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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Continuing my coverage of SNW Spring 2007, Ron and Vincent kicked off Wednesday main tent sessions with more survey questions:
Q1. How secure is your storage network?
27% Redundant, 100% able to withstand physical failures
28% Able to withstand hackers, but not physical failures
37% Weak on both fronts
Q2. What was the cause of most downtime in last 12 months?
1% Natural disasters
13% Network outages
14% Server failures
9% Telecom provider outage
22% IT resource upgrades
33% Human error
Thornton May, futurist and columnist for ComputerWorld, presented "Storage 3.0: What Comes After, What Comes Next."I have seen several "futurists" present at conferences like this. They all feel the need to explain what their job is, and what it takes to be one. This time, Thornton indicated he was "ridiculously well-travelled, amazingly well-connected, pathologically observant, and brutally honest." His insights:
At current rates, in 15 years every molecule on earth will have its own IP address.
"What's NOT good enough changes." -- Clayton Christensen
Gabriel Broner, General Manager of the newly created "Storage Solutions" division of Microsoft, presented "The Drive to Unified Storage". The people sitting around me asked "What does Microsoft have to do with storage?" He defined "Unified Storage" the way we use it for IBM Sytstem Storage N series "a storage unit that provides both file and block level protocol support." Microsoft is using "e-mail" as the model for data access, identifying the need to have "off-line" copies on your PC or laptop that are synced up with "on-line" sources. Features that were typically only available for high-end applications are now being made available to the masses, like "Volume Snapshot" capability in Windows Vista. On the home front, Microsoft recognizes that typically one person acts as the "IT manager" for the family.
Their survey of storage spend of Fortune 1000 companies. It was not clear if this was for Windows environments, or how the data was collected. These numbers don't match what we hear from our UNIX or mainframe customers.
Microsoft is implementing application changes, such as Office 2007, to simplify storage issues. Storage virtualization is the key for the future, he says, stating that Microsoft's "iSCSI target" software support makes files look like block-oriented volumes. Virtualization is now mainstream, and deploying software on standard hardware is the new storage business model. The end goal is to simplify provisioning, device and resource management, without reducing functionality, narrowing the gap between general IT tasks and specific storage tasks.
Craig Lau, NBC Olympic coverage, presented their success story. Look at the number of "hours" of TV Olympic coverage over the years:
1996 Atlanta -- 175 hours
2000 Sydney -- 441 hours
2004 Athens -- 1210 hours
NBC now is able to deliver 70 hours of TV programs per day, shown across their seven channels (NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, Brave, USA Network, Telemundo, and HD-tv). The Olympics in Torino, Italy generated 25,000 tapes in 17 days. Their 100,000 tape Olympic repository is starting to deteriorate, and they need to consider conversion to digital format. Their challenge was that footage was difficult to find and producers needed immediate access to time sensitive/critical content.
Their solution was Digital Asset Management, automating indexing and logging, using an IP-based workflows that reduces the number of people at the Olympics location, and allowing content to be sent back to USA for remote editing.The facilities at Torino involved:
2850 people, most hired just the week prior to the Olympic event
250TB of disk storage
135 High-Definition cameras
212 Video Tape Recorders
4000 hours of content on 1700 tapes
NBC is frustrated by the lack of compatability and interoperability in the video format industry. They have been testing MPEG-1 (1.5 Mbps) formats, and plan to deploy a new system using 1080i for the upcoming 2008 Olympics in Beijing. With the new system, they can index footage by athlete, by event, and by human emotional reaction. They can review and edit footage within 30-45 seconds of live coverage, allowing rough edits to be documented as "Edit Decision Lists" that can be e-mailed or put on USB key for others to review.
Although I missed Anil Gupta's "Blogger Event" on Monday, several bloggers did stop by to visit me at the IBMbooth.
Today, I went looking for reading-glasses. Unfamiliar with my surroundings, I asked several people where I might be able to find and purchase these, and was sent in various directions. My first stop was a bookstore. It would make sense that since many people need reading glasses to read the books, that they would sell them there, but no. The staff didn't know where I could go, but pointed me in the direction of a mall. At the mall, I found a pharmacy. Many pharmacies sell reading glasses, so I stopped in, but no, not this one. The pharmacists suggested the super-store nearby. I walked in to the super-store, and asked the first employee where they keep their reading glasses, and they said the other corner. The other corner was the electronics department. It made sense that they sold CDs and DVDs in the same section as the equipment that plays them, but reading glasses? Skeptical, I went to the pharmacy department, and the young and beautiful lady (everyone is young, thin and beautiful here) had me follow her, and she led me back to the electronics department, whereupon she pointed to a rack of sunglasses. I indicated that I need reading glasses, not sunglasses. She pulled one out, and it was indeed reading glasses, 1.25, just what I was looking for. Others were tinted, so you can read the newspaper out in the sunlight. The pair I chose cost only $97 in the local currency.
