Just a quick note on two new Solution Briefs that were posted to the IBM SONAS front page. These briefs have important information on using Symantec's EndPoint and NetBackup to protect data on the SONAS system. As always, the devil is in the details but this gives SONAS clients a look into how we can utilize these two solutions with the very powerful SONAS system.
SONAS with Symantec EndPoint
SONAS with Symantec NetBackup
I am also headed up to the IBM Storage University to present on NAS technology at IBM. If you get a chance to stop by and see one of my sessions, please come up and give me feedback on the blog (and other things). I will also be in the Solution Center at the SONAS booth.
Here is a You Tube video of Windows Explorer VSS and IBM SoNAS snapshot demonstration by Roshan Ratnayak..
There is always a part of the business that gets over looked and usually its the people that are in the trenches making things work and keeping those machines going. I recently had the pleasure of spending some time with three great IBM CEs here in the Raleigh NC area. I was impressed with their professionalism and thoroughness while working on the SONAS upgrade. They made sure everything was installed, cabled and tabled according to the documentation. It is one thing to have a great product and lots of features, but it is even more important to have people who can service the system and do it with the highest level of craftsmanship. Thanks guys and gals for everything you do to help make our job easier!
Today, I helped our local Client Engineers install a couple of new nodes and some more storage into a local SONAS system. This was exciting for me as I love working with the hardware and software and it keeps up my keyboard skills. This client is bringing online more demand and needs both horsepower (interface nodes) and storage to accommodate a new business line. I was amazed at how easy the system is to upgrade and soon his little starter rack is almost full.
We added two interface nodes, IBM xSeries 3650 m2 and two 60 disk shelves to the unit. Once the disks are online and presented up to the interface modules, they can start creating shares for the new operation. As they need more storage or more interface nodes, another rack will be but in and the same process of pooling these resources together will come together.
The idea of having multiple interface nodes and storage pools is to not have single points of failure. In traditional storage, if a controller goes down, its partner has to pick up the entire work load for the down hardware. Not so in SONAS, if a controller goes down, the work is then evenly spread across all of the other nodes in the system. This is why we do not have a problem of loosing CIFS connections when systems go down.
The addition of new storage is also interesting as we are tripling the amount of storage the base system had originally with two 4 U shelves. These shelves are highly dense, top loading containers using either SAS or SATA disks. In this instance today, we were installing 120 2 TB SATA drives. A total of 240TB in 8 U of space. Not too shabby.
At the end of the day, I was pleased to see that IBM is moving forward with smarter storage systems. If you look at the entire portfolio, you can see that our systems like XiV grid, the auto tiering on DS8700, SVC virtualzation, all of these systems are helping our goal of a Smarter Planet. Look for some more pictures and maybe a video on Monday.
IBM has been working to enhance the way we do business from day one. From clock, to typewriters, mainframes, PCs, software, storage... the idea behind our innovation is to make it easier for our clients to do their business. Now we are taking it one step further to help our clients make the world better.
If you have been watching standard TV, Youtube or Hulu, you probably have seen a commercial for the IBM Smarter Planet initiative. These great adverts keep the tradition of IBM marketing our message to the masses. They describe how IBM is making our world better by using technology through many disciplines; Healthcare, Traffic, Food, etc. If you dig a little deeper than the catchy ads, you see a real movement not only to 'save the planet' but to make our lives better.
One of the ways IBM is making our planet better is by increasing the utilization of our systems. Today's average commodity server rarely uses more than 6% of its available capacity. This hold true for our storage systems as well. We find storage systems are bound by traditional technologies that keep us from keeping up with demand.
Looking at how this relates to my involvement I see how both SONAS and N series fit this mantra. The technologies allow clients to conserve energy by decreasing the amount of storage needed to achieve typical installations.
N series software allows a client to over subscribe a system by cloning the volumes with out adding additional space. This software called FlexClone allows clients to use products like VMWare, Xen or Hyper-V to create zero space copies of the original image. This zero consumption keeps the original blocks locked to the original image and any new changes are added to the free space as a delta. In traditional storage systems, a 10GB image would consume 1 TB for just 100VMs. With FlexClone, the only space needed for all 101 VMs would be just 10GB. Lowering both the OPEX and CAPEX for this system.
The IBM Scale out NAS system (SONAS) is a gaining steam as the private cloud business has increased in the business market. Not only are research universities and high performance computing labs seeing the benefits, so are mid-market to enterprise business leaders. Typical storage systems are not utilized to their full potential because of the purpose of the system or how it was integrated into their data center.
With a SONAS system, we no longer have to think how this system will be provision as all of the equipment can respond to requests from multiple parts of the business. If you have 5 systems that provide storage to your business and one of those systems is struggling to keep up with demand, the only way to keep up with the requests is to move data off by hand to the other systems. This is time consuming and could introduce mistakes and possible data loss. SONAS allows clients to be flexible in a dynamic-on-demand business environment. No longer will you have one system slowing down productivity as all of the storage in a SONAS system can be distributed through out the entire client interface. This will increase your efficiency rates and lower the required amount of systems in your data center, lowering environmental cost, CAP/OPEX.
There are other Storage systems that can increase utilization, Information Archive moves older data off to low cost, slower disk allowing you to store more on primary, faster disks. XiV keeps data spread throughout the entire system in case of a failure with no traditional RAID overhead. We at IBM are constantly looking for ways to increase the utilization of our systems.
IBM is working hard to build a smarter planet that not helps our clients, but helps the human race. Either through smarter storage systems, servers, software or consulting, IBM is working hard to bring this vision to a realization. Take a look at your systems and take stock of their utilization. Can they be doing more for you? Find out more about the IBM Smarter Planet initiative here.
I was working with a company today that had 5 storage vendors supplying gear for their data center. They were interested in SONAS not only for the scalability but for the idea that we could consolidate their storage footprint from 5 vendors to 1 with out having to sacrifise performance. Now must vendors would say, sure we can rip and replace all of the storage there and replace it with their own, but can they do it to the same scale (both horizontal and vertical), with a high performance engine like GPFS, one global names space and one single management tool? The customer was really impressed by our solution as is very interested in how we can help him go from 40+ racks of storage down to 13 and increase his efficiency.
The idea is to use multiple teirs to put meta data on the faster disk, data that is being accessed currently on a medium speed and then 'near to archive on slow, fat disk. Currently they have no way of moving data between their 5 different systems. This causes them to keep running into issues where they are buying expensive disk to run applications/databases where they have data that is stagnant or non as important on the existing fast disks. SONAS will allow them to create pools of storage (tiers) and policies to move the data between the pools. Then with the HSM integration, the data can be archived off to tape until needed down the road.
From a cost perceptive, the cost associated with the size and speed of the disk match their purpose with out them having to manually move the data themselves. With IT departments that have a huge growth in storage and are not hiring more admins, this makes sense. They can set the policies up front and not have to worry about some old file sitting on a expensive SAS disk. The other expense savings is in support contracts. The reduction from five support contracts to one will save customers money, and allows them to have one place to get all of their support.
I can not wait to start work on this account as it looks like we will be putting in a great system and helping a client save money.
and emerging markets; expanding its customer base in storage in particular has been a big
You can find the full write up here:
I was on my way down to Miami today and was talking to the gentleman sitting next to me about storage technology and the conversation turned to how everyone is scrambling to be in the cloud business. He had heard multiple vendors come in and start talking about cloud technology and how it was going to save him money, time and effort. This gentleman worked for a retail chain that has multiple district offices through out the eastern US and headquarters in Atlanta. He has multiple technologies all helping him keep the business running but nothing planned and as the company grew, they simply cookie cut the previous installation and planted it into the new office. Each office would also replicate back to HQ and that would be the main repository for backups/restores. I would guess there are thousands of companies out there with similar setups.
So instead of going into how he could leverage cloud storage technology, I asked him what were his problems and listened. They basically came down to this:
1. Multiple independent islands of storage that are aging, causing his support contracts to go up.
2. Backups take way to long and systems are slowing down as they get closer to 'capacity'.
3. Future growth was expensive as every time they added a new capacity, they had to add entire systems.
Now they were not cutting edge technolgy leaders nor were they wanting to be, but he needed a way to solve some of these traditional storage problems. He didn't want to go out and buy a new large system that would take forever to get in and while it may solve his problems, it would bring in even more issues. What he needed is less overhead and more throughput.
We sat there for a while thinking, we didn't say much until I offered this tidbit, "So what does cloud mean to you?" After a nice laugh, he stated that he really didn't know and the more he read, the more 'cloudy' became the answer.
There are many interpretations about what cloud really is and it differs between storage vendors. If there is a true declination of what cloud storage really could be, I think it could be defined using NAS technology. NAS lends to be a kinder and gentler protocol set and the need is growing leaps and bounds. Our traditional way of adding more systems and creating more independent silos works for smaller environment but it does not scale when clients want large disk pools of storage under one umbrella. There are ways of making volumes span in to large pools but the underlying storage is still made up smaller components that are typically active/active/passive nodes, even the best load balance will not help if you are overloading that system.
There are ways to find a balance between the same old way and going out and dropping tons of cash on huge storage gear. Find a system that will grow and scale as your storage needs do. Think of ways to keep everything under one umbrella (name space for example) and also try to solve issues that you are having today with real technology and not work arounds.
With NAS technology, we will always be at the mercy of the backup target whether its disk or tape. No matter if we are taking snapshots or ndmp backups, we have to write that out to some target to have a restore point. This is your basic strategy on how to do a backup/restore, why not consider using different types of disks to create a tier and offload disks to slower pools as the data gets 'older'. A few vendors have said there is no need for tiering, mainly because their systems can't take advantage of this and therefore they shun those who do. ILM tiering can help you achieve not only higher utilization rates with the storage but it puts the data that is accessed more frequently on faster disk, and moves the rest away to makes more room. Why pay for fast disk if the data on it is not being accessed frequently?
Future expansion has always been tough for administrators, they tend to over buy on controller size and skimp on the disk. Systems like SONAS from IBM allows you to grow both in storage capacity and server throughput; independently. If a customer needs more storage but doesn't need the additional throughput, why force him to add more controllers? SONAS systems can scaled up to 30 storage servers and 14.4 PB of spinning disk all under one name space. No more having multiple nodes with their own names; this storage is called Accounting1, Accouting2 .... etc. They are called Storage and everyone gets the benefit of having all of the nodes, not just one system.
By the time we had gone through all of this, our flight was landing. It was a great talk and both of us gained a different perceptive on how cloud is perceived. If any of you want to find out more information about the IBM Cloud strategy or SONAS go to the following links:
SONAS by IBM