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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor, Senior IT Architect and Event Content Manager for [IBM Systems for IBM Systems Technical University] events. With over 30 years with IBM Systems, Tony is frequent traveler, speaking to clients at events throughout the world.
Lloyd Dean is an IBM Senior Certified Executive IT Architect in Infrastructure Architecture. Lloyd has held numerous senior technical roles at IBM during his 19 plus years at IBM. Lloyd most recently has been leading efforts across the Communication/CSI Market as a senior Storage Solution Architect/CTS covering the Kansas City territory. In prior years Lloyd supported the industry accounts as a Storage Solution architect and prior to that as a Storage Software Solutions specialist during his time in the ATS organization.
Lloyd currently supports North America storage sales teams in his Storage Software Solution Architecture SME role in the Washington Systems Center team. His current focus is with IBM Cloud Private and he will be delivering and supporting sessions at Think2019, and Storage Technical University on the Value of IBM storage in this high value IBM solution a part of the IBM Cloud strategy. Lloyd maintains a Subject Matter Expert status across the IBM Spectrum Storage Software solutions. You can follow Lloyd on Twitter @ldean0558 and LinkedIn Lloyd Dean.
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Well, it's Tuesday, and so it is "announcement day" again! Actually, for me it is Wednesday morning herein Mumbai, India, but since I was "press embargoed" until 4pm EDT in talking about these enhancements, I had to wait until Wednesday morning here to talk about them.
World's Fastest 1TB tape drive
IBM announced its new enterprise [TS1130 tape drive]and corresponding [TS3500 tape library support]. This one has a funny back-story. Last week while we were preparing the Press Release, we debated on whether we should compare the 1TB per cartridge capacity as double that of Sun's Enterprise T10000 (500GB), or LTO-4 (800GB). The problem changed when Sun announced on Monday they too had a 1TB tape drive, so now instead ofsaying that we had the "World's First 1TB tape drive", we quickly changed this to the "World's Fastest 1TB tape drive" instead. At 160MB/sec top speed, IBM's TS1130 is 33 percent faster than Sun's latest announcement. Sun was rather vague when they will actually ship their new units, so IBM may still end up being first to deliver as well.
While EMC and other disk-only vendors have stopped claiming that "tape is dead", these recent announcements from IBM and Sun indicate that indeed tape is alive and well. IBM is able to borrow technologies from disk, such as the Giant Magneto Resistive (GMR) head over to its tape offerings, which means much of the R&D for disk applies to tape, keeping both forms ofstorage well invested. Tape continues to be the "greenest" storage option, more energy efficient than disk, optical, film, microfiche and even paper.
On the LTO front, IBM enhanced the reporting capabilities of its[TS3310] midrange tape library. This includes identifying the resource utilization of the drives, reporting on media integrity, and improved diagnostics to support library-managed encryption.
IBM System Storage DR550
As a blended disk-and-tape solution, the [IBM System Storage DR550] easily replaces the EMC Centera to meet compliance storagerequirements. IBM announced that we have greatly expanded its scalability, being able to support both 1TBdisk drives, as well as being able to attach to either IBM or Sun's 1TB tape drives.
Massive Array of Idle Disks (MAID)
IBM now offers a "Sleep Mode" in the firmware of the [IBM System Storage DCS9550], which is often called "Massive Array of Idle Disks" (MAID) or spin-down capability. This can reduce the amount of power consumed during idle times.
That's a lot of exciting stuff. I'm off to breakfast now.
There is still time to enroll for [IBM Edge], a conference focused on storage, to be held June 4-8 in Orlando, Florida. There is an early-bird discount until May 6!
I will be there all week! Here are the seven sessions I will be presenting at the Technical Edge side of the event:
Understanding Your Options for Storing Archive Data to Meet Compliance Challenges
This session will cover the IBM software and hardware solutions that your organization can use to store archive data, including features like immutability, Write-Once-Read-Many (WORM) technology and Non-Erasable, Non-Rewriteable (NENR) enforcement. The discussion will include high-level concepts like chronological and event-based retention, litigation hold and release, as well as an overview of the products and solutions from IBM that you can deploy today.
IBM Watson: How it Works and What it Means for Society Beyond Winning Jeopardy!
