Wrapping up this week's theme on the future, fellow blogger David Spark has a great post on his SparkMinute blog titled [20 Brilliant Minds on the future of Hyperconnectivity].
(What does this have to do with Storage? When IBM got back into networking in a big way, they had to decide whether to combine it with one of the existing groups, or form its own group. IBM decided to merge networking with storage, which makes sense since the primary purpose of most networks is to access or transmit information stored somewhere else.)
Last April, the Wharton School and the Institute for the Future convened a one-day [After Broadband] workshop in San Francisco, California, that brought together a group of leading technologists, entrepreneurs, academics and policymakers to explore the future of broadband over the next decade.
At the event, David interviewed 20 people for 10 minutes, and the videos are now available online. Here is one I particularly liked, [David interviewing Bran Ferren of Applied Minds] on Vimeo.
Continuing my coverage of the [IBM Storage Innovation Executive Summit], that occurred May 9 in New York City, this is my sixth in a series of blog posts on this event.
During the break, I talked with some of the other bloggers at this event. From left to right: Stephen Foskett [Pack Rat] blog, Devang Panchigar [StorageNerve], and yours truly, Tony Pearson. (Picture courtesy of Stephen Foskett)
This was by far the most entertaining section of the day! Hand-held devices allowed the audience to vote which answers they liked best.
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Wrapping up my week on All-Flash arrays, I thought I would cover some of the Enterprise Reliability features of the IBM FlashSystem.
On Monday, [IBM FlashSystem versus EMC XtremeIO all-Flash Arrays], I discussed some of the features of the IBM FlashSystem that differentiate it from EMC's ExtremeIO and other all-Flash arrays. On Tuesday, [IBM 2013 Storage Announcements for November 19] included discussion of the all-Flash model of the IBM System Storage DS8870 disk system.
Just as light bulbs burn out eventually after repeatedly being turned on and off, Flash does not last forever either.
A set of transistors can represent a single bit of informaiton (Single-level cell, or SLC for short), or multiple bits (Multi-level Cell, MLC). MLC typically refers to two bits, with a new "Triple-level cell" or TLC technology, able to store three bits per set of transistors.
SLC is faster and can endure more "Program-erase" write cycles, but MLC is less expensive to manufacture and therefore used in most consumer products, like digital cameras, smart phones, music players and USB memory sticks. To learn more on this, see this 6-page IBM whitepaper on [Comparison of NAND Flash Technologies Used in Solid-State Storage].
In between, "Enterprise MLC" (or eMLC for short) refers specifically to a different grade of chips IBM gets from the flash manufacturer. eMLC chips use a similar MLC bit arrangement, but are typically selected from higher bins, and most importantly have much longer program-erase cycle times which yield greater chip endurance, at the expense of long data retention when power is off (but seriously, when is anything off for very long in a data center?)
As a result, eMLC has 10x the endurance of regalar MLC, approaching parity with SLC at half the cost!
In the IBM FlashSystem, DRAM cache is used to buffer the writes first, then written out to the Flash. This helps to further improve the endurance.
For enterprise reliability, each Flash chip on the IBM FlashSystem has Error Correcting Codes (ECC), and then each set of 10 chips is placed in a 9+P RAID-5 configuration.
The chips are sub-divided into 16 planes. In the event a cell fails, the data for that plane can be reconstructed from parity, and written to spare space on the other planes of that same chip set. That plane is then reformated as an 8+P RAID-5, bypassing the failed plane.
In this manner, a cell failure only results in losing a small portion of one chip. If the same plane fails another failure on another chip, it will drop down to 7+P, 6+P, 5+P, and finally 4+P. This is known as "Variable Stripe RAID" or VSR for short.
IBM FlashSystem can survive over 1,000 such cell failures without an outage. By comparison, a single cell failure on an SSD often marks the entire drive as a failure.
But wait, there's more. Why stop at just RAID-5 across 10 chips. The chips are organized into modules, and IBM FlashSystem can perform RAID-5 across modules, in a 10+P+S RAID-5 configuration. This is referred to as "Two dimensional RAID" or 2D-RAID for short.
