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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor, Senior IT Architect and Event Content Manager for [IBM Systems for IBM Systems Technical University] events. With over 30 years with IBM Systems, Tony is frequent traveler, speaking to clients at events throughout the world.
Lloyd Dean is an IBM Senior Certified Executive IT Architect in Infrastructure Architecture. Lloyd has held numerous senior technical roles at IBM during his 19 plus years at IBM. Lloyd most recently has been leading efforts across the Communication/CSI Market as a senior Storage Solution Architect/CTS covering the Kansas City territory. In prior years Lloyd supported the industry accounts as a Storage Solution architect and prior to that as a Storage Software Solutions specialist during his time in the ATS organization.
Lloyd currently supports North America storage sales teams in his Storage Software Solution Architecture SME role in the Washington Systems Center team. His current focus is with IBM Cloud Private and he will be delivering and supporting sessions at Think2019, and Storage Technical University on the Value of IBM storage in this high value IBM solution a part of the IBM Cloud strategy. Lloyd maintains a Subject Matter Expert status across the IBM Spectrum Storage Software solutions. You can follow Lloyd on Twitter @ldean0558 and LinkedIn Lloyd Dean.
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This week I'm in Argentina, teaching IBM Business Partners and sales reps about the latest System Storage products. Encouraged by my success on my Digital IBMer tour last month in Europe, I decided to get a SIM chip for my smartphone here in Buenos Aires.
I did my homework. There are three major mobile service providers that offer pre-paid GSM-based SIM chips: Claro, Movistar, and Personal. I arrived on Sunday morning, but thanks to the local [blue laws], none of them were open. I was able to walk around and find retail outlets for each within blocks of my hotel.
All three offer voice and SMS text messaging, but online reviews indicated that Movistar offered the best data plan. I was there at 9:30am sharp, the moment the Movistar store opened Monday morning. The lovely young lady behind the counter was quite helpful. She put the SIM chip in my phone, but then told me it might be an hour or two before it was activated. I would receive an SMS text message welcoming me to the Movistar network. She provided my new 12-digit phone number, along with instructions on how to check my balance (*444) or call for technical assistance (*611).
(FTC Disclosure: even though I am not in the United States as I write this, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission rules require that I mention that this blog post is not intended as a paid or celebrity endorsement for any of the cellphone service providers mentioned. I work for IBM, and this post is based entirely on my personal experience.)
Why not just use international roaming available on my US plan? International roaming is quite expensive! I made the mistake of uploading three hi-res photos to Flickr last year in New Zealand to discover this the hard way. Here is a comparison chart:
Voice calls (per minute)
$2.80 pesos (about $0.64 USD)
SMS text (per message sent)
$0.90 pesos (about $0.20 USD)
$10.00 pesos for 1GB across 2 days (about $2.27 USD)
(If your spouse or significant other threatens to leave you if you don't call her every day while out of the country, remind her that divorce attorneys are less expensive than these international roaming rates! Fortunately, all of my friends and family know this and are quite understanding if they don't here from me as often as they would like.)
The SIM chip cost only 30 pesos (about seven bucks). Normally, SIM chips come without credit, but their current promotion included 20 pesos credit for voice calls (enough for 7 minutes of talking), and 200 free SMS text messages.
Six hours later, my phone still was not yet activated. I returned to the store Monday afternoon to ask what was going on. She decided the chip must be bad, gave me a second one, and assigned me a new phone number. I would then have to wait again another hour or two for the welcome message.
Monday evening, a grey window pops up, "Bienvenidos a Movistar" so I thought it was activated, but it wasn't exactly the SMS text message the young lady told me would happen. Sure enough, neither *444 nor *611 worked, giving me voice responses that my phone is not yet activated, and please wait another hour.
Tuesday morning, I am back at the Movistar outlet. The young lady was not happy to see me. She confirmed my second chip was not yet activated, but felt she did nothing wrong. She insisted the problem was either with my phone, or with the Movistar main office, but that she did everything correctly by the book.
(I realize that the sales clerks at these outlet stores don't have a Ph.D. in digital telephony or electrical engineering. I was not angry, nor trying to blame her individually for all of the problems we encountered. Getting a smartphone manufactured in South Korea for the US market to work in Argentina is challenging enough. Given all the difficulties I had last month in Europe, I know it is not limited to Latin America.)
Either way, I told her, if we can't get my phone working, I would like my 30 pesos refunded and promised she would never see me again.
Her response was classic. She would rather not-see me-again because I was delighted with the Movistar service, rather than not-see me-again because we were unable to get it working. She offered to contact the main office to figure out what was going on, and that I should come back in an hour or two. She did not want to lose my business, nor have me go to one of her two main competitors. Now that's customer service!
Tuesday afternoon, I return. She now was instructed on how to do some basic problem determination. We put my new SIM chip into a test phone, and confirmed it was not my phone having problems. The chip did not work in the test phone either. She called the main office, and they were able to activate the chip in the test phone, and then she transferred the chip back to my phone. I asked her to please call my new phone number to confirm it was now working, and I was able to send a quick text message to confirm that was also working. The *444 indcated that my balance was now down to 19.29 pesos. Apparently, it cost me 71 centavos to receive her phone call.
(Just as we were wrapping up, a young man walks in with his phone wanting a SIM chip. None of the Movistar staff spoke English, he did not speak Spanish, but luckily I speak both fluently and was able to translate.
First, we confirmed his phone was still locked, and that he would need to contact his AT&T provider to get an unlock code. He should then come back with the unlock code and his passport to then buy the chip. He didn't understand why Movistar needed his passport for a pre-paid plan, so I had to explain to him at length Argentinian law, the Denied Parties List, the ongoing war against terror and drug trafficking, and how he would have to agree to their Terms and Conditions to use their service, even if there is no ongoing monthly service contract.
He thanked me, promised to return with both his unlock code and passport, and told me my English was "quite good"!)
