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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior Software Engineer for the IBM Storage product line at the
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to IBM's developerWorks. In 2016, Tony celebrates his 30th year anniversary with IBM Storage. He is
author of the Inside System Storage series of books. This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to storage and storage networking hardware, software and services. You can also follow him on Twitter @az990tony.
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IBM came out with their latest "5 in 5". These are five predictions for technologies that will havean impact over the next five years, summarized on 5 pages. Before I give my take on this year's set,here is a quick recap of[Last Year's 5 in 5]:
3-D representations of the human body to improve health care
This prediction is based on the idea that most medical mistakes result from lack of informationabout the patient. A 3-D avatar of the patient would allow the doctor to click on the section ofthe body, and this would trigger retrieval of patient records, relevant X-rays, MRI images, and so on.For example, IBM System Storage Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS) provides the storage that wouldallow any doctor to access these records, even if the image was taken at a different facility.
Unfortunately, this prediction only applies to patients who can actually afford to see a doctor. Apparently,no amount of technology, no matter how cool it is, can convince governments to make health care somethingeveryone has access to. Michael Moore has done a good job explaining this in his film documentary [Sicko].
Digital passport for food
Using RFID tags and second generation barcodes, you will have access to details of a food's origin,transportation conditions, and impact to the environment. Much of this information is already gathered,just not stored in a database accessible to the consumer.
Last year, the term "locavore" was the2007 Word of the Year for the Oxford American Dictionary, referring to people who limit what they eatto food produced within a certain radius, from family farms and locally-owned businesses.Here is an excerpt from a [Locavores] website:
Our food now travels an average of 1,500 miles before ending up on our plates. This globalization of the food supply has serious consequences for the environment, our health, our communities and our tastebuds.
Certainly, I am all for selling storage capacity to the food industry to help store vasts amount ofinformation for this, and certainly some people will be able to make smarter decisions based on thisinformation. This is not the first time this idea came up. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration introduced [nutrition labeling requirements] on thehope that people would choose more healthier foods. Despite this, people still opt for white bread, iceberg lettuce, and processed meats, so possibly having more information about where food comes from, and how it was transported, may not mean much to some consumers.
Technology to manage your own carbon footprint
"Smart energy" technologies allow you to walk the talk, by managing your own carbon footprint inyour home. For example, if you forgot to turn off the heat or air conditioner before leaving thehouse on your commute to work, your home would call your mobile phone, so that you can turn aroundand go back and correct that mistake. Better yet, IBM is working with others to provide web-enabledelectric meters that would allow you to turn off systems from work or cell phone browser.
Of course, such technology already exists for the data center. IBM Systems Director Active EnergyManager (AEM) allows you to monitor the actual usage of your servers and storage devices, and insome cases make adjustments to control energy consumption. This can feed into the IBM TivoliUsage and Accounting Manager software to incorporate energy usage as part of the charge-backcalculations. See the [IBM Press Release] formore details.
Cars that drive themselves
Not only will cars that drive themselves reduce the number of drunk-driving accidents, it canalso help reduce congestion in big cities, by routing traffic to different directions, based onGPS and presence-aware technologies. Stockholm (Sweden) has already reduced peak hour traffic by 20 percentusing this approach.
While I admire the concept, cars are perhaps the least energy-efficient mode of transportation.Often, a family can only afford a single vehicle, and it is purchased based on the worst-case scenario.A friend of mine has only two children, but a sever-person mini-van that gets only 17 MPG. Why suchan energy-inefficient vehicle? Because she occasionally drives her daughter and her friends tosoccer practice, and that represents the worst-case scenario, minimizing the parent/child ratio. Theother 99 percent of the time, she is driving by herself, or with one child, and consuming a lot ofgasoline in the process.
A better approach would be to find technology that connects airports, trains, buses and light rail forpublic transportation to greatly reduce the need to drive a car in the first place.
The idea that a family can have only one vehicle plays in the storage arena as well. Larger companiescan afford to have different storage for different workloads. The IBM System Storage DS8000 high-end disk system for their large OLTP anddatabase workloads, an XIV Nextra for their Web 2.0 storage needs, DR550 to hold their compliance data,and so on. Smaller companies are often tasked to find a single solution for all their needs, andfor them, IBM offers the IBM System Storage N series, providing a "unified storage" platform.
Increased dependence on cell phones
Before the cell phone, the last don't-leave-home-without-it technology most of us carried was the credit card. Now, IBM predicts that we will be even more dependent on our cell phones, becoming our banker, ticket broker, and shopping buddy.For example, you could use your cell phone to take a picture of a shirt at the mall, and it will then show you what youwould look like wearing that shirt, on a 3-D avatar representation of yourself, or perhaps your spouse, and getinformation on what discounts are available, or where else the shirt is being offered.
None of this example actually uses the "phone" part of the cell phone, however the cell phone is one device thatnearly everyone carries, so it becomes the development platform for all other technologies to be based on.
The common theme running through these is that it can be helpful to store more information than we do today,provided we make it accessible to the people who need it to make better decisions.
Well,This is completely off-topic, but now that I have a bluetooth-enabled Thinkpad T60, I have been interested in this new wireless technology. I have a bluetooth cell phone, a bluetooth wireless headset, and my thinkpad, and they all work together seemlessly. I am able to speak on my cell phone through my headset, listen to music and videos on my laptop through my headset, and even dial in to the IBM network through my cell phone, all without any cables!
A variation of the Wi-Fi soup-cantenna has emerged to intercepting bluetooth signals. Check out this coolBlueSniper Rifle
"IBM says revenue for its mainframe business rose 32% in the second quarter compared with a year earlier, easily outpacing overall sales growth of 13%.A big driver was February's launch of IBM's next-generation mainframe line, the z10, its first big upgrade since 2004. IBM spent about $1.5 billion on the new line.
With their power and size, mainframes have some unique advantages over (distributed) servers. Many companies cobble together many servers, powered by industry standard chips made by Intel (INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices, (AMD) to do jobs that were once the province of mainframes. IBM, too, sells such servers.
IBD: Can you tell me more about this business?
Gelardi: Traditionally, the mainframe was the back-office powerhouse for batch and transactional processing — sort of the thing behind banks, the thing behind retailers, the thing behind insurance companies.
It's the thing that, if you screw this up, you just gave your whole business away. The new thing, which is really sort of the second driver of growth, is the introduction of Linux (an open-source operating system popular with some servers) on the mainframe. Z-Linux (IBM's Linux mainframe software) is where we have been able to drive substantially new workloads to the mainframe.
IBD: Why is the mainframe business important to IBM?
Gelardi: It's a very differentiated product environment where we feel very confident that we can say to a client, look, we built this thing from the casters all the way up; the software stack, all the way up. We've built into this a level of performance and scalability and efficiency. We're very, very confident that we can resolve any issue (for customers).
Let me give you an example. If I take (1,500 Intel) servers . . . and put them on a single mainframe, I'll have no performance problems whatsoever. But I'm taking all of that workload that was on 1,500 separate servers and consolidating them on one mainframe. While it may be a million-dollar machine and up, it's actually cheaper than those 1,500 servers.
IBD: What are some big drivers for your clients today?
Gelardi: Energy. If you look at a workload on a previous generation mainframe, z9, for the equivalent performance on a z10, I'm going to use 15% less energy for the same amount of performance.
Look at the (physical data-center space) in the industry. The question used to be, "How much space do you want?" The question now is, "How much energy are you going to consume?" It's more efficient to manage the work loads inside the larger (mainframe).
IBD: So, you're saying that using a mainframe addresses these modern problems better than servers?
IBD: Is it hard to convince people of that?
Gelardi: It's a legitimate question for clients who never had a mainframe. There are a few. (In those cases) it will probably be more complicated (to convince them).
However, a year or so ago we put out a press release about an entertainment (company). Their story was, "We're going to build a new gaming environment." Long story short, they said, "Why not use the mainframe?" There are new clients coming to the mainframe.
IBD: Do mainframes help other IBM businesses?
Gelardi: Clearly. I have very broad coverage. We are the server vendor. We have the storage capacity; we have the operating environment; we have the software stack, (including) Websphere, Tivoli, DB2. We have the services capabilities. We have the consulting capability. You can sort of go on. It becomes an ecosystem that is really valuable to the company at large.
IBD: What mainframe customers were active in the second quarter?
Gelardi: Interesting enough (given the state of the industry), the financial services sector was very strong. That was particularly true in the Americas and in Europe. We have a pretty broad spread (of users), but there is no question that financial services is a core market."
IBM offers a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than HP or Sun can offer. For more about the IBM System z10 EC, see my posts last month:
Continuing this week's theme, my team here at theTucson Executive Briefing Center (TEBC) have made these two videos for me, usingcloud-computing facilities from OfficeMax and the folks at JibJab.Only five people were allowed per video, so we had to make two to get everyone in.
If you have been to the Tucson Executive Briefing Center, perhaps you can recognizesome of our faces!
This week I am in Minneapolis, MN, so was hoping that the complicated process of moving this blog over to "MyDeveloperWorks" would happen while I was gone, but alas, that does not appear to be the case.
Meanwhile, my partner in crime, Barry Whyte, has moved his blog [Storage Virtualization]successfully over to the new server.
Perhaps next week. If all goes well, the URL links should redirect correctly, but those of you out there using feed readers might require you to re-subscribe to get the right RSS feeds.
The site is filled with information. One item I found particularly interesting was Science Debate 2008's[14 Questions about Science] where the top two U.S. presidential candidates answer questions about science. Barack Obama's answers inDemocratic blue, and John McCain's answers in Republican red.
This is just one of the ways IBM is trying to reach out and help our next generation.
I was in Raleigh this week, in business meetings, and had dinner last night at a Japanese Tepanyaki restaurant. The man next to me was dining alone, and said he worked for Cisco, a big company, "Had you heard of it?" he asked. Of course, I told him, I work for IBM, and IBM and Cisco have a strong working relationship, using each others products in both directions. He said he understood why they would use IBM, but why would IBM buy anything from them, and then he said, "Oh yes, your cafeteria".
At this point we realized he was talking about SYSCO, the food company, not Cisco, the storage networking technology partner. We both had a good laugh.
Which brings me to think of other "mis-heard" or "mis-interpreted" items that might have caught people off guard because they sounded similarly.
zFS versus ZFS
Some things are case-sensitive. Lower case zFS is the hierarchical file system for the z/OS mainframe environment, which was originally called "episode" file system that IBM acquired from TransArc. z/OS supports two file systems, HFS and zFS. Meanwhile, ZFS is one of the file systems available for Sun Solaris. Apple Mac OS is switching from its own HFS, different than the z/OS version, over the Sun's ZFS.
packs versus PACS
Older mainframers call disk volumes "packs". This started in the days where disks were "removable" and you can pack and unpack them into the drive unit.
PACS on the other hand refers to the "Picture Archive and Communication System" application environment used by hospitals and medical facilities to storage and share X-ray, Cardiology and Radiology images. Today, modern medical equipment are called "modalities" and directly connect to NAS storage via NFS or CIFS protocols. The images are immediately digitized and sent to disk, then tape, for long-term archive storage. IBM's Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS) is designed specifically for this environment.
rack versus RAC
Perhaps my favorite was when someone asked a high-level executive at a conference if their storage product supported Oracle RAC, and the response was that it supported anyone's rack, so long as it met the 19 inch standard. Everyone burst out laughing, and he probably had to be explained what was going on afterward.
Oracle RAC refers to Real Application Cluster, allowing multiple Oracle servers to work together as a system. A "rack" is just the powered shelf, typically 19" wide, and typically 25U or 42U tall, that allows modular servers, storage or network gear be placed together in a data center. A "U" is 1.75 inches, the thickness of a "two-by-four" piece of lumber. If you have ever used a 3.5 inch or 5.25 inch floppy diskette, then you already know the 2U and 3U sizes.
I am sure there are many other examples of similar sounding terms and phrases. If you have any to contribute, post a comment below!
On StorageZilla, fellow blogger Mark Twomey introduces the latest entrant from EMC to the blogosphere,in his post [Polly Pearson's blog].
Although we share the same name, with the same exact spelling, I would like be the first to point out we are not related, at least as far as I know. Basing solely from her post[Welcome to my Blog - Part 1], sheis a year younger than I am, a lot better looking, majored in communications, and is not afraid to quit acrappy job for a much better job elsewhere. I on the other hand, majored in engineering, but agree wholeheartedly not to stick in a crappy situation. There is such a skills shortage out there in the IT industry,with a cap on U.S. [H-1B visas] at a paltry [65,000 this year]. If you don't like your IT job, you should be able toquit and find another one in the IT industry you are more passionate about.
On a similar theme, over at DrunkenData, Jon Toigo's latest post asks if you are[Feeling Insecure About Your Job?]ScoreLogix’s Job Security Index has fallen in the United States, with a sharp drop specifically for IT jobs. Jon points out that while it might be easy to point out that a number went up or down, it is far more difficultto explain why it did so. He gives a good piece of career advice:
Want to keep your job? Play by the rules of the front office: demonstrate the value of what you do for the company from the standpoint of cost-savings, risk reduction and process improvement. Make yourself indispensable. If they don’t appreciate you then, you need to move on. You will always be hiding in your cubical and sweating a pink slip ...
So shine bright. Be remarkable. It is not always easy to communicate your value in a technical position to cluelessnon-technical managers. Certainly, writing a blog helps. Within IBM, there are over 3500 bloggers. Most postwithin the safe confines behind the firewall, but manage to generate ideas, present valid arguments, and get theconversation rolling with the right set of people that might be difficult otherwise in a company like IBM of over350,000 employees scattered around the world. A few of us daringly blog in full public, and carry the conversationto our clients, prospects, analysts, journalists, Business Partners, and others within the IT industry.
So, Polly Pearson from EMC, although we have never met in person, I too welcome you to the blogosphere!
Before dinner, I was able to catch up with my colleagues from across the pond. Here I am pictured with Ola Surowiec, a Power Systems sales specialist from Scotland.
The dinner was set up as self-service buffet style, with choices of European, Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisine. This is largely the heritage of the Ottoman empire to provide a fusion of flavors from its neighbors.
The city of Istanbul is considered the border between Europe and Asia, with one side of the city on the "European" side, and the other side of the Bosphorus strait being the "Asian" side.
With a population of over 14 million, Istanbul forms one of the largest urban agglomerations in Europe, second largest in the Middle East and the third-largest city in the world by population within its city limits.
The entertainment started with two [belly dancers], one male and one female. (IBM is an equal opportunity employer!) For those not familiar with this particular form of performance art, it is improvised folk dances based on torso articulation and abdominal movements.
I have seen dancers before in Egypt, the country that most people associate with the origin of belly dancing, but the Turkish version is considered more energetic and athletic. Certainly both of our dancers were quite flexible.
This was followed by a live cover band that played the latest English-language hits. Several Americans at the table asked "Wait? We come all the way to Turkey and the local band sings the songs in English?"
In the corner, attendees were invited to dress up as their favorite sultan to take photograph. Here for example, are some of the members of the STU event team. Mo McCullough, Don Meyer, Marlin Maddy, Glenn Anderson and Alex Abderrazag pose with two lovely local ladies in full costume.
The word "sultan" derives from the Arabic word meaning "strength", "authority" or "power". Sultans ruled the Turkish empire from 1299 to 1922.
The [Topkapi palace], where I visited earlier in the week, contains clothing on display of the sultans and princes from the second half of the 15th century to the early 20th century.
Hey everyone, I'm having a great time in New York.
Here are a few webinars this week you might be interested in, related to tape, and tape encryption:
1) Wednesday If regulatory compliance and protecting your data against security breaches is top of mind for you, I invite you to attend a webinar on a new enterprise encryption solution from IBM featuring the IBM System Storage™ TS1120 tape drive. On September 20, 2006 Jon Oltsik, Senior Analyst for Information Security with the Enterprise Strategy Group, will moderate a discussion on IBM’s encryption strategy and latest data security advances with a panel of our product and industry experts.
The Magic Quadrant is copyrighted concept by Gartner, representing a two-by-two grid that ranks various offerings from different vendors. Ideally, vendors want their products in the upper right "Leaders" quadrant. Yahoo Finance reports:
According to Gartner, Inc., "Leaders have the highest combined measures of an ability to execute and a completeness of vision. They have the most comprehensive and scalable products. They have a proven track record of financial performance and an established market presence. In terms of vision, they are perceived as thought leaders, having well-articulated plans for ease of use, how to address scalability and product breadth. For vendors to have long-term success, they must plan to address the expanded market requirements for change management and root-cause and performance analysis. Leaders must not only deliver to the current market requirements, which continue to change, but they also need to anticipate and deliver on future requirements. A cornerstone for leaders is the ability to articulate how these requirements will be addressed as part of their vision for resource management. As a group, leaders can be considered a part of most new purchase proposals, and they have high success rates in winning new business."
IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center is a strategic part of IBM Service Management, and a foundational component of the IBM Systems Director family. IBM is making a concerted effort across servers, networks, software and storage to help manage the IT infrastructure in a coordinated way.
Forrester analysts kicked off the keynote sessions for Day 1 of the Forrester IT Forum 2009 event. The theme for this conference is "Redefining IT's value to the Enterprise."Rather than focusing on blue-sky futures that are decades away, Forrester wants to present instead a blend of pragmatic informationthat is actionable now in the next 90 days along with some forward-looking trends.
If you ask CEOs how well their IT operations are doing, 75 percent will saythey are doing great. However, if you dig down, and ask how their companies are leveraging IT to help generate revenues, reduce costs, improve employee morale, drive profits, improve customer service, or manage risks, then the percentage drops down to 30 to 35 percent.
What are the root causes of this "perception gap" in value between business and IT? Several ideas come to mind:
Some CEOs still consider IT departments as "cost centers". Rather than exploiting technology to help drive the rest of the business, they are seen as a necessary evil, an extension of the accounting department, for example.
Some CEOs consider IT's role as basically "keeping the lights on". They only notice IT when the lights go out, or other business outages caused by disruptions in IT.
IT departments measure themselves in technology terms, not business terms. CEOs and the rest of the senior management team may not be "tech savvy", and the CIO and IT directors may not be "business savvy", resulting in failure to communicate IT's role and value to the rest of the business.
This conference is focused on CIOs and IT professionals, and how they can bridge the tech/business gap. The first two executive keynote presentations emphasized this point.
Bob Moffat, Senior VP and Group Executive, IBM
Bob Moffat (my fifth-line manager, or if you prefer, my boss's boss's boss's boss's boss) is the Senior VP and Group Executive of IBM's Systems and Technology Group that manufactures storage and other hardware. He presented how IBM is helping our clients deploy smarter solutions. Globalization has changed world business markets, has changed the reach of information technology, and has changed our client's needs.To support that, IBM is focused on making the world a smarter planet, instrumented with appropriate sensors, interconnected over converging networks, and intelligent to provide visibility, control and automation.
It's time to rethink IT in light of these new developments, to think about IT in client terms, with business metrics. Bob gave several internal and customer examples, here's one from the City of Stockholm:
Covering nine square miles of Stockholm Sweden, IBM led [the largest project of its kind] for traffic congestion in Europe. To reduce congestion caused by 300,000 vehicles, the City of Stockhold enacted a "congestion fee" with real-time recognition of license plates and a Web infrastructure to collect payments. The analytics, metrics and incentives have paid off. Since August 2007, traffic is reduced 18 percent, a reduction of travel time on inner streets, and a 9 percent increase in "green" vehicles.
In addition to smarter traffic, IBM has initiatives for smarter water, smarter energy, smarterhealthcare, smarter supply chain, and smarter food supply.
Dave Barnes, Senior VP and CIO, United Postal Service (UPS)
Dave Barnes must act as the "trusted advisor" to the rest of the senior management team. UPS delivers packages worldwide. They put sensors on all of the vehicles, not just to know how fast they were driving,but also how often they drove in reverse gear, and sensors on the engines to determine maintenance schedules.Analytics found that driving in reverse was the most dangerous, and by providing this information to the drivers themselves, the drivers were able to come up with their own innovative ways to minimize accidents.This is one role of IT, to provide employees the information they need to enable them to be better at their own jobs.
Dave also mentioned the importance of collaborating across business units. Their "Information Technology Steering Committee (ITSC)" has 15 members, of which only three are from the IT department. This helped deploy social media initiatives within UPS. For example, Twitter has been adopted so that senior management can get unfiltered customer feedback. This is perhaps another key role of IT, to flatten an organization from cultural hierarchies that prevent top brass up in the ivory tower from hearing what is going wrong down on the street. Too often, a customer or client complains to the nearest employee, and this may or may not get passed up accurately along the chain of command. Twitter allowed executives to see what was going on for themselves.
Dave also covered the "Best Neighbor" approach. If you were going to build a deck in your back yard, you might ask your neighbors that have already done this, and learn from their experience. Sadly, this does not happen enough in IT. To address this, UPS has a "Tech Governance Group" that focused on business process across the organization. For example, they improved "package flow", reducing 100 million miles in the past few years.
Lastly, he mentioned that many technologists are "loners". They have a few like that, but try to hire techies who look to team across business units instead. Likewise, they try to hire business people who are somewhat tech savvy. For example, they have encouraged business employees to write their own reports, rather than requesting new reports to be developed by the IT department. The end result, the business people get exactly the reports they want, faster than waiting for IT to do it. Another role for IT is to provide end-users the tools to make their own reports.
(Dave didn't mention what tools these were, but it sounded like the Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools [BIRT] that IBM uses.)
These two sessions were a great one-two punch to the audience of 600 CIOs and IT professionals. First, IBM sets the groundwork for what needs to be done. Then, UPS shows how they did exactly that, adopting a dynamic infrastructure and got great results. This is going to be an interesting week!