In 2011, the IBM Watson computer was able to beat the top-earning human winners on the trivia game-show “Jeopardy!” As I was the author of [How to Build Your Own Watson Junior in Your Basement], I have been asked to explain how the IBM Watson system was put together, how it works, and what examples of text mining and big data analytics means for society as we apply technology to meet tomorrow's challenges.
Using Social Media for IBM System Storage - Birds of a Feather
I will be moderating this Birds of a Feather, or BOF, session that will bring together a Q&A panel of experts on how social media can be leveraged to help you do your job, get the information you need to solve problems, and share your knowledge with others.
Data Footprint Reduction: Understanding IBM Storage Efficiency Options
Data Footprint Reduction is the catch-all term for a variety of technologies designed to help reduce storage costs. In this session, I will cover thin provisioning, space-efficient copies, deduplication and compression technologies, and describe the IBM storage products that provide these capabilities.
IBM's Storage Strategy in the Smarter Computing Era
Confused about IBM's new initiatives for Big Data analytics, Workload Optimized Systems, and Cloud Computing? This session will explain it all, and how IBM's strategy for its various storage products and solutions fit into these overall themes.
IBM SONAS and the IBM Cloud Storage Taxonomy
Confused over the different types of cloud storage? IBM's scale-out Network Attached Storage (SONAS) can be used in a variety of use cases. This session will provide an overview of IBM's SONAS solution, provide an update on the latest features and functions recently announced, and explain how it can be deployed in various private, public and hybrid cloud environments.
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center Overview and Update
IBM has enhanced its premier storage infrastructure management tool: IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center. This session will provide both an overview of the product, and explain the latest features and functions recently announced.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and that means more announcements from IBM!
In conjunction with IBM's new [System z10 Business Class (BC)] mainframe designed for Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMB), IBM also announced related storage productenhancements.
Yes, it's alive! Contrary to the FUD you might have read from our competitors, IBM continues to sell thousands and thousands of IBM System Storage DS6800 disk systems, and now enhances them with the optionfor 450GB 15K RPM drives. What is nice about these 450GB drives is that they are as fast or faster* than 300GBdrives, so the typical trade-off between performance and capacity do not apply.
(* I compared Seagate 15.6K (450GB) with 15.5K (300GB) models.
Avg Seek time (Read)
Avg Seek time (Write)
Full Seek time (Read)
Full Seek time (Write)
This may or may not result in application performance improvements, depending on workload pattern. Your mileage may vary.)
Our clients report back that these are incredibly stable systems that they don't have toworry about. This enhancement applies to both the [511/EX1 models] and [522/EX2 models].
Understanding that clients want complete solutions from single vendors, IBM offers synergy between System z and the IBM System Storage DS8000 disk systems. The latest R4.1 microcode upgrade offers two key features onthe various models [2107,
zHPF - High Performance FICON for System z. IBM was able to increase the throughput on 4 Gbps links. For OLTP workloads randomly accessing 4KB blocks, IBM internal tests showed zHPF doubled performance from 13,000 IOPSto 26,000 IOPS per channel. For sequential workloads, such as batch processing, zHPF increased performance 50 percent, from 350 MB/sec to 525 MB/sec.
In February, IBM previewed[IncrementalResync] for z/OS Metro Global Mirror. However, some concepts are better explained with pictures.
One way to set up a 3-site disaster recovery protection is to have your production synchronously mirrored to a second site nearby, and at the same time asynchronously mirrored to a remote location. On the System z, you can have site "A" using synchronous IBM System Storage Metro Mirror over to nearby site "B", and also have site "A" sending data over to site "C" asynchronously using z/OS Global Mirror. This is called "z/OS Metro Global Mirror".
In the past, if the disk system in site A failed, you would switch over to site B, which would have to resend send all the data again to site C to be resynchronized. This is because site B was not tracking what the System Data Mover (SDM) reader had or had not yet processed.
With DS8000 4.1, the "incremental resync" function that, along with using IBM HyperSwap, requires site B to only send and resync the data that was in-flight when the outage occurred. When you compare the difference in sending this limited amount of in-flight data with the traditional complete volume of data, you can see how "Incremental Resync" can resynchronize the data 95% faster, and also greatly decrease your bandwidth requirements. This reduces the risk in case a subsequent outage occurs.
