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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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I got some interesting queries about IBM's Scale-Out File Services [SoFS] that I mentioned in my post yesterday [Area rugs versus Wall-to-Wall carpeting]. I thought I would provide some additional details of the product.
SoFS combines three key features: a global namespace, a clustered file system, and Information LifecycleManagement (ILM). Let's tackle each one.
Global Name Space
A long time ago, IBM acquired a company called Transarc that developed Andrew File System (AFS) and DistributedFile System (DFS). These both provided global namespace capability, meaning that all of your files could beaccessible from a single URL file tree. Imagine if you have data centers in Tucson, Austin, Raleigh and Chicago.Normally, to access files from each city, you would have to mount a unique IP address for that location, and thento get to files in a different city, you'd have to mount a second, and so on. But with a global namespace, you could mount a single drive letter Z: and access files simply by using Z:/Tucson/abc or Z:/Austin/xyz. IBM uses its DFS to make this happen.
Just because you have access to a global namespace doesn't give you read/write authority to every file. IBM SoFS has full NTFS Access Control List (ACL) support, so that only those who can read or write data can access the files. A "hide unreadable" feature provideswhat I like to call "parental controls": you don't even get to see on your directly list any file or subdirectory that you don't have access to. For example, if there is a directory with 50 projects, but you only have authority tothree projects, then you only see the three subdirectories related to those projects, and nothing else.
There are other ways to get a global namespace. IBM also offers the IBM System Storage N series Virtual FileManager, Brocade offers Storage/X, and F5 acquired Acopia. These all work by putting a box in front of a set ofindependent NAS storage units, and giving you a single mount point to represent all of the file systems managedbehind the scenes. This however can sometimes be a bottleneck for performance.
Clustered File System
Often, when you have a lot of data in one place, you are also expected to deliver that data to lots of clientswith relatively good performance. Otherwise, end users revolt and get their own internal direct attach storage.To solve this, you need a clustered architecture that provides access in parallel to the data.
First, we start with a node that is optimized for CIFS and NFS access. We have clocked our node to run CIFS at577 MB/sec, and NFS at 880 MB/sec, through a 10GbE pipe between a single client and a single SoFS node. Comparethat to the 400 MB/sec you get today with 4Gbps FCP, or the 800 MB/sec you will get if you upgrade to 8 GbpsFCP, and quickly you recognize that this is comparable performance for demanding workloads.
Then, you combine multiple nodes together, and have them all be able to read/write any file in the file system, andfront-end that with a load-balancing Virtual IP address (VIPA) that spreads the requests around, and you've gotyourself a lean and mean machine for accessing data.
In 2005, IBM delivered[ASC Purple] with the world's fastest file system. 1536 nodeswere able to access billions of files in the 2 Petabyte of data. The record of 126 GB/sec access to a single filewas set, and has yet to be beaten by any other vendor since.This same file system is used in SoFS, as well as a variety of other IBM storage offerings.
The back-end storage can be SAS or FC-attached, from the DS3200 to our mighty DS8300 Turbo, as well as ourIBM System Storage DCS9550 and SAN Volume Controller (SVC), and a variety of tape libraries.
Information Lifecycle Management
Lastly, we get to ILM. With SoFS, you can have different tiers of storage, high-speed SAS or FC disk, low-speedFATA and SATA disk, and even tape. Policy-based automation allows you to place any file onto any disk tier whencreated, and other policies can migrate or delete the data trigged by certain threshold, age, or other criteria.The advantage is that this is on a file by file basis, so Z:/Tucson/Project could have a bunch of files, some ofthem on my FC disk, some of them on my SATA, and some on tape. The file path doesn't change when they move, anddifferent files in the same directory can be on different tiers.
Data movement is bi-directional. If you know you will be using a set of files for an upcoming job, say perhapsquarter-end or year-end processing, you can pre-fetch those files from tape and move them to your fastest disk pool.
There is also integrated backup support. Typically, a large NAS environment is difficult to backup. Traditionalmethods take days to scan the directory tree looking for files in need of backup. A single SoFS node can scana billion files in 95 minutes, and 8 nodes in a cluster can scan a billion files in under 15 minutes.
