This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to IBM Systems, storage and storage networking hardware, software and services.
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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor, Senior IT Architect and Event Content Manager for [IBM Systems for IBM Systems Technical University] events. With over 30 years with IBM Systems, Tony is frequent traveler, speaking to clients at events throughout the world.
Lloyd Dean is an IBM Senior Certified Executive IT Architect in Infrastructure Architecture. Lloyd has held numerous senior technical roles at IBM during his 19 plus years at IBM. Lloyd most recently has been leading efforts across the Communication/CSI Market as a senior Storage Solution Architect/CTS covering the Kansas City territory. In prior years Lloyd supported the industry accounts as a Storage Solution architect and prior to that as a Storage Software Solutions specialist during his time in the ATS organization.
Lloyd currently supports North America storage sales teams in his Storage Software Solution Architecture SME role in the Washington Systems Center team. His current focus is with IBM Cloud Private and he will be delivering and supporting sessions at Think2019, and Storage Technical University on the Value of IBM storage in this high value IBM solution a part of the IBM Cloud strategy. Lloyd maintains a Subject Matter Expert status across the IBM Spectrum Storage Software solutions. You can follow Lloyd on Twitter @ldean0558 and LinkedIn Lloyd Dean.
Tony Pearson's books are available on Lulu.com! Order your copies today!
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Continuing this week's theme of New Year's Resolutions for the data center, today we'll talk about one that many people make for their own personal lives: staying on a budget.
Often, when faced with a tightening budgets, we try to make more use of what we already have. Tell someone they are only using 10 percent of their brain, and they immediatelybelieve you; but tell them they are only using 30 percent of their storage, and they ask for a whitepaper,magazine article, or clarification on how that percentage is calculated. I actually visiteda customer that was only using6 percent of the storage attached to their Windows servers!
So, to help those of you making data center resolutions to stay on budget, the terms to remember are "Reduce", "Reuse" and "Recycle".
When people come to request storage, are they being reasonable about what they need today, or are they asking for what they might need over the next three years? They might need 50GB, but they ask for 100GB, in case they grow, and a year later, you find they have only 15GB of data on it. On the flipside, the person asks for what they need but some storage admins give out more, just so they don't have to be bothered so often when growth happens. Finally, I have seen this formalized into fixed size LUNs, all the disk is carved into big huge 100GB pieces, so if you need 20GB, here's one big enough with plenty of room to grow.
If you are going to keep on a budget, remember that storage today is 30% more expensive than storage next year. That is the average drop in both disk and tape on a dollar-per-MB basis. If there is any way to postpone giving out storage until it is actually needed, you can save a bundle of money. Timing is everything! In the event of a disaster, getting immediate replacement for disk can be very expensive, but if you can wait just two weeks, you can negotiate a better deal. I thought of this while going to the movie theatre yesterday. A "hot dog" and a bottle of water was $8.00, but if you are able to wait two hours and eat after the movie, you can get a much better meal for less.
A lot of companies buy new storage because their existing storage isn't fast enough, or doesn't have the latest copy services. This can easily be solved with an IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC). The SVC can virtualize slower, functionless storage, and present to your application hosts virtual disks that are faster, and with all the latest disk-to-disk copy services like FlashCopy, Metro Mirror, and Global Mirror.
Chances are, you have unused disk capacity spread across all your storage today, but perhaps they are formatted into small LUNs. The SVC can combine the capacity, and let you carve up big LUNs at the sizes you need.This is like taking all those tiny pieces of soap in your shower and forming a new bar of soap, or taking all the crumbs at the bottom of your bread box, and making a new slice of bread. And, the virtual LUNs are dynamically expandable,so give out only the amount they need today, as it is simple to expand them to larger sizes later.
Of my 13 patents, the first will always be my favorite, on a function called "RECYCLE" for the Data Facility Storage Management Subsystem Hierarchical Storage Manager (DFSMShsm) product, which is now a component of the IBM z/OS operating system. Basically, tapes could contain hundreds or thousands of files, such as backup versions or archive copies, and these expired on different dates. As a result, a tape would be written100 percent full, and then over time, decrease in valid data to 80, 60, 40, 20 until it hit 0 percent. In some cases, a single filecould hold an entire tape hostage. RECYCLE was able to read the valid data off tapes that were perhaps less than 20 percent full, and consolidate them onto fewer tapes. As a result, a whole bunch of tapes could be returned to the scratch pool, and reused immediately for other workloads. This also helps in moving to newer, higher capacity cartridges, such as the new 700GB cartridge that IBM co-developed with FujiFilm.(This RECYCLE function exists in our IBM Tivoli Storage Manager software, as well as our Virtual Tape Server, but is called "reclamation" instead, to avoid confusion on searches.)
