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Well, it's Tuesday again, and we had several announcements this month, so here is a quick recap.We had some things announce May 13, and then some more announcements today, but since I was busywith conferences, will combine them into one post for the entire month of May 2008.
This time, I thought I would go "audio" with a recording from Charlie Andrews, IBM director ofproduct marketing for IBM System Storage:
If you are unable to listen, you can read the details for each here:
Also today IBM announced special 5-packs for LTO-4 and DDS-6 tape cartridge media. Here is the Press Release.Read More]
Two European scientists, Albert Fert (France) and Peter Grunberg (Germany) have won the 2007 Nobel Prize for physics for their research into Giant Magnetoresistance, or GMR. GMR read/write heads are used in IBM disk systems.
Chris Evans points to an interesting "jet analogy" in his post[Your Data On a Knife Edge].To help people understand that significance of this innovation, IBM Research has a website with all kindsof useful GMR information: http
While many people associate GMR heads with disk drives, it also applies to tape.In 2006, IBM Researchers Set World Record in Magnetic Tape Data Density, recording 6.67 billion bits per square inch of tape media. This was achieved with specific developments:
IBM often leverages the research done in one part of its business over to other parts of its business. In this manner, advances in disk translate into advances in tape, keeping tape a viable medium for at least the next 8-10 years.
In his blog Rough Type, Nick Carr asks Where is my CloudBook?and points to John Markoff's 2-part series in the New York Times on computing in the clouds.(Read it here: Part 1, Part 2)
At first, I thought he meant computing while in an airplane, but instead, he is talking about computing on a laptop or other hand-held device that does not have an internal disk drive, no installedoperating system, no internal data storage. Instead, the idea is that you boot from a CD, accessyour data, and even some of your programs, over the internet. John used an Ubuntu Linux LiveCD in his example.
This week, I am in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and was "in the clouds" for over 10 hours flying from Dallas to here.The one time I am guaranteed "off-line" from the internet is on the plane, and I spend enough time on planesthat I am able to get work done despite being "disconnected".
The same reasons people want to get out of having a disk drive on their laptop, are the reasons data centersare getting out of internal disk on their servers.
Booting from CD is especially clever. No more worrying about fixing your Windows registry, viruses,corrupted operating system files, or the cruft that accumulates on your C: drive that slowsyou down. The CD is the sameevery time, so it is like running your system with a freshly installed operating system every day.
The need for central repositories of data harkens back to the years of the IBM mainframe. Of course, whatmade sense back then continues to make sense now. The old 3270 terminals stored no data, and instead merelyprovided keyboard input and display text screen output to the vast amount of data stored on the central system.Today, the inputs are different, using your finger or mouse instead to point to what you want, sliding itacross to make things happen, and the output may now include photos, audio and video, but the concept isstill the same.
I carry my Ubuntu Linux LiveCD with me on every business trip. Combined with externally rewriteable media,such as a USB key, you can get work done even when you are in an airplane, and upload it whenyou are back on the net.
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When new technologies are introduced to the marketplace, it is normal for customers to be skeptical.
My sister is a mechanical engineer, so when she needs to configure a part or component, she candesign it on the computer, and then use a "Rapid Prototyping Machine"that acts like a 3D printer, to generate a plastic part that matches the specifications. Some machinesdo this by taking a hunk of plastic and cutting it down to the appropriate shape, and others use glue andpowder to assemble the piece.
But not everything is that simple. Harry Beckwith deals with the issue of selling services and software featuresin his book "Selling the Invisible". How do you sell a service before it is performed? How do you sell a softwarefeature based on new technology that the customer is not familiar with?
Our good friends over at NetApp, our technology partners for the IBM System Storage N series, developed a"storage savings estimator" tool that can provide good insight into the benefits of Advanced Single InstanceStorage (A-SIS) deduplication feature.
I decided to run the tool to analyze my own IBM Thinkpad C: drive (Windows operating system and programs) and D: drive ("My Documents" folder containing all my data files) to see how much storage savings thetool would estimate. Here are my results:
WINXP-C-07G (C: drive)Total Number of Directories: 1272Total Number of Files: 56265Total Number of Symbolic Links: 0Total Number of Hard Links: 41996Total Number of 4k Blocks: 2395884Total Number of 512b Blocks: 18944730Total Number of Blocks: 2395884Total Number of Hole Blocks: 290258Total Number of Unique Blocks: 1611792Percentage of Space Savings: 20.61Scan Start Time: Wed Sep 5 14:37:06 2007Scan End Time: Wed Sep 5 14:53:51 2007WINXP-D-07H (D: drive)Total Number of Directories: 507Total Number of Files: 7242Total Number of Symbolic Links: 0Total Number of Hard Links: 11744Total Number of 4k Blocks: 3954712Total Number of 512b Blocks: 31610595Total Number of Blocks: 3954712Total Number of Hole Blocks: 3204Total Number of Unique Blocks: 3524605Percentage of Space Savings: 10.79Scan Start Time: Wed Sep 5 14:21:16 2007Scan End Time: Wed Sep 5 14:34:30 2007
I am impressed with the results, and have a better understanding of the way A-SIS works. A-SIS looks at every4kB block of data, and creates a "fingerprint", a type of hash code of the contents. If two blocks have different "fingerprints", then the contents are known to be different. If two blocks have the same fingerprint, it is mathematically possible for them to be unique in content, so A-SIS schedules a byte-for-byte comparison to be sure they are indeed the same. This might happen hours after the block is initially written to disk, but is a much safer implementation, and does not slow down the applications writing data.
(In an effort to provide support "real time" as data was being written, earlier versions of deduplication
The estimator tool runs on any x86-based Laptop, personal computer or server, and can scan direct-attached, SAN-attached, or NAS-attached file systems. If you are a customer shopping around for deduplication, ask your IBM pre-sales technical support, storage sales rep, or IBM Business Partner to analyze your data. Tools like this can help make a simple cost-benefit analysis: the cost of licensing the A-SIS software feature versus the amount of storage savings.
technorati tags: IBM, Rapid prototyping, 3D printer, Harry Beckwith, Selling the Invisible, IBM, NetApp, Advanced Single Instance Storage, A-SIS, deduplication, fingerprint, hash code, EMC, flaw, MD5, Centera
Jon Toigo over at DrunkenData writes in his post[A Wink and a Nod] about thebenefits of the new IBM System z10 Enterprise Class mainframe. Here's an excerpt about storage:
"The other key point worth making about this scenario is that storage behind a z10 must conform to IBM DASD rules. That means no more BS standards wars between knuckle-draggers in the storage world who continue to mitigate the heterogeneous interoperability and manageability of distributed systems storage using proprietary lock in technologies designed as much to lock in the consumer and lock out the competition as to deliver any real value. That has got to be worth something."
For z/OS and TPF operating systems, disk must support CCW commands over ESCON or FICON connections, or NFS commandsover the Local Area Network. However, most of the workloads that are being ported over from x86 platforms willprobably be running Linux on System z images, and as such Linux supports both CCW and SCSI protocols, the latterover native FCP connections through a Storage Area Network (SAN) or via iSCSI over the Local Area Network. Many SAN directors support both FCP and FICON, and the z10 also supports both 1Gbps and 10Gbps Ethernet, so you may not have to invest in any new networking gear.
The best part is that you may not have to migrate your data. The IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller is supported for Linux on System z, and with "image mode" you can leave the data in its original format on its original disk array. Many file systems are now supported by Linux, including Windows NTFS with the latest NTFS-3G driver.
If your data is already on NAS storage, such as the IBM System Storage N series disk systems, then the IBM z10can access it directly, from z/OS, z/VM or Linux.
Have lots of LTO tape data? Linux on System z supports LTO as well.
Jon continues his rant with a question about porting Microsoft Windows applications. Here's another excerpt:
"For one, what do we do with all the Microsoft servers. There is no Redmond-sanctioned approach to my knowledge for virtualizing Microsoft SQL Server or Exchange Server in a mainframe partition."
Yes, it is possible to run Windows on a mainframe through emulation, but I feel that's the wrong approach. Instead, the focus should be on running "functionally equivalent" programs on the native mainframe operating systems, and again Linuxis often the best choice for this. Switching from Windows to Linux may not be "Red Instead of SQL Server, consider something functionally equivalent like IBM's DB2 Universal Database, or perhaps an open source database like MySQL, PostgreSQL or Apache Derby. Well-written applications use standard SQL calls, so ifthe application does not try to use unique, proprietary features of MS SQL Server, you are in good shape. In my discussion last November on [Microsoft Exchange email server], I mentioned that Bynari makes a functionally equivalent email server on Linux that works with your existing Microsoft Outlook clients. Your end-users wouldn't know you migrated to a mainframe! (well, they might notice their email runs faster) So if your data center has three or more racks of Sun, Dell or HP "pizza box" or "blade" x86 servers, chances are you can migrate the processing over to a shiny new IBM z10 EC mainframe, save some money in the process, without too much impact to your existing Ethernet, SAN or storage system infrastructure. IBM can even help you dispose of the oldx86 machines so that their toxic chemicals don't end up in any landfill. technorati tags: Jon Toigo, DrunkenData, IBM, z10, CCW, ESCON, FICON, SCSI, FCP, iSCSI, SAN Volume Controller, SVC, N series, NAS, NFS, NTFS, SAN, LAN, Ethernet, z/OS, TPF, z/VM, Linux, DB2, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Apache Derby, Microsoft, Windows
Instead of SQL Server, consider something functionally equivalent like IBM's DB2 Universal Database, or perhaps an open source database like MySQL, PostgreSQL or Apache Derby. Well-written applications use standard SQL calls, so ifthe application does not try to use unique, proprietary features of MS SQL Server, you are in good shape.
In my discussion last November on [Microsoft Exchange email server], I mentioned that Bynari makes a functionally equivalent email server on Linux that works with your existing Microsoft Outlook clients. Your end-users wouldn't know you migrated to a mainframe! (well, they might notice their email runs faster)
So if your data center has three or more racks of Sun, Dell or HP "pizza box" or "blade" x86 servers, chances are you can migrate the processing over to a shiny new IBM z10 EC mainframe, save some money in the process, without too much impact to your existing Ethernet, SAN or storage system infrastructure. IBM can even help you dispose of the oldx86 machines so that their toxic chemicals don't end up in any landfill.
technorati tags: Jon Toigo, DrunkenData, IBM, z10, CCW, ESCON, FICON, SCSI, FCP, iSCSI, SAN Volume Controller, SVC, N series, NAS, NFS, NTFS, SAN, LAN, Ethernet, z/OS, TPF, z/VM, Linux, DB2, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Apache Derby, Microsoft, Windows[Read More]
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On SearchStorage.com, my buddy Tony Asaro recaps the latest Storage Acquisition Frenzy.
It has always been the case in fast pace technology areas that you can't tell the players without a program card, andthis is especially true for storage.
When analyzing each acquistion move, you need to think of what is driving it. What are the motives?Having been in the storage business 20 years now, and seen my share of acquisitions, both from within IBM,as well as competition, I have come up with the following list of motives.
I hope that provides some insight.[Read More]
With all the announcements we had in June, it is easy for some of the more subtle enhancements to get overlooked. While I was at Orlando for the IBM Edge conference, I was able to blog about some of the key featured announcements. Then, later, when I got back from Orlando to Tucson, I was able to then blog about [More IBM Storage Announcements]. For IBM's Scale-Out Network Attach Storage (SONAS), I had simply:
"SONAS v1.3.2 adds support for management by the newly announced IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v5.1 release. Also, IBM now officially supports Gateway configurations that have the storage nodes connected to XIV or Storwize V7000 disk systems. These gateway configurations offer new flexible choices and options for our ever-expanding set of clients."
In my defense, IBM numbers its software releasees with vers
Here is a diagram showing the three configurations of SONAS.
I have covered the SONAS Appliance model in depth in previous blogs, with options for fast and slow disk speeds, choice of RAID protection levels, a collection of enterprise-class software features provided at no additional charge, and interfaces to support a variety of third party backup and anti-virus checking software.
The basics haven't changed. The SONAS appliance consists of 2 to 32 interface nodes, 2 to 60 storage nodes, and up to 7,200 disk drives. The maximum configuration takes up 17 frames and holds 21.6PB of raw disk capacity, which is about 17PB usable space when RAID6 is configured. An interface nodes has one or two hex-core processors with up to 144GB of RAM to offer up to 3.5GB/sec performance each. This makes IBM SONAS the fastest performing and most scalable disk system in IBM's System Storage product line.
I thought I would go a bit deeper on the gateway models. These models support up to ten storage nodes, organized in pairs. The key difference is that instead of internal disk controllers, the storage nodes connect to external disk systems. There is enough space in the base SONAS rack to hold up to six interface nodes, or you can add a second rack if you need more interface nodes for increased performance.
All three SONAS configurations support Active Cloud Engine. This is a collection of features that differentiate SONAS from the other scale-out NAS wannabees in the marketplace:
If you want to learn more, see the [IBM SONAS landing page]. Next week, I will be across the Pacific Ocean in [Taipei], to teach IBM Top Gun class to sales reps and IBM Business Partners. "Selling SONAS" will be one of the topics I will be covering!
Dave Hitz from Network Appliance has a wonderful discussion of "branding": What do Marketing People Mean When They Say Brand?
A lot of people ask me about IBM branding, as we have recently changed brands. In the past we had two separate brands, one for servers (eServer) and one for storage (TotalStorage). These would be fine if we wanted to promote their independence, but customers today want synergy between servers and storage, they want systems that work well together.
Last year, in response to market feedback, we crated a new brand, "IBM Systems" and put all the server and storage product lines under one roof. Over time, we will transition from TotalStorage to System Storage naming. This will occur with new products, and major versions of existing products.
Two other phrases you will hear in the names of our offerings are "Virtualization Engine" and "Express". These are portfolio identifiers. The Virtualization Engine identifier was created to emphasize our leadership in system virtualization, and we have products that span product lines with this identifier.
The Express identifier was created to emphasize our focus on Small and Medium sized business (SMB). It spans not just servers and storage, but across other offerings from other IBM divisions.
Of course, just renaming products and services isn't enough. Systems don't work together just because they have similar names, are covered in similar "Apple white" plastic, or have similar black bezels. Obviously, thoughtful and collaborative design are needed, with the appropriate amounts of engineering and testing. IBM is aligning its server and storage development so that the IBM Systems brand keeps its promise.Read More]
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The weather has warmed up here in Tucson so I started my Spring Cleaning early this year and unearthed from my garage a [Bankers Box] full of floppy diskettes.
IBM needed a way to send out small updates and patches for microcode of devices out in client locations. IBM had drives that could write information, and sent out "read-only" drives to the customer locations to receive these updates. These were flexible plastic circles with a magnetic coating, and placed inside a square paper sleeve. Imagine a floppy disk the size of a piece of standard paper. The 8-inch floppy fit conveniently in a manila envelope, sendable by standard mail, and could hold nearly 80KB of data.
I've been using floppies for the past thirty years. Here's some of my fondest memories:
So while this unexpected box of nostalgia derailed my efforts to clean out my garage this weekend, it did inspire me to try to get some of the old files off them and onto my PC hard drive. I have already retrieved some low-res photographs, some emails I sent out, and trip reports I wrote. While floppy diskettes were notorious for being unreliable, and this box of floppies has been in the heat and cold for many Arizonan summers and winters, I am amazed that I was able to read the data off most of them so far, all the way back to data written in 1989. While the data is readable, in most cases I can't render it into useful information. This brings up a few valuable lessons:
So what will I do with the floppies I can't read, can't write, and can't format? I think I will convert them into a [retro set of coasters], to protect my new living room furniture from hot and cold beverages.
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