This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to IBM Systems, storage and storage networking hardware, software and services.
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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor, Senior IT Architect and Event Content Manager for [IBM Systems for IBM Systems Technical University] events. With over 30 years with IBM Systems, Tony is frequent traveler, speaking to clients at events throughout the world.
Lloyd Dean is an IBM Senior Certified Executive IT Architect in Infrastructure Architecture. Lloyd has held numerous senior technical roles at IBM during his 19 plus years at IBM. Lloyd most recently has been leading efforts across the Communication/CSI Market as a senior Storage Solution Architect/CTS covering the Kansas City territory. In prior years Lloyd supported the industry accounts as a Storage Solution architect and prior to that as a Storage Software Solutions specialist during his time in the ATS organization.
Lloyd currently supports North America storage sales teams in his Storage Software Solution Architecture SME role in the Washington Systems Center team. His current focus is with IBM Cloud Private and he will be delivering and supporting sessions at Think2019, and Storage Technical University on the Value of IBM storage in this high value IBM solution a part of the IBM Cloud strategy. Lloyd maintains a Subject Matter Expert status across the IBM Spectrum Storage Software solutions. You can follow Lloyd on Twitter @ldean0558 and LinkedIn Lloyd Dean.
Tony Pearson's books are available on Lulu.com! Order your copies today!
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Last week's earthquake in Haiti reminds us all how fragile systems can be. Part of a complete Information Infrastructure is Information Security. Back in 2006, IBM [acquired Internet Security Services]. This week, IBM announces two sets of ISS Data Security Services: These services can include assessments of your current environment, running workshops to help gather requirements, help design security policies, and even follow through with implementation.
Endpoint Data Protection
Here "endpoint" refers to laptops, desktops, PDAs and smart phones. Not surprisingly, more and more mobile employees are relying on data stored on these endpoint devices, and they need to be protected and secure. [Endpoint Data Protection services] includings software, consulting and implementation of a solution that fits your environment.
Enterprise Content Protection
Here "enterprise content" refers to data that is stored centrally, such as a data center, and accessed over one or more networks. [Enterprise Content Protection services] will evaluate the data that is most sensitive, determine the various formats, identify risks, and provide guidance on how best to protect. Software is available to identify network exits and leakage points.
Both of these services include implementation of help desk support as well. To learn more, check out the ISS [Virtual Briefing Center].
This week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I am at the IBM Dynamic Infrastructure Executive Summit at the beautiful Fairmont Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. This is a mix of indoor and outdoor meetings, one-on-ones with IBM executives, and main-tent sessions.
The Solutions Showcase will cover the following:
As the bar for performance gets higher and the need to manage, store and analyze massive amounts of information escalates, systems must scale to meet the needs of the business. The latest server and storage technology innovations including: POWER7, eX5, XIV, ProtecTIER, SONAS, and System z Solution Editions.
Smarter Data Centers
Today’s data centers are under extreme power and cooling pressures and space constraints. How can you get more out of your existing facility, while planning for future requirements? IBM energy efficiency consultants will tell you how you can reduce both CAPEX and OPEX costs and plan for future growth with consolidation and virtualization, energy efficient (energy star) equipment and modular data center solutions. Be sure to check out the IBM Portable Modular Data Center (PMDC) that fits in a standard shipping crate!
IBM’s Cloud Computing solutions provide you with flexible, dynamic, secure and cost-efficient delivery choices from pay-per-use (by the hour, week or year) at IBM cloud centers around the world, conditioning your infrastructure to build your own private cloud or out-of-the box cloud solutions that are quick and easy to deploy. Which workloads are the best fit for cloud computing? How do you decide which cloud computing is right for your organization? Cloud experts will talk about the options, give you recommendations based on your business objectives and help you get started.
I can't believe we got snow this week on Valentine's Day! It didn't last long on the ground here in Tucson, but there are still some white caps in our mountains. For those of you "trapped" by snow, or too much work, here are two upcoming events you can attend from your desk and computer!
IBM Oracle Virtual University 2012
Please join us for the fourth annual IBM Oracle Virtual University that runs "live" for 24 hours, then continues 'on-demand' replay through the remainder of 2012.
From: Tuesday, February 21, 6:00 am US Eastern Time EST (6:00 pm China Time)
To: Wednesday, February 22, 6:00 am EST
This is a great educational event for IBM and Business Partner sales & technical teams who sell IBM Oracle solutions or have Oracle solutions installed in their account. It is for anyone who is new to or interested in the IBM Oracle Alliance as well as experienced sales & technical people who need all the latest on the IBM/Oracle co-opetition relationship for 2012 and beyond.
This VIRTUAL on-line event will cover key topics around the IBM Oracle Alliance. I am one of the speakers and will cover IBM System Storage offerings as they relate to Oracle software.
This is a chance for sellers to hear an update on what's new, unique and available to sell in 2012. The goal of this session is to help enable you to sell more IBM products and services with Oracle solutions in 2012! Learn where to go for help to better understand these solutions, close more deals and reach your targets.
Even through economic challenges, storage requirements have continued to grow along with the information explosion.
Join us for this informative webcast and hear from Jon Toigo, CEO and Managing Principal of Toigo Partners, as he discusses six cutting-edge storage technologies that are ready for prime time and can help transform your data center.
Date: Tuesday, February 28
Time: 1:00 pm EST, 12"00 pm CST, 10:00 am PST
The featured speaker is fellow blogger Jon Toigo, CEO and Managing Principal, Toigo Partners, an outspoken technology consumer advocate and vendor watchdog whose articles, columns, and blog posts on [DrunkenData.com] are enjoyed by over a million readers per month.
Many people have asked me if there was any logic with the IBM naming convention of IBM Systems branded servers. Here's your quick and easy cheat sheet:
System x -- "x" for cross-platform architecture. Technologies from our mainframe and UNIX servers were brought into chips that sit next to the Intel or AMD processors to provide a more reliable x86 server experience. For example, some models have a POWER processor-based Remote Supervisor Adapter (RSA).
System p -- "p" for POWER architecture.
System z -- "z" for Zero-downtime, zero-exposures. Our lawyers prefer "near-zero", but this is about as close as you get to ["six-nines" availability] in our industry, with the highest level of security and encryption, no other vendor comes close, so you get the idea.
But what about the "i" for System i? Officially, it stands for "Integrated" in that it could integrate different applications running on different operating systems onto a [COMMON] platform. Options were available to insert Intel-based processor cards that ran Windows, or attach special cables that allowed separate System x servers running Windows to attach to a System i. Both allowed Windows applications to share the internal LAN and SAN inside the System i machine. Later, IBM allowed [AIX on System i] and [Linux on Power] operating systems to run as well.
From a storage perspective, we often joked that the "i" stood for "island", as most System i machines used internal disk, or attached externally to only a fewselected models of disk from IBM and EMC that had special support for i5/OS using a special, non-standard 520-byte disk block size. This meant only our popular IBM System Storage DS6000 and DS8000 series disk systems were available. This block size requirement only applies to disk. For tape, i5/OS supports both IBM TS1120 and LTO tape systems. For the most part,System i machines stood separate from the mainframe, and the rest of the Linux, UNIX and Windows distributed serverson the data center floor.
Often, when I am talking to customers, they ask when will product xyz be supported on System z or System i?I explained that IBM's strategy is not to make all storage devices connect via ESCON/FICON or support non-standard block sizes, but rather to get the servers to use standard 512-byte block size, Fibre Channel and other standard protocols.(The old adage applies: If you can't get Mohamed to move to the mountain, get the mountain to move to Mohamed).
On the System z mainframe, we are 60 percent there, allowing three of the five operating systems (z/VM, z/VSE and Linux) to access FCP-based disk and tape devices. (Four out of six if you include [OpenSolaris for the mainframe])But what about System i? As the characters on the popular television show [LOST] would say: It's time to get off the island!
Last week, IBM announced the new [i5/OS V6R1 operating system] with features that will greatly improve the use of external storage on this platform. Check this out:
POWER6-based System i 570 model server
Our latest, most powerful POWER processor brought to the System i platform. The 570 model will be the first in the System i family of servers to make use of new processing technology, using up to 16 (sixteen!) POWER6 processors (running at 4.7GHZ) in each machine.The advantage of the new processors is the increased commercial processing workload (CPW) rating, 31 percent greater than the POWER5+ version and 72 percent greater than the POWER5 version. CPW is the "MIPS" or "TeraFlops" rating for comparing System i servers.Here is the[Announcement Letter].