Introduced originally in 1997 as the IBM Virtual Tape Server (VTS), the [IBMSystem Storage TS7700] series supports Grid capabilityto replicate tape image data across locations. Here's a quick recap of today's announcement:
Existing TS7740 can be upgraded up to 9TB of disk cache. New models can have up to 13TB of disk cache.
A new "tape-less" TS7720 that has up to 70TB of disk cache.
Integrate Library Management support. I discussed[IntegratedRemovable Media Manager (IRMM)] before, and this is basically IRMM inside. For those with TS3500 tape libraries,this support eliminates the need for a separate IBM 3953 L05 Library Manager.
TS1130 back-end tape drive support. These are the fastest 1TB drives in the industry, with support of built-in encryption, and now can be used asthe physical tape back-end for the virtual tape TS7740 repository.
While our competitors might be boarding up their windows in preparation for the economic downturn in the USAeconomy, IBM remains generating solid results. San Jose Mercury News has an article that discusses this titled[IBM's 3Q profit strong on global sales].There has never been a better time to buy from, or invest in, IBM!
For the past three decades, IBM has offered security solutions to protect against unauthorized access. Let's take a look at three different approaches available today for the encryption of data.
Approach 1: Server-based
Server-based encryption has been around for a while. This can be implemented in the operating system itself, such as z/OS on the System z mainframe platform, or with an applicaiton, such as IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for backup and archive.
While this has the advantage that you can selectively encrypt individual files, data sets, or columns in databases, it has several drawbacks. First, you consume server resources to perform the encryption. Secondly, as I mention in the video above, if you only encrypt selected data, the data you forget to, or choose not to, encrypt may result in data exposure. Third, you have to manage your encryption keys on a server-by-server basis. Fourth, you need encryption capability in the operating system or application. And fifth, encrypting the data first will undermine any storage or network compression capability down-line.
Approach 2: Network-based
Network-based solutions perform the encryption between the server and the storage device. Last year, when I was in Auckland, New Zealand, I covered the IBM SAN32B-E4 switch in my presentation [Understanding IBM's Storage Encryption Options]. This switch receives data from the server, encrypts it, and sends it on down to the storage device.
This has several advantages over the server-based approach. First, we offload the server resources to the switch. Second, you can encrypt all the files on the volume. You can select which volumes get encrypted, so there is still the risk that you encrypt only some volumes, and not others, and accidently expose your data. Third, the SAN32B-E4 can centralized the encryption key management to the IBM Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager (TKLM). This is also operating system and application agnostic. However, network-based encryption has the same problem of undermining any storage device compression capability, and often has a limit on the amount of data bandwidth it can process. The SAN32B-E4 can handle 48 GB/sec, with a turbo-mode option to double this to 96 GB/sec.
Approach 3: Device-based
Device-based solutions perform the encryption at the storage device itself. Back in 2006, IBM was the first to introduce this method on its [TS1120 tape drive]. Later, it was offered on Linear Tape Open (LTO-4) drives. IBM was also first to introduce Full Disk Encryption (FDE) on its IBM System Storage DS8000. See my blog post [1Q09 Disk Announcements] for details.
As with the network-based approach, the device-based method offloads server resources, allows you to encrypt all the files on each volume, can centrally manage all of your keys with TKLM, and is agnostic to operating system and application used. The device can compress the data first, then encrypt, resulting in fewer tape cartridges or less disk capacity consumed. IBM's device-based approach scales nicely. IBM has an encryption chip is placed in each tape drive or disk drive. No matter how many drives you have, you will have all the encryption horsepower you need to scale up.
Not all device-based solutions use an encryption chip per drive. Some of our competitors encrypt in the controller instead, which operates much like the network-based approach. As more and more disk drives are added to your storage system, the controller may get overwhelmed to perform the encryption.
The need for security grows every year. Enterprise Systems are Security-ready to protect your most mission critical application data.
The marketshare data for external disk systems has been released by IDC for 4Q09. Overall, the market dropped 0.7 percent, comparing 4Q09 versus 4Q08. While EMC was quick to remind everyone that they were able to [maintain their #1 position] in the storage subset of "external disk systems", with the same 23.7 percent marketshare they had back in 4Q08 and revenues that were essentially flat, the real story concerns the shifts in the marketplace for the other major players. IBM grew revenue 9 percent, putting it nearly 5 points of marketshare ahead of HP. HP revenues dropped 7 percent, moving it further behind. Not mentioned in the [IBM Press Release] were NetApp and Dell, neck and neck for fourth place, with NetApp gaining 16.8 percent in revenues, while Dell dropped 13.5 percent. Both NetApp and Dell now have about 8 percent marketshare each. These top five storage vendors represent nearly 70 percent of the marketshare.
