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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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Last week, I was in São Paulo, Brazil for IBM Systems Technical University.
Luciana and Marilia
While I speak Spanish fluently, my Brazilian Portuguese is a bit rusty, so I was asked to present in English language, and let these two real-time translators, Luciana and Marilia, speak on my behalf.
A big challenge is that English is a terse language, but Brazilian Portuguese is more verbose. It takes more syllables, and thus more time, to perform real-time translation. I have learned to pause at the end of each sentence to give a chance for my translators to catch up.
Servers (2 syllables)
Servidores (4 syllables)
Storage (2 syllables)
Armazenamento (6 syllables)
In this table, you can see that some technical terms take more syllables in Brazilian Portuguese than English. Often, I heard the local speakers just say "Servers" or "Storage" for convenience.
Here is my recap of breakout sessions on Day 1.
IBM Storage Trends and Directions
Alcides Bertazi, IBM Executive IT Specialist, presented the latest in Storage Trends and Directions.
Introduction to Object Storage and its Applications
This session had three sections. First, I covered an overview of what "Object Storage" was in general, how this differs from traditional block or file storage approaches.
Second, I explained what is unique and different of IBM Cloud Object Storage System, formerly called DsNet from Cleversafe. IBM acquired Cleversafe in 2015.
Third, I explained the various applications, use cases and industries that can take advantage of Object Storage.
IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management for Beginners
Eduardo Tomaz, IBM Client Technical Sales for Software Defined Storage solutions, presented an overview of IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management (CDM), the newest member of the IBM Spectrum Storage family.
IBM Spectrum Protect Update
Rosane Lagnor, IBM Certified IT Specialist - Storage Consultant Lab Services, and her two colleagues co-presented this session on the latest of IBM Spectrum Protect. The review went chronologically, from v7.1.4 introduced in late 2015, all the way to v8.1.1 release, the latest generally available.
(Note: IBM just announced v8.1.2 but is not generally available yet in Brazil.)
I managed to understand the local speakers in their native Brazilian Portuguese language. In many cases, the charts were in English language, so I was able to read in English what I may not have understood was spoken.
This month, IBM Tucson Development Lab is celebrating 40 year anniversary! IBM has been operating in Arizona for the past 70 years, and of course IBM has been in the storage business for the past 90 years if you consider "punched cards" as storage on paper.
This year also marks the 40 year anniversary of DFHSM, the first product I worked on when I started here back in 1986. DFHSM stands for the Data Facility Hierarchical Storage Manager, which effectively moves data between disk and tape storage.
IBM put up two banners to celebrate! The first was for IBM Enterprise Tape storage. My first question was "What are punched cards doing on a banner for magnetic tape?"
A bit of history will explain that the first tape storage was non-magnetic. Back in 1725, Basile Bouchon developed the control of a loom by punched holes in paper tape. These were used to create intricate patterns in woven cloth.
In the late 1880s, Herman Hollerith, a young technical whiz at the US Census Bureau, had an idea for a machine that could count and sort census results far faster than human clerks. The bureau funded Hollerith’s work, and the [first tabulating machines] helped count the 1890 census, saving the bureau several years’ work and more than US$5 million.
Hollerith left the bureau to form the Tabulating Machine Company, selling his system to other countries’ census offices and then to businesses such as railroads and retailers. Hollerith had little competition, and his machines and punched cards became the standard for the industry.
In 1911, financier Charles Flint bought the Tabulating Machine Company and merged it with the International Time Recording Company and the Computing Scale Company of America to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, or C-T-R, later renamed IBM in 1924.
In 1928, IBM introduced a new version of the punched card with rectangular holes and 80 columns. The 80-character standard was used from everything from the first computer screens, to the first file layouts
It wasn't until 1952 that the first magnetic tape system hit the scene: the IBM model 726. Tape reels were the size of pizzas, and were prominently shown spinning around in various Hollywood movies to represent computers "working" on a problem.
In my now infamous 2007 post [Hu Yoshida should know better], I explain the 3850 Mass Storage System (MSS). In 1974, The IBM 3850 MSS was one of the first hybrid disk-and-tape storage systems. It was an automated tape library pretending to be disk, with tape cartridges stored in hexagonal honeycomb shelves. The tape cartridges were cylindrical, about the size of a can of soda. The spool of 770 feet of tape media held just 5MB of data.
A full IBM 3850 MSS configuration with thousands of tape cartridges was used for the 1980 US Census, holding 102 GB database, representing the data collected about 226.5 million U.S. residents. That's about 450 bytes per resident, enough to fill six punched cards.
The second banner was for IBM Enterprise Disk storage.
IBM introduced the IT industry's first commercial disk system in 1956. While the banner says "RAMAC 305", that is the name of the server. The storage system was called the [350 Disk Storage Unit]. It was the size of two refrigerators and held 5 MB of data.
