This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to IBM Systems, storage and storage networking hardware, software and services.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson )
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!
Safe Harbor Statement: The information on IBM products is intended to outline IBM's general product direction and it should not be relied on in making a purchasing decision. The information on the new products is for informational purposes only and may not be incorporated into any contract. The information on IBM products is not a commitment, promise, or legal obligation to deliver any material, code, or functionality. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for IBM products remains at IBM's sole discretion.
Tony Pearson is a an active participant in local, regional, and industry-specific interests, and does not receive any special payments to mention them on this blog.
Tony Pearson receives part of the revenue proceeds from sales of books he has authored listed in the side panel.
Tony Pearson is not a medical doctor, and this blog does not reference any IBM product or service that is intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, prevention or monitoring of a disease or medical condition, unless otherwise specified on individual posts.
The developerWorks Connections platform will be sunset on December 31, 2019. On January 1, 2020, this blog will no longer be available. More details available on our FAQ.
"This week, IBM is launching a companywide effort to build the digital eminence of all IBMers. The goal is to arm you with the tools and knowledge to effectively use emerging technologies -- such as social, mobile, and cloud computing -- for strategic advantage."
This is how Rod Adkins, IBM Senior VP of Systems Technology Group, and my sixth-line manager, starts a memo to declare April "Digital IBMer awareness month". I am not sure if this is just for this April, or every April going forward. Included with this is a set of ten guidelines to improve CyberSecurity:
In honor of this, I will be spending the next two weeks traveling through Europe. Instead of bringing a large suitcase and my laptop, I have decided instead to only take:
The clothes I am wearing on the plane
A heavy jacket with lots of pockets
A backpack with 15 pounds of clothes
A hipsack with my smartphone, digital camera, MP3 player and all the related adapters, chargers and cables
My smartphone uses a GSM chip, so I should be able to get a European SIM when I arrive. I have not booked any hotels, tours, or transportation. Instead, I will rely on social media and cloud computing to take care of things on a daily basis.
(Why only 15 pounds of clothing? I just had major surgery two weeks ago, and my doctor advised me not to lift more than 15 pounds for the next six weeks!)
I plan to have a series of blog posts documenting what I learn from this trip. For those who want to follow along, I will be tweeting from @az990tony. You do not need a Twitter account to read my tweets. You can read them directly from [http://twitter.com/#!/az990tony].
I can't remember the last time I have gone this long without the comforts of my laptop or desktop, so it will be interesting how it works out!
I hope everyone had a nice Winter break. For my birthday last month, my good friends at [StarTech.com] sent me a nice [double-headed USB combo cable] that has both Micro-USB and Mini-USB connectors. I am always looking to reduce the number of cables I take with me on trips, and this one is perfect, as I have a Samsung 4G smart phone that uses the Micro-USB connector, and a Canon PowerShot digital camera that uses the Mini-USB connector.
(FTC Disclosure: The U.S. Federal Trade Commission may consider this a "celebrity endorsement" for StarTech's product. I have used the cable and it works as expected. My review is based on my own experience using the cable, and information publicly available. IBM and StarTech are independent companies. Aside from giving me this nice cable at no cost, I have not received any payment from StarTech or any other third party to mention them or their product on this blog, I am not affiliated with StarTech in any way, nor do I have any financial interest in their company.)
When the [Universal Serial Bus] standard first came out in the mid-1990s, my colleagues and I were all excited that this will finally put an end to all the proprietary plugs and cables that each manufacturer seemed to waste their time re-inventing the wheel with yet another cable connector. For the most part, USB has simplified this, and the USB cable can be used for both data transfer and for power charging.
Today, there are many alternatives to using a cable for data transfer, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but people are finding that their smart phones and other devices run out of juice way too often. At various conferences, I have seen several people panic looking for an electrical outlet to charge their device, and a few brazen enough to ask other attendees, "Can I plug my phone into your laptop?"
(Caution: Be careful allowing strangers to plug their device into your USB port, as this can provide data transfer in addition to power charging, spreading viruses or other malicious intent. On my Lenovo Thinkpad T410, one of the USB ports is colored yellow and is always powered on, even when my laptop is in suspend or hibernation mode. This would be a safe way to allow someone to charge off your power without concern for data transfer in either direction.)
Recently, I have flown on airplanes where each seat had a USB charging port, ideal if you want to listen to music or watch a video on your device. I have also driven a rental carthat had USB charging ports in addition to the traditional cigarette lighter option, especially useful if you need to make an emergency phone call at the side of the road, or if you are using the GPS navigation feature to find your way. These are both a good step in the right direction!
Carrying one cable instead of two might not seem like much of a big deal, but if you think about it, complexity in the IT industry is all about the number of cables admins have to deal with. The push from 1GbE to 10GbE can help reduce the number of cables. Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) takes it one step further, allowing NFS, CIFS, iSCSI and FCoE to all flow over a single cable. This can greatly reduce complexity in your IT environment.
If you are interested in reducing the complexity in your IT environment, contact your local IBM Business Partner or sales representative.
Well, it's Tuesday, in the United States at least, and you know what that means... IBM Announcements! I am actually down under in Sydney, Australia, and it is Wednesday already as I write this. I feel like a time traveler.
IBM announces their latest disk system, the [IBM System Storage DCS3700], designed for high-performance computing (HPC), business analytics, video broadcasting, and other sequential workloads. The "DCS" stands for Deep Computing Storage. IBM already has the DCS9900 for large enterprise deployments, so this smaller DCS3700 is targeted for midrange deployments.
In a compact 4U package, the DCS3700 packs dual active-active controllers and up to 60 disk drives. The controller drawer can support two additional expansion drawers, of 60 drives each in 4U drawers, for a maximum total of 180 drives in 12U of rack space. Packed with "green" 7200RPM energy-efficient 2TB drives, a system can have up to a 360TB raw capacity. The system supports RAID levels 0, 1, 3, 5, 6, and 10.
The system comes with the latest 6Gbps SAS connections for host attachment, but you can choose 8Gbps Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) instead, allowing the DCS3700 to be managed by SVC or Storwize V7000.
IBM has chosen three particular Software Defined Environments. At one end, IBM is a platinum sponsor of OpenStack which supports x86 servers, POWER systems and z System mainframes. A problem with open source projects like this, however, is that they can be a bit like putting together IKEA furniture from pieces in a box: "Some assembly required."
At the other end, highly proprietary environments from VMware and Microsoft bring enterprise-ready out-of-the-box solutions. However, nobody wants to be limited to just x86-based solutions. IBM offers the best of both worlds, basing its IBM Cloud and SmartCloud software on OpenStack standards, but providing enterprise-ready solutions for x86, POWER Systems and z System mainframes. This includes IBM Cloud Manager with OpenStack, IBM Cloud Orchestrator, and IBM SmartCloud Cost Management software products.
(Analogy: If open source solutions were vanilla ice cream, and proprietary solutions were chocolate ice cream, then IBM Cloud and SmartCloud is vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce on top! This is the same approach IBM used for WebSphere Application Server, based on Apache web server, and IBM BigInsights, based on Hadoop analytics.)
For some people, software defined can also refer to how the resources are deployed. Rather than using specialized hardware, solutions based on industry-standard hardware can be delivered either as pre-built appliances, services in the Cloud, or as software-only products.
Back in the 1990s, IBM came up with the [Seascape Storage Enterprise Architecture], deciding to focus the design of its storage systems to be based, where possible and practical, on industry-standard components.
Let's review a few products:
IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and Storwize V7000: IBM storage hypervisors were originally designed to run on industry-standard x86 servers. The IBM scientists at Almaden Research Center referred to this as the "COMmodity PArts Storage System" (COMPASS) architecture.
That is still mostly true 12 years later, but SVC and Storwize V7000 does have specialized hardware, including host bus adapter cards and the [Intel® QuickAssist] chip for Real-time Compression.