When evaluating your use of tape, determine if you are making best use of the tapes you have now, and perhaps a RECYCLE (or reclamation) scheme may be in order. Fewer tapes can save money in many ways, such as reduced storage costs, and reduced courier costs to send the tapes offsite. Tape media can still be 10-20 times less expensive than disk, based on full capacity.
Just in time for [Cyber Monday], Volume II of my "Inside System Storage" book series is now available. As I mentioned in my post on the [October 7th Launch announcement], I finally got past all the internal restrictions that prevented this volume from being published earlier.
My first book covered my initial 12 months of blogging experience, from September 2006 to August 2007. This book covers the history of my career transition from software engineer developer to marketing strategist.
My second book covers the next 8 months, from September 2007 to April 2008, spanning the acquisitions of XIV and Diligent companies that were part of an overall strategic re-alignment of storage within the broader "Systems and Technology Group" of IBM.
The books come in a variety of formats, including hardcover with dust jacket, paperback, and online eBook (PDF). My publisher, Lulu, now supports ePub format, so I am investigating the time and effort required to build this format from the source files.
Spend twenty hours a week running a project for a non-profit.
Teach yourself Java, HTML, Flash, PHP and SQL. Not a little, but mastery. [Clarification: I know you can't become a master programmer of all these in a year. I used the word mastery to distinguish it from 'familiarity' which is what you get from one of those Dummies type books. I would hope you could write code that solves problems, works and is reasonably clear, not that you can program well enough to work for Joel Spolsky. Sorry if I ruffled feathers.]
Volunteer to coach or assistant coach a kids sports team.
Start, run and grow an online community.
Give a speech a week to local organizations.
Write a regular newsletter or blog about an industry you care about.
Learn a foreign language fluently.
Write three detailed business plans for projects in the industry you care about.
Self-publish a book.
Run a marathon.
In 2007, 51 percent of graduating college students could find jobs in their field, and this year it has dropped to only 20 percent. If you find yourself with some time on your hands, either recently graduated or recently unemployed, consider volunteerism.Last year, I chose to donate my time and money to an innovative project called "One Laptop per Child" [OLPC]. It was one of my [New Years Resolutions] for 2008. I was actually "recruited" by folks from the OLPC after they read my [series of blog posts] on things that can be done with their now famous green-and-white XO laptop.
The first half of the year, I spent helping "Open Learning Exchange Nepal" [OLE Nepal], a non-government organization (NGO) to help education in that country. XO laptops were provided to second and sixth graders at several schools, and my assignment was to help with the school "XS" server. This would be the server that all the laptops connect to. My blog posts on this included:
Rather than [Move to Nepal], I was able to help by building an identical XS server in Tucson, and provide support remotely. This included getting the "Mesh Antennas"to be properly recognized, having an internet filter using [DansGuardian] software, and working out backup procedures.
For the second half of the year, I was asked to mentor a college student inHyderabad, India as part of the ["Google Summer of Code"] to develop an[Educational Blogger System]on the XS server. We called it "EduBlog" and based it on the popular [Moodle] educational software platform.This was going to be tested with kids from Uruguay, but sending a serverdown to this country proved politically-challenging, so instead, I [builta server and shipped it] to a co-location facility in Pennsylvania that agreed to donate the cost and expenses needed to run the server there with full internet connection. I acted as "system admin" for the box, was able to connect remotely via SSH, while Tarun, the college student I was mentoring, developed the EduBlog software. Twice the system washacked, but I was able to restore the system remotely thanks to a multi-boot configuration that allowedme to reboot to a read-only operating system image and restore the operating system and data.
The students and teachers in Uruguay were helped locally by [Proyecto Ceibal]. We were able to translate the system into Spanish, and the project was a big success, enough to convince local government to provideXO laptops to their students to further the benefits.
IBM had some big announcements today. The theme for today's announcement was "Protected Information", as there are many reasons to protect your most strategic asset, your information. Let's do a quick run-down of a few of them.
IBM LTO generation 4
LTO 4 provides encryption at the drive level, and supports WORM cartridges similar to LTO 3. It continues the LTO consortium's strategy for higher capacity and faster performance. If you have LTO 1 or LTO 2, now is a good time to consider upgrading your tape technology. The combination of encryption and WORM protects your information against unauthorized access, and unethical tampering of the data. The support is from our largest automated tapelibrary (TS3500),to our smallest drives.
TS7520 Virtualization Engine
The TS7520replaces the TS7510, providing enhanced Virtual Tape Library (VTL) capability. When you hear "storage virtualization" you often think disk, but IBM invented "tape storage virtualization" and this product continues that leadership.
Support for Half-high LTO 3 drives
The TS3100 and TS3200 now support half-high LTO 3 drives, which means you can have twice the number of drives in each unit. LTO 4 drives can read and write to LTO 3 media, so this provides additional investment protection.