After reading the last sentence, you might be thinking I am describing my "avatar" in Second Life, but no, I am talking about my search for reading glasses on the streets of Mexico. I am here this week in meetings with IBM Business Partners and sales reps to discuss IBM's latest System Storage products and offerings.
We used to tell people they should "clothe" servers with storage. IBM offers both, so yes it makes sense to offer both as part of a complete solution. However, when you look through a dictionary definition "to clothe" you learn it is to dress, wrap or cover with clothing, an implication that it is external, and perhaps temporary, easily changed, like switching from sunglasses to reading glasses. In Second Life, objects can be "worn", simply by attaching or detaching them to your "avatar". Sometimes clothing serves a purpose, like reading glasses, provides protection, like raincoats, and other times, more decorative, like"icing on the cake" or "gold plating".
This concept was fine 50 years ago, when we were in a server-centric world, and dumb storage devices were attached to very intelligent servers. Back then, we used the derogatory term "subsystems" to emphasize that storage was just part of the server, not a system of its own.
Today, we live in an information-centric world. The information outlives the media, and the media outlives the servers that access it. It is not unreasonable to attach dozens or hundreds of servers to a single storage system, or collection of storage systems. Over 20 percent of IBM System Storage DS8000 series, for example, are attached to Windows rack-optimized or blade servers. Imagine a refrigerator surrounded by dozens or hundreds of pizza boxes. Storage is no longer a subsystem, but a system on its own right, dressed, wrapped or covered by servers that deliver the right information, to the right people, at the right time.
So perhaps we should reverse it, telling people they should "clothe" their storage with servers!
On the news today, they mentioned it was "Happy Pi Day". Today is the 14th day of the 3rd month, and "pi" is about 3.14159, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. So, in Tucson it is celebrated on 3/14, at 1:59pm MST.
The ratio has a lot to do with storage.
Tape wrapped around a hub. Tape is thin, but not completely, so wrapping hundreds of meters on tape results in a change in diameter of the spool. This impacts the rotational velocity needed to get the linear meters-per-second on the tape media consistent as the diameter changes when you wind down from a full spindle toward the hub. IBM has variable speed motors and other clever technologies to handle this adjustment.
Disks spin at consistent speeds, but tracks on the outside edge travel faster across the head than the inside tracks.Currently, the top speeds for disk are 15000 Revolutions per minute (RPM). As faster rotational speeds are investigated, the researchers find they need to make the diameters smaller to compensate.
The diameters of disks were based on "U", the unit height of standard 19" racks. A "U" is 1.75 inches, and standard floppy diskettes were 5.25 inch (3U) and 3.5 inch (2U). For those who have a difficult time remember how many inches a "U" is, it is the height of a standard two-by-four (2x4) piece of lumber.
The value of "pi" has been calculated to over a billion significant digits. Here is a cuteapplet to use if you ever need the value to any level of accuracy.
This week, I am presenting at the IBM Systems Technical University in Orlando, Florida, May 22-26, 2017. Day 1 included keynote sessions. Here is my recap for the morning.
General Session "The Quantum Age"
Amy Hirst, IBM Director of Systems Training, served as emcee for the General Session. The theme this week is "Power of Knowledge, Power of Technology, Power of You. You to the IBM'th power".
Chris Schnabel, IBM Q Offering Manager, explained what "IBM Q" is.
Chris feels "our intuition of what we can compute is wrong". Classical (non-Quantum) computing has evolved over past 100 years.
Consider Molecular geometry. The best supercomputer can only handle the smallest molecules, those with 40 to 50 electrons, and even then are unable to calculate bond lengths within 10 percent accuracy. Quantum computing can.
Another area is what computer scientists call the "Traveling Salesman Problem". If you had a list of 57 cities, what would be the optimal path to minimize the distance traveled to get to all of the cities. Doing an exhaustive search would be 10 to the 76th power. Dynamic Programming techniques provide some shortcuts, reducing this down to 10 to the 20th power, but still, that is impossible on most computers.