IBM DS8000 disk system: The DS8000 is based on off-the-shelf IBM POWER servers. Originally, you could only purchase POWER-based servers from IBM, but now thanks to the [OpenPOWER Foundation], you now have more options.
The DS8000 does use some specialized hardware for its host and device adapters, taking advantage of ASICs and FPGAs to optimize performance.
IBM XIV storage system: IBM acquired XIV back in 2008, but its design is very similar to Seascape architecture. All of the Intellectual Property was in the software, installed on industry-standard x86 servers, cache memory, host bus adapters and 7200 RPM nearline disk drives. I joked that the entire hardware bill-of-materials could be ordered directly from the CDW catalog!
IBM FlashSystem: IBM is #1 rank in the All-Flash Array market. Rather than using off-the-shelf commodity Solid-State drives (SSD), the IBM FlashSystem employs specialized hardware based on FPGAs to optimize performance.
IBM FlashSystem came from the recent acquisition of Texas Memory Systems, and was not designed under the IBM Seascape architecture.
Combining the method the resources are controlled and managed with the way storage is deployed results in a quadrant. Let's take a look at this from a storage perspective:
Traditional storage products that are based on specialized hardware that do not support Software Defined Environment APIs.
Storage products that are based on specialized hardware, but have been enhanced to support Software Defined Environment APIs. For OpenStack, this refers to Cinder and Swift interfaces. For VMware, this would include VAAI, VASA and VADP interfaces and vCenter Console plug-ins.
Storage products that are basically software, either installed on pre-built hardware appliances, offered as services in the Cloud, or software you deploy on your own industry-standard hardware. Unfortunately, this category does not support software defined environment APIs, and so proprietary interfaces require administrator-intensive involvement instead.
Storage software for industry-standard hardware. You purchase the appropriate server, cache memory, flash and disk drives as needed. This category could also extend to pre-built appliance versions of this software, or as services in the Cloud. APIs for software defined environments are available to deploy this with self-service automation.
IBM Spectrum Storage is a family of Category IV software offerings. Here are the products announced:
Based on technology from...
IBM Spectrum Control™
Simplified control and optimization of storage and data infrastructure
SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center, Tivoli Storage Productivity Center
IBM Spectrum Protect™
Single point of administration for data backup and recovery
Tivoli Storage Manager
IBM Spectrum Accelerate™
Accelerating speed of deployment and access to data for new workloads
XIV storage system
IBM Spectrum Virtualize™
Storage virtualization that frees client data from IT boundaries
SAN Volume Controller
IBM Spectrum Scale™
High-performance, scalable storage manages exabytes of unstructured data
GPFS and codename:Elastic Storage
IBM Spectrum Archive™
Enables easy access to long term storage of low activity data
Linear Tape File System (LTFS)
Last year, IDC recognized IBM as #1 in this new emerging software defined storage market. This announcement reinforces IBM's lead in this area. See the [Press Release] for details.
While I was in Auckland, New Zealand, for the IBM Storage Optimisation Breakfast series of events, I agreed to also talk at the [Ingram Micro Showcase 2010] held there the same week. David Bird, who was scheduled to speak, was down in Christchurch taking care of his family after the big 7.1 magnitude earthquake.
The marketing team did a great job putting up a "Smarter Planet" ball up near the ceiling. It had to be "enhanced" with some extra black ink to include the outline of the islands of New Zealand.
Basically, I had 25 minutes to present "Future Storage Trends" to a packed room with standing room only. This was a shortened version of my 40-minute talk that I had been already giving at the Storage Optimisation Breakfast events. This presentation was based on three key trends:
There is a shift in the role each storage media type is going to be used for. Rising energy costs, performance and economics are causing the IT industry to re-evaluate their use of solid-state drives, spinning disk, tape cartridge, paper and analog film. IBM Easy Tier and blended disk-and-tape solutions are paving the way for these future trends.
Advancements in commuications technology and bandwidth are driving a convergence of SANs and LANs to a single Data Center Network (DCN) based on Convergence Enhanced Ethernet (CEE). IBM's top-of-rack switches and converged network adapaters (CNA) are the first step in this process.
Cloud Computing is driving new levels of standardization, automation and management that will impact the way internal IT departments will manage their own IT equipment as well. IBM's five different levels of cloud computing offerings, from private cloud to public cloud, provides every individual or company a level of service that is just right.
Here is the IBM booth. As is often the case, we get a prestigious corner booth that maximizes foot traffic to see our solutions.
While walking around, the folks at the Samsung booth notices my Samsung Galaxy S smartphone. These are not yet available in the New Zealand market, so they thought I was a Samsung employee. I explained that I am an American, and that these have been available for weeks now in the states.
The Samsung team then showed me their latest 3D television. Basically, you wear special 3D glasses that sync-up electronically with the TV screen itself to give the appearance of 3D image on anything you play. I believe the TV comes with two pairs of glasses, and additional pairs can be purchased for substantial extra. It works with any movie or TV show, there is no requirement that it be filmed in 3D mode. The 3D-TV automatically analyzes that is moving on the screen, and then makes that item clearer and sharper, and things that are considered background are automatically made fuzzier, out of focus. The effect is really incredible.
One of the storage solutions on display was the entry-level IBM System Storage DS3524 disk system, which is a small 2U high cabinet that holds 24 drives. These are the small form factor 2.5 inch drives. It's amazing we can pack so many drives in such a compact rack-optimized enclosure!
Ingram Micro is one of IBM's technology distributors, and it was good to see it was a well-attended event.
This is a reasonable question. Since Invista 2.0 came out months ago in August, and Invista 2.1 is rumored to be out by end of this month, why put out a press release now, rather than just wait a few weeks? Thesignificant part of this announcement was that EMC finally has their first customer reference.To be fair, getting a customer to agree to be a reference is difficult for any vendor. Some non-profitsand government agencies have rules against it, and some corporations just don't want to be bothered byjournalists, or take phone calls from other prospective customers. I suspect EMC wanted to put the good folks from Purdue University in front of the cameras and microphones before they:
In Moore's terminology, Purdue University would be a "technology enthusiast", interested in exploring the technologyof the EMC Invista. Universities by their very nature often see themselves as early adopters, willing to take big risks in hopes to reap big rewards. The chasm happens later, when there are a lot of early adopters, all willing to be reference accounts. The mainstream market--shown here as pragmatists, conservatives, and skeptics-- are unwillingto accept reference claims from early adopters, searching instead for moderate gains from minimal risks. They prefer references from customers that are similar in size and industry. Whether a vendor can get a product to cross this chasm is the focus of the book.
Why "SAN" virtualization?
Technically, Invista is "storage" virtualization, not "SAN" virtualization. Virtualizationis any technology that makes one set of resources look and feel like a different setof resources, preferably with more desirable characteristics. You can virtualizeservers, SANs, and storage resources.
Virtual SAN (VSAN) technology, supported bythe Cisco MDS 9500 Series Multilayer Director Switch, partitions a single physical SAN into multipleVSANs, allowing different business functions and requirements to share a common physical infrastructure.
How does Invista advance Cisco's VSAN functionality? It doesn't, but that doesn't makethe title a falsehood, or the press release by association full of lies.If you read the entire press release, EMCcorrectly states that Invista is "storage" virtualization. Some storagevirtualization products, like EMC Invista and IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC), require a SAN as a platform for which to perform their magic.Marketing people might use the term "SAN" torefer not just the network gear that provides the plumbing, but also to include the storage devices that are attached to the SAN. In that light, theuse of "SAN virtualization" can be understood in the title.
More importantly, it appears that EMC no longer requires that you purchase new SAN equipment from themwith Invista. When the Invista first came out, it cost over a quarter-million US dollars to cover thecost of the intelligent switches, but with the price drop to $100K, I imagine this means theyassume everyone has an appropriately-supported intelligent switch already deployed.
Why this architecture?
In his post [Storage Virtualization and Invista 2.0], EMC blogger ChuckH does a fair job explaining why EMC went in this direction for Invista, and how it is different thanother storage virtualization products.
