Being a person who walks dogs, visits the gym and uses public transport.... I have plenty of time to listen to podcasts. The main challenge being that while listening to a podcast.... you actually need to LISTEN. On more than one occasion I have zoned out, missed something interesting and suddenly thought... what did he/she just say? One podcast that is a favourite of mine is "Security Now" with Steve Gibson. You can find it here, I highly recommend it (you wont zone out while listening to it). This weeks episode (episode 274) discusses two themes that keep cropping up again and again:
Yet another zero-day vulnerability in Internet Explorer (IE).
The need for important websites to default to HTTPS rather than HTTP (due to the appearance of FireSheep).
In this podcast Steve discusses how to protect yourself against this latest IE vulnerability, including using this technique: "Of course you could also just not use IE, which would be a fantastic solution" I heartily agree with Steve and I was pleased that this year IBM chose to standardise on the Firefox browser (read that story here). One of the stated reasons being that Firefox is more Open Standards compliant. So its nice to see that the new Storwize V7000 (and SVC 6.1) Web based management GUI uses both of these things, in that:
It works perfectly with Firefox (and Google Chrome).
It defaults to HTTPs even if you start the GUI using HTTP
Amusingly if you use IE, you will get this rather cheeky comment on the logon panel.
This makes it a simple, safe and secure GUI that uses industry standard best practice. Please note that you can still choose to use IE... and it will work perfectly. Its just not our recommended Browser. Of course if you use the CLI, it will also be secured using SSH v2 public/private key encryption (as the SVC has always done). . My hearty recommendation of Steve Gibsons work, like everything I express in this blog, is my personal opinion, and not that of my employer.
IBM has announced some new XIV power features while withdrawing others. The changes are being made to simplify the ordering process while making the power choices more robust and better suited to client requirements. So what changed?
Some of the Chicago line cords have been withdrawn (where no longer required by law).
The 30 amp single phase line cords have all been withdrawn. The requirement for four line cords was messy and required careful planning.
The design of the delta three phase ATS has changed. The big benefit is to remove a restriction in Japan that limited the XIV to 10 modules. This is a major boost for the Japanese market.
The choices for XIV input power will now be:
Three phase input power using two line cords that are each rated at 32 amps
Three phase input power using two line cords that are each rated at 60 amps
Single phase input power using two line cords that are each rated at 60 amps
In Australia/New Zealand, 60 amp single phase is not practical for most clients, so the best choice for power remains the three phase power option (at 32 amps). This is pretty well an industry standard for Enterprise class disk.
The USA Announcement letter is here. The Asia Pacific Announcement letter is here The European Announcement letter is here.
3) The XIV Release GUI is available for everyone to download and use.
Links for the GUI are here. My personal recommendation is that you uninstall the old 2.4.x GUI before installing the new 3.x GUI. Remember you do not need a Gen3 to use this great new GUI. It works just fine with the 2nd Generation XIVs. So get downloading and tell me what you think.
I have no idea what this website is all about, but you have to love what they have they done with an XIV. . http://ryaari.com/storageskins/ . My favorite is the U2 model. With 2TB drives it can hold around 161 million minutes of music! Plug that sucker into your iPod and put it on shuffle!! .
In late 2008 my manager rang me with some exciting news. I was to go to Tucson Arizona to do launch hardware training on a new product called XIV. I was soon boarding a Qantas 747 for the long flight to the USA. My training buddies were Hardware Specialists from all over the world. Needless to say the XIV blew our minds. It was a total departure to what we were all used to. Whether it was the data distribution method, the GUI, the licensing model, the rebuild times.... It was like every rule of design, of licensing and expectation of usability was being challenged. I learnt what the term disruptive technology truly meant. Once I was back in Australia I immediately began to run training sessions to spread the word. Something new and exciting was on the way. A dedicated sales team was formed, led by a remarkable live wire of a man called Steve Coad. His first dedicated pre-sales resource was a dynamic Scotsman by the name of Derek Cowan. It was no coincidence that both of them had previously worked at EMC. . Come January 2009 we had our first customer... and this was a huge achievement, We were struggling with a phenomenal FUD campaign being run by our competitors. The things they were saying were equally shocking and hilarious. My favourite was that IBM were giving away free XIVs... vast numbers of them! (this was before the first XIV had even shipped to Australia). We learnt very quickly how to counter this FUD and deliver the facts. And what a set of facts.... client after client would come up after presentations... truly impressed with our vision. They were really excited about the benefits that this technology could deliver. . The months went by and sale followed sale. Every new client was precious. Many of these customers had never bought any IBM Storage before. Some had never bought ANYTHING from IBM. I was involved with many of these sales, not only presenting and demonstrating as part of our pre-sales team, but also implementing and supporting the clients after the sale. This continues to this day, . So why tell this story now? Well... this week the Australia/New Zealand team sold our 101st XIV. For our region this is a major milestone. . Many of these clients have set their entire strategy on XIV, because it delivers Tier 1 performance and saves them floor space, power, time and manpower. And this translates straight to saving dollars.... . So its been a great journey so far. Thank you so much to every customer who has placed their trust in us and our technology. And the XIV roadmap? Watch this space.... things just keep getting better.
This will be my last blog post for the year as I am taking a break for Christmas and New Years. I really want to thank you all for reading and following my blog. I certainly plan to keep blogging next year so don't think I have given up! You should see new updates in mid January.
2011 has been an amazing year with some great highs and some terrible lows. I certainly hope that 2012 is a bright year for everyone in the world, especially those whose lives have been affected by natural disaster and political upheaval.
To close, I want to wish you all a great holiday season, a Merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah and a Happy New year and share with you three of the most important messages to take into the holiday season:
Firstly, stay safe. Here is a brilliantly put together (and totally serious) road safety message from New Zealand:
Secondly, stay healthy. If you can dance like these guys in a clip from the classic 1973 film of Jesus Christ Superstar, you will be very fit indeed! It is like a Zumba class on steroids (the video has a slow start, it really kicks off at 0:37 but it is worth the wait).
Thirdly, lets hope in 2012 that all of the worlds leaders will focus on peace and love. Here is a 1980s power ballad (yet again I show my age) with a very Christmas themed video clip. Enjoy.
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!
I wrote a blog post recently about my favourite podcasts. One of those I listed wasBackground Briefing, a radio program broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (Australia's ABC). A recent episode entitled Fatigue Factor really sparked my interest. It talked about the affects of fatigue on professions such as:
Air Traffic Controllers
It contained some alarming facts about the potential affects of fatigue and is well worth taking the time to listen to. However in my opinion there was one major omission: It did not mention workers in the IT industry.
For many years I worked as the Account Engineer for several of IBM's System z customers, mainly banks. Most weekends I skipped Saturday night as a sleep night. If I was lucky I might get to sleep from 10pm to 1am and would then head off to vast, noisy, dehydrating air conditioned computer rooms to perform various system changes. If I did my job well, had no hardware issues and the client confirmed everything was running as expected, I got to head home about 7am on Sunday. So that night I would have slept somewhere between zero and three hours. I would then spend the rest of the week recovering, before doing it all over again the following weekend at a different customer.
I mention all of this because fatigue was something I learnt to live with. Even when I moved to a support role, I still occasionally worked through the night on critical situations (something IBM calls Crit Sits). I also worked on a support roster which could involve 3am callouts to assist my fellow IBMers across the Asia Pacific region. So when I later moved to a Pre-Sales role, it certainly did wonders in helping me re-establish normal sleep patterns.
Listening to this podcast really brought home to me that the IT industry is just as guilty of failing to deal with fatigue, as the other industries that the podcast discusses. Now if your thinking this means it's an IBM problem, think again. Most weekends I was working alongside representatives from EMC, HDS, Storagetek, etc. Plus of course there were the clients themselves, many of whom were also missing a nights sleep to satisfy their change and business requirements.
One of the major issues raised in the podcast is that there is no accepted way to measure how fatigued an employee actually is. This is a major problem. There are established tests to confirm how affected someone is by alcohol, or by drugs. But we cannot easily confirm how badly fatigued a worker is; plus many people are unwilling or unable to admit that they are suffering from fatigue
If we think about many of the major IT related outages that have occurred recently, I ponder what role fatigue played in each one. Even if it didn't cause the initial issue, did making your employees work around the clock to resolve an issue, actually extend the outage time? For example, have a read of Amazons explanation of its recent Service Disruption. Just picking on some of the lines in the report:
At 12:47 AM PDT on April 21st, a network change was performed... At 2:40 AM PDT on April 21st, the team deployed a change... By 5:30 AM PDT, error rates and latencies again increased .... At 11:30AM PDT, the team developed a way to prevent....
Was the person doing the change working out of their usual sleep pattern? Was the team working to resolve the issue working out of their normal sleep pattern? Did fatigue compound the outage? Its an interesting idea. Now it may well be that fatigue hadNOTHING to do with this outage. It is pure speculation on my part. But I am certain that the root causes of many of the recent IT meltdowns and their extended after affects (such as Sony's ongoing issues), MUST include the debilitating affects of fatigue.
Plus here is another rather disturbing fact. To quote from the podcast:
... if you're sleep deprived, you're more likely to crave chips over lettuce, and feel less like climbing the stairs. And that can become a vicious cycle, because many people who are overweight are even more prone to sleep disorders....
So please take the time to listen to the podcast. You will find it here and in places likeiTunes.
I have noticed something suspicious on the developerWorks forum. Updates are coming from new users where:
The users are in places like Zambia or Reunion (which in itself means nothing)
The user name is always two words separated by a full stop (which in itself also means nothing)
The user always quotes a previous post. This is the only style of post they create.
The user always says something inane but not that useful.
Here are some examples of these users, note their locations are quite varied. . Their posts always come in one of three flavours. 1) They create posts with comments like "Thanks for sharing". Here are some examples: 2) They may instead complain about broken links (which are NOT broken), such as these two: 3) Finally, they may kind of ask a question, but without really referring to the material they reference, such as these: . I have sent messages to the majority of these 'people', but so far they have NOT responded, nor do I expect them to. My long term plan is to simply delete their posts and ban their user ids. What are they up to? I don't know. But given that none of their posts ADD anything to the DW forum, I have no fear in REMOVING them. So I have three requests from my audience:
If you see such posts, please let me know. You can report as spam using the yellow triangle on the right side of their posts.
If you think you know what these users may be up to, please let me know.
If you are one of these users and you feel unhappy about the way I have portrayed you, then please let me know and I will make every effort to correct my mistake. I am honestly just trying to keep the forum 'healthy'.
. It could be that I have become unnecessarily paranoid, but this pattern seems to be rather strong.
I have been getting a lof of requests for Storwize V7000 BTU values. You can now get them from here. Whats interesting is we have published two different values:
Maximum power consumption and heat output.
Measured values while performing a typical workload.
This is a good start towards providing more useful values for comparisons. IBM is a member of the Green Storage Initiative which has created the SNIA Emerald site. To quote from their website: "The purpose of the SNIA Emerald is to provide a fair and equitable measurement of storage system power usage and efficiency through use of a well-defined testing procedure." To learn more it is well worth listening to the Infosmack podcast here.
If your not an IBM Business Partner (or IBMer), then this blog post is sadly not for you. I just wanted to mention that IBM Business Partners can access some truly excellent XIV education on PartnerWorld. Check out the link here: http://www-03.ibm.com/certify/tests/edu966.shtml If your planning to do IBM XIV Certification, the courses you can access from the link above are really excellent. Thanks to Aaron Tully from Southern Cross Computer Services (SCCS) for pointing this one out to me. (and good luck on your exam!).
IBM today announced two new disk choices for the Storwize V7000 in the 2.5-inch Small Form Factor:
300 GB 15000 RPM SAS 2.5-inch disk drive
1 TB 7200 RPM Nearline (NL) SAS 2.5-inch disk drive
This means there are now a total of 8 disk choices for Storwize V7000:
2.5” Small Form Factor (SFF)
2.5” Small Form Factor (SFF)
2.5” Small Form Factor (SFF)
2.5” Small Form Factor (SFF)
2.5” Small Form Factor (SFF)
2.5” Small Form Factor (SFF)
2.5” Small Form Factor (SFF)
3.5” Large Form Factor (LFF)
You can add any of these to an existing machine (provided you have the space). Planned availability date is August 26, 2011 but orders can be placed right now. More details can be found in the announcement letter here.
One nice thing that the Announce letter does not mention is that you will NOT need to do a firmware update to use these new disks. All you need to do is plug them in.
Now this is interesting: IBM is offering a ratings system that allows customers who bought IBM products to write reviews and leave ratings (out of five) on IBM Storage, Power and System Z products, straight from the main ibm.com website.