In the early 1990s, I visited a client in Germany that had a 3990 controller with two 3390 disk systems attached, holding 90 GB of data in the size of three refrigerators. They had five storage administrators to manage this configuration.
A few years later at another client, they had roughly 7000 GB (7 TB) of data on their mainframe, and an equal amount across all of their Windows and UNIX servers. I met with their storage administrators, there were two for the mainframe, and about three dozen for the distributed servers.
I had two questions for them. First, why were there two storage admins for the mainframe? The mature policy-based automation on the platform would mean only one person required. Their response: when one of us is on a two-week vacation, the other can handle the workload.
My second question was for the remaining storage admins: When was the last time any of you took a two-week vacation? None had, of course, since the storage administration tools back then meant they were all working overtime on various tedious and manual tasks!
In February 2006, the folks in IBM Germany asked the IBM Storage Marketing team what events or celebration were planned for September 13, 2016, the 50 year anniversary of disk. My marketing colleagues responded, "that is only seven months away, you didn't give us enough lead time notice to plan!"
Last week, I was in Hollywood Florida for the IBM Systems Technical University. Here is my recap of day 1.
Introduction to IBM Cloud Object Storage (powered by CleverSafe)
For the first session of the week, at 8:30am in the morning, this was a surprisingly interactive session. I had lots of questions from the attendees.
This session was organized into three sections. First, a general overview of "Object Storage" that can be accessed via HTTP over TCP/IP networks, and how this is different from traditional block or file storage.
Second, a review of the architecture and features of IBM Cloud Object Storage, and how these can be deployed on-premises, in a hybrid cloud configuration, or use in the public IBM Cloud.
Third, how to use IBM Cloud Object Storage for various use cases, including programming languages that support object storage, NAS gateways, and backup software like IBM Spectrum Protect.
Opening Session: Storage Panel of Experts
The opening session started out with an introduction of Calline Sanchez, the new Vice President for IBM Systems Lab Services.
This was followed by something completely different. Mo McCullough acted asked a panel of experts a series of questions, combined with recommended sessions that support each solution. We had the following experts, shown here sitting from left to right in the photo:
Clod Barrera, IBM CTO for Storage
Kelly Groff, Senior offering manager for FlashSystem
Jack Arnold, Security Specialist for U.S. Federal Systems
Brian Sherman, IBM Washington Systems Center
Tony Pearson (yes that is me on the far right)
The session was then wrapped up by Mario Franzone, manager of Technical Events, showing off the latest features of the "IBM TechU" mobile app, which provides the agenda, maps, and other useful information to navigate the conference smoothly.
IBM Hybrid Cloud and Multicloud Storage Solutions
This was previously called IBM Hybrid Cloud Storage Solutions, but now that many clients choose to have multiple different cloud configurations, I added "Multicloud" to the mix.
I organized this talk into five sections:
Archiving less active storage to the Cloud
Hybrid Cloud configurations for backups and snapshots
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Daily Operations, Reporting and Analytics
Production applications in the Hybrid Cloud
I added some slides near the end of my talk about IBM Cloud Private. IBM Spectrum Access blueprints with IBM Spectrum Connect provide interfaces for persistent storage for VMware, Microsoft, Cloud Foundry and Docker Containers.
This was a good way to start the week! Attendees were thankful that they had missed Hurricane Michael that swept through Florida the week before. The red tide had abated, and wind speeds were back to normal levels.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements! There were a lot of IBM Power System announcements on Tuesday, so the IBM Power team asked us to wait until Thursday to post about all of the IBM storage announcements, to avoid overwhelming excitement levels with the press and analysts.
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM. I have either worked on the code, developed marketing materials, and/or represented each of the products below in my professional capacity. This blog post can be considered a "paid celebrity endorsement")
A few months ago, IBM re-factored its internals. Spectrum Virtualize will continue to support its legacy storage pools, but also offered "Data Reduction Pools", or "DR pools" for short. At the time, this supported only Thin Provisioning and Compression. See fellow blogger Barry Whyte's post on [Data Reduction Pools] for more details.
Spectrum Virtualize 8.1.3 release now adds Data Duplication and RESTful API support for the Spectrum Virtualize family, including SAN Volume Controller, FlashSystem V9000 and Storwize products. These features also apply to Spectrum Virtualize as software only, and to Spectrum Virtualize for the Public Cloud.
Data Deduplication is a form of data footprint reduction. Like the deduplication in Spectrum Protect and FlashSystem A9000/R products, Spectrum Virtualize will use SHA1 hash codes to identify duplicate 8K blocks. If the hash code of the block about to be written does not match any existing hash code previously written to the cluster, it is considered unique data.
