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.
Here is a list of all the IBM Asia Pacific and Japan Announcement Letters that were released on May 9. They are in several sections:
New disk drive option for IBM System Storage DS3950 Express Disk Systems
IBM System Storage DS3500 Express Storage System supports next-generation, high-performance 10Gb iSCSI technology
IBM Scale Out Network Attached Storage 1.2.0 supports multiple petabytes of storage
IBM Information Archive offers a new Server (2231-S3M),Disk Controller (2231-D3A), and Disk Expansion Drawer (2231-D3B)
IBM System Storage DS8700 and DS8800 (M/T 239x) delivers DS8000 Function Authorization for I/O Priority Manager and other advanced features
New disk drive option for IBM System Storage DS5020 disk systems
IBM System Storage N series N6270 offers enterprise-class Fibre Channel, iSCSI, and NAS storage with gateway options
IBM System Storage N series function authorizations for IBM System Storage N6270
IBM System Storage DS8700 and DS8800 (M/T 242x) delivers DS8000 I/O Priority Manager and advanced features to enhance data protection for multi-tenant copy services
IBM System Storage EXN3500 SAS expansion unit provides storage for IBM System Storage N series PCIe systems
IBM System Storage DS5000 series supports next generation, high-performance 10Gb iSCSI technology
IBM System Storage Tape Cartridge 3599 models provide enhanced capacity for enterprise tape drives
IBM Virtualization Engine TS7700 is designed to bring efficiency to tape operation and offer versatile models that support attachment to tape libraries
New features for IBM System Storage TS7650 ProtecTIER Deduplication Appliance (3958 AP1) and IBM System Storage TS7650G Gateway Server (3958DD4)
IBM System Storage TS1140 Tape Drive Model E07 delivers higher performance, reliability, and capacity
IBM System Storage TS3500 Tape Library Connector and TS1140 Tape Drive support for the IBM TS3500 Tape Library
New IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller Storage Engine offers 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity
New IBM Storwize V7000 Disk System models 312 and 324 offer 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity
IBM Scale Out Network Attached Storage Software V1.2.0 for high availability environments
IBM announces many-to-many, bi-directional replication for IBM System Storage ProtecTIER Enterprise Edition V3.1 and ProtecTIER Appliance Edition V3.1
IBM System Storage ProtecTIER Entry Edition Version 3.1 supports many-to-many, bi-directional data replication
IBM System Storage Linear Tape File System Library Edition Version 2.1
IBM Storwize V7000 Version 6.2 delivers support for VMware VAAI, real-time performance monitoring, and 10 Gigabit iSCSI connectivity
IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller Version 6.2 delivers support for VMware VAAI, real-time performance monitoring, and 10 Gigabit iSCSI connectivity
There are several withdrawals, but these are only because replacement products have been announced above.
Hardware withdrawal: IBM N series N6060 (2858 Model A22) and N6070 (2858 Model A21) -- Replacements available
Hardware withdrawal: IBM TS7740 (3957) Model V06 and IBM TS7720 (3957) Model VEA and associated features - Replacements available
Hardware Withdrawal: Select models and features for Information Archive (MT 2231) - Some replacements available
Hardware withdrawal: Feature number 3447 from IBM System Storage TS7650 and TS7650G ProtecTIER solutions - Replacement available
Hardware withdrawal: IBM Scale Out Network Attached Storage Models 2851-SI1 and 2851-SS1 - Replacements available
Hardware withdrawal: IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller 2145 Model CF8 - Replacement available
Its that time of the year again - announcement time! And the May 9 set of storage announcements by IBM is one of the richest set of announcements I have ever seen. Practically every storage product has received updates with new features stretching from Tape Drives to Tape libraries to Disk system updates (from the smallest system to the largest system). We have NAS updates and we have storage virtualization updates. I struggled to decide which subject to start on, to do justice across the board. So let me first list just some of the products that have received updates:
TS1140 - Super fast, massive capacity, enterprise tape technology.
For many years IBM has been using its own technology (as an alternative to LTO) to offer clients a higher class of enterprise tape. The TS1140 is the fourth generation of this technology. Using the new JC media which has 4TB of native capacity, then presuming a compression ratio to 2.5 to 1, you could place 10 TB of compressed data onto a single cart. And you could do this at 250 MBps sustained, which according to Oracle, makes the TS1140 the fastest tape drive in the world! The TS1140 will happily burst at up to 650 MBps - so we now have a tape drive that can truly utilize a 8 Gbps fibre channel port. It reinforces the green credentials of tape by using only 46W of power and supports LTFS, the Long Term File System, which leads me to....