Recovery is even more impressive. When you recover, SoFS brings back the entire directory structure first, withall the file names in place. This would make it appear that all the data is restored, but actually it is still on tape.When you access individual files, it will then drive the recovery of that file, so your applications and end usersbasically determine the priority of the recovery. Traditional methods would wait until every file was restoredbefore letting anyone access the system.
SoFS is part of IBM's [Blue Cloud] initiativethat was launched last November 2007. Of course, IBM isn't the only one competing in this space. HDS has partneredwith BlueArc, HP has acquired PolyServe, and Sun acquired CFS for their Lustre file system. Isilon and Exanet arestart-up companies with some offerings. EMC acquired Rainfinity,and have hinted at a Hulk/Maui project that they might deliver later this year or perhaps in 2009, but by thenmight be a dollar-short and a day-late.
But why wait? IBM SoFS is available today and is orders of magnitude more scalable!
This post concludes my series of posts on Oracle OpenWorld 2011 conference. Here are some pictures from Wednesday and Thursday.
IBM as the yardstick by which everyone measures against
Our friends at Violin Memory systems mentioned our joint-venture success results with IBM GPFS, scanning 10 billion files in less than an hour. (Their booth must have been slow, because members of their team spent a lot of time in our IBM booth!)
In fact, it seemed every company compared themselves to IBM in one fashion or another. Larry said that "IBM is a great company" and mentioned the IBM systems several times in comparisons to Oracle's newly announced hardware offerings.
Larry's Sailing Vessel
When things slowed down, I took a walk to see the other parts of the exhibition area. In the Moscone West building was Larry's catamaran that won [last year's America's Cup].
I used to sail myself, and have been part of crews in sailing races in both Japan and Australia. A few years ago, I watched the America's Cup time trials in New Zealand.
On the Streets of San Francisco
On the streets, IBM had advertised some of its products in a manner that thousands of attendees would see every day. Here we have some factoids related to IBM Netezza and DB2 database on POWER servers. We were very careful not to mention either product in the IBM Booth itself, as we all understand that IBM is a guest in Oracle's house this week. We certainly don't want to do anything to upset Larry in any way to make him treat IBM like he treated HP last year, or Salesforce.com this year.
Rest in Peace, Steve Jobs, 1955-2011
On Wednesday evening at Oracle OpenWorld, we were tearing down the booth when we heard that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had passed away. This is truly a loss for the entire IT industry. I never met Steve in person, nor have I been to any Apple conferences like MacWorld that he spoke at.
At various keynote sessions, Larry Ellison compared his Oracle products to those of Apple, Inc., suggesting that Oracle is the "Apple for the Enterprise".
On our way back to the Hilton hotel on O'Farrell, there was a candle vigil at the Apple Store near Union Square. People left sticky notes on the glass window.
There were a lot of tributes to Steve Jobs, but I liked this 15-minute video of his 2005 Commencement Speech at Stanford University titled [How to Live before you Die.
This will be one of those moments where years later, many people will remember exactly where they were, and what they were doing, when they heard the news. For many, that news came as tweets or text messages on the very iPhones and iPads he helped design.
Rock Concert - Wednesday night
On Wednesday evening, I joined thousands of other attendees on Treasure Island to hear and watch Sting, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and the English Beat in concert. It was cold and dark, but we all had a good time. Needless to say, I didn't make it to Marc Benioff's 8:00am Thursday morning session!
A word of advice: If you go to an evening rock concert at Treasure Island, dress warmly!
Despite the sad news about Steve Jobs, I had a great time at this conference. I learned a lot about what other IT vendors are doing, talked to dozens of IBM clients at the booth, and got to make some new friends that work in other parts of IBM.
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM. IBM and Apple are technology partners. I proudly own an Apple iPod, several Mac Mini computers and shares of stock in both IBM and Apple, Inc.)
In his Backup Blog, fellow blogger Scott Waterhouse from EMC has yet another post about Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) titled [TSM and the Elephant]. He argues that only the cost of new TSM servers should be considered in any comparison, on the assumption that if you have to deploy another server, you have to attach to it fresh new disk storage, a brand new tape library, and hire an independent group of backup administrators to manage. Of course, that is bull, people use much of existing infrastructure and existing skilled labor pool every time new servers are added, as I tried to point out in my post [TSM Economies of Scale].
However, Scott does suggest that we should look at all the costs, not just the cost of a new server, which we in the industry call Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Here is an excerpt:
Final point: there is actually a really important secondary point here--what is the TCO of your backup infrastructure. In some ways, TSM is one of the most expensive (number of servers and tape drives, for example), relative to other backup applications. However, I think it would be a really interesting exercise to critically examine the TCO of the various backup applications at different scales to evaluate if there is any genuine cost differentiation between them.
Fortunately, I have a recent TCO/ROI analysis for a large customer in the Eastern United States that compares their existing EMC Legato deployment to a new proposed TSM deployment. The assessment was performed by our IBM Tivoli ROI Analyst team, using a tool developed by Alinean. The process compares the TCO of the currently deployed solution (in this case EMC Legato) with the TCO of the proposed replacement solution (in this case IBM TSM) for 55,000 client nodes at expected growth rates over a three year period, and determines the amount of investment, cost savings and other benefits, and return on investment (ROI).
Here are the results:
"A risk adjusted analysis of the proposed solution's impact was conducted and it was projected that implementing the proposed solutions resulted in $16,174,919 of 3 year cumulative benefits. Of these projected benefits, $8,015,692 are direct benefits and $8,159,227 are indirect benefits.
Top cumulative benefits for the project include:
Backup Coverage Risk Avoidance - $6,749,796
Reduction in Maintenance of Competitive Products - $1,576,000
Reduction in Existing Tivoli Maintenance (Storage and Monitoring) - $1,490,000
IT Operations Labor Savings - Storage Management - $982,919
Network Bandwidth Savings - $575,196
Standardization - $366,667
Future cost avoidance of addtional competitive licenses - $350,000
These benefits can be grouped regarding business impact as:
$6,456,025 in IT cost reductions
$1,559,667 in business operating efficiency improvements
$8,159,227 in business strategic advantage benefits
The proposed project is expected to help the company meet the following goals and drive the following benefits:
Reduce Business Risks $6,749,796
Consolidate and Standardize IT Infrastructure $4,975,667
Reduce IT Infrastructure Costs $2,057,107
Improve IT System Availability / Service Levels $1,409,431
Improve IT Staff Efficiency / Productivity $982,919
To implement the proposed project will require a 3 year cumulative investment of $5,760,094 including:
$0 in initial expenses
$4,650,000 in capital expenditures
$1,110,094 in operating expenditures
Comparing the costs and benefits of the proposed project using discounted cash flow analysis and factoring in a risk-adjusted discount rate of 9.5%, the proposed business case predicts:
Risk Adjusted Return on Investment (RA ROI) of 172%
Return on Investment (ROI) of 181%
Net Present Value (NPV) savings of $8,425,014
Payback period of 9.0 month(s)
Note: The project has been risk-adjusted for an overall deployment schedule of 5 months."
IBM Tivoli Storage Manager uses less bandwidth, fewer disk and tape storage resources than EMC Legato. For even a large deployment of this kind, payback period is only NINE MONTHS. Generally, if you can get a new proposed investment to have less than 24 month payback period you have enough to get both CFO and CIO excited, so this one is a no-brainer.
Perhaps this helps explain why TSM enjoys such a larger marketshare than EMC Legato in the backup software marketplace. No doubt Scott might be able to come up with a counter-example, a very small business with fewer than 10 employees where an EMC Legato deployment might be less expensive than a comparable TSM deployment. However, when it comes to scalability, TSM is king. The majority of the Fortune 1000 companies use Tivoli Storage Manager, and IBM uses TSM internally for its own IT, managed storage services, and cloud computing facilities.
Continuing my coverage of the Data Center Conference 2009, held Dec 1-4 in Las Vegas, the title of this session refers to the mess of "management standards" for Cloud Computing.