The next step was to activate my data plan. For this, I would need to buy additional credit. Scratch cards to add credit to your pre-paid phone, referred to locally as "Tarjeta de Recarga", come in 20 and 30-peso denomnations, but are not sold at the Movistar outlet. Instead, the young lady told me to get one at any kiosk or corner convenience store.
As it turns out, not every convenience store offers these cards for Movistar, but after a few blocks, I was able to find one that did. The process is simple: call *444, follow the Spanish-language prompts, scratch off the back of the card, and enter the 16-digit code. I bought a 20-peso card (about $4.50 USD), followed the procedure, and got my confirmation text, indicating that I qualified for 10 extra pesos as a gift for being a new customer, so my new balance was now $49.29 pesos. Woo-hoo!
Now that my phone was armed with enough credit, all I had to do was send an SMS text message containing the word "Datos" to the Movistar phone number 2345. A text message response indicated my data plan was now active. I will have to do this every other day, as the plan is 1GB per 2-day period, but I have enough credit to last me the rest of the week here. To get my phone to detect the new status, I had to turn on data packet traffic, configure and validate the Access Point Name (APN) information, then reboot the phone.
The data plan service is based on the General Packet Radio Service [GPRS] protocol. GPRS is a best-effort service, resulting in variable throughput and latency that depends on the number of other users sharing the service concurrently. Speeds are comparable to dial-up rates, 56 to 114 Kbps.
For those of us spoiled on T-Mobile's 4G speeds in the USA, GPRS is terribly slow. But that's OK. I doubt I will go over the 1GB limit. Overall, I am quite pleased with my success. My phone is fully functional for the week, and all for less than the cost of a single glass of Malbec in the Hilton lobby bar!
This week, I will be in Las Vegas for the 30th annual [Data Center Conference]. For those on Twitter, follow the conference on hashtag #GartnerDC, and follow me at [@az990tony]. IBM is a Global Partner and Platinum Sponsor for this event. Here is a recap of some of the Monday morning keynote sessions:
Welcome and Introduction
Monday morning kicked off with a welcome introduction from the conference coordinators. This is the highest attendance for this conference in its 30 year history, with 60 percent of the attending for their first time, and 18 percent only once before. This is the fourth time I am attending. Half of the attendees represent corporations with 20,000 employees or more, the other half from smaller companies and government agencies. The top five industries represented are financial services, public sector, healthcare, manufacturing, and energy.
This conference uses a clever "interactive polling" where hand-held devices can be used to select choices, and results of over 800 voters are presented immediately on the big screen.
For IT budgets, 42 percent plan to increase next year, 32 percent flat, and 26 percent lower, which are similar to the numbers last year. Of nine different IT challenges, the top three were managing storage growth, power/cooling issues, and adopting a Cloud strategy.
Top 10 Trends and how they will impact Data Center IT
The analyst presented top 10 business, technology and societal trends that will impact IT. He added a last-minute eleventh issue that he felt will impact everyone in 2012:
Consumerization and the Tablet. Back in 1997, a GB of flash memory cost $7,992 US dollars, and today that same GB costs only 25 cents. Employees are bringing their own devices to the workplace, and expecting IT support.
Infinite Data Center. You may never have to expand your floorspace again. Improvements in server and storage density can allow you to continually upgrade in place.
Energy Management. Data centers consume 100x more energy than the offices they support. The cost of energy is on part with IT equipment. Energy management is becoming an enterprise-wide discipline. A key performance indicator (KPI) can be "compute per kW" or "compute per Square foot".
Context Awareness. There are hundreds of thousands of apps for Android-based smart phones and iPhones. Context awareness allows an app to help business travelers in airports know what restaurants are nearby, their flight status, and alternate flights available, based entirely on their location.
Hybrid Clouds. By 2013, over 60 percent of cloud adoption will be to redeploy existing apps like email. Some 80 percent of cloud initiatives will be private or hybrid configurations. Customers want "good enough" technology, and thus Cloud will be mostly an augmentation strategy.
Fabric Computing. The opposite of fully-integrated stacks is the notion of having compute, memory and storage joined together via an interconnect fabric with software to manage the entire environment.
IT Complexity. Robert Glass's Law states that for every 25 percent increase in functionality, there is a 100 percent increase in complexity. See Roger Session's whitepaper [The IT Complexity Crisis: Danger and Opportunity] for more on this.
Patterns and Analytics. Big data and business analytics is a key platform. This is expected to grow 60 percent CAGR.
Impact of Virtualization. Virtualizing your environment should be considered a continuous process, not a one-time project. Many companies are running x86 servers at less than 55 percent, which the speaker considers under-utilized. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a trade-off, may cost more but have other business benefits to consider. The problem is that many IT shops are organized vertially (a server team, storage team, network team) but problems surface horizontally, and there is no "ownership" for the resolution. Some use "tiger teams" to address this. Companies should reward lateral thinking.
Social Media. Of the ommunications on cell phones by college students, 98.4 percent are text messages, and only 1.6 percent voice phone calls. People search Google for "what was", but they search Twitter for "what is". Most of the growth on Twitter are in the 39-52 year-old demographic. The analyst felt that if your company is blocking or restricting access to facebook, twitter, youtube or other social networking sites, then shame on you. I agree!
Flooding in Thailand. Over two million square feet of HDD production space were flooded, and this will impact HDD prices for 2012. Already, a 2TB drive that was selling for $79 at local store is now selling for $190.
How To Get Your CFO's Support For Strategy and Funding
In the first of a series of "mastermind interviews", the analyst interviewed their own CFO Chris Lafond. Ultimately, it is about business results. They have grown annual 15-20 percent, from 250 million in 2003 to 1.3 billion US dollars in 2011 for annual revenue, 4600 employees, doing business in 85 countries. The company is focused on three business areas: Research, Consulting, and Events like this one. Chris does not approve 3-5 year projects, and instead requests projects be broken up into year-long phases. ROI can be very misleading, and he asks instead for benefits and contributions to initiatives.
It is important to keep the horse in front of the cart. Accounting departments should not drive business decisions. For example, companies should not move to the public cloud just so that the accounting department can shift from CAPex to OPex. Try to depreciate as soon as possible. Likewise, green technologies and social responsibility are factors, but not drivers of business decisions. Acquisitions are a natural evolution of the market, so risk mitigation strategies should be in place in case your vendor of choice is acquired by someone you don't like.
For BC/DR planning, the analyst has a single Data Center approach, but Chris indicated that IT is looking to expand this. Their single datacenter for one part of their business was in Florida, and the other in Massachusetts, and both impacted by Hurricanes or Earthquakes recently.
The "lightning round" asked Chris his thoughts, either thumbs up, thumbs down, or neutral, on single ideas or concepts. I liked this part of the interview!
Chargeback? Thumbs down. He doesn't feel you should have internal fighting over charge rates. He prefers showback instead.
BYO Device with stipend? Thumbs down, but inevitable. Giving people a chunk of money to buy their own laptop, smart phone or tablet of choice may wreak havoc on the IT department for support and service.
Telepresence? Thumbs down. Cool, but very expensive. I don't think people are prepared to exploit the benefits of this.
Corporate apps on public "app stores"? Thumbs down. Concerns over security and integration is main issue.
Access to Social Networks? Thumbs up. This is how employees communicate and collaborate. Don't stifle them doing the right things just because you are afraid they might waste 20 minutes on Facebook per day.
Your IT budget? It's up slightly 1-5 percent for 2012.
Cloud? Promising, some challenges related to integration and security.
Chris finished up with a story about an application team that indicated that they would need to make 100 customizations to an off-the-shelf general ledger financial application. Chris and the other executives asked to be presented each and every customization, and he was able to eliminate most of them.
Positive comments I heard from the audience was that these keynotes had real "meat" to them, and not just full of cliches and platitudes that is common for keynote sessions. I would have to agree.
Continuing my romp through Australia and New Zealand, the last Storage Optimisation Breakfast of the week was Brisbane, which the locals here refer to as [Brisvegas], probably for all of the nightlife and casinos here.
The IBM office building is conveniently across the street from my hotel, the [Sofitel Brisbane]. The hotel also sits above central station, which allows quick transportation to the airport.
This time, we had a tag team of two people from James Cook University (JCU) to present their success story. First up was Kent Adams, the Director or Information Technology and Resources. JCU is recognized as one of the top 5 percent of Universities worldwide, and as a result, their data storage requirements are growing at 400 percent per year! Their latest purchase put out for RFP was for at least 40TB that could handle at least 20,000 IOPS. The winning solutions was an IBM XIV disk system.
Behind the scenes at all the events this week here in Australia were, from left to right, Natalie from GPJ Australia, the local subsidiary of the George P. Johnson events management we use in the states; Sonia Phillips, IBM Advisory Marketing Lead for Dynamic Infrastructure Optimisation and Cloud Computing, Demand Programs, for Australia and New Zealand; and Monika Lovgren, IBM Marketing and Execution Lead for Workload Optimised Systems for Australia.
The second speaker was Lee Askew, one of the Storage Administrators. Overall, the JCU team have been amazed at how well this box works. When they started it up, they expected to spend the next 24-36 hours formatting RAID ranks, but not with the XIV. It was ready in 2 minutes and they started provisioning storage right away. Their own tests to fail a drive found they can do a full rebuild to redundancy in 9 minutes. It took 8-36 hours on their previous disk array. Failing a full data module took only 75 minutes to bring back to redundancy.
After a long and tiring week, I was able to relax by walking through this beautiful King Edward park near the IBM building. This had a nice variety of plants and flowers, and with the surprise visit of a lizard about the length of my arm that crossed my path.
JCU also uses Asynchronous Mirror to replicate data to another XIV at distance. Again, as with all aspects of IBM XIV, the solution works as advertised. They are well positioned to grow from the 18,000 students they have today, to their target goal of 25,000 students they want to have by 2015.
Worldwide, IBM has done well with colleges and universities, and this was a great example of how partnering with IBM for your IT infrastructure can make a huge difference!
Well, it's Tuesday again, and that means IBM announcements! Today we had a major launch, with so many products, services and offerings
that I can't fit them all into a single post, so I will split them up into several posts to give the attention they deserve. So, in this
post, I will focus on just the networking gear.
IBM Converged Switch B32
The "Converged" part of this switch refers to Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE), which is just a lossless Ethernet that meets certain standards to allow Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) that are still being discussed between Brocade and Cisco. Thankfully, IBM demanded both Brocade and Cisco stick to open agreed-upon standards, and the rest of the world gets to benefit from IBM's leadership in keeping everything as open and non-proprietary as possible.
The B32 ("B" because it was made by Brocade) starts with 24 10Gb Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) ports, and then you can add eight Fibre Channel ports, for a total of 32 ports, hence the name B32. These are designed to be Top-of-Rack (TOR) switches. Basically, instead of having expensive optical cables for Ethernet and/or Fibre Channel out of each server, you have cheap twinax copper cables connecting the server's Converged Network Adapters (CNA) to this TOR switch, and then you can have the 10Gb Ethernet go to your regular Ethernet LAN, and your 8Gbps FC traffic go to your regular FC SAN. In other words, the CNA serves both the role of an Ethernet Network Interface Card (NIC) as well as a Fibre Channel Host Bus Adapter (HBA) card.
(You might see 8Gbps Fibre Channel represented as 8/4/2 or 2/4/8, this is just to remind you that these 8Gb FC ports can auto-negotiate down to 2Gbps and 4Gbps legacy hardware, but not 1Gbps. If you are still using 1Gbps FC, you need 4Gpbs SFP transceivers instead, shown often as 1/2/4 or 4/2/1.)
New SSN-16 module for Cisco directors and switches
When I present SAN gear to sales reps, I often get the question, "What is the difference between a switch and a director?" My quick and simple answer is that switches have fixed ports, but directors have slots that you can slide in different blades or expansion modules. The Cisco MDS9500 series are directors with slots, the three models provide a hint to their capacity. The last two digits represent the number of total slots, but the first two slots are already taken. In other words, model 9513 has 11 slots, model 9509 has seven slots, and model 9506 has four slots. You can have a 48-port blade in a slot, so in theory, you can have a maximum of 528 ports on the biggest model 9513.
However, if you want FCIP for disaster recovery, or I/O Acceleration (IOA) for remote e-vaulting tape libraries, you need a special 18/4 blade. This has 18 FC ports, four 1GbE ports and a special service processor that speaks FCIP or IOA. If you wanted two service processors for FCIP and two for IOA, you would need four of these blades, and that takes up slots that could have been used for 48-port blades instead. The solution? The new SSN-16 has sixteen 1GbE ports and four service processors, so with one slot, you can handle the FCIP and IOA processing that you previously used four cards, giving you three slots back to use with higher port-density cards.
Even better, you can put this new SSN-16 in the Cisco 9222i. The model 9222i is a "hybrid" switch with 22 fixed ports (18 FC ports, four fixed 1GbE ports, and a service processor, so basically the fixed port version of the 18/4 blade above), but it also has one slot! That one slot can be used for the SSN-16 to give you added FCIP or IOA capability.
For our mainframe clients, the FICON package includes four 24-port FICON blades and 96 SFP 4Gbps transceivers to fully populate them. Here is the IBM [Press Release].
Cisco Nexus 5000 series for IBM System Storage
The Cisco Nexus 5000 series is Cisco's entry into the Converged Enhanced Ethernet world, although Cisco sometimes refers to this as Data Center Ethernet (DCE), IBM will continue to use CEE when referring to either Brocade and Cisco gear. These are also Top-of-Rack aggregators that support CNA connections over cheaper twinax copper wires. Model 5010 has 10 ports that can be configured for either 1GbE or 10Gb CEE, 10 ports that are 10Gb CEE, and a slot for an expansion module. The Model 5020 has basically twice as much of everything, including two slots instead of one. Since 10Gb Ethernet does not auto-negotiate down to 1GbE, half the ports can be configured to run 1GbE instead. Frankly, that can be seen as wasting your precious Nexus ports with 1GbE connections, so you might find a 1GbE-to-10GbE aggregator that combines a dozen or more 1GbE to a few 10GbE links instead.
Today's announcement is that in addition to 10GbE and 4Gbps FC expansion modules, there is now an expansion module that supports 8Gbps Fibre Channel. Here is the IBM [Press Release].
Whether you choose Brocade or Cisco, nearly all of IBM System Storage disk and tape products can work today with Converged Enhanced Ethernet environments, either directly using iSCSI, NFS or CIFS, or using the FCoE methodology.
As you can see, it took me a whole post just to cover just our networking gear announcements, and I haven't even covered our disk, tape and cloud storage offerings. I'll get to these in later posts.
This week, I will be in Auckland, New Zealand for the [IBM System x and System Storage Technical Symposium]. This is a three-day event, with 35 unique sessions and labs. The agenda is organized with a keynote session in the beginning, followed by 12 time slots over three days, each slot offering five different break-out session topics to choose from. Here is a recap of Day 1:
The keynote was led by Phil Tasker, IBM Business Unit Executive (BUE) for STG Education Programs in Growth Markets, then Matt Paterson, General Manager for Sales in New Zealand say a few words. IBM is in the Top 10 Training Hall of Fame, and conducts over 40,000 classes worldwide, resulting in over 1.3 million student days of instructions. IBM Systems Lab and Training technical hosts over three dozen conferences like this one every year. This is the first time that System x and Storage Symposium has been run in New Zealand, and based on the incredibly good turn-out, will probably be a regular event.
Matt Ziegler - HPC
Matt Ziegler, IBM Senior HPC Solutions Architect for the iDataPlex marketing team, gave an introdcution to HPC during the keynote, then provided more details in a break-out session.
In the High Performance Computing (HPC) market, IBM POWER used to be the dominant chipset, with over 200 of the top 500 supercomputers back in June 2001. Today, only about 50 use POWER. Rather, over 350 of the top 500 supercomputers use x86 instead. HPC represents a 6.3 percent growth opportunity for computer, 9.3 percent growth for storage, and 8.6 percent growth for services.
IBM's leadership in energy efficiency applies to HPC as well. In the "Green 500", a ranking based on MFLOPS/Watt, 19 of the top 25 are from IBM. IBM's iDataPlex is the most energy efficient x86 platform, at 401 MFLOPS per Watt.
Overall, x86 is growing. In 2005, x86 had 48 percent of the market, RISC/Itanium had 39 percent, and mainframe had 12 percent. In 2009, x86 grew to 56 percent, RISC/Itanium dropped to 33 percent, and mainframe to 11 percent. By 2014, Matt projects that x86 will be 63 percent, RISC/Itanium will drop to 30 percent, and mainframe to 7 percent.
The most popular form factor for x86 are blades. Growing from 8 percent in 2005, to 20 percent in 2009, and projected to be 33 percent by 2014.
IBM's Storage Strategy in the Era of Smarter Computing
I gave this presentation twice today. It has evolved quite a bit from the version I presented in Orlando last July. Attendees appreciated that my colorful analogies and stories helped them better understand the concepts of Big Data analytics, Workload-Optimized systems, and Cloud Storage offerings.
SONAS Product Review and Demo
Rich Swain presented IBM's Scale-Out Network Attached Storage (SONAS) and provided a live demo connecting to a box here in New Zealand. This is a topic I often present at the Tucson Executive Briefing Center, but it is always good to hear someone else's spin.
Phil Tasker invited everyone to the Welcome Reception after the last sessions. There was food and drink, and prizes! One person won an Xbox-360 game console, and two people won iPads.
Well it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
(Update: I thought it was quite clever to announce the new z13 mainframe on January the 13th. A few [triskaidekaphobic] employees pointed out that certain [Greek and Spanish-speaking cultures] consider Tuesday the 13th to be an unlucky day. However, superstitious people should probably not work in IT, as it would be difficult for a worldwide company like IBM to avoid all the numbers that different cultures consider unlucky.)
You are cordially invited to join IBM on January 14 from 2:00pm to 4:30pm Eastern Standard Time (US) when IBM will share a whole new generation of IBM z Systems™ built to meet the needs of your digital business. Join us and learn how IBM z Systems are designed to:
Support the transaction growth and needs of the mobile generation and the Internet of things
Integrate data, transactions and analytics, for in-transaction insights and right-time actions
Provide secure, trusted and efficient cloud services with new economic models
Exploit new modern, open development environments, tooling and skills for greater returns
At this live streaming event, you will hear from a remarkable group of business and technology leaders who will share success stories, best practices and the exciting technology innovations and capabilities of the new generation of IBM z Systems. Go to the Registration page] to participate.
But what does this really mean? Are you thinking BFD?
(Update: For those not familiar with IT acronyms, BFD refers to "Bigger, Faster, Denser" -- the trend in IT to announce new generations that are merely bigger, faster, and/or denser versions of the previous generations. Fortunately, the z13 takes up the same amount of data center floor space -- 2 floor tiles = 2 square meters = 20 square feet -- and weighs approximately the same as the z196 and zEC12, so raised floor struts do not have to be strengthened or reinforced to take in this new system.)
You may have noticed that we are now talking about "z System" instead of "System z". This change was made to line up with IBM's change to "POWER Systems" from "System p". Leadership felt that dropping the stodgy old zEnterprise and giving the mainframe a "hip" new name would attract new emerging digital workloads like Cloud, Analytics, Mobile and Social.
This is not the first time IBM has renamed products in a series. While the IBM mainframe just celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, the "13" refers to the 13th generation of CMOS-based mainframe technology introduced in 1994. Here is a quick table to show you the names that have evolved over the years:
1 to 6
S/390 G1 to G6
zSeries z800 and z900
zSeries z890 and z990
9 to 10
System z9 and z10
System z196 and z114
zEnterprise zEC12 and zBC12
(Note: This change also corresponds to a completely restructuring of IBM into business units, eliminating its former hardware and software groups. The design and development of all mainframe-related hardware, software and middleware will be consolidated under the IBM Systems business unit. I will wait for IBM's 4Q financial results announcement on or after January 20 before I cover this in any more detail.)
The z13 machine itself has some unique differences from previous generations. Instead of a "Multi-chip Module" (MCM) that contained multiple processor and storage controllers on a single slab, the z13 uses Single-Chip Modules (SCM) that are either a single 8-core processor, or a single system controller, allowing them to be field replaceable units (FRU).
Previous generations organized the processors in 1 to 4 vertical "books". The problem was that if you had a single book system, you bought a lot of hardware infrastructure designed to support a full four books. In the new design, processors are organized into horizontal Central Processor Complex (CPC) drawers, with additional hardware infrastructure provided per drawer. This makes the lower-end models more affordable. Each drawer has six processor SCMs and two system controller SCMs, providing 39 to 42 usable cores per drawer. Models ranges from 30 to 141 usable cores, with the option to upgrade from one model to another as your needs grow.
The z13 provides N-2 generation compatibility. This means you can have the z196, zEC12 and z13 all participate in the same Parallel Sysplex. You will also be able to upgrade your z196 or zEC12 to the new z13 system.
The new z13 can have up to 10TB of memory, and this can be assigned entirely to a single Logical Partition, or LPAR. The system can be subdivided up to 85 LPARs, versus 60 on the previous generation. Currently, z/OS v1 can only have up to 1TB per LPAR, and z/OS v2 can only go up to 4TB, so I suspect this 10TB is planning for future OS releases.
The new z13 now offers Simultaneous Multithreading [SMT]. Initially, this will double the number of threads for IFL engines (supporting Linux and z/VM), and zIIP engines supporting DB2, Java, XML and IPsec workloads. IBM is eliminating the zAAP engines, since zIIP engines can do all of that. The new [Preview z/OS v2.2] will take advantage of this SMT capability.
To assist with database, analytics and multimedia workloads, the z13 offers Single Instruction, Multiple Data [SIMD] capability. This allows a single instruction to perform the same update or action across many data fields.
For those clients with zBX models 2 and 3, allowing you to run POWER-based AIX and x86-based Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems on your mainframe, they will be able to upgrade to [zBX model 4 for the z13 System]. Now that IBM has sold off its x86 server business to Lenovo, I suspect it will also phase out the zBX offerings as well.
To handle emerging workloads of Cloud, Mobile and other Web applications, IBM will offer a new stronger and faster Crypto Express5S cryptographic adapter. The z13 will enhance public key support for constrained digital environments using Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) for users such as Chrome, Firefox, and Apple's iMessage. The z13 will also minimize reformatting of databases with new exploitation of VISA format preserving encryption (FPE) for credit card numbers.
The z13 also made some enhancements for Linux clients. The zAware analytics that analyzes internal traces and logs for z/OS has been extended to support Linux on System z. For those who want to use GDPS Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery services, but don't want to develop z/OS skills for the "K" system, there will now be a Virtual GDPS appliance that will run self-contained z/OS. Lastly, IBM has made a statement of direction that it will support open source Linux KVM as a Linux-only alternative to z/VM hypervisor. OpenStack will support both this new Linux KVM as well as z/VM 6.3 release.
The PCIe bus has been upgraded to Gen3 at 16Gbps, from Gen2 used in the zEC12. These can be used for Coupling Facility Links, which are faster than the legacy 6 Gbps InfiniBand, which are also supported for legacy migration. People with z196 and zEC12 can either carry forward their I/O drawers they have previously purchased, or move the PCiE Gen2 cards into the new Gen3 drawers.
The new z13 will also support 16Gb FICON, using the new FICON Express5S cards. Here is my segue into storage, as you are probably now wondering when I was going to get to the storage part of the announcement!
IBM is also announcing corresponding changes to the DS8870 firmware and accessories to go with the z13 System. This includes:
FICON Dynamic Routing
Reduce cost with improved and persistent performance for supporting I/O devices. This feature will allow SAN directors to have both FICON and FCP share the same Inter-switch Links (ISL). This is especially useful for clients who use FCP with their Linux, z/VM, AIX or Windows workloads.
16Gb Host Adapters
Improve network performance with twice faster FC and FICON adapters, and minimize latency for database log writes with zHyperWrite and Metro Mirror. These 16Gb adapters can auto-negotiate down to 4Gb and 8Gb, so that the DS8870 can connect to both the new z13 mainframe, as well as older models.
Forward Error Correction
Preserve data integrity with more redundancy on the information transmitted via 16Gb adapters.
zHPF Extended Distances improvements
Increase remote data speed with 50 percent better I/O performance when accessing remote disk, typically after a HyperSwap. The "zHPF" acronym is short for z System High Performance FICON.
Improved resiliency capabilities while enhancing the value of FICON Dynamic Routing mentioned above. IBM is extending Workload Manager (WLM) Quality of Service (QoS) optimization that exists now for compute and storage to the SAN Fabric, allowing WLM policies to influence FICON traffic.
IBM zHyperWrite™ capability
Helps you achieve better DB2 log write performance when using Metro Mirror (PPRC) in a HyperSwap-managed environment. Log writes are sent directly to both DASD, freeing up Metro Mirror resources.
But don't just take my word for it, here are reviews of the new system from various journalists:
"They seem a computing odd couple: the mainframe, the old workhorse, and the smartphone, the cool-kid computer of today. But IBM has designed the latest version of the mainframe, which is being introduced on Wednesday, with the smartphone in mind. The new mainframe, the z13, has been engineered to cope with the huge volume of data and transactions generated by people using smartphones and tablets."
-- New York Times
"One customer enthusiastic about such features is Citigroup Inc., a longtime IBM user that favors mainframes for both reliability and security. 'Security is in the DNA of the mainframe,' said Martin Kennedy, Citi's managing director for platforms and storage. Another factor shaping the bank's needs, Mr. Kennedy said, is the rising volume of transactions carried out using smartphones and other mobile devices. Mainframes are particularly good at combining data from a variety of systems and presenting them to a user's mobile app, he said."
-- The Wall Street Journal
"IBM is introducing a new mainframe in a bet that clients will need its souped-up speed and security to handle a surge in consumers using smartphones for everything from banking to checking health-care records. The z13 system can encrypt and analyze data in real time and process 30,000 transactions a second, International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) announced today. That means faster and safer transactions for consumers on mobile phones."
"With the unveiling of the z13, IBM has taken its MobileFirst Platform to deliver even better performance and security than before, as it incorporates the fastest microprocessor in the world, server processors that are twice as fast as existing products, 300 percent additional memory and 100 percent more bandwidth analytics speed. Last year, IBM formed a partnership with Apple to help bring Apple's iDevices to business customers to boost sales, with IBM providing cloud and mobile analytics support."
-- The Street
"'We're driving toward a world where more and more people are using mobile devices, or embedded devices, to interact with systems,' John Birtles, director of IBM z Systems, tells WIRED. 'We need to make sure that those devices are secure, that the transaction's secure, and that our clients get the level of analytics that gives them opportunities to improve their businesses.'"
IBM mainframes are used to process the majority of financial transactions around the world, is well positioned to handle Cloud, Analytics, Mobile and Social workloads. The IBM DS8000 series disk is the #1 market leader for disk storage on mainframe environments.
Wrapping up my coverage of the IBM Dynamic Infrastructure Executive Summit at the Fairmont Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, we had a final morning of main-tent sessions. Here is a quick recap of the sessions presented Thursday morning. This left the afternoon for people to catch their flights or hit the links.
Data Center Actions your CFO will Love
Steve Sams, IBM Vice President of Global Site and Facilities, presented simple actions that can yield significant operational and capital cost savings. The first focus area was to extend the life of your existing data center. Some 70 percent of data centers are 10-15 years old or worse, and therefore not designed for today's computational densities. IBM did this for its Lexington data center, making changes that resulted in 8x capability without increasing footprint.
The second focus area was to rationalize the infrastructure across the organization. The process of "rationalizing" involves determining the business value of specific IT components and deciding whether the business value justifies the existing cost and complexity. It allows you to prioritize which consolidations should be done first to reduce costs and optimize value. IBM's own transformation reduced 128 CIOs down to a single CIO, and from 155 host data centers scattered were consolidated down to seven, and 80 web hosting data centers down to five. This also included consolidating 31 intranets down to a single global intranet.
The third focus area was to design your new infrastructure to be more responsive to change. IBM offers four solutions to help those looking to build or upgrade their data center:
Scalable Modular Data Center - save up to 20 percent than traditional deployments with turn-key configurations from 500 to 2500 square feet that can be deployed in as little as 8-12 weeks to an existing floorspace.
Enterprise Modular Data Center - save 40 to 50 percent with 5000 square foot standardized design for larger data centers. This modular approach provides a "pay as you grow" approach that can be more responsive to future unforeseen needs.
Portable Modular Data Center - this is the PMDC shipping container that was sitting outside in the parking lot. This can be deployed anywhere in 12-14 weeks and is ideal for dealing with disaster recoveries or situations where traditional data center floor plans cannot be built fast enough.
High Density Zone - this can help increase capacity in an existing data center without a full site retrofit.
Here is a quick [video] that provides more insight.
Neil Jarvis, CIO of American Automobile Association (AAA) for Northern California, Nevada and Utah (NCNU), provided the customer testimonial. Last September, the [AAA NCNU selected IBM] to build them an energy-efficient green data center. Neil provided us an update now six months later, managing the needs of 4 million drivers.
Virtualization - Managing the World's Infrastructure
Helene Armitage, IBM General Manager of the newly formed IBM System Software product line, presented on virtualization and management. Virtualization is becoming much more than a way of meeting the demand for performance, capability, and flexibility in the data center. It helps create a smarter, more agile data center. Her presentation focused on four areas: consolidate resources, manage workloads, automate processes, and optimize the delivery of IT services.
Charlie Weston, Group Vice President of Information Technology at Winn Dixie, one of the largest food retailers in the United States, with over 500 stores and supermarkets. The grocery business is highly competitive with tight profit margins. Winn Dixie wanted to deploy business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) while managing IT equipment scattered across these 500 locations. They were able to consolidate 600 stand-alone servers into a single corporate data center. Using IBM AIX with PowerVM virtualization on BladeCenter, each JS22 blade server could manage 16 stores. These were mirrored to a nearby facility, as well as a remote disaster recovery center. They were also able to add new Linux application workloads to their existing System z9 EC mainframe. The result was to free up $5 million US dollars in capital that could be used to remodel their stores, and improve application performance 5-10 times. They were able to deploy a new customer portal on Linux for System z in days instead of months, and have reduced their disaster recovery time objective (RTO) against hurricanes from days to hours. Their next steps involves looking at desktop virtualization.
Redefining x86 Computing
Roland Hagan, IBM Vice President for IBM System x server platform, presented on how IBM is redefining the x86 computing experience. More than 50 percent of all servers are x86 based. These x86 servers are easy to acquire, enjoy a large application base, and can take advantage of readily available skilled workforce for administration. The problem is that 85 percent of x86 processing power remains idlea, energy costs are 8 times what they were 12 years ago, and management costs are now 70 percent of the IT budget.
IBM has the number one market share for scalable x86 servers. Roland covered the newly announced eX5 architecture that has been deployed in both rack-optimized models as well as IBM BladeCenter blade servers. These can offer 2x the memory capacity as competitive offerings, which is important for today's server virtualization, database and analytics workloads. This includes 40 and 80 DIMM models of blades, and 64 to 96 DIMM models of rack-optimized systems. IBM also announced eXFlash, internal Solid State Drives accessible at bus speeds.
The results can be significant. For example, just two IBM System x3850 4-socket, 8-core systems can replace 50 (yes, FIFTY) HP DL585 4-socket, 4-core Opteron rack servers, reducing costs 80 percent with a 3-month ROI payback period. Compared to IBM's previous X4 architecture, the eX5 provides 3.5 times better SAP performance, 3.8 times faster server virtualization performance, and 2.8 times faster database performance.
The CIO of Acxiom provided the customer testimonial. They were able to get a 35-to-1 consolidation switching over to IBM x86 servers, resulting in huge savings.
Top ROI projects to Get Started
Mark Shearer, IBM Vice President of Growth Solutions, and formerly my fourth-line manager as the Vice President of Marketing and Communications, presented a list of projects to help clients get started. There are over 500 client references that have successfully implement Smarter Planet projects. Mark's list were grouped into five categories:
Enabling Massive Scale
Increase Business Agility
Manage Risk, Compliance and Security
Organize Vast Amounts of Information
Turn Information into Insight
The attendees were all offered a free "Infrastructure Study" to evaluate their current data center environments. A team of IBM experts will come on-site, gather data, interview key personnel and make recommendations. Alternatively, these can be done at one of IBM's many briefing centers, such as the IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona that I work at.
This wraps up the week for me. I have to pack the XIV back into the crate, and drive back to Tucson. IBM plans to host another Executive Summit in the September/October time frame on the East coast.
Has it been a week already? I am here in Europe checking out various options for mobile, social media and cloud on my "Digital IBMer" tour. Here´s where we have been so far...
We landed at the Frankfurt airport, which will serve as our starting and ending point. It is close to Mainz where my IBM colleagues at the Executive Briefing Center for Germany is located. I looked throughout the airport for a SIM chip for my smartphone that worked in all European countries, but nobody had one for sale. We had lunch while we wait for the train to Brussels.
Our next stop was Brussels, capital of Belgium. The Belgians speak Flemish, which is like a Belgian version of Dutch, and French. I don´t speak Flemish nor Dutch, so I have been able to get by on French here. The Hotel Opera was near the central station, but we got off at the Bruxelles-Midi, thinking that Midi meant middle, or central of the city, but is Flemish (er.. make that French) for South instead, so we had a bit of walking to do!
Bruges is only an hour train ride from Brussels and is worth seeing. Our Eurail pass makes it easy just to go from city to city by train. Our particular one allows us first class travel through 23 countries for 15 contiguous days. We had lunch at the central square, and for dessert... Belgian Waffle-on-a-stick! Mine was covered in powdered sugar, and soon the rest of me was also.
Through tweets on Twitter, I was able to meet up with Stef, a local storage administrator and fan of my blog, and go out for beers. Stef was kind enough to lend me a pre-paid SIM chip for my phone that provided data plan while I am in Belgium! Thank you Stef!
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Not surprisingly, Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities. It´s like Las Vegas without casinos. Our hotel, The Bulldog, is conveniently located in the center of town.
I met up with Joanne, a professional cellist (yes, she plays the Cello musical instrument for a living) who took us on a tour of the MuzikGebouw, which is where they hold concerts and events. Using the "Amsterdam City Guide" app from Travel Advisor on my smartphone, we followed one of their suggested self-guided walking tours. We also went to the Rijksmuseum, which is under construction, so only a subset of the art is on display.
From Amsterdam, we took a night train to Copenhagen. This is a 15-hour train ride, no dinner, but they give you breakfast. Men and women are in separate sleeping cars, and I was paired up with a business man, Danny, from Tiawan trying to sell clothing for firefighters.
Until now, I have managed with German, French and English, but I wasn´t sure about Danish, so I brought this "European Phrase Book" that has 14 languages. We stayed at the DanHostel, conveniently located near"Tivoli Park".
We have safely arrived to Berlin. Our train from Copenhagen to Hamburg went on a ferry boat to cross over the water! We are staying at Plus Berlin Hostel,which has a nice indoor swimming pool and dry sauna.
Until now, we have had beautiful sunny weather, but today is cold and dreary. We started out taking photos of all the graffiti in East Berlin we could find, but it started raining, so we changed plans and went to the world famous Pergamonmuseum.
Well, that´s my first week of adventure. Tomorrow, we leave for Prague in the Czech Republic!
On his The Storage Architect blog, Chris Evans wrote [Twofor the Price of One]. He asks: why use RAID-1 compared to say a 14+2 RAID-6 configuration which would be much cheaper in terms of the disk cost? Perhpaps without realizing it, answers itwith his post today [XIV part II]:
So, as a drive fails, all drives could be copying to all drives in an attempt to ensure the recreated lost mirrors are well distributed across the subsystem. If this is true, all drives would become busy for read/writes for the rebuild time, rather than rebuild overhead being isolated to just one RAID group.
Let me try to explain. (Note: This is an oversimplification of the actual algorithm in an effortto make it more accessible to most readers, based on written materials I have been provided as partof the acquisition.)
In a typical RAID environment, say 7+P RAID-5, you might have to read 7 drives to rebuild one drive, and in the case of a 14+2 RAID-6, reading 15 drives to rebuild one drive. It turns out the performance bottleneck is the one driveto write, and today's systems can rebuild faster Fibre Channel (FC) drives at about 50-55 MB/sec, and slower ATA disk at around 40-42 MB/sec. At these rates, a 750GB SATA rebuild would take at least 5 hours.
In the IBM XIV Nextra architecture, let's say we have 100 drives. We lose drive 13, and we need to re-replicate any at-risk 1MB objects.An object is at-risk if it is the last and only remaining copy on the system. A 750GB that is 90 percent full wouldhave 700,000 or so at-risk object re-replications to manage. These can be sorted by drive. Drive 1 might have about 7000 objects that need re-replication, drive 2might have slightly more, slightly less, and so on, up to drive 100. The re-replication of objects on these other 99 drives goes through three waves.
Select 49 drives as "source volumes", and pair each randomly with a "destination volume". For example, drive 1 mapped todrive 87, drive 2 to drive 59, and so on. Initiate 49 tasks in parallel, each will re-replicate the blocks thatneed to be copied from the source volume to the destination volume.
50 volumes left.Select another 49 drives as "source volumes", and pair each with a "destination volume". For example, drive 87 mapped todrive 15, drive 59 to drive 42, and so on. Initiate 49 tasks in parallel, each will re-replicate the blocks thatneed to be copied from the source volume to the destination volume.
Only one drive left. We select the last volume as the source volume, pair it off with a random destination volume,and complete the process.
Each wave can take as little as 3-5 minutes. The actual algorithm is more complicated than this, as tasks complete early the source and volumes drives are available for re-assignment to another task, but you get the idea. XIV hasdemonstrated the entire process, identifying all at-risk objects, sorting them by drive location, randomly selectingdrive pairs, and then performing most of these tasks in parallel, can be done in 15-20 minutes. Over 40 customershave been using this architecture over the past 2 years, and by now all have probably experienced at least adrive failure to validate this methodology.
In the unlikely event that a second drive fails during this short time, only one of the 99 task fails. The other 98 tasks continue to helpprotect the data. By comparison, in a RAID-5 rebuild, no data is protected until all the blocks are copied.
As for requiring spare capacity on each drive to handle this case, the best disks in production environments aretypically only 85-90 percent full, leaving plenty of spare capacity to handle re-replication process. On average,Linux, UNIX and Windows systems tend to only fill disks 30 to 50 percent full, so the fear there is not enough sparecapacity should not be an issue.
The difference in cost between RAID-1 and RAID-5 becomes minimal as hardware gets cheaper and cheaper. For every $1 dollar you spend on storage hardware, you spend $5-$8 dollars managing the environment. As hardware gets cheaper still, it might even be worth making three copies of every 1MB object, the parallel processto perform re-replications would be the same. This could be done using policy-based management, some data gets triple-copied, and other data gets only double-copied, based on whether the user selected "premium" or "basic" service.
The beauty of this approach is that it works with 100 drives, 1000 drives, or even a million drives. Parallel processingis how supercomputers are able to perform feats of amazing mathematical computations so quickly, and how Web 2.0services like Google and Yahoo can perform web searches so quickly. Spreading the re-replication process acrossmany drives in parallel, rather than performing them serially onto a single drive, is just one of the many uniquefeatures of this new architecture.
Jon Toigo has a funny cartoon on his post, [As I Listen to EMC Brag on “New” Functionality…]. Basically, it pokes fun that many of us bloggers argue which vendor was first to introduce some technology or another. We all do this, myself included.
Recently, Claus Mikkelsen's, currently with HDS, [brought up accurately some past history from the 1990s], which is before many storage bloggers hired on with their current employers. Claus and I worked together for IBM back then, so I recognized many of the events he mentions that I can't talk about either. In many cases, IBM or HDS delivered new features before EMC.
I've been reading with some amusement as fellow blogger Barry Burke asked Claus a series of questions about Hitachi's latest High Availability Manager (HAM) feature. Claus was too busy with his "day job" and chose to shut Barry down. Sadly, HDS set themselves up for ridicule this round, first by over-hyping a function before its announcement, and then announcing a feature that IBM and EMC have offered for a while. The problem and confusion for many is that each vendor uses different terminology. Hitachi's HAM is similar to IBM's HyperSwap and EMC's AutoSwap. The implementations are different, of course, which is often why vendors are often asked to compare and contrast one implementation to another.
In his latest response,[how to mind the future of a mission-critical world], Barry reports that several HDS bloggers now censor his comments.That's too bad. I don't censor comments, within reason, including Barry's inane questions about IBM's products, and am glad that he does not censor my inane questions to him about EMC products in return. The entire blogosphere benefits from these exchanges, even if they are a bit heated sometimes.
We all have day jobs, and often are just too busy, or too lazy, to read dozens or hundreds of pages of materials, if we can even find them in the first place. Not everyone has the luxury of a "competitive marketing" team to help do the research for you, so if we can get an accurate answer or clarification about a product that is generally available directly from a vendor's subject matter expert, I am all for that.