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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Many thanks to the 186 people who registered for yesterday's webcast "Solving the Storage Capacity Crisis -- Tools and Practices for Effective Management!" We had some excellent questions posed during the live Q&A:
Do you recommend moving to a SAN before implementing the management techniques you described, or will these tactics work just as well on direct-attached storage?
How does data center tiering differ from hierarchical storage management?
How do you recommend decisions about data priority be made when there are multiple stakeholders competing for attention?
You didn't mention deduplication. Does that have much impact on capacity management?
When outsourcing to a storage service provider, do you have any recommendations of the merits of wholesale outsourcing vs. partial outsourcing?
What are the dangers of giving end-users the ability to manage their own storage? What kind of education should be put in place?
The webcast was recorded, so in case you missed it, or just want to hear it again, the recording is now available in the [On24 archives].
The Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) is focused on bringing businesses and jobs into the Metro Atalanta area, and to help its members connect with other companies that can help them thrive. The MAC cover the Metropolitan region of Atlanta (5.8 million people) and 28 counties in Georgia.
The event was called "Technology Thursday", where the MAC holds a meeting on the third Thursday of every month, to discuss technology issues. The audience was a mix of business owners, sales executives, and managers. The event allowed for people to network with each other, as well as learn something new from a subject matter expert. This was the last one for 2011, to avoid conflicts with upcoming holidays in November and December.
The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a good reminder that all organizations should consider practice and execution of their contingency plans. In this most recent case, the [Deepwater Horizon] oil platform had an explosion on April 20, resulting in oil spewing out at an estimated 19,000 barrels per day. While some bloggers have argued that BP failed to plan, and therefore planned to fail, I found that hard to believe. How can a billion-dollar multinational company not have contingency plans?
The truth is, BP did have plans. Karen Dalton Beninato of New Orleans' City Voices discusses BP's Gulf of Mexico Regional Oil Spill Response Plan (OSRP) in her article [BP's Spill Plan: What they knew and when they knew it]. A
[redacted 90-page version of the OSRP] is available on their website.
The plan indicates that it may be 30 days from the time a deep offshore leak reaches the shoreline, giving OSRP participants plenty of time to take action.
(Having former politicians [blame environmentalists] for this crisis does not help much either. At least the deep shore rigs give you 30 days to react to a leak before the oil gets to the shoreline. Having oil rigs closer to shore will just shorten this time to react. Allowing onshore oil rigs does not mean oil companies would discontinue their deep offshore operations. There are thousands of oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Extracting oil in the beautiful Alaska National Wildlife Reserve [ANWR] might be safer, it does not eliminate the threat entirely, and any leak there would be damaging to the local plant and animals in the same manner.)
So perhaps the current crisis was not the result of a lack of planning, but inadequate practice and execution. The same is true for IT Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) plans. In all cases, there are four critical parts:
The planning team needs to anticipate every possible incident, determine the risks involved and the likelihood of impact, and either accept them, or decide to mitigate them. This can include natural disasters (hurricanes, fires, floods) and technical issues (computer viruses, power outages, network disruption).
Mitigation can involve taking backups, having replicated copies at a remote location, creating bootable media, training all of the appropriate employees, and having written documented procedures. IBM's Unified Recovery Management approach can protect your entire IT operations, from laptops of mobile employees, to remote office/branch office (ROBO) locations, to regional and central data centers.
When was the last time you practiced your Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery plan? I have seen this done at a variety of levels. At the lowest level, it is all done on paper, in a conference room, with all participants talking through their respective actions. These are often called "walk-throughs". At the highest level, you turn off power to your data center --on a holiday weekend to minimize impact to operating revenues-- and have the team bring up applications at the alternate site.
As many as 80 percent of these BC/DR exercises are considered failures, in that if a real disaster would have occurred, the participants are convinced they would not have achieved their target goals of Recovery Time Objective (RTO). However, they are not complete failures if they can help improve the plans, help identify new incidents that were not previously considered, and help train the participants in recovery procedures.