Most storage virtualization products are cache-based. The world's first disk storagevirtualization product, the IBM 3850 Mass Storage System, introduced in 1974, and thefirst tape virtualization product, the IBM 3494 Virtual tape Server, introduced in 1997, bothused disk cache in front of tape storage. Later virtualization products, like IBM SVC and HDS USP-V, use DRAM memory cache in front of disk storage, but the concept is the same.People are comfortable with cache-based solutions, because the technology is matureand well proven in the marketplace, and excited and delighted that these can offer the following features in a mixed heterogeneous disk environment:
instantaneous point-in-time copy
None of these features are provided by Invista, as there is no cache in the switch. Instead,Invista is a "packet cracker"; it cracks open each FCP packet, inspects and modifies the contents, then passes theFCP packet along to the appropriate storage device. This process slows down each read andwrite by some amount, perhaps 20 microseconds. The disadvantage of slowing down every readand write is offset by having other benefits, like non-disruptive data migration.
To compensate for Invista's inability to provide these features,EMC offers a second solution called EMC RecoverPoint, which is an in-band cache-based appliancesimilar in design to SVC, but maps all virtual disks one-to-one to physical disks. It offersremote distance asynchronous mirroring between heterogeneous devices.EMC supports RecoverPoint in front of Invista, but if you are considering buying bothto get the combined set of features, you might as well buy an IBM SVC or HDS USP-V instead,in one system, rather than two, which is much less complicated. IBM SVC and HDS USP-Vhave both "crossed the chasm" having sold thousands of units to every type and size of customer.
Hopefully, this answers the questions you might have about EMC Invista.
Optimizing Storage Infrastructure for Growth and Innovation
This session started off with my former boss, Brian Truskowski, IBM General Manager of System Storage and Networking.
We've come a long way in storage. In 1973, the "Winchester Drive" was named after the famous Winchester 3030 rifle. The disk drive was planning to have two 30MB platters, hence the name. When it finally launched, it would have two 35MB platters, for a total raw capacity of 70MB.
Today, IBM announced the verison 6.2 of SAN Volume Controller with support for 10GbE iSCSI. Since 2003, IBM has sold over 30,000 SAN Volume Controllers. An SVC cluster can now manage up to 32PB of disk storage.
IBM also announced new 4TB tape drive (TS1140), LTFS Library Edition, the TS3500 Library Connector, improved TS7600 and TS7700 virtual tape libraries, enhanced Information Archive for email, files and eDiscovery, new Storwize V7000 hardware, new Storwize Rapid Application bundles, new firmware for SONAS and DS8000 disk systems, and Real-Time Compression support for EMC disk systems. I plan to cover each of these in follow-on posts, but if you can't wait, here are [links to all the announcements].
Customer Testimonial - CenterPoint Energy
"CenterPoint is transforming its business from being an energy distribution company that uses technology, to a technology company that distributes energy."
-- Dr. Steve Pratt, CTO of CenterPoint Energy
The next speaker was Dr. Steve Pratt is CTO of [CenterPoint Energy]. CenterPoint is 110 years old (older than IBM!) energy company that is involved in electricity, gasoline distribution, and natural gas pipeline. CenterPoint serves Houston, Texas (the fourth largest city in the USA) and surrounding area.
CenterPoint are transforming to a Smart Grid involving smart meters, and this requires the best IT infrastructure you can buy, including IBM DS8000, XIV and SAN Volume Controller disk systems, IBM Smart Analytics System, Stream Analytics, IBM Virtual Tape Library, IBM Tivoli Storage Manager, and IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center.
Dr. Pratt has seen the transition of information over the years:
Data Structure, deciding how to code data to record it in a structured manner
Information Reporting, reporting to upper management what happened
Intelligence Aggregation, finding patterns and insight from the data
Predictive Analytics, monitoring real-time data to take pro-active steps
Autonomics, where automation and predictive analysis allows the system to manage itself
What does the transition to a Smart Grid mean for their storage environment? They will go from 80,000 meter reads, to 230,400,000 reads per day. Ingestion of this will go from MB/day to GB/sec. Reporting will transition to real-time analytics.
Dr. Pratt prefers to avoid trade-offs. Don't lose something to get something else. He also feels that language of the IT department can help. For example, he uses "Factor" like 25x rather than percent reduction (96 percent reduced). He feels this communicates the actual results more effectively.
Today's smarter consumers are driving the need for smarter technologies. Individual consumers and small businesses can make use of intelligent meters to help reduce their energy costs. Everything from smart cars to smart grids will need real-time analytics to deal with the millions of events that occur every day.
IBM's Data Protection and Retention Story
Brian Truskowski came back to provide the latest IBM messaging for Data Protection and Retention (DP&R). The key themes were:
Stop storing so much
Store more with what's on the floor
Move data to the right place
IBM announced today that the IBM Real-Time Compression Appliances now support EMC gear, such as EMC Celerra. While some of the EMC equipment have built-in compression features, these often come at a cost of performance degradation. Instead, the IBM Real-Time compression can offer improved performance as well as 3x to 5x reduction in storage capacity.
OVer 70 percent of data on disk has not be accessed in the last 90 days. IBM Easy Tier on the DS8700 and DS8800 now support FC-to-SATA automated tiering.
IBM is projecting that backup and archive storage will grow at over 50 percent per year. To help address this, IBM is launching a new "Storage Infrastructure Optimization" assessment. All attendees at today's summit are eligible for a free assessment.
Analytics are increasing the value of information, and making it more accessible to the average knowledge worker. The cost of losing data, as well as the effort spent searching for information, has skyrocketed. Users have grown to expect 100 percent uptime availability.
An analysis of IT environments found that only 55 percent was spent on revenue-producing workloads. The remaining 45 percent was spent on Data Protection and Retenion. That means that for every IT dollar spent on projects to generate revenue, you are spending another 90 cents to protect it. Imagine spending 90 percent of your house payments for homeowners' insurance, or 90 percent of your car's purchase price for car insurance.
IBM has organized its solutions into three categories:
Hyper-Efficient Backup and Recovery
Continuous Data Availability
What would it mean to your business if you could shift some of the money spent on DP&R over to revenue-producing projects instead? That was the teaser question posed at the end of these morning sessions for us to discuss during lunch.
Wrapping up my coverage of the Data Center Conference 2009, the week ends with a celebration. This year we had six "Hospitality Suites" sponsored by various different vendors. Each suite has its own theme, decorations and entertainment. The first suite was VMware's "Cloud 9 Ultra Lounge" which offered blue cotton candy martinis. IBM is the leading reseller of VMware.
When the red martini liquid was poured on top of the blue cotton candy, the result was a nasty muddish brown grey color. The guy on the left chose to get the martini without the blue cotton candy. We joked that this is perhaps a good metaphor for cloud computing in general. It looks good on paper, until you actually put it all together and realize it does not look as blue and puffy as you were expecting. However, it tasted good!
Next suite was sponsored by Cisco, one of IBM's storage networking partners. Cisco also decorated in blue, as the guy Jake in the middle demonstrates.
Next suite was sponsored by Brocade, our supplier for IBM-branded networking gear. They went with a red-and-black color scheme. Sadly, many of my pictures inside involved straight jackets and unicycles, so not appropriate for this blog. However, it was easy to remember that they were talking about their "extraordinary networks". Makes you want to help out Brocade by contacting your nearest IBM storage sales rep and buy yourself a SAN768B or two.
Somewhere along the way, we picked up Hawaiian leis at the "Margaritaville" Hospitality Suite, compliments of sponsor APC by Schneider Electric. We had the best "Filet Mignon" appetizers at "Club Dedupe" by our competitor DataDomain, and some fun with my friends over at Computer Associates' "Top Gun" suite. Pictured at right are Paula Koziol with Christian Barrera from Argentina. A good time was had by all.