IBM System Storage DR550 File System Gateway
This new offering provides much-needed CIFS and NFS access to the DR550, the worlds most flexible compliance-and-retention storage available. Already there is a large body of ISVs that support the DR550 today, and with this new gateway, the list is even longer. The DR550 provides encryption for both disk and tape data, as well as policy-based non-erasable, non-rewriteable enforcement, designed for compliance with government regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley Act, HIPAA, and many others.
IBM System Storage SAN32B-3 switch
This is the first major deliverable from Brocade since their acquisition of McDATA. A powerful switch packs 4 Gbps support in a small 1U form factor. Start with 16 ports, then add in increments of 8 ports to a maximum of 32 ports.
I've provided all the links, so that you can delve deeply into all the data sheets.
This week I am in beautiful Las Vegas for the Data Center 2010 Conference. While the conference officially starts Monday, I arrived on Sunday to help set up the IBM Booth (Booth "Z").
(Note: This is my third year attending this conference. IBM is a platinum sponsor for this event. The analyst company that runs this event has kindly asked me not to mention their name on this blog, display any of their logos, mention the names of any of their employees, include photos of any of their analysts, include slides from their presentations, or quote verbatim any of their speech at this conference. This is all done to protect and respect their intellectual property that their members pay for. This is all documented in a lengthy document in case I forget. So, if the picture of the conference backpack appears lopped off at the top, this was done intentionally to comply with their request. The list of sponsors at this event represents a "who's who" of the IT industry.)
The pre-conference orientation is for people who are first-timers, or for those who have not attended this conference in a while. The conference includes 7 keynote presentations and 68 sessions organized into seven "tracks" plus one "virtual track" which crosses the other seven:
Servers and Operating Systems
Cost Optimization "Virtual Track"
Each session is further classified as foundational versus advanced, business versus technical, and practical versus strategic.
The speaker also presented some unique methodologies that will be used this week, including "Magic Quadrant", "MarketScope", "Hype Cycle" and "IT Market Clock" which provide graphical representation to help attendees better understand the conference materials.
The Welcome Reception was sponsored by VCE, formerly known as Acadia, the coalition comprised of VMware, Intel, Cisco and EMC. I joked that this should be "VICE" so that Intel does not feel left out.
While we enjoyed drinks and snacks, we listened to live music from the all-violin band [Phat Strad].
The CEO of VCE, Michael Capellas, recognized me from across the room and came over to ask me how IBM was doing. We had a nice friendly chat about the IT industry and the economy.
I am just one of the speakers. We will have at each location the local IBM team and IBM clients giving testimonials. All the speakers will be available afterward for Q&A. It's shaping up to be an exciting series of events!
Continuing my week's theme on the XO laptop from the One Laptop Per Child [OLPC] foundation, I successfully managedto emulate my XO on another system.
Part of what is attractive of the XO laptop is the hardware, the high-resolution200dpi screen, the clever screen that rotates and folds flat into an eBook reader,and the water-tight, dust-proof keyboard. The other part is the software, howthey managed to pack an entire operating system, with useful applications, intoa 1GB NAND flash drive.
The drawback for developers like me is the risk of changing something that breaks the system. For example, my first attempt to create my own activityresulted in a blank space in my action bar, and my journal went into someinfinite loop, blinking as if it were still loading for minutes on end. I fixed it by deleting out the activity I created and rebooting.
To get around this, I successfully ran the disk-image under Linux's Virtual Machinesoftware called Qemu. This is an open source offering, with a proprietary add-onaccelerator called Kqemu. Here were the steps involved:
Base Operating System
Qemu is now available to run on Linux, Windows and OS X-Intel. I have an Ubuntu 7.04"Feisty Faun" version of Linux installed on my system from a project I did last year, so decided to use that.
Normally, "apt-get install qemu" would be enough, but I wanted to get the latest release, so I downloaded the [0.9.0 version]tarball of compiled binaries. Note that trying to compile Qemu from source requiresa downlevel gcc-3.x compiler, and my attempts to do this failed. The compiled binariesworked fine.
The Kqemu author hasn't packaged this for distribution, so I download the source code anddid my own compiles. You can do the "configure-make-install" using the regular gcc 4.1compiler and it went smoothly.
Getting Kqemu active was bit of a challenge. I had to make sense of Nando Florestan's[Installing Kqumu in Ubuntu] article,and the subsequent comments that followed.
There is a tiny [8MB Linux image]that should be used to verify the Kqemu is activated correctly.
The Disk Image
As with other development efforts, there are the older stable versions, and the bleedingedge development versions. I chose the 650 Build from the [Ship.2 stable versions], whichmatches the version on my XO laptop. The image comes as a *.bz2, which is a highly-compressedfile. Using "Bunzip2", the 221MB file expands to something like 932MB.
I renamed the resulting file to "build650.img"
Once I got all this done, I then made a simple script "launch" in my /home/tpearson/bin directory:
Then "launch build650.img" was all I needed to run the emulation. The full-screen mode helpsemulate the view on XO laptop. I was able to change the jabber server to "xochat.org" and see otherXO laptops online on my neighborhood view.