Legacy storage pools supported three kinds of volumes: fully-allocated, thin-provisioned, and compressed-thin volumes. The new DR pools support five kinds: fully-allocated, thin-provisioned, deduped-thin, compressed-thin, and deduped-compressed-thin volumes.
The new deduplication feature is included at no additional charge with the base Spectrum Virtualize license.
The RESTful API enables storage admins to easily automate common tasks with industry-standard tools. RestAPI support is available to interface with the command-line interface (CLI), create vDisk volumes and generate views normally available through the CLI, and secure authentication to the IBM Spectrum Virtualize family.
The SAN Volume Controller, FlashSystem V9000 and Storwize family now also support 12TB drives for internal storage. These are 7200 rpm 3.5 inch drives that can be in the 2U 12-bay or 5U 92-bay expansion drawers, or directly in the 12-bay Storwize controllers. Spectrum Virtualize 7.8.1 is the minimum level to support these high-capacity disks.
IBM Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud, available on IBM Cloud, has been enhanced to support a full eight node cluster (four node-pairs, or "I/O Groups" as they are called). This can be used as a target for remote mirror from your Spectrum Virtualize cluster on premises.
IBM offers data footprint reduction, high availability, and technical refresh guarantee programs for these products. See Ernie Pitt's blog post on [Peace of Mind with IBM Storage].
IBM Spectrum Scale 5.0 is highly scalable file and object storage system. It is available as software, pre-built appliances, and in the Cloud.
The pre-built appliances are called "Elastic Storage Server", combining Spectrum Scale software on two IBM Power servers with drawers of flash or disk drives.
IBM introduces two new "Hybrid" models to the ESS family. GH14 has one 2U drawer with 24 Solid State Drives (SSD) combined with four 5U drawers with 7200rpm spinning disk. The GH2R has two 2U drawers with four 5U drawers.
Like the GS models, the SSD are either 3.84TB or 15.3TB capacities. The 5U drawers are similar to those in the GL models, either 4TB, 8TB or 10TB capacities.
A new Enterprise Slim Rack (S42) is now available to hold these. The S42 is available for all ESS orders, including the GS, GL and new GH models.
IBM has shortened the name of "Spectrum Control Storage Insights" to just "Storage Insights" and made it available in two flavors: Storage Insights, and Storage Insights Pro.
Storage Insights is a no-cost cloud Artificial Intelligence (AI) service that provides common monitoring capabilities to all of your IBM block-level storage, including IBM FlashSystem, SAN Volume Controller (SVC), Storwize, DS8000 models and IBM XIV Storage Systems. Here are some of the capabilities offered:
View the health, performance, and capacity of all your IBM-supported devices from a single place
Filter storage device events to help you focus on the things that require your immediate attention
Act on predictive insights provided by device intelligence before anomalies have an impact on service levels
Use actionable data you get to resolve more issues on your own
Open and view IBM support tickets
Enable IBM Support to automatically collect log packages with no interaction with the client
IBM Storage Insights Pro includes everything in Storage Insights as well as these additional capabilities. This is a fee-based cloud service, licensed per TiB per month, for the added functionality:
Business impact analysis
Data placement optimization with tier planning
Capacity optimization with reclamation planning
Supports file and object storage, including IBM Spectrum Scale, Elastic Storage Server (ESS), and IBM Cloud Object Storage (IBM COS)
Both Storage Insights and Storage Insights Pro use a "data collector" that runs on premises. This can be any bare metal server or Virtual Machine running Windows, Linux or AIX operating system connected to the SAN, with access to the Internet to upload the data to the IBM Cloud.
If you have IBM block storage today, there is no reason not to try this out. You can download the "data collector" and start using Storage Insights right away. If you like it, consider upgrading to Storage Insights Pro, or the full on-premise Spectrum Control product.
I was in Hollywood Florida for the IBM Systems Technical University. Here is my recap of the final two days, day 4 and 5.
The Pendulum Swings Back: Understanding Converged and Hyperconverged Systems
Once again, I presented my popular session on converged and hyperconverged systems. For converged, IBM offers IBM PureApplication systems with Power and x86 servers, as well as partnership with Cisco called VersaStack. Both support IBM Cloud Private as a platform for running applications.
For Hyperconverged, IBM offers Spectrum Accelerate and Spectrum Scale, as well as partnerships with SuperMicro that combines Spectrum Accelerate on SuperMicro x86 servers, and partnership with Nutanix for CS-models of Power servers pre-installed with Nutanix software.
Unlike other converged and hyperconverged solutions that act as isolated islands of compute and storage, IBM's solutions can be incorporated into an existing datacenter with IBM Cloud Private for orchestration, and IBM Spectrum Scale to provide common access to data.
The Seven Tiers of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
With all the natural disasters that happened last year in the USA, and the more recent ones all over the world, this session continues to draw a crowd.
The seven tiers range from the least expensive to most expensive. The least expensive involves restoring data from tapes stored in an offsite vault. Tape continues to be the least expensive storage medium, and can be used to bring up a company in a few days.
For faster recovery, there are options like electronic vaulting to virtual tape libraries, and now the use of Cloud storage for ubiquitous access to data from different locations.
Snapshots of entire volumes, virtual machines or databases are also quite popular. IBM offers IBM Spectrum Protect Snapshot, Spectrum Protect Plus, and Spectrum Copy Data Management for this.
Faster recovery is possible with remote mirroring. This involves sending all of the updates to a secondary location. In the event of a disaster, clients can switch processing with the data already there. IBM has over 800 clients able to do just that in less than 30 minutes.
Event Night by the Pool
Photography by Mo Reyes
While Hurricane Michael raged in upper Florida the week prior, the event coordinators were a bit nervous to offer an evening dinner event by the pool, but the weather cooperated!
Photography by Mo Reyes
I was a social butterfly, moving from table to table to talk to all of the various attendees. A light breeze and excellent food and music made for an enjoyable night!
The pool reception went on to about 10:00pm at night. IBM had lit up its logo into the pools for a great view from above. Perhaps just 30 minutes after arriving back to my hotel room, we had quite the thunderstorm! How incredibly lucky this did not happen during the event!
The following day, I presented my session on "Managing Risk with Data Footprint Reduction, a repeat of the session I did earlier that week.
This was a pleasant way to end the week! Aside from the heat and humidity being above average for October, it was a beautiful hotel in a lovely city.
Back then, IBM allowed its employees the option to run Windows, Linux or Mac OS. Since then, dual-boot Windows/Linux configurations, like the one I had back then on my Thinkpad T410, proved too difficult for our help desk, so these are no longer allowed.
In 2015, I received my new Thinkpad T440p to replace the old T410 model. For those 20 to 25 percent of the IBM employee population that manage, support and connect directly to client networks, IBM required Linux encrypted with LUKS, using Windows as KVM guests when needed for specific applications. This is more secure than running Windows natively, preventing viruses and other malware to spread between IBM and its clients.
As I am occasionally asked to help out our colleagues in lab services or with critical situations, I decided to implement my laptop to match, just in case. RHEL is rock solid, and running Windows as KVM guests could not be easier. Not having to worry about Windows viruses while travelling on business is a huge benefit as well.
Upgrading from RHEL 6.1 all the way up to RHEL 6.9 was simply a push of a button, all the new applications and kernel get installed, followed by a quick reboot. The migration from RHEL 6.9 to RHEL 7.4, however, was a major undertaking.
In past migrations, I was moving from a working laptop to a second laptop, affording me to be fully productive on the old machine until I was ready to cut over. In this case, I am performing a fresh install on my existing machine. To avoid any problems or delays, I wrote myself an 8-page, 17 step migration plan to capture all the tasks I needed to do to minimize the impact to my productivity.
(Of cousre, IBM has a help desk. You hand over your laptop, they backup the home directory, wipe your system clean, fresh install, restore your home directory, and return the laptop to you 3-5 days later, leaving the rest of the tasks up to you. Basically, this would merely replace the first three of my 17 steps below. I did not feel like burdening our help desk, nor wait 3-5 days without a laptop!)
Here were my steps:
Backup my existing system
In addition to backing up all my individual files to the Cloud, I also used [Clonezilla] to create a full image backup of my 500GB drive to an external USB drive.
Not all data is in file form. I also exported my browser bookmarks, so that I could import them back later. I also ran an "rpm -qa" to get a list of my existing applications installed.
Initially, I thought to format the 4TB external drive in UDF format, which is readable by Windows, Linux and Mac OS and supports files that are larger than 4GB in size.
Not knowing whether I should use [ExFAT] or Universal Disk Format [UDF] format, I split the 4TB into two 1.9TB partitions, and formatted one as ExFAT, and the other as UDF. Both formats support files greater than 4GB in size, which I have, but I discovered that on the older RHEL 6.9 release, based on a 2.6 Linux kernel, you can only write 68GB of data to a UDF partition. This is fixed in later kernels, but doesn't help me with my existing RHEL 6.9 release.
Fortunately, the latest Clonezilla LiveCD chops up the cloned images into files small enough that you can write to a variety of formats, and has a newer kernel that allows writing the full capacity of UDF partition.
In a crisis, I can restore back to RHEL 6.9 within 2 hours. This was my "relief valve" if I encountered any major delays and had to go travel for business on short notice.
Fresh install of RHEL 7.4 Linux
This completely wipes clean my drive, and installs two partitions. A tiny "/boot" partition needed to boot the system, and the remaining drive capacity as a large LUKS-encrypted LVM, to be internally partitioned between "/" and "swap" logical volumes.
Copy all of my files back
The challenge is that some files might clobber some of the configurations of the new applications. For this reason, I created /home/tpearson/RHEL69 and put everything there, so that I can move them to the correct locations as appropriate.
Copying all the files back in this manner eliminated having to be tethered to the external USB drive.
Setup LAN connectivity
I have to connect to IBM and guest systems, so this configuration is important. This includes EAP, TLS and VPN configurations. I thought I could just re-use the certificates I have for RHEL 6.9, but no, I had to create and register fresh new certificates for RHEL 7.4 release.
Configure Cinnamon Desktop
RHEL 7.4 uses Gnome 3 by default, which is quite different than Gnome2 used in RHEL 6.9 release. I don't care for it, so I configured [Cinnamon desktop] instead. Many people who use Linux Mint or Ubuntu might be familiar with this, and for those switching from Windows or RHEL 6.9 Linux, Cinnamon has familiar "Start" button in lower left corner.
By default, our RHEL 7.4 image comes with Firefox and Chrome browsers, so all I needed to do was import the bookmarks that I had exported in step 1 above.
Configure KVM guests
I was able to bring over my Windows7 Kernel-Virtual Machine [KVM] from RHEL 6.9 and run without problems, but this was bloated and now consuming nearly 60GB of space. Therefore, I decided to get a fresh Windows7 and Windows10 guest images instead.
Like with Linux, I wrote down what applications I had installed on Windows, and used that to configure the Windows guests. Nearly everything I do runs natively on Linux, but I do use Microsoft Office (Powerpoint, Excel, Word) and a nice tool called [CutePDF] that allows me to print to PDF instead of an actual printer.
Windows10 comes with the "Print-to-PDF" feature built-in, so no need for CutePDF on that one.
Configure IBM Notes, Sametime and Gnote
IBM is a heavy user of [IBM Notes] (formerly called Lotus Notes), not just for email but also for its document management and database capabilities. Sametime is our "Instant Messenger" app. [Gnote] is a linux-based tool to store short notes, I use it for all of my email templates for quick copy-and-paste responses.
IBM recently made using printers super easy. Print to the common "Cloud printer", and then pick up your print-outs from any printer in the building, any IBM building, worldwide. I could print in Tucson, for example, and pick up my print-outs when I am in the IBM buildings in Austin, Texas!
I also had to configure my printer at home, for those days where I need to print a boarding pass or quick document.
Configure File Sharing
IBM has deployed IBM [Spectrum Scale] internally for employees to share files across the company called "Global Storage Architecture" (GSA). Configuration for me just meant having to find my local cell (tucgsa) for Tucson, and entering my credentials.
Install Docker and DSX Desktop
[DSX Desktop] is the local laptop version of IBM's cloud-based [Data Science Experience], allowing me to perform Hadoop and Spark analytics for the various projects I work on. It runs as a Docker container, so I had to configure Docker as well.
Install Multimedia Codecs
One of the big detractors for Linux, compared to Windows or Mac OS, is the lack of multimedia support. Linux distros, like Red Hat, don't ship with these pre-installed, leaving this as an exercise for the end user.
IBM does a lot of audio and video files, including replays of conference calls and webinars for internal training. I keep a collection of different audio and video files to ensure that I have everything configured correctly for proper playback.
Install GIMP and other software
The GNU Image Manipulation Program [GIMP] is a great tool for quick editing of graphics. Another tool, Inkscape is designed for vector graphics.
Configure file-level backup
In addition to doing full-volume image backups with Clonezilla, I back up individual files, which are sent over the IBM internal network to a central server. All I need is configure to my previous backup set, and create the appropriate include/exclude list.
Many employees might just back up their home directory, but I customize a lot of the Linux configuration, so I like to backup a few more directories. Here is what I choose to back up:
Congigure Grub2 boot configuration
RHEL 7.4 supports [Grub2], which allows you to boot iso files directly. I like to add Clonezilla and [SystemRescueCD] as boot options. These were simple enough to add, just follow instructions, copy files to the /boot directory, and create a menuentry for each.
Validate final configuration
After eight days, I have finally completed all these steps, and am able to validate that everything is working correctly. I did some sample workflows, such as:
Verify that I can launch Windows KVM guest, edit Powerpoint presentation, and print to PDF file.
Verify that I can open email, launching embedded URL links, and copy-and-paste templates from Gnote
Launch GIMP, verify that I can edit graphics, and import the results in a Powerpoint presentation.
Download and play a Webinar replay MP4 file
Fresh Clone of full volume image
Using the Clonezilla that I added to the Grub2 boot menu, I am able to backup my full 500GB drive. At this point, I will keep the RHEL 6.9 for a few weeks as emergency backup, but so far, everything seems to be working just fine.
This took longer than I expected, but am happy with the final result. Red Hat is rock-solid, and the new RHEL 7.4 allows me to run DSX Desktop, Windows 10, and some other applications that were not available on our previous RHEL 6.9 build.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM, and have either written code and/or presented the DS8000 storage system and Spectrum Storage products in my professional capacity. This blog post can be considered a "paid celebrity endorsement" for the IBM DS8000 Storage System and Spectrum Storage software.)
IBM DS8880 and DS8880F Storage Systems
For those not up on the DS8000 nomenclature, here's a quick recap:
DS8880 supports a hybrid mix of Flash cards, SSD, 15K, 10K and 7200 rpm drives.
This includes the DS8884 and DS8886. The Flash cards are held in High Performance Flash Enclosures (HPFE) directly attached to the controllers, whereas the SSD and spinning disk are in shelves connected via the Device Adapters.
DS8880F is an all-flash array, with Flash cards only in HPFE. This includes the DS8884F, DS8886F and DS8888F models.
DS8880/F is convenient shorthand to refer to both the hybrid and all-flash models collectively.
Today, IBM announces new 7.68TB flash cards for the High Performance Flash Enclosures of the IBM DS8880/F. These are double the capacity of the 3.84TB cards currently available, doubling the total capacity to 368.6TB per HPFE.
Different DS8880 models support a different number of HPFE. An HPFE is a pair of 2U drawers, holding a total of 48 flash cards. You can purchase flash in groups of 16 cards, with the option to mix and match within the HPFE. For example, you can have 16 cards at the 1.6TB capacity, 16 cards with 3.68TB and 16 cards of the new 7.68TB capacity, all in a single HPFE.
The new 7.68TB support 1 Drive Write Per Day (DWPD). Some people call these "Read-Intensive" drives, but IBM refers to them as "High-Capacity Drives", to differentiate them from the "High Performance Drives" that support 10 DWPD.
In reality, the read performance is similar in both types of Flash cards offered, but the write performance is slightly slower for the High-Capacity drives due in part to additional garbage collection performed in the background. Our studies found that over 90 percent of workloads might find the High-Capacity drives good enough to handle I/O requirements.
IBM Easy Tier was updated to distinguish between High-Performance and High-Capacity flash cards, so that blocks of data that have higher or lower I/O characteristics will be relocated to the appropriate level of storage.
The newest level of IBM Spectrum Storage Suite simplifies procurement by bringing together the latest releases of the following software:
IBM Spectrum Accelerate V11
IBM Spectrum Archive Enterprise Edition V1 (Linux edition)
IBM Spectrum Control Advanced Edition V5
IBM Spectrum Protect Suite V8 (including Spectrum Protect Plus!)
IBM Spectrum Scale Data Management Edition V5
IBM Spectrum Virtualize Software for SAN Volume Controller V8 (including FlashCopy and Remote Mirror, Real-time Compression and Encryption Software)
IBM Spectrum Virtualize Software-only V8
IBM Cloud Object Storage System V3
Instead of buying software products separately, a single license enables administrators to deploy IBM Spectrum Storage Suite software when and where they need it, without having to wait. Simplified capacity pricing can significantly reduce software costs and time spent on license management.
The Spectrum Storage suite also offers a "sandbox" approach for try-and-buy. Since you have access to all the software listed, you can set up a sandbox to experiment with the functionality, without having to pay for the added capacity, until you deploy it to dev/test, quality assurance, or production.
The suite is licensed per Tebibyte [TiB]. For those not familiar with international standards, here is a comparison table:
Always decimal, 10 to the 12th power
Always binary, 2 to the 40th power
The two terms sound similar and represent nearly the same quantity within 10 percent of each other, so it is understandable when people mistakenly use the terms interchangeably.
From farm to fork, IBM Food Trust platform is a collaborative network of growers, processors, wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers, retailers and others enhancing visibility and accountability in each step of the food supply.
Powered by the IBM Blockchain Platform on IBM servers and storage systems, IBM Food Trust directly connects participants through a permissioned, permanent and shared record of food origin details, processing data, shipping details and more.
(This reminds me of a funny story: the man sitting next to me on my flight back from an IBM Systems conference in New Orleans asked me, "You look familiar. Didn't I see you at the conference this week?" I responded "Yes, were you there for the "server" or "storage" side?" He thought about it for a while, and said "I guess the server side". "Too bad", I replied, "I am on the storage side."
It took us a while, but I realized he worked in the food and restaurant industry, and that he was at a completely different conference. It happened to also have both a "server" and "storage" side!)
The IBM Food Trust platform provides new levels of transparency, quicker recalls, better standardized communication and protection of brand value. As an authorized user, you have immediate access to shared, actionable food supply data through integrated IBM Blockchain-powered modules for faster traceability and more confidence in provenance.
Today, IBM announces new services to enable clients to successfully connect to and make use of the IBM Food Trust Platform.
Last week, I was in São Paulo, Brazil for IBM Systems Technical University. With over 12 million people, it is the most-populous city in the Americas. Our venue was the Club Med Lake Paradise resort on the outskirts of town. We had about 700 attendees.
We had several local speakers do the opening session. Here is my recap:
Marcelo Porto, IBM General Manager for Brazil
This year, IBM Brazil celebrates 100 year anniversary. This all happened because Valentim Boucas persuaded IBM then-President Thomas Watson, Sr. to approve the establishment of a Rio de Janeiro office for the sale of IBM machines beginning in 1917.
For 100 years now, IBM has thrived with a set of core values. In every era in the past, IBM systems have been perfect for the business needs at the time, from punch cards to personal computers. But what got us here won't get us there in the future. The biggest challenge to transformation is people and culture. We must break the chains that hold us to the past. IBM drives disruption.
To prepare for the future, Marcelo recommended the following. First, learn English, because the English language is the "API of Business". Second, keep a curious mind. Seek out new things to learn. The new world needs skills and expertise in a variety of areas. Third, watch the movie "Hidden Figures", starring the IBM mainframe computer.
IBM Watson computer now speaks and understands Brazilian Portuguese language. Groupo Fleury uses Watson for genomics research. MRV Engineering uses this for chatbots. Mae de deus Hospital uses this for Oncology, as cancer patients now dominate the percentage of patients there. Walmart uses Blockchain to focus on food safety.
IBM Watson is used at Pinacoteca de São Paulo Museum to offer "Voz de Arte", the ability to ask IBM Watson about each painting in handheld smartphone devices. An example of this was available in the Solution Center.
In addition to natural language processing (NLP), IBM Watson can also do image recognition, a task normally only humans could do.
Watson can validate signatures, perform facial recognition at different angles, and even identify shirts, pants and shoes of fashion models in photographs.
Companies and organizations that are unable to transform data into insights and business decisions will fail.
Mauro D'Angelo, IBM Strategy and Business Development for Brazil
Why are companies like Uber and Airbnb successful? Mauro felt that it was because they had a proper Cloud infrastructure combined with the right data architecture.
(In this case, "success" is based on company valuation, often billions of US dollars. However, many of these companies are not profitable, losing millions of dollars in an aggressive effort to gain customers and establish their platform. It might take 12 to 24 months before a new customer becomes profitable.)
The data explosion is driving digital transformation. Cognitive systems must understand natural language, reason, learn and interact with humans. Machine Learning is much like training a puppy. You need to reward good behavior and fix bad behavior, and be patient, as it takes a long time.
In USA, patients asking Doctors for a diagnosis get only 50 percent correct on first consultation. Often, additional doctors or additional tests are needed to finally get correct assessments. In Brazil, it is probably less than 50 percent. Hopefully, Watson will help improve this.
Watson can also detect emotional tone and personality in social media. Is a customer angry? This could help prioritize which customer issues to address first.
Schools have not changed since the days of Aristotle. Mauro showed a picture of a school taken in 1934, and a picture of the same classroom, taken recently, showing it is nearly the same. Students want to learn anytime, anywhere, and from any channel.
At Georgia Tech University, a professor told his engineering students that there were nine "Teacher Assistants" (TAs) available to help answer questions online. One of these was [Jill Watson], which was the IBM Watson computer responding to the students. The students could not tell that Jill was not human!
In traditional schools, a teacher may reach only 50 to 60 students. Compare this to [Khan Academy] that offers video instruction that have had over 1.3 million views!
Frank Koja, IBM Systems Vice President for Brazil
When you buy something over the internet, what is your decision criteria? Often, it is lowest cost. Digital transformation often requires re-invention.
Trust beats risk. The new IBM z14 mainframe focuses on trust, with end-to-end encryption, Blockchain and Machine Learning. zHyperLink drastically improves the connection between mainframe and IBM DS8880 storage. IBM is helping over 400 clients adopting Blockchain.
The FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R models are 30x faster than traditional disk systems, and more dense, able to consolidate 20 racks down to one.
The new "PowerAI" bundle combines together a complete offering for Machine Learning and Deep Learning (ML/DL) for Power systems, taking advantage of GPU and NVlink capabilities.
The "waitless" world has arrived.
This was a good start for the conference. The three speakers of the opening session were passionate of what they were talking about, and people were excited to learn more as the week progressed.
Last week, I was in São Paulo, Brazil for IBM Systems Technical University.
Did the resort ask these two security guards to dress up as clowns? No, it turns out these were clowns dressed up as security guards! On other days, they were dressed in drag as housewives, or as Jamaican Rastafari in dreadlocks and tie-dyed tee shirts. Some of the attendees enjoyed their comic relief.
