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.
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This week, IBM launched the new [IBM Expert Network] that provides presentation materials from subject matter experts. I am honored to be one of the 20-plus experts selected for PRO accounts on SlideShare.Net to help seed this with initial materials.
I have a bit of behind-the-scenes history to share on this. Back in 2008, I first discovered SlideShare.net as an excellent resource to get ideas for presentations. Much like YouTube is for videos and FlickR is for photos, SlideShare.Net is for presentations. In my June 2008 post, [Summer Jobs and the Singularity], I embedded someone's presentation from SlideShare.
This latter one got me in a bit of trouble internally. Neither presentation had anything secret or controversial, so I didn't see the issue. Several other bloggers had asked how I got "permission" to use an external Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) like SlideShare.net for my blog. I never asked for permission! I explained that since IBM's internal Lotus Connections software we use for blogging did not have a feature to embed PowerPoint (PPT) or Open Document Format (ODP) presentations, I chose an external service instead. Yes, I guess I could have converted each page to a JPG or PNG graphic instead, or I could have put the PDF on an FTP download area of the "Files" feature of Lotus Connections, but I chose SlideShare.net instead.
The result? IBM communications decided to make an official list, it's actually three lists. A "white list" of services that we are allowed to use, a "grey list" of services under evaluation or negotiation, and a "black list" of services we are not allowed to use, and sadly Slideshare.Net was on the black list. I protested, argued that unless IBM offered something to replace it, to re-evaluate this external service. I got it back on the "grey list" and now, this week, it is officially on the "white list".
Of course, this probably involved negotiation on EULA terms and conditions, but I am not a lawyer and have no idea what went on behind closed doors to make this happen. I am just glad it did.
Wrapping up my coverage of the annual [2010 System Storage Technical University], I attended what might be perhaps the best session of the conference. Jim Nolting, IBM Semiconductor Manufacturing Engineer, presented the new IBM zEnterprise mainframe, "A New Dimension in Computing", under the Federal track.
The zEnterprises debunks the "one processor fits all" myth. For some I/O-intensive workloads, the mainframe continues to be the most cost-effective platform. However, there are other workloads where a memory-rich Intel or AMD x86 instance might be the best fit, and yet other workloads where the high number of parallel threads of reduced instruction set computing [RISC] such as IBM's POWER7 processor is more cost-effective. The IBM zEnterprise combines all three processor types into a single system, so that you can now run each workload on the processor that is optimized for that workload.
IBM zEnterprise z196 Central Processing Complex (CPC)
Let's start with the new mainframe z196 central processing complex (CPC). Many thought this would be called the z11, but that didn't happen. Basically, the z196 machine has a maximum 96 cores versus z10's 64 core maximum, and each core runs 5.2GHz instead of z10's cores running at 4.7GHz. It is available in air-cooled and water-cooled models. The primary operating system that runs on this is called "z/OS", which when used with its integrated UNIX System Services subsystem, is fully UNIX-certified. The z196 server can also run z/VM, z/VSE, z/TPF and Linux on z, which is just Linux recompiled for the z/Architecture chip set. In my June 2008 post [Yes, Jon, there is a mainframe that can help replace 1500 servers], I mentioned the z10 mainframe had a top speed of nearly 30,000 MIPS (Million Instructions per Second). The new z196 machine can do 50,000 MIPS, a 60 percent increase!
The z196 runs a hypervisor called PR/SM that allows the box to be divided into dozens of logical partitions (LPAR), and the z/VM operating system can also act as a hypervisor running hundreds or thousands of guest OS images. Each core can be assigned a specialty engine "personality": GP for general processor, IFL for z/VM and Linux, zAAP for Java and XML processing, and zIIP for database, communications and remote disk mirroring. Like the z9 and z10, the z196 can attach to external disk and tape storage via ESCON, FICON or FCP protocols, and through NFS via 1GbE and 10GbE Ethernet.
IBM zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (zBX)
There is a new frame called the zBX that basically holds two IBM BladeCenter chassis, each capable of 14 blades, so total of 28 blades per zBX frame. For now, only select blade servers are supported inside, but IBM plans to expand this to include more as testing continues. The POWER-based blades can run native AIX, IBM's other UNIX operating system, and the x86-based blades can run Linux-x86 workloads, for example. Each of these blade servers can run a single OS natively, or run a hypervisor to have multiple guest OS images. IBM plans to look into running other POWER and x86-based operating systems in the future.
If you are already familiar with IBM's BladeCenter, then you can skip this paragraph. Basically, you have a chassis that holds 14 blades connected to a "mid-plane". On the back of the chassis, you have hot-swappable modules that snap into the other side of the mid-plane. There are modules for FCP, FCoE and Ethernet connectivity, which allows blades to talk to each other, as well as external storage. BladeCenter Management modules serve as both the service processor as well as the keyboard, video and mouse Local Console Manager (LCM). All of the IBM storage options available to IBM BladeCenter apply to zBX as well.
Besides general purpose blades, IBM will offer "accelerator" blades that will offload work from the z196. For example, let's say an OLAP-style query is issued via SQL to DB2 on z/OS. In the process of parsing the complicated query, it creates a Materialized Query Table (MQT) to temporarily hold some data. This MQT contains just the columnar data required, which can then be transferred to a set of blade servers known as the Smart Analytics Optimizer (SAO), then processes the request and sends the results back. The Smart Analytics Optimizer comes in various sizes, from small (7 blades) to extra large (56 blades, 28 in each of two zBX frames). A 14-blade configuration can hold about 1TB of compressed DB2 data in memory for processing.
IBM zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager
You can have up to eight z196 machines and up to four zBX frames connected together into a monstrously large system. There are two internal networks. The Inter-ensemble data network (IEDN) is a 10GbE that connects all the OS images together, and can be further subdivided into separate virtual LANs (VLAN). The Inter-node management network (INMN) is a 1000 Mbps Base-T Ethernet that connects all the host servers together to be managed under a single pane of glass known as the Unified Resource Manager. It is based on IBM Systems Director.
By integrating service management, the Unified Resource Manager can handle Operations, Energy Management, Hypervisor Management, Virtual Server Lifecycle Management, Platform Performance Management, and Network Management, all from one place.
IBM Rational Developer for System z Unit Test (RDz)
But what about developers and testers, such as those Independent Software Vendors (ISV) that produce mainframe software. How can IBM make their lives easier?
Phil Smith on z/Journal provides a history of [IBM Mainframe Emulation]. Back in 2007, three emulation options were in use in various shops:
Open Mainframe, from Platform Solutions, Inc. (PSI)
FLEX-ES, from Fundamental Software, Inc.
Hercules, which is an open source package
None of these are viable options today. Nobody wanted to pay IBM for its Intellectual Property on the z/Architecture or license the use of the z/OS operating system. To fill the void, IBM put out an officially-supported emulation environment called IBM System z Professional Development Tool (zPDT) available to IBM employees, IBM Business Partners and ISVs that register through IBM Partnerworld. To help out developers and testers who work at clients that run mainframes, IBM now offers IBM Rational Developer for System z Unit Test, which is a modified version of zPDT that can run on a x86-based laptop or shared IBM System x server. Based on the open source [Eclipse IDE], the RDz emulates GP, IFL, zAAP and zIIP engines on a Linux-x86 base. A four-core x86 server can emulate a 3-engine mainframe.
With RDz, a developer can write code, compile and unit test all without consuming any mainframe MIPS. The interface is similar to Rational Application Developer (RAD), and so similar skills, tools and interfaces used to write Java, C/C++ and Fortran code can also be used for JCL, CICS, IMS, COBOL and PL/I on the mainframe. An IBM study ["Benchmarking IDE Efficiency"] found that developers using RDz were 30 percent more productive than using native z/OS ISPF. (I mention the use of RAD in my post [Three Things to do on the IBM Cloud]).
What does this all mean for the IT industry? First, the zEnterprise is perfectly positioned for [three-tier architecture] applications. A typical example could be a client-facing web-server on x86, talking to business logic running on POWER7, which in turn talks to database on z/OS in the z196 mainframe. Second, the zEnterprise is well-positioned for government agencies looking to modernize their operations and significantly reduce costs, corporations looking to consolidate data centers, and service providers looking to deploy public cloud offerings. Third, IBM storage is a great fit for the zEnterprise, with the IBM DS8000 series, XIV, SONAS and Information Archive accessible from both z196 and zBX servers.