When running under Qemu, you can't just press Ctrl-Alt-something. For example, Ctrl-Alt-Erase onthe XO reboots the Sugar interface. However, do this on a Linux system, and it reboots your nativeX interface, blowing away everything.Instead, you press Ctrl-Alt-2 to get to the Qemu console, designated by (qemu) prompt,and then type:
Press "Ctrl-Alt-1" followed by "Ctrl-Alt" to get back to the emulated XO screen.
With this emulation, I am more likely to try new things, change files around, edit system files,and so on, without worrying about rendering my actual XO laptop unusable. Once debugged, I canthen work on moving them over to my XO, one at a time.
We are only days away from the big IBM Challenge of Watson computer against two human contestants on the show Jeopardy!
I watched two episodes of Jeopardy! on my Tivo, pausing it to follow the [homework assignment] I suggested in my last post. Here are my own results and observations.
Episode  involved a web programmer, a customer service representative, and a bank teller.
Of the first six categories in Round 1, I guessed four of the six themes for each category. For the category "Diamonds are Forever", I wrote down "All answers are some kind of gem or mineral", but the reality was that all the answers were some physical characteristic of diamonds specifically. For the category "...Fame is not", I wrote down "All answers are TV or Movie celebrities". I was close, but actually it was famous celebrities, rock bands and pop culture of the 1980s. (The movie "Fame" came out in 1980).
In the round, there were 27 of the 30 answers given before they ran out of time. Of these, I was able to get 24 of 27 correct by searching the Internet. That is 88 percent correct. Here were the ones that eluded me:
Answer related to a "multi-chambered mollusk". I could not find anything on the Internet definitively on this, so abstained from wager. The correct question was "What is Nautilus?".
Answer was the Irish variant of "Kathryne". I found Kathleen as a variant, but did not investigate if it had Irish origins. The correct question was "What is Caitlin?"
Answer was this Norse name for "ruler" whether you had red hair or not. I found "Roy" and "Rory" so guessed "What is Rory?" The correct question was "What is Eric?"
The second round, I guesed three of the six themese for the categories. For category "Musical Titles Letter Drop" I wrote down "All the answers are titles of musical songs" but it was actually "Musicals" as in the Broadway shows. For category "Place called Carson", I wrote down "All the answers are places" and was way off on that one, with answers that were people, places and names of corporations. And for "State University Alums", I wrote down "All the answers are college graduates", but instead they were all "State Universities" such as the University of Arizona.
In this second round, only 26 answers were posed. I got 80 percent correct with Internet searching. I missed three on the "Musical Titles", one in "Pope-pourri" and one State University (sorry SMU). The "Musical Titles Letter Drop category" was especially difficult, as for each title of a Musical, you had to remove a single letter out of it to form the correct response.
For the answer "Good luck when you ask the singers "What I Did For Love"; they never tell the truth", you would need to take "Chorus Line" the musical, where the song "What I did for Love" appears, and ask "What is Chorus Lie?" Note that "line" changed to "lie" and the letter "n" was dropped out.
For the answer "Embrace the atoms as Simba and company lose and gain electrons en masse in this production", you would need to recognize that Simba was the main character of "The Lion King" and change it to "What is The Ion King".
I think these play-on-words are the questions that would stump the IBM Watson computer.
In the final round, the category was "Ancient Quotes". I thought the answer would be a famous adage or quotation, but it was instead famous people who uttered those phrases. The answer was "He said, to leave this stream uncrossed will breed manifold distress for me; to cross it, for all mankind". I was able to determine the correct response readily from searching the Internet: The river was the Rubicon, the border of the Gaul region governed by an ambitious general. The correct response "Who was Julius Caesar?"
Total time for the entire exercise: 87 minutes.
The following night, episode  brought back Paul Wampler, the returning champion web programmer, against two new contestants: an actor, and high school principal.
Of the first six categories in Round 1, I guessed five of the six themes for each category. For the category "Nonce Words", I wrote all the answers would be nonsense words. I was close, the clues had words invented for a particular occasion, but the correct responses did not.
I was able to get 29 of 30 correct by searching the Internet. That is 96 percent correct. The one I missed was in the category "Nonce Words" and the answer was "In an arithmocracy, this portion of the population rules, not trigonometry teachers.." My response was "What is Math?" but the correct answer was "What are the majority?" It did not occur for me to even look up [Arithmocracy] as a legitimate word, but it is real.
The second round, I guesed five of the six themese for the categories. For category "Hawk" eyes, the "Hawk" was in quotation marks, so I wrote "All answers would start with the word Hawk or end with the word "eyes". I was close, the correct theme was that the word "hawk" would appear in the front, middle or end of the correct response.