This week several IBM executives will present at the 28th Annual Data Center Conference here in Las Vegas. Here is a quick recap:
Steve Sams: Data Center Cost Saving Actions Your CFO Will Love
A startling 78 percent of today's data centers were built in the last century, before the "dot com" era and the adoption of high-density blade servers. IBM Vice President of Global Site and Facility Services, Steve Sams, presented actions that can help extend the life of existing data centers, help rationalize the infrastructure across the company, and design a new data center that is flexible and responsive to changing needs.
In one example, an 85,000 square foot datacenter in Lexington had reached 98 percent capacity based on power/cooling requirements. They estimated it would take $53 million US dollars to either upgrade the facility or build a new facility to meet projected growth. Instead, IBM was able to consolidate servers six-to-one, an 85 percent reduction. IBM also was able to make changes to the cooling equipment, redirect airflow and changed out the tiles, re-oriented the servers for more optimal placement, and implement measurement and management tools. The end result? The facility now has eight times the compute capability and enjoys 15 percent headroom for additonal growth. All this for only 1.5 million US dollar investment, instead of 53 million.
IBM builds hundreds of data centers for clients large and small. In addition to the "Portable Modular Data Center"(PMDC) shipping container on display at the Solution Showcase, IBM offers the "Scalable Modular Data Center", a turn-key system with a small 500 to 2500 square foot size for small customers. For larger deployments, the "Enterprise Modular Data Center" offers standardized deployments in 5000 square foot increments. IBM also offers "High Density Zones" which can be perfect way to avoid a full site retrofit.
Helene Armitage: IT-wide Virtualization
Helene is IBM General Manager of the newly formed IBM System Software division. A smarter planet will require more dynamic infrastructures, which is IBM's approach to helping clients through the virtualization journey. The virtualization of resources, workloads and business processes will require end-to-end management. To help, IBM offers IBM Systems Director.
Helene indicated that there are four stages of adoption:
Physical consolidation - VMware and Hyper-V are the latest examples of running many applications on fewer physical servers. Of course, IBM has been doing this for decades with mainframes, and has had virtualization on System i and System p POWER systems as well. A quick survey of the audience found that about 20 percent were doing server virtualization on non-x86 platforms (for example, PowerVM or System z mainframe z/VM)
Pools of resources - SAN Volume Controller is an example solution to manage storage as a pool of disparate storage resources. Supercomputers manage pools of servers.
Integrated Service Management - in the past, resources were managed by domain, resulting in islands of management. Now, with IBM Systems Director, you can manage AIX, IBM i, Linux and Windows servers, including non-IBM servers running Linux and Windows.
Service management can provide monitoring, provisioning, service catalog, self-service, and business-aligned processes.
Cloud computing - Helene agreed that not everyone will get to this stage. Some will adopt cloud computing, whether public, private or some kind of hybrid, and others may be fine at stage 3.
For those clients that want assistance, IBM offers three levels of help:
Help me decide what is best for me
Help me implement what I have decided to do
Help me manage and run my operations
With IBM's compelling vision for the future, best of breed solutions, leadership in management software, extensive experience in services, and solid business industry knowledge, it makes sense to tap IBM to help with your next IT transformation.
With all the announcements we had in June, it is easy for some of the more subtle enhancements to get overlooked. While I was at Orlando for the IBM Edge conference, I was able to blog about some of the key featured announcements. Then, later, when I got back from Orlando to Tucson, I was able to then blog about [More IBM Storage Announcements]. For IBM's Scale-Out Network Attach Storage (SONAS), I had simply:
"SONAS v1.3.2 adds support for management by the newly announced IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v5.1 release. Also, IBM now officially supports Gateway configurations that have the storage nodes connected to XIV or Storwize V7000 disk systems. These gateway configurations offer new flexible choices and options for our ever-expanding set of clients."
In my defense, IBM numbers its software releasees with version.release.modification, so 1.3.2 is Version 1, Release 3, Modification 2. Generally, modification announcements don't get much attention. The big announcement for v1.3.0 of SONAS happened last October, see my blog post [October 2011 Announcements - Part I] or
the nice summary post [IBM Scale-out Network Attached Storage 1.3.0] from fellow blogger Roger Luethy.
Here is a diagram showing the three configurations of SONAS.
I have covered the SONAS Appliance model in depth in previous blogs, with options for fast and slow disk speeds, choice of RAID protection levels, a collection of enterprise-class software features provided at no additional charge, and interfaces to support a variety of third party backup and anti-virus checking software.
The basics haven't changed. The SONAS appliance consists of 2 to 32 interface nodes, 2 to 60 storage nodes, and up to 7,200 disk drives. The maximum configuration takes up 17 frames and holds 21.6PB of raw disk capacity, which is about 17PB usable space when RAID6 is configured. An interface nodes has one or two hex-core processors with up to 144GB of RAM to offer up to 3.5GB/sec performance each. This makes IBM SONAS the fastest performing and most scalable disk system in IBM's System Storage product line.
I thought I would go a bit deeper on the gateway models. These models support up to ten storage nodes, organized in pairs. The key difference is that instead of internal disk controllers, the storage nodes connect to external disk systems. There is enough space in the base SONAS rack to hold up to six interface nodes, or you can add a second rack if you need more interface nodes for increased performance.
SONAS with XIV gateway
XIV offers a clever approach to storage that allows for incredibly fast access to data on relatively slow 7200 RPM drives. By scattering data across all drives and taking advantage of parallel processing, rebuild times for a failed 3TB drive are less than 75 minutes. Compare that to typical rebuild times for 3TB drives that could take as much as 9-10 hours under active I/O loads!
In the configuration, each pair of storage nodes can connect to external SAN Fabric switches that then connect to one or two XIV storage systems. How simple is that? These can be the original XIV systems that support 1TB and 2TB drives, or the new XIV Gen3 systems that support 400GB Solid-state drives (SSD) and 3TB spinning disk drives. In both cases, you can acquire additional storage capacity as little as 12 drives at a time (one XIV module holds 12 drives).
The maximum configuration of ten XIV boxes could hold 1,800 drives. At 3TB drive per drive, that would be 2.4PB usable capacity.
The SONAS with XIV gateway does not require the XIV devices to be dedicated for SONAS purposes. Rather, you can assign some XIV storage space for the SONAS, and the rest is available for other servers. In this manner, SONAS just looks like another set of Linux-based servers to the XIV storage system. This in effect gives you "Unified Storage", with a full complement of NAS protocols from the SONAS side (NFS, CIFS, FTP, HTTPS, SCP) as well as block-based protocols directly from the XIV (FCP, iSCSI).
SONAS with Storwize V7000 gateway
The other gateway offering is the SONAS with Storwize V7000. Like the SONAS with XIV gateway model, you connect a pair of SONAS storage nodes to 1 or 2 Storwize V7000 disk systems. However, you do not need a SAN Fabric switch in between. You can instead connect the SONAS storage nodes directly to the Storwize V7000 control enclosures.
To acquire additional storage capacity, you can purchase a single drive at a time. That's right. Not 12 drives, or 60 drives, at a time, but one at a time. The Storwize V7000 supports a wide range of SSD, SAS and NL-SAS drives at different sizes, speeds and capacities. The drives can be configured into various RAID protection levels: RAID 0, 1, 3, 5, 6 and 10.
Each Storwize V7000 control enclosure can have up to nine expansion drawers. If you choose the 2.5-inch 24-bay models, you can have up to 480 drives per storage node pair, for a total of 2,400 drives. If you choose the 3.5-inch 12-bay models, you can have up to 240 drives per node pair, 1,200 drives total. At 3TB per drive, this could be 3.6PB of raw capacity. The usable PB would depend on which RAID level you selected. Of course, you don't have to limit yourself all to one size or the other. Feel free to mix 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drawers to provide different storage pool capabilities.
All three SONAS configurations support Active Cloud Engine. This is a collection of features that differentiate SONAS from the other scale-out NAS wannabees in the marketplace:
Policy-driven Data Placement -- Different files can be directed to different storage pools. You no longer have to associate certain file systems to certain storage technologies.
