Blog Authors: Valerie Skinner 060000VKGS is part of the IBM developerWorks team, getting to know the real developers who make up the My developerWorks community and exploring the world of social networking. I'm enjoying learning what makes developers tick! I'm very interested in exploring online communities and social media and understanding real world application - how they can help people solve problems and work together.
Interview with Barry Whyte
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  storage svc ibm my_developerworks san interview uk mydw virtualization 1 Comment 3,696 Views
This week I'm pleased to bring you a look into the mind of one of IBM's Master Inventors, Barry Whyte, who's been driving innovation in the area of Storage and shares his insights in a blog on My developerWorks.
Connect with Barry:
Barry Whyte's profile on My developerWorks
Barry Whyte's blog
Barry Whyte on Twitter
Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I was born in Glasgow, Scotland and studied Computing Science at the University of Glasgow. I joined IBM the year I graduated and have been working in the now Systems and Technology Group (under many different names) since 1996. During my 14 years I have worked solely in the area of Storage, having various development, test and field support roles on the Serial Storage Architecture (SSA) products, the IBM DS8000 range and since 2000 on the industry leading Storage Virtualization appliance, the SAN Volume Controller (SVC). I am currently a product architect for SVC, specialising in performance. Day to day this can mean tuning code, writing new code, of course benchmarking the product and guiding storage strategy.
What projects have you worked on that were exceptionally exciting for you?
SVC itself is a great product, as it allows us to sell our vision to customers using other vendors products, and keep them... 18 months ago I proposed and developed a backroom project to demonstrate the ability of a scale-out architecture like SVC when it comes to very high performance Solid State Disks.
What do you think is the next revolution in storage?
In the Storage domain we've always had a battle with application administrators, especially database admins. Going back 15 years DB admins would ask for their volumes to be placed on the inner, or outer edge of the disk - i.e. they wanted the best performance and had to know how the storage was laid out. As we moved to RAID technologies this became less important, and with virtualized storage there is a whole new abstraction layer between application and spindle. This is going to change again, as storage adds smart tiering functions - basically analyse the data workload for given "chunks" of storage, and then move that to the correct tier. This becomes more important with the performance (and price) differential between SSD and traditional HDD. This is coming in 2010, but looking further out, maybe 5-10 years, the next revolution will be whatever fundamental technology replaced NAND as a storage block. Todays SSDs are NAND flash based, but this is far from ideal as a low level storage technology. I see a few things coming through research that are going to displace NAND as the SSD technology of choice.
How do you think innovations in storage will change life for an everyday person?
It's difficult to relate enterprise Storage innovation back to everyday people. You could say SSD innovation has already come to everyday users with our Blackberry's, iPhones, MP3 players and digital video recording - all to NAND based SSD. But storage at an enterprise level is just "assumed" - i.e. you wouldn't be happy if your bank forgot your account details - 24x7 reliable storage is just taken for granted. I guess inovations in storage, such as SVC and smart tiering will free up money within enterprises, so they can spend it on innovation elsewhere?
Do you have any particular methods or approaches you like to use when trying to come up with creative solutions to problems?
I read a great book "The Medici Effect" by Frans Johansson - the basic idea is that the most innovative solutions come from combining ideas from very different disciplines. For example IT and say Biology.
How do you use developerWorks?
My main uses of developerWorks are for my blog, and other blogs, but we are working on a new Group for SVC users, so its likely I'll be spending more time in the Groups and discussion boards.
How are you using social networking today?
My blogging is obviously trying to provide a "voice from inside development" out to our end users. Not a typical marketing or sales person, but someone who works with and uses the products day to day. Someone they can hopefully connect with on the same level. I've been using Twitter for a couple of years, mainly storage related, but its a great information source, and to find new people with similar interests and new views. Facebook is great for keeping touch with old friends.
What inspired you to start blogging? And what is it about blogging that you find rewarding enough to keep doing it?
Other vendor FUD slinging. (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) I found I was replying to other peoples blogs, correcting their mistakes and basically standing up for IBM and SVC. One of them suggested I get my own blog, and that was that. I also found it frustrating when other people moderated your reply - presumably they didn't like what I was saying, so somewhere I could get my voice heard seemed a great idea. I've kept blogging as I've been amazed at how many people are interested in what I want to say - almost 1000 people a day visit one or other of my blog posts, which I find amazing. I must be saying something interesting, and I've found it a great way to solicit feedback about our products - both bad and good.
What's the coolest piece of tech news you've heard lately?
Sad to say, but the power of the next generation of Intel Xeons (yet to be released).
What publications / websites do you read / visit?
Other than the storage bloggers, in my regular read list are various Formula 1 websites (I know its not a huge sport in the US, but oval racing doesn't do it for me!) Magazine wise I have a subscription to Custom PC.
When you're not working, what hobbies or interests do you enjoy?
The family takes up most of my time these days (7 and 5 year olds) and when I can I get out with my son to play golf. I used to play a lot and got down to a handicap of 10, but these days its creeping back up. My son is obsessed with Lego, and we spend a lot of time building things. My home PC is always getting some tuning work too.
- Thanks Barry!