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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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Christopher Carfi on his Social Customer Manifesto blog has a great post[Let's Look at the Big Picture]that talks about Information as the new form of "money" by looking at how the concept of "money" wasfirst formed 150 years ago. Here's an excerpt:
Lesson 1: "Money" was very fragmented for a very long period of time after the colonization of North America
"Money" as we think of it in the form of cash/paper currency has only been around for about 150 years. Over a period of almost two hundred years both before and after that time, a number of fragmented methods were used to exchange value.
Lesson 2: Everybody needs to win
After the ideas of "cash" and "checks" had taken hold and become widespread, there were still many inefficiencies in the system. Cash is cumbersome, and subject to loss. Checks may bounce. This continued until the mid-1900's.
Enter the credit card.*
The credit card resonated with both customers and vendors because both parties received benefits.
Now, the widespread usage of credit cards was not something the occurred overnight. Instead, it was something that occurred over a generation. In 1970, only 16% of American households had credit cards. However, by 1995, that number had climbed to 65%.
We are now looking at Information in much the same way. It is fragmented, it is used to represent value, it is hoarded by some, shared by others. In much that "brown" is the new "black", does that mean "information" is the new"money"?
A related blog post from Shawn over at Anecdote discusses a panelist discussion of Albert Camus' work,The Stranger. Here is an excerpt:
... meaning is not pre-inscribed in the world around us and we are continuously seeking meaning in an inherently meaningless world. I almost toppled off the step machine. Do we live in an inherently meaningless world? On first thought I think the answer is yes. The onus is on us to make sense of our world.
And here is where information, by itself, is not of value unless people place value on it. Just as people valued Wampum and Furs, and could therefore trade it for other goods, people trade information for other itemsof value. But the onus is on us to make sense of the information, to determine the meaning of it, and use thisto help drive business or other accomplishments.
Are you leveraging information as well as investors leverage other people's money? If not, IBM can help.
Last week's focus was on tape libraries, both virtual and real, leading up to our IBM announcement ofacquiring Diligent Technologies. I was focused on HDS blogger Hu Yoshida's post about his conversation with Mark,who was on an expert panel about these topics. Mark discovered that of the top energy consumersin his datacenter, his tape library was in the top five, a surprising result. Hu suggested that switching to a VTL with deduplicationtechnology was a potential alternative, and I pointed to a whitepaper from the Clipper Group that suggested otherwise.
My response was that perhaps Highmark's choice of backup software was poorly written, or that they had set it up with thewrong parameters, and just changing hardware might not be the right answer. I went too far given that I didn't know which software they had, which parameters theywere using, or which tape technology was involved. This came across wrong. I meant to poke fun at Hu's response.I did not mean to imply that Mark and his staff hadmade poor choices, or that they should automatically reject Hu's advice to consider other hardware alternatives.
I have discussed the situation with Mark, and agree that I should know his situation better before offeringsuggestions of my own.
However, I was speaking to various clients in Winnipeg, Canada Tuesday and Wednesday this week, so marketing moved the announcement date to today to accommodate my schedule. Sometimes, being the #1 most influential IBM employee in storage comes in handy!)
Here, then, is a quick review of the storage portion of today's announcements.
IBM FlashSystem 840
The [IBM FlashSystem 840] offers twice the capacity as its predecessors, the 810 and 820, with up to 48TB in a dense 2U package.
(Quick recap of previous models: Both the FlashSystem 810 and 820 supported ECC-protected memory and Variable-striped RAID (VSR). The [FlashSystem 810] supported RAID-0 striped across the modules, and the [FlashSystem 820] supported two-dimensional 2D-RAID across modules for higher availability. Fellow blogger Jim Kelley (IBM) on his Storage Buddhist blog has a great post on this: [IBM FlashSystem: Feeding the Hogs].
The new FlashSystem 840 in effect replaces both, so you can choose RAID-0 striping or 2D-RAID, along with your ECC-protected memory and Variable-striped RAID. It offers hot-swappable Flash modules, redundant components, and non-disruptive concurrent code load (CCL).
The FlashSystem 840 also introduces military-grade AES-XTS 256 bit encryption to provide added protection to your data.