High-speed Scan Engine -- SONAS can scan 10 million files per minute, per node. These scans can be used to drive data migration, backups, expirations, or replications, for example. It is over 100 times faster than traditional walk-the-directory-tree approaches employed by other NAS solutions.
Policy-driven Migration -- You can migrate files from one storage pool to another, based on age, days since last reference, size, and other criteria. The files can be moved from disk to disk, or move out of SONAS and stored on external media, such as tape or a virtual tape library. A lot of data stored on NAS systems is dormant, with little or no likelihood of being looked at again. Why waste money keeping that kind of data on expensive disk? With SONAS, you can move those files to tape can save lots of money. The files are stubbed in the SONAS file system, so that an access request to a file will automatically trigger a recall to fetch the data from tape back to the SONAS system.
Policy-driven Expiration -- SONAS can help you keep your system clean, by helping you decide what files should be deleted. This is especially useful for things like logs and traces that tend to just hang around until some deletes them manually.
WAN Caching -- This allows one SONAS to act as a "Cloud Storage Gateway" for another SONAS at a remote location connected by Wide Area Network (WAN). Let's say your main data center has a large SONAS repository of files, and a small branch office has a smaller SONAS. This allows all locations to have a "Global" view of the all the interconnected SONAS systems, with a high-speed user experience for local LAN-based access to the most recent and frequently used files.
If you want to learn more, see the [IBM SONAS landing page]. Next week, I will be across the Pacific Ocean in [Taipei], to teach IBM Top Gun class to sales reps and IBM Business Partners. "Selling SONAS" will be one of the topics I will be covering!
Continuing my coverage of the 30th annual [Data Center Conference]. Here is a recap of the Monday afternoon sessions:
IBM Watson and your Data Center
Steve Sams, IBM VP of Site and Facilities Services, cleverly used IBM Watson as a way to explain how analytics can be used to help manage your data center. Sadly, most of the people at my table missed the connection between IBM Watson and Analytics. How does answering a single trivia question in under three seconds relate to the ongoing operations of a data center? If you were similarly confused, take a peak at my series of IBM Watson blog posts:
The analyst who presented this topic was probably the fastest-speaking Texan I have met. He covered various aspects of Cloud Computing that people need to consider. Why hasn't Cloud taken off sooner? The analyst feels that Cloud Computing wasn't ready for us, and we weren't ready for Cloud Computing. The fundamentals of Cloud Computing have not changed, but we as a society have. Now that many end users are comfortable consuming public cloud resources, from Facebook to Twitter to Gmail, they are beginning to ask for similar from their corporate IT.
Legal issues - see this hour-long video, [Cloud Law & Order], which discusses legal issues related to Cloud Computing.
Employee staffing - need to re-tool and re-train IT employees to start thinking of their IT as a service provider internally.
Hybrid Cloud - rather than struggle choosing between private and public cloud methodologies, consider a combination of both.
University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Cracks Code on Data Growth
Often times, the hour is split, 30 minutes of the sponsor talking about various products, followed by 30 minutes of the client giving a user experience. Instead, I decided to let the client speak for 45 minutes, and then I moderated the Q&A for the remaining 15 minutes. This revised format seemed to be well-received!
University of Rochester is in New York, 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 back in May, when he presented at the IBM [Storage Innovation Executive Summit] in New York City.
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 continuous operations and high availability, while controlling storage growth and costs.
The Q&A was lively, focusing on how his team manages 1PB of disk storage with just four storage administrators, his choice of a "Vendor Neutral Archive" (VNA), and his experiences with integration.
This was a great afternoon, and I was glad to get all my speaking gigs done early in the week. I would like to thank Rick Haverty of URMC for doing a great job presenting this afternoon!
Mastering the art of stretching out a week-long event into two weeks' worth of blog posts, I continue my
coverage of the [Data Center 2010 conference], Tuesday afternoon I attended several sessions that focused on technologies for Cloud Computing.
(Note: It appears I need to repeat this. 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. The pie charts included on this series of posts were rendered by Google Charting tool.)
Converging Storage and Network Fabrics
The analysts presented a set of alternative approaches to consolidating your SAN and LAN fabrics. Here were the choices discussed:
Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) - This requires 10GbE with Data Center Bridging (DCB) standards, what IBM refers to as Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE). Converged Network Adapters (CNAs) support FC, iSCSI, NFS and CIFS protocols on a single wire.
Internet SCSI (iSCSI) - This works on any flavor of Ethernet, is fully routable, and was developed in the 1990s by IBM and Cisco. Most 1GbE and all 10GbE Network Interface Cards (NIC) support TCP Offload Engine (TOE) and "boot from SAN" capability. Native suppot for iSCSI is widely available in most hypervisors and operating systems, including VMware and Windows. DCB Ethernet is not required for iSCSI, but can be helpful. Many customers keep their iSCSI traffic in a separate network (often referred to as an IP SAN) from the rest of their traditional LAN traffic.
Network Attached Storage (NAS) - NFS and CIFS have been around for a long time and work with any flavor of Ethernet. Like iSCSI, DCB is not required but can be helpful. NAS went from being for files only, to be used for email and database, and now is viewed as the easiest deployment for VMware. Vmotion is able to move VM guests from one host to another within the same LAN subnet.
Infiniband or PCI extenders - this approach allows many servers to share fewer number of NICs and HBAs. While Infiniband was limited in distance for its copper cables, recent advances now allow fiber optic cables for 150 meter distances.
Interactive poll of the audience offered some insight on plans to switch from FC/FICON to Ethernet-based storage:
Interactive poll of the audience offered some insight on what portion storage is FCP/FICON attached:
Interactive poll of the audience offered some insight on what portion storage is Ethernet-attached:
Interactive poll of the audience offered some insight on what portion of servers are already using some Ethernet-attached storage:
Each vendor has its own style. HP provides homogeneous solutions, having acquired 3COM and broken off relations with Cisco. Cisco offers tight alliances over closed proprietary solutions, publicly partnering with both EMC and NetApp for storage. IBM offers loose alliances, with IBM-branded solutions from Brocade and BNT, as well as reselling arrangements with Cisco and Juniper. Oracle has focused on Infiniband instead for its appliances.
The analysts predict that IBM will be the first to deliver 40 GbE, from their BNT acquisition. They predict by 2014 that Ethernet approaches (NAS, iSCSI, FCoE) will be the core technology for all but the largest SANs, and that iSCSI and NAS will be more widespread than FCoE. As for cabling, the analysts recommend copper within the rack, but fiber optic between racks. Consider SAN management software, such as IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center.
The analysts felt that the biggest inhibitor to merging SAN and LANs will be organizational issues. SAN administrators consider LAN administrators like "Cowboys" undisciplined and unwilling to focus on 24x7 operational availability, redundancy or business continuity. LAN administrators consider SAN administrators as "Luddites" afraid or unwilling to accept FCoE, iSCSI or NAS approaches.
Driving Innovation through Innovation
Mr. Shannon Poulin from Intel presented their advancements in Cloud Computing. Let's start with some facts and predictions:
There are over 2.5 billion photos on Facebook, which runs on 30,000 servers
30 billion videos viewed every month
Nearly all Internet-connected devices are either computers or phones
An additional billion people on the Internet
Cars, televisions, and households will also be connected to the Internet
The world will need 8x more network bandwidth, 12x more storage, and 20x more compute power
To avoid confusion between on-premise and off-premise deployments, Intel defines "private cloud" as "single tenant" and "public cloud" as "multi-tenant". Clouds should be
automated, efficient, simple, secure, and interoperable enough to allow federation of resources across providers. He also felt that Clouds should be "client-aware" so that it know what devices it is talking to, and optimizes the results accordingly. For example, if watching video on a small 320x240 smartphone screen, it makes no sense for the Cloud server to push out 1080p. All devices are going through a connected/disconnected dichotomy. They can do some things while disconnected, but other things only while connected to the Internet or Cloud provider.