Fibre Channel Adapter for System i hardware
That's right, these are [Smart IOAs], so an I/O Processor (IOP) is no longer required! You can even boot the Initial Program Load (IPL) direclty from SAN-attached tape.This brings System i to the 21st century for Business Continuity options.
Virtual I/O Server (VIOS)
[VirtualI/O Server] has been around for System p machines, but now available on System i as well. This allows multiplelogical partitions (LPARs) to access resources like Ethernet cards and FCP host bus adapters. In the case of storage, the VIOS handles the 520-byte to 512-byte conversion, so that i5/OS systems can now read and write to standard FCP devices like the IBM System Storage DS4800 and DS4700 disk systems.
IBM System Storage DS4000 series
Initially, we have certified DS4700 and DS4800 disk systems to work with i5/OS, but more devices are in plan.This means that you can now share your DS4700 between i5/OS and your other Linux, UNIX and Windowsservers, take advantage of a mix of FC and SATA disk capacities, RAID6 protection, and so on.
To call [IBM PowerVM] the "VMware for the POWER architecture" would not do it quite justice. In combination with VIOS, IBM PowerVM is able to run a variety of AIX, Linux and i5/OS guest images.The "Live Partition Mobility" feature allows you to easily move guest images from one system to another, while they are running, just like VMotion for x86 machines.
And while we are on the topic of x86, PowerVM is also able to represent a Linux-x86 emulation base to run x86-compiled applications. While many Linux applications could be re-complied from source code for the POWER architecture "as is", others required perhaps 1-2 percent modification to port them over, and that was too much for some software development houses. Now, we can run most x86-compiled Linux application binaries in their original form on POWER architecture servers.
BladeCenter JS22 Express
The POWER6-based [JS22 Express blade] can run i5/OS, taking advantage of PowerVM and VIOS to access all of the BladeCenterresources. The BladeCenter lets you mix and match POWER and x86-based blades in the same chassis, providing theultimate in flexibility.
It's Tuesday, and you know what that means... IBM Announcements!
IBM System Storage ProtecTIER
Today, IBM refreshed its IBM System Storage ProtecTIER data deduplication family with new hardware and software. On the hardware side, The [TS7650G gateway] now has 32 cores and 64GB RAM. The [TS7650 Appliance] now has 24 cores and 64GB of RAM, and the [TS7610 Appliance Express] has 4 cores and up to 16GB of RAM.
On the software side, all of these now support Symantec's proprietary "OpenStorage" OST API. This applies across the board, from the [Enterprise Edition], [Appliance Edition], and the [Entry Edition]. For those using Symantec NetBackup as their backup software, the OST API can provide advantages over the standard VTL interface.
IBM Systems Director Storage Control
The second announcement has an interesting twist. I could file this in my "I Told You So" folder. Offiically, it's called the [Cassandra Complex], where you accurately predict how something will turn out, but being unable to convince anyone else of what the future holds.
About ten years ago, I was asked to be lead architect of a new product to be called IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center, which was later renamed to IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center. This would combine three projects:
Tivoli Storage Resource Manager (TSRM)
Tivoli SAN Manager (TSANM)
Multiple Device Manager (MDM)
The first two were based on Tivoli's internal GUI platform, and the MDM was a plug-in for IBM Systems Director. I argued that administrators would want everything on a single pane of glass, and that we should bring all the components under a common GUI platform, such as IBM Systems Director. Unfortunately, management did not agree with me on that, and preferred instead to leave each interface alone to minimize development effort. The only "unification" was to give them all similar sounding names, four components packaged as single product:
Productivity Center for Data (formerly TSRM)
Productivity Center for Fabric (formerly TSANM)
Productivity Center for Disk (formerly MDM)
Productivity Center for Replication (formerly MDM)
While this management decision certainly allowed version 1 to hit the market sooner, this was not a good "first impression" of the product for many of our clients.