The analyst quickly reviewed the concepts of IaaS (Amazon EC2, for example), PaaS (Microsoft Azure, for example), and SaaS (IBM LotusLive, for example). The problem is that each provider has developed their own set of APIs.
(One exception was [Eucalyptus], which adopts the Amazon EC2, S3 and EBS style of interfaces. Eucalyptus is an open-source infrastrcture that stands for "Elastic Utility Computing Architecture Linking Your Programs To Useful Systems". You can build your own private cloud using the new Cloud APIs included Ubuntu Linux 9.10 Karmic Koala termed Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC). See these instructions in InformationWeek article [Roll Your Own Ubuntu Private Cloud].)
The analyst went into specific Virtual Infrastructure (VI) and public cloud providers.
Private Clouds can be managed by VMware tools. For remote management of public IaaS clouds, there is [vCloud Express], and for SaaS, a new service called [VMware Go].
Citrix is the Open Service Champion. For private clouds based on Xen Server, they have launched the [Xen Cloud Project] to help manage. For public clouds, they have [Citrix Cloud Center, C3], including an Amazon-based "Citrix C3 Labs" for developing and testing applications. For SaaS, they have [GoToMyPC and [GoToAssist].
Amazon offers a set of Cloud computing capabilities called Amazon Web Services [AWS]. For virtual private clouds, use the AWS Management Console. For IaaS (Amazon EC2), use [CloudWatch] which includes Elastic Load Balancing.
If you prefer a common management system independent of cloud provider, or perhaps across multiple cloud providers, you may want to consider one of the "Big 4" instead. These are the top four system management software vendors: IBM, HP, BMC Software, and Computer Associates (CA).
A survey of the audience found the number one challenge was "integration". How to integrate new cloud services into an existing traditional data center. Who will give you confidence to deliver not tools for remote management of external cloud services? Survey shows:
28 percent: VI Providers (VMware, Citrix, Microsoft)
19 percent: Big 4 System Management software vendors (IBM, HP, BMC, CA)
13 percent: Public cloud providers (Amazon, Google)
40 percent: Other/Don't Know
For internal private on-promise Clouds, the results were different:
40 percent: VI Providers (VMware, Citrix, Microsoft)
21 percent: Big 4 System Management software vendors (IBM, HP, BMC, CA)
13 percent: Emerging players (Eucalyptus)
26 percent: Other/Don't Know
Some final thoughts offered by the analyst. First, nearly a third of all IT vendors disappear after two years, and the cloud will probably have similar, if not worse, track record. Traditional server, storage and network administrators should not consider Cloud technologies as a death knell for in-house on-premises IT. Companies should probably explore a mix of private and public cloud options.
"The murals in restaurants are on par with the food in museums." --- Peter De Vries
The quote above applies to blogs as well. Those about competitive products of which the blogger has little to no hands-on experience tend to be terribly misleading or technically inaccurate. We saw this last month as Sun Microsystems' Jeff Savit tried to discuss the IBM System z10 EC mainframe.
This time, it comes from EMC bloggers discussing NetApp equipment, and by association, IBM System Storage N series gear.I was going to comment on the ridiculous posts by fellow bloggers from EMC about SnapLock compliance feature on the NetApp, but my buddies at NetApp had already done this for me, saving me the trouble.
The hysterical nature of writing from EMC, and the calm responses from NetApp, speak volumes about the culturesof both companies.
The key point is that none of the "Non-erasable, Non-Rewriteable" (NENR) storage out there are certified as compliant by any government agency on the planet. Governments just aren't in the business of certifying such things. The best you can get is a third-party consultant, such as [Cohasset Associates], to help make decisions that are best for each particular situation.
In addition to SnapLock on N series, IBM offers the [IBM System Storage DR550], WORM tape and optical systems, all of which have been deemed compliant to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC 17a-4] federal regulations by Cohasset Associates. For medical patient records and images like X-rays, IBM offers the Grid Medical Archive Solution [GMAS]designed to meet the requirements of the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act[HIPAA].For other government or industry regulations, consult with your legal counsel.