Even if you lost an entire module, the system will automatically rebuild on the spare module, and you can replace the bad one non-disruptively.
Many use cases for all-Flash arrays do not require such high levels of Enterprise reliability. Several of the all-Flash competitors have adopted a "des
The idea is to assume that the data stored on them is just a copy from some other storage media. In the event of a Flash failure, it can easily be restored from a mirrored copy or backup.
For the IBM FlashSystem, The newer 800 series are based on eMLC, ideal for the majority of business applications, databases and virtual machine images placed on all-Flash arrays. The older 700 series are based on more expensive SLC, designed specifically for sustained write-intensive workloads.
Within each series, the "tens" models (710, 810) offer RAID-0 striping across ECC and VSR protected modules. For higher levels of availability, the "twenties" models (720, 820) offer ECC, VSR and 2D-RAID protection.
We have some exciting webcasts in the upcoming weeks!
I hope you can find time in your busy schedule to participate in one or both of these webcasts.
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Continuing this week's theme of doing important things without leaving town, I present our results foran exciting project I started earlier this year.
For seven weeks, my coworker Mark Haye and I voluntarily led a class of students here in Tucson, Arizona in an after-school pilot project to teach the ["C" programming language] using [LEGO® Mindstorms® NXT robots]. The ten students, boys and girls ages 9 to 14 years old, were already part of the FIRST [For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology] program, and participated in FIRST Lego League[FLL] robot competitions.Since the students were already familiar building robots, and programming them with a simple graphical system of connecting blocks that perform actions. However, to compete in the next level of robot competitions, FIRST Tech Challenge [FTC],we need to leave this simple graphical programming behind, and upgrade to more precise "C" programming.
Mark is a software engineer for IBM Tivoli Storage Manager and has participated in FLL competitions over the past nine years. This week, he celebrates his 25th anniversary at IBM, and I celebrate my 23rd. The teacher, Ms. Ackerman, and the students referred to us as "Coach Mark" and "Coach Tony".
This was the first time I had worked with LEGO NXT robots. For those not familiar with these robots, you can purchase a kit at your localtoy store. In addition to regular LEGO bricks, beams, and plates, there are motors, wheels, and sensors. A programmable NXT brick has three outputs (marked A,B, and C) to control three motors, and four inputs (marked 1,2,3,4) to receive values from sensors. Programs are written and compiled on laptops and then downloaded to the NXT programmable brick through an USB cable, or wirelessly via Bluetooth.
We used the [RobotC programming firmware] and integrated development environment (IDE) from [Carnegie Mellon University].The idea of this pilot was to see how well the students could learn "C". With only a few hours after class on each Wednesday, could we teach young students "C" programming in just seven weeks?
My contribution? I have taught both high school and college classes, and spent over 15 years programming for IBM, so Mark asked me to help.We started with a basic lesson plan:
At the completion of these seven weeks, I sat down to interview "Coach Mark"on his thoughts on this pilot project.
This is a practical programming skill. The "C" language is used throughout the world to program everything from embedded systems to operating systems, and even storage software. This would allow the robots to handle more precise movements, more accurate turns, and more complicated missions.
Can kids learn "C" in only seven weeks?
Part of the pilot project was to see how well the students could understand the material. They were already familiar with building the robots, and understood the basics of programming sensors and motors, so we were hoping this was a good foundation to work from. Some kids managed very well, others struggled.
Did everything go according to plan?
The first two weeks went well, turning on motors and having robots move forward and backward were easy enough. We seemed to lose a few students on week 3, and things got worse from there. However, several of the students truly surprised us and managed to implement very complicated missions. We were quite pleased with the results.
What kind of problems did the kids encounter?
Touch sensor required loops waiting for pressing. Motors did not necessarily turn as expected until more advanced methods were used. Making 90 degree left and right turns accurately was more difficult than expected.
Any funny surprises?
Yes, we had a Challenge Map representing the Mars planetary surface from a previous FLL competition that was dark red and divided into squares with thick black lines. An active light sensor returns a value of "0" (complete darkness) to "100" (bright white).However, the Mars surface had craters that were dark enough to be misinterpreted as a black line causing some unusual results. This required some enhanced programming techniques to resolve.
Did robots help or hurt the teaching process?
I think they helped. Rather than writing programs that just display "Hello World!" on a computer screen, the students can actually see robots move, and either do what they expect, or not!
And when the robots didn't do what they were expected to?
The students got into "debug" mode. They were already used to doing this from previous FLL competitions, but with RobotC, you can leave the USB cable connected (or use wireless Bluetooth) and actually gather debugging information while the robot is running, to see the value of sensors and other variables and help determine why things are not working properly.
Any applicability to the real world of storage?
We have robots in the IBM System Storage TS3500 tape library. These robots scan bar code labels, pull tapes out of shelves and mount them into drives.The programming skills are the same needed for storage software, suchas IBM Tivoli Storage Manager or IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center.
The world is becoming smarter, instrumented with sensors, interconnected over a common network, and intelligent enough to react and respond correctly. The lessons of reading sensor values and moving motors can be considered the first step in solutions that help to make a smarter planet.Read More]
Continuing my coverage of the IT Security and Storage Expo in Brussels, Belgium, we had some great storage solutions on display at the IBM and I.R.I.S-ICT booth.
Here my IBM colleague Tom Provost is showing the front of the "Smarter Office" solution. The second photo gives the view from behind. While I always explained the solution from the front of the box, many of the more technical attendees at this conference wanted to inspect the ports in the back.
This sound-isolated 11U solution combines the following:
In this next example, the IBM team combined a BladeCenter S chassis that can hold six blade servers, with a Storwize V7000 Unified which offers FCP, iSCSI, FCoE, NFS, CIFS, HTTPS, SCP and FTP block and file protocols.
If those configurations are too small for your needs, consider the Flex System chassis or full PureFlex system frame. The rack-mountable 10U chassis can hold the Flex System V7000 and 10 compute notes. The PureFlex frame can hold up to four of these chasses.
IBM and I.R.I.S-ICT also had an IBM XIV Gen3 and a TS3500 Tape library on display.
technorati tags: IBM, I.R.I.S.-ICT, Belgium, Storage, Expo, Tom Provost, SFF, VMware, Hyper-V, Linux KVM, RDX, Veeam, Juniper Networks, LCM, , FCP, iSCSI, FCoE, NFS, CIFS, HTTPS, SCP, FTP, Flex System, PureFlex, PureSystems, XIV Gen3, TS3500, tape library
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With price and joy, I shipped my baby off today. My "baby" in this case was an [XS School Server]that I built and configured with software as a platform to developan [Educational Blogging System] for[Proyecto Ceibal] who are the "One Laptop Per Child" groupin Uruguay [OLPC Uruguay].
(Earlier this year, I build a test XS School Server that was used to help and support [OLPC Nepal] by working with their local NGO team[OLE Nepal]. I wrote about this back in Februaryin my post [Understandingthe LAMP platform for Web 2.0 workloads].)
Based on this success, and perhaps because I am also fluent in Spanish, I was asked to help with Proyecto Ceibal, the team for OLPC Uruguay. Normally theXS school server resides at the school location itself, so that even if the internet connection is disrupted or limited, the school kids can continue to access each other and the web cache content until internet connection is resumed.However, with a diverse developmentteam with people in United States, Uruguay, and India, we first looked to Linux hosting providers that wouldagree to provide free or low-cost monthly access. We
This got picked up as an [idea] for the Google's[Summer of Code] and we are mentoring Tarun, a 19-year-old student to actas lead software developer. However, summer was fast approaching, and we wanted this ready for the next semester. In June, our project leader, Greg, came up with a new plan. Build a machine and have it connected at an internet service provider that would cover the cost of bandwidth, and be willing to accept this with remote administration. We found a volunteer organization to cover this -- Thank you Glen and Vicki!
We found a location, so the request to me sounded simple enough: put together a PC from commodity parts that meet the requirements of the customizedLinux kernel, the latest release being called [XS-163]. The server would have two disk drives, three Ethernet ports, and 2GB of memory; and be installed with the customized XS-163 software, SSHD for remote administration, Apache web server, PostgreSQL database and PHP programming language.Of course, the team wanted this for as little cost as possible, and for me to document the process, so that it could be repeated elsewhere. Some stretch goals included having a dual-boot with Debian 4.0 Etch Linux for development/test purposes, an alternative database such as MySQL for testing, a backup procedure, and a Recover-DVD in case something goes wrong.
Some interesting things happened:
With all this in place, it is designed to not need a Linux system admin or XS-163/Moodle expert at the facility. Instead, all we need is someone to insert the Boot-CD or Recover-DVD and reboot the system if needed.
Just before packing up the unit for shipment, I changed the IP addresses to the values they need at the destination facility, updated the [GRUB boot loader] default, and made a final backup which burned the Recover-DVD. Hopefully, it works by just turning on the unit,[headless], without any keyboard, monitor or configuration required. Fingers crossed!
So, thanks to the rest of my team: Greg, Glen, Vicki, Tarun, Marcel, Pablo and Said. I am very excited to bepart of this, and look forward to seeing this become something remarkable!
technorati tags: XS School Server, Proyecto, Ceibal, OLPC, Uruguay, OLE, Nepal, LAMP, Web2.0, Google, Summer of Code, SSH, sshd, Apache, PostgreSQL, PHP, Red Hat, Fedora, Debian, Linux, Ethernet, BIOS, RAID, fakeraid, LiveCD, Boot-CD, Recover-DVD, DFSMS, DFSMShsm, DFSMSdss, DUMP, mainframe, LVM2, SVC, TSM, GRUB, Mondo Rescue, partimage, SysRescCD, KVM, GRUB
Over on his Backup Blog, fellow blogger Scott Waterhouse from EMC has a post titled [Backup Sucks: Reason #38]. Here is an excerpt:
Unfortunately, we have not been able to successfully leverage economies of scale in the world of backup and recovery. If it costs you $5 to backup a given amount of data, it probably costs you $50 to back up 10 times that amount of data, and $500 to back up 100 times that amount of data.
I suspect that where Scott mentions we in the above excerpt, he is referring to EMC in general, with products like Legato. Fortunately, IBM has scalable backup solutions, using either a hardware approach, or one purely with software.
If your company is using a backup software product that doesn't scale well, perhaps now is a good time to switch over to IBM Tivoli Storage Manager. TSM is perhaps the most scalable backup software product in the marketplace, giving IBM an "irrefutable advantage" over the competition.
Continuing my series on building a Desktop computer for a kindergarten class, I look at three other Linux systems mentioned in the article [Top 6 Linux Distributions for Children (Ages 2 and Up)].
(This series started with my post [Kindergarten desktop - The Challenge]. I have a 512MB RAM system with 40GB disk drive that I will install Linux and educational software for a class full of kindergarten children.
First, I re-partitioned the 40GB hard drive as follows. On the extended partition, sda5 will hold my system utilities, like Clonezilla and SystemRescue, and sda6 is my swap space. This gives me three primary partitions to install three flavors of Linux to try out.
The first was [LinuxKidX], which actually started out as a Portuguese-language effort in Brazil. It was then translated to the English language to extend its reach. It is based on the KDE desktop familiar to users of OpenSUSE Linux.
Many of the education software were similar or the same as those from Edubuntu I mentioned in my last post. However, not everything was translated, and unless you are able to read Portuguese, you may not want this one.
Next, I wanted to look at [Qimo for Kids], but first I had to look for the distribution, as the mirrors listed seemed to be unavailable. I was able to find an qimo
Unlike Edubuntu, Qimo fits on a CD-ROM for older PCs that may not have DVD drives. Based on lightweight XFCE desktop, the LiveCD runs comfortably in 512MB, with a kid-friendly app launcher at the bottom of the screen. However, Qimo 2.0 is based on Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) LTS, with long term support expiring this May 2013. The Firefox 3.6.3 was too old to run Gmail.
Why hasn't Qimo been enhanced since 2010? It looks like you can just install the packages qimo-session and qimo-wallpaper on newer levels of Ubuntu.
Third, I tried Foresight Linux for Kids 1.0 release. The most recent Foresight is 2.5.3, but Linux for Kids is still at the 1.0 level. The "installer" was very outdated, so the website suggested following the [power-user install HOWTO].
The HOWTO can be a bit intimidating, but I was able to install just fine in 512MB of RAM. Foresight detected I had pre-configured a swap space, and used that to help finish the install process.
Like the others, it had many of the same educational software as before. A key difference is the [Conary package management]. Most systems use either Debian (DEB) or Redhat Package Manager (RPM), but this one is different, and the use of Conary may reduce the number of software applications available.
So what have I learned from these?
If you have had any experience with any of these three distros, please comment below.
Mark your calendars! If you work in IT and have an interest in storage, then there are two upcoming conferences you might be interested in attending!
Join a network of your peers at [IBM Pulse2012] who are fundamentally and cost-effectively changing the economics of IT and speeding the delivery of innovative products and services. With four days of top-notch education, Pulse 2012 will help you react with agility in changing competitive landscapes, reduce vulnerability throughout the service lifecycle, and continuously improve the business impact of the technology.
I presented at the very first IBM Pulse back in May 2008, which was a combination event to cover Tivoli Storage, Maximo and Netcool. For a bit of nostalgia, read my 2008 blog posts:
In 2009, IBM decided to launch its "Dynamic Infrastructure" initiative at Pulse. Here were my blog posts:
In 2010, IBM announced [Tivoli Storage Manager v6.2].
In 2011, I was unable to attend, so I sent my colleague Tom Rauchut as my on-the-scene correspondent. At this event, IBM launched its Smarter Computing initiative.
The IBM Pulse conference has certainly evolved over the past few years! The agenda is not yet finalized, so I don't know if I will be there again this year.
The second event has a new name. [IBM Edge2012] is the premier storage event that brings together innovative IBM technologies, world class training, leading industry experts, and compelling client success stories and best practices. Edge2012 is dedicated to helping you design, build and implement efficient storage infrastructure solutions.
We started doing these back in the mid-90s, entitled the "IBM Storage Symposium", then later the "IBM System Storage and Storage Networking Symposium". In 2007, I was there in Las Vegas presenting on a variety of topics. See my blog post [Storage Symposium 2007 recap].
In 2008, we had a version of the Storage Symposium down in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Not only did I present, but it was also a "book signing" event for my first book [Inside System Storage: Volume I]. Here were my blog posts: [Introduction], and [Conclusion]. We also had an event in the United States, as well as Montpelier, France, but since I already went to the one in Mexico, I let my colleagues go to these other ones instead.
In 2009, IBM experimented with combining two conferences under one roof in Chicago, IL. The IBM System Storage and Storage Networking Conference was combined with the IBM System x and BladeCenter Technical Conference. The idea was that server people would probably also be interested in storage, and storage admins might also be interested in x86-based servers. See my blog post [Storage Symposium 2009 recap].
In 2010, System Storage and System x were once again combined, held in Washington DC, but the conferences were renamed to IBM System Storage Technical University and the IBM System x Technical University to give them a common look and feel. See my blog post [Storage University 2010 review].
In 2011, not satisfied that two data points was inconclusive, IBM continued the experiment, hosting both System Storage and System x conferences in Orlando, Florida. Here were my blog posts:
The results are now in. While I think it is admirable to run multiple conferences at the same time in the same place can help reduce costs and consolidate adminstration, it can have its drawbacks also. In the case of System Storage and System x, we learned a few things:
The solution - IBM Edge. This conference is focused 100 percent on storage. There will be "Executive Edge" for decision makers to network with their peers, and "Technical Edge" for the storage admins to get the technical education they are looking for on IBM System Storage and Networking products and solutions. Please note that this conference was held in July or August in previous years, but will be held in June this year.
I am very excited about this new direction, and plan to be there in June 4-8 for this event!