In 2002, IBM acquired Trellisoft, Inc. which replaced the internally-developed TSRM with a much better interface, but again, this was different GUI than the other components. A "launcher" was created that would launch the various disparate interfaces for each component for Version 2. At this point, we have different development teams scattered in five locations, with the first two components being developed by the Tivoli software team, and the other two components being developed by the System Storage hardware team.
Often times, when a technical lead architect and management do not agree, things do not end well. The lead architect has to leave the product, and management is forced to take alternative actions to keep the product going. In my case, management considered the idea of a common GUI as an expensive "nice-to-have" luxury we could not afford, but I considered this a "must-have". I moved on to a new job within IBM, and management, unable to continue without my leadership, gave up and handed the entire project over to the Tivoli Software team.
The Tivoli Software team took a whiff at the pile of code and agreed that it stunk. Dusting off my original design documents, they pretty much discarded most of the code and re-wrote much from scratch, with a common database, common app server, and common GUI platform. Unfortunately, Productivity Center for Replication was held up waiting for some hardware prerequisites, but the other three components would be packaged together as "Productivity Center v3 - Standard Edition" and was a big improvement over the prior versions.
In Version 4, TotalStorage Productivity Center was renamed to Tivoli Storage Productivity Center, and the Replication component was brought into the mix. A scaled-down version packaged as Productivity Center "Basic Edition" was made available as a hardware appliance named "System Storage Productivity Center" or SSPC. The idea was to provide a pre-installed 1U-high hardware console that had the basic functions of Productivity Center, with the option to upgrade to the full Tivoli Storage Productivity Center with just license keys.
So, now, years later, management recognizes that a common GUI platform is more than just a "nice-to-have". IBM now support three very specific use cases:
1. Administration for a single product
For small clients who might have only a single IBM product, IBM is now focused on making the GUI browser-based, specifically to work with the Mozilla Firefox browser, but any similar browser should work as well. The new IBM Storwize V7000 GUI is a good example of this.In this case, the browser serves as the common GUI platform.
2. Administration for both servers and storage devices
For mid-sized companies that have administrators managing both servers and storage, IBM announced this month the new [IBM Systems Director Storage Control v4.2.1] plug-in, which provides Tivoli Storage Productivity Center "Basic Edition" support. This allows admins already familiar with IBM Systems Director for managing their servers to also manage basic storage functions. This is the "I Told You So" moment, connecting server and storage administration under the IBM Systems Director management platform makes a lot of sense, it did when I came up with the idea 10 years ago! Hmmmm?
3. Administration for just the storage environment
For larger companies big enough to have separate server and storage admin teams, IBM continues to offer the full Tivoli Storage Productivity Center product for the storage admins. The most recent release enhanced the support for IBM DS8000, SVC, Storwize V7000 and XIV storage systems.
Today, analysts consider IBM's [Tivoli Storage Productivity Center] one of the leading products in its category. I am glad my original vision has finally come to life, even though it took a while longer than I expected.
To learn more about IBM storage hardware, software or services, see the updated [IBM System Storage] landing page.
In his blog post, [The Lure of Kit-Cars], fellow blogger Chuck Hollis (EMC) uses an excellent analogy delineating the differences between kit-cars you build from parts, versus fully-integrated systems that you can drive off the car dealership showroom lot. The analogy holds relatively well, as IT departments can also build their infrastructure from parts, or you can get fully-integrated systems from a variety of vendors.
Is this what your data center looks like?
Certainly, this debate is not new. In my now infamous 2007 post [Supermarkets and Specialty Shops], I explained that there were clients that preferred to get their infrastructure from a single IT supermarket, like IBM or HP, while others were lured into thinking that buying separate parts from butchers, bakers and candlestick makers and other specialty shops was somehow a better idea.
Chuck correctly explains that in the early years of the automobile industry, before major car manufacturers had mass-production assembly lines, putting a car together from parts was the only way cars were made. Today, only the few most avid enthusiasts build cars this way. The majority get cars from a single seller and drive away. In my post [Resolving the Identity Crisis], I postulated that EMC appeared to be trying to shed itself of the "disk-only specialty shop" image and over to be more like IBM. Not quite a full IT Supermarket, but perhaps more like a [Trader Joe's] premium-priced retailer.
(If you find that EMC's focus on integrated systems appears to be a 180-degree about-face from their historical focus on selling individual best-of-breed products, see my previous discussion of Chuck's contradictions in my blog post: [Is Storage the Next Confusopoly].)
While companies like EMC might be making this transition, there is a lot of resistance and inertia from the customer marketplace. I agree with Chuck, companies should not be building kit-cars or IT infrastructures from parts, certainly not from parts sold from different vendors. In my post [Talking about Solutions not Products], I explained how difficult it was to change behavior. CIOs, IT directors and managers need to think differently about their infrastructure. Let's take a quick look at some choices:
Following Chuck's argument, it makes no sense to build a "kit-car" combining Oracle/Sun servers with EMC storage. Oracle would argue it makes more sense to run on integrated systems, business logic on their "Exalogic" system, and database processing on their "Exadata". Benchmark after benchmark, however, IBM is able to demonstrate that Oracle applications and databases run faster on IBM systems. Customers that want to run Oracle applications can run either on a full Oracle stack, or a full IBM stack, and both do better than a kit-car including EMC parts.
HP has been working hard to keep up with IBM in this area. With their their partnership with Microsoft, and acquisitions of EDS, 3Com and 3PAR, they can certainly make a case for getting a full HP stack rather than a kit-car mixing HP servers with EMC disk storage. The problem is that HP is focused on a converged infrastructure for private cloud computing, but Microsoft is focused on Azure and public cloud computing. It will be interesting when these two big companies sort this out. Definitely watch this space.
If you squint your eyes and focus on the part of the world that only has x86 machines, then Dell can be seen as an IT supermarket. In my post about [Entry-Level iSCSI Offerings], I discuss how Dell's acquisition of EqualLogic was a signal that it was trying to get away from selling EMC specialty shop products, and building up its own set of offerings internally.
Cisco is new on the server scene, but has already made quite a splash. Here, I have to agree with Chuck's logic: the only time it makes sense to buy EMC disk storage at all is when it is part of an integrated "V-block". This is not really an IT supermarket situation, instead you park your car at the "Acadia Mini-Mall" and get what you need from Trader Joe's, Cisco UCS, and VMware stores.
But wait, if what you want is running VMware on Cisco servers, you might be better off with IBM System Storage N series or NetApp storage. In his blog post about [Enhanced Secure Multi-Tenancy], fellow Blogger Val Bercovici (NetApp) provides a convincing argument of why Cisco and VMware run better on an "N-block" rather than a "V-block". IBM N series provides A-SIS deduplication, and IBM Real-time Compression can provide additional capacity and performance improvements. That might be true, but whether you get your storage from EMC, NetApp or IBM, to me, you are still working with three different vendors in any case.
Of course, following Chuck's logic, it makes more sense for people with IBM servers, whether they be mainframes, POWER systems or x86 machines, to integrate these with IBM storage, IBM software and IBM services. IBM is the leading reseller of VMware, but also has a lot of business with Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix Xen, Linux KVM, PowerVM, PR/SM and z/VM. While IBM has market leading servers, disk and tape systems, to compete for those RFP bids that just ask for one component or another, it prefers to sell fully-integrated systems, which IBM has been doing successfully since the 1950s.
Back in 2007, I mentioned how IBM's fully-integrated InfoSphere Balanced Warehouse [Trounced HP and Sun]. For business analytics, IBM offers the fully-integrated [IBM Smart Analytics Systems]. Today, IBM expanded its line of fully-integrated private cloud service delivery platforms with the announcement of the [IBM CloudBurst for on Power Systems], which does for POWER7 what the IBM CloudBurst for System x, Oracle Exalogic, or Acadia's V-block, do for x86.
IBM estimates that private clouds built on Power systems can be up to 70 percent less expensive than stand alone x86 servers.
Before he earned his PhD in Mechanical Engineering, my father was a car mechanic. I spent much of my teenage years covered in grease, helping my father assembling cars, lifting engines, and rebuilding carburetors. Certainly this was good father-son time, and I certainly did learn something in the process. Like the automobile industry, the IT industry has matured, and it makes no financial sense to build your own IT infrastructure from parts from different vendors.
For a test drive of the industry's leading integrated IT systems, see your IBM sales rep or IBM Business Partner.
For those who missed it, IBM announced last Tuesday encryption capability for the TS1120 drive, our enterprise tape drive that read and write 3592 cartridges. Do you need special cartridges for this? No! Use the sames ones you have already been using!
Well it's Tuesday, which means its time to look at recent announcements.While I was on vacation last week, IBM made a lot of storage announcements October 23.Josh Krischer gives his summary on WikiBon [October 2007 Review].Austin Modine of the The Register went so far as to say that [IBM goes crazy with storage system updates].
IBM System Storage DS8000 series
This is "Release 3" software/microcode upgrades on our existing "Turbo" hardware.
IBM FlashCopy SE -- Here "SE" stands for Space Efficient. Rather than allocating a full 100% of the space for the FlashCopy destination, you can set aside just a fraction, and this will hold all the changed blocks, similar to whatIBM already offers on the DS4000 series.
Dynamic Volume Expansion -- In the past, if you needed more space for a LUN, you had to carve out a newer one elsewhere, and then copy the data over from the old to the new, leaving the old LUN around to be re-used or leftstranded. With this enhancement, you can just upgrade the LUN in place, making it bigger as needed, similar to whatIBM already offers on the DS4000 series and SAN Volume Controller. This applies to CKD volumes for the System zmainframe users out there as well.
Storage Pool Striping -- striping volumes across RAID ranks to eliminate or reduce hot-spots, and provide betterload balancing. Many used SAN Volume Controller in front of the DS8000 to do this, but now you can do it natively inthe DS8000 itself.
z/OS Global Mirror Multiple Reader -- for System z customers, "z/OS Global Mirror" is the new name for XRC. Thisenhancement improves the throughput of sending updates to the remote disaster recovery location.
DS Storage Manager enhancements, the element manager software has been enhanced, and is pre-installed on the new IBM System Storage Productivity Center, which I will talk about below.
Intermix of DS8000 machine types -- this is especially useful to allow new frames to have co-terminating warrantieswith the base units. In other words, as you expand your system, you can ensure that the entire chunk of iron runs outof warranty all at the same time, to simplify your decision making process to upgrade or contract for extended service.
One of the biggest complaints about IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center is that it is software that needs to beinstalled on its own server, and that this installation process can take a day or two. Why wait? Now you can havea hardware console that has the DS8000 Storage Manager software, SVC Admin Console software, and IBM TotalStorageProductivity Center "Basic Edition" pre-installed. Here are the key features.
Pre-installed and tested console
DS8000 R3 GUI integration
Cohabitation of SVC 4.2.1 GUI and CIMOM
Automated device discovery
Asset and capacity reporting, including tape library support
Our "Release 9" applies across the board, from N3000 to N5000 to N7000 series models, includingnew host bus adapters, and the new Data OnTAP 7.2.4 release level.
The Virtual File Manager (VFM) was announced as one of our latest [Storage Virtualization Solutions]. VFMprovides a global namespace that aggregates the file systems from Linux, UNIX, and Windows file servers, as well asN series storage, into a consolidated environment.
IBM's virtual tape library (VTL) for the distributed systems platform, has been enhanced to provide:
Up to 12TB of disk cache, using 750GB SATA disk.
F05 Tape Frames installed as TS7520 base units through a 32 port fibre channel switch
Support for LTO generation 4 tape drives, both as virtual tape drives and as physical tape drives within IBM automated tape libraries attached to the TS7520. This allows you to use Encryption capabilities of LTO4.
DS3000 series now supports SATA disk, and can be attached to AIX and Linux on System p servers. This appliesto the DS3200, DS3300 and DS3400 models.See the [DS3000 Announcement Letter] for more details.
Well, I am off on a much-needed vacation. For my American readers, this weekend represents our "4th of July" Independence Day holiday. What better way to celebrate than to drive hundreds of miles from one side of the country to the other? In this case, from the North side down to the South side.
I am armed with two books on this subject. The first, is part of a series on American Road Trips, which details the roadside attractions to be found along the Great River Road. We will start up in Minnesota, and work our way Southward, covering a total of eight states in eight days along the Mississippi River.
The second book is Alton Brown's "Feasting on Asphalt, the River Run". This book describes Alton's ride Northward up the Mississippi river, detailing the restaurants and foods he enjoyed, so I will have to read the chapters in reverse.
Special thanks to Roy Buol, mayor of Dubuque, Iowa that I [met in Scottsdale earlier this year] for the idea to come visit his fine city, considered one of the Smarter Cities in the USA, thanks to IBM technology.
I don't know if I will have internet access along the way, or have the time and/or energy to blog, tweet (@az990tony) or upload photos during the trip. We'll see.
Wednesday morning at the [Oracle OpenWorld 2011] conference started with another keynote session. This time, Safra Catz, CFO and President of Oracle, introduced John Chambers, CEO of Cisco.
John says Cisco is helping to "empower the customer through market transitions." This includes helping customers decide how to deploy new technology, choosing between integrated stacks and interoperable components, scaling the business with a flat IT budget, and how/when to decide on moving to the cloud.
(FTC Disclosure: IBM resells Cisco switches and directors and are considered a partner in this sense. If you are going to buy Cisco switches and directors, please consider buying them through IBM.)
The information economy is transitioning to a networked one. Access to information is not as important as access to expertise. Process and Procedures are not as important as Communities and Relationships. The old style Command-and-Control management is giving way to Collaboration. He showed a chart that showed the evolution from routed/bridged networks to packet/mobile and video. He also had a chart that showed the evolution from Mainframe/Mini-computers, to Client/Server and Web, to Virtualization in the Cloud. He also indicated that Google's acquisition of Motorola was indicative of the "Death of the PC".
High Tech companies must re-invent themselves to stay relevant. Here were Cisco's five "Foundational Priorities":
Leadership in the Core. This refers to his core business of high-end Ethernet and Fibre Channel directors.
Collaboration. This was the original promise of networking computers together, was to bring people together also. He feels that "Collaboration" will take off in the 2010's.
Data Center/Virtualization/Cloud. Cisco is now in the business of selling computers. They are now #2 in North America for x86 server sales, and #3 globally. In this regard, they are a direct competitor to both IBM and Oracle at this conference. John wants to create "borderless" networks between Private and Public clouds. He claims that they have now 8,228 Ciscu UCS customers over the past 18 months. This was a slam at Oracle, who hasn't sold half that many new systems in the same time period.
Video. John indicated that every product in the Cisco family is video-enabled, from the Cius tablet, to WebEx, to TelePresence, to all of his switches and directors. In theory, the "Flip" video cam that Cisco dropped in their latest round of layoffs would have also been counted in that category. John indicates that he envisions video will take over as the predominant communication mechanism. Back in 2006, at Oracle OpenWorld, John showed a chart that indicated that people will transition from passive TV-watchers to active video producers. Here we are five years later, and while 24 hours' worth of video are uploaded to YouTube every second, most people are still TV-watchers.
Architectures for Business Transformation. He elaborated on this to refer to issues like reliability, security, and products that are designed to work together. Business and Government leaders are focused on their business, not technology.
He gave a demo of Cisco UCS. This is a 4U collection of server blades, with up to 384GB of DRAM using 8GB DIMMs, or 192GB using much-cheaper 4GB DIMMs. There are 2 switches with 8 ports each 10GbE, for a total of 160 Gbps, that can carry both Ethernet and FCoE traffic. The UCS System Manager is similar to IBM's Unified Resource Manager in that it manages the entire box. A "service profile" has 40 to 50 BIOS settings that can be applied to give each x86 blade a specific personality. You can re-provision these by changing their service profile as needed.
The next demo was really cool. They took video that involved people talking, and had it "machine transcribed" so that you can read the words being said in the video. Type in a word like "tolerances" in the search engine, and the video advances exactly to the spot where that word is uttered.
The next demo after that involved a special camera for monitoring High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes in traffic. In an example used in London, UK, the camera can see inside the car and confirm there are enough people to justify HOV usage, and if not, scan the license plate and charge the owner of the vehicle a fine. (In a sense, "Big Data" analytics combined with Cisco's vision of ubiquitous video equals [Big Brother])
In another slam against Oracle, John actually backed up his claims with published benchmarks. He wrapped up his talk with: "If I have done my job well, then you will all leave this room a bit uncomfortable." Not surprisingly, John didn't mention either the vBlock relationship with EMC, or the FlexPod relationship with NetApp.