Given that HP is IBM's number one competitor, not just in storage but all things IT, this was a major win. Bob Evans from InformationWeek interviews my fifth-line manager, IBM executive Rod Adkins [IBM Claims Hardware Supremacy] where he shares his views and opinions about HP, Oracle-Sun, Cisco and Dell.
I'll add my two cents on what's going on:
Shift in Servers causes Shift in Storage
Hundreds of customers are moving away from HP and Sun over to IBM servers, and with it, are chosing IBM's storage offerings as well. IBM's rock-solid strategy (which I outlined in my post [Foundations and Flavorings]) has helped explain the different products and how they are positioned. HP's use of Itanium processors, and Sun's aging SPARC line, are both reasons enough to switch to IBM's lastest POWER7 processors, running AIX, IBM i (formerly i5/OS) and Linux operating systems.
Thunder in the Clouds
Some analysts predict that by 2013, one out of five companies won't even have their own IT assets. IBM supports all flavors of private, public and hybrid cloud computing models. IBM has its own strong set of offerings, is also the number one reseller of VMware, and has cloud partnerships with both Google and Amazon. HP and Microsoft have recently formed an alliance, but they have different takes on cloud computing. HP wants to be the "infrastructure" company, but Microsoft wants to focus on its ["three screens and a public cloud"] strategy. Microsoft has decided not to make its Azure Cloud operating system available for private cloud deployments. By contrast, IBM can start you with a private cloud, then help you transition to a hybrid cloud, and finally to a public cloud.
In the latest eX5 announcement, IBM's x86-based servers can run 78 percent more virtual machines per VMware license dollar. This will give IBM an advantage as HP shifts from Itanium to an all x86-based server line.
Network Attached Storage
There seems to be a shift away from FC and iSCSI towards NAS and FCoE storage networking protocols. This bodes bad for HP's acquisition of LeftHand, and Dell's acquisition of EqualLogic. IBM's SONAS for large deployments, and N series for smaller deployments, will compete nicely against HP's StorageWorks X9000 system.
Storage on Paper no longer Eco-friendly
HP beats IBM when you include consumer products like printers, which some might consider "Storage on Paper". At IBM, we often joke that 96 percent of HP's profits come from over-priced ink cartridges. With the latest focus on the environment, people are printing less. I have been printing less myself, setting my default printer to generate a PDF file instead. There are several tools available for this, including [CutePDF] and [BullZip]. As IBM employees switch from Microsoft Office to IBM's [Lotus Symphony], it has built-in "export-to-PDF" capability as well. People are also going to their local OfficeMax or CartridgeWorld to get their cartridges refilled, rather than purchase new ones. That has to be hurting HP's bottom line.
Don't Forget About Storage Management
The leading storage management suites today are IBM's Tivoli Storage Productivity Center and EMC's Control Center. HP's Storage Essentials doesn't quite beat either of these, and management software is growing in importance to more and more customers.
Continuing my coverage of the 30th annual [Data Center Conference]. Here is a recap of some of the Tuesday afternoon sessions:
Brocade: Maximizing Your Cloud: How Data Centers Must Evolve
This was a session sponsored by Brocade to promote their concept of the "Ethernet Fabric". The first speaker, John McHugh, was from Brocade, and the second speaker was a client testimonial, Jamie Shepard, EVP for International Computerware, Inc.
John had an interesting take on today's network challenges. He feels that most LANs are organized for "North-South" traffic, referring to upload/downloads between clients and servers. However, the networks of tomorrow will need to focus on "East-West" traffic, referring to servers talking to other servers.
John was also opposed to integrated stacks that combine servers, storage and networking into a single appliance, as this prevents independent scaling of resources.
The Future of Backup is Not Backup
Primary data is growing at 40 to 60 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), but backup data is growing faster. Why? Because data that was not backed up before are now being backed up, including test data, development data, and mobile application data.
