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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IBM Senior Certified Executive IT Architect
On April 2nd IBM announced several key enhancements across the Storwize V5000 portfolio.
The models for the V5000 now include V5010E, 5030E and the V5100.
The V5010E includes two single socket Broadwell DE 2.2GHz, 2 core processor canisters. Each canister supports a maximum of 32GB of RAM.
The V5030E includes the Broadwell DE 1.9GHz, 6 core processor in its two canisters. Each canister supports a maximum of 32GB of RAM.
The V5100 boasts a single Skylake 1.7Ghz processor with 8 cores in each canisters. RAM is increased to a total of 576GB for the entire controller, or 288GB maximum per canister.
From a scale out perspective the V5010E model supports a single controller configuration, while the V5030E and V5100 both support up to two controller clusters. This provides for a maximum of 392 drives in the V5010E and a massive 1520 drives in either the V5030E or V5100 dual controller clusters.
While the new lineup for the V5000 is impressive; regarding the quantity of drives, and the storage available per model will blow your mind.
The V5000E & V5100 versions support the following drive types.
Storwize V5000E & V5100 - SAS Drive Support
Tier 1 Flash
High Performance, Enterprise Class Disk Drives
High-Capacity, Archival-Class Nearline Disk Drives
High-Capacity, Archival-Class Nearline Disk Drives
Along with the compute & cache layer enhancements across the V5000 platform, the V5100 receieved a large boost in its storage support. IBM has delivered a solid Flash / Hybrid storage controller player to the markey. In the V5100 model we now support both the Flash Core Modules (FCM) and or NVMe Industry Standard SSD drives. In addition in the expansion drawers you can add even more SAS SSD, 10K and NL-SAS capacity.
The combination of Flash Core Modules and NVMe Industry Standard drives makes the V5100 the perfect low to medium class storage controller.
IBM Flash Core Modules
Industry Standard NVMe Flash Drives
Both the V5010/30E and the V5100 models offer the following on board interface ports per canister:
1x1GbE techport + iSCSI
1x1GbE dedicated tech port
1x1GbE dedicated tech port
1x1GbE iSCSI only rpm
2x10GbE (iSCSI only)
4x10GbE (iSCSI only)
The Storwize V5000E models support 1 additional interface card, or 1 SAS host attachment adapter per canister. The optional interface cards available are:
Storwize V5000 Supported Adapter Cards
4 port 16Gb Fibre Channel only
2 port 25GbE iSCSI only
2 port 12Gb SAS host attach
The Storwize V5100 model also supports 1 host interface card, and also optionally up to two SAS Storage Expansion adapters. The adapter interface cards available for the V5100 are:
Storwize V5000 Supported Adapter Cards
4 port 16Gb Fibre Channel, FC NVMeOF
2 port 25GbE ROCE ISER, iSCSI
2 port 25GbE iWARP ISER, iSCSI
2 port 12Gb SAS to allow SAS Expansions
Regarding the software features for the V5000E and V5100 models, all of the models discussed still include the following features as shown. Specifics on the actual software features is documented below:
Storwize V5000 V5100 Software Features
License Per Enclosure
*Required minimum 32GB RAM
DFSA License Key
DFSA License Key
DFSA License Key (for use on virtual storage)
DRAID - Distributed RAID
DRAID 6 recommended / DRAID 5 supported
DRAID 6 recommended / DRAID 5 supported
DRAID 6 recommended / DRAID 5 supported
TRAID - Traditional RAID
R0, 1 & 10
R0, 1 & 10
R0, 1 & 10
Data Migration Only
Data Migration Only
License Per Enclosure
VVols - Supported with Spectrum Connect
DFSA License Key
DFSA License Key for each IO Group
License Per Enclosure
DFSA License Key
DFSA License Key for each IO Group
License Per Enclosure
Spectrum Virtualize 8.3
DFSA License Key
DFSA License Key for each IO Group
License Per Enclosure
Secure Disable USB Ports
DRP (Data Reduction Pools)
Reviewing this information has been eye awaking and though valuable I have only touched on pieces of this latest update for IBM storage.
For those seeking an even deeper depth of knowledge I refer you to my learned colleague Barry Whites blog,
This week, I am presenting at the IBM Systems Technical University for IBM Storage and POWER Systems. This conference is being held in New Orleans, Louisiana, October 16-20, 2017, at the beautiful Hyatt Regency. There were about 800 clients attending.
This is my recap for the last few sessions before I left town, spanning Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday afternoon.
Reasons why IBM hyperconverged systems powered by Nutanix surpass other HCI from HPE, Cisco and more
Rob Simpson, Senior Strategic Marketing Manager at Nutanix, presented Nutanix hyperconverged systems. Nutanix runs on both x86 and POWER. For x86, it supports VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Citrix XenServer, as well as their own Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV) derived from Linux KVM. For POWER, it uses AHV re-compiled for POWER chip set.
Hyperconverged systems can be sold in full rack configurations, as individual appliances, or as software that can be deployed on your own servers. Rob compared Nutanix against three competitive appliances: Dell EMC VxRAIL based on VMware VSAN, HPE Simplivity, and Cisco HyperFlex.
Everything you wanted to know about IBM Spectrum Scale metadata but didn't know to ask
Eric Sperley, IBM Software Defined Infrastructure Architect, presented the internal metadata structures used in IBM Spectrum Scale.
Why, oh why, did I attend this presentation? I had worked on Spectrum Scale back when it was called GPFS over 15 years ago, and thought I already knew everything about "inodes" that I ever wanted to, but Eric proved me wrong!
"Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made."
--John Godfrey Saxe
A lot has changed! There have been a lot of improvements to the internal structures to improve parallel I/O performance, and reduce latency of administrative tasks.
IBM Spectrum Scale can be divided into different file systems, each of which can be configured with different performance characteristics and block size, such as random small files for scanned images, versus large sequential files for streaming videos.
My presentation was nowhere near as technical as Eric's above. I provided an overview of how IBM Spectrum Scale is configured, how it works, and how it interacts with IBM Cloud Object Storage System, Spectrum Protect, and System Archive.
I also covered the latest GSxS and GLxS models of the Elastic Storage Server, or ESS for short. These models provide awesome performance at low cost. The GSxS models are all-flash arrays for high performance. The GLxS models are hybrid with 2 Solid-State Drives and the rest NL-SAS 7200 rpm spinning disk for high capacity.
IBM COS new features
Andy Kutner, IBM Channel and Alliances Architect, presented the latest features in IBM Cloud Object Storage, IBM COS for short.
Compliance Enabled Vaults, or CEV for short, offer Non-Erasable, Non-Rewriteable (NENR) tamperproof protection for objects. Objects written to a CEV vault can not be deleted or replaced with newer versions, for a specific retention period.
(Note: Some folks mistakenly use the term "Write Once, Read Many" (WORM) for this. WORM applies only to tape, optical, paper tape, punched cards, and non-erasable ROM chips. For this reason, the term "Non-Erasable, Non-Rewriteable" (NENR), used in the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC 17a-4) regulation, has been created to extend this tamperproof protection to flash, disk and cloud-based storage architectures.)
The entry-level systems lowers the minimum capacity of systems. Before, IBM recommended at least 500 TB capacity to consider IBM COS. Now, the combination of embedded Accessers and Concentrated Dispersal mode, can lower the starting point to as low as 72 TB, but still allow you to grow to multiple PBs.
International Technology Group [ITG] has just published a series of papers about IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center (VSC) and SAN Volume Controller/Storwize storage hypervisor virtualization technology detailing the cost benefit advantages over EMC and VMware.
IBM delivers up to 72% lower storage TCO than EMC storage virtualization and management solutions in large enterprises ... and up to 35% lower storage TCO than VMware tools in mid-sized environments
Also, you can watch an interview with the study's author, International Technology Group Managing Director, Brian Jeffery, live from next week's IBM Edge Conference in Las Vegas. Brian will be interviewed on [TheCUBE by Wikibon] on Monday afternoon. Watch it live on May 19!
I will be at Edge next week. If you plan to be there, I would be glad to discuss these ITG findings with you and your clients in person.
This week, I was part of an all-day event called "Healthcare and Research Trends & Directions in a Cognitive World" at the IBM Executive Briefing Center (EBC) in Rochester, MN. I was one of many presenters covering Information Technology to improve healthcare outcomes. Todd Stacy, IBM Director Server Sales for US Public Market, served as our emcee.
This was a great day. Special thanks to Kathy Lehr, Trish Froeschle, and Scott Gass for organizing this event! We had clients from a variety of Health Care and Life Science industry backgrounds. I certainly learned a few things myself.
Dr. Michael Weiner, IBM Chief Medical Information Officer, Watson Health, covered some of the real challenges not just facing the United States, but also other countries. On average, healthcare in USA [costs over $10,000 USD per American citizen]! Compare that to only $3,700 USD for the folks in the United Kingdom! In fact, nearly all industrial nations spend between $2,000 and $5,000 per person. Where does all the U.S. money go?
A big challenge is our ever-aging population. Every day, there are 10,000 [Baby Boomers] reaching their 65th birthday, with fewer people in the 25-44 age group to work as nurses to take care of them. About 15 percent of the US population are elderly (over age 65) and this is expected to grow to 20 percent in year 2040. The situation is even worse in Japan, where 25 percent of the population today is elderly, and this is expected to be 40 percent by year 2060.
New Care Models
In some countries, like Australia and Japan, post office workers who spent their time delivering mail, now can stop in to check in on elderly people. As people ship less mail, using social media or email instead, this keeps the postal workers employed, in a manner that provides society value.
The USA enjoys one of the lowest costs for food, but then suffers from an epidemic of obesity, with over 34 percent of Americans are obese. When New York City eliminated Trans Fats, heart attacks dropped considerably.
In 2009, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health [HITECH] Act required the digitization of medical information, known as "Meaningful Use", which has greatly influenced healthcare facilities. This was implemented by a combination of incentives and penalties. Now, more than than 92 percent of hospitals in the USA have digitized medical information! The rest are still using paper and Xray film images. Some places were initially exempted, such as Assisted Living Homes for example, so there is still more work to be done.
An advantage of using computer-based solutions like Artificial Intelligence is that it eliminates bias. When a woman walks into an Emergency Room complaining about chest pains, few health staff would consider this a sign of heart attack. When a man does same, health staff considers heart attack as the first diagnosis, at the risk of missing out on other possibilities.
Every year, over a million articles related to healthcare research are published. Who can read all this in a timely manner? IBM Watson! After [winning in Jeopardy], IBM Watson was "sent to medical school" to learn how to assist doctors in diagnosing patients.
Transforming Health Care Data Management with IBM Spectrum Storage
Greg Tevis, IBM Software Defined Storage Architect, and Raj Tandon, IBM Senior Strategist, co-presented this introduction to IBM Spectrum Storage family of products. They covered examples with IBM Spectrum Virtualize, IBM Spectrum Control, IBM Spectrum Protect, IBM Spectrum Scale, IBM Cloud Object Storage, and IBM Copy Data Management. The latter having support directly for EPIC and Cache databases.
Cognitive Imaging Solutions for Healthcare Providers
Jason Crites, IBM Healthcare and Life Sciences Data Solutions Leader, and Wayland Vacek, Enterprise Sales Manager for Merge, presented IBM Watson Imaging Clinical Review, from IBM's acquisition of the Merge company. The solution is based on IBM Spectrum Scale as the back-end storage repository.
Merge has been around for more than 20 years, with clinical workflow offerings in Cardiology, Radiology, Orthopedics and Eye care. Often, IBM Watson is able to identify things in medical images that escape the review or radiologists or other medical specialists.
At HIMSS conference earlier this year, The human radiologists were shown a collection of images used to train IBM Watson. The human radiologists only identified 20 percent of the images correctly, while IBM Watson got all of them, every time. In many cases, human radiologists have only a few seconds to look at an Xray image. Computers like IBM Watson are now fast enough to compete directly with human radiologists in the same number of seconds.
Building a Foundation for the Cognitive Era in Healthcare and Life Sciences
Dr. Jane Yu, IBM Systems Architect, Healthcare & Life Sciences, and Dr. Frank Lee, IBM Global Sales Leader, IBM Software Defined Infrastructure & Life Sciences, co-presented this topic. They present five challenges:
Growing data volumes are making it more difficult to manage, process and store this data.
Scientists find themselves spending more than 80 percent of their time manually integrating data from silos, and less than 20 percent of their time doing actual research and deriving insights from their analyses.
Compute- and data-intensive workflows may take days to complete on existing server and storage systems.
IT organizations must keep up with rapidly evolving applications, development frameworks, and databases for preferred. Health care Life Science (HCLS) applications. This includes SAS, Matlab, Hadoop, Spark, NoSQL databases, as well as Deep Learning and Machine Learning workloads.
Scientific integrity and government mandates increasingly require collaboration across organizational boundaries.
In one example, Sidra Medical and Research Center plans to map the genomes of all 250,000 citizens in the Middle Eastern country of Qatar. Imagine that processing each Qatari citizen will generate 200 GB of data for this project, resulting in 50 Petabytes (PB) of data!
Combining IBM Spectrum Compute products with IBM Spectrum Scale storage, can help address these challenges.
Modernize & Transform Helathcare with IBM Storage Solutions
Finally, I presented a 90-minute breakout session that covered three solution areas:
Flash storage to speed up medical records and research. Those who have already implemented Electronic Health Records (EHR) for "Meaningful Use" compliance recognize the value this provides to improving healthcare. Adding All-Flash Arrays such as IBM FlashSystem, Storwize V7000F or DS8000F can drastically improve application performance.
Spectrum Scale and IBM Cloud Object Storage for Vendor Neutral Archive. It seems silly that each PACS vendor has its own little island of storage. A better approach is to send all PACS data from various vendors into a "Vendor-Neutral" storage repository. Both IBM Spectrum Scale and IBM Cloud Object Storage System, either linked together or used separately, can be part of a VNA solution.
VersaStack to simplify deployments. VersaStack is a Converged System that combines best-of-breed Cisco servers and switches with best-of-breed IBM storage, pre-cabled, pre-configured, and pre-loaded with all the necessary software to manage the environment as a single entity. This can reduce the time it takes to deploy new medical applications from weeks to just hours.