An internal Intel task force investigated what it would take to beat MIPS and IBM POWER processors and found that their own Intel chips lacked key functionality. Intel plans to address some of their shortcomings with a new chip called "Sandbridge" sometime next year. They also plan a series of specialized chips that support graphics processing (GPU), network processing (NPU) and so on. He also mentioned Intel released "Tukwilla" earlier this year, the latest version of Itanium chip. HP is the last major company to still use Itanium for their servers.
Shannon wrapped up the talk with a discussion of two Cloud Computing initiatives. The first is [Intel® Cloud Builders], a cross-industry effort to build Cloud infrastructures based on the Intel Xeon chipset. The second is the [Open Data Center Alliance], comprised of leading global IT managers who are working together to define and promote data center requirements for the cloud and beyond.
The analysts feel that we need to switch from thinking about "boxes" (servers, storage, networks) to "resources". To this end, they envision a future datacenter where resources are connected to an any-to-any fabric that connects compute, memory, storage, and networking resources as commodities. They feel the current trend towards integrated system stacks is just a marketing ploy by vendors to fatten their wallets. (Ouch!)
A new concept to "disaggregate" caught my attention. When you make cookies, you disaggregate a cup of sugar from the sugar bag, a teaspoon of baking soda from the box, and so on. When you carve a LUN from a disk array, you are disaggregating the storage resources you need for a project. The analysts feel we should be able to do this with servers and network resources as well, so that when you want to deploy a new workload you just disaggregate the bits and pieces in the amounts you actually plan to use and combine them accordingly. IBM calls these combinations "ensembles" of Cloud computing.
Very few workloads require "best-of-breed" technologies. Rather, this new fabric-based infrastructure recognizes the reality that most workloads do not. One thing that IT Data Center operations can learn from Cloud Service Providers is their focus on "good enough" deployment.
This means however that IT professionals will need new skill sets. IT administrators will need to learn a bit of application development, systems integration, and runbook automation. Network adminis need to enter into 12-step programs to stop using Command Line Interfaces (CLI). Server admins need to put down their screwdrivers and focus instead on policy templates.
Whether you deploy private, public or hybrid cloud computing, the benefits are real and worth the changes needed in skill sets and organizational structure.
On his blog post on preparation, Seth Godin mentioned an appropriate Swedish saying:
There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.
Appropriate because it snowed here in Tucson, Arizona on Sunday evening, leaving many of us here figuring out how to drive through the stuff on Monday. In my entire lifetime, I have only witness snow down in the Tucson valley a handful of times. It got me thinking about coats, and the wonderful schemes for coat check rooms, as an analogy for data access. A lot of people ask me to compare and contrast one technology from another, say block-level virtualization from content-addressable storage, and so on, and I always try to find a good analogy to help explain things.
Let's start with the setting. It is snowing outside and people are wearing coats. When they come inside, they check their coats at a coat check room, a large room with rows and rows of racks with hangers. A coat check attendant takes your coat and puts it on a hanger, and gives you a ticket or other identifier that will allow you to retrieve your coat later. The ticket must have sufficient information to retrieve the coat quickly, rather than searching rows and rows of hangers for it.
Block-based disk storage
You walk to the coat-check desk, tell the attendant to hang your coat on a specific hanger, say hanger number 387. When you come back, you ask for the coat on hanger 387. The coat-check attendant knows exactly where hanger 387 is, and is able to retrieve it quickly. Most disk systems use this approach, including IBM SAN Volume Controller and DS family of disk systems.
Name-based disk storage
You walk to the coat-check desk, tell the person the name that you want to call your coat. An empty hanger is located, and a list of coat names, with their associated hanger number, is then kept. Upon return, you ask for your coat by name, and the coat-check attendant looks up the hanger number to match, and retrieves your coat. This is the scheme used by the IBM System Storage DR550, N series for NAS storage, and the IBM Healthcare and Life Sciences Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS).
Content-addressable storage (CAS)
You walk to the coat-check desk and hand them your coat. The attendant weighs your coat, checks the brand, the size, the number of buttons and zippers, types it all in, and the computer spits out a "hash code" from 1 to 99999. An empty hanger is found, and the hash code is associated to the hanger number. Upon return, you provide the hash code you were given, and the coat-check attendant looks up the hanger number to match, and retrieves your coat.This is the scheme used for some non-erasable, non-rewriteable storage, such as the EMC Centera.
IBM invented hash codes in 1953 as a way to speed up searches. For example, if you want to look up a word in the dictionary, knowing the first letter of the word makes it much quicker, because you can thumb directly to that section. A hash code was intended to give a more even distribution, so that if a million words are stored in a "hash code dictionary" then you would calculate the hash code, then look up only that section of words associated with that specific hash code number.
A problem arises when you generate "hash codes" for storage. It is possible for two different pieces of data to resolve to the same hash code. When an application tries to write a piece of data, and it resolves to a hash code that already exists, that is called a collision. One response is to either compare the incoming data to the data that is already stored, confirm they are identical, but that can be time consuming. The other response is to just assume they are identical, and reject the secondary copy, a process often referred to as "de-duplication".
What's the chance of getting a collision for data that is really different? Let's take for example the famousBirthday paradox. Suppose the coat check room assigned the hanger based on your birthday (month and day). How may coats before you run the risk of having two people turn in coats with the same birthday? After only 23 people, the likelihood is 50%. At 60 people, it goes up to 99%.
For this reason, IBM does not offer content-addressable storage. For non-erasable, non-rewriteable storage, the IBM System Storage DR550 requires the application to give each object a name, and that name is then used to storage the data, eliminating the possibility that data might accidently be thrown away.
Continuing my week's theme on travel, conferences, and Japan, I saw two items in the newsthat seem to follow a common theme.
According to the "The Daily Yomiuri", a local Japanese paper, "double happy weddings" arebecoming more and more popular in Japan. These would be called "stotgun" weddings in the US, butin Japan, couples pay extra to have a wedding between the fifth and seventh month ofpregnancy. As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up. 27% of couples in Japan got married while or after pregnant. The logic is that they can celebrate both events with one ceremony. Many couples believe that the primary purpose of marriage is to have children, and somethat fail to have children suffer terrible anguish or divorce. Waiting untilbeing pregnant helps ensure the couple will be "successful" in this regard.
IBM acquires Softek, a software company that develops a product called Transparent Data MoverFacility (TDMF) to move mainframe data from one disk system to another, while applicationsare running. This can be used, for example, to move data from outdated disk systems to IBMdisk systems. This is not to be confused with IBM's archive and retention software partner,Princeton Softech.
Softek is the software spin-off of Fujitsu (a Japanese computer hardware manufacturer). Fora while, Fujitsu made IBM-compatible mainframe servers, but was not successful at developingits own system software, relying heavily on IBM for this. Unable to compete against IBM, it stoppedmaking mainframe servers, but continues making other kinds of hardware equipment.
With TDMF, the process of moving data is simple. The software runs on z/OS and intercepts all writes intendedfor a source volumes on the old array, and re-directs a copy to destination volumes on the new device.Systems can run with old and new equipment side by side for a few weeks, with the new devicestaying in-sync with the old. When the client is ready to cross over, the systems arepointed to the new disk, and the old disk systems are detached and removed from the sysplex.
Afraid that installing TDMF will mess with your applications? IBM Global Technology Services (GTS)is able to roll-in a separate mainframe, move the data, than disconnect it along with the old storage.
(For customers running Linux, UNIX or Windows on other platforms, IBM offers SAN Volume Controller (SVC).While SVC is not marketed as a "data migration device", per se, it does have this capability.Many clients were able to cost-justify purchase of an SVCto move data from old storage to new in similar fashion to how TDMF works on the mainframe.)
What do these stories have to do with one another, other than both relating to Japan? IBM has beenusing TDMF for years as part of a service offering to move data from one disk system to another.Since Sam Palmiasano took over in 2002, IBM has acquired 51 companies, 31 of them software companies.Often, these have been "successful" turning quickly profitable because IBM was already well familiar with the companies they acquire, in much the same way that husbandsare well familiar with their brides-to-be at a "double happy wedding".
So, welcome Softek! It looks like its time to celebrate again!
Continuing my ongoing discussion on Solid State Disk (SSD), fellow blogger BarryB (EMC) points out in his [latest post]:
Oh – and for the record TonyP, I don't think I ever said EMC was using a newer or different EFDs than IBM. I just asserted that EMC knows more than IBM about these EFDs and how they actually work a storage array under real-world workloads.
(Here "EFD" is refers to "Enterprise Flash Drive", EMC's marketing term for Single Layer Cell (SLC) NAND Flash non-volatile solid-state storage devices. Both IBM and EMC have been selling solid-state storage for quite some time now, but EMC felt that a new term was required to distinguish the SLC NAND Flash devices sold in their disk systems from solid-state devices sold in laptops or blade servers. The rest of the industry, including IBM, continues to use the term SSD to refer to these same SLC NAND Flash devices that EMC is referring to.)
Although STEC asserts that IBM is using the latest ZeusIOPS drives, IBM is only offering the 73GB and 146GB STEC drives (EMC is shipping the latest ZeusIOPS drives in 200GB and 400GB capacities for DMX4 and V-Max, affording customers a lower $/GB, higher density and lower power/footprint per usable GB.)
Here is where I enjoy the subtleties between marketing and engineering. Does the above seem like he is saying EMC is using newer or different drives? What are typical readers expected to infer from the statement above?
That there are four different drives from STEC, in four different capacities. In the HDD world, drives of different capacities are often different, and larger capacities are often newer than those of smaller capacities.
That the 200GB and 400GB are the latest drives, and that 73GB and 146GB drives are not the latest.
That STEC press release is making false or misleading claims.
Uncontested, some readers might infer the above and come to the wrong conclusions. I made an effort to set the record straight. I'll summarize with a simple table:
Usable (conservative format)
Usable (aggressive format)
So, we all agree now that the 256GB drives that are formatted as 146GB or 200GB are in fact the same drives, that IBM and EMC both sell the latest drives offered by STEC, and that the STEC press release was in fact correct in its claims.
I also wanted to emphasize that IBM chose the more conservative format on purpose. BarryB [did the math himself] and proved my key points:
Under some write-intensive workloads, an aggressive format may not last the full five years. (But don't worry, BarryB assures us that EMC monitors these drives and replaces them when they fail within the five years under their warranty program.)
Conservative formats with double the spare capacity happen to have roughly double the life expectancy.
I agree with BarryB that an aggressive format can offer a lower $/GB than the conservative format. Cost-conscious consumers often look for less-expensive alternatives, and are often willing to accept less-reliable or shorter life expectancy as a trade-off. However, "cost-conscious" is not the typical EMC targeted customer, who often pay a premiumfor the EMC label. To compensate, EMC offers RAID-6 and RAID-10 configurations to provide added protection. With a conservative format, RAID-5 provides sufficient protection.
(Just so BarryB won't accuse me of not doing my own math, a 7+P RAID-5 using conservative format 146GB drives would provide 1022GB of capacity, versus 4+4 RAID-10 configuration using aggressive format 200GB drives only 800GB total.)
In an ideal world, you the consumer would know exactly how many IOPS your application will generate over the next five years, exactly how much capacity you will require, be offered all three drives in either format to choose from, and make a smart business decision. Nothing, however, is ever this simple in IT.
Continuing my week in Chicago for the IBM Storage and Storage Networking Symposium and System x and BladeCenter Technical Conference, I presented a variety of topics.
Hybrid Storage for a Green Data Center
The cost of power and cooling has risen to be a #1 concern among data centers. I presented the following hybrid storage solutions that combine disk with tape. These provide the best of both worlds, the high performance access time of disk with the lower costs and reduced energy consumption of tape.
IBM [System Storage DR550] - IBM's Non-erasable, Non-rewriteable (NENR) storage for archive and compliance data retention
IBM Grid Medical Archive Solution [GMAS] - IBM's multi-site grid storage for PACS applications and electronic medical records[EMR]
IBM Scale-out File Services [SoFS] - IBM's scalable NAS solution that combines a global name space with a clustered GPFS file system, serving as the ideal basis for IBM's own[Cloud Computing and Storage] offerings
Not only do these help reduce energy costs, they provide an overall lower total cost of ownership (TCO) thantraditional WORM optical or disk-only storage configurations.
The Convergence of Networks - Understanding SAN, NAS and iSCSI in the Data Center Network
This turned out to be my most popular session. Many companies are at a crossroads in choosing data and storage networking solutions in light of recent announcements from IBM and others. In the span of 75 minutes, I covered:
Block storage concepts, storage virtualization and RAID levels
File system concepts, how file systems map files to block storage
Network Attach Storage, the history of the NFS and CIFS protocols, Pros and Cons of using NAS
Storage Area Networks, the history of SAN protocols including ESCON, FICON and FCP, Pros and Cons of using SAN
IP SAN technologies, iSCSI and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), Pros and Cons of using this approach
Network Convergence with Infiniband and Fibre Channel over Convergence Enhanced Ethernet (FCoCEE), why Infiniband was not adopted historically in the marketplace as a storage protocol, and the features and enhancements of Convergence Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) needed to merge NAS, SAN and iSCSI traffic onto a single converged data center network [DCN]
Yes, it was a lot of information to cover, but I managed to get it done on time.
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center version 4.1 Overview and Update
In conferences like these, there are two types of product-level presentations. An "Overview" explains howproducts work today to those who are not familiar with it. An "Update" explains what's new in this version of the product for those who are already familiar with previous releases. I decided to combine these into one sessionfor IBM's new version of [Tivoli Storage Productivity Center].I was one of the original lead architects of this product many years ago, and was able to share many personalexperiences about its evolution in development and in the field at client facilities.Analysts have repeatedly rated IBM Productivity Center as one of the top Storage Resource Management (SRM) tools available in the marketplace.
Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) Overview
Can you believe I have been doing ILM since 1986? I was the lead architect for DFSMS which provides ILM support for z/OS mainframes. In 2003-2005, I spent 18 months in the field performingILM assessments for clients, and now there are dozens of IBM practitioners in Global Technology Services andSTG Lab Services that do this full time. This is a topic I cover frequently at the IBM Executive Briefing Center[EBC], because it addressesseveral top business challenges:
Reducing costs and simplifying management
Improving efficiency of personnel and application workloads
Managing risks and regulatory compliance
IBM has a solution based on five "entry points". The advantage of this approach is that it allows our consultants to craft the right solution to meet the specific requirements of each client situation. These entry points are:
Tiered Information Infrastructure - we don't limit ourselves to just "Tiered Storage" as storage is only part of a complete[information infrastructure] of servers,networks and storage
Storage Optimization and Virtualization - including virtual disk, virtual tape and virtual file solutions
Process Enhancement and Automation - an important part of ILM are the policies and procedures, such as IT Infrastructure Library [ITIL] best practices
Archive and Retention - space management and data retention solutions for email, database and file systems
I did not get as many attendees as I had hoped for this last one, as I was competing head-to-head in the same time slot as Lee La Frese covering IBM's DS8000 performance with Solid State Disk (SSD) drives, John Sing covering Cloud Computing and Storage with SoFS, and Eric Kern covering IBM Cloudburst.
I am glad that I was able to make all of my presentations at the beginning of the week, so that I can then sit back and enjoy the rest of the sessions as a pure attendee.