Backup costs are 19x more expensive than production software costs. There is an enormous gap in data protection because companies fail to factor this into their budgets. It is not uncommon for IT departments to use multiple backup tools, for example one tool for VMs, and another tool for servers, and a third product for desktops.
part of the problem is identifying who "buys" the backup software. The server team might focus on the operating systems supported. The storage team focuses on the disk and tape media supported. The application owners focus on the features and capabilities for backup that minimize impact to their application.
The analyst organized these issues into three "C's" of backup concerns: Cost, Capability and Complexity. Cost is not just the software license fee for the backup software, but the cost of backup media, courier fees, and transmisison bandwidth. Capability refers to the features and functions, and IT folks are tired of having to augment their backup solution with additional tools and scripts to compensate for lack of capability. Complexity refers to the challenges trying to get existing backup software to tackle new sources like Virtual Machines, Mobile apps, and so on.
Has everyone moved to a tape-less backup system? Polling results found that people are shifting back to tape, either in a tape-only environment, or to supplement their disk or disk-based virtual tape library (VTL). Here are the polling results:
The poll also showed the top three backup software vendors were Symantec, IBM and Commvault, which is consistent with marketshare. However, the analyst feels that by 2014, an estimated 30 percent of companies will change their backup softwar vendor out of frustration over cost, capability and/or complexity.
There are a lot new backup software products specific to dealing with Virtual Machines. Some are focused exclusively on VMware. When asked what tool people used to backup their VMs, the polling results showed the following. NOte that 20 percent for Other includes products from major vendors, like IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Virtual Environments, as the analyst was more interested in the uptake of backup software from startups.
Some companies are considering Cloud Computing for backup. This is one area where having the cloud service provider at a distance is an actual advantage for added protection. A poll asking whether some or most data is backed up to the Cloud, either already today, or plans for the near future within the next 12 or 24 months, showed the following:
In addition to backup service providers, there are now several startups that offer file sharing, and some are adding "versioning" to this that can serve as an alternative to backup. These include DropBox, SugarSync, iCloud, SpiderOak and ShareFile.
The final topic was Snapshot and Disk Replication. These tend to be hardware-based, so they may not have options for versioning, scheduling, or application-aware capabilities normally associated with backup software. Space-efficient snapshots, which point unchanged data back to the original source, may not provide full data protection that disparate backup copies would provide. Here were polling results on whether snapshot/replication was used to augment or replace some or most of their backups:
Some of his observations and recommendations:
Maintenance is more expensive than acquisition cost. Don't focus on the tip of the iceberg. Some backup software is more efficient for bandwidth and media which will save tons of money in the long run.
Try to optimize what you have. He calls this the "Starbuck's effect". If you just need one coffee, then paying $4.50 for a cup makes sense. But if you need 100 coffees, you might be better off buying the beans.
Design backups to meet service level agreements (SLAs). In the past, backup was treated as one-size-fits-all, but today you can now focus on a workload by workload basis.
Be conservative in adopting new technologies until you have your backup procedures in place to handle data protection.
Backup is for operational recovery, not long-term retention of data. A poll showed two-thirds of the audience kept backup versions for longer than 60 days! Re-evaluate how long you keep backups, and how many versions you keep. If you need long-term retention, use archive process instead.
Recovery testing is a dying art. Practice recovery procedures so that you can do it safely and correctly when it matters most.
The analyst had a series of awesome pictures of large structures, the pyramids of Giza, the Chrysler building, and so on, and how they would look without their foundations in place. Backup is a foundation and should be treated as such in all IT planning purposes.
IT is evolving, but some basic needs like networking and backup procedures don't change. As companies re-evaluate their IT operations for Big Data, Cloud Computing and other new technologies, it is best to remember that some basic needs must be met as part of those evaluations.
He feels I was unfair to accuse EMC of "proprietary interfaces" without spelling out what I was referring to. Here arejust two, along with the whines we hear from customers that relate to them.
EMC Powerpath multipathing driver
Typical whine: "I just paid a gazillion dollars to renew my annual EMC Powerpath license, so you will have to come back in 12 months with your SVC proposal. I just can't see explaining to my boss that an SVC eliminates the need for EMC Powerpath, throwing away all the good money we just spent on it, or to explain that EMC chooses not to support SVC as one of Powerpath's many supported devices."