For host attachment, you have some great choices: 16Gb/8Gb/4Gb auto-negotiated Fibre Channel (FCP), 40Gb InfiniBand QDR, and 10Gb FCoE. Whatever you decide, you get 90 microsecond writes, and 135 microsecond reads.
Since its introduction just over a year ago, IBM has sold FlashSystem to over 1,000 clients! For more on how this compares to other all-flash arrays, read my previous post about [IBM FlashSystem].
Adding SAN Volume Controller provides some key advantages, including Real-time compression, Thin provisioning, FlashCopy point-in-time copies, Stretched Cluster support, Easy Tier sub-LUN automated tiering, and remote copy services like Metro Mirror (synchronous) and Global Mirror (asynchronous).
Adding the SVC also changes the host attachment options: 8Gb/4Gb/2Gb Fibre Channel (FCP), 1Gb and 10Gb iSCSI, and 10Gb FCoE. Depending on the options and features you choose, the SVC layer adds a modest 60 to 100 microseconds to each read and write.
Each SVC node dedicates four of its six cores, and 2GB of its 24GB cache, to use with compression. Those interested in beefing up compression performance, either with FlashSystems or with any other disk, can choose the "Compression Hardware Upgrade Boosts Base I/O Efficiency" (affectionately known as the CHUBBIE) RPQ 8S1296 for SVC systems with software version 220.127.116.11 or higher. Basically, this RPQ adds another 6-core CPU and another 24GB of cache, so that each node can dedicate 8 cores for compression, and 26GB of cache for compression processing. Initial test results show this can increase performance 3x!
IBM Network Advisor
The [IBM Network Advisor v12.1] management software provides comprehensive management for data, storage and converged networks. This single application can deliver end-to-end visibility and insight across different network types--it supports Fibre Channel SANs (including Gen 5 Fibre Channel platform), IBM FICON and IBM b-type SAN FCoE networks--and provides new features to manage your Brocade and IBM b-type SAN switches.
Cisco MDS 9710 Multilayer Director
The [Cisco MDS 9710 Multilayer Director] is mainframe-ready, with full support for System z FICON and Fibre Channel protocol (FCP) environments. This director supports eight module slots for a maximum of 384 ports.
I am always amused in the manner the IT industry tries to solve problems. Take, for example, theprocess of backups. The simplest approach is to backup everything, and keep "n" versions of that.Simple enough for a small customer who has only a handful of machines, but does not scale well. Inmy post [Times a Million],I coined the phrase "laptop mentality", referring to people's inability to think through solutions in large scale.
Apparently, I am not alone.Steve Duplessie (ESG) wrote in his post[Random Thoughts]:
"I may even get to stop yelling at people to stop doing full backups every week on non-changing data (which is 80 %+) just because that's how they used to do it. They won't have a choice. You can't back up 5X your current data the way you do (or don't) today."
Hu Yoshida (HDS) does a great job explaining that thereare three ways to perform deduplication for backups:
Pre-processing. Have the backup software not backup unchanged data.
Inline processing. Have an index to filter the output of the backup as it sends data to storage.
Post-processing. Have the receiving storage detect duplicates and handle them accordingly.
"A full backup of 1TB data base tablespace is taken on day one. The next day another full backup is taken and only 2GB of that backup has any changes.
Using traditional full backup approaches after 2 nights, the backup capacity required is 2 x 1TB = 2TB
One method of calculating de-duplication ratios could yield a low ratio:
Total de-duplicated backup capacity used = 1TB + 2GB = 1.002TB
If the de-duplication ratio compares the amount of total physical storage used to the total amount that would have been used by traditional backup methods, the ratio = 2TB / 1.002TB = approximately 2:1
Another method of calculating de-duplication ratios could yield a high ratio:
Total de-duplicated backup capacity used still = 1.002TB
If the de-duplication ratio compares the amount of data stored in the most recent (second) backup to the amount that would have been used by traditional backup methods, the ratio 1TB / 2GB = 1000GB / 2GB = 500:1"
While IBM also offers deduplication in the IBM System Storage N series disk systems, I find that for backup, itis often more effective to apply best practices via IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM). Let's take a look at some:
Exclude Operating System files
Why take full backups of your operating system every day? Yes, deduplication will find a lot to reduce fromthis, but best practices would exclude these. TSM has an include/exclude list, and the default version excludesall the operating system files that would be recovered from "bare machine recovery" or "new system install"procedures. Often, if the replacement machine has different gear inside, your OS backups aren't what you need,and a fresh OS install may determine this and install different drivers or different settings.