Fellow blogger Chris Mellor from The Register has an interesting post titled [It's a ratchet: Old storage guard face incoming tech squeeze]. Chris opines that the big traditional storage vendors -- which he refers to as the "old guard": Dell EMC, HDS, HPE, IBM and NetApp -- are being squeezed out by startups with new technologies.
Last week, I saw the play [Fiddler on the Roof], a musical production by Arizona Theater Company (ATC), and thought of various parallels with Chris's post.
For those not familiar, the story centers around a father named Tevye and his wife trying to stick to tradition, with five daughters who are open to breaking with tradition to get married. The family lives in a small rural town, back in a time long ago when people were persecuted for their religious and ethnic background. Aren't you glad we live in [more enlightened times]!
Back to Chris Mellor, he writes in his post:
"This old guard has so far failed to squash newcomers in the all-flash array, hyperscale, object and software-defined storage areas. This is despite the established firms adopting these technologies and acquiring some startups."
Should the old guard try to squash newcomers? Often, these startups provide much needed innovations that move the IT industry forward.
In the play, Tevye wants to stick to tradition, whereby the town's matchmaker would find a husband for each daughter, and he, as father of each bride, would then provide his permission and blessing to the match.
Obviously, these startups are neither asking the old guard for their permission nor their blessing. While I can't speak for the rest of the "old guard", IBM is leading in these various spaces. Let's look at each of these new trends.
All-Flash Arrays (AFA)
The category of "All-Flash Arrays" include both purpose-built hardware as well as traditional devices based on solid-state drives (SSD). While the R&D investment needed for purpose-built hardware can limit this to some of the largest vendors, nearly any startup can slap commodity SSD into traditional HDD controllers and call it AFA.
IBM offers the world's fastest AFA, and has been a leader in the AFA category for the past three years, investing over $1 Billion USD on its FlashSystem, DS8000, Elastic Storage Server (ESS), SVC and Storwize product families.
Software-Defined Storage (SDS)
While the definition for SDS is still in a bit of flux, IDC has tried to identify three characteristics:
Storage software stack that can be installed on commodity resources (x86 hardware, hypervisors, or cloud) and/or off-the-shelf computing hardware
SDS should offer a full suite of storage services
Federation between the underlying persistent data placement resources to enable data mobility of its tenants between these resources
IBM has been ranked [Number 1 in Software Defined Storage] for several years now, investing over $1 Billion USD in its IBM Spectrum Storage family. This collection of software is implemented in a variety of offerings, including pre-built systems, software that you can deploy on commodity off-the-shelf servers, and in the Cloud.
Object storage breaks tradition with block and file-based storage solutions. Rather than reading and writing files using POSIX, NFS or SMB protocols, objects are accessed via HTTP GET and PUT requests. The two most common protocols are Amazon S3 and OpenStack Swift.
Object storage is ideal for static and stable data that either never changes, or changes infrequently. A lot of new workloads are based on unstructured data that falls in this category, such as Big Data Analytics, High-performance Computing (HPC), and active archives.
In the latest IDC Marketscape, [IBM is ranked #1 in Object Storage]. IBM has actually three software-defined storage offerings that support Object access methods. IBM Spectrum Scale, IBM Spectrum Archive and IBM Cloud Object storage System. The latter from 2015 acquisition of Cleversafe.
"Hyperscale leverages commodity servers and a software-defined approach, scaling the resources needed for applications and storage separately. As storage needs grow, companies can add servers running software-defined storage (SDS) to the storage tier to expand capacity... Data is automatically distributed across the entire cluster of storage servers as new nodes are added to the system... With hyperscale, .. cluster nodes network together to form a storage resource pool."
This breaks from the tradition of dual-controller high-end arrays, which scale-up, rather than scale-out. IBM offers its IBM Spectrum Accelerate, IBM Spectrum Scale, and IBM Cloud Object Storage System to fill this hyperscale requirement.
In the play, Tevye realizes the world is changing all around him, he can either fight these changes and stick to tradition, or accept that he must change also, and move on. After 105 years, IBM continues to lead the IT industry, primarily by adopting new trends and technologies, moving to new business opportunities as they present themselves.
It's official. We have changed our name! The Worldwide IBM Systems Executive Briefing Centers (EBC) are now being called the Worldwide IBM Systems Client Experience Centers!
I joined the Tucson EBC team in 2007. For the past 10 years, I have been running design workshops, consulting with clients and architecting solutions.
Why the name change? The term "Executive Briefing Center" implies one-way communication with [death by PowerPoint], which can be ineffective in today's dynamic and collaborative work environments.
Client expectations for two-way communications have given rise to immersive and interactive engagements where clients not only learn about IBM's solution offerings, they experience them.
Through hybrid briefing/workshop engagements, demonstrations, and active promotion of our ISV Ecosystem partners, we take clients on a journey where they envision utilizing our technology and solutions to achieve desired business outcomes. The new Client Experience Center moniker more accurately represents the work we do and the value we provide.
(Note: I realize that the new acronym for the Client Experience Center (CEC) is the same as the Central Electronic Complex (CEC) used in both storage and server products. I can assure you that the executives that decided to rename the centers had not chose this to be funny! Consider it a mere coincidence.)
Of course, changing the name is not cheap. We will have to update all of our websites, and order new signage, new water bottles, new coasters, new embroidered shirts, and new business cards, just to name a few!
The weather in Tucson is awesome these next few months, so come on down! Can't travel? We can come visit you, or do it over the phone via webinar.
Our Worldwide IBM Systems Client Experience Centers are located in:
Next month, I will be presenting at the IBM Systems Technical University in Orlando, Florida, May 22-26, 2017. There will not be an "IBM Edge" conference this year, so this is your best opportunity to hear the latest information on all of the IBM server and storage products at one conference.
I will be there! Here are the topics I will be presenting:
The pendulum swings back -- Understanding Converged and Hyperconverged environments
IBM cloud storage options
Software Defined Storage -- Why? What? How?
Business continuity -- The seven tiers of business continuity and disaster recovery
Introduction to object storage and its applications - Cleversafe
New generation of storage tiering: Less management, lower investment and increased performance
IBM Spectrum Scale for file and object storage
This conference is not all lectures, which some refer to as "Death by Powerpoint".
There will also be a variety of hands-on labs. I recommend participating in the hands-on session to feel and witness the next release of IBM Hyper-Scale Manager, which is the management application for what IBM calls its A-line storage family -- FlashSystem A9000/R, XIV Storage System, and Spectrum Accelerate software.
Hyper-Scale Manager is the most advanced GUI in the market today, may help reduce your management total cost of ownership (TCO) in half!
You can [Enroll Today!] There is an "early-bird" special to save hundreds of dollars if you enroll by April 16!
Want to hear the latest technical information about IBM Storage, but not willing to wait until the big [IBM Edge Conference] this September?
I just completed two "IBM Tech University Comes to You" events. Last week in Atlanta, and this week in Dubai, UAE. In May and June, I will be speaking at the following events:
San Francisco, CA -- May 10-12
Chicago, IL -- May 18-20
Boston, MA -- June 7-9
Standard tuition rate for these 3-day events is $1,495. However, for my blog readers, I have negotiated two special discounts:
Individual: Promo Code TUST8R
The promotion code TUST8R for a $1,250 rate must be entered at enrollment to apply. This promotion code is only valid for the IBM Technical University (IBMTechU) Comes to You events in the United States found at [ibm.com/training/events].
Groups: Three or More
If THREE(3) co-workers attend the same event, each pays only $1,100 on tuition! This offer is only valid for the IBM Technical University (IBMTechU) Comes to You events in the United States found at [ibm.com/training/events]. The three-or-more attend for $1,100 promotion will be applied once validation is completed.
(The fine print: IBMTechU Comes to You events promotions (including currency OR pricing references which exclude applicable taxes) are current as of the initial date of publication of this blog and may be changed by IBM at any time. Discounts cannot be combined with any other programs or discounts, including IBM Business Partner discounts. Attendees will be charged the conference fees less any applicable discount. Any discount will be applied when the credit card is billed. All registrations require that credit card information is entered regardless of the payment type.)
The new TS1155 enterprise tape drive can write up to 15 TB uncompressed data to existing JD/JZ/JL media.
It can read/write existing 10TB-formatted JD media, and 7TB-formatted JC media, written by former TS1150 drives. It also can offer read-only support for older 4TB-formatted JC media from TS1140 drives.
These are uncompressed capacities, and some clients achieve 2x or 3x compression on top of these capacities. This depends heavily on the type of data. Your mileage may vary, as they say.
Most of the rest of the features of the TS1150 drives carry forward., The performance 360 MB/sec is similar, encryption via IBM Security Key Lifecycle Manager (SKLM) is similar, and support for IBM Spectrum Archive via Linear Tape File System (LTFS) format is similar.
An interesting development is that the TS1155, in addition to standard 8Gb Fibre Channel attach, is the first IBM enterprise drive to also offer 10Gb Ethernet support. IBM will offer both RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE) as well as iSCSI support.
The newest member of the IBM Spectrum Storage software family, IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management automates the creation of snapshot images (FlashCopy for those familiar with IBM terminology) on IBM, NetApp and EMC storage arrays. These copies can be made for various uses, such as DevOps, Dev/Test, Backup/Restore, and Disaster Recovery.
At some data centers, these copies can consume as much as 60 percent of your total storage space, because often each developer and tester are generating their own copies. Instead, having copies automated, registered, cataloged, and made available to developers and testers eliminates rogue copies.
This release adds support for additional databases, including Microsoft SQL Server on physical machines, SAP HANA in-memory databases, and Epic/Caché from InterSystems used in Electronic Health Records (EHR) management systems.
IBM also adds support for long-distance Vmotion for VMware virtual machine images. The target for this movement is IBM Spectrum Accelerate running on IBM Bluemix Cloud, supporting Hybrid Cloud configurations.
Eventually hardware fails, ... ... eventually software works.
For a solid backup product, consider usingIBM Tivoli Storage Manager.I use it to protect all my data on my laptop. And when switching recently from my old Thinkpad T30 to my newThinkpad T60, used it to transfer my data over as well.[Read More]
Last week, I was in Atlanta for the "IBM TechU Comes to You" event at the beautiful Marriott Marquis hotel. This was a three-day event, so here is my recap of Day 2.
Data Pattern Analytics for IBM Storage Infrastructure
Justin Doster (IBM FlashSystem Center of Competency) presented Data Protection Analytics (DPA), an analysis performed by IBM experts similar to ILM and SIO studies I helped to launch in 2005. DPA will discover and review:
physical environment inventory
configuration issues (array, switches)
system availability/reliability issues
performance issues and bottlenecks
capacity by location
VMware vCenter configuration
host OS Inventory
The IBM experts gather the data using various tools, interview the storage administrators, and review the data in context of the issues raised. The resulting heat map allows the IBM experts to make recommendations, focused on how IBM FlashSystem, IBM DS8000 High Performance Flash Enclosures, and Solid-State Drives.
Identify LUNs/Servers/Applications most impacted from Latency
Identify high I/O Density patterns impairing performance
Identify tiering considerations
Rather than showing the results of individual clients, Justin averaged out several clients together to illustrate some of his key points.
IBM Spectrum Scale for File and Object Storage
I presented an overview of IBM Spectrum Scale v4.2.1 release. I covered our support for POSIX, NFS, SMB, Hadoop, OpenStack Swift and Amazon S3 interfaces. IBM Spectrum Scale is an ideal solution to replace NetApp filers, EMC Isilon or DataDomain storage devices.
In retrospect, I should have done this one before yesterday's "Integration between IBM Spectrum Scale and Cleversafe" discussion, but it went well nonetheless.
IBM Storage and OpenStack
This is one I have done in the past, but this time it was presented by Brian Sherman (IBM Distinguished Engineer). Brian covered the basics, particular the OpenStack Cinder driver, and the various IBM products like the DS8880 and XIV that provide this new interface.
What is Big Data? Architectures and Practical Use Cases
Another fun session. I cover the basics of Big Data analytics, IBM's Analytics Platform, and IBM InfoSpehere BigInsights. IBM Spectrum Scale iuncludes a Hadoop Connector for 100 percent HDFS compatibility. This let's you run all of the Hadoop and Spark Map-Reduce, Hive and HBase applications.
Attendees suggested I should have listed this as a "Cross-brand" session rather than a "Storage" session, since analytics can run on z Systems and POWER Systems. It was listed under Storage because I mention the key role IBM Spectrum Scale and its Hadoop Connector play in these deployments.
New Generation of Storage Tiering: Less Management, Lower Costs, and Improved Performance
It would be difficult to justify a whole hour on a single feature like "Easy Tier" or "Storage Analytics Engine" or "Information Lifecycle Management", so I combined them all into a single session.
Easy Tier offers single-system optimization, moving extents of data across Flash, Enterprise and Nearline drive tiers.
Storage Analytics Engine in the IBM Virtual Storage Center and IBM Spectrum Control Advanced Edition takes it up a level, automating the movement of LUNs and volumes across storage systems.
Lastly, Information Lifecycle Management policies in IBM Spectrum Scale allow files and objects to be moved from Flash, Disk and Tape, with Active File Management across data centers, remote office and branch offices forming a global namespace.
The Pendulum Swings Back -- Understanding Converged and Hyperconverged Systems
A few years ago, I explained to a client that Converged and Hyperconverged were like a pendulum swinging back. Over the past few decades, we have gone from internal disk, to externally attached disk, to SAN and LAN networks.
Each time, we gained more flexibility, greater connectivity and longer distances. Then I explained that Converged and Hyperconverged is like going backwards, the pendulum swinging back to the days of internal and externally-attached storage. The analogy was a hit, and thus this session was born!
IBM offers multiple Converged Systems. IBM PureSystems, PureData and PureApplication solutions offer racks of compute, storage and network gear. Last year, we collaborated with Cisco to create VersaStack, a converged system that combines Cisco's x86 blade servers and switches with IBM Spectrum Virtualize products.
IBM also offers Hyperconverged solutions. IBM Spectrum Accelerate allows the compute, storage and network functions run on 3 to 15 VMware ESXi hosts to form a cluster. The cluster can then make iSCSI-based volumes available to other virtual machines running on these same hosts. The volumes can also be made available to servers outside the cluster, such as bare metal servers or other Hypervisors.
IBM Spectrum Scale provides a clustered file system that allows the compute, storage and network functions to run on 3 to 16,000 machines. Over 200 of the world's largest supercomputers run IBM Spectrum Scale today. IBM Watson that beat the two smartest humans on Jeopardy TV game show was also based on IBM Spectrum Scale.
The day concluded with another reception serving drinks. Afterwards, I had dinner at [Agatha's -- A Taste of Mystery], a murder mystery dinner show, where the patrons "share the stage" with the paid actors. Everyone is handed their "script" and we each took turn reading when we heard our cue. The five-course meal was delicious, and the zany antics and southern accents were hilarious. The show I attended was a mash-up of two popular TV shows: [House of Cards] and [Scandal].
Did you miss Atlanta? Want to hear the latest technical information about IBM Storage, but not willing to wait until the big [IBM Edge Conference] this September? We will have several more "IBM TechU Comes to You" events in May and June. To learn more, or to register for one of these, check out the [IBM Technical Events in 2016] landing page. I have negotiated [special discounts] for those who read this blog!
This week, I am presenting at the IBM Systems Technical University for Storage and POWER Systems. This conference is being held in New Orleans, Louisiana, October 16-20, 2017, at the beautiful Hyatt Regency.
Storage: Opening Keynote Session
Clod Barrera, IBM Distinguished Engineer and Chief Technical Strategist, and Craig Nelson, Brocade, co-presented this session.
Clod Barrera presented the latest in Storage trends. He organized his talk around four layers: Infrastructure, Storage Management, Storage Systems, and Storage Media.
Craig Nelson presented the changes in Storage Networking. With advancements in both server and storage bandwidth, the storage network becomes the bottleneck. Insane flash storage performance requires insanely fast storage networks. IBM offers Brocade-manufactured switches and directors that now support 32Gbps. Combining four paths together, these can offer Interswitch Connection Links (ICL) at 128 Gbps.
The Seven Tiers of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
With the recent Hurricans Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria, my topic on Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) was well attended. I have been working in BC/DR for most of my career, including the "High Availability Center of Competency" or HACOC.
Back in 2005, I was here in New Orleans, the week before Hurricane Katrina, for the IBM Storage Symposium, August 22-26, the predecessor of this conference. I left on Friday, August 26, and the storm hit that weekend.
I met with people photographing all the buildings, in hopes to sell "before pictures" to insurance companies and filmmakers after the hurricane hit. Film director Spike Lee bought much of this footage. Smart!
However, natural disasters like hurricanes, tornados and floods represent less than 20 percent of all discasters. The majority of disasters, nearly 75 percent, arise from electrical power outages, human error, system failure and randsomware.
IBM FlashSystem Overview
Andy Walls, IBM Fellow, CTO and Chief Architect,and Brent Yardley, IBM STSM and Master Inventor, co-presented this session. Andy started with FlashSystem 900, V9000 and A9000/R.
The room was packed with standing room only, and Andy was answering so many questions that he never finished his portion, and Brent Yardley never had a chance to cover his portion.
Fortunately, there were "deep dive" sessions on FlashSystem 900, V9000 and A9000/R later in the week, so Andy suggested everyone go to lunch and attend these other more detailed sessions.
(Back in 2010, I poked fun at EMC with my post [VPLEX: EMC's Latest Wheel is Round]. I pointed out that EMC's announcement of "new features" that already existed in IBM's SAN Volume Controller. Oops! They did it again!)
Basically, Dell EMC is working on a new "2 Tiers" approach that combines high-performance flash tier with high-capacity object storage. Guess what? IBM already offers this! Why wait?
IBM Spectrum Scale, formerly known as the General Parallel File System (GPFS), supports POSIX, HDFS, OpenStack Swift, Amazon S3, NFS, SMB and iSCSI protocols.
Spectrum Scale can provide this front-end abstraction layer between flash and object storage, including IBM Cloud Object Storage system and IBM Bluemix (formerly SoftLayer) cloud services.
But why limit yourself to just two tiers? IBM Spectrum Scale can also support 15K, 10K and 7200 RPM spinning disk drive tiers, as well as virtual or physical tape tier, the ultimate low-cost high-capacity tier!
Several years ago, IBM coined the phrase "FLAPE" to discuss the two-tier approach of combining Flash with Tape using Spectrum Scale as the front-end abstraction layer.
Perhaps we should call combinations of Flash and Object "FLobject" storage? If the name catches on, you read it here first!
I got some exciting news today that i would like to share with my readers!
Several years ago, I mentored a young 19-year Tarun Pondicherry from India to work on one of Google's Summer-of-Code project. We worked on a simple blogging system to help teach grade school children in Uruguay how to write their own blogs.
Well, that was six years ago, but I have kept in touch, and today learned that Tarun has been working on an exciting project to teach young kids to write computer programming code.
It's called "LightUp" and the idea is quite simple. Using a simple programming interface, you can program the machine to light up based on what the programming code specifies. It is immediate feedback for the child to explore the world or software logic. Already they have helped kids around the world build over 100,000 circuits!
And speaking of learning new innovations, I will be at the [IBM Edge 2015 conference] next week in Las Vegas. There will be traditional lectures about IBM's latest innovations, mixed with hands-on labs and plenty of exciting demos, because Adults need to learn too!
I hope everyone had a festive and restful winter break! I sure did!
(FCC Disclosure: I work for IBM. IBM is in our 17-day "quiet period" before it announces full-year and 4Q results on January 18. Therefore, I picked today's topic that has nothing to do with storage products, recent client wins, or financials.)
It's January, so I thought I would discuss [New Year's resolutions], a tradition in United States in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve their life. Early Romans made promises to their god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.
Sadly, most of us are unsuccesful. This is often because the resolutions were unrealistic, people failed to measure and track their progress, or simply lost interest midyear.
From my own experience, most resolutions can be lumped into four major categories:
Get healthy: Eat better, lose weight, exercise more, sit less, quit smoking
Get organized: Stop procrastinating, pay off debt, de-clutter, switch to a better job, reduce stress
Become social: Spend more time with friends and family, meet new people, travel, volunteer for charity
Learn new skills: Learn a new language, take up a new hobby, learn to paint or create arts and crafts
A technique I use to develop presentations might help people keep New Year's Resolutions. The technique called [SCIPAB®], created by Mandel Communications, is an elegantly simple, six-step method for starting important conversations or create [Effective Presentations]. Since Resolutions are basically "conversations with yourself", let's give it a try!
Situation: "Oh No! The boss's daughter, Nell Fenwick, is tied to the railroad tracks!"
Complication: A train approaches!
Implication: If nobody does anything soon, she will die
Position: "I, Dudley Do-Right, will save her!"
Untie her from the tracks and set her free
Arrest the villain, Snidely Whiplash
Benefit: Nell lives! "Dudley Do-Right, you are my hero!"
Let's see how we can use this approach on different categories of resolutions. To get healthy, we might use:
Situation: "Oh No! My latest doctor visit indicates that my numbers are too high!"
(AMA Disclosure: I am not a doctor. This is not medical advice. Here numbers could represent any appropriate health measurement of your BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, liver enzymes, or blood sugar, for example.)
Complication: I am not getting any younger.
Implication: I am at risk of heart disease, cancer, or other health issue. This situation will not go away on its own.