In this second round, I got 28 of 30 correct. I got 93 percent correct with Internet searching. Ironically, it was the category "German Foods" that caught me off guard.
For, the answer was "Pichelsteiner Fleisch, a favorite of Otto von Bismarck, is this one-pot concoction, made with beef & pork". I know that "fleisch" is a German word for meat, so I guessed "What is sausage?" but the correct response was "What is stew?" I should have paid more attention to the "one-pot concoction" part of the answer.
For the answer was "Mimi Sheraton says German stuffed hard-boiled eggs are always made with a great deal of this creamy product". I didn't realize that "stuffed eggs" was German for "deviled eggs". Instead, I found Mimi Sheraton's "The German Cookbook" on Google Books, and jumped to the page for "Stuffed Eggs" The ingredients I read included whippedc cream, cognac, and worcestershire sauce. Taking the "creamiest" ingredient of these, I wrote down "What is whipped cream?" However, it turned out I was actually reading the ingredients for "Crabmeat Cocktail" that was coninuing from the previous page. I thought it was gross to put whipped cream with eggs, and should have known better. The correct response was "What is mayonnaise?"
In the final round, the category was "Political Parties". This could either be political organizations like Republicans and Democrats, or festivities like the Whitehouse Correspondents Dinner. The answer was "Only one U.S. president represented this party, and he said, I dread...a division of the republic into two great parties." So, we can figure out the answer refers to political organizations, but both Democrat and Republican are ruled out because each has had multiple presidents. So, looking at a [List of Political Parties of each US President], I found that there were four presidents in the Whig party, four in the Democrat-Republic party, but only one president in the Federalist party (John Adams), and one in the War Union party (Andrew Johnson). Looking at [famous quotes from John Adams] first, I found the quote, it matched, and so I wrote down "What is the Federalist party?". I got it right, as did two of the three contestants. Ironically, the one contestant who got it wrong, the returning champion web programmer, wagered a small amount, so he still had more money after the round and won the game overall.
Total time for the entire exercise: 75 minutes. I was able to do this faster as I skipped searching the internet for the responses I was confident on.
To find out when Jeopardy is playing in your town, consult the [Interactive Map].
The IBM Storage and Storage Networking Symposium in Las Vegas continues ...
N series and VMware
Jeff Barnett presented how VMware manages disk image files in its VMfs repository, and how N series offersa better alternative. Virtual machines can access N series volumes directly.
Business Continuity with System i
Allison Pate presented the various Business Continuity options for System i. Many customersuse internal storage for System i, but this then hampers Business Continuity efforts. Instead,you can have IBM System Storage DS8000 or DS6000 series disk systems provide disk mirroringbetween clustered systems.
There was a lot of interest in DR550, one of our many compliance storage solutions. Ron Henkhauspresented an overview of our DR550 and DR550 Express offerings. Unlike the competitive disk-onlysolutions, such as the EMC Centera, the DR550 allows you to attach an automated tape library, managing large amounts of fixed content data at a much lower cost point. It also has encryption, for both diskand tape data.
Open Systems Disk Management
Siebo Friesenborg presented the various steps needed to troubleshoot performance problemswith open systems, including the use of "iostat" on AIX systems as an example, and the stepsyou can take to make formal Service Level Agreements (SLA) between the IT department and thevarious lines of business.
IBM Encryption - TS1120 and LTO-4 encryption comparison
Tony Abete presented TS1120 and LTO-4 encryption techniques. Deploying encryption is more thanjust choosing a tape drive. There are a variety of factors involved, such as whether to managethe keys from the application, the operating system, or the library manager. You need policiesto decided when to encrypt tapes and when not to, generating your keys, storing them, and sharingthem with your business partners, suppliers and service providers with which you send tapes.
I can tell that many people are feeling like they are "drinking from a firehose".IBM's success in storage reaches out to so many different aspects of information management,a variety of industries, and disciplines as varied as regulatory compliance and medical imaging.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means!
This Thursday is the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States, so instead of announcing IBM products, I wanted to announce the general availability of my latest book, [Inside System Storage: Volume III].
This book includes blog posts from May 2008 to March 2009, along with the ever popular behind-the-scenes commentary on what was going on during IBM's launch of the Information Infrastructure initiative.
Do you know someone who celebrates Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanza, or the Winter Solstice, and have a hard time finding the right gift?
Do you know a client or IBM Business Partner that would appreciate a nominally-priced gift to thank them for their business?
Do you know someone newly hired into IBM or another IT company that could benefit from behind-the-scenes insight and commentary?
As with the other two volumes, Inside System Storage: Volume III is available in your choice of paperback, hardcover, and eBook (Adobe PDF) format.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would like to thank my editor, Susan Pollard, who put in the extra effort, working evenings and weekends, to get this book done in time for the upcoming holiday season. For those outside the United States, there is an American tradition to shop in brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and to shop on-line for books like mine on Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving).
