This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to IBM Systems, storage and storage networking hardware, software and services.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson )
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!
Safe Harbor Statement: The information on IBM products is intended to outline IBM's general product direction and it should not be relied on in making a purchasing decision. The information on the new products is for informational purposes only and may not be incorporated into any contract. The information on IBM products is not a commitment, promise, or legal obligation to deliver any material, code, or functionality. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for IBM products remains at IBM's sole discretion.
Tony Pearson is a an active participant in local, regional, and industry-specific interests, and does not receive any special payments to mention them on this blog.
Tony Pearson receives part of the revenue proceeds from sales of books he has authored listed in the side panel.
Tony Pearson is not a medical doctor, and this blog does not reference any IBM product or service that is intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, prevention or monitoring of a disease or medical condition, unless otherwise specified on individual posts.
Fellow blogger and cartoon writer Scott Adams writes in his Dilbert Blog posts about the [Monte Hall problem].Monte Hall was the host of the American game show Let's Make a Deal. Here is an excerpt:
"The set up is this. Game show host Monte Hall offers you three doors. One has a car behind it, which will be your prize if you guess that door. The other two doors have goats. In other words, you have a 1/3 chance of getting the car.
You pick a door, but before it is opened to reveal what is behind it, Monte opens one of the doors you did NOT choose, which he knows has a goat behind it. And he asks if you want to stick with your first choice or move to the other closed door. One of those two doors has a car behind it. Monte knows which one but you don’t."
Mathematically, on your initial choice of doors, you have a 1/3 chance of picking the car, and 2/3 chance ofpicking a goat. But, after you make a choice, Monte knows which door(s) have goats behind them, and selectsone that exposes the goat. If you stay with your initial choice, you still have a 1/3 chance that you win acar, but if you change your mind and choose the other door, your odds double, you have a 2/3 chance of winning.This is not obvious at all to most people, so Scott points people to the [Wikipedia entry] that provides the mathematicaldetails.
What does this have to do with storage?
When you pick a disk system, you are hoping you pick the door with the car. You want a disk system that meets your performance requirements for your particular workload and easy to deploy, configure and manage, with a low total cost of ownership for the three, four or five years you plan to use it.However, with over forty different storage vendors, there are some doors that might have goats. Some vendorshave only 90 day warranties for their software, and I don't know any customers that replace their disk systems that often.
(It was pointed out to me that it was unfair in my last week's post about[Xiotech'slow cost RAID brick], that I singled out EMC offering minuscule 90day warranties for the software needed to run their disk systems. I apologize. I have sincelearned that HDS and HP also shaft their clients with 90 day warranties. Apparently thereare a lot of vendors out there who lack confidence in the quality of their software!)
It would be nice if everyone published all of their performance benchmarks so that you canchoose the right door with the car behind it, but sadly in the storage industry, not everyoneparticipates with industry-standard benchmarks like the[Storage Performance Council].
In other cases, people make their choices based on past decisions. Perhaps someone beforethem chose one vendor over another, and it seems simple enough just to stay with the originalchoice. It is amazing how often people stay with their company's original choice, what we call in the industry the "incumbent vendor", without exploring alternatives.
So, if you bought an EMC, HDS or HP disk system in the last 90 days, it's not too late for you.Tell your local IBM rep that you are afraid you picked the door with the goat, and that you want to change your mind, and choose the other door and go with IBM instead.
You will double your chances of being happier with your new choice!
Well, I am back from Las Vegas, and had a pleasant [US Memorial Day] holiday yesterday.
Today is Tuesday, and that means more IBM announcements! IBM announced that the DCS9900 now supports an intermix of SAS and SATA drives. The DCS9900 is purpose-built specifically for the High-Performance-Computing (HPC) and Video Broadcasting industries.
The system is a combination of 4U controllers and 3U expansion drawers. The controllers handle either FC or Infiniband attachment to host servers. The expansion drawers hold up to 60 drives each. With the new features of intermix, the following drives are supported:
7200 RPM SATA drives in 500, 750 and 1000 GB capacities
15K RPM SAS drives in 146, 300 and 450 GB capacities
The DCS9900 groups the drives into sets of 10, in RAID-6 ranks of 8+2P. IBM supports either 5, 10 or 20 expansion drawers to make a complete system. The maximum configuration would be 1200 drives of the 1000GB SATA drives, for a total of 1.2 PB in two frames. Each rank must be all the same type and capacity drive, but you can mix different types within the entire system.
The DCS9900 supports "Sleep Mode", an implementation of Massive Array of Idle Disks [MAID] technology, whereby each RAID rank can be either awake and spinning, or in energy-efficient standby mode. This makes for a more "green" storage system for data that is not accessed frequently.
This wraps up my week in Las Vegas for the 27th Annual [Data Center Conference]. This conference follows the common approach of ending at noon on Friday, so that attendees can get home to their families for the weekend, or start their weekend in Las Vegas early to watch the 50th annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
I attended the last few sessions. Here is my recap:
Where, When and Why do I need a Solid-State Drive?
The internet provides transport of digital data between any devices. All other uses have evolved from this aim. Increasing data storage on any node on the Web therefore increases the possibilities at every other point. We are just now beginning to recognize the implications of this. The two speakers co-presented this session to cover how Solid State Disk (SSD) may participate.
Some electronic surveys of the audience provided some insight. Only 12 percent are deploying SSD now. 59 percent are evaluating the technology. A whopping 89 percent did not understand SSD technology, or how it would apply to their data center. Here is the expected time linefor SSD adoption:
17 percent - within 1 year
60 percent - around 3 years from now
21 percent - 5 years or later
The main reasons cited for adopting SSD were increasing IOPS, reducing power and floorspace requirements, and expanding global networks. Here's a side-by-side comparison between HDD and SSD:
Disk array with 120 HDD, 73GB drives
Disk array with 120 SSD, 32GB drives
Per 73GB drive
Per 32GB drive
100MB/sec per drive
Read 250 MB/sec per drive Write 170 MB/sec per drive
300 IOPS per drive
35,000 IOPS per drive
12 Watts per drive
2.4 Watts per drive
However, the cost-per-GB for SSD is still 25x over traditional spinning disk, andthe analysts expected SSD to continue to be 10-20x for a while. For now, they estimatethat SSD will be mostly found in blade servers, enterprise-class disk systems, andhigh-end network directors.
The speakers gave examples such as Sun's ZFS Hybrid, and other products from NetApp,Compellent, Rackable, Violin, and Verari Systems.
Taking fear out of IT Disaster Recovery Exercises
The analyst presented best practices for disaster recovery testing with a "Pay Now or Pay Later"pre-emptive approach. Here were some of the suggestions:
Schedule adequate time for DR exercises
Build DR considerations into change control procedures and project lifecycle planning
Document interdependencies between applications and business processes
Bring in the "crisis team" on even the smallest incidents to keep skill sharp
Present the "State of Disaster Recovery" to Senior Management annually
The speaker gave examples of different "tiers" for recovery, with appropriate RPO and RTOlevels, and how often these should be tested per year. A survey of the audience found that70 percent already have a tiered recovery approach.
In addition to IT staff, you might want to consider inviting others to the DR exerciseas reviewers for oversight, including: Line of Business folks, Facilities/Operations, Human Resources, Legal/Compliance officers, even members of government agencies.
DR exercises can be performed at a variety of scope and objectives:
Tabletop Test - IBM calls these "walk-throughs", where people merely sit around the table and discuss what actions they would take in the event of a hypothetical scenario. This is a good way to explore all kinds of scenarios from power outages, denial of service attacks, or pandemic diseases.
Checklist Review - Here a physical inventory is taken of all the equipment needed at the DR site.
Stand-alone Test - Sometimes called a "component test" or "unit test", a single application is recovered and tested.
End-to-End simulation - All applications for a business process are recovered for a full simulation.
Full Rehearsal - Business is suspended to perform this over a weekend.
Production Cut-Over - If you are moving data center locations, this is a good time to consider testing some procedures. Other times, production is cut-over for a week over to the DR site and then returned back to the primary site.
Mock Disaster - Management calls this unexpectedly to the IT staff, certain IT staff are told to participate, and others are told not to. This helps to identify critical resources, how well procedures are documented, and members of the team are adequately cross-trained.
For exercise, set the appropriate scope and objectives, score the results, and then identifyaction plans to address the gaps uncovered. Scoring can be as simple as "Not addressed","Needs Improvement" and "Met Criteria".
Full Speed Ahead for iSCSI
The analyst presented this final session of the conference. He recognized IBM's early leadership in this area back in 1999, with the IP200i disk system. Today, there are many storage vendors that provide iSCSI solutions, the top three being:
23 percent - Dell/EqualLogic
15 percent - EMC
14 percent - HP/LeftHand Networks
This protocol has been mostly adopted for Windows, Linux and VMware, but has been largelyignored by the UNIX community. The primary value proposition is to offer SAN-like functionality at lower cost. When using the existing NICs that come built-in on most servers, iSCSI canbe 30-50 percent less expensive than FC-based SANs. Even if you install TCP-Offload-Engine (TOE) cards into the servers, iSCSI can still represent a 16-19 percent cost savings. ManyIBM servers now have TOE functionality built-in.
Since lower costs are the primary motivator, most iSCSI deployments are on 1GbE. The new10Gbps Ethernet is still too expensive for most iSCSI configurations. For servers runninga single application, 2 1GbE NICs is sufficient. For servers running virtualization with multiple workloads might need 4 or 5 NICs (1GbE), or consider 2 10GbE NICs if 10Gbps is available.
The iSCSI protocol has been most successful for small and medium sized businesses (SMB) lookingfor one-stop shopping. Buying iSCSI storage from the same vendor as your servers makes a lot of sense: EqualLogic with Dell servers, LeftHand software with HP servers, and IBM's DS3300 or N series with IBM System x servers.The average iSCSI unit was 10TB for about $24,000 US dollars.
Security and Management software for iSCSI is not as fully developed as for FC-based SANs.For this reason, most network vendors suggest having IP SANs isolated from your regular LAN.If that is not possible, consider VPN or encryption to provide added security.Issues of security and management imply that iSCSI won't dominate the large enteprise data center. Instead, many arewatching closely the adoption of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), based on revised standardsfor 10Gbps Ethernet. FCoE standards probably won't be finalized till mid-2009, with productsfrom major vendors by 2010, and perhaps taking as much as 10 percent marketshare by 2011.
I hope you have enjoyed this series of posts. In addition to the sessions I attended, theconference has provided me with 67 presentations for me to review. Those who attended couldpurchase all the audio recordings and proceedings of every session for $295 US dollars, and those who missed the event can purchase these for $595 US dollars. These are reasonable prices, when you realize that the average Las Vegas visitor spends 13.9 hours gambling, losing an average of $626 US dollars per visit. The audio recordings and proceedings can provide more than 13.9 hours of excitement for less money!
The title of this post is inspired by Baxter Black's [latest book]. Rathera recap of the break-out sessions, I thought I would comment on a fewsentences, phrases or comments I heard in the afternoon and evening.
Stop buying storage from EMC or NetApp
The lunch was sponsored by Symantec. Rod Soderbery presented "Taking the cost out ofcost savings", explaining some ideas to reduce IT costs immediately.
First, he suggested to "stop buying storage" from EMC or NetApp that charge a premiumfor tier-one products. Instead, Rod suggested that people should "think like a Web company"and buy only storage products based on commodity hardware to save money, and to use SRM software to identify areas of poor storage utilization. IBM's TotalStorage Productivity Center softwareis often used to help with this analysis.
His other suggestions were to adopt thin provisioning, data deduplication, and virtualization.The discussion at my table started with someone asking, "How do we adopt those functions without buying new storage capacity with those features already built-in?" I explained that IBM's SAN Volume Controller (SVC),N series gateways, and TS7650G ProtecTIER virtual tape gateway can all provide one or moreof these features to your existing disk storage capacity.
IBM and HP are leaders in blade servers
In the session "Future of Server and OS: Disappearing Boundaries", the audience confirmedby electronic survey that IBM and HP are the leaders in blade servers, although blades representonly 8-10 percent of the overall server market.
Interestingly, 22 percent of the audience has deployed both x86 and non-x86 (POWER, SPARC, etc.) blade servers.The presenters considered this an interesting insight.
Another survey of the audience found that 3 percent considered Sun/STK as their primary storagevendor. One of the presenters was delighted that Sun is still hanging in there.
IBM Business Partners deliver the best of IBM and mask the worst
Elaine Lennox, IBM VP, and Mark Wyllie, CEO of Flagship Solutions Group, Inc. presentedIBM-sponsored back to back sessions. Elaine presented IBM's vision, the New Enterprise Data Center, and the challenges that demand a smarter planet.
Mark focused on his company's experience working with IBM through Innovation Workshops. Theseare assessments that can help someone identify where you are now, where you want to be, andthen action plans to address the gaps.
Cats and Dogs, Oil and Water, Microsoft Windows and Mission-critical applications, what do all of these have in common?
NEC Corporation of America sponsored some sessions on some x86-based solutions they have to offer.The first part, titled "Rats Nests, Snow Drifts and Trailers" focused unified storage, andthe second part, presented by Michael Nixon, focused on how to bring Microsoft Windows servers into the data center for mission-critical applications.
The Economy might be slowing, but storage is still growing
Two analysts co-presented "The Enterprise Storage Scenario". Unlike computing capacity, thereis no on/off switch for storage, not from applications nor from end-users. The cost ofpower for storage is expected to be 3x by 2013. Virtual servers, includingVMware and Microsoft's Hyper-V will drive the need for shared external disk storage.A survey of the audience found 20 percent were expecting to purchase additional storagecapacity 4Q08.
When someone reaches age 52, they expect to coast the rest of their career
At dinner with analysts, the discussion of financial meltdown and bailouts is unavoidable,including everyone's views about the proposed bailout of the Big 3 automakers. I can'tdefend Ford, GM and Chrysler paying their people $70 US dollars per hour, when their UScounterparts at Toyota or Honda are only paid $45 to $50 dollars per hour.
However, I have a close friend who retired after 20 years working for the fire department,and a cousin who retired after 20 years serving in the Navy (the US Navy, not the BolivianNavy), and both are still in their forties in age. A long time ago, IT professionalsretired after 30 years, in some cases with 50 to 60 percent of their base pay as theirpension for the rest of their lives. A 52-year-old that has worked 30 years might expect to enjoy the rest of his old age playing golf and pursuing other hobbies. This is not "coasting", it is called "retirement". The few of my colleagues that I have seen who worked 35 to 40 years did so becausethey enjoyed the challenge of work at IBM. They enjoyed solving tough engineering problems and helping customers.As long as they were having fun on the job,IBM was glad to keep their wealth of experience on board and actively engaged.
Unfortunately, many people rely on their own investments in the stock market for retirement, ratherthan company pensions. With the current financial crisis, I suspect many people my age arereconsidering their previous retirement plans.
We're going to need more trains!
I took the monorail back to my hotel. The ride includes funny announcements and statistics,including this gem:
"Since 1940, Las Vegas has doubled in population every ten years, which means thatby the year 2230, we will have over 1 trillion people calling Las Vegas home. We're goingto need more trains!"
That wraps up Tuesday, Day 2 of my attendance here! Now for some sleep.