The last part is execution. In my career, I have been onsite for many Disaster Recovery exercises as well as after real disasters have occured. I am not surprised how many people assume that if they have plans in place, have made preparations, and have one to three practice drills per year, that the actual "execution" would directly follow. While the book [Execution] by Bossidy and Charan is not focused on IT BC/DR plans per se, it is a great read on how to manage the actual execution of any kind of business plan. I have read this book and recommend it.
If you have not tested out your IT department's BC/DR plans. Perhaps its time to dust off your copy, review it, and schedule some time for practice.
Spend twenty hours a week running a project for a non-profit.
Teach yourself Java, HTML, Flash, PHP and SQL. Not a little, but mastery. [Clarification: I know you can't become a master programmer of all these in a year. I used the word mastery to distinguish it from 'familiarity' which is what you get from one of those Dummies type books. I would hope you could write code that solves problems, works and is reasonably clear, not that you can program well enough to work for Joel Spolsky. Sorry if I ruffled feathers.]
Volunteer to coach or assistant coach a kids sports team.
Start, run and grow an online community.
Give a speech a week to local organizations.
Write a regular newsletter or blog about an industry you care about.
Learn a foreign language fluently.
Write three detailed business plans for projects in the industry you care about.
Self-publish a book.
Run a marathon.
In 2007, 51 percent of graduating college students could find jobs in their field, and this year it has dropped to only 20 percent. If you find yourself with some time on your hands, either recently graduated or recently unemployed, consider volunteerism.Last year, I chose to donate my time and money to an innovative project called "One Laptop per Child" [OLPC]. It was one of my [New Years Resolutions] for 2008. I was actually "recruited" by folks from the OLPC after they read my [series of blog posts] on things that can be done with their now famous green-and-white XO laptop.
The first half of the year, I spent helping "Open Learning Exchange Nepal" [OLE Nepal], a non-government organization (NGO) to help education in that country. XO laptops were provided to second and sixth graders at several schools, and my assignment was to help with the school "XS" server. This would be the server that all the laptops connect to. My blog posts on this included:
Rather than [Move to Nepal], I was able to help by building an identical XS server in Tucson, and provide support remotely. This included getting the "Mesh Antennas"to be properly recognized, having an internet filter using [DansGuardian] software, and working out backup procedures.
For the second half of the year, I was asked to mentor a college student inHyderabad, India as part of the ["Google Summer of Code"] to develop an[Educational Blogger System]on the XS server. We called it "EduBlog" and based it on the popular [Moodle] educational software platform.This was going to be tested with kids from Uruguay, but sending a serverdown to this country proved politically-challenging, so instead, I [builta server and shipped it] to a co-location facility in Pennsylvania that agreed to donate the cost and expenses needed to run the server there with full internet connection. I acted as "system admin" for the box, was able to connect remotely via SSH, while Tarun, the college student I was mentoring, developed the EduBlog software. Twice the system washacked, but I was able to restore the system remotely thanks to a multi-boot configuration that allowedme to reboot to a read-only operating system image and restore the operating system and data.
The students and teachers in Uruguay were helped locally by [Proyecto Ceibal]. We were able to translate the system into Spanish, and the project was a big success, enough to convince local government to provideXO laptops to their students to further the benefits.
Next week, once again, I will be blogging from beautiful Caesars Palace hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada to report on what I see and hear at the 29th annual Data Center Conference. Here are my posts from 12 months ago when I attended this conference in 2009:
Again we will have a Solutions Showcase with a Portable Modular Data Center (PMDC) and various exhibits. I will be manning the booths, stop on by. Plus, on Tuesday, I will be be speaking! My topic will be "Choosing the right storage for your server virtualization environment."
Those of you on twitter can follow me at [@az990tony] and hash tag #LSC29. I will be available for one-on-one consultations sessions. I am arriving Sunday morning, Dec. 5, and staying through Thursday afternoon, December 9.
Mark your calendars! Next month, IBM's Midsize Insider is hosting me as a speaker for a Webcast: [Storage Management with IBM], on August 7th, 12pm EDT. Midsize Insider is a valuable repository of expert content tailored for small-to-midsized business owners and IT decision makers.
The problems that used to keep storage managers awake at night -- power, cooling and physical footprint -- are being successfully addressed by technology, but a more vexing issue still remains: How to get more out of the limited supply of skilled storage management professionals.
Demand for storage capacity continues to grow far faster than the pool of people to manage it. With no end in sight to data growth, businesses need to apply technology and practices that distribute management responsibility to the people who need storage, and multiply the volumes of storage that skilled professionals can handle.
In this presentation, in this session, I will cover best practices and new tools that are enabling leaps in productivity, in three main areas:
Abandon the Craftsman Approach. Storage administrators need to discard some long-help myths about storage management and adopt new ways of thinking that enable them to handle significantly greater capacity.
Adopt software tools. Computers can now provide unprecedented guidance on storage optimization so that people don’t have to. Policy-based management, smart provisioning and automated tiering are among the innovations that are powering leaps in productivity.
Consider self-service portals. Companies are now exploring the self-service capabilities of private and public clouds. However, organizations need to adopt policies and limits in place to create an atmosphere of trust that enables efficient self-provisioning for storage.
A lot of people ask me about IBM branding, as we have recently changed brands. In the past we had two separate brands, one for servers (eServer) and one for storage (TotalStorage). These would be fine if we wanted to promote their independence, but customers today want synergy between servers and storage, they want systems that work well together.
Last year, in response to market feedback, we crated a new brand, "IBM Systems" and put all the server and storage product lines under one roof. Over time, we will transition from TotalStorage to System Storage naming. This will occur with new products, and major versions of existing products.
Two other phrases you will hear in the names of our offerings are "Virtualization Engine" and "Express". These are portfolio identifiers. The Virtualization Engine identifier was created to emphasize our leadership in system virtualization, and we have products that span product lines with this identifier.
The Express identifier was created to emphasize our focus on Small and Medium sized business (SMB). It spans not just servers and storage, but across other offerings from other IBM divisions.
Of course, just renaming products and services isn't enough. Systems don't work together just because they have similar names, are covered in similar "Apple white" plastic, or have similar black bezels. Obviously, thoughtful and collaborative design are needed, with the appropriate amounts of engineering and testing. IBM is aligning its server and storage development so that the IBM Systems brand keeps its promise.
Well, it was Tuesday again, and we had quite a lot of announcements here at IBM this week!
Over 1,800 clients attended the [Live February 5 webcast]! The announcements were all part of IBM's SmartCloud Storage portfolio. Here are the highlights:
STN7800 Real-time Compression Appliance
Back in October 2010, IBM announced the acquisition of Storwize, Inc., renaming its NAS-compression units to the IBM Real-time Compression appliances. Some folks were confused, so I had a blog post [IBM Storwize Product Name Decoder Ring].
IBM initially offered two models:
The [STN6500 model] had 16 Ethernet ports 1GbE (16x1GbE) and a pair of four-core processors.
The [STN6800 model] had either eight 10GbE ports (8x10GbE), or four 10GbE plus eight 1GbE ports (4x10GbE+8x1GbE). It has a pair of six-core processors.
Now, IBM offers the [STN7800 model], which can replace either of the ones above, offering 16x1GbE, 8x10GbE, and 4x10GbE+8x1GBE port configurations. It has a pair of eight-core processors to handle more robust Cloud Storage environments. See [Announcement Letter 113-012] for more details.
New XIV Gen3 model 214
With its awesome support for VMware, the XIV is often chosen for Cloud storage. The new XIV model 214 now offers up to a dozen 10GbE ports, or you can stay with the 22 1GbE ports available on previous models. These can be used for iSCSI host attachment and/or IP-based replication.
IBM strives to make each new model of every storage device more energy efficient than the last.
The new XIV model is no exception. The original XIV, introduced in 2008, consumed 8.4 kVA fully loaded. The XIV Gen 3 model 114 consumed 7.0 kVA. This new model 214 consumes only 5.9 kVA!
It has been almost three years since my now infamous post [Double Drive Failure Debunked: XIV Two Years Later]. Back then, the XIV offered only 1TB and 2TB drives, with rebuild time for 1TB drive of less than 30 minutes, and for 2TB less than 60 minutes.
The new XIV Gen3 software 11.2 release, available for both the 114 and 214 models, can now rebuild a 2TB drive in less than 26 minutes, and a 3TB drive in less than 39 minutes. There is also support specific to Windows Server 2012 including thin provisioning, MSCS, VSS, and Hyper-V. See [Announcement Letter 113-013] for more details.
SmartCloud Storage Access
IBM is the first major storage vendor to offer a product of this kind, so understanding it may be a bit difficult.
The concept is simple. Rather than having end-users having to ask IT every time they need some storage space, IBM created a self-service portal that frees up the IT department to work on more important transformational projects.
This is basically what people can do with "Public Cloud" storage service providers, so basically IBM is now giving you the capability with your "Private Cloud" storage deployment.
Here is the sequence of events. End users point their favorite web browser to the self-service portal, and login using their credentials stored in your Active Directory or LDAP server database.
Once validated, the end-user now can request new storage space, expanding their existing space, or returning the space to the IT department. For new storage requests, users can have a choice of storage classes, -- such as Gold, Silver and Bronze-- defined in the Tivoli Storage Productivity Center (TPC), either stand-alone or in the SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center.
But wait! Do you want to give every end-user a blank check to provision their own storage? Most IT staff are horrified at the thought.
Knowing this, IBM has included an option to put in an approval process, based on the end-user and the amount of capacity requested. The approver can be the cloud administrator, or someone delegated for approvals, known as an environment owner.
For some users, policies may restrict the storage classes as well. For example, Fred can only have Silver or Bronze, but not Gold.
Once the approval is obtained, TPC then issues the appropriate commands to the appropriate SONAS or Storwize V7000 Unified device. SmartCloud Storage Access can do this for thousands of storage devices across dozens of geographically dispersed locations.
Before, the Cloud Admin had to configure storage pools of managed disks, define file systems, dole out file sets to hundreds or thousands of users with hard quotas, and then configure shares based on the protocols required, like CIFS, NFS, HTTPS, etc.
With SmartCloud Storage Access, the Cloud admin still defines the pools and file systems, but then lets the self-service capability of the software to create the file sets, set the quotas and configure shares with the appropriate protocols. This greatly reduces the work on the IT staff, and greatly improves the turn-around time for end-user requests to get exactly what they want, when they need it.
The next time you withdraw money from an ATM machine, fill up your gas tank at the self-service gas station, then serve your own salad at the salad bar and fill up your own soft drink at the fast food restaurant, you will realize and appreciate that SmartCloud Storage Access is a brilliant move for the IT staff.
Cloud administrators, environment owners, and end-users can all use SmartCloud Storage Access to monitor and report on storage usage.
Perhaps the recent financial meltdown is making storage vendors nervous.Both IBM and EMC gained market share in 3Q08, but EMC is acting strangelyat IBM's latest series of plays and announcements. Almost contradictory!
Benchmarks bad, rely on your own in-house evaluations instead
Let's start with fellow blogger Barry Burke from EMC, who offers his latest post[Benchmarketing Badly] with commentaryabout Enterprise Strategy Group's [DS5300 Lab Validation Report]. The IBM System Storage DS5300 is one of IBM's latest midrange disk systems recently announced. Take for example this excerpt from BarryB's blog post:
"I was pleasantly surprised to learn that both IBM and ESG agree with me about the relevance and importance of the Storage Performance Council benchmarks.
That is, SPC's are a meaningless tool by which to measure or compare enterprise storage arrays."
Nowhere in the ESG report says this, nor have I found any public statements from either IBM nor ESG that makes this claim. Instead, the ESG report explains that traditional benchmarks from the Storage Performance Council [SPC] focus on a single, specific workload, and ESG has chosen to complement this with a variety of other benchmarks to perform their product validation, including VMware's "VMmark", Oracle's Orion Utility, and Microsoft's JetStress.
Benchmarks provide prospective clients additional information to make purchasedecisions. IBM understands this, ESG understands this, and other well-respected companies like VMware, Oracle and Microsoft understand this. EMC is afraid that benchmarks mightencourage a client to "mistakenly" purchase a faster IBM product than a slower EMC product. Sunshine makes a great disinfectant, but EMC (and vampires) prefer their respective "prospects" remain in the dark.
Perhaps stranger still is BarryB's postscript. Here's an excerpt:
"... a customer here asked me if EMC would be willing to participate in an initiative to get multiple storage vendors to collaborate on truly representative real-world "enterprise-class" benchmarks, and I reassured him that I would personally sponsor active and objective participation in such an effort - IF he could get the others to join in with similar intent."
As I understand it, EMC was once part of the Storage Performance Council a long time ago, then chose to drop out of it. Why re-invent the wheel by creating yet another storage industry benchmark group? EMC is welcome to come back to SPC anytime! In addition to the SCP-1 and SPC-2 workloads, there is work underway for an SPC-3 benchmark. Each SPC workload provides additional insight for product comparisons to help with purchase decisions. If EMC can suggest an SPC-4 benchmark that it feels is more representative of real-world conditions, they are welcome to join the SPC party and make that a reality.
The old adage applies: ["It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness"]. EMC has been cursing the lack of what it considers to be acceptable benchmarks but has yet to offer anything more realistic or representative than SPC.What does EMC suggest you do instead? Get an evaluation box and run your own workloads and see for yourself! EMC has in the past offered evaluation units specifically for this purpose.
In-house evaluations bad, it's a trap!
Certainly, if you have the time and staff to run your own evaluation, with your own applications in your own environment, then I agree with EMC that this can provide better insight for your particular situation than standardized benchmarks.
In fact, that is exactly what IBM is doing for IBM XIV storage units, which are designed for Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads that current SPC benchmarks don't focus on. Fellow blogger Chuck Hollis from EMC opines in his post[Get yer free XIV!]. Here's an excerpt:
"Now that I think about it, this could get ugly. Imagine a customer who puts one on the floor to evaluate it, and -- in a moment of desperation or inattention -- puts production data on the device.
Nobody was paying attention, and there you are. Now IBM comes calling for their box back, and you've got a choice as to whether to go ahead and sign the P.O., or migrate all your data off the thing. Maybe they'll sell you an SVC to do this?
Yuck. I bet that happens more than once. And I can't believe that IBM (or the folks at XIV) aren't aware of this potentially happening."
Perhaps Chuck is speaking from experience here, as this may have happened with customers with EMC evaluation boxes, and is afraid this could happen with IBM XIV. I don't see anything unique about IBM XIV in the above concern. Typical evaluations involve copying test data onto the box, test it out with some particular application or workload, and then delete the data no longer required. Repeat as needed. Moving data off an IBM XIV is aseasy as moving data off an EMC DMX, EMC CLARiiON or EMC Celerra, and I am sure IBM wouldgladly demonstrate this on any EMC gear you now have.
Thanks to its clever RAID-X implementation, losing data on an IBM XIV is less likely thanlosing data on any RAID-5 based disk array from any storage vendor. Of course, there will always be skeptics about new technology that will want to try the box out for themselves.
If EMC thought the IBM XIV had nothing unique to offer, that its performance was just "OK",and is not as easy to manage as IBM says it is, then you would think EMC would gladly encourage such evaluations and comparisons, right?
No, I think EMC is afraid that companies will discover what they already know, that IBM has quality products that would stand a fair chance of side-by-side comparisons with their own offerings.We have enough fear, uncertainty and doubt from our current meltdown of the global financial markets, don't let EMC add any more.
Have a safe and fun Halloween! If you need to add some light to your otherwise dark surroundings, consider some of these ideas for [Jack-O-Lanterns]!