Here is my recap of Day 3 breakout sessions:
Demystifying Transparent Cloud Tiering for DS8000 and DFSMShsm
Ricardo Alan, IBM Client Technical Specialist, covered this recently announced synergy between DS8000 firmware and DFSMShsm, a part of the z/OS operating system for IBM Z mainframes.
(Historical note: I started my career as a software engineer for DFHSM, which was later renamed DFSMShsm, working my way up to lead architect for DFSMShsm, and later as chief architect for DFSMS overall. A good portion of my 19 patents are related to these products.)
Since the 1970s, mainframe clients were able to move less active data from expensive disk storage to lower cost tape media. DFSMShsm would be read data sets into the mainframe processor, chop them up into 16KB blocks, and then write them out to tape, often through an automated tape library.
Transparent Cloud Tiering introduces an alternative option. DFSMShsm now identifies which tracks of data need to be re-located, sends the request to IBM DS8000 storage device, and the IBM DS8000 sends the tracks as objects to the Cloud. Any application that references these data sets would automatically trigger a recall to bring the data back from the Cloud.
This feature is available for the DS8870 and DS8880 models, using the existing Ethernet ports already installed. No additional hardware is required. Enhancements to DFSMShsm will be rolled out via SPEs on z/OS releases. Initially, the system uses OpenStack Swift object protocol, but IBM has plans to support Amazon S3 protocol as well.
Data Migration Challenges and Solutions with IBM Enterprise Storage
Sidney Varoni Jr. presented this session on data migration methods. Data is migrated for three reasons. First, to re-balance across multiple storage arrays. If you bring in a new storage array, you often want to move data from older arrays to balance the workload.
The second reason is to get rid of old hardware altogether, you need to migrate the data to new hardware. With Dell acquisition of EMC, for example, many clients are using tools like TDMF to move data off of EMC and onto IBM DS8000 storage systems. IBM DS8000 storage systems are faster, easier to use and less expensive to operate from a total cost of ownership (TCO) than comparable capacity of EMC VMAX devices.
The third reason is to migrate from one data center to another. The average data center was built 10-15 years ago, and many no longer meet the needs and requirements of newer IT operations. Some clients are building new data centers, while others are moving their data to co-location facilities.
NVMe Over Fabrics: The next evolution in high performance for SSD interfaces is NVMe
Waner Dall Averde, Territory Representative from Brocade, presented this session on NVMe and NVMe Over Fabric (NVMeOF). As a joke, he showed this chart in Japanese.
(Fun Fact: The first Japanese immigrants arrived in Brazil in 1908. Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside Japan. Source: Wikipedia)
For the past 20 years, the Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) served as the communication mechanism to send SCSI commands to SAS and SATA disk devices.
Unfortunately, AHCI is now the bottleneck between faster servers and faster Non-Volatile Memory such as Flash and Solid State Drive (SSD) storage devices. It only supports a handful of commands on a single command queue.
NVMe offers a replacement for the SCSI command set. It can support up to 64,000 commands on as many as 64,000 parallel command queues. Designed for 32 Gbps PCIe bus speeds, it is faster than traditional 6 Gbps and 12 Gbps SAS connections, reducing latency by 200 microseconds.
Unfortunately, PCIe cables are limited to just a few inches. PCIe Gen 1 supported 15 inches, PCIe Gen 2 supported 12 inches, and PCIe Gen 3 only 8 inches. To provide greater distances, NVMeOF allows the NVMe command set to be carried over long-distance networks, such as Ethernet, Infiniband or Fibre Channel.
Brocade Gen5 (16 Gbps) and Gen6 (32 and 128 Gbps) Fibre Channel switches and directors already support NVMeOF, and are designed to allow co-existence between NVMe and SCSI commands for smooth transition in mixed environments. Clients can buy their networking gear directly from IBM.
IBM Power Systems Flash Cache Acceleration
Petra Bührer, IBM Offering Manager for Power Systems software, explained recent the performance enhancement called "Flash Cache Acceleration".
This is a feature on POWER8 servers running AIX 7.1 TL4 SP2, AIX 7.2 TL0 SP0 – or higher. By using internal or direct-attach SSD, the operating system can cache most active blocks of data from external storage systems.
While this is certified for use with Oracle, it supports only single-instance databases. Oracle RAC and other active/active configurations are not supported at this time.
The Secret to IBM Disk Encryption - Deep Dive
As if Mo McCullough, one of the event coordinators for this conference, was not busy enough with keeping the conference going, he also gave technical presentations.
With the excitement over the IBM z14 end-to-end encryption announcement, there has been increased demand for everything related to encryption and security.
Unfortunately, I had to leave for the airport before the "Closing Session". The Club Med Lake Paradise resort was 60-90 minutes away from the GRU airport, and rush hour traffic in a city of 12 million people can get really bad.