Exclude Application programs
Again, yes if there are several machines running the same application, you probably have opportunity for deduplication. However, unless you match these up with the appropriate registry or settings buried down in theoperating system, recovering just application program files may render an unusable system. Applications are bestinstalled from a common source that are either "pushed" through software distribution, or "pulled" from an application installation space.
If you have TB-sized databases, and are only doing full backups daily to protect it, have I got a solution for you.IBM and others have software that are "application-aware" and "database-aware" enough to determine what haschanged since the last backup and copy only that delta. Taking advantage of the TSM Application ProgrammingInterface (API) allows for both IBM and third party tools to take these delta backups correctly.
Which leaves us with user files, which are often unique enough on their own from the files of other users,that would not benefit from file-level deduplication. Backing up changed data only, as TSM does with its patented ["progressive incremental backup"] method, generally gets most of the benefits described by deduplication, without having to purchase storage hardware features.
Of course, if two or more users have identical files, the question might be why these are not stored on acommon file share. NAS file share repositories can greatly reduce each user keeping their own set of duplicates.It is interesting that some block-oriented deduplication,such as that found in the IBM System Storage N series, can get some benefit because some user files are oftenderivatives of other files, and there might be some 4 KB blocks of data in common.
Last November, I visited a customer in Canada. All of their problems were a direct result of taking full backupsevery weekend. It put a strain on their network; it used up too many disk and tape resources; and it took too long tocomplete. They asked about virtual tape libraries, deduplication, and anything else that could help them. The answer was simple: switch to IBM Tivoli Storage Manager and apply best practices.
Hello Everyone! I am back from my safari vacation in Kenya.
One of the interesting parts of the journey was to visit a village of the Samburu tribe. Each village is a circle of huts surrounded by thorned branches to keep the wild lions out. In the center is another ring of thorned branches to keep all the cattle, sheep and goats.
One of the tribewomen invited us to show us her home. Each hut is made of sticks, stuck into the ground and then woven with other sticks, then covered in cow dung along the walls, and scraps of cardboard and newspaper as the roof.
Although the hut looks small from the outside, it was surprisingly roomy inside; it was divided into four rooms or partitions. The first was for the adults, the second for children, and the third for newborn animals and sometimes relatives visiting from other villages.
I asked what was the fourth room used for, and of course, her answer was: Storage.[Read More]
My theme this week was to focus on "Do-it-Yourself" solutions, such as the "open storage" concept presentedby Sun Microsystems, but it has morphed into a discussion on vendor lock-in. Both deserve a bit of furtherexploration.
There were several reasons offered on why someone might pursue a "Do-it-Yourself" course of action.
Building up skills
In my post [Simply Dinners and Open Storage], I suggested that building a server-as-storage solution based on Sun's OpenSolaris operating system could serve to learn more about [OpenSolaris], and by extension, the Solaris operating system.Like Linux, OpenSolaris is open source and has distributions that run on a variety of chipsets, from Sun's ownSPARC, to commodity x86 and x86-64 hardware. And as I mentioned in my post [Getting off the island], a version of OpenSolaris was even shown to run successfully on the IBM System z mainframe.
"Learning by Doing" is a strong part of the [Constructivism] movement in education. TheOne Laptop Per Child [OLPC] uses this approach. IBM volunteers in Tucson and 40other sites [help young students build robots]constructed from [Lego Mindstorms]building blocks.Edward De Bono uses the term [operacy] to refer to the"skills of doing", preferred over just "knowing" facts and figures.
However, I feel OpenSolaris is late to the game. Linux, Windows and MacOS are all well-established x86-based operating systems that most home office/small office users would be familiar with, and OpenSolaris is positioning itself as "the fourth choice".
In my post[WashingtonGets e-Discovery Wakeup Call], I suggested that the primary motivation for the White House to switch from Lotus Notes over to Microsoft Outlookwas familiarity with Microsoft's offerings. Unfortunately, that also meant abandoning a fully-operational automated email archive system, fora manual do-it-yourself approach copying PST files from journal folders.
Familiarity also explains why other government employees might print out their emails and archive them on paperin filing cabinets. They are familiar with this process, it allows them to treat email in the same manner as they have treated paper documents in the past.
Cost, Control and Unique Requirements
The last category of reasons can often result if what you want is smaller or bigger than what is availablecommercially. There are minimum entry-points for many vendors. If you want something so small that it is notprofitable, you may end up doing it yourself. On the other end of the scale, both Yahoo and Google ended up building their data centers with a do-it-yourself approach, because no commercial solutions were available atthe time. (IBM now offers [iDataPlex], so that has changed!)
While you could hire a vendor to build a customized solution to meet your unique requirements, it might turn outto be less costly to do-it-yourself. This might also provide some added control over the technologies and components employed. However, as EMC blogger Chuck Hollis correctly pointed out for[Do-it-yourself storage],your solution may not be less costly than existingoff-the-shelf solutions from existing storage vendors, when you factor in scalability and support costs.
Of course, this all assumes that storage admins building the do-it-yourself storage have enough spare time to do so. When was the last time your storage admins had spare time of any kind?Will your storage admins provide the 24x7 support you could get from established storage vendors? Will theybe able to fix the problem fast enough to keep your business running?
From this, I would gather that if you have storage admins more familiar with Solaris than Linux, Windows or MacOS,and select commodity x86 servers from IBM, Sun, HP, or Dell, they could build a solution that has less vendor lock-in than something off-the-shelf from Sun. Let's explore the fears of vendor lock-in further.
The storage vendor goes out of business
Sun has not been doing so well, so perhaps "open storage" was a way to warn existing Sun storage customers thatbuilding your own may be the next alternative.The New York Times title of their article says it all:["Sun Microsystems Posts Loss and Plans to Reduce Jobs"]. Sun is a big company, so I don't expect them to close their doors entirely this year,but certainly fear of being locked-in to any storage vendor's solution gets worse if you fear the vendor might go out of business.
The storage vendor will get acquired by a vendor you don't like
We've seen this before. You don't like vendor A, so you buy kit from vendor B, only to have vendor A acquire vendorB after your purchase. Surprise!
The storage vendor will not support new applications, operating systems, or other new equipment
Here the fear is that the decisions you make today might prevent you from choices you want to make in the future.You might want to upgrade to the latest level of your operating system, but your storage vendor doesn't supportit yet. Or maybe you want to upgrade your SAN to a faster bandwidth speed, like 8 Gbps, but your storage vendordoesn't support it yet. Or perhaps that change would require re-writing lots of scripts using the existingcommand line interfaces (CLI). Or perhaps your admins would require new training for the new configuration.
The storage vendor will raise prices or charge you more than you expect on follow-on upgrades
For most monolithic storage arrays, adding additional disk capacity means buying it from the same vendor as the controller. I heard of one company recently who tried to order entry-level disk expansion drawer, at a lower price, solely to move the individual disk drives into a higher-end disk system. Guess what? It didn't work. Most storage vendors would not support such mixed configurations.
If you are going to purchase additional storage capacity to an existing disk system, it should cost no more thanthe capacity price rate of your original purchase. IBM offers upgrades at the going market rate, but not all competitors are this nice. Some take advantage of the vendor lock-in, charging more for upgrades and pocketing the difference as profit.
Vendor lock-in represents the obstacles in switching vendors in the event the vendor goes out of business, failsto support new software or hardware in the data center, or charges more than you are comfortable with. These obstacles can make it difficult to switch storage vendors, upgrade your applications, or meet otherbusiness obligations. IBM SANVolume Controller and TotalStorage Productivity Center can help reduce or eliminate many of these concerns. IBMGlobal Services can help you, as much or as little, as you want in this transformation. Here are the four levelsof the do-it-yourself continuum:
Let me figure it out myself
Tell me what to do
Help me do it
Do it for me
This is the self-service approach. Go to our website, download an [IBM Redbook], figure out whatyou need, and order the parts to do-it-yourself.
IBM Global Business Services can help understand your business requirementsand tell you what you need to meet them.
IBM Global Technology Services can help design, assemble and deploy asolution, working with your staff to ensure skill and knowledge transfer.
IBM Managed Storage Services can manage your storage, on-site at your location, or at an IBM facility. IBM provides a varietyof cloud computing and managed hosting services.
So, if you are currently a Sun server or storage customer concerned about these latest Sun announcements, give IBM a call, we'll help you switch over!
Thirteen months ago, fellow IBM blogger Bob Sutor suggested the potential for avatars to [move from one virtual world to another].I thought this was far, far in the future myself, but this week, IBM and Linden Labs, the makersof Second Life, successfully teleported an avatar from SecondLife over to OpenSim. Here is the[Press Release].
If you are thinking there is no business value here, consider that Cisco has this incredible [11-minute demonstration video] that haspresenters in one city on the stage at another city.
Well, my job is done here in Tokyo, and my team is off next to Mumbai, India. This of course will takethe bulk of tomorrow in airplanes and airports, and not be as easy as teleporting in the metaverse!
As financial firms focus on costs, the IT departments will have an opportunity to consolidate their servers, networks and storage equipment. Consolidating disk and tape resources, implementing storage virtualization, and reducingenergy costs might get a boost from this crisis. Consolidating disparate storage resources to a big SoFS, XIV,DS8000 disk system, or TS3500 tape library might greatly help reduce costs.
Having mixed vendor environments that result from such mergers and acquisitions can be complicated to manage. Thankfully, IBM TotalStorage Productivity Centermanages both IBM and non-IBM equipment, based on open industry standards like SMI-S and WBEM.Merged companies might let go IT people with limited vendor-specific knowledge, but keep the ones familiar withcross-vendor infrastructure management skills and ITIL certification.
Comparing different vendor equipment
It seems that often times when there is a merger or acquisition, the two companies were using different storage gear from different vendors. IBM has made some incredible improvements over the past three years, in both performance enhancements and energy efficiency, but many companies with non-IBM equipment may not be aware of them.If there was ever a time to perform a side-by-side comparison between IBM and non-IBM equipment, here isyour chance.
For more on the impact of the financial meltdown on IT, see this InfoWorld[Special Report].
My session was the first in the morning, at 8:30am, but managed to pack the room full of people. A few looklike they just rolled in from Brocade's special get-together in Casey's Irish Pub the night before.I presented how IBM's storage strategy for the information infrastructure fits into the greater corporate-wide themes.To liven things up, I gave out copies of my book[Inside System Storage: Volume I] to those who asked or answered the toughest questions.
Data Deduplication and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM)
IBM Toby Marek compared and contrasted the various data deduplication technologies and products available, andhow to deploy them as the repository for TSM workloads. She is a software engineer for our TSM software product,and gave a fair comparison between IBM System Storage N series Advanced Single Instance Storage (A-SIS), IBMDiligent, and other solutions out in the marketplace.If you are going to combine technologies, then it isbest to dedupe first, then compress, and finally encrypt the data. She also explained about the many cleverways that TSM does data reduction at the client side greatly reduces the bandwidth traffic over the LAN,as well as reducing disk and tape resources for storage. This includes progressive "incremental forever" backup for file selection, incremental backups for databases, and adaptive sub-file backup.Because of these data reduction techniques, you may not get as much benefit as deduplication vendors claim.
The Business Value of Energy Efficiency Data Centers
Scott Barielle did a great job presenting the issues related to the Green IT data center. He is part of IBM"STG Lab Services" team that does energy efficiency studies for customers. It is not unusual for his teamto find potential savings of up to 80 percent of the Watts consumed in a client's data center.
IBM has done a lot to make its products more energy efficient. For example, in the United States, most datacenters are supplied three-phase 480V AC current, but this is often stepped down to 208V or 110V with powerdistribution units (PDUs). IBM's equipment allows for direct connection to this 480V, eliminating the step-downloss. This is available for the IBM System z mainframe, the IBM System Storage DS8000disk system, and larger full-frame models of our POWER-based servers, and will probably be rolled out to someof our other offerings later this year. The end result saves 8 to 14 percent in energy costs.
Scott had some interesting statistics. Typical US data centers only spend about 9 percent of their IT budgeton power and cooling costs. The majority of clients that engage IBM for an energy efficiency study are not tryingto reduce their operational expenditures (OPEX), but have run out, or close to running out, of total kW ratingof their current facility, and have been turned down by their upper management to spend the average $20 million USDneeded to build a new one. The cost of electricity in the USA has risen very slowly over the past 35 years, andis more tied the to fluctuations of Natural Gas than it is to Oil prices.(a recent article in the Dallas News confirmed this:["As electricity rates go up, natural gas' high prices, deregulation blamed"])
Cognos v8 - Delivering Operational Business Intelligence (BI) on Mainframe
Mike Biere, author of the book [BusinessIntelligence for the Enterprise], presented Cognos v8 and how it is being deployed for the IBMSystem z mainframe. Typically, customers do their BI processing on distributed systems, but 70 percent of the world's business data is on mainframes, so it makes sense to do yourBI there as well. Cognos v8 runs on Linux for System z, connecting to z/OS via [Hypersockets].
There are a variety of other BI applications on the mainframe already, including DataQuant,AlphaBlox, IBI WebFocus and SAS Enterprise Business Intelligence. In addition to accessing traditional onlinetransaction processing (OLTP) repositories like DB2, IMS and VSAM, using the [IBM WebSphere ClassicFederation Server], Cognos v8 can also read Lotus databases.
Business Intelligence is traditionally query, reporting and online analytics process (OLAP) for the top 10 to 15 percent of the company, mostly executives andanalysts, for activities like business planning, budgeting and forecasting. Cognos PowerPlay stores numericaldata in an [OLAP cube] for faster processing.OLAP cubes are typically constructed with a batch cycle, using either "Extract, Transfer, Load" [ETL], or "Change Data Capture" [CDC], which playsto the strength of IBM System z mainframe batch processing capabilities.If you are not familiar with OLAP, Nigel Pendse has an article[What is OLAP?] for background information.
Over the past five years, BI is now being more andmore deployed for the rest of the company, knowledge workers tasked with doing day-to-day operations. Thisphenomenom is being called "Operational" Business Intelligence.
IBM Glen Corneau, who is on the Advanced Technical Support team for AIX and System p, presented the IBMGeneral Parellel File System (GPFS), which is available for AIX, Linux-x86 and Linux on POWER.Unfortunately, many of the questions were related to Scale Out File Services (SOFS), which my colleague GlennHechler was presenting in another room during this same time slot.
GPFS is now in its 11th release since its introducing in 1997. All of the IBM supercomputers on the [Top 500 list] use GPFS. The largest deployment of GPFS is 2241 nodes.A GPFS environment can support up to 256 file systems, each file system can have up to 2 billion filesacross 2 PB of storage. GPFS supports "Direct I/O" making it a great candidate for Oracle RAC deployments.Oracle 10g automatically detects if it is using GPFS, and sets the appropriate DIO bits in the stream totake advantage of GPFS features.
Glen also covered the many new features of GPFS, such as the ability to place data on different tiers ofstorage, with policies to move to lower tiers of storage, or delete after a certain time period, all conceptswe call Information Lifecycle Management. GPFS also supports access across multiple locations and offersa variety of choices for disaster recovery (DR) data replication.
Perhaps the only problem with conferences like this is that it can be an overwhelming["fire hose"] of information!
HealthAlliance Hospital has implemented an IBM System Storage Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS) to make patient records available to clinicians anytime, anywhere. IBM has a [Case Study] on this implementation.Here is an excerpt from the IBM [Press Release]:
HealthAlliance Hospital, a member of UMass Memorial Health Care, serves the communities of north-central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire with acute care facilities, a cancer center, outpatient physical therapy facilities and a remote home health agency. As an investment in continued high-quality patient care, the hospital has implemented a picture archiving and communication system (PACS) from Siemens Medical Solutions so that it can move toward digital health records while eliminating traditional paper and film.