Chris mentioned that there are easy problems to solve in polynomial time, and hard problems that are exponential, in that they get worse and worse the bigger the input set. There will always be hard problems.
"Nature isn't classical, dammit, and if you want to make a simulation of nature, you'd better make it quantum mechanical, and by golly it's a wonderful problem, because it doesn't look so easy."
-- Richard Feynman
Nature encodes information, but not in ones and zeros. Quantum computers are measured on the number of Qubits, their error rate, etc. The three factors that IBM focuses on are Coherence, Controllability and Connectivity.
Chris explained how Superposition and Entanglement are used in Quantum Computers. I won't bore you with the details here, but rather save this for a future post.
Today: 5 to 16 Qubits (can be simulated with today's classical computers. 5 Qubits is the power of your typical laptop)
Near future: 50-100 Qubits (too big to simulate on supercomputers), with answers that are approximate or correct only 2/3 of the time.
Future: millions of Qubits, fault-tolerant to provide exact, precise answers consistently.
Quantum Computing opens up a new range of problems, what Chris call "Quantum Easy" problems. Problems that might take years to solve on classical supercomputers could be solved in seconds on a Quantum computer.
Chris showed a picture of [Colossus], the first digital electronic computer used in the 1940s. Quantum computing today is like 1940's of classical computing.
IBM is now working on Hybrid Quantum-Classical algorithms, for example:
Quantum Chemistry - can be used in material design, healthcare pharmaceuticals
Optimization - logistics/shipping, risk analytics
There are different ways to build a quantum computer. IBM chose a single-junction transmon design, using Josephson junctions. While the chips are small, the refrigerators they are contained in are huge, and have to keep the chips at very cold 15 milliKelvin temperature (minus 459 Fahrenheit)!
To get people excited about Quantum computing, IBM created the "IBM Q Experience" [ibm.com/ibmq] that allows the public to run algorithms on a basic 5 Qubit system using a simple drag-and-drop interface to put different transformational gates in sequence.
IBM Research team were shocked to see 17 publications in prestigious journals make practical use of this 5 qubit system! Since then, IBM now offers a Software Developers Kit (SDK) called QISkit (pronounced Cheese-kit) as a text-based alternative to the drag-and-drop interface.
Amy Hirst came back on stage to remind people to use Twitter hashtag #ibmtechu to follow the event. There are two more events like this planned for the end of the year. A Power/Storage conference in New Orleans, October 16-20, and another event focused on z Systems mainframe, November 13-17.
Pendulum Swings Back -- Understanding Converged and Hyperconverged Systems
This presentation has an interesting back-story. At a client briefing, I was asked to explain the difference between "Converged" and "Hyperconverged" Systems, which I did with the analogy of a pendulum. I used the whiteboard, and then later made it into a single chart.
At the far left of the pendulum, I start with mainframe systems of the early 1950s that had internal storage. As the pendulum swings to the middle, I discuss the added benefits of external storage, from RAID protection and Cache memory to centralized management and backup.
To the far right of the pendulum, it swings over to networked storage, from NAS to SAN attached devices for flash, disk and tape. This offers excellent advantages, including greater host connectivity, and greater distances supported to help with things like disaster recovery.
Here is where the pendulum swings back. IBM introduced the AS/400 a long while ago, and more recently IBM PureSystems that combined servers, storage and switches into a single rack configuration. Other vendors had similar offerings, such as VCE Vblock, Flexpod from NetApp and Cisco, and Oracle Exadata.
Lately, the pendulum has swung fully back to internal storage, with storage-rich servers running specialized software on commodity servers. There are two kinds:
Pre-built systems like Nutanix, Simplivity or EVO:Rail which are x86 based server systems, pre-installed with software and internal flash and disk storage.
Software that can be deployed on your own choice of hardware, such as IBM Spectrum Accelerate, IBM Spectrum Scale FPO, or VMware VSAN.
So, over time, my single slide has evolved, and fleshed out into a full blown hour-long presentation!
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.
Finally, I covered some of our new public cloud storage offerings, using OpenStack Swift and Amazon S3 protocols to access objects off premises, including the new Cold Vault and Flex pricing on IBM Cloud Object Storage System in IBM Bluemix Cloud.
Are you going to Edge 2013 in Las Vegas, June 10-14?
In my talks with clients about storage, I find similar hesitation on turning on various storage efficiency features that IBM (and other vendors) have to offer. Let's examine a few of them.
Less than half of businesses have activated "thin provisioning" on storage devices that support this feature. Why? IBM introduced thin provisioning on its RAMAC Virtual Array back in 1997! The technology is well proven in the field. Don't know how to report this for charge-back activity? Charge your end-users for the maximum capacity upper limit. Simple enough!
What about Data Deduplication? IBM has had this feature on its N series since 2007, but it wasn't until IBM came out with the IBM ProtecTIER gateway and appliance models that people started to take notice of this technology. Yes, I agree Hash Collisions can be quite scary on competitive gear, but on IBM ProtecTIER we do not use hash codes, and all data is compared byte-for-byte. For those considering hash-based deduplication, hash collisions in general are quite rare. Jeff Preshing does the math for you in his blog post: [Hash Collision Probabilities]. Of course, if you want to leave no doubt in the minds of a jury of your peers, stick with byte-for-byte comparison methods in the IBM ProtecTIER.
Lastly, I have heard concerns of using real-time compression? Really? Real-time compression has been used in wide-area network (WAN) transmissions ever since IBM developed the Houston Aerospace Spooling Protocol (HASP) for NASA back in 1973. IBM has offered real-time compression on tape cartridges since 1986, the year I started with IBM, some 27 years ago. And now, real-time compression is available for file-based and block-based disk systems. All of these solutions are based on the Lempel-Ziv lossless compression algorithms introduced in 1977. One customer I spoke with was unwilling to try compression, because it requires thin provisioning as a pre-requisite. How is that for having one fear based on another one!
IBM places a high value on data integrity. For each data footprint reduction method, IBM has designed a solution that returns back the exact ones and zeros, in the correct quantity and order, as was originally stored.
For more on this topic, come see me present "Data Footprint Reduction -- Understanding IBM Storage Efficiency Options" at [IBM Edge 2013 conference] in Las Vegas, June 10-14.
Are you going to the [IBM Edge 2015 conference]? This is IBM's premiere conference covering IBM System Storage, z Systems and POWER Systems.
Here are some secrets for winning prizes while you attend!
Sit in the first FIVE rows of the Techincal Kickoffs - Monday 8:30am
Funding has been approved to give out a few nice prizes. To be eligible, you need to show up on time, and sit in the first five rows of any of the following three Kickoffs. I will be in the one for Storage!
Attend sessions by Edge Event Sponsor companies
Brocade, Cisco and others often present lectures at Technical Edge, and they often give out prizes at those sessions, as part of their sponsorship to the event.
Take a "Selfie" with IBM z13 System mainframe
Yes, we will actually have a z13 System on display at the Solution Center for you to take pictures with. Post it on Instragram, Twitter, Facebook or your other favorite social media websites and be eligible to win prizes.
Get your handwriting analyzed with an IBM POWER8 system
Get your handwriting analyzed at the Solution Center and be eligible to win prizes.
Get your badge scanned at as many booths as you can at the Solution Center
Yes, this means you might get an email from the companies involved, but it will also add you to the list of people eligible for some raffles and drawings for prizes.
Participate in the #IBMEdgeHunt scavenger hunt!
Follow the Twitter hashtag #IBMEdgeHunt to see what else the "Hunt Organizers" have in store during the week!
I arrive Sunday afternoon! Below are some of the hashtags I will be using during the event. You can follow me on @az990tony Twitter handle.
Yesterday, most of the USA moved its clocks forward an hour. Arizona and Hawaii don't bother, as there is plenty of daylight in both states. While it may seem that Arizonans are not "affected" by Daylight Saving Time (DST), we are, because we have to deal with the time zone offsets with those we talk to in other states. (Note: it is SAVING not SAVINGS, many people mistakenly say "Daylight Savings Time", which is incorrect).
Year round, Arizona is on Mountain Standard Time (MST), which is GMT-7. Figuring out what time Arizona can be remembered by a simple mnemonic:
In the winter time, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona are all on MST, so best American ski resorts are all on the same time zone. People who hop from one ski resort to another by helicopter don't have to reset their watches as they move into or out of Arizona.
In the summer time, Arizonans head to San Diego, Los Angeles or other parts of California, where it is not so hot. California is on PDT, which is the same as MST. People who hop from Arizona wineries and vineyards to those in California and Oregon can easily cross the Arizona-California border without having to reset our watches.
Those in Second Life may have noticed that "Second Life time" (SL time) shifted from PST to PDT. That is because their servers reside in San Francisco, California.