Yin meets yang
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.
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  storage svc ibm my_developerworks san interview uk mydw virtualization 1 Comment 2,827 Visits
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!
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  my_developerworks virtualization mydw system_p aix interview financial pseries unix poland 2 Comments 4,796 Visits
Continuing my vicarious travels around the world, this week I bring you an interview with Jakub Gaj, an IT consultant working in Poland. Jakub is an avid user of the developerWorks AIX and UNIX forums and wikis, as well as a gadget junkie and surfer. Learn more about Jakub in the interview below and visit his profile on My developerWorks to add him to your colleagues.
Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
Hello, my name is Jakub Gaj, I'm 31 years old and I work as IT consultant/freelancer. I'm currently in Poland working on data center migration project at one of the major international banks. I used to work on the same project last year in London, now I'm living in Warsaw because of my lovely girlfriend :)
Do you have an area you specialize in?
Yes, I specialize in IBM Power Systems, my domain is IBM System p (pSeries) platform with AIX, PowerVM, HACMP, etc. Generally speaking, I build Unix servers & clusters using IBM virtualization technologies in mostly financial/banking environment.
How did you get started in the IT industry?
It all started actually when I was still a kid and my dad bought himself a PC for his technical designs. As a computer back then was at a price of average new car, he didn't really want anyone else to be even close to it. At some point he showed me couple of games, which I got absolutely excited about, so I had to learn how to start them myself when my father was out. That's how I learned Microsoft DOS and got my fascination for PCs & world of IT. Later on computer games lead me to 3D graphics & animations, then network rendering slowly got me back into command-line operating systems like Linux. Couple of years later my systems administration skills got me a job at IBM Global Services and that gave me occasion to learn IBM's technologies, gain hardcore experience in production support and basically has shaped my current career.
How do you use developerWorks?
I use developerWorks on daily basis at my work. I definitely love the forums: when you have a technical problem you can't solve yourself, someone already had similar issue or someone else on the other side of the world will post a solution for your problem while you're sleeping :) I absolutely (ab)use the AIX & PowerVM Wikis as well, I just really like to have everything important I need under one roof: links to documentation, manuals, tutorials, product presentations, Redbooks, forums, etc. I noticed that developerWorks is changing recently and there are new tools & features available (like blogging), so I have to check those as well.
Are there any new technologies you want to learn more about in the next year?
Yes, the job market is constantly pushing us to learn new technologies, isn't it? I'm currently learning IBM BladeCenter products family, which leads me back to Linux. I'm also interested in multiple aspects of virtualization and its implementation by different vendors. I think the future of IT computing is server consolidation & smarter energy management, so I'm watching current trends on the market. As IBM is winning this competition so far in my opinion, I'm focusing on those technologies for now.
What publications or websites do you like to follow?
In terms of professional sources I like to follow IBM Redbooks as well as keeping in touch with professional social networking like LinkedIn, Xing, GoldenLine.pl. My free time is mostly consumed by social networking on Facebook, MySpace, Last.fm and
social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us.
Are you a gadget person? What gadget is on your wish list - what gadget would you love to buy?
Sure I am, like every guy! We're all just boys with toys, but the older we get the more expensive toys we have :) My latest gadget is Blackberry Curve 8900 with built-in GPS,which is really cool especially when you're in new town and don't know its landscape.
Besides I've been traveling lately and GPS might be useful for my next trips, although I'm a fan of "getting lost & ask for directions" type of traveling rather than being totally dependent on some battery-run device. I'm also an addicted Sony PSP user, I love that thing, I can play games almost anywhere! Generally I love mobile gadgets which I can carry with me, but it has to be extremely light, otherwise it stays home. One of the major things for me when buying a new gadget (phone, etc) is its weight, then its features.
In your free time what hobbies or activities interest you?
I usually kill my free time playing video games, but that's mostly during fall/winter time. In terms of sports I just love capoeira! It's a brazilian martial art with elements of dance, music & acrobatics. I don't practice it on regular basis, rather wherever I have occasion to as I relocate quite often recently due to character of my work. And my latest addiction is surfing! Not really a popular sport in Europe, but I always wanted to try that and when I had a chance in Thailand, I fell in love instantly. I'm still learning, but
it's just amazing! My next holiday destination will be probably some good newbie surfing spot in Mexico, Vietnam or Indonesia. And of course Brazil, especially Salvador de Bahia, but that's because of capoeira :) Maybe I'll go there in February for a carnival! We'll see how the project in Warsaw will run.
- Thanks Jakub!