HealthAlliance is now able to make all of their data, including PACS images, available instantly, using the IBM GMAS, a cross-IBM offering comprised of storage, software, servers and services. The GMAS solution provides hospitals, clinics, research institutions and pharmaceutical companies with an automated and resilient enterprise storage archive for delivering medical images, patient records and other critical healthcare reference information on demand.
"Fast, easy access to diagnostic images is a priority," said Rick Mohnk, Vice President and Chief Information Officer of HealthAlliance. "Being paperless not only helps our staff improve their productivity and the quality of patient care, but also lowers our costs and improves our competitiveness. The IBM GMAS has helped us stay competitive and offer the leading edge technology that attracts top physicians to our staff and keeps patients feeling comfortable and well cared for."
Normally when you read or hear the term "grid", you might think of supercomputers, but in this case we are talking about information that is accessible from different interconnected locations. I've mentioned GMAS before in my posts [Blocks, Files and Content Addressable Storage and What Happened to CAS?] but I thought I would provide more detail on the elements of the solution.
Medical imaging equipment are called "modalities", which is just fancy hospital talk for "method of treatment".These have Ethernet connections designed to write to any storage with a CIFS or NFS interface. For example, press the button on the "X-ray" machine, and the digitized version of the X-ray is stored as a file to whatever NAS storage on the other end.
[Picture Archiving and Communication System] refer to the application and the computer equipment to manage these medical images, often stored in a DICOM format and indexed with HL7 metadata headers. There are many PACS vendors, GE Medical Systems, Siemens Medical, Agfa, Fuji, Philips, Kodak, Stentor, Emageon, Brit Systems, Mckesson, Amicus, Cerner, Medweb and Teramedica, to name a few. Many PACS providers embedded specific storage as part of their solution, but now are starting to realize that they need to be part of a larger storage infrastructure.
IBM System Storage [Multi-Level Grid Access Manager] is softwareon IBM System x servers that manages access across the grid of inter-connected hospitals, clinics and imaging facilities. It provides the NFS and CIFS interfaces to the modalities, and places the data into a GPFS file system on DS4000 series disk.
GPFS and DS4000 series disk
IBM [General Parallel File System] has all the Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) capabilities to move data from one disk storage level to another, automates deletion based on expiration date, and can provide concurrent access from multiple requesters.The IBM System Storage DS4000 series disk products can support both high-speed FC disk as well as low-cost SATA disk.For large medical images, the SATA disk is often a good fit. The advantage of GPFS is that you can have policies todecide which images are placed on FC disk, and which on SATA, and then later move these files based on access reference. Images that are accessed the most frequently can be on FC disk, and those that haven't been accessed in a while on SATA disk.
TSM space management
IBM [Tivoli Storage Manager for Space Management] supports moving files out of the GPFS file system and onto tape, based on policies. For example,keep the most recent 18 months on disk, and anything older than that gets moved to tape. This is similar to themigrate/recall technology used in DFSMShsm on the mainframe.
Tape Library automation
Before GMAS, paper and film images had to be retrieved manually from shelves and filing cabinets. The massive amountsof data being stored, and for such long periods of time, makes it impractical to store all of it on disk. With tape automation, any medical image more than 18 months old can be retrieved in minutes. Patients with an appointment can have all of their medical images retrieved in bulk the night before. Emergency room patients can have previous images retrieved while admission clerks check for insurance coverage and perform triage.
Images archived on the IBM GMAS are accessible in numerous ways. For example, all clinicians can access GMAS through hospital record system, which provides complete paperless and filmless access to the patient record including medical images, lab results, radiology reports, and pharmacy records. Medical workers at any location can also access the grid using their Web browsers. This allows each employee to use the display systems they are already familiar with.
Unlike disk-only based NAS systems, IBM's blended disk-and-tape approach makes this a much more cost-effective solution.For more details on IBM GMAS, read this 6-page[Frost & Sullivan whitepaper].