I would also like to thank my publisher, Lulu.com, for upgrading me to "Spotlight" level, so now I have a spotlight page titled [Books Written by Tony Pearson], making it easy for you to order any of my books in various formats.
And last, but not least, I would like to thank all my friends and family that were supportive these past few difficult months while I was putting this book together.
Next month, I will be in Las Vegas, Dec 4-8, speaking at Gartner's [Data Center Conference]. If you order a book today, and bring it with you to the IBM booth at the Solution Expo, I can sign it for you!
Next week, once again, I will be blogging from beautiful Caesars Palace hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada to report on what I see and hear at the 29th annual Data Center Conference. Here are my posts from 12 months ago when I attended this conference in 2009:
Again we will have a Solutions Showcase with a Portable Modular Data Center (PMDC) and various exhibits. I will be manning the booths, stop on by. Plus, on Tuesday, I will be be speaking! My topic will be "Choosing the right storage for your server virtualization environment."
Those of you on twitter can follow me at [@az990tony] and hash tag #LSC29. I will be available for one-on-one consultations sessions. I am arriving Sunday morning, Dec. 5, and staying through Thursday afternoon, December 9.
The Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) is focused on bringing businesses and jobs into the Metro Atalanta area, and to help its members connect with other companies that can help them thrive. The MAC cover the Metropolitan region of Atlanta (5.8 million people) and 28 counties in Georgia.
The event was called "Technology Thursday", where the MAC holds a meeting on the third Thursday of every month, to discuss technology issues. The audience was a mix of business owners, sales executives, and managers. The event allowed for people to network with each other, as well as learn something new from a subject matter expert. This was the last one for 2011, to avoid conflicts with upcoming holidays in November and December.
The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a good reminder that all organizations should consider practice and execution of their contingency plans. In this most recent case, the [Deepwater Horizon] oil platform had an explosion on April 20, resulting in oil spewing out at an estimated 19,000 barrels per day. While some bloggers have argued that BP failed to plan, and therefore planned to fail, I found that hard to believe. How can a billion-dollar multinational company not have contingency plans?
The truth is, BP did have plans. Karen Dalton Beninato of New Orleans' City Voices discusses BP's Gulf of Mexico Regional Oil Spill Response Plan (OSRP) in her article [BP's Spill Plan: What they knew and when they knew it]. A
[redacted 90-page version of the OSRP] is available on their website.
The plan indicates that it may be 30 days from the time a deep offshore leak reaches the shoreline, giving OSRP participants plenty of time to take action.
(Having former politicians [blame environmentalists] for this crisis does not help much either. At least the deep shore rigs give you 30 days to react to a leak before the oil gets to the shoreline. Having oil rigs closer to shore will just shorten this time to react. Allowing onshore oil rigs does not mean oil companies would discontinue their deep offshore operations. There are thousands of oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Extracting oil in the beautiful Alaska National Wildlife Reserve [ANWR] might be safer, it does not eliminate the threat entirely, and any leak there would be damaging to the local plant and animals in the same manner.)
So perhaps the current crisis was not the result of a lack of planning, but inadequate practice and execution. The same is true for IT Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) plans. In all cases, there are four critical parts:
The planning team needs to anticipate every possible incident, determine the risks involved and the likelihood of impact, and either accept them, or decide to mitigate them. This can include natural disasters (hurricanes, fires, floods) and technical issues (computer viruses, power outages, network disruption).
Mitigation can involve taking backups, having replicated copies at a remote location, creating bootable media, training all of the appropriate employees, and having written documented procedures. IBM's Unified Recovery Management approach can protect your entire IT operations, from laptops of mobile employees, to remote office/branch office (ROBO) locations, to regional and central data centers.
When was the last time you practiced your Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery plan? I have seen this done at a variety of levels. At the lowest level, it is all done on paper, in a conference room, with all participants talking through their respective actions. These are often called "walk-throughs". At the highest level, you turn off power to your data center --on a holiday weekend to minimize impact to operating revenues-- and have the team bring up applications at the alternate site.
As many as 80 percent of these BC/DR exercises are considered failures, in that if a real disaster would have occurred, the participants are convinced they would not have achieved their target goals of Recovery Time Objective (RTO). However, they are not complete failures if they can help improve the plans, help identify new incidents that were not previously considered, and help train the participants in recovery procedures.
The last part is execution. In my career, I have been onsite for many Disaster Recovery exercises as well as after real disasters have occured. I am not surprised how many people assume that if they have plans in place, have made preparations, and have one to three practice drills per year, that the actual "execution" would directly follow. While the book [Execution] by Bossidy and Charan is not focused on IT BC/DR plans per se, it is a great read on how to manage the actual execution of any kind of business plan. I have read this book and recommend it.
If you have not tested out your IT department's BC/DR plans. Perhaps its time to dust off your copy, review it, and schedule some time for practice.
