Its not hard to do. All you is need is a moment of inattention combined with a massive assumption. In fact assumptions can bring you undone at any time. A former manager of mine introduced me to the saying: To assume is to make an ass of you and me.
So what was the assumption this time?
One of our business partners sold a client two new XIVs and 4 new IBM SAN40Bs (40 port fibre channel switches). So far so good. When you order the SAN switches you have a choice of ordering 4 Gbps capable SFPs (SFPs are the fibre optic sub assemblies that you plug your cables into) or 8 Gbps capable SFPs. There was a time when the 8 Gbps SFPs were much more expensive than the 4 Gbps, but today they are about 75% of the price of the 4 Gbps. So it makes sense to buy the faster SFPs. But you need to ensure that all the HBAs at the client site are at least 2 Gbps capable, because 8 Gbps SFPs are tri-rate and can only go at 2, 4 or 8 Gbps. Sure enough an assumption was made that this was not an issue... but it was. The client has WDMs that run at 1 Gbps and upgrading those WDMs would be a significant expense.
So I got to thinking... could I force the SFP to 1 Gbps?
If I display the 8 Gbps SFP it reports it is capable of 200, 400, 800 MBps which is code for 2, 4 or 8 Gbps.
So what to do? We could not just move the old SFPs into the new switch, as the new 8 Gbps capable Brocade switches only accept Brocade approved SFPs. The only solution was to make it right and swap four of the Brocade 8 Gbps SFPs with Brocade 4 Gbps SFPs. Fortunately as we needed only four, I was able to swap them with little expense or hassle (I contacted our local Brocade rep who happily helped us out).
The end point was a happy client and a lesson re-learnt..... 1 into 8 does not go.
I am curious though... is there much 1 Gbps gear still out there? Is this a common issue?
IBM recently announced the new System Storage DS3500 Express. The DS3500 is an entry level storage system that can be easily serviced and managed by an end-user. It is a very worthy successor to the DS3200/DS3300/DS3400 product line. So I thought I would share with you 10 things I really like about the new IBM DS3500 (in no particular order).
1) Its small
The base unit is only 2U in size and can hold either 12 of the 3.5" disks or 24 of the smaller 2.5" disks (depending on model). Each expansion drawer can also hold 12 of the 3.5" or 24 of the 2.5" disks (depending on model) and you can have 3 of them. So thats a potential 96 disks in 8U of rack space.
2) Its all SAS
In my opinion, Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) is the future of disk attachment. Traditional parallel SCSI is so 20th century and FATA didn't work out too well. I think SATA and FCAL attached disk will eventually be replaced by SAS and the DS3500 is all SAS at the disk back end and SAS by default at the host front end as well.
3) Its got flashcopy
The DS3500 can create two flashcopies without any extra licenses. I really like the fact that if your doing an OS or application upgrade, you can give yourself a quick roll-back point by just reserving some space for a flashcopy repository. This is also a great way to test whether flashcopy is right for your business and if so, buy the license to create more than 2 copies at a time.
4) Its got remote mirror
The DS3000 range up until now did not offer remote mirror capability. This meant that if you wanted a DR solution you needed to buy something to go over the top such as IBM SVC or Softek Replicator. The DS3500 now offers its own native replication that not only fills a spot but is compatible with existing DS4000s and DS5000s that you may already have in your business.
5) Its got nearline
So FATA disk may not have worked out, by nearline SAS is a far better alternative. The 2.5" model offers a 500 GB 7.2 K RPM nearline SAS drive. Or how about a 2 TB drive in the 3.5" form factor? Want some archive disk using nearline where the spindle count will still deliver good performance? Heres the solution.
6) Its green
If we accept that MAID was not the solution for the masses, the better thing is to simply do more with less, which is exactly what the DS3500 does. We are talking around 500W of power usage for a 48 disk two drawer solution (with 2.5" disks). Thats around half the power consumption of the equivalent model with 3.5" disks. This means less power drawn in and less hot air blown out.
7) One model to rule them all
The DS3500 comes in one model: SAS. You want fibre channel? No problem, just add the card. You instead want iSCSI? Same deal, just add the card. All models retain the SAS adapters which are proving so popular in the rack and blade server space.
You need a point solution to provide data-at-rest encryption? Here it is with 300 GB and 600 GB Self Encrypting drives that protect your data with no performance impact. Even better is that the software to manage encryption is rolled into the DS Storage Manager. Talking of which...
9) Easy Management
The DS3500 continues to use an intuitive and easy to use GUI which now includes all the dynamic volume management. This is an improvement over previous models where this had to be done via command line.