EMC SRDF command line interface
Typical whine: "My storage admins have written tons of scripts that all invoke EMC SRDF command line interfacesto manage my disk mirroring environment, and I would hate for them to re-write this to use IBM's (also proprietary) command line interfaces instead."
Certainly BarryB is correct that IBM still has a few remaining "proprietary" items of its own. IBM has been in business over 80 years, but it was only the last 10-15 years that IBM made a strategic shift away from proprietary and over to open standards and interfaces. The transformation to "openness" is not yet complete, but we have made great progress. Take these examples:
The System z mainframe - IBM had opened the interfaces so that both Amdahl and Fujitsu made compatible machines.Unlike Apple which forbids cloning of this nature, IBM is now the single source for mainframes because the other twocompetitors could not keep up with IBM's progress and advancements in technology.
Update: Due to legal reasons, the statements referring to Hercules and other S/390 emulators havebeen removed.
The z/OS operating system - While it is possible to run Linux on the mainframe, most people associate the z/OSoperating system with the mainframe. This was opened up with UNIX System Services to satisfy requests from variousgovernments. It is now a full-fledged UNIX operating system, recognized by the [Open Group] that certifies it as such.
As BarryB alludes, the unique interfaces for disk attachment to System z known as Count-Key-Data (CKD) was published so that both EMC and HDS can offer disk systems to compete with IBM's high-end disk offerings. Linux on System zsupports standard Fibre Channel, allowing you to attach an IBM SVC and anyone's storage. Both z/OS and Linux on System z support NAS storage, so IBM N series, NetApp, even EMC Celerra could be used in that case.
The System i itself is still proprietary, but recently IBM announced that it will now support standard block size (512 bytes) instead of the awkward 528 byte blocks that only IBM and EMC support today. That means that any storage vendor will be ableto sell disk to the System i environment.
Advanced copy services, like FlashCopy and Metro Mirror, are as proprietary as the similar offerings from EMCand HDS, with the exception that IBM has licensed them to both EMC and HDS. Thanks to cross-licensing, you can do [FlashCopy on EMC] equipment. Getting all the storage vendors to agree to open standards for these copy services is still workin progress under [SNIA], but at least people who have coded z/OS JCL batchjobs that invoke FlashCopy utilities can work the same between IBM and EMC equipment.
So for those out there who thought that my comment about EMC's proprietary interfaces in any way implied thatIBM did not have any of its own, the proverbial ["pot calling the kettle black"] so to speak, I apologize.
BarryB shows off his [PhotoShop skills] with the graphic below. I take it as a compliment to be compared to anAll-American icon of business success.
TonyP and Monopoly's Mr. Pennybags Separated at Birth?
However, BarryB meant it as a reference back to long time ago when IBMwas a monopoly of the IT industry, which according to [IBM's History], ended in 1973. In other words, IBMstopped being a monopoly before EMC ever existed as a company, and long before I started working for IBM myself.
The anti-trust lawsuit that BarryB mentions happened in 1969, which forced IBM to separate some of the software from its hardware offerings, and prevented IBM from making various acquisitions for years to follow, forcing IBM instead into technology partnerships. I'm glad that's all behind us now!
The Tucson Executive Briefing Center hosted 20 dignitaries from local companies and academia.
This is a historic competition, an exhibition match pitting a computer against the top two celebrated Jeopardy champions:
Brad Rutter, won $3.2 million USD on Jeopardy!, winning 5 days on the show, and then three later tournamets.
Ken Jennings, winning $2.5 million in a 74-day winning streak on Jeopardy!
One of the members of the audience had never seen an episode of Jeopardy! in his life.
(Note: there are NO SPOILERS in this blog post. If you have not yet watched the show, you are safe to continue reading the rest of this post. I will not
disclose the correct responses to any of the clues nor how well each contestant scored.)
Calline Sanchez, IBM Director, Systems Storage Development for Data Protection and Retention, kicked off today's ceremonies.
The IBM Watson computer, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, has been developed over the past 4 years by a team of IBM scientists who set out to accomplish a grand challenge - build a computing system that rivals a human's ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence. IBM Research labs in the United States, Japan, China and Israel [collaborated with Artificial Intelligence (AI) experts at eight universities], including Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Texas (UT) at Austin, University of Southern California (USC), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), University at Albany (UAlbany), University of Trento (Italy), University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Carnegie Mellon University.
(Disclaimer: I attended the University of Texas at Austin. My father attended Carnegie Mellon University.)
Last week, NOVA on PBS had a special episode on the making of IBM Watson, you can [watch it online] on their website. Delaney Turner, IBM Social Media Communications Manager for Business Analytics Software, has posted [his observations of Nova].
Since IBM Watson is the size of 10 refrigerators and weighs over 14,000 pounds, it was easier to design the Jeopardy! set at the TJ Watson Research lab in Yorktown Heights, NY, than to ship it over to California where the show is normally recorded. Two of the visual designers that worked on this set, as well as on the visual appearance of Watson, live in Tucson and were part of our audience today.
The IBM Challenge consists of a two-game tournament, where the scores of both games will be added to determine winner rankings. The producers of Jeopardy! will give $1 million dollars USD to first place, $300,000 to second place, and $200,000 to third place. Regardless of outcome, [IBM will donate all of its winings to charity]. The two human contestants plan to donate half of their earnings to their favorite charities as well.
Jeopardy! The IBM Challenge
Alex Trebek introduces IBM Watson, explaining that it can neither hear nor see. It will receive all information electronically. Categories and clues will be sent as text files via TCP/IP over Ethernet at the same time the two human contestants see them so that all have the same time to think about the right answer.
Watson has two rows of five racks, back to back. This was done so that cold air could rise up from holes in the tile floors around the unit, and all the hot air would be forced into the center and up to the ceiling return. This technique is known as "hot aisle/cold aisle" design. Alex Trebek opens one of the rack doors to show a series of 4U-high IBM Power 750 servers.
The avatar is a representation of Watson, as the machine itself is too big to fit behind the podium. The avatar is IBM's "Smarter Planet" logo with orbiting streaks and circles. It shows "Green" when it has high confidence, and orange when it gets an answer wrong. When busy thinking, the streaks and circles speed up, the closest we will see to "watching a computer sweat."
During the show, an "Answer panel" shows Watson's top three candidate responses, with confidence level compared to its current "buzz threshold".
Watson knows what it knows, and knows what it doesn't know. Here is an [Interactive Watson Game] on New York Times website to give you an idea of how the answer panel works. I was impressed with how close all three candidate answers were. In a question about Olympic swimmers, all three candidates are Olympic swimmers. In a question about the novel "Les Miserables", all three candidates were characters of that novel.
Well, IBM Watson did well, but missed answered some questions incorrectly. This [parody Slate video] pokes fun at this. Here were some discussions we had after the show ended:
IBM did not do well in categories that required [abductive reasoning]. For example, to identify two or three things that happened in different years, and then postulate that what they all have in common is a specific decade (such as the 1950s) is difficult.
Watson does not hear the wrong answers from the two human contestants. For one question, Ken buzzes in first, guesses wrong, then Watson buzzes in with the same exact response. Alex Trebek rebukes Watson with "No, Ken just said that!" Brad would learn from their mistakes and guess correctly for the score.
Watson is provided the correct answer after a contestant guesses it correctly, or if nobody does, when Alex provides the correct response. This is sent as a text message to Watson immediately, so that it can use this information to adjust its algorithms and machine-learning for future clues in that same category. This was evident in the "Answer panel" on the fourth and fifth attempts on the category of "Decades".
With this demonstration, IBM Research has advanced science by leaps and bounds for the Articial Intelligence community. IBM is a leader in Business Analytics, and this technology will find uses in a variety of industries. The average knowledge worker spends 30 percent of her time looking for information on corporate data repositories. By demonstrating a computer that can provide answers quickly, employees will be more productive, make stronger business decisions, and have greater insight.
Day 1 was only able to cover the first round of Game 1. This allowed more time to talk about the history and technology of IBM Watson. Tomorrow, the contestants will finish Game 1 and head into Game 2.
Well, I'm back from my adventure. For those who did not follow my tweets, here is a quick recap. Not counting the day we flew from Tucson to Minneapolis, or the day we flew from Memphis back to Tucson, Mo and I spent nine days on the road, covering 1549 miles, or roughly two thirds of the Mississippi River.
Celebrated Fourth of July at the [Wide River Winery] just north of Clinton, IA. Saw "The Last Airbender" at the local cinema.
Buffalo Bill Cody museum was closed on Monday, ate my first loose-meat sandwich lunch at Maid-Rite in Moline, IL, the button museum, aka [Muscatine History and Industry Center] was also closed on Monday, took pictures in the corn fields at Oquawka, IA, ate smoked Carp from [Quality Fisheries, in Niota, IA], ate raisin pie at the Maid-Rite in Quincey, IL. Stayed in a hotel in Hannibal, MO - home of Mark Twain.
Took the Mark Twain paddleboat tour up and down Mississippi river to see Jackson island, almost drove car into the river at Winfield, MO where the Ferry was supposed to be, ate one of everything on the menu at [Fast Eddy's Bon-Air], rode up to the top of the [Gateway Arch] in St. Louis. We stayed in a hotel in downtown St. Louis, MO.
Ate donuts at World's Fair Donuts and frozen custard called "concrete" at [Ted Drewes'] in St. Louis. Popeye museum in Chester, IL, ate dinner at Dixie BBQ in Jonesboro, and took pictures of the huge Superman statue in Metropolis, IL. Stayed in a hotel in Paducah, KY.
Read the murals on the flood walls and toured the [National Quilt Museum] in Paducah, KY. Lunch at Nicky's BBQ just north of Clinton, KY, stopped for photos at Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee. Stayed in a hotel in Memphis, TN.
Tour of [Graceland Mansion], home of Elvis Presley, and [Mud Island], ate dinner at Gus' World Famous Hot & Spicy Chicken, all in Memphis, TN.
Well, it's Tuesday, and that means IBM announcements! Today is bigger, as there are a lot of Dynamic Infrastructure announcements throughout the company with a common theme, cloud computing and smart business systems that support the new way of doing things. Today, IBM announced its new "IBM Smart Archive" strategy that integrates software, storage, servers and services into solutions that help meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. IBM has been spending the past few years working across its various divisions and acquisitions to ensure that our clients have complete end-to-end solutions.
IBM is introducing new "Smart Business Systems" that can be used on-premises for private-cloud configurations, as well as by cloud-computing companies to offer IT as a service.
IBM [Information Archive] is the first to be unveiled, a disk-only or blended disk-and-tape Information Infrastructure solution that offers a "unified storage" approach with amazing flexibility for dealing with various archive requirements:
For those with applications using the IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) or IBM System Storage Archive Manager (SSAM) API of the IBM System Storage DR550 data retention solution, the Information Archive will provide a direct migration, supporting this API for existing applications.
For those with IBM N series using SnapLock or the File System Gateway of the DR550, the Information Archive will support various NAS protocols, deployed in stages, including NFS, CIFS, HTTP and FTP access, with Non-Erasable, Non-Rewriteable (NENR) enforcement that are compatible with current IBM N series SnapLock usage.
For those using NAS devices with PACS applications to store X-rays and other medical images, the Information Archive will provide similar NAS protocol interfaces. Information Archive will support both read-only data such as X-rays, as well as read/write data such as Electronic Medical Records.
Information Archive is not just for compliance data that was previously sent to WORM optical media. Instead, it can handle all kinds of data, rewriteable data, read-only data, and data that needs to be locked down for tamper protection. It can handle structured databases, emails, videos and unstructured files, as well as objects stored through the SSAM API.
The Information Archive has all the server, storage and software integrated together into a single machine type/model number. It is based on IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS) to provide incredible scalability, the same clustered file system used by many of the top 500 supercomputers. Initially, Information Archive will support up to 304TB raw capacity of disk and Petabytes of tape. You can read the [Spec Sheet] for other technical details.
For those who prefer a more "customized" approach, similar to IBM Scale-Out File Services (SoFS), IBM has [Smart Business Storage Cloud]. IBM Global Services can customize a solution that is best for you, using many of the same technologies. In fact, IBM Global Services announced a variety of new cloud-computing services to help enterprises determine the best approach.
In a related announcement, IBM announced [LotusLive iNotes], which you can think of as a "business-ready" version of Google's GoogleApps, Gmail and GoogleCalendar. IBM is focused on security and reliability but leaves out the advertising and data mining that people have been forced to tolerate from consumer-oriented Web 2.0-based solutions. IBM's clients that are already familiar with on-premises version of Lotus Notes will have no trouble using LotusLive iNotes.
There was actually a lot more announced today, which I will try to get to in later posts.