Many thanks to the 186 people who registered for yesterday's webcast "Solving the Storage Capacity Crisis -- Tools and Practices for Effective Management!" We had some excellent questions posed during the live Q&A:
Do you recommend moving to a SAN before implementing the management techniques you described, or will these tactics work just as well on direct-attached storage?
How does data center tiering differ from hierarchical storage management?
How do you recommend decisions about data priority be made when there are multiple stakeholders competing for attention?
You didn't mention deduplication. Does that have much impact on capacity management?
When outsourcing to a storage service provider, do you have any recommendations of the merits of wholesale outsourcing vs. partial outsourcing?
What are the dangers of giving end-users the ability to manage their own storage? What kind of education should be put in place?
The webcast was recorded, so in case you missed it, or just want to hear it again, the recording is now available in the [On24 archives].
A lot of people ask me about IBM branding, as we have recently changed brands. In the past we had two separate brands, one for servers (eServer) and one for storage (TotalStorage). These would be fine if we wanted to promote their independence, but customers today want synergy between servers and storage, they want systems that work well together.
Last year, in response to market feedback, we crated a new brand, "IBM Systems" and put all the server and storage product lines under one roof. Over time, we will transition from TotalStorage to System Storage naming. This will occur with new products, and major versions of existing products.
Two other phrases you will hear in the names of our offerings are "Virtualization Engine" and "Express". These are portfolio identifiers. The Virtualization Engine identifier was created to emphasize our leadership in system virtualization, and we have products that span product lines with this identifier.
The Express identifier was created to emphasize our focus on Small and Medium sized business (SMB). It spans not just servers and storage, but across other offerings from other IBM divisions.
Of course, just renaming products and services isn't enough. Systems don't work together just because they have similar names, are covered in similar "Apple white" plastic, or have similar black bezels. Obviously, thoughtful and collaborative design are needed, with the appropriate amounts of engineering and testing. IBM is aligning its server and storage development so that the IBM Systems brand keeps its promise.
Mark your calendars! Next month, IBM's Midsize Insider is hosting me as a speaker for a Webcast: [Storage Management with IBM], on August 7th, 12pm EDT. Midsize Insider is a valuable repository of expert content tailored for small-to-midsized business owners and IT decision makers.
The problems that used to keep storage managers awake at night -- power, cooling and physical footprint -- are being successfully addressed by technology, but a more vexing issue still remains: How to get more out of the limited supply of skilled storage management professionals.
Demand for storage capacity continues to grow far faster than the pool of people to manage it. With no end in sight to data growth, businesses need to apply technology and practices that distribute management responsibility to the people who need storage, and multiply the volumes of storage that skilled professionals can handle.
In this presentation, in this session, I will cover best practices and new tools that are enabling leaps in productivity, in three main areas:
Abandon the Craftsman Approach. Storage administrators need to discard some long-help myths about storage management and adopt new ways of thinking that enable them to handle significantly greater capacity.
Adopt software tools. Computers can now provide unprecedented guidance on storage optimization so that people don’t have to. Policy-based management, smart provisioning and automated tiering are among the innovations that are powering leaps in productivity.
Consider self-service portals. Companies are now exploring the self-service capabilities of private and public clouds. However, organizations need to adopt policies and limits in place to create an atmosphere of trust that enables efficient self-provisioning for storage.
Perhaps the recent financial meltdown is making storage vendors nervous.Both IBM and EMC gained market share in 3Q08, but EMC is acting strangelyat IBM's latest series of plays and announcements. Almost contradictory!
Benchmarks bad, rely on your own in-house evaluations instead
Let's start with fellow blogger Barry Burke from EMC, who offers his latest post[Benchmarketing Badly] with commentaryabout Enterprise Strategy Group's [DS5300 Lab Validation Report]. The IBM System Storage DS5300 is one of IBM's latest midrange disk systems recently announced. Take for example this excerpt from BarryB's blog post:
"I was pleasantly surprised to learn that both IBM and ESG agree with me about the relevance and importance of the Storage Performance Council benchmarks.
That is, SPC's are a meaningless tool by which to measure or compare enterprise storage arrays."
Nowhere in the ESG report says this, nor have I found any public statements from either IBM nor ESG that makes this claim. Instead, the ESG report explains that traditional benchmarks from the Storage Performance Council [SPC] focus on a single, specific workload, and ESG has chosen to complement this with a variety of other benchmarks to perform their product validation, including VMware's "VMmark", Oracle's Orion Utility, and Microsoft's JetStress.
Benchmarks provide prospective clients additional information to make purchasedecisions. IBM understands this, ESG understands this, and other well-respected companies like VMware, Oracle and Microsoft understand this. EMC is afraid that benchmarks mightencourage a client to "mistakenly" purchase a faster IBM product than a slower EMC product. Sunshine makes a great disinfectant, but EMC (and vampires) prefer their respective "prospects" remain in the dark.