10) Its cheap
Being entry level it is priced for that market. You could also place it behind the SVC for a quick encryption solution or as a VDisk mirror repository.
It is ironic that only days after I wrote that 497 is the IT number of the beast, I learn that Linux has another unfortunate number: 208.
The reason for this is a defect in the internal Linux kernel used in recent firmware levels of SVC, Storwize V7000 and Storwize V7000 Unified nodes. This defect will cause each node to reboot after 208 days of uptime. This issue exists in unfixed versions of the 6.2 and 6.3 level of firmware, so a large number of users are going to need to take some action on this (except those who are still on a 4.x, 5.x, 6.0 or 6.1 release). If you have done a code update after June 2011, then you are probably affected. This means that if you are an IBM client you need to read this alert now and determine how far you are into that 208 day period. If you are an IBMer or an IBM Business Partner, you need to make sure your clients are aware of this issue, though hopefully they have signed up for IBM My Notifications and have already been notified by e-mail.
In short what needs to happen is that you must:
Determine your current firmware level.
Check the table in the alert to determine if you are affected at all, and if so, how far you are potentially into the 208 day period.
Prior to the 208 day period finishing, either reboot your nodes (one at a time, with a decent interval between them) or install a fixed level of software (as detailed in the alert).
To give you an example of the process, my lab machine is on software version 188.8.131.52 which you can see in the screen capture below. So when I check the table in the alert, I see that version 184.108.40.206 was made available on January 24, 2012, which means the 208 day period cannot possibly end before August 19, 2012.
Earliest possible date that a system running this release could hit the 208 day reboot.
SAN Volume Controller and Storwize V7000 Version 6.3
30 November 2011
25 June 2012
24 January 2012
19 August 2012
Regardless, I need to know the uptime of my nodes, so I download the Software Upgrade Test Utility (in case you have an older copy, we need at least version 7.9) and run it using the Upgrade Wizard (NOTE! We are NOT updating anything here, just checking):
I Launch the Upgrade Wizard, use it to upload the tool and follow the prompts to run it, so that I get to see the output of that tool. The output in this example shows the uptime of each node is 56 days, so I have a maximum of 152 days remaining before I have to take any action. At this point I select Cancel. You can run this tool as often as you like to keep checking uptime.
Note if you are on 6.1 or 6.2 code you may see a timeout error when running the tool, especially for the first time. If you do see an error, please follow the instructions in the section titled "When running the the upgrade test utility v7.5 or later on Storwize V7000 v6.1 or v6.2" at the Test Utility download site.
As per the Alert:
If you are running a 6.0 or 6.1 level of firmware, you are not affected.
If you are running a 6.2 level of firmware, the fix level is v220.127.116.11 which is available here for Storwize V7000 and here for SVC.
If you are running a 6.3 level of firmware, the fix level is v18.104.22.168 which is available here for Storwize V7000 and here for SVC.
If you are using a Storwize V7000 Unified, the fix level is v22.214.171.124 which is available here.
You should keep checking the alert to find out any new details as they come to hand. If you are curious about Linux and 208 day bugs, try this Google search.
*** Updated April 4, 2012 with links to fix levels ***
If you have any questions or need help, please reach out to your IBM support team or leave me a comment or a tweet.
*** April 10: The IBM Web Alert has been updated with new information on what to do if your uptime has actually gone past 208 days without a reboot. In short you still need to take action. Please read the updated alert and follow the instructions given there. ***
I recently had a client ask me if I had seen this problem in Cisco Device manager: Device Manager was showing them 100% utilisation for CPU on one of their MDS9509s. I had a look at the show tech-support and curiously show process cpu showed practically no CPU usage at all. I suggested a display problem and sure enough, Cisco confirmed it:
Symptom: The show system resources command shows high CPU usage even when there is not much activity on the switch. In one instance, the CPU utility (user and kernel) was always 100 percent.
Conditions: You might see this symptom 248 days after the system came up
Curiously the Cisco tech support person stated that in fact a CP switchover every 497 days would prevent the issue reoccurring. This is curious because 248 days is close to half of 497 days. And 497 is ITs number of the beast.
The reason that 497 is a problem number is because of the use of a 32 bit counter to record uptime. If you record a tick for every 10 msec of uptime, then a 32-bit counter will overflow after approximately 497.1 days. This is because a 32 bit counter equates to 2^32, which can count 4,294,967,296 ticks. Because a tick is counted every 10 msec, we create 8,640,000 ticks per day (100*60*60*24). So after 497.102696 days, the counter will overflow. What happens next depends on good programming.
Some classic bugs can be found here, here, here and here. Most of these bugs are old and will almost certainly not affect anybody. But remain on notice: 497 day bugs are still possible. Just Google the search argument: 497.1 day bug.
Now let me be clear: I am not aware of any active disruptive, bring-down-your-business type 497 day bugs. The sky is not falling. But historically many vendors products have had 497 day bugs, some of them nasty. I ponder whether we should schedule a switch reboot every 496 days just to avoid the possibility of a 497 day bug. Its an interesting idea. I certainly endorse staggering initial switch reboots by at least an hour, so that a simultaneous 497 day reboot bug (should one be lurking), would not reboot every switch in every fabric at the same time. And in case your think I am picking on Cisco, when I looked at the client switch in question, it was showing a kernel uptime of 562 days, 23 hours, 35 minutes, 24 seconds. Thats some solid uptime.
I joined IBM on June 26 1989, so this Sunday brings up my 22 year anniversary with the company. No small achievement, but I am still three years away from the mystical IBM Quarter Century Club. Of course for some: 22 years is nothing! I recently learned that Robert Neidig, who has been (and remains) a leading light in promoting IBM's Mainframe products, joined IBM on June 21, 1961. So this year bring up his 50th anniversary with the company!
For those with long memories, Bob has worked with the following IBM systems: 1401, 1410, S/360, S/370, 3031, 3032, 3033, 3081, 3083, 3084, 3090, ES9000, S/390, eServer zSeries, and System z. They have all been enhanced by Bob's contributions.
If you want to check out the history of some these world changing products, visit The IBM Mainframe Room. I particularly loved the Photo Album. There are some truly classic images of IBM products of old. If your forward looking, feel free to also visit the System z homepage.
So thanks Bob for your commitment and leadership on your half-centennial, truly a remarkable achievement!
Today IBM is announcing a new member of the XIV family, which we are calling XIV Gen3. I thought I would give a brief history of how we got here before I get too carried away with details.
What was Generation 1 of the XIV?
In 2002 an Israeli startup began work on a revolutionary new grid storage architecture. They devoted three years to developing this unique architecture that they called XIV. They delivered their first system to a customer in 2005. Their product was called Nextra(does it look familiar?).
What was Generation 2 of the XIV?
In December 2007, the IBM Corporation acquired XIV, renaming the product the IBM XIV Storage System. The first IBM version of the product was launched publicly on September 8, 2008. Unofficially within IBM we refer to this as Generation 2 of the XIV.
The differences between Gen1 and Gen2 were not architectural, they were mainly physical. We introduced new disks, new controllers, new interconnects, improved management, additional software functions.
As anyone who has read my blog knows, I have been working on the Generation 2 XIV since the day IBM began planning to release it as an IBM product. So it is very exciting to be able to share with you that we are now releasing Generation 3 of the IBM XIV Storage System.
What is Generation 3 of the XIV?
Generation 3 of the XIV is a new member of the XIV family, that will be an alternative to the Generation 2 XIVs we currently offer. It does not change the fundamental architecture, that remains the same. What it does do is bring significant updates to almost every part of the XIV, including:
Introducing Infiniband interrconnections between the modules.
Upgrading the modules to add 2.4 Ghz quad core Nehalem CPUs; new DDR3 RAM and PCI Gen 2 (using 8x slots that can operate at 40 Gbps) .
Upgrading the host HBAs to operate at 8 Gbps.
Upgrading the SAS adapter.
Upgrading the disks to native SAS.
A New rack.
A new dedicated SSD slot (per module) for future SSD upgrades.
Enhancements to the GUI plus a native Mac OS version.
I will be blogging about each of these changes over the coming days and weeks as we move to general availability date, so watch this space. In the meantime, why not visit the official XIV page here and check out the ITG Report linked there.
With the announced release of DS8000 6.1 code, IBM has moved its three major storage systems to a common GUI platform. This makes me think of aircraft manufacturers who utilize a common cockpit design. For airlines, this is major drawcard when choosing aircraft models. It cuts down on training costs for your pilots. Except in storage IT, there is a major difference in motivation....
First and foremost, the design of the XIV GUI (that has inspired such dramatic change in IBMs other GUIs), was made possible, not by clever XIV GUI developers (don't get me wrong - they ARE clever), but by a remarkably user-friendly architecture. The XIV GUI is a miracle of ease-of-use for end users, made possible because first and foremost, by design, the XIV made it almost impossible to make it hard.
The good news for Storage administrators, is that unlike a jet aircraft, where a pilot needs to spend hundreds of hours in the cockpit before they are considered potentially competent, the XIV GUI can be picked up in minutes and lends itself very well to casual contact. You don't need to keep using it to stay competent.
The challenge for IBM was take more complex products, which require more user decisions, and make the usage experience just as easy. To add to this, the SVC and DS8000 GUIs were driven by WebSphere. Changing these GUIs would require a complete re-write to employ Java script.
First off the rank was the SVC and Storwize V7000. With the release last year of the SVC 6.1 update, the transformation was nothing less than remarkable. End user experience ruled every decision. The key again is that the user does not need to spend hundred of hours learning this GUI or re-learning it every time they go to perform a configuration task. Everything is in its right place. Its much more than an XIV-like GUI. Its a GUI that took the ease of use experience of the XIV and used that to inspire something just as remarkable.
With the release of the 6.1 update for the DS8000, we complete another fundamental step towards a truly common GUI. The DS8000 GUI has undergone a complete re-write. Essentially it has been rebuilt from the ground up. This highlights something fundamental: It confirms the DS8000 has a very strong roadmap.
As you can see from the image below, the transformation from the old design (to the left) to an ease of use model is complete:
In short it a common flight deck, that almost anyone can fly.
Just a quick post as I am leaving Singapore to return to Melbourne, I thought I would share two more photos with you.
No trip to Singapore is complete without a visit to the Merlion, the mythical creature who acts as a mascot for Singapore. The fish body represents Singapore's origin as a fishing village when it was called Temasek, which means "sea town" in Javanese. The lion head represents Singapore's original name — Singapura — meaning "lion city" or "kota singa" (thanks to Wikipedia for the text).
Here is a night view across to the Marina Bay Sands, the integrated resort fronting Marina Bay in Singapore. Developed by Las Vegas Sands, it is billed as the world's most expensive standalone casino property at S$8 billion, including cost of the prime land. The remarkable building on the left hand side is the ArtScience Museum. The architecture is said be a form reminiscent of a lotus flower (again, thanks to Wikipedia for the information).
I would love to return to Singapore soon in the form of a tourist, it is an amazing city full of vibrant energy. With Singapore National Day coming up on August 9 and the Formula One in September, there will certainly be plenty for visitors to see and do.
If you want to see more of my photographs, feel free to visit my Flikr account.
With all my blogging about the XIV Gen3, I am sure there are 2nd Generation XIV users out there thinking: Whats in it for me? I already bought an XIV! So for all of you, I have some really cool news: Release 3.0 of the GUI is coming and it will work with your machine.
The current XIV GUI (as of this writing) is version 2.4.4 Build 3:
When we start shipping Gen3 XIVs in September we will also release new GUI software at the same time. This new GUI (release 3.0) will work with both 2nd Generation XIVs as well as Gen3 XIVs. I currently have a pre-release (beta) version so the final release may look slightly different. Swish huh?
Any changes? Here are a few I have spotted so far (I am not going to list them all):
Binary volume sizes can now be selected at volume creation time. It even uses my preferred terminology (GiB as well as GB). In addition a re-sizable box shows the space being used in the pool by this new volume (or volumes).
Simplified access to demo mode (no need to know the quirky p10demomode userid):
You can now easily spot the interface modules as they are highlighted.
Improved module health display showing module temperature. I was initially not amused when the temperature came up in Fahrenheit, but all you do is click on the temperature and it changes to Centigrade (and remembers your preference). Which is cool.
Revamped pool creation and information displays. Check out the pool titled Thin Pool, it's wearing a bright yellow belt to show it's a thin provisioned pool. The wording used for pool usage has also been improved. Nice!
There are some clever changes to the statistics panel such as simplified sliders and cool changes to the way you can manage the displayed time scale in multiple windows.
There are lots of other subtle changes too, particularly around multi-systems management and alerting, including a separate Alerts panel and new pop-ups for hardware failures. I could keep going for some time.... You will not be disappointed. They have taken a great GUI and made it even better.
Now in case you're rushing to download it, let me be clear: This new GUI is not available yet and anything I have shown you is subject to change. As soon as you can download it I will let you know.
After 3.5 years of reliable service, the 19" LCD monitor on my sons computer died... and
would not power back on. Warranty long since expired and replacement LCDs being
relatively cheap, I replaced his monitor with a 22" LCD and he happily updated his
Facebook status to suit.
Except there was a problem.... what to do with the dead monitor?
I had three choices:
Put it in the back shed to collect dust.
Disassemble it and shove the shredded carcase into the red bin for the weekly council rubbish collection (it being too large to just drop into the bin).
Wait for the annual council hard garbage collection and place it out the front of our property with all the other unwanted eWaste.
But there was a further problem. This lovely sticker on the back made no mention ofROHS and made even more disturbing mentions of mercury!
What to do with this monitor?
So I did the usual thing... I googled for a solution.
What I found was this site at Sustainability Victoria, which took me to this site which told me all about a program called ByteBack. One trip to Officeworks in Dandenong later and my dead LCD was off to be recycled at no charge to myself. Not only was my shed less cluttered, but I might even have helped the environment.
I would be curious to know if other people have been able to find similar programs in their locations? If so... please let know, lets spread the word!
Henry Ford has long been quoted as having said: "Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black."
While there is some debate on what Mr Ford exactly said, it's clear that for some time now IBM has heartily embraced this philosophy with a succession of all black machines (occasionally graced with a coloured stripe). So I was rather excited to spot something new in the IBM Melbourne demo center: an IBM Netezza (pronounced net-ease-a) It's rack door is one of the coolest IBM covers I have seen in years!
Even the internal blades look cool (I love the big N).
In case your curious, IBM® Netezza® Analytics is a purpose-built advanced analytics platform that enables your enterprise to get the most out of its data, giving you quicker answers to increasingly complex questions. It is the simple appliance for serious analytics.
Of course while I should have been thinking about big data and smart analytics, instead I have been reminiscing about IBM machines with coloured covers. For instance the IBM 3350 (storage from the 1970s) could be ordered with covers that were red... (Actually I think the correct name was garnet rose).
As far as I can tell, IBM have not offered coloured panels on Enterprise kit since June 28, 2002.
Prior to this devices could be ordered with feature codes like:
#9060 Willow green #9061 Garnet rose #9062 Sunrise yellow #9063 Classic blue #9064 Charcoal brown #9065 Pebble gray.
While it is easy to find pictures of machines with Classic Blue covers like these 3380s (with 3880 control unit)
And even visions of a red computer room (with an all white 3800 printer on the left hand side):
The only picture I have found so far that shows a yellow machine appears to have faded to orange over the years (I don't think IBM sold orange System/38s?).
I did some more digging and found this great Youtube video. You can see some old System 360 kit with red covers and at 00:46 there are some machines in custom bright yellow! The client literally ordered the machines painted with a custom tint. That takescase modding to a whole new level.
So should IBM be embracing the new cool and coming out with a bright orange XIV? How about a Storwize V7000 in fluorescent blue? A man can dream....
And if you want to see more about Netezza and it's incredibly cool rack (and even cooler architecture), check this video out:
I have an admission: I am a bit of an Apple fanboy. Well actually not a full on Apple fanboy, I have an iPhone and an iPad but I don't have a MacBook (although if IBM start offering a cash payment instead of giving laptops to mobile employees, that might change). But not everything is perfect in the land of Apple. Let me give you an example, one that I routinely find people are not aware of (apologies if you learnt all of this months ago).
The picture below appears to show three identical Apple charger packs (with Australian pins). You may have a similar collection. But are they all identical? Sadly not.
Only those with very good eyes can spot the difference by reading the rather pale decal on the bottom section of each charger. The text is so small and faint, I struggled to take a decent picture, but here is my sad attempt for one of them (they are all different):
So how are my three power adapters different?
The first is marked as a 10 Watt USB Power Adapter (it came with an iPad). Its output is amusingly marked as 5.1 Volts DC at 2.1 Amps, which suggests 10.7 Watts.
The second one is marked as a 5 Watt USB Power Adapter (it came with my iPhone). Its output is marked as 5 Volts DC at 1 Amp, which is indeed 5 Watts.
The third is marked as an iPod USB Power Adapter. No stated wattage, but its output is marked as 5 Volts DC at 1 Amp, which again suggest 5 Watts. So perhaps my 5 Watt adapter and my iPod adapter are actually the same.
The big question that comes up: Are they interchangeable? The answer: Yes but with caveats.
If you have an iPad you should use the 10W adapter. If you use the 5W adapter it will still charge but at a much slower rate. Apple confirm this here where they state: iPad will also charge, although more slowly, when attached to an iPhone Power Adapter (by which they mean a 5 Watt adapter).
If you have an iPhone or an iPod can you use the 10W adapter? The answer is yes! It will recharge with no ill effects. Apple confirm this here, where they state: While designed for use with the iPad, you can use the iPad 10W USB Power Adapter to charge all iPhone and iPod models.
So I am putting my 5 Watt and iPod adapter in the cupboard and using the 10 Watt adapter exclusively. If you have an iPad and finds it's recharging slowly, you may be using an older 5 Watt adapter (but you may need a magnifying glass to spot the difference!).
My suggestion to Apple? A few more cents worth of ink please, to make things more obvious.
To close, on my first Apple focused blog entry, let me pose a question: