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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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Continuing my post-week coverage of the [Data Center 2010 conference], Wendesday afternoon included a mix of sessions that covered storage and servers.
Enabling 5x Storage Efficiency
Steve Kenniston, who now works for IBM from recent acquisition of Storwize Inc, presented IBM's new Real-Time Compression appliance. There are two appliances, one handles 1 GbE networks, and the other supports mixed 1GbE/10GbE connectivity. Files are compressed in real-time with no impact to performance, and in some cases can improve performance because there is less data written to back-end NAS devices. The appliance is not limited to IBM's N series and NetApp, but is vendor-agnostic. IBM is qualifying the solution with other NAS devices in the market. The compression can compress up to 80 percent, providing a 5x storage efficiency.
Townhall - Storage
The townhall was a Q&A session to ask the analysts their thoughts on Storage. Here I will present the answer from the analyst, and then my own commentary.
Are there any gotchas deploying Automated Storage Tiering?
Analyst: you need to fully understand your workload before investing any money into expensive Solid-State Drives (SSD).
Commentary: IBM offers Easy Tier for the IBM DS8000, SAN Volume Controller, and Storwize V7000 disk systems. Before buying any SSD, these systems will measure the workload activity and IBM offers the Storage Tier Advisory Tool (STAT) that can help identify how much SSD will benefit each workload. If you don't have these specific storage devices, IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Disk can help identify disk performance to determine if SSD is cost-justified.
Wouldn't it be simpler to just have separate storage arrays for different performance levels?
Analyst: No, because that would complicate BC/DR planning, as many storage devices do not coordinate consistency group processing from one array to another.
Commentary: IBM DS8000, SAN Volume Controller and Storwize V7000 disk systems support consistency groups across storage arrays, for those customers that want to take advantage of lower cost disk tiers on separate lower cost storage devices.
Can storage virtualization play a role in private cloud deployments?
Analyst: Yes, by definition, but today's storage virtualization products don't work with public cloud storage providers. None of the major public cloud providers use storage virtualization.
Commentary: IBM uses storage virtualization for its public cloud offerings, but the question was about private cloud deployments. IBM CloudBurst integrated private cloud stack supports the IBM SAN Volume Controller which makes it easy for storage to be provisioned in the self-service catalog.
Can you suggest one thing we can do Monday when we get back to the office?
Analyst: Create a team to develop a storage strategy and plan, based on input from your end-users.
Commentary: Put IBM on your short list for your next disk, tape or storage software purchase decision. Visit
[ibm.com/storage] to re-discover all of IBM's storage offerings.
What is the future of Fibre Channel?
Analyst 1: Fibre Channel is still growing, will go from 8Gbps to 16Gbps, the transition to Ethernet is slow, so FC will remain the dominant protocol through year 2014.
Analyst 2: Fibre Channel will still be around, but NAS, iSCSI and FCoE are all growing at a faster pace. Fibre Channel will only be dominant in the largest of data centers.
Commentary: Ask a vague question, get a vague answer. Fibre Channel will still be around for the next five years.
However, SAN administrators might want to investigate Ethernet-based approaches like NAS, iSCSI and FCoE where appropriate, and start beefing up their Ethernet skills.
Will Linux become the Next UNIX?
Linux in your datacenter is inevitable. In the past, Linux was limited to x86 architectures, and UNIX operating systems ran on specialized CPU architectures: IBM AIX on POWER7, Solaris on SPARC, HP-UX on PA-RISC and Itanium, and IBM z/OS on System z Architecture, to name a few. But today, Linux now runs on many of these other CPU chipsets as well.
Two common workloads, Web/App serving and DBMS, are shifting from UNIX to Linux. Linux Reliability, Availability and Serviceability (RAS) is approaching the levels of UNIX. Linux has been a mixed blessing for UNIX vendors, with x86 server margins shrinking, but the high-margin UNIX market has shrunk 25 percent in the past three years.
UNIX vendors must make the "mainframe argument" that their flavor of UNIX is more resilient than any OS that runs on Intel or AMD x86 chipsets. In 2008, Sun Solaris was the number #1 UNIX, but today, it is IBM AIX with 40 percent marketshare. Meanwhile HP has focused on extending its Windows/x86 lead with a partnership with Microsoft.
The analyst asks "Are the three UNIX vendors in it for the long haul, or are they planning graceful exits?" The four options for each vendor are:
Milk it as it declines
Accelerate the decline by focusing elsewhere
Impede the market to protect margins
Re-energize UNIX base through added value
Here is the analyst's view on each UNIX vendor.
IBM AIX now owns 40 percent marketshare of the UNIX market. While the POWER7 chipset supports multiple operating systems, IBM has not been able to get an ecosystem to adopt Linux-on-POWER. The "Other" includes z/OS, IBM i, and other x86-based OS.
HP has multi-OS Itanium from Intel, but is moving to Multi-OS blades instead. Their "x86 plus HP-UX" strategy is a two-pronged attack against IBM AIX and z/OS. Intel Nehalem chipset is approaching the RAS of Itanium, making the "mainframe argument" more difficult for HP-UX.
Before Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, Oracle was focused on Linux as a UNIX replacement. After the acquisition, they now claim to support Linux and Solaris equally. They are now focused on trying to protect their rapidly declining install base by keeping IBM and HP out. They will work hard to differentiate Solaris as having "secret sauce" that is not in Linux. They will continue to compete head-on against Red Hat Linux.
An interactive poll of the audience indicated that the most strategic Linux/UNIX platform over the next next five years was Red Hat Linux. This beat out AIX, Solaris and HP-UX, as well as all of the other distributions of Linux.
The rooms emptied quickly after the last session, as everyone wanted to get to the "Hospitality Suites".
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.
I wasn't at the event, but thought it would be good to explain some basic concepts ofInformation Lifecycle Management (ILM),using the files on my iPod as an example. (Disclosure: IBM makes the technology inside many of Apple's computers, and so IBMers get to buy Appleproducts at employee prices. I own a Mac Mini based on IBM's POWER4 processor, and an iPod Photo 60GB model).
I have 20,000 MP3 music files, representing 106GB of data. This fits nicely on my 250GB external disk system attached to my Mac Mini, but won't all fit on my little 60GB iPod. I needed a way to decide what music I keep on bothmy iPod and Mac Mini, and which I keep only on my Mac Mini. When I am traveling, I am able to listen only to the musicin the first group, but when I am at home, I am able to listen to all my music in both groups.(Another disclosure: I use my Tivo connected to my LAN to play all my MP3 music through my home stereo system.I had my entire house wired with Cat5 to make this possible.)
Apple's iTunes software lets me decide which MP3 files are copied to my iPod using "playlists". A playlist is a list of songs. Fixed playlists are created manually, each song copied to its list in a specific order. Smart playlists are createdautomatically, via policy. I give it the criteria, and it finds the songs for me. If I import a new music CD,none of the songs will be added to any fixed playlists, but could be added to my smart playlists if I set the policiescorrectly. Apple iTunes supports both "include" and "exclude" methodologies.
I use primarily smart playlists, based on genre and rating. I have tried to keep the number of genre down to a small manageable list:
Rhythm & Blues
Of course, what I have for genre may not match what's in theGracenote database, so I sometimes have to makeupdates to match my convention. I've picked these based on my different "applications" for my music. For example, I listen to Ambient music to help me fall asleep on airplanes, but Rock when I exercise at the gym.
Next, I use the ratings from one to five stars. The advantage to the rating is that I can change them on-the-fly directly on my iPod. All other "metadata" has to be entered only from the keyboard of my Mac Mini.
Files for Mac Mini only, not copied to my iPod
Non-mix, copied to my iPod, but typically spoken words, such as language lessons
Mix, music to include in my music mixes
Keep on my iPod, but re-evaluate
So, I have five smart playlists, "One Star", "Two Stars", etc. for each rating, and have decidedto keep only the 2, 3, 4 and 5 star songs on my iPod, by simply putting check marks on those playlists to copythem over. I have about 50 songs with 5 stars, and 8000 with 3 stars, and the rest in the other categories,leaving me a few GB to spare.
I also have playlists for each genre, "Rock mix", "Pop Mix", "Ambient Mix", etc. where I have selected thosethat match the genre, AND have 3, 4 or 5 stars. In this manner, I can listen to a mix. If I find a song mis-classified for that genre, I change it to four stars, which serves as myreminder to re-evaluate when I am back at home on my Mac Mini. If I don't want a song in my mix, I just lowerit to 2 stars. I want it off my iPod altogether, I lower it to one star.
This method is simple enough, and allows me to enjoy my music right away, and more effectively, without having to wait for completely finishing my classification process.
Next week, I'm traveling to Africa (purely vacation, not related to my job, my senator, or myinvolvement in anycharitable organizations). My Canon camera has only a 1GB IBM Microdrive, but I am able to offloadmy pictures to my iPod, connected via USB cable, and review the pictures on the little 2-inch screen. By simply "unchecking" my 2-star and 3-starplaylists, and checking only those mixes I plan to take with me, I was able to clear 17GB of space, plenty ofroom for all my photos of elephants and giraffes, but still plenty of music to listen to. Thanks to my simple methodology, I was able to do this with minimal effort, and willhave no problem putting all my music back when I return.
When evaluating an ILM process, many people are overwhelmed by their fear of the classification process, when in reality it doesn't have to be so complicated.
Is there an "iTunes" for the storage in your datacenter? Yes! It's called IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center. It can help you list and classify all the files in your IT environment,including files in your internal disks inside the servers, your NAS and SAN external disk systems, across both IBM and non-IBM hardware.It's a good thing to consider as part of your overall ILM strategy.
Two weeks ago, I mentioned in my post [Pulse 2008 - Day 2 Breakout sessions] thatHenk de Ruiter from ABN Amro bank presented his success storyimplementing Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) across hisvarious data centers. I am no stranger to ABN Amro, having helped "ABN" and "Amro" banks merge their mainframe data in 1991. Henk has agreed to let me share with my readers more ofthis success story here on my blog:
Back in December 2005, Henkand his colleagues had come to visit the IBM Tucson ExecutiveBriefing Center (EBC) to hear about IBM products and services. At the time, I was part of our "STG Lab Services" team that performed ILM assessments at client locations. I explained to ABN Amro that the ILM methodology does not requirean all-IBM solution, and that ILM could even provide benefits with their current mix of storage, software and service providers.The ABN Amro team liked what I had to say, andmy team was commissioned to perform ILM assessments atthree of their data centers:
Sao Paulo (Brazil)
Chicago, IL (USA)
Each data center had its own management, its owndecision making, and its own set of issues, so we structuredeach ILM assessment independently. When we presented our results,we showed what each data center could do better with their existing mixed bagof storage, software and service providers, and also showed howmuch better their life would be with IBM storage, software andservices. They agreed to give IBM a chance to prove it, and soa new "Global Storage Study" was launched to take the recommendationsfrom our three ILM studies, and flesh out the details to make aglobally-integrated enterprise work for them. Once completed,it was renamed the "Global Storage Solution" (GSS).
Henk summarized the above with "I am glad to see Tony Pearsonin the audience, who was instrumental to making this all happen."As with many client testimonials, he presented a few charts onwho ABN Amro is today, the 12th largest bank worldwide, 8th largest in Europe. They operate in 53 countries and manage over a trillioneuros in assets.
They have over 20 data centers, with about 7 PB of disk, and over20 PB of tape, both growing at 50 to 70 percent CAGR. About 2/3 of theiroperations are now outsourced to IBM Global Services, the remaining 1/3is non-IBM equipment managed by a different service provider.
ABN Amro deployed IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center, variousIBM System Storage DS family disk systems, SAN Volume Controller (SVC), Tivoli StorageManager (TSM), Tivoli Provisioning Manager (TPM), and several other products. Armed with these products, they performed the following:
Clean Up. IBM uses the term "rationalization" to relate to the assignment of business value, to avoid confusion with theterm "classification" which many in IT relate to identifyingownership, read and write authorization levels. Often, in theinitial phases of an ILM deployment, a portion of the data isdetermined to be eligible for clean up, either to move to a lower-cost tier or deleted immediately. ABN Amro and IBM set a goal to identifyat least 20 percent of their data for clean up.
New tiers. Rather than traditional "storage tiers" which are often justTier 1 for Fibre Channel disk and Tier 2 for SATA disk, ABN Amroand IBM came up with seven "information infrastructure tiers" thatincorporate service levels, availability and protection status.They are:
High-performance, Highly-available disk with Remote replication.
High-performance, Highly-available disk (no remote replication)
Mid-performance, high-capacity disk with Remote replication
Mid-performance, high-capacity disk (no remote replication)
Non-erasable, Non-rewriteable (NENR) storage employinga blended disk and tape solution.
Enterprise Virtual Tape Library with remote replicationand back-end physical tape
Mid-performance physical tape
These tiers are applied equally across their mainframe anddistributed platforms. All of the tiers are priced per "primary GB", so any additional capacity required for replication orpoint-in-time copies, either local or remote, are all folded into the base price.ABN Amro felt a mission-critical applicationon Windows or UNIX deserves the same Tier 1 service level asa mission-critical mainframe application. Exactly!
Deployed storage virtualization for disk and tape. Thisinvolved the SAN Volume Controller and IBM TS7000 series library.
Implemented workflow automation. The key product here is IBM Tivoli Provisioning Manager
Started an investigation for HSM on distributed. This would be policy-based space management to migrate lessfrequently accessed data to the TSM pool for Windows or UNIX data.
While the deployment is not yet complete, ABN Amro feels they have alreadyrecognized business value:
Reduced cost by identifying data that should be stored on lower tiers
Simplified management, consolidated across all operating systems (mainframe, UNIX, Windows)
Increased utilization of existing storage resources
Reduced manual effort through policy-based automation, which can lead to fewer human errors and faster adaptability to new business opportunities
Standardized backup and other operational procedures
Henk and the rest of ABN Amro are quite pleased with the progress so far,although recent developments in terms of the takeover of ABN AMRO by aconsortium of banks means that the model is only implemented so far in Europe. Further rollout depends on the storage strategy of the new owners. Nonetheless,I am glad that I was able to work with Henk, Jason, Barbara, Steve, Tom, Dennis, Craig and othersto be part of this from the beginning and be able to see it rollout successfully over the years.
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.
Whew! I am glad that is over. The BarryB circus has left town, he has decided to [move on to other topics], and I am now to clean up the ["circus gold"] leftbehind. I would like to remind everyone that all of these discussions have been about the architecture,not the product. IBM will come out withits own version of a product based on Nextra later in 2008, which may be different than the product that XIV currentlysells to its customers.
RAID-X does not protect against double-drive failures as well as RAID-6, but it's very close
BarryB calls this the "Elephant in the room", that RAID-6 protects better against double-drive failures. I don't dispute that. He also credits me with the term "RAID-X", but I got this directly from the XIV guys. It turns out this was already a term used among academic research circles for [distributed RAID environments]. Meanwhile, Jon Toigo feels the term RAID-X sounds like a brand of bug spray in his post[XIV Architecture: What’s Not to Like?]Perhaps IBM can change this to RAID-5.99 instead.
If you measure risk of a second drive failing during the rebuild or re-replication process ofa first drive failure, you can measure the exposure by multiplying the amount of GB at risk by thenumber of hours that the second failure could occur, resulting in a unit of "GB-hours". Here Ilist best-case rebuild times, your mileage may vary depending on whether other workloads existon the system competing for resources. Notice that 8-disk configurations of RAID-10 and RAID-5for smaller FC disk are in the triple digits, and larger SATA disk in five digits, but that with RAID-X it is only single digits. That is orders of magnitude closer to the ideal.
For each RAID type, the risk is proportional to the square of the individual drive size.Double the drive size causes the risk to be four times greater.This is not the first time this has been discussed. In [Is RAID-5 Getting Old?], Ramskovquotes NetApp's response in Robin Harris' [NetApp Weighs In On Disks]:
...protecting online data only via RAID 5 today verges on professional malpractice.
As disks get older, RAID-6 will not be able to protect against 3-drive failures. A similar chartabove could show the risk to data after the second drive fails and both rebuilds are going on,compared to the risk of a third drive failure during this time. The RAID-X scheme protects muchbetter against 3-drive failures than RAID-6.
Nothing in the Nextra architecture prevents a RAID-6, Triple-copy, or other blob-level scheme
In much the same way that EMC Centera is RAID-5 based for its blobs, there is nothing in the Nextra architecturethat prevents taking additional steps to provide even better protection, using a RAID-6 scheme, making three copiesof the data instead of two copies, or something even more advanced. The current two-copy scheme for RAID-X is betterthan all the RAID-5 and RAID-10 systems out in the marketplace today.
Mirrored Cache won't protect against Cosmic rays, but ECC detection/correction does
BarryB incorrectly states that since some implementations of cache are non-mirrored, that this implies they are unprotected against Cosmic rays. Mirroring does not protect against bit-flips unless both copies arecompared for differences. Unfortunately, even if you compared them, the best you can do is detect theyare different, there is no way of knowing which version is correct.Mirroring cache is normally done to protect uncommitted writes. Reads in cacheare expendable copies of data already written to disk, so ECC detection/correction schemes are adequateprotection. ECC is like RAID for DRAM memory. A single bit-flip can be corrected, multiple bit-flipscan be detected. In the case of detection, the cache copy is discarded and read fresh again from disk.IBM DS8000, XIV and probably most other major vendor offerings use ECC of some kind. BarryB is correctthat some cheaper entry-level and midrange offerings from other vendors might cut corners in this area.I don't doubt BarryB's assertion that the ECC method used in the EMC products may be differently implemented than theECC in the IBM DS8000, but that doesn't mean the IBM DS8000's ECC implementation is flawed.
ECC protection is important for all RAID systems that perform rebuild, and even more importantthe larger the GB-hours listed in the table above.
XIV is designed for high-utilization, not less than 50 percent
I mentioned that the typical Linux, UNIX or Windows LUN is only 30-50 percent full, and perhaps BarryBthought I was referring to the typical "XIV customer". This average is for all disk storage systems connectedto these operating systems, based on IBM market research and analyst reports. The XIV is expected to run at much higher utilization rates, and offers features like "thin provisioning" and "differential snapshot" to make this simple to implement in practice.
Most often, disks don't fail without warning. Usually, they give out temporary errors first, and then fail permanently.The XIV architecture allows for pre-emptive self-repair, initiating the re-replication process after detecting temporary errors, rather than waiting for a complete drive failure.
I had mentioned that this process used "spare capacity, not spare drives" but I was notified that there are three spare drives per system to ensure that there is enough spare capacity, so I stand corrected.
New drives don't have to match the same speed/capacity as the new drives, so three to five years from now, whenit might be hard to find a matching 500GB SATA drive anymore, you won't have to.
No RAID scheme eliminates backups or Business Continuity Planning
The XIV supports both synchronous and asynchronous disk mirroring to remote locations. Backup software willbe able to backup data from the XIV to tape. A double drive failure would require a "recovery action", eitherfrom the disk mirror, or from tape, for the few GB of data that need to be recovered.
A third alternative is to allow end-users to receive backups of their own user-generated content. For example, I have over 15,000 photos uploaded over the past six years to Kodak Photo Gallery, which I use to share with my friends and family. For about $180 US dollars, they will cut DVDs containing all of my uploaded files and send them to me, so that I do not have to worry about Kodak losing my photos.In many cases, if a company or product fails to deliver on its promises, the most you will get is your money back, but for "free services" like HotMail, FreeDrive, FlickR and others, you didn't pay anything in the first place, andthey may point this limitation of liability in the "terms of service".
XIV can be used for databases and other online transaction processing
The XIV will have FCP and iSCSI interfaces, and systems can use these to store any kind of data you want. I mentionedthat the design was intended for large volumes of unstructured digital content, but there is nothing to prevent the use of other workloads. In today's Wall Street Journal article[To Get Back Into the Storage Game, IBM Calls In an Old Foe]:
Today, XIV's Nextra system is used by Bank Leumi, a large Israeli bank, and a few other customers for traditional data-storage tasks such as recording hundreds of transactions a minute.
BarryB, thanks for calling the truce. I look forward to talking about other topics myself. These past two weeks have been exhausting!
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.
Robert LeBlanc, IBM Senior Vice President for Middleware, gave a keynote presentation at the Red Hat Summit. Here is the [26-minute YouTube video]:
I am running Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.2 as my primary laptop operating system. Most of IBM's products, like Lotus Notes for email, run natively on Linux for the desktop. I have a Windows XP running as a Linux KVM guest to run a few third-party software that we are still using.
From the photo, the marketing people staggered the various components to give it a stylized [Dagwood Sandwich] effect. I can assure you that these are just standard 19-inch rack components that fit into 6U of space in standard IT racks.
Starting top to bottom, we have the first FlashSystem V840 Control Enclosure, its 1U-high UPS, a second FlashSystem V840 Control Enclosure and its UPS, and finally a 2U-high FlashSystem V840 Storage Enclosure.
You can have up to a dozen Flash modules, either 2TB or 4TB size, for a maximum of 40TB usable RAID-protected capacity. These can be protected with AES 256-bit encryption. The FlashSystem modules are front-loaded, and slide in and out for easy maintenance.
The system is fully redundant and hot-swappable with concurrent code load to ensure high availability.
(Update: In the comments, readers thought that this was nothing more than just a two-node SVC with FlashSystem 840. There are differences, so I have added the following table.)
SVC with FlashSystem 840
Cabling from controllers to storage
Through SAN fabric ports
Direct attach from V840 Controllers to V840 Storage Enclosures
Call Home Support
GUI screen branding
The system is fully VMware-certified, supporting VAAI interfaces, and an SRA for VMware's Site Recovery Manager (SRM). With Real-time Compression, you can get up to 80 percent capacity savings for workloads like Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). That in effect gives you up to 5x (200TB) of virtual capacity in 6U of rack space!
You can either keep it as an All-Flash array, or you can virtualize external IBM and non-IBM disk systems, and use the Flash capacity in the Storage Enclosure for IBM's Easy Tier automated sub-volume tiering and data migration. With or without external storage, the FlashSystem V840 can provide local and remote mirroring and point-in-time copies.
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.