This week I am in Orlando, Florida for the IBM Edge conference. This is the last day, so it ends early for people who want to get home to their
That's it folks. Next week, I am spending time with my research buddies at the Almaden Research Center near San Jose, California, and then it is off to Moscow, Russia to kick off a series of IBM events called "Edge Comes to You" (ECTY).
The ECTY conferences will be a smaller subset of the Edge conference here in Orlando, but offered in other countries for those who were unable to travel to the United States.
--- Charles Dudley Warner
In my September 2007 post [Supermarkets and Specialty Shops], I explain that there are two kinds of clients:
My how the IT landscape for vendors has evolved in just the past five years! Cisco starts to sell servers, and enters a "mini-mall" alliance with EMC and VMware to offer vBlock integrated stack of server, storage and switches with VMware as the software hypervisor. For those not familiar with the concept of mini-malls, these are typically rows of specialty shops. A shopper can park their car once, and do all their shopping from the various shops in the mini-mall. Not quite "one-stop" shopping of a supermarket, but tries to address the same need.
("Who do I call when it breaks?" -- The three companies formed a puppet company, the Virtual Computing Environment company, or VCE, to help answer that question!)
Among the many things IBM has learned in its 100+ years of experience, it is that clients want choices. Cisco figured this out also, and partnered with NetApp to offer the aptly-named FlexPod reference architecture. In effect, Cisco has two boyfriends, when she is with EMC, it is called a Vblock, and when she is with NetApp, it is called a FlexPod. I was lucky enough to find this graphic to help explain the three-way love triangle.
Did this move put a strain on the relationship between Cisco and EMC? Last month, EMC announced VSPEX, a FlexPod-like approach that provides a choice of servers, and some leeway for resellers to make choices to fit client needs better. Why limit yourself to Cisco servers, when IBM and HP servers are better? Is this an admission that Vblock has failed, and that VSPEX is the new way of doing things? No, I suspect it is just EMC's way to strike back at both Cisco and NetApp in what many are calling the "Stack Wars". (See [The Stack Wars have Begun!], [What is the Enterprise Stack?], or [The Fight for the Fully Virtualized Data Center] for more on this.)
(FTC Disclosure: I am both an employee and shareholder of IBM, so the U.S. Federal Trade Commission may consider this post a paid, celebrity endorsement of the IBM PureFlex system. IBM has working relationships with Cisco, NetApp, and Quantum. I was not paid to mention, nor have I any financial interest in, any of the other companies mentioned in this blog post. )
Chris Mellor and Timothy Prickett Morgan at The Register have a great series of posts exploring this new development: [EMC VSPEX storage torpedo could sink FlexPods], [El Reg hurls EMC onto the rack, drills into VSPEX], [We were right: EMC's VSPEX will take on FlexPods], and [How EMC stuffs channel cakeholes with VSPEX recipes].
Last month, IBM announced its new PureSystems family, ushering in a [new era in computing]. I invite you all to check out the many "Paterns of Expertise" available at the [IBM PureSystems Centre]. This is like an "app store" for the data center, and what I feel truly differentiates IBM's offerings from the rest.
The trend is obvious. Clients who previously purchased from specialty shops are discovering the cost and complexity of building workable systems from piece-parts from separate vendors has proven expensive and challenging. IBM PureFlex™ systems eliminate a lot of the complexity and effort, but still offer plenty of flexibility, choice of server processor types, choice of server and storage hypervisors, and choice of various operating systems.
Continuing my coverage of the [IBM System Storage Technical University 2011], I participated in the storage free-for-all, which is a long-time tradition, started at SHARE User Group conference, and carried forward to other IT conferences. The free-for-all is a Q&A Panel of experts to allow anyone to ask any question. These are sometimes called "Birds of a Feather" (BOF). Last year, we had two: one focused on Tivoli Storage software, and the second to cover storage hardware. This year, we had two, one for System x called "Ask the eXperts", and one for System Storage called "Storage Free-for-All". This post covers the latter.
(Disclaimer: Do not shoot the messenger! We had a dozen or more experts on the panel, representing System Storage hardware, Tivoli Storage software, and Storage services. I took notes, trying to capture the essence of the questions, and the answers given by the various IBM experts. I have spelled out acronyms and provided links to relevant materials. The answers from individual IBMers may not reflect the official position of IBM management. Where appropriate, my own commentary will be in italics.)Are there any plans to improve the use of BRMS [Backup Recovery and Media Services for IBM i] with [Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM)]?
It should be against the law to connect these two together. IBM has no plans to make any further improvements.When will [IBM BladeCenter S] support 2.5-inch drives?
You are in the wrong session! Go to "Ask the eXperts" session next door!The TSM GUI sucks! Are there any plans to improve it?
Yes, we are aware that products like IBM XIV have raised the bar for what people expect from graphical user interfaces. We have plans to improve the TSM GUI. IBM's new GUI for the SAN Volume Controller and Storwize V7000 has been well-received, and will be used as a template for the GUIs of other storage hardware and software products. The GUI uses the latest HTML5, Dojo widgets and AJAX technologies, eliminating Java dependencies on the client browser.Can we run the TSM Admin GUI from a non-Windows host?
IBM has plans to offer this. Most likely, this will be browser-based, so that any OS with a modern browser can be used.As hard disk drives grow larger in capacity, RAID-5 becomes less viable. What is IBM doing to address this?
IBM is aware of this problem. IBM offers RAID-DP on the IBM N series, RAID-X on the IBM XIV, and RAID-6 on its other disk systems.TPC licensing is outrageous! What is IBM going to do about it?
IBM introduced the [Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Disk Midrange Edition (MRE)] to help address the cost when Small and Medium-sized Businesses managing SVC, Storwize V7000, DS5000 and DS3000 disk systems.What is the adoption rate of IBM Easy Tier?
About 25 percent of DS8000 disk systems have SSD installed. Now that IBM DS8000 Easy Tier supports "any two" tiers, roughly 50 percent of DS8000 now have Easy Tier activated. No idea on how Easy Tier has been adopted on SVC or Storwize V7000.We have an 8-node SVC cluster, should we put 8 SSD drives into a single node-pair, or spread them out?
We recommend putting a separate Solid-State Drive in each SVC node, with RAID-1 between nodes of a node-pair. By separating the SSD across I/O groups, you can reduce node-to-node traffic.How well has SVC 6.2 been adopted?
The inventory call-home data is not yet available. The only SVC hardware model that does not support this level of software was the 2145-4F2 introduced in 2003. Every other model since then can be updated to this level.Will IBM offer 600GB FDE drives for the IBM DS8700?
Currently, IBM offers 300GB and 450GB 15K RPM drives with the Full-Disk Encryption (FDE) capability for the DS8700, and 450GB and 600GB 10K RPM drives with FDE for the IBM DS8800. IBM is working with its disk suppliers to offer FDE on other disk capacities, and on SSD and NL-SAS drives as well, so that all can be used with IBM Easy Tier.Is there a reason for the feature lag between the Easy Tier capabilities of the DS8000, and that of the SVC/Storwize V7000?
We have one team for Easy Tier, so they implement it first on DS8000, then port it over to SVC/Storwize V7000.Does it even make sense to have separate storage tiers, especially when you factor in the cost of SVC and TPC to make it manageable?
It depends! We understand this is a trade-off between cost and complexity. Most data centers have three or more storage tiers already, so products like SVC can help simplify interoperability.Are there best practices for combining SVC with DS8000? Can we share one DS8000 system across two or more SVC clusters?
Yes, you can share one DS8000 across multiple SVC clusters. DS8000 has auto-restripe, so consider having two big extent pools. The queue depth is 3 to 60, so aim to have up to 60 managed disks on your DS8000 assigned to SVC. The more managed disks the better.The IBM System Storage Interopability Center (SSIC) site does not seem to be designed well for SAN Volume Controller.
Yes, we are aware of that. It was designed based on traditional Hardware Compatability Lists (HCL), but storage virtualization presents unique challenges.How does the 24-hour learning period work for IBM Easy Tier? We have batch processing that runs from 2am to 8am on Sundays.
You can have Easy Tier monitor across this batch job window, and turn Easy Tier management between tiers on and off as needed.Now that NetApp has acquired LSI, is the DS3000 still viable?
Yes, IBM has a strong OEM relationship with both NetApp and LSI, and this continues after the acquisition.If have managed disks from a DS8000 multi-rank extent pool assigned to multiple SVC clusters, won't this affect performance?
Yes, possibly. Keep managed disks on seperate extent pools if this is a big concern. A PERL script is available to re-balance SVC striped volumes as needed after these changes.Is the IBM [TPC Reporter] a replacement for IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center?
No, it is software, available at no additional charge, that provides additional reporting to those who have already licensed Tivoli Storage Productivity Center 4.1 and above. It will be updated as needed when new versions of Productivity Center are released.We are experiencing lots of stability issues with SDD, SDD-PCM and SDD-DSM multipathing drivers. Are these getting the development attention they deserve?
IBM's direction is to shift toward native OS-based multipathing drivers.Is anyone actually thinking of deploying public cloud storage in the near-term?
A few hands in the audience were raised.None of the IBM storage devices seem to have [REST API]. Cloud storage providers are demanding this. What are IBM plans?
IBM plans to offer REST on SONAS. IBM uses SONAS internally for its own cloud storage offerings.If you ask a DB2 specialist, an AIX specialist, and a System Storage specialist, on how to configure System p and System Storage for optimal performance, you get three different answers. Are there any IBMers who are cross-functional that can help?
Yes, for example, Earl Jew is an IBM Field Technical Support Specialist (FTSS) for both System p and Storage, and can help you with that.Both Oracle and Microsoft recommend RAID-10 for their applications.
Don't listen to them. Feel free to use RAID-5, RAID-6 or RAID-X instead.Resizing SVC source volumes forces ongoing FlashCopy or Metro Mirror relatiohships to be stopped. Does IBM plan to address this?
Currently, you have to stop, resize both source and target, then start the relationship again. Consider getting IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Replication (TPC-R).What ever happened to IBM [Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS)]?
IBM continues to support this for exising clients. For new deployments, IBM offers SONAS and the Information Archive (IA).When will I be able to move SVC volumes between I/O groups?
You can today, but it is disruptive to the operating system. IBM is investigating making this less disruptive.Will XIV ever support the mainframe?
It does already, with support for both Linux and z/VM today. For VSE support, use SVC with XIV. For those with the new zBX extension, XIV storage can be used with all of the POWER and x86-based operating systems supported. IBM has no plans to offer direct FICON attachment for z/OS or z/TPF.Not a question - Kudos to the TSM and ProtecTIER team in supporting native IP-based replication!
Thanks!When will IBM offer POWER-based models of the XIV, SVC and other storage devices?
IBM's decision to use industry-standard x86 technology has proven quite successful. However, IBM re-looks at this decision every so many years. Once again, the last iteration determined that it was not worth doing. A POWER-based model might not beat the price/performance of current x86 models, and maintaining two separate code bases would hinder development of new innovations.We have both System i and System z, what is IBM doing to address the fact that PowerHA and GDPS are different?
IBM TPC-R has a service offering extension to support "IBM i" environments. GDPS plans to support multi-platform environments as well.
This was a great interactive session. I am glad everyone stayed late Thursday evening to participate in this discussion.
technorati tags: IBM, storage, Tivoli, BRMS, TSM, BladeCenter, GUI, HTML5, AJAX, Dojo, SVC, Storwize V7000, RAID-10, RAID-5, RAID-6, RAID-DP, RAID-X, , DS3000, DS8000, MRE, FDE, SSIC, NetApp, LSI, PERL, SDD, Cloud, REST, SONAS, GDPS, TPC-R, TPC, Productivity Center, Earl Jew
In his blog post, [The Lure of Kit-Cars], fellow blogger Chuck Hollis (EMC) uses an excellent analogy delineating the differences between kit-cars you build from parts, versus fully-integrated systems that you can drive off the car dealership showroom lot. The analogy holds relatively well, as IT departments can also build their infrastructure from parts, or you can get fully-integrated systems from a variety of vendors.
Certainly, this debate is not new. In my now infamous 2007 post [Supermarkets and Specialty Shops], I explained that there were clients that preferred to get their infrastructure from a single IT supermarket, like IBM or HP, while others were lured into thinking that buying separate parts from butchers, bakers and candlestick makers and other specialty shops was somehow a better idea.
Chuck correctly explains that in the early years of the automobile industry, before major car manufacturers had mass-production assembly lines, putting a car together from parts was the only way cars were made. Today, only the few most avid enthusiasts build cars this way. The majority get cars from a single seller and drive away. In my post [Resolving the Identity Crisis], I postulated that EMC appeared to be trying to shed itself of the "disk-only specialty shop" image and over to be more like IBM. Not quite a full IT Supermarket, but perhaps more like a [Trader Joe's] premium-priced retailer.
(If you find that EMC's focus on integrated systems appears to be a 180-degree about-face from their historical focus on selling individual best-of-breed products, see my previous discussion of Chuck's contradictions in my blog post: [Is Storage the Next Confusopoly].)
While companies like EMC might be making this transition, there is a lot of resistance and inertia from the customer marketplace. I agree with Chuck, companies should not be building kit-cars or IT infrastructures from parts, certainly not from parts sold from different vendors. In my post [Talking about Solutions not Products], I explained how difficult it was to change behavior. CIOs, IT directors and managers need to think differently about their infrastructure. Let's take a quick look at some choices:
Before he earned his PhD in Mechanical Engineering, my father was a car mechanic. I spent much of my teenage years covered in grease, helping my father assembling cars, lifting engines, and rebuilding carburetors. Certainly this was good father-son time, and I certainly did learn something in the process. Like the automobile industry, the IT industry has matured, and it makes no financial sense to build your own IT infrastructure from parts from different vendors.
For a test drive of the industry's leading integrated IT systems, see your IBM sales rep or IBM Business Partner.
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A client asked me to explain "Nearline storage" to them. This was easy, I thought, as I started my IBM career on DFHSM, now known as DFSMShsm for z/OS, which was created in 1977 to support the IBM 3850 Mass Storage System (MSS), a virtual storage system that blended disk drives and tape cartridges with robotic automation. Here is a quick recap:
Sadly, it appears a few storage manufacturers and vendors have been misusing the term "Nearline" to refer to "slower online" spinning disk drives. I find this [June 2005 technology paper from Seagate], and this [2002 NetApp Press Release], the latter of which included this contradiction for their "NearStore" disk array. Here is the excerpt:
Which is it, "online access" or "nearline storage"?
If a client asked why slower drives consume less energy or generate less heat, I could explain that, but if they ask why slower drives must have SATA connections, that is a different discussion. The speed of a drive and its connection technology are for the most part independent. A 10K RPM drive can be made with FC, SAS or SATA connection.
I am opposed to using "Nearlne" just to distinguish between four-digit speeds (such as 5400 or 7200 RPM) versus "online" for five-digit speeds (10,000 and 15,000 RPM). The difference in performance between 10K RPM and 7200 RPM spinning disks is miniscule compared to the differences between solid-state drives and any spinning disk, or the difference between spinning disk and tape.
I am also opposed to using the term "Nearline" for online storage systems just because they are targeted for the typical use cases like backup, archive or other reference information that were previously directed to nearline devices like automated tape libraries.
Can we all just agree to refer to drives as "fast" or "slow", or give them RPM rotational speed designations, rather than try to incorrectly imply that FC and SAS drives are always fast, and SATA drives are always slow? Certainly we don't need new terms like "NL-SAS" just to represent a slower SAS connected drive.