LTFS - Long Term File System
Speaking of LTFS, we have enhanced the LTFS standard to now support tape libraries. So get this idea.... you attach a tape library to your server. All the tapes in the library appear to the operating system as directories. You can select any of these directories and the library will open it up (i.e. mount the tape). Now the contents of the tape itself appear as a directory structure, from which you can add or remove files. In other words, the library and the tapes can be manipulated without any form of backup software sitting between you and the operating system. After the initial tape mount, the directory is locally cached, so you don't need to mount the tape again to see what is on it (and to search the directory). This whole concept has the most amazing potential use cases.
IBM has a truly fantastic tape library with the TS3500. Now we add the ability to shuttle tapes between aisles to create a larger logical library. How do you like the idea of a logical tape library that can hold 300,000 cartridges totaling 2.7 exabytes?
The IBM TS7700 is our Mainframe virtual tape library solution. It gets a major performance boost with the introduction of Power 7 servers plus many other improvements.
In terms of disk we have enhancements to the following products:
DS8000 Family with release 6.1
When we released the DS8800 last year, we committed to deliver a merged code library which would support both DS8700 and DS8800. This would ensure that they both have the same feature set. We now deliver on that commitment, plus supply an enormous set of new features and functions for both products: so both products continue to get major enhancements and updates. These include:
Easy Tier enhancements: Any two disk technologies can now be placed in a pool
I/O Priority Manager: Which allows for quality of service management.
Multi-tenancy management: Allows for the creation of separate Copy Services domains.
Larger LUN sizes: Allows the ability to create LUNs up to 16 TiB in size.
Enhanced GUI: We will now have a common GUI for DS8700, DS8800, Storwize V7000, SVC and XIV.
8Gb/s host adapters for the DS8700
V7000 and SVC Family with release 6.2
The IBM SAN Volume Controller and Storwize V7000 share a common code library, so improvements are common. In the 6.2 release we deliver the following enhancements:
Flash Copy Improvements: Allow remote copies of flashcopy targets
SVC 2145-CG8 Node: New hardware model
10 Gb iSCSI: For both Storwize V7000 and SVC
SVC Solid State Drive Support: Allowing SVCs to use internal SSDs for EasyTier
VMware VAAI: All three VAAI primitives now implemented.
Real Time Performance Statistics: A new GUI panel giving performance info.
Storwize V7000 System Clustering: Allowing us to cluster two Storwize V7000s together.
The DS3500 is IBM's entry level disk rocket ship. I am a huge fan of this box for clients with smaller or point solution requirements. We have enhanced the product with the following:
Double the drives: We now support 192 drives.
Scheduled flashcopies: Gives the ability to have scheduled flashcopies run without external intervention.
Improved volume copy: Gives the ability to create a volume copy without stopping host access.
10 Gb iSCSI: Allows us to add 10 Gb iSCSI to the DS3500.
The DS5000 range consists of DS5020 (also sold as DS3950), the DS5100 and the DS5300. Improvements include:
Scheduled flashcopies: Gives the ability to have scheduled flashcopies run without external intervention.
Improved volume copy: Gives the ability to create a volume copy without stopping host access.
10 Gb iSCSI: Allows us to add 10 Gb iSCSI to the DS5100 and DS5300
T10-PI: Allows selected operating systems to add meta data to track write integrity.
SAS drives: We are adding a 600 GB SAS drive that has a SAS to FC interposer so it can be installed in a EXP5000
I have not listed all of the product announcements. There are improvements to SONAS, our nSeries products, Information Archive, Real Time Compression device.... the list goes on.
I will write up another post with all the links....
I had some fun with my wife's computer this weekend.
She called me over because she was getting multiple messages telling her that the harddrive was failing, all being delivered by a very fancy GUI that looked like this:
I became suspicious immediately: Microsoft have never produced a GUI that looks so slick. Another big hint was that the Help & Support button tried to take me to a very strange URL. I say tried because her machine by this point was close to being a vegetable. The All Programs tab contained nothing, there were no desktop icons and the C: reported that it contained no files. We could not browse to the NET because all icons to start a browser were gone and even when I started a browser manually (from Start --> Run), the browser was set to use an unusual proxy.
Fortunately Doctor Google was very helpful and I rapidly found this URL:
I used the tools and instructions found there and was able to get her computer back into a working state. Many thanks to the authors of that page.