In less than a month, I will be presenting at the annual IBM Storage Technical University, July 18-22, at the Hilton in Orlando, Florida. This is one of my favorite conferences! You can sign up for this at their [Online Registration Page].
I will be covering a variety of topics:
IBM Storage Strategy in the Era of Smarter Computing - After IBM has led the IT industry through the "Centralized Computing" era, and then later the "Distributed Computing" era, we are now entering the third era, that of Smarter Computing. Come learn IBM's strategy for Storage to address today's big challenges, including Big Data, Integrated Workload-optimized systems, and Cloud service delivery models.
IBM Information Archive for Email, Files and eDiscovery - This session will cover the latest announcement for our non-erasable, non-rewriteable compliance storage, the Information Archive (IA), how this can be used to protect your emails and files, and provide indexed search to assist with eDiscovery.
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center Overview and Update - I was one of the original lead architects for Productivity Center. Come learn what this software is all about, and how the latest features and functions can help you manager your IT environment.
IBM SONAS and the Smart Business Storage Cloud - Confused about Cloud Computing and Cloud Storage? I will explain everything you need to know, including how the integrated SONAS appliance operates, IBM's customized solutions for private cloud deployments, and IBM's public cloud offerings.
BOF on Social Media - BOF stands for "Birds of a Feather", and his normally an after-hours discussion on a single theme. This BOF will be a four-expert Q&A panel, including myself, John Sing, Rich Swain and Ian Wright. We will discuss how we got started in Social Media, and how it has boosted our careers and our ability to get work done.
Maria Boonie is the IBM Director for IBM Worldwide Training and Technical Conferences. She indicated that there were 1500 attendees this week crossing both the System Storage and System x conferences at this hotel. There are 35 vendors that have sponsored this event, and they will be at the "Solutions Center" being held Monday through Wednesday this week.
She took this opportunity to plug IBM's latest education offerings, including Guaranteed-to-Run implementation classes, and Instructor-Led Online (ILO) technical classes.
Brian Truskowski is IBM General Manager for System Storage and Networking. I used to directly report to him in a previous role, and a few years ago he used to be the IBM CIO that helped with IBM's internal IT transformation.
Brian indicates that the previous approach to growth was to "Just Buy More", but this has some unintended consequences. He argued that companies need to adopt one or more of the following approaches to growth:
Stop storing so much - reduce data footprint using storage efficiency capabilities like data deduplication and compression
Store more with what is already on the floor - improve storage utilization with technologies like storage virtualization and thin provisioning
Move data to the right place - implement automated tiering, such as "Flash & Stash" between Solid-state drives and spinning disk, and/or Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) between disk and tape. Studies at some clients have found over 70 percent of data has not beed touched in the last 90 days
This time of dramatic change is the result of a "perfect storm" of influences, including the rising costs and risks associated with losing data, the increased need to index and search data, the desire for "Business Analytics", and the expectation for 100 percent up-time. This is driving IBM to offer hyper-efficient backup, Continuous Data Availability, and Smart Archive solutions.
The case study of SPRINT is a good example. SPRINT is a Telecommunications provider for cell phone users. They were challenged with 35 percent utilization, 165 storage arrays from six different vendors, and an expected 100 percent increase in their IT maintenance costs. After implementing IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and Tivoli Storage Productivity Center (TPC) to manager 2.9 PB of data, SPRINT increased their utilization to 82 percent, reduced down to 70 storage arrays from only three vendors, and reduced their maintenance costs by 57 percent. Today, SPRINT now manages over 5 PB of data with SVC and TPC, have reduced their power and cooling by 3.5 million KWh, representing $320,000 USD in savings.
Roland Hagan is the IBM Vice President for the System x server platform. He talked about the "IT Conundrum" that represents a vicious cycle of "IT Sprawl", "Untrusted Data" and "Inflexible IT" that seem to feed each other. IBM is trying to change behavior, from thinking and dealing with physical boxes representing servers, storage and network gear, to a more holistic view focused on workloads, shared resource pools, independent scaling, and automated management.
IBM is leading the server marketplace, in part because of clever things IBM is doing, especially in developing the eX5 chipset that surrounds x86 commondity processors, and in part because of actions or decisions the competition have taken:
It doesn't break IBM's heart that Oracle decided to drop software support of their database on Itanium, which focued entirley against HP. Oracle runs on IBM servers better than Oracle/Sun or HP servers today, so it does not impact us, other than IBM has had a lot of people leaving HP to switch over to IBM.
HP has taken on a new CEO and reduced their R&D budget, causing them to be late-to-market on some of their offerings.
Dell continues to focus on the small and medium sized customer, and have not really broken into the "Enterprise".
Newcomer Cisco has some great technology that only seems to be adoptable in "Green Field" situations, as it does not integrate well with existing data center infrastructures.
The combination of ex5 chip-set architecture, Max5 memory expansion capabilities and Virtual Network Interface Cards (NICs), provide for a very VM-aware platform. For those who are not ready to fully adopt an integrated stack like IBM CloudBurst, IBM offers the Tivoli Service Automation software on its own, and a new [IBM BladeCenter Foundation for Cloud] as stepping stones to get there.
There are certainly more attendees here than last year, which reflects either the change in location (Orlando, Florida rather than Washington DC) as well as the economic recovery. I'm looking forward to an excellent week!
Raj hails from Toronto, Canada and will be able to provide the Canadian perspective on all things Storage. I had the pleasure to meet Raj in person here in Tucson when him and dozens of his cohorts came down for a multi-customer briefing at the [IBM Executive Briefing Center] where I work.
Continuing my coverage of last week's Data Center Conference 2009, I attended another "User Experience" that was very well received. This time, it was Henry Sienkiewicz of the Department Information Systems Agency (DISA) presenting a real-world example of the business model behind a private cloud implementation. DISA is the US government agency that develops and runs software for the Army, Navy and Air Force.
Being part of the military presents its own unique set of challenges:
Acquisition of hardware to develop and test software is difficult
Budgets fluctuate so an elastic pay-for-use was desirable
End user access had to be secure and meet government regulations
It had to meet the technical aspects of scalable, elastic, dynamic, multi-tenant using shared resources
Using Cloud Computing simplifies provisioning, encourages the use of standards, and provides self-service. DISA has several solutions.
Rapid Access Computing Environment (RACE)
RACE is an internal private cloud with 24-hour provisioning for development and test requests, and 72 hour provisioning for production requests. The amount used is billed on a month-to-month basis, and offers a self-service portal so that developers and administrators can just pick and choose what they need. The result is a hosted server, similar to what you get from 1and1.com or GoDaddy.
Global Content Delivery Service (GCDS)
This provides long-term storage of data. An internal version of "Cloud Storage" for archive and fixed content.
This provides a place to maintain source code, basically their internal version of "SourceForge" used by Open Source projects.
In their traditional approach, a software project would take six months to procure the hardware, another 6-12 months code and test, and then another 6 months in certification, for a total of 18-24 months. With the new Cloud Computing approach that DISA adopted, procurement was down to 24-72 hours with RACE, code test took only 2-6 months with Forge.Mil, and certification could be done in days on RACE, resulting in a new total of only 3-6 months. Some challenges they found:
Service Level management and continuing the use of ITIL best practices
Balancing Military-level Security with Self-service Usability
Internal Funding and Chargeback, they had even adopted a way for developers to pay with their credit card
Cultural inertia, developers don't like to change or do things in a different way
Some lessons learned from this two-year experience:
It's a journey. Most of the user experiences for cloud adoption took two or more years to complete
Infrastructure Fundamentals continue to matter
Know your "marketplace", in this case, software development for military applications
Engage in your end-users early. In this case, Henry had wished he had involved input from software developers that would be using RACE, GCDS and Forge.MIL earlier in the process.