Last week, I was in Austin, and had dinner at [Rudy's Country Store and BBQ]. They offer their self-proclaimed "Worst BBQ in Austin!" with brisket, sausage and other meats by weight. I got a beer, some potato salad, and creamed corn, all at additional cost, of course. When I went to the cashier to pay, I was offered all the white bread I wanted at no additional charge. Are you kidding me? You are going to charge me for beer, but give me 8 to 12 complimentary slices of white bread (practically half a loaf)? Honestly, I consider bread and beer to be basically the same functional food item, differing only in solid versus liquid form. I chose to have only four slices. The food was awesome!
I am reminded of that from my latest exchange with EMC.It didn't take long after IBM's announcement yesterday of IBM's continued investment in its strategic product set, IBM System Storage DS8000 series, that competitors responded. In particular, fellow blogger BarryB from EMC has a post [DS8000 Finally Gets Thin Provisioning] that pokes fun at the new Thin Provisioning feature.
Interestingly, the attack is not on the technical implementation, which is straightforward and rock-solid, but rather that the feature is charged at a flat rate of $69,000 US dollars (list price) per disk array. BarryB claims that recently EMC Corporate has decided to reduce the price of their own thin provisioning, called Symmetrix Virtual Provisioning (VP) on select subset of models of their storage portfolio, although I have not found an EMC press release to confirm. In other words, EMC will bury the cost of thin provisioning into the total cost for new sales, and stop shafting, er.. over-charging their existing Symmetrix customers that are interesting in licensing this feature.
BarryB claims this was a lucky coincidence that his blog post happened just days before IBM's announcement.
(Update: While the timing appears suspicious, I am not accusing Mr. Burke in anywrongdoing of insider information of IBM's plans, nor am I aware of any investigations on this matter from the SEC or any other government agency, and apologize if my previous attempt at humor suggested otherwise. BarryB claimsthat the reduction in price was motivated to counter publicly announced HDS's "Switch In On" program, that it is not a secret thatEMC reduced VP pricing weeks ago, effective beginning 3Q09, just not widely advertised in any formal EMC press releases.Perhaps this new VP pricing was only disclosed to just EMC's existing Symmetrix customers, Business Partners, and employees. Perhaps EMC's decision not to announce this in a Press Release was to avoid upsetting all the EMC CLARiiON customers that continue to pay for Thin Provisioning, or to avoid a long line of existing VP customers asking for refunds. In any case, people are innocent until proven otherwise, and BarryB rightfully deserves the presumption of innocence in this regard. I'm sorry, BarryB, for any trouble my previous comments may have caused you.)
Instead, let's explore some events over the past year that have led up to this.
Let's start with what EMC previously charged for this feature. Software features like this often follow a common pricing method, based per TB, so larger configurations pay more, but tiered in a manner that larger configurations pay less per TB, combined with a yearly maintenance cost.
(Updated: EMC has asked me nicely not to post their actual list prices,so I will provide rough estimates instead. According to BarryB, these are no longer the current prices, soI present them as historical figures for comparison purposes only.)
Initial List price
Software Maintenance (SWMA) percentage
Software Maintenance per year
Number of years
Software License Cost (4 years)
Holy cow! How did EMC get away charging so much for this? To be fair, these are often deeply discounted, a practice common among the industry. However, it was easy for IBMers to show EMC customers that putting SVC or N series gateways in front of their existing EMC disks was more cost effective. Both SVC and N series, as well as IBM's XIV, provide thin provisioning at no additional charge.
HDS offers their own thin provisioning called Hitachi Dynamic Provisioning.Hitachi also offers an SVC-like capability to virtualize storage behind the USP-V. However, I suspect thatfewer than 10 percent of their install base actually licensed this capability because it cost so much. Under the cost pressure from IBM's thin provisioning capabilities in SVC, XIV and N series, Hitachi launched its ["Switch It On"] marketing campaign to activate virtualization and provide some features at no additional charge, including the first 10TB of Hitachi Dynamic Provisioning.
Last week, Martin Glassborow on his StorageBod blog, argued that EMC and HDS should[Set the Wide Stripes Free]. Here is an excerpt:
HDS and EMC are both extremely guilty in this regard, both Virtual Provisioning and Dynamic Provisioning cost me extra as an end-user to license. But this is the technology upon which all future block-based storage arrays will be built. If you guys want to improve the TCO and show that you are serious about reducing the complexity to manage your arrays, you will license for free. You will encourage the end-user to break free from the shackles of complexity and you will improve the image of Tier-1 storage in the enterprise.
Martin is using the term "free" in two contexts above. In the Linux community, we are careful to clarify "free, as in free speech" or "free, as in free beer". Technically, EMC's virtual provisioning is neither, as one has to purchase the hardware to get the feature, so the term "at no additional charge" is more legally correct.
However, the discussion of "free beer" brings me back to my first paragraph about Rudy's BBQ. Nearly everyone eats bread, with the exception of those with [Celiac Disease] that causesan intolerance for gluten protein in wheat, so burying the cost of white bread in the base cost of the BBQ meat is reasonable. In contrast, not everyone drinks beer, and there are probably several people whowould complain if the cost of beer was included in the cost of the BBQ meat, so charging separately forbeer makes business sense.
The same applies in the storage industry. When all (or most) customers of a product can benefit from a feature, it makes sense to include it at no additional charge. When a significant subset might not want to pay a higher base price because they won't use or benefit from a feature, it makes sense to make it optionally priced.
For the IBM SVC, XIV and N series, all customers can benefit from thin provisioning, so it is included at no additional charge.
For the IBM System Storage DS8000, perhaps some 30 to 40 percent of our clients have only System z and/or System i servers attached, and therefore would not benefit from this new thin provisioning. It may seem unfair to raise the price on everybody. The $69,000 flat rate was competitively priced against the prices EMC, HDS and 3PAR were charging for similar capability, and lower than the cost to add a new SVC cluster in front of the DS8000. IBM also charges an annual maintenance, but far lower than what others charged as well.
(Note: These list prices are approximate, and vary slightly based on whether you are on legacy, ESA, Servicesuite or ServiceElect software and subscription (S&S) service plans, and the machine type/model. The tables were too complicated to include here in this post, so these numbers are rounded for comparison purposes only.)
IBM flat rate
Software Maintenance per year (approx)
Number of years
Software License Cost (4 years)
Pricing is more art than science. Getting the right pricing structure that appears fair to everyone involved can be a complicated process.
With all of the distractions this week, from the Republican National Convention in Florida, to the Tropical Storm Isaac that hit New Orleans on the 7th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I thought I would continue this week's theme on the IBM zEnterprise EC12.
Processing an insurance claim: $56 U.S. dollars (USD) with mainframes, versus $92 USD with distributed servers.
Processing a mobile subscriber: $18.26 USD with mainframes, versus $26.12 USD with distributed servers.
IT cost for an ATM machine: $572 USD with mainframes, versus $1021 USD with distributed servers.
In the whitepaper [Total Economic Impact of IBM System z], Forrester Research interviews the executives of five existing mainframe clients, and through in-depth analysis of their deployments, is able to present a "composite" company with an IT-staff of 4,500 employees. The result is impressive: deploying an IBM System z had an ROI of 199 percent. That is a payback period of less than five months!
A finish this post with a quick [6-minute Youtube video], featuring my colleage, Nick Sardino. Nick and I have worked together in the past at various conferences and conventions.
IBM announced that it will offer [three free months of IBM Smart Business Cloud] computing and storage services to government agencies, charitable non-profit organizations, and other organizations involved with reconstruction resulting from the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan and the northern Pacific region.
With traditional communications down, and many data centers incapacitated, Cloud Computing can be a great way to resume operations. According to the announcement, organizations can submit their requests now until April 30, and the program will run until July 31, 2011. Options include:
Virtual machine images running 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Linux or Windows.
60GB to 2 TB of disk storage per instance.
Options for various IBM middleware (DB2, Informix, Lotus, and WebSphere)
Rational Application Lifecycle Management and Tivoli Monitoring software
The offer also includes [LotusLive] Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) for email and online collaboration. For more about LotusLive, see this [Red Paper].