Perhaps stranger still is BarryB's postscript. Here's an excerpt:
"... a customer here asked me if EMC would be willing to participate in an initiative to get multiple storage vendors to collaborate on truly representative real-world "enterprise-class" benchmarks, and I reassured him that I would personally sponsor active and objective participation in such an effort - IF he could get the others to join in with similar intent."
As I understand it, EMC was once part of the Storage Performance Council a long time ago, then chose to drop out of it. Why re-invent the wheel by creating yet another storage industry benchmark group? EMC is welcome to come back to SPC anytime! In addition to the SCP-1 and SPC-2 workloads, there is work underway for an SPC-3 benchmark. Each SPC workload provides additional insight for product comparisons to help with purchase decisions. If EMC can suggest an SPC-4 benchmark that it feels is more representative of real-world conditions, they are welcome to join the SPC party and make that a reality.
The old adage applies: ["It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness"]. EMC has been cursing the lack of what it considers to be acceptable benchmarks but has yet to offer anything more realistic or representative than SPC.What does EMC suggest you do instead? Get an evaluation box and run your own workloads and see for yourself! EMC has in the past offered evaluation units specifically for this purpose.
In-house evaluations bad, it's a trap!
Certainly, if you have the time and staff to run your own evaluation, with your own applications in your own environment, then I agree with EMC that this can provide better insight for your particular situation than standardized benchmarks.
In fact, that is exactly what IBM is doing for IBM XIV storage units, which are designed for Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads that current SPC benchmarks don't focus on. Fellow blogger Chuck Hollis from EMC opines in his post[Get yer free XIV!]. Here's an excerpt:
"Now that I think about it, this could get ugly. Imagine a customer who puts one on the floor to evaluate it, and -- in a moment of desperation or inattention -- puts production data on the device.
Nobody was paying attention, and there you are. Now IBM comes calling for their box back, and you've got a choice as to whether to go ahead and sign the P.O., or migrate all your data off the thing. Maybe they'll sell you an SVC to do this?
Yuck. I bet that happens more than once. And I can't believe that IBM (or the folks at XIV) aren't aware of this potentially happening."
Perhaps Chuck is speaking from experience here, as this may have happened with customers with EMC evaluation boxes, and is afraid this could happen with IBM XIV. I don't see anything unique about IBM XIV in the above concern. Typical evaluations involve copying test data onto the box, test it out with some particular application or workload, and then delete the data no longer required. Repeat as needed. Moving data off an IBM XIV is aseasy as moving data off an EMC DMX, EMC CLARiiON or EMC Celerra, and I am sure IBM wouldgladly demonstrate this on any EMC gear you now have.
Thanks to its clever RAID-X implementation, losing data on an IBM XIV is less likely thanlosing data on any RAID-5 based disk array from any storage vendor. Of course, there will always be skeptics about new technology that will want to try the box out for themselves.
If EMC thought the IBM XIV had nothing unique to offer, that its performance was just "OK",and is not as easy to manage as IBM says it is, then you would think EMC would gladly encourage such evaluations and comparisons, right?
No, I think EMC is afraid that companies will discover what they already know, that IBM has quality products that would stand a fair chance of side-by-side comparisons with their own offerings.We have enough fear, uncertainty and doubt from our current meltdown of the global financial markets, don't let EMC add any more.
Have a safe and fun Halloween! If you need to add some light to your otherwise dark surroundings, consider some of these ideas for [Jack-O-Lanterns]!
Yesterday morning, the entire country of Colombia suffered their worst black-out (power outage) in 22 years. 98% of the country was out for 4 1/2 hours.This is just 5 months after an outage that hit 25% of the country, December 7, 2006.Ironically, this one happened the week I am here explaining the need for Business Continuity plans to IBM Business Partners from Argentina, Peru, Velenzuela, Ecuador and Colombia. As is oftenthe case, people often need a real example to recognize the need for planning is important.
It reminded me of the Northeast Black-out of 2003 that impacted USA and Canada. I was speaking to a crowd of 800 people at the SHARE conference in Washington D.C. when it happened, and hundreds of pagers and cell-phones went off all at the same time. Although we were outside the effected area and had plenty of lighting, we ended up canceling therest of my talk, and many people left immediately to help execute their business continuity plans.Of course, terrorism was immediately assumed, but a final report showed that it was initiated in Ohiodue to overgrown trees, and then propagated due to a software bug to hundreds of other plants.
According to this morning's Bogota newspaper, "El Tiempo", nobody knows the root cause of yesterday's outage. Immediately, the country's leftist rebels were blamed, but now the leading theory is that it was initiated byoperator error (a technician touching something he shouldn't have), and then propagated by a faulty distribution system.
Another example of the need for a robust and resilient infrastructure, and appropropriate business continuity plans.