Position: I need to change my lifestyle to get healthy
Set appointment to see my doctor
Follow doctor's recommendations for diet, medication and exercise
Schedule follow-up appointments to measure and track progress
Benefit: My health measurements will return to normal range.
Rather than resolving to "Eat less and exercise more", the above approach is more focused on the end result, rather than intermediate actions, and therefore has a better chance of success, getting your health within normal range.
Let's try another one. To get better organized, we might use:
Situation: "Sigh! All of my projects are over budget and behind schedule, my desk is a mess, I forget important thoughts and ideas, and I am always late to meetings."
Complication: I just got assigned to lead project XYZ.
Implication: If I am not better organized, I could lose my job.
Position: I need to change my work routine to get organized.
Read David Allen's book and learn his system for "Getting Things Done" [GTD], or one of the many variants, like [GSD] or [ZTD].
Decide on where to write down and keep track of my thoughts, tasks and projects, either on paper like a notebook or [Hipster PDA], or an online mobile account like [Evernote] or [Google Keep]. Chose something that will be within arms reach 24 hours a day.
Work with project managers to track and measure progress of project XYZ.
Benefit: Project XYZ will be completed on schedule, within budget. I might even get a bonus, raise, or promotion!
I could go on, but you get the idea.
In his WSJ article [Blame it on the Brain], Jonah Lehrer cautions against trying to change too many habits all at once. If you have multiple resolutions, try to focus on establishing new habits for one resolution for a month or two, before starting the next one. Prioritize what is most important.
"SmartCloud Enterprise Object Storage is switching from 3rd-party Nirvanix to its internal IBM Softlayer. This one involves more in-depth explanation which I will save for another post."
It's time to make good on that promise! Here is a quick diagram to help visualize the agreement (with sincere apologies to [Jessica Hagy]!) but not to scale, of course!
Last month, Nirvanix announced it was shutting down October 15. Here was the exact wording from their website:
For the past seven years, we have worked to deliver cloud storage solutions. We have concluded that we must begin a wind-down of our business and we need your active participation to achieve the best outcome.
We are dedicating the resources we can to assisting our customers in either returning their data or transitioning their data to alternative providers who provide similar services including IBM SoftLayer, Amazon S3, Google Storage or Microsoft Azure.
We have an agreement with IBM, and a team from IBM is ready to help you. In addition, we have established a higher speed connection with some companies to increase the rate of data transfer from Nirvanix to their servers.
We are working hard to have resources available through October 15 to assist you with the transition process, and have set up a rapid response team that can be reached at (619) 764-5650 [press 2 for customer support during normal business hours] or (888) 791-0365 after business hours, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please check back to this web page periodically for status updates.
We thank you for your support and patience.
The Nirvanix team
UPDATE ON NIRVANIX
On October 1, 2013, Nirvanix voluntarily sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in order to pursue all alternatives to maximize value for its creditors while continuing its efforts to provide the best possible transition for customers."
In response, IBM put out this press release:
"In light of reports that Nivanix has decided to soon cease operations, IBM is moving quickly to help clients of our Nivanix-based Object Storage offering to move their data to other solutions such as the robust and highly scalable IBM SoftLayer Object Storage or IBM's persistent storage solution."
To understand why this is a big deal, consider the difference between Cloud Computing and Cloud Storage. Cloud Computing is like buying gasoline at your favorite gas station. If the station is closed, you can just drive a few blocks to another gas station. The ease with which customers can switch from one Cloud Compute provider to another is part of the appeal, forcing Cloud Compute providers to be extremely efficient at what they do to offer the lowest price.
Cloud Storage is completely different, more like a safety-deposit box at the bank, or a storage unit to hold all of your boxes of tax receipts. Now if you have a small amount stored away in a safety-deposit box, this is probably just a minor inconvenience. You can take out the contents and store at home, or find another bank and open a new safe deposit account.
However, if you have a lot stored in a storage unit, it may be more difficult.
For example, I am in the process of remodeling my home, so I have moved a lot of my stuff to a 400 cubic-foot storage unit during the process. There were a variety of storage units within miles of my home. Some are fully air-conditioned, some offered 24x7 access, while others are not air-conditioned, or only allowed access during business hours. It has taken me several weekends to box up and move them to the storage unit. My car only holds 12-14 boxes at a time, so many trips were involved.
If the Storage Unit company told me that they were closing down, and that I would have to move all of these boxes to another facility, I would have to hire moving professionals to do all the work. This is in effect what companies need to do with their data. They must take the data off Nirvanix systems, and either store it in-house, or find another cloud storage provider.
IBM offers three options:
IBM [SoftLayer Object Storage] offering which is an OpenStack Swift-based Object Storage solution. IBM's SoftLayer object based storage solution provides a robust, highly scalable solution, with the ability to retrieve and leverage data the way you want to, and grow when you need. You can choose to store your objects in Dallas, Texas (USA), Amsterdam (Europe), and/or Singapore (Asia).
SCE persistent storage solution where you will be able to manage storage resources by attaching an instance during the instance creation process.
An alternate storage solution of your choice. Yes, IBM will help you move your data to Amazon, Google, Microsoft, etc. While technically competitors, IBM also has strategic partnerships in place with each to facilitate the movement.
These options are not just for IBM's SmartCloud Enterprise Object Storage clients. Nirvanix has named IBM the savior for all of its other non-IBM customers as well. Why IBM? Well, IBM is one of the most recognized names in the IT industry. Not just one of the biggest Cloud Service providers, IBM also has an army of professionals in its Global Services division to help.
This week, I am in Las Vegas for [Edge 2016], IBM's Premiere IT Infrastructure conference of the year. In previous years, this conference was held in May, June or July, but this year, it was moved back to September, to coincide with the 60th Anniversary of IBM Disk Systems.
I have arrived safely to Las Vegas, and checked in at Edge 2016 Conferenece Registration.
This year, the Solutions EXPO opens early, on Sunday with a reception. This gives people a chance to go to booth #330 to make appointments for one-on-one with various IBM Executives!
I was able to catch up with co-workers I have not seen in a while! There is a whole section on IBM storage products such as the IBM DS8888 All-Flash Array, as well as software products like IBM Spectrum Protect and IBM Spectrum Control.
On Monday, my session "All Flash is Not Created Equal: Tony Pearson Contrasts IBM FlashSystem and SSD" has moved from the tiny room to a much larger room "Studio A". There was a lot of demand for this session, so I have agreed to present this again, as a repeat session, on Wednesday.
This week, I am in Las Vegas for [Edge 2016], IBM's Premiere IT Infrastructure conference of the year. Here is my recap of breakout sessions on Day 2.
Introducing IBM FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R: Grid Architecture Designed for the Hybrid Cloud
Tomer Carmeli, IBM Offering Manager for the A9000 and A9000R presented. Both models offer data-at-rest encryption, snapshots, remote mirroring, and data footprint reduction, assuming 5.26:1, a combination of pattern removal, data deduplication and hardware-assisted Real-time compression.
The A9000 is an 8U high pod that can fit into existing racks. It comes in 60TB, 150TB and 300TB effective capacity.
The A9000R includes its own 42U rack. The rack is organized as two to six "grid elements" combined with two InfiniBand switches. Grid elements come in 150TB and 300TB effective capacities, giving you up to a whopping 1.8 PB in a single rack!
Similar to the IBM XIV and IBM Spectrum Accelerate offerings, the A9000 and A9000R support Hyper-Scale features. Hyper-Scale Manager lets you manage up to 144 devices on a single pane of glass. Hyper-Scale Mobility lets you move volumes (LUNs) non-disruptively from one device to another.
Different data compresses or dedupes at different ratios. Your mileage may vary. Unless you are evaluating a JBOF (just a bunch of flash) device, there is a great difference between raw, usable, and effective capacity. Raw capacity can be calculated by the size of each chip, times the number of chips. Usable capacity factors out RAID, and any spare capacity set aside for RAID rebuild and garbage collection. Effective capacity indicates the amount of information that can be stored by taking advantage of data footprint reduction technologies, such as compression or data deduplication.
IBM offers three options:
Measured Estimate -- IBM has a set of data reduction estimator tools that can scan your existing data, and estimate your reduction ratio, within 5 percent accuracy.
Competitive Match -- If a competitor had run their own set of estimator tools, IBM might be able to match the reduction ratio, without repeating the analysis, by just reviewing the competitor results.
"Sight unseen" -- without analyzing your actual data, reduction ratio is determine by the type of data (DB2, Oracle, SQL server, etc.), based on experience with similar data at other data centers.
Both A9000 and A9000R models are published at 250 microsecond latency, about 30 times faster than traditional spinning disk, although some workloads actually can run even faster than that. Assuming 5.26:1 reduction, these sell for about $1.50 per effective GB.
Flash Primer - Ready to move from disk storage?
Patricia Crowell, IBM Worldwide FlashSystem Enablement manager, presented. She presented an interesting time line:
First Solid-State Drive (SSD)
First Flash card, such as for digital cameras
First USB stick
Flash used in specialized IT appliances
Flash for the enterprise - Microsoft and UCSD paper on SSD
In 2012, Microsoft Research and University of California San Diego published ["The Bleak Future of NAND Flash Memory"], 8 pages, by Laura M. Grupp, John D. Davis, and Steven Swanson. Here is an excerpt:
"The technology trends we have described put SSDs in an unusual position for a cutting-edge technology: SSDs will continue to improve by some metrics (notably density and cost per bit), but everything else about them is poised to get worse. This makes the future of SSDs cloudy: While the growing capacity of SSDs and high IOP rates will make them attractive in many applications, the reduction in performance that is necessary to increase capacity while keeping costs in check may make it difficult for SSDs to scale as a viable technology for some applications"
IBM disagreed with this bleak assessment, announced it was investing $1 billion US Dollars into this technology, acquired Texas Memory Systems, and has deployed flash throughout its product line. For the past three years, IBM has been the #1 vendor for Flash storage systems.
Patricia offered the following example. What would it take to run 20 million IOPS? Here's a comparison:
Disk systems 15K rpm
Disk systems 7200 rpm
How to migrate from SONAS to IBM Spectrum Scale/ESS using Active File Manager
Paul Schena, IBM Senior IT Specialist, presented his experiences migrating existing SONAS data to new IBM Spectrum Scale or Elastic Storage Server (ESS) deployments. SONAS is going End-of-Service (EOS) on April 30, 2018, so it is never too soon to start this migration.
Paul gave two different methodologies. The first used Active File Management (AFM):
Setup an IBM Spectrum Scale "Gateway Node" in "Independent-Writer" AFM mode. Paul recommends 10 threads per gateway node.
Issue an AFM pre-fetch, disabling the "cache eviction" feature to ensure data remains. AFM transfers the directory structure, file data including sparse files, Access Control Lists (ACL), extended attributes.
Define your exports with no-root-squash and move your user mounts to the new systems
Once all the data is moved, convert the cache filesets to regular filesets
Define your quotas, export settings, ILM policies and rules
Decommision the SONAS
The second used Robocopy and Rsync, which may be required if there is high-latency, long-distance connection that prevents proper AFM connections:
Configure IBM Spectrum Scale CES servers to appropriate NFS and/or SMB protocols
Use Robocopy and/or Rsync as appropriate to move the data to the new system
Decommision the SONAS
Having it all: Hybrid Cloud Storage Services for Block, Power and Backup
Clint Parish, Director of Enterprise Solutions and Services for VSS, and Marc The'berge, Business Development for Supermicro, co-presented this session.
VSS offers POWER8-based Cloud services. They consider themselves "boutique" with POWER8 servers, able to run AIX, IBM i and Linux on POWER applications, but not at the scale and size of larger x86-based clouds like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure.
For IBM i, they attach to IBM Storwize V7000. For AIX and Linux on POWER, they use IBM Storwize V7000 and/or Supermicro Hyperconverged Appliance, a pre-built system based on IBM Spectrum Accelerate.
Supermicro offers three "tee-shirt sizes", their small systems have six nodes, medium with 9 nodes, and large with 15 nodes. Unlike other Hyperconverged systems, the ones from Supermicro include a rack, and are pre-cabled with all the necessary Ethernet switches necessary to make a complete solution.
To offer backup services, VSS uses IBM Spectrum Protect with the Supermicro appliances.
In the evening, we were treated with a concert with Train, known for songs like "Meet Virginia", "Hey Soul Sister", "Calling all Angels" and "Drops of Jupiter". They played all of these, plus covered some songs by Led Zeppelin, Journey, Queen and Aerosmith,
The study surveyed 5,676 leaders from various industries, education, and government agencies responsible for workforce development and labor/workforce policy. This was a truly global survey, with respondents from North and South America, the Nordics, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia.
A gloomy picture for the future
The survey paints a gloomy picture for the future. The majority of industry executives struggle to keep their workforce skills current, in light of rapidly changing technological advancements.
Only 55 percent of the respondents felt the current education system, from grade school up to university, were adequate to ensure lifelong learning and skills development. Most blamed inadequate investment from private industry in addressing these issues.
Any problem can be solved if (a) everyone agrees what the problem is, and (b) everyone feels it is high enough priority to solve. The study found there was a disparity of what the problem is, what the priorities are, and who should solve it.
In the book Class Counts: Education, Inequality, and the Shrinking Middle Class, the author Allan Ornstein argues ".. the debate centers on whether the government should take a backseat or manage the economy, whether a free market should prevail or whether we should redefine or tinker with market forces..."
Which workplace skills are in short supply?
Can we at least agree on which workplace skills are in short supply?
Not surprisingly, Industry leaders ranked the top three skills required:
Technical core capabilities for Science, Technology Engineering and Math [STEM]
Basic computer and software/application skills
Fundamental core capabilities around reading, writing and arithmetic (often called [the three Rs])
These are all "hard skills", referring to the knowledge, skills and competencies to perform specific tasks. Nearly 75 percent of corporate training budgets are focused on hard skills.
Government leaders, on the other hand, especially those that are responsible for labor/workforce policy, ranked the top three skills:
Ability to communicate effectively in a business context
Willingness to be flexible, agile and adaptable to change
Ability to work effectively in team environments
These would all be classified as "soft skills", referring to the people skills, social skills, communication and emotional intelligence to effectively navigate the environment and work well with others.
In fact, these government leaders felt that STEM, computer skills and "the three Rs" ranked the lowest requirements in their priority.
"Unless managers have forgotten everything they learned in Econ 101, they should recognize that one way to fill a vacancy is to offer qualified job seekers a compelling reason to take the job. Higher pay, better benefits, and more accommodating work hours are usually good reasons for job applicants to prefer one employment offer over another."
"... the long-hours pandemic is a symptom of the tech and design sectors' badge-of-honor-martyr-complex. ... part of the reason that women can't have it all is that American business has grown this time-macho culture, a relentless competition to work harder, stay later, pull more all-nighters, ... the classic 40-hour work week have trained us to measure our labor by the number of hours we log,... However, this mindset is dead wrong when applied to today's professionals. The value ... isn't the time they spend, but the value they create through their knowledge."
IT jobs require creativity and focus. In a feature article titled [Why you should work 4 hours a day, according to science], Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, looks at the work habits of highly accomplished creative people through history and finds that they all shared a passion for their work, a terrific ambition to succeed, and an almost superhuman capacity to focus.
Yet when you look closely at their daily lives, they only spent a few hours a day doing what we would recognize as their most important work. The rest of the time, they were hiking mountains, taking naps, going on walks with friends, or just sitting and thinking.
Encouraging more students to develop the skills early
While we all agree that employers should raise salaries, offer better benefits, and fix their morally-corrupt culture of working too many hours, that only addresses part of the problem, the demand half of the equation. We also need to get kids to learn the hard and soft skills needed at an early age.
Do students have what it takes to work in the IT industry? John Rampton lists the [15 Characteristics of a Good Programmer]. Most are soft skills, with my favorites being: Laziness, Impatience and Hubris.
In his book Why Good People Can't Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It, Peter Cappelli advises corporations to take a more proactive role:
"... a huge part of the so-called skills gap actually springs from weak employer efforts to promote internal training for either current employees or future hires ... It makes no sense for the employers, as consumers of skills, to remain an arm's-length distance from the schools that produce those skills..."
The major stakeholders, from industry to education to government, should partner together. For example, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system will be the first in the United States to [require all students to take computer science] in high school, starting with the class graduating in 2020. Grants and training are being provided by IT industry giants like Google and Microsoft.
IBM is also doing its part with [a new education paradigm], called Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools [P-TECH]. Normal high school is typically four years (grades 9 to 12), but P-TECH is a system of innovative public schools spanning grades 9 to 14 that bring together the best elements of high school, college, and career. The additional two years (grades 13 and 14) of community college can help teach the soft and hard skills needed for particular jobs in IT.
After the six years, students graduate with a no-cost associates degree in applied science, engineering, computers and related disciplines, along with the skills and knowledge they need to continue their studies or step easily into well paying, high potential jobs in the IT arena for multiple industries.
The paradigm has grown from one school in 2011 to 60 schools by September 2016, with over 300 large and small companies affiliated with P-TECH schools serving thousands of students.
So the future may not be as gloomy as predicted. Problems can be addressed if everyone works together to solve them. In the mean time, I will be taking the rest of the year off for long-overdue vacation. Perhaps I will go hike mountains and take naps, as Alex suggests above.
This week, I am in Las Vegas for [Edge 2016], IBM's Premiere IT Infrastructure conference of the year.
Day 4, the last day of the conference, is only a partial day, and many people opted to leave on Wednesday evening, or Thursday morning instead. The breakfast and lunch meals had fewer people than the previous days. Here is my recap of day 4 Thursday breakout sessions.
Building Hyperconverged Infrastructure for Next-Generation Workloads
Supermicro is more than happy to customize these, upgrading the CPU, RAM, disk or networking connectivity as needed. This solution is roughly half the price of Nutanix, and offers a better Next-Business-Day/9am-to-5pm support package .
The last time I was in Las Vegas, I presented this topic at [IBM Interconnect conference]. Back then, I was given only 20 minutes, was placed on the Solutions Expo showroom floor, competing with the noise and traffic of attendees going to lunch.
This time, it was much better, a large room, and a bigger-than-expected audience given that it was scheduled on Thursday morning.
Cloud storage comes in four flavors: persistent, ephemeral, hosted, and reference. The first two I refer to as "Storage for the Computer Cloud" and the latter two I refer to as "Storage as the Storage Cloud".
I also explained the differences between block, file and object access, and why different Cloud storage types use different access methods. I wrapped up the session covering the various storage solutions that IBM offers for all four Cloud Storage types.
IBM Storwize and IBM FlashSystem with VersaStack versus NetApp FlexPod
Norm Patten, part of the IBM Competitive Project Office Storage Team, presented a competitive comparison between VersaStack with IBM storage, versus FlexPod with NetApp storage.
Commodity Solid State Drives (SSD) and Shingled Magnetic Recording [SMR] offer low-cost, high-capacity storage.
However, they have their own set of problems, so IBM is developing software that can be included in IBM Spectrum Accelerate, Spectrum Scale, and Spectrum Virtualize to optimize their utility.
The concept of Log-Structured Array has been around since 1988. The IBM RAMAC Virtual Array back in the 1990s used it. NetApp's Write-Anywhere File System (WAFL) is an implementation of the [Log-Structured File System] general concept.
SALSA combines Log-Structured Array with enhancements borrowed from the IBM FlashSystem design, that I covered in my Monday and Wednesday presentations, to enhance write endurance by as much as 4.6 times!
This was an NDA session, so I cannot blog any of the details.
World-class Flash-optimized Data Reduction and Efficiency with IBM FlashSystem A9000 and A9000R
Tomer Carmeli, IBM Offering Manager for the A9000 and A9000R presented. He presented an overview of these models on Monday, so this session was focused on the data footprint reduction technologies.
Basically, it is a three step process. First, all "standard patterns" are removed. IBM has identified some 260 standard patterns that are 8KB in length, such as all zeros, all ones, or all spaces, and replaces these blocks immediately with a pattern token.
Second, [SHA-1] 20-byte hash codes are computed on 8KB pieces on a rolling 4KB alignment boundary. In other words, if a 64KB block of data is written, bytes 0-to-8KB are hashed an compared to existing hash codes. If no match, then bites 4KB-to-12KB are hashed, and so on. This approach nearly doubles the likelihood of finding duplicates. When a block match is found, the algorithm can replacing them with pointer and reference count.
Third, any unique data that still remains is compressed using Lempel-Ziv algorithm. This is done using the [Intel® QuickAssist]. This co-processor can compress data 20 times faster than software algorithms running on general-purpose x86 processors.
Do you want an estimate of how much "reduction ratio" you may achieve? IBM has developed two estimator tools to help. The first tool is a complete scan for data expected to be dedupe-friendly. It is a slow process, taking 8 hours per TB. This would be ideal for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure or backup copies.
The second tool is the infamous [Comprestimator] that IBM has had for awhile to help estimate compression savings for IBM Spectrum Virtualize storage solutions like SVC, Storwize and FlashSystem V9000. This tool is very fast, looking at only a statistically-valid subset of the data.
The results of both tools are merged, and the result is within five percent accuracy. This allows IBM to offer guidance on which data to place on these new A9000 and A9000R models, as well as offer a "reduction ratio" guarantee.
A client asked me why I bother to attend other sessions, when I probably know most of the material they present. I explained that I can always learn from others. I can honestly say that I learned something new and useful at every session I attended.