announced:
FlashSystem A9000 - This is an 8U rack-optimized solution that has three 2U x86 servers combined with a 2U drawer of FlashSystem 900 with a nice bezel on the front. This can fit into any standard 19 inch rack. Since FlashSystem offers 1.2TB, 2.9TB and 5.7TB IBM Microlatency modules, the FlashSystem A9000 is offered in 60TB, 150TB and 300TB effective capacities. Performance is at least 250 microsecond latency, up to 4.5 GB/sec throughput and 50,000 IOPS.
FlashSystem A9000R - The "R" on the end refers to "Rack". Instead of something that slides into an existing rack, the A9000R is a free-standing 19-inch wide rack with two to six flash enclosures. Each flash enclosure will have two x86 servers running the IBM FlashSystem A900R Software v12.0, and one FlashSystem 900 drawer. IBM offers both 150TB and 300TB effective capacity per flash enclosure, based on the 2.9TB and 5.7TB IBM Microlatency modules. Performance is at least 250 microseconds, up to 18 GB/sec throughput and 2 million IOPS.
Some have called these new models the "All-Flash" version of XIV, in much the same way that the FlashSystem V9000 is the all-Flash version of SVC. That is a reasonable analogy.
I almost sprayed coffee all over my screen when I read this post from fellow blogger from EMC Mark Twomey on his StorageZilla blog titled [Dead End]. In it he implies that you should only consider storage technologies based on x86 technologies such as those from Intel, not other CPU technologies like POWER or MIPS.
When IBM first came out with the SAN Volume Controller in 2003, we were able to show that adding Intel-based SVC nodes can improve the performance and functionality of POWER-based DMX boxes from EMC. EMC salesmen often retorted with "Yes, but do you really want to risk your mission-critical data going through an Intel-based processor solution?" This FUD implied that Intel had a bad reputation for quality and reliability. The original Symmetrix were based on Motorolla 68000's but they modernized to use IBM's POWER chips in their later models. EMC's previous attempt to use Intel technology was their EMC Invista, a commercial failure. It is no surprise then that EMC DMX customers are scared to death to move their mission critical data over to Intel-based V-max.
I have found the primary reason people fear Intel-based solutions is their experience with poorly-written Windows programs. There were enough of these poorly-written Windows programs that everyone has either personal experience, or knows someone who has, and that was enough.
It reminds me of the time I was in Vac, Hungary, giving a lab tour to a set of prospective clients where we manufacture the DS8000 series and SAN Volume Controller. Rows and rows of beautiful Hungarian women sliding disk drives in place, and big hefty Hungarian beefcake moving the finished units to their appropriate places. The head of the facility explained all about the hardware technology, how we check and double check all of the equipment individually, and together as a system. One client stated "Yes, but how often are problems from the hardware? We find nearly all of our problems on disk systems from whichever storage vendor we buy from are in the microcode." It's true.
Both Intel-based processors and POWER-based processors have all the technological functions needed to run storage systems. The difference is all in the microcode. So, if you are looking for safe and stable microcode, the IBM System Storage DS8700 continues its POWER-based tradition for compatibility with previous models. For those that demand x86-based units, the IBM SAN Volume Controller has been around since 2003, the XIV Storage System has been in production since 2005, and our IBM N series are also Intel-based, running Version 7 of the ONTAP operating system.
This week I am at the Data Center Conference 2009 in Las Vegas. There are some 1700 people registered this year for this conferece, representing a variety of industries like Public sector, Services, Finance, Healthcare and Manufacturing. A survey of the attendees found:
55 percent are at this conference for the first time.
18 percent once before, like me
15 percent two or three times before
12 percent four or more times before
Plans for 2010 IT budgets were split evenly, one third planning to spend more, one third planning to spend about the same, and the final third looking to cut their IT budgets even further than in 2009. The biggest challenges were Power/Cooling/Floorspace issues, aligning IT with Business goals, and modernizing applications. The top three areas of IT spend will be for Data Center facilities, modernizing infrastructure, and storage.
There are six keynote sessions scheduled, and 66 breakout sessions for the week. A "Hot Topic" was added on "Why the marketplace prefers one-stop shopping" which plays to the strengths of IT supermarkets like IBM, encourages HP to acquire EDS and 3Com, and forces specialty shops like Cisco and EMC to form alliances.
Day 2 began with a series of keynote sessions. Normally when I see "IO" or "I/O", I immediately think of input/output, but here "I&O" refers to Infrastructure and Operations.
Business Sensitivity Analysis leads to better I&O Solutions
The analyst gave examples from Alan Greenspan's biography to emphasize his point that what this financial meltdown has caused is a decline in trust. Nobody trusts anyone else. This is true between people, companies, and entire countries. While the GDP declined 2 percent in 2009 worldwide, it is expected to grow 2 percent in 2010, with some emerging markets expected to grow faster, such as India (7 percent) and China (10 percent). Industries like Healthcare, Utilities and Public sector are expected to lead the IT spend by 2011.
While IT spend is expected to grow only 1 to 5 percent in 2010, there is a significant shift from Capital Expenditures (CapEx) to Operational Expenses (OpEx). Five years ago, OpEx used to represent only 64 percent of IT budget in 2004, but today represents 76 percent and growing. Many companies are keeping their aging IT hardware longer in service, beyond traditional depreciation schedules. The analyst estimated over 1 million servers were kept longer than planned in 2009, and another 2 million will be kept longer in 2010.
An example of hardware kept too long was the November 17 delay of 2000 some flights in the United States, caused by a failed router card in Utah that was part of the air traffic control system. Modernizing this system is estimated to cost $40 billion US dollars.
Top 10 priorities for the CIO were Virtualization, Cloud Computing, Business Intelligence (BI), Networking, Web 2.0, ERP applications, Security, Data Management, Mobile, and Collaboration. There is a growth in context-aware computing, connecting operational technologies with sensors and monitors to feed back into IT, with an opportunity for pattern-based strategy. Borrowing a concept from the military, "OpTempo" allows a CIO to speed up or slow down various projects as needed. By seeking out patterns, developing models to understand those patterns, and then adapting the business to fit those patterns, a strategy can be developed to address new opportunities.
Infrastructure and Operations: Charting the course for the coming decade
This analyst felt that strategies should not just be focused looking forward, but also look left and right, what IBM calls "adjacent spaces". He covered a variety of hot topics:
65 percent of energy running x86 servers is doing nothing. The average x86 running only 7 to 12 percent CPU utilization.
Virtualization of servers, networks and storage are transforming IT to become on big logical system image, which plays well with Green IT initiatives. He joked that this is what IBM offered 20 years ago with Mainframe "Single System Image" sysplexes, and that we have come around full circle.
One area of virtualization are desktop images (VDI). This goes back to the benefits of green-screen 3270 terminals of the mainframe era, eliminating the headaches of managing thousands of PCs, and instead having thin clients rely heavily on centralized services.
The deluge in data continues, as more convenient access drives demand for more data. The anlyst estimates storage capacity will increase 650 percent over the next five years, with over 80 percent of this unstructured data. Automated storage tiering, ala Hierarchical Storage Manager (HSM) from the mainframe era, is once again popular, along with new technologies like thin provisioning and data deduplication.
IT is also being asked to do complex resource tracking, such as power consumption. In the past IT and Facilities were separate budgets, but that is beginning to change.
The fastest growing social nework was Twitter, with 1382 percent growth in 2009, of which 69 percent of new users that joined this year were 39 to 51 years old. By comparison, Facebook only grew by 249 percent. Social media is a big factor both inside and outside a company, and management should be aware of what Tweets, Blogs, and others in the collective are saying about you and your company.
The average 18 to 25 year old sends out 4000 text messages per month. In 24 hours, more text messages are sent out than people on the planet (6.7 billion). Unified Communications is also getting attention. This is the idea that all forms of communication, from email to texts to voice over IP (VoIP), can be managed centrally.
Smart phones and other mobile devices are changing the way people view laptops. Many business tasks can be handled by these smaller devices.
It costs more in energy to run an x86 server for three years than it costs to buy it. The idea of blade servers and componentization can help address that.
Mashups and Portals are an unrecognized opportunity. An example of a Mashup is mapping a list of real estate listings to Google Maps so that you can see all the listings arranged geographically.
Lastly, Cloud Computing will change the way people deliver IT services. Amusingly, the conference was playing "Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell, which has the [lyrics about clouds]
Unlike other conferences that clump all the keynotes at the beginning, this one spreads the "Keynote" sessions out across several days, so I will cover the rest over separate posts.
Based on this success, and perhaps because I am also fluent in Spanish, I was asked to help with Proyecto Ceibal, the team for OLPC Uruguay. Normally theXS school server resides at the school location itself, so that even if the internet connection is disrupted or limited, the school kids can continue to access each other and the web cache content until internet connection is resumed.However, with a diverse developmentteam with people in United States, Uruguay, and India, we first looked to Linux hosting providers that wouldagree to provide free or low-cost monthly access. We spent (make that "wasted") the month of May investigating.Most that I talked to were not interested in having a customized Linux kernel on non-standard hardware on their shop floor, and wanted instead to offer their own standard Linux build on existing standard servers, managed by theirown system administrators, or were not interested in providing it for free. Since the XS-163 kernel is customizedfor the x86 architecture, it is one of those exceptions where we could not host it on an IBM POWER or mainframe as a virtual guest.
This got picked up as an [idea] for the Google's[Summer of Code] and we are mentoring Tarun, a 19-year-old student to actas lead software developer. However, summer was fast approaching, and we wanted this ready for the next semester. In June, our project leader, Greg, came up with a new plan. Build a machine and have it connected at an internet service provider that would cover the cost of bandwidth, and be willing to accept this with remote administration. We found a volunteer organization to cover this -- Thank you Glen and Vicki!
We found a location, so the request to me sounded simple enough: put together a PC from commodity parts that meet the requirements of the customizedLinux kernel, the latest release being called [XS-163]. The server would have two disk drives, three Ethernet ports, and 2GB of memory; and be installed with the customized XS-163 software, SSHD for remote administration, Apache web server, PostgreSQL database and PHP programming language.Of course, the team wanted this for as little cost as possible, and for me to document the process, so that it could be repeated elsewhere. Some stretch goals included having a dual-boot with Debian 4.0 Etch Linux for development/test purposes, an alternative database such as MySQL for testing, a backup procedure, and a Recover-DVD in case something goes wrong.
Some interesting things happened:
The XS-163 is shipped as an ISO file representing a LiveCD bootable Linux that will wipe your system cleanand lay down the exact customized software for a one-drive, three-Ethernet-port server. Since it is based on Red Hat's Fedora 7 Linux base, I found it helpful to install that instead, and experiment moving sections of code over.This is similar to geneticists extracting the DNA from the cell of a pit bull and putting it into the cell for a poodle. I would not recommend this for anyone not familiar with Linux.
I also experimented with modifying the pre-built XS-163 CD image by cracking open the squashfs, hacking thecontents, and then putting it back together and burning a new CD. This provided some interesting insight, but in the end was able to do it all from the standard XS-163 image.
Once I figured out the appropriate "scaffolding" required, I managed to proceed quickly, with running versionsof XS-163, plain vanilla Fedora 7, and Debian 4, in a multi-boot configuration.
The BIOS "raid" capability was really more like BIOS-assisted RAID for Windows operating system drivers. This"fake raid" wasn't supported by Linux, so I used Linux's built-in "software raid" instead, which allowed somepartitions to be raid-mirrored, and other partitions to be un-mirrored. Why not mirror everything? With two160GB SATA drives, you have three choices:
No RAID, for a total space of 320GB
RAID everything, for a total space of 160GB
Tiered information infrastructure, use RAID for some partitions, but not all.
The last approach made sense, as a lot of of the data is cache web page images, and is easily retrievable fromthe internet. This also allowed to have some "scratch space" for downloading large files and so on. For example,90GB mirrored that contained the OS images, settings and critical applications, and 70GB on each drive for scratchand web cache, results in a total of 230GB of disk space, which is 43 percent improvement over an all-RAID solution.
While [Linux LVM2] provides software-based "storage virtualization" similar to the hardware-based IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC), it was a bad idea putting different "root" directories of my many OS images on there. With Linux, as with mostoperating systems, it expects things to be in the same place where it last shutdown, but in a multi-boot environment, you might boot the first OS, move things around, and then when you try to boot second OS, it doesn'twork anymore, or corrupts what it does find, or hangs with a "kernel panic". In the end, I decided to use RAIDnon-LVM partitions for the root directories, and only use LVM2 for data that is not needed at boot time.
While they are both Linux, Debian and Fedora were different enough to cause me headaches. Settings weredifferent, parameters were different, file directories were different. Not quite as religious as MacOS-versus-Windows,but you get the picture.
During this time, the facility was out getting a domain name, IP address, subnet mask and so on, so I testedwith my internal 192.168.x.y and figured I would change this to whatever it should be the day I shipped the unit.(I'll find out next week if that was the right approach!)
Afraid that something might go wrong while I am in Tokyo, Japan next week (July 7-11), or Mumbai, India the following week (July 14-18), I added a Secure Shell [SSH] daemon that runs automaticallyat boot time. This involves putting the public key on the server, and each remote admin has their own private key on their own client machine.I know all about public/private key pairs, as IBM is a leader in encryption technology, and was the first todeliver built-in encryption with the IBM System Storage TS1120 tape drive.
To have users have access to all their files from any OS image required that I either (a) have identical copieseverywhere, or (b) have a shared partition. The latter turned out to be the best choice, with an LVM2 logical volumefor "/home" directory that is shared among all of the OS images. As we develop the application, we might findother directories that make sense to share as well.
For developing across platforms, I wanted the Ethernet devices (eth0, eth1, and so on) match the actual ports they aresupposed to be connected to in a static IP configuration. Most people use DHCP so it doesn't matter, but the XSsoftware requires this, so it did. For example, "eth0" as the 1 Gbps port to the WAN, and "eth1/eth2" as the two 10/100 Mbps PCI NIC cards to other servers.Naming the internet interfaces to specific hardware ports wasdifferent on Fedora and Debian, but I got it working.
While it was a stretch goal to develop a backup method, one that could perform Bare Machine Recovery frommedia burned by the DVD, it turned out I needed to do this anyways just to prevent me from losing my work in case thingswent wrong. I used an external USB drive to develop the process, and got everything to fit onto a single 4GB DVD. Using IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) for this seemed overkill, and [Mondo Rescue] didn't handle LVM2+RAID as well as I wanted, so I chose [partimage] instead, which backs up each primary partition, mirrored partition, or LVM2 logical volume, keeping all the time stamps, ownerships, and symbolic links in tact. It has the ability to chop up the output into fixed sized pieces, which is helpful if you are goingto burn them on 700MB CDs or 4.7GB DVDs. In my case, my FAT32-formatted external USB disk drive can't handle files bigger than 2GB, so this feature was helpful for that as well. I standardized to 660 GiB [about 692GB] per piece, sincethat met all criteria.
The folks at [SysRescCD] saved the day. The standard "SysRescueCD" assigned eth0, eth1, and eth2 differently than the three base OS images, but the nice folks in France that write SysRescCD created a customized[kernel parameter that allowed the assignments to be fixed per MAC address ] in support of this project. With this in place, I was able to make a live Boot-CD that brings up SSH, with all the users, passwords,and Ethernet devices to match the hardware. Install this LiveCD as the "Rescue Image" on the hard disk itself, and also made a Recovery-DVD that boots up just like the Boot-CD, but contains the 4GB of backup files.
For testing, I used Linux's built-in Kernel-based Virtual Machine [KVM]which works like VMware, but is open source and included into the 2.6.20 kernels that I am using. IBM is the leadingreseller of Vmware and has been doing server virtualization for the past 40 years, so I am comfortable with thetechnology. The XS-163 platform with Apache and PostgreSQL servers as a platform for [Moodle], an open source class management system, and the combination is memory-intensive enough that I did not want to incur the overheads running production this manner, but it wasgreat for testing!
With all this in place, it is designed to not need a Linux system admin or XS-163/Moodle expert at the facility. Instead, all we need is someone to insert the Boot-CD or Recover-DVD and reboot the system if needed.
Just before packing up the unit for shipment, I changed the IP addresses to the values they need at the destination facility, updated the [GRUB boot loader] default, and made a final backup which burned the Recover-DVD. Hopefully, it works by just turning on the unit,[headless], without any keyboard, monitor or configuration required. Fingers crossed!
So, thanks to the rest of my team: Greg, Glen, Vicki, Tarun, Marcel, Pablo and Said. I am very excited to bepart of this, and look forward to seeing this become something remarkable!
Today was the "First Ever Live Virtual Virtualization Tech Fair" sponsored by IBM and VMware. This was a 1-day event hosted by Unisfair.
The day included presentations done at a conference call, along with exhibition booths.
We had an exhibition booth exclusively for "storage virtualization" featuring our IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (disk virtualization) and IBM System Storage TS7520 Virtualization Engine (a virtual tape library, or VTL).
People who were logged in were represented in silhouette form. When someone walked into the booth, our army of "booth reps" were able to chat with them and answer their questions. They could also peruse the various online materials we made available about each product.
Here are some of my observations:
A lot of questions were related to IBM's support for VMware. Although VMware is now currently owned by EMC, pending a spin-off IPO, IBM is its biggest reseller, given IBM's vast experience in server virtualization. Ironically, IBM's SAN Volume Controller supports VMware better than EMC's own storage virtualization product, Invista.
People also familiar with Second Life thought this 2-D "silhouette" version eliminated the need to configure and dress up your avatar as is required in participating in Second Life events. However, being only ableto chat, send e-mail and show web pages seemed less immersive than what Second Life can offer.
This event generated over 60 leads. We will pass on the contact information to the appropriate sales team.
Congratulations to my colleague and close friend, Harley Puckett, who celebrated his 25th anniversary of service here at IBM. This is known internally as joining the "Quarter Century Club" or QCC. This is not just a figure of speech, the members of this club hold get-togethers and barbeques throughout the year.
Here is Harley welcoming Ken Hannigan and others he worked with back in Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) software development.
Our manager, Bill Terry, presenting Harley with a plaque.
Continuing this week's theme of doing important things without leaving town, I present our results foran exciting project I started earlier this year.
For seven weeks, my coworker Mark Haye and I voluntarily led a class of students here in Tucson, Arizona in an after-school pilot project to teach the ["C" programming language] using [LEGO® Mindstorms® NXT robots]. The ten students, boys and girls ages 9 to 14 years old, were already part of the FIRST [For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology] program, and participated in FIRST Lego League[FLL] robot competitions.Since the students were already familiar building robots, and programming them with a simple graphical system of connecting blocks that perform actions. However, to compete in the next level of robot competitions, FIRST Tech Challenge [FTC],we need to leave this simple graphical programming behind, and upgrade to more precise "C" programming.
Mark is a software engineer for IBM Tivoli Storage Manager and has participated in FLL competitions over the past nine years. This week, he celebrates his 25th anniversary at IBM, and I celebrate my 23rd. The teacher, Ms. Ackerman, and the students referred to us as "Coach Mark" and "Coach Tony".
This was the first time I had worked with LEGO NXT robots. For those not familiar with these robots, you can purchase a kit at your localtoy store. In addition to regular LEGO bricks, beams, and plates, there are motors, wheels, and sensors. A programmable NXT brick has three outputs (marked A,B, and C) to control three motors, and four inputs (marked 1,2,3,4) to receive values from sensors. Programs are written and compiled on laptops and then downloaded to the NXT programmable brick through an USB cable, or wirelessly via Bluetooth.
In the picture shown, an image of the Mars planetary surface is divided into a grid with thick black lines.A light sensor between the front two wheels of the robot is over the black line.
We used the [RobotC programming firmware] and integrated development environment (IDE) from [Carnegie Mellon University].The idea of this pilot was to see how well the students could learn "C". With only a few hours after class on each Wednesday, could we teach young students "C" programming in just seven weeks?
My contribution? I have taught both high school and college classes, and spent over 15 years programming for IBM, so Mark asked me to help.We started with a basic lesson plan:
A brief history of the "C" language
Understanding statements and syntax
Setting motor speed and direction
Compiling and downloading your first program
Understanding the "while" loop
Retrieving input sensor values
Understanding the "if-then-else" statement
Defining variables with different data types
Manipulating string variables
Writing a program for the robot to track along a black line on a white background.
Understanding local versus global scope variables
Writing a program for a robot to count black lines as it crosses them.
Perform left turns, right turns, and to cross a specific number of lines on a grid pattern to move the robot to a specific location.
Weeks 6 and 7
Mission Impossible: come up with a challenge to make the robot do something that would be difficult to accomplish using the previous NXT visual programming language.
At the completion of these seven weeks, I sat down to interview "Coach Mark"on his thoughts on this pilot project.
This is a practical programming skill. The "C" language is used throughout the world to program everything from embedded systems to operating systems, and even storage software. This would allow the robots to handle more precise movements, more accurate turns, and more complicated missions.
Can kids learn "C" in only seven weeks?
Part of the pilot project was to see how well the students could understand the material. They were already familiar with building the robots, and understood the basics of programming sensors and motors, so we were hoping this was a good foundation to work from. Some kids managed very well, others struggled.
Did everything go according to plan?
The first two weeks went well, turning on motors and having robots move forward and backward were easy enough. We seemed to lose a few students on week 3, and things got worse from there. However, several of the students truly surprised us and managed to implement very complicated missions. We were quite pleased with the results.
What kind of problems did the kids encounter?
Touch sensor required loops waiting for pressing. Motors did not necessarily turn as expected until more advanced methods were used. Making 90 degree left and right turns accurately was more difficult than expected.
Any funny surprises?
Yes, we had a Challenge Map representing the Mars planetary surface from a previous FLL competition that was dark red and divided into squares with thick black lines. An active light sensor returns a value of "0" (complete darkness) to "100" (bright white).However, the Mars surface had craters that were dark enough to be misinterpreted as a black line causing some unusual results. This required some enhanced programming techniques to resolve.
Did robots help or hurt the teaching process?
I think they helped. Rather than writing programs that just display "Hello World!" on a computer screen, the students can actually see robots move, and either do what they expect, or not!
And when the robots didn't do what they were expected to?
The students got into "debug" mode. They were already used to doing this from previous FLL competitions, but with RobotC, you can leave the USB cable connected (or use wireless Bluetooth) and actually gather debugging information while the robot is running, to see the value of sensors and other variables and help determine why things are not working properly.
Any applicability to the real world of storage?
We have robots in the IBM System Storage TS3500 tape library. These robots scan bar code labels, pull tapes out of shelves and mount them into drives.The programming skills are the same needed for storage software, suchas IBM Tivoli Storage Manager or IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center.
The world is becoming smarter, instrumented with sensors, interconnected over a common network, and intelligent enough to react and respond correctly. The lessons of reading sensor values and moving motors can be considered the first step in solutions that help to make a smarter planet.