Bill Bauman, IBM System x Field Technical Support Specialist and System x University celebrity, presented the differences between Grid, SOA and Cloud Computing. I thought this was an odd combination to compare and contrast, but his presentation was well attended.
Grid - this is when two or more independently owned and managed computers are brought together to solve a problem. Some research facilities do this. IBM helped four hospitals connect their computers together into a grid to help analyze breast cancer. IBM also supports the [World Community Grid] which allows your personal computer to be connected to the grid and help process calculations.
SOA - SOA, which stands for Service Oriented Architecture, is an approach to building business applications as a combination of loosely-coupled black-box components orchestrated to deliver a well-defined level of service by linking together business processes. I often explain SOA as the the business version of Web 2.0. You can download a free copy of the eBook "SOA for Dummies" at the [IBM Smart SOA] landing page.
Cloud - A Cloud is a dynamic, scalable, expandable, and completely contractible architecture. It may consist of multiple, disparate, on-premise and off-premise hardware and virtualized platforms hosting legacy, fully installed, stateless, or virtualized instances of operating systems and application workloads.
Tom Vezina, IBM Advanced Technical Sales Specialist, presented "Chaos to Cloud Computing". Survey results show that roughly 70 percent of cloud spend will be for private clouds, and 30 percent for public, hybrid or community clouds. Of the key motivations for public cloud, 77 percent or respondents cited reducing costs, 72 percent time to value, and 50 percent improving reliability.
Tom ran over 500 "server utilization" studies for x86 deployments during the past eight years. Of these, the worst was 0.52 percent CPU utilization, the best was 13.4 percent, and the average was 6.8 percent. When IBM mentions that 85 percent of server capacity is idle, it is mostly due to x86 servers. At this rate, it seems easy to put five to 20 guest images onto a machine. However, many companies encounter "VM stall" where they get stuck after only 25 percent of their operating system images virtualized.
He feels the problem is with the fact most Physical-to-Virtual (P2V) migrations are manual efforts. There are tools available like Novell [PlateSpin Recon] to help automate and reduce the total number of hours spent per migration.
System x KVM Solutions
Boy, I walked into this one. Many of IBM's cloud offerings are based on the Linux hypervisor called Kernel-based Virtual Machine [a href="http://www.linux-kvm.org/page/Main_Page">KVM] instead of VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V. However, this session was about the "other KVM": keyboard video and mouse switches, which thankfully, IBM has renamed to Console Managers to avoid confusion. Presenters Ben Hilmus (IBM) and Steve Hahn (Avocent) presented IBM's line of Local Console Managers (LCM) and Global Console Managers (GCM) products.
LCM are the traditional KVM switches that people are familiar with. A single keyboard, video and mouse can select among hundreds of servers to perform maintenance or check on status. GCM adds KVM-over-IP capabilities, which means that now you can access selected systems over the Ethernet from a laptop or personal computer. Both LCM and GCM allow for two-level tiering, which means that you can have an LCM in each rack, and an LCM or GCM that points to each rack, greatly increasing the number of servers that can be managed from a single pane of glass.
Many severs have a "service processor" to manage the rest of the machine. IBM RSA II, HP iLO, and Dell DRAC4 are some examples. These allow you to turn on and off selected servers. IBM BladeCenter offers an Management Module that allows the chassis to be connected to a Console Manager and select a specific blade server inside. These can also be used with VMware viewer, Virtual Network Computing (VNC), or Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).
IBM's offerings are unique it that you can have an optical CD/DVD drive or USB external storage attached at the LCM or GCM, and make it look like the storage is attached to the selected server. This can be used to install or upgrade software, transfer log files, and so on. Another great use, and apparently the motivation for having this session in the "Federal Track", is that the USB can be used to attach a reader for a smart card, known as a Common Access Card [CAC] used by various government agencies. This provides two-factor authentication [TFA]. For example, to log into the system, you enter your password (something you know) and swipe your employee badge smart card (something you have). The combination are validated at the selected server to provide access.
I find it amusing that server people limit themselves to server sessions, and storage people to storage sessions. Sometimes, you have to step "outside your comfort zone" and learn something new, something different. Open your eyes and look around a bit. You might just be surprised what you find.
(FTC note: I work for IBM. IBM considers Novell a strategic Linux partner. Novell did not provide me a copy of Platespin Recon, I have no experience using it, and I mention it only in context of the presentation made. IBM resells Avocent solutions, and we use LCM gear in the Tucson Executive Briefing Center.)
Continuing my week in Washington DC for the annual [2010 System Storage Technical University], here is my quick recap of the keynote sessions presented Monday morning. Marlin Maddy, Worldwide Technical Events Executive for IBM Systems Lab Services and Training, served as emcee.
Jim Northington, IBM System x Business Line Executive, covered the IT industry's "Love/Hate Relationship" with x86 platform. Many of the physical limitations that were previously a pain on this platform are now addressed, through a combination of IBM's new innovative eX5 architecture and virtualization technologies.
Jim also presented the [IBM CloudBurst] solution. IBM CloudBurst is one of the many "Integrated Systems" designed to help simplify deployment. Based on IBM BladeCenter, the IBM CloudBurst is basically a Private Cloud rack for those that are ready to deploy in their own data center.
Jim feels that server virtualization on x86 platforms is still in its infancy. IBM calls it the 70/30 rule: 70 percent of x86 workloads are running virtualized on 30 percent of the physical servers.
Maria Azua, IBM Vice President of Cloud Computing Enablement, presented on Cloud Computing. Technology is being adopted at faster rates. It took 40 years for radio to get 60 million listeners, 20 years for 60 million television viewers, 3 years to get 60 million surfers on the Internet, but it only took 4 months to get 60 million players on Farmville!
Maria covered various aspects of Cloud Computing: virtualization images, service catalog, provisioning elasticity, management and billing services, and virtual networks. With Cloud Computing, the combination of virtualization technologies, standardization, and automation can reduce costs and improve flexibility.
We've seen this happen before. Telcos transitioned from human operators to automated digital switches. Manufacturers went from having small teams of craftsmen to assembly lines of robots. Banks went from long lines of bank tellers to short lines at the ATM.
Maria said that companies are faced with three practical choices:
Do-it-Yourself, buy the servers, storage and switches and connect everything together.
Purchase pre-installed "integrated systems" to simplify deployment.
Subscribe to Cloud computing, allowing a service provider do all this for you.
In countries where network access is not ubiquitous, IBM has developed tools for the cloud that work in "offline" mode. IBM has also developed or modified tools to run better in the cloud. Launching a computer instance from the cloud from the service catalog is so easy to do, your 5-year-old child can do this!
Want to see Cloud Computing in action? Check out [Innovation.ed.gov], which is run in the IBM cloud, for the US Department of Education's website to foster innovation.
Whether you adopt public, private or a hybrid cloud computing approach, Maria suggests you take time to plan, test your applications for standardization, examine all risks, and explore new workloads that might be good candidates. Otherwise, moving to the cloud might just mean "More mess for less". Maria provided a list of applications that IBM considers good fit for Cloud Computing today.
I heard several audience members indicate that this is the first time someone finally explained Cloud Computing to them in a way that made sense!
I use two Cloud-Computing based photo-sharing services, [KodakGallery.com] and [Flickr.com], which serve two completely different purposes.
Formerly, this was Ofoto, but was acquired by Kodak. I started using this service back in 2002, and had over 12,000 photos uploaded over the past 8 years. I was able to share all my photos with my friends and family, and they could simply order whichever prints they want and have them shipped directly to them. They have incredibly high-professional photo-based products, like calendars and coffee table books, that you can produce from your own photos.
Sadly, the fine folks at Kodak Gallery decided they did not want my business anymore, and purged my 36GB of files from their system. To be fair, they did hint that they were having financial problems with an "Archive CD" offering, which would have allowed me to get a set of CDs or DVDs holding the high-resolution graphics of all my uploaded photos. This would have cost $150 or so, and if you uploaded more photos, there was no option to get the "delta" of photos uploaded since your last archive, so it would have cost me $150 every year or so to get an updated "backup" of my files. It seemed expensive and unnecessary at the time, given that I was sure that Kodak was not going out of business anytime soon, and that I was sure they took their own backups of all the photos that people put in their charge.
The problem is that Kodak Gallery was a free service, subsidized by people ordering physical prints and other products. As such, I got lots of email from Kodak every month, offering me free shipping, special promotions, and seasonal discounts. It was so much that I had all email from them automatically routed to a different sub-folder, that I would never look at, unless I was about to make a purchase and needed to find the best coupon code or free shipping option currently offered. This also had the unintended consequence that I missed the following series of notes:
Important: From the Gallery's General Manager (April 17)
Second notice: Our storage policy has changed (April 24)
Final notice: Your stored photos may be deleted (May 8)
We don't want to delete your photos (May 22)
All the notes mentioned the new "Storage Policy", here is a quick excerpt:
"The fact is, we store billions of photos for our 75 million members. The quality storage service the Gallery provides is significant in terms of our business costs.
So that we can provide the highest level of service, we're now asking all Gallery customers to make an annual nominal purchase in exchange for photo storage. We've modified our Terms of Service policy accordingly: if your Gallery photo storage equals 2 gigabytes or less, we're asking you to spend $4.99 annually; if more than 2 gigabytes, $19.99 annually.*
One last thought: We value and appreciate your business, and we want to continue our relationship with you in a spirit of mutual support and benefit. That's always been the Kodak way."
Since they had no response from me, nor saw any purchase activity, my 36GB of files were deleted on June 17. I discovered all of this when I contacted Kodak to find out where my files were last weekend during my "Spring Cleaning". I asked if I could at least get the final set of "Archive CDs", but they told me they were purged completely.
I understand the economy is in a recession, and many free cloud-based services are losing money and going under. I can understand they were faced with tough choices, Kodak opted to switch from a free service to fee-based service.
Albert Einstein defined Insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." In general, if I am trying to get a hold of someone, and email isn't working, then I try something different, try them by phone, try them by snail mail, and so on. With the deluge of emails, people sometimes declare "email bankruptcy" by deleting everything in their inbox after coming back from vacation, or implement filters to automatically route mail to separate folders. I think it is unrealistic to expect that everybody reads every piece of email that you send them.
I would have liked for Kodak to have done at least one or more of the following, given that I had been such a long time customer, and they had earned hundreds of dollars in revenues from all the purchases, over the years, not just directly from me, but from my friends and family, of photos I uploaded to their website:
Send me a letter after not receiving any response from the first three notices. They sent me promotional materials and offers for 20 percent discounts, so they had my active snail mail address on file correctly. With 75 million users, it would have cost $33 million USD to send out snail mail letters to everyone, but for the subset of power-users who have more than 2GB of files, a snail mail letter might have gotten more $19.99 purchases they needed to stay in business.
Called me on the phone. Yes, they also had my phone number in their database.
Go ahead and charged my credit card on file $19.99 without a purchase, and given me a credit towards a future purchase. Something like: "You have not purchased anything in the last 12 months, so we charged your credit card, per our Terms of Service, but you can use this as a credit towards something in the next 60 days."
On the plus side, my "Spring Cleaning" project was done. You can't organize what you don't have anymore.
Flickr from Yahoo
I started using Flickr back in 2008 to hold photos and graphics for this blog. Flickr holds various sizes of photos that I can use directly with HTML tags. Clicking on the photo in the blog will take you to Flickr's service and allow you to see the large size resolution. The "Lotus Connections" that I have on IBM DeveloperWorks only offers 24MB of photo space, so Flickr was a nice alternative.
Unfortunately, Flickr had adopted a new policy that only the most recent 200 pictures would be visible, and I had already reached 170 photos. Rather than start deleting photos from my older blog posts, I opted to upgrade to the "Flickr Pro" account, with a fee of only $24.99 per year.
Hopefully, by paying an annual fee and choosing a successful and profitable Cloud-Computing company, I won't experience another traumatic loss. However, it does remind me that it is my responsibility to keep my own copies of these photos, just in case.
Fortunately, many "photo product" providers are connected to Flickr. For example, my publisher [<a href="http://www.lulu.com/">Lulu.com</a>] can access my Flickr photos to make photo-based coffee table books. As for my last eight years of memories that were lost, I will just have to treat it as if my house burned down. Rebuild and move on.