Return on Value analysis, this is different than Return on Investment, as many of the benefits of cloud like higher morale are intangible at first
Avoid fixed costs in negotiations with vendors. For example, he cited they use a lot of IBM because of IBM's pay-for-use billing model. They pay for MIPS used on IBM mainframes, and their IBM Tivoli software pricing is usage-based.
Well, it's that Back-To-School time again! Mo's thirteen-year-old reluctantly enters the eight grade, still upset the summer ended so abruptly. Richard's nephew returns to the University of Arizona for another year. Natalie has chosen to move to Phoenix and pursue a post-grad degree at Arizona State University. They all have two things in common, they all want a new computer, and they are all on a budget.
Fellow blogger Bob Sutor (IBM) pointed me to an excellent article on [How to Build Your Own $200 PC], which reminded me of the [XS server I built] for my 2008 Google Summer of Code project with the One Laptop per Child organization. Now that the project is over, I have upgraded it to Ubuntu Desktop 10.04 LTS, known as Lucid Lynx. Building your own PC with your student is a great learning experience in itself. Of course, this is just the computer itself, you still need to buy the keyboard, mouse and video monitor separately, if you don't already have these.
If you are not interested in building a PC from scratch, consider taking an old Windows-based PC and installing Linux to bring it new life. Many of the older PCs don't have enough processor or memory to run Windows Vista or the latest Windows 7, but they will all run Linux.
(If you think your old system has resale value, try checking out the ["trade-in estimator"] at the BestBuy website to straighten out your misperception. However, if you do decide to sell your system, consider replacing the disk drive with a fresh empty one, or wipe the old drive clean with one of the many free Linux utilities. Jason Striegel on Engadget has a nice [HOWTO Erase your old hard disk drive] article. If you don't have your original manufacturer's Windows installation discs, installing Linux instead may help keep you out of legal hot water.)
Depending on what your school projects require, you want to make sure that you can use a printer or scanner with your Linux system. Don't buy a printer unless it is supported by Linux. The Linux Foundation maintains a [Printer Compatability database]. Printing was one of the first things I got working for my Linux-based OLPC laptop, which I documented in my December 2007 post [Printing on XO Laptop with CUPS and LPR] and got a surprising following over at [OLPC News].
To reduce paper, many schools are having students email their assignments, or use Cloud Computing services like Google Docs. Both the University of Arizona and Arizona State University use Google Docs, and the students I have talked with love the idea. Whether they use a Mac, Linux or Windows PC, all students can access Google Docs through their browser. An alternative to Google Docs is Windows Live Skydrive, which has the option to upload and edit the latest Office format documents from the Firefox browser on Linux. Both offer you the option to upload GBs of files, which could be helpful transferring data from an old PC to a new one.
Lastly, there are many free video games for Linux, for when you need to take a break from all that studying. Ever since IBM's [36-page Global Innovation Outlook 2.0] study showed that playing video games made you a better business leader, I have been encouraging all students that I tutor or mentor that playing games is a more valuable use of your time than watching television. IBM considers video games the [future of learning]. Even the [Violent Video Games are Good for Kids]. It is no wonder that IBM provides the technology that runs all the major game platforms, including Microsoft Xbox360, Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation.
(FTC disclosure: I work for IBM. IBM has working relationships with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony. I use both Google Docs and Microsoft Live Skydrive for personal use, and base my recommendations purely on my own experience. I own stock in IBM, Google and Apple. I have friends and family that work at Microsoft. I own an Apple Mac Mini and Sony PlayStation. I was a Linux developer earlier in my IBM career. IBM considers Linux a strategic operating system for both personal and professional use. IBM has selected Firefox as its standard browser internally for all employees. I run Linux both at home and at the office. I graduated from the University of Arizona, and have friends who either work or take classes there, as well as at Arizona State University.)
Linux skills are marketable and growing more in demand. Linux is used in everything from cellphones to mainframes, as well as many IBM storage devices such as the IBM SAN Volume Controller, XIV and ProtecTIER data deduplication solution. In addition to writing term papers, spreadsheets and presentations with OpenOffice, your Linux PC can help you learn programming skills, web design, and database administration.
To all the students in my life, I wish you all good things in the upcoming school year!