This experience brought home three lessons:
- Her employers anti-virus is useless (her laptop runs a corporate load).
- Google images searches can return poisoned URLs that contain malware. Have a read of this excellent article. My wife was doing a Google Images search, looking for pictures of Wheat Rust, when the infection occurred. I am loath to work out which URL it was, as I don't wish to risk a return to any of those poisoned sites.
- Using no-script is a very good idea, and one that I will be implementing on her PC, especially until her employer comes up with a better anti-virus regime.
All of this excitement distracted me from the main event, preparing for the May 9 announcements. You will see a log of blog posts over the next few days detailing what our developers have been up to. Prepare to hear about some very cool stuff.
In the meantime... feel free to share any other methods you have to avoid malware... and download and install MalwareBytes. It is a very nice piece of software that costs nothing to install and use.
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.
A question I get routinely asked relates to Windows disk partition alignment with XIV. If you don't know what I am talking about, take some time to read these very useful pages from our friends at Microsoft. Once you have had a look, come on back and read my perspective.
Disk Partition Alignment (Sector Alignment): Make the Case: Save Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars
Back already? Hopefully you now know that disk partition alignment is all about starting an IO at a logical block address that best matches how the underlying hardware stores your data. So now your wondering, what does this have to do with XIV? Well XIV has two concepts that relate to this: cache and partitions.
XIV cache (the server memory used to speed up reads and writes) is organised into 4 KB blocks (which is nice and small).
So the XIV cache does not care about disk alignment.
But when it comes to writing and read from disk, the XIV writes data into chunks of consecutive logical block addresses (LBAs) that we call partitions. These partitions are 1 MiB in size. What does that concept mean? It means the magical number for XIV is 1024 KB or 1 MB. (actually KiB and MiB, but for the sake of ease, I will stick to the naming used by Microsoft. Given this number is fairly large (other hardware often aligns to 32KB, 64KB or 256KB), for XIV this reduces the potential impact of misaligned partitions. Which is good.
Correct Windows Disk Alignment could give up to a 7% performance improvement when using an offset of 1024 KiB. (1 MiB). I need to be clear, that's not a guaranteedimprovement of 7%. It's a maximum possible improvement. Your particular server will see an improvement somewhere between 0% and 7%. It depends on your workload patterns. The more small and random your workload, the more useful setting the 1024 KB offset will be. The more sequential your workload, the less useful it will be, as only the first and last parts of an I/O could potentially be misaligned. This mis-alignment could equate to a tiny percentage of extra work for the XIV. Sadly there is no metric you can display to detect how much impact misalignment is actually having.
So should you do it? The good news is that new volumes created under Windows 2008 prefer the 1 MB boundary. So a fresh install should already be using the correct values. The bad news is that volumes created under earlier Windows Operating Systems (Such as Windows 2000 and 2003) will almost certainly be misaligned, and correcting the alignment is destructive to the data in the partition.
How to check alignment at the host? Here is an example:
I start diskpart:
Microsoft DiskPart version 6.1.7600
Copyright (C) 1999-2008 Microsoft Corporation.
On computer: ANTHONYV-PC
I list my disks. In this example I have two disks installed in my laptop. I select disk 0:
DISKPART> list disk
Disk ### Status Size Free Dyn Gpt
-------- ------------- ------- ------- --- ---
Disk 0 Online 238 GB 5724 MB
Disk 1 Online 232 GB 1024 KB
DISKPART> select disk 0
Disk 0 is now the selected disk.
Now I list the partitions and see the offset for each one.
DISKPART> list partition
Partition ### Type Size Offset
------------- ---------------- ------- -------
Partition 1 Primary 100 MB 1024 KB
Partition 2 Primary 232 GB 101 MB
Partition 1 has an offset of 1024 KB, which is 1 MB, which is perfect for XIV. Partition 2 has an offset of 101 MB, which is still on the 1MB boundary (it was pushed there by the combination of the size of the first partition (100 MB) and its offset (1 MB). So this is perfect.
For an example of how to create a partition with the correct offset, check out this how-to document, that also provides some good follow on reading:
What about other IBM products?
The IBM SVC and Storwize V7000 prefers 64 KB (or larger) offsets as documented here:
Why? Because the SVC and Storwize V7000 use a concept of grains, where each grain is usually 64KB or 256KB in size.
The DS8000 (regardless of model), also prefers 64 KB offsets. The DS8000 use the concept of logical tracks where each logical track is 64KB.
The DS3000/DS4000/DS5000 range allow the user to set the segment size of a logical volume on creation. The setting that you define should match the segment size defined for the logical drive being used. In the example below, it is 64 KB.
What about VMWare?
The answers are no different. Misalignment can indeed make a difference to client performance. Check this link from NetApp and this document from VMware:
For an EMC perspective, check out this link from someone I respect a great deal, Chad Sakac:
I searched around looking for an image to highlight the theme of alignment. I found this image in the IBM archives for the IBM Mass Storage Facility announced back in 1974. I am sure this product had some interesting alignment challenges.
(edited 24/5/2011 --> removed old Visio Stencils link).
VisioCafe has been updated with IBM's latest official stencils for use with Microsoft Visio. These include all models of the Storwize V7000, including the newest models: The 2076-312 and 2076-324 (which have the dual port 10 Gbps iSCSI card).
Here is the link to VisioCafe. The Storwize V7000 stencils are in both the IBM-Disk as well as the IBM-Full packages.
Remember you can also find my XIV stencils here:
Requests for Visio stencils are one of the most common comments I receive.
More are coming so your requests are being heard!
Over on my Wordpress blog, I have posted an entry on migrating a Linux RHEL host from EMC to XIV.
If that subject interests you, check out my article here:
Its easy to make a fool of yourself.
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.
But maybe I could force it to 1 Gbps?
Sadly all I did was break the port. A port in Mod_Inv status means the SFP is in an invalid state. This is not going to work.
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?
Over on Wordpress, I have just published an article on SNMP and XIV.
Given some funky formatting, I have decided not to paste it into this blog.
If your interested in monitoring an XIV with SNMP, please head over to here:
When IBM first released the Storwize V7000, we announced it was capable of supporting ten enclosures, but would on initial release support only five. We stated that this restriction would be lifted in Q1.
The good news is that this restriction is indeed now lifted by the release of Storwize V7000 software version 188.8.131.52, which is available for download from here:
You should also check out this link:
Storwize V7000 6.1.0 Configuration Limits and Restrictions
This new level also contains an additional enhancement which I think users will really like, called Critical Fix Notification. The new Critical Fix Notification function enables IBM to warn Storwize V7000 and SVC users if we discover a critical issue in the level of code that they are using. The system will warn users when they log on to the GUI using an internet connected web browser. It works only if the browser being used to connect to the Storwize V7000 or SVC, also has access to the Internet. (The Storwize V7000 and SVC systems themselves do not need to be connected to the Internet.) The function cannot be disabled (which is a good thing) and each time we display a warning, it must be acknowledged (with the option to not warn the user again for that issue).
One of the more common themes I blog about is the demand for Visio Stencils. In this regard I have some more good news.
Firstly the VisioCafe site has an updated IBM-Disk stencil set with the following additions:
IBM-SystemStorage-Disk.vss - Added EXP5060 Front, Front Open and Rear Views
- Added DS8x00 Cabinet Rear Views
Secondly, I have started using the collections function on the IBM developerWorks site to share my files with the public. To this end I have posted a collection of all the standard Visio documents I use to build XIV Solution Designs. You can find them here.
They tend to use two basic building blocks, which are the Fibre Channel patch panel and the iSCSI patch panel. For instance this is what the iSCSI patch panel Visio diagram looks like:
And this is an example of what a Fibre Channel Visio diagram looks like.
Your free to use any of my diagrams for any purpose you like. If you have suggestions, comments or donations, please feel free to share. The link again is here.
After seeing some tweets from @SFoskett regarding XIV support for VAAI, I thought I would supply an update with the information that I have to hand.
IBM added VAAI support in XIV code level 10.2.4. However a code fix has since been written for a VAAI related issue (I don't have the details), which means that we are delaying the official support till the release of 10.2.4a code (which should be early March).
In the meantime we are also waiting for the release of the VMWare certified driver for VAAI and XIV, which should come out at the same time. So there are two dependancies.
As soon as both things are available, I will write a new post confirming this.
And then Steve's matrix found here will hopefully also be updated!
I have some very keen customers lined up to try it out, so I plan to blog about the results as soon as my clients have had some run time to generate meaningful stats.
Which tech related podcasts do you listen to?
Check out my latest blog post on Wordpress:
I think it had to happen eventually.
After much consideration I am moving to WordPress.
Want to know why? You can find out here: