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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Specialist for the IBM System Storage product line at the
IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2011, Tony celebrated his 25th year anniversary with IBM Storage on the same day as the IBM's Centennial. He is
author of the Inside System Storage series of books. This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to storage and storage networking hardware, software and services. You can also follow him on Twitter @az990tony.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson
While the rest of Americans were glued to their televisions watching President Obama explain his plan for recovery, my colleagues and Ihad dinner with clients from Canada.
One in particular claimed her father was known as the kingpin of[Flin Flon]. She lives in Ontario now, but she grew up in this smallmining town in Manitoba made famous for winning a government contractto grow crops for medicinal purposes.
Shown at left is the town's mascott, Flinty. Yes, apparently thetown was named after a fictional character of a paperback novel.
Of course, in conversations with clients, it is best to avoid topics like politics or drugs,but the intersection of government health care and implications on IT can't be disregarded.Since Canada has a more efficient healthcare process, the government enjoys a lower costper citizen. President Obama has suggested that the United States should adopt reforms to make the American system more efficient, including electronic medical records.
Not surprisingly, [smarter healthcare] is part of IBM's latest set of strategic initiatives.Digitizing medical information has a variety of benefits:
Information isn't stranded on islands
If there is any situation that needs to deliver the right information, to the right people,at the right time, healthcare is certainly one of them. Having the right information canhelp reduce medical mistakes.
Physicians spend time with their patients, not paperwork
I personally know some doctors here in Tucson, and they are the first to admit that theywould prefer to focus on their core strengths, which they spent many years in medical school,and leave the administrative details to someone else. Focusing on core strengths is acommon theme for successful businesses, and this is no different.
Expertise needs no passport
Medical emergencies do not always happen near the hospital or clinic that your medical records are stored at.An exciting feature of digital information is that it is easy to transport to where it isneeded, unlike paper records or X-ray film.
To learn more about IBM's strategy and vision, see IBM's[Smarter Planet] Web site.
This week, Allyson Klein, Director of Technical Leadership Marketing from Intel, interviewed me for the Intel® [Chip Chat podcast] to promote the upcoming [IBM Edge conference] to be held June 4-8 in Orlando, Florida. Intel is a big sponsor of the conference. The podcast is only about 8 minutes long. Enjoy!
Avi Bar-Zeeb of RealityPrime has an interesting post aboutHow Google Earth [really] Works.Normally, people who are very knowledgeable in a topic have a hard time describing concepts in basic terms. Avi was one of the co-founders of Keyhole, the company that built the predecessor for Google Earth, and also worked with Linden Lab for its 3D rendering it its virtual world, so he certainly knows what he is talking about. While he sometimes drops down into techno-talk about patents, the post overall is a good read.
It is perhaps human nature to be curious on how things are put together and how they function, leading to the popularity of web sites like www.howstuffworks.com that cover a wide range of topics.
Many things can be used without understanding their internal inner workings. You can put on a pair of blue jeans without knowing how the cotton was made into denim fabric; lace up your favorite pair of running shoes without understanding the chemical make-up of the plastic that cushions your feet; or drink a glass of beer after your five mile run without knowing how alcohol is processed by your liver.
For technology, however, some people insist they need to know how it works in order for them to get the most use of it. When shopping for a car, for example, a guy might look under the hood, and ask questions about how the engine works, while his wife sits inside the vehicle, counting cup holders and making sure the radio has all the right buttons.
Not all technology suffers from need-to-know-itis. For example, the Apple iPod music player and the Canon PowerShot digital camera, are both just disk systems that read and write data, with knobs and dials on one end, and ports for connectivity on the other. Everyone just asks how to use their controls, and might read the manual to understand how to connect the cables. Few people who use these devices ask how they work before they buy them.
Other disk systems, the kind designed for data centers for the medium and large enterprise, apparently aren't there yet. Storage admins who might happily own both an iPod player and a PowerShot camera, insist they need to know how the technologies inside various storage offerings work. Is this just curiosity talking? Or are there some tasks like configuration, tuning, and support that just can't be done without this knowledge? Does knowing the inner workings somehow make the job more enjoyable, easier, or performed with less stress?
I'm curious what you think, send me a comment on this.
Back in October, Daryl Pereira asked me for an interview about my blog. I get a lot of these requests, but this one was different. Daryl is on the IBM DeveloperWorks team, and he was going to interview me to for the "Great Mind Challenge". This is a fun competition for a group of about 100 college students from San Jose State University to get them to learn blogging best practices and techniques.
This was the one post that put me into the #1 position, with over 70,000 hits so far and counting, and that does not include all the people who read my blog through feed readers or the various cross-postings on IBM Storage Community and IBM Virtual Briefing Center.
This blog post was part of a series on IBM Watson, the computer that beat two humans on the "Jeapoardy!" television game show. Having worked closely with the IBM Research scientists to understand how IBM Watson worked so that I could blog about it, I thought a good way for readers to appreciate how it was put together was to explain how to assemble a scaled-down version. My inspiration was an article by John Pultorak that explained [how to build your own Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) in your basement].
The blog post series proved to be a big hit. IBM Watson helps to demonstrate many modern computer techniques, including business analytics of Big Data, Cloud Computing, and parallel programming techniques such as Hadoop. Showing that a "Watson Jr." could be built in your basement helped to emphasize that IBM Watson was made from hardware and software that are generally available today.
I am very proud of this blog post. I worked with Moshe Yanai and the rest of the XIV team to be completely accurate and correct to set the right level of expectations. So many false statements and FUD had been thrown out about what would happen if a double drive failure happened during the short 30 minute window of opportunity, and it turns out that in most cases, no data is lost, and in all other cases, the lost data can be easily identified and restored. In most cases, this will be less recovery required than a double drive failure on a traditional RAID-5 disk array.
It was also an opportunity to try out Animoto to create a short and simple video. Normally, when marketing needs a video made, it will cost 25,000 dollars USD or more, and take weeks to produce. I was able to get this video done in just a few hours with no out-of-pocket expenses.
After this post, nearly all FUD in the blogosphere about double drive failures disappeared. More importantly, the XIV sales that quarter (2Q2010) was substantially better than the prior quarter. Many XIV sales reps credit this blog post for that huge bump in XIV sales! I guess this could be the Tony Pearson equivalent of the [Colbert Bump].
In 2009 and 2010, I was the third most influential blogger on IBM's Developerworks, and now in 2011, I have risen to number one position! Internally, we call this "Winning the Devy" (like an Emmy, but for DeveloperWorks bloggers). I would like to thank all my readers for continuing to share in the conversation!
I am pleased with the turn-out we had attending last week for my Infoboom Webinar on [The Future of Storage]. The 55-minute replay is available on Infoboom, and the slide deck can be downloaded from the [IBM Expert Network].
I mentioned that I was going to Indianapolis and Boston next week to give lectures on this topic. Here are the details:
Indianapolis - September 7, 2011
The Future of Storage with Tony Pearson Luncheon Briefing
Harry & Izzy's
153 South Illinois Street
Indianapolis, IN 46225
Time: 11am to 1:30pm
Boston - September 8, 2011
The Future of Storage with Tony Pearson Briefing and Networking Reception
The Capital Grille
10 Wayside Road
Burlington, MA 01803
Time: 4:30pm to 6:30pm
I will also be in San Francisco for Oracle OpenWorld (Oct 2-6), Auckland New Zealand (Nov 9-11), and Melbourne Australia (Nov 15-17).
Continuing my business trip through Canada, an article by Richard Blackwell titled [The Double Bottom Line] yesterday's Globe and Mail newspaper caught my attention.Here is an excerpt, citing Tim Brodhead, president of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation in Montreal:
The bottom line for any business is making a profit, right?
But how about considering a different, or additional bottom line: helping make the world a better place to live in.
That's the radical proposition underlying the concept of "social entrepreneurship," the harnessing of business skills for the benefit of the disadvantaged.
Young investors, in particular, now want their investments to produce both financial and social returns, he noted.
Until recently, "we could either make a donation [to a charity] and get zero financial return, or we could invest and get zero social return." People now want more of both, but rules governing charities and business make that tough to accomplish.
One stumbling block is the imperative - entrenched in corporate law - that managers and directors of for-profit companies have a fiduciary duty to maximize profits. That structure is a brick wall that limits the expansion of social entrepreneurship, Mr. Brodhead said.
Some companies have embraced the new paradigm of a double bottom line, even if they are uncomfortable with the "social entrepreneur" label.
This fiduciary duty to maximize profits is discussed in the 2003 documentary[Corporation]. However, some organizations are now trying to aligntheir goals, finding ways to benefit their investers, as well as society overall. For example, organization [ONE.org] helped launch [Product (RED)]:
If you buy a (RED) product from GAP, Motorola, Armani, Converse or Apple, they will give up to 50% of their profit to buy AIDS drugs for mothers and children in Africa. (RED) is the consumer battalion gathering in the shopping malls. You buy the jeans, phones, iPods, shoes, sunglasses, and someone - somebody’s mother, father, daughter or son - will live instead of dying in the poorest part of the world. It’s a different kind of fashion statement.
The company, which has operated in Africa for nearly six decades, expects to increase its investment by more than $US120 million (more than R820 million) over the next two years. In the coming year, IBM expects to hire up to 100 students from Sub-Saharan universities to meet the growing demand in services, global delivery and software development.
"The Sub-Saharan African market is poised for double-digit growth flowing from the development and expansion of telecommunications networks, power grids and transport infrastructure," said Mark Harris, Managing Director, IBM South and Central Africa. "Private and public sector investment in the region is transforming the ability of the market to participate in the global economy."
A recent IBM Global Innovation Outlook (GIO) [report on Africa] indicates that the economies ofdozens of African nations are growing at healthy rates, the best in the past 30 years, with 5.5 to 5.8 percent averageacross the continent. This supports last month's news that [Top IBM thinkers to mentor African students]:
Hundreds of IBM scientists and researchers will mentor college students in Africa. Called Makocha Minds (after the Swahili word for "teacher"), the program will reach hundreds of computer science, engineering and mathematics students.
Makocha Minds is an off-shoot of IBM’s Global Innovation Outlook, an annual symposium of top government, business and academic leaders that uncovers new opportunities for business and societal innovation. "African students need to be trained in entrepreneurship so that they get out there and not just make jobs for themselves but create opportunities to employ others as well,” said Athman Fadhili, a graduate student at the University of Nairobi (Kenya).
Most of the mentoring will be via email and online collaboration.
Mentoring via email and online collaboration is very reasonable. I have mentored both high school and collegestudents through a partnership between IBM Tucson and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers[SHPE]. While thekids were all located in Tucson, I rarely am, traveling nearly every week, but I madetime for the kids via email and online collaboration wherever I happened to be.
To make this work, we need to get email and online collaboration in the hands who need them.I got my email thanking me for being a "first day donor" to the One Laptop Per Child "Give 1 Get 1" (G1G1) project,and have added this "badge" to the right panel of my blog. If you click on the badge, you will be takento a series of YouTube videos that further describe the project.
According to the email my donated XO laptop will soon be delivered into the hands of a child in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti, Mongolia or Rwanda.
How do these work? Instead of buying your uncle yet another $25 necktie, consider buying a $25 Kiva certificate.The $25 dollar "micro loan" goes to someone in the third world to improve their situation, start a business, geta job, and so on, and you give your uncle a Kiva certificate so that he can track the progress. I think that isvery clever and innovative.
Of course, he is focused on the home user, and not the bigger mess found in the corporate world, where Federal Rules like the one past last week that begin to mandate that all U.S. companies archive every e-mail and instant message (IM) generated by their employees.
However, the article does bring up issues that effect the corporate world as well. Its not the "format" as much as the medium/player interface. A friend of mine just bought a vintage 8-track-tape player, but has only one 8-track tape to try it out with. He is now looking on eBay for other 8-track tapes.
The idea of keeping old drives around to read back data is not new. A company called eMag Solutions has all kinds of older tape drives to help companiesretrieve data on their older 3420 and 3480 tape cartridges.
The problem is not just accessing the data on the media, but rendering the "ones" and "zeros" into meaningful information. For example, suppose I saved a copy of my Quicken Tax file every year, and copied them onto a singleDVD for long term storage. The problem is that to access 2002 tax data, I have to run that version of the Quicken 2002 program, and hopefully that version will run on my current computer equipment and operating system.
A client I visited earlier this year had to retrieve 4-year-old Oracle data for litigation reasons. However, to make sense of the data, they had to build a server with a down-level version of AIX and down-level version of Oracle to match the level supported by their homegrown application.
One solution might be to find a new format that is application-independent. Flat text files, Adobe PDF format, MP3 audio files, HTML pages, and JPEG photo images are often used to avoid the requirement of special applications to make sense of the data.Unfortunately, in some countries, the laws actually dictate that business must keep their data in the original "digital format". So, if it was a MS WORD v1 document, it must be kept in v1 format, even though today's WORD 2002 can't even make sense of it, and you have to go to IBM or some other third party that have "rendering tools" that understand these older formats.
Luckily, for the corporate world, IBM has a lot of experience in this area, is the leader in Content Management, offers the world's fastest archive/compliance storage, the DR550, clocked at three times faster than the EMC Centera, WORM tape on LTO Generation 3 and 3592 tape cartridges, and software designed to render older formats into readable form.
For the home user, IBM's recent "Innovation Jam" identified this as one of the top 10 ideas, the idea of "Digital Me", storing not just old tax documents, but photos, music, home videos, and so on. My aunt Nancy passed away, leaving me a box of old VHS tapes, which I will watch this month as I sort through all my paper receipts getting ready to file for 2006 taxes.
A long time ago, perhaps in the early 1990s, I was an architect on the component known today as DFSMShsm on z/OS mainframe operationg system. One of my job responsibilities was to attend the biannual [SHARE conference to listen to the requirements of the attendees on what they would like added or changed to the DFSMS, and ask enough questions so that I can accurately present the reasoning to the rest of the architects and software designers on my team. One person requested that the DFSMShsm RELEASE HARDCOPY should release "all" the hardcopy. This command sends all the activity logs to the designated SYSOUT printer. I asked what he meant by "all", and the entire audience of 120 some attendees nearly fell on the floor laughing. He complained that some clever programmer wrote code to test if the activity log contained only "Starting" and "Ending" message, but no error messages, and skip those from being sent to SYSOUT. I explained that this was done to save paper, good for the environment, and so on. Again, howls of laughter. Most customers reroute the SYSOUT from DFSMS from a physical printer to a logical one that saves the logs as data sets, with date and time stamps, so having any "skipped" leaves gaps in the sequence. The client wanted a complete set of data sets for his records. Fair enough.
When I returned to Tucson, I presented the list of requests, and the immediate reaction when I presented the one above was, "What did he mean by ALL? Doesn't it release ALL of the logs already?" I then had to recap our entire dialogue, and then it all made sense to the rest of the team. At the following SHARE conference six months later, I was presented with my own official "All" tee-shirt that listed, and I am not kidding, some 33 definitions for the word "all", in small font covering the front of the shirt.
I am reminded of this story because of the challenges explaining complicated IT concepts using the English language which is so full of overloaded words that have multiple meanings. Take for example the word "protect". What does it mean when a client asks for a solution or system to "protect my data" or "protect my information". Let's take a look at three different meanings:
The first meaning is to protect the integrity of the data from within, especially from executives or accountants that might want to "fudge the numbers" to make quarterly results look better than they are, or to "change the terms of the contract" after agreements have been signed. Clients need to make sure that the people authorized to read/write data can be trusted to do so, and to store data in Non-Erasable, Non-Rewriteable (NENR) protected storage for added confidence. NENR storage includes Write-Once, Read-Many (WORM) tape and optical media, disk and disk-and-tape blended solutions such as the IBM Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS) and IBM Information Archive integrated system.
The second meaning is to protect access from without, especially hackers or other criminals that might want to gather personally-identifiably information (PII) such as social security numbers, health records, or credit card numbers and use these for identity theft. This is why it is so important to encrypt your data. As I mentioned in my post [Eliminating Technology Trade-Offs], IBM supports hardware-based encryption FDE drives in its IBM System Storage DS8000 and DS5000 series. These FDE drives have an AES-128 bit encryption built-in to perform the encryption in real-time. Neither HDS or EMC support these drives (yet). Fellow blogger Hu Yoshida (HDS) indicates that their USP-V has implemented data-at-rest in their array differently, using backend directors instead. I am told EMC relies on the consumption of CPU-cycles on the host servers to perform software-based encryption, either as MIPS consumed on the mainframe, or using their Powerpath multi-pathing driver on distributed systems.
There is also concern about internal employees have the right "need-to-know" of various research projects or upcoming acquisitions. On SANs, this is normally handled with zoning, and on NAS with appropriate group/owner bits and access control lists. That's fine for LUNs and files, but what about databases? IBM's DB2 offers Label-Based Access Control [LBAC] that provides a finer level of granularity, down to the row or column level. For example, if a hospital database contained patient information, the doctors and nurses would not see the columns containing credit card details, the accountants would not see the columnts containing healthcare details, and the individual patients, if they had any access at all, would only be able to access the rows related to their own records, and possibly the records of their children or other family members.
The third meaning is to protect against the unexpected. There are lots of ways to lose data: physical failure, theft or even incorrect application logic. Whatever the way, you can protect against this by having multiple copies of the data. You can either have multiple copies of the data in its entirety, or use RAID or similar encoding scheme to store parts of the data in multiple separate locations. For example, with RAID-5 rank containing 6+P+S configuration, you would have six parts of data and one part parity code scattered across seven drives. If you lost one of the disk drives, the data can be rebuilt from the remaining portions and written to the spare disk set aside for this purpose.
But what if the drive is stolen? Someone can walk up to a disk system, snap out the hot-swappable drive, and walk off with it. Since it contains only part of the data, the thief would not have the entire copy of the data, so no reason to encrypt it, right? Wrong! Even with part of the data, people can get enough information to cause your company or customers harm, lose business, or otherwise get you in hot water. Encryption of the data at rest can help protect against unauthorized access to the data, even in the case when the data is scattered in this manner across multiple drives.
To protect against site-wide loss, such as from a natural disaster, fire, flood, earthquake and so on, you might consider having data replicated to remote locations. For example, IBM's DS8000 offers two-site and three-site mirroring. Two-site options include Metro Mirror (synchronous) and Global Mirror (asynchronous). The three-site is cascaded Metro/Global Mirror with the second site nearby (within 300km) and the third site far away. For example, you can have two copies of your data at site 1, a third copy at nearby site 2, and two more copies at site 3. Five copies of data in three locations. IBM DS8000 can send this data over from one box to another with only a single round trip (sending the data out, and getting an acknowledgment back). By comparison, EMC SRDF/S (synchronous) takes one or two trips depending on blocksize, for example blocks larger than 32KB require two trips, and EMC SRDF/A (asynchronous) always takes two trips. This is important because for many companies, disk is cheap but long-distance bandwidth is quite expensive. Having five copies in three locations could be less expensive than four copies in four locations.
Fellow blogger BarryB (EMC Storage Anarchist) felt I was unfair pointing out that their EMC Atmos GeoProtect feature only protects against "unexpected loss" and does not eliminate the need for encryption or appropriate access control lists to protect against "unauthorized access" or "unethical tampering".
(It appears I stepped too far on to ChuckH's lawn, as his Rottweiler BarryB came out barking, both in the [comments on my own blog post], as well as his latest titled [IBM dumbs down IBM marketing (again)]. Before I get another rash of comments, I want to emphasize this is a metaphor only, and that I am not accusing BarryB of having any canine DNA running through his veins, nor that Chuck Hollis has a lawn.)
As far as I know, the EMC Atmos does not support FDE disks that do this encryption for you, so you might need to find another way to encrypt the data and set up the appropriate access control lists. I agree with BarryB that "erasure codes" have been around for a while and that there is nothing unsafe about using them in this manner. All forms of RAID-5, RAID-6 and even RAID-X on the IBM XIV storage system can be considered a form of such encoding as well. As for the amount of long-distance bandwidth that Atmos GeoProtect would consume to provide this protection against loss, you might question any cost savings from this space-efficient solution. As always, you should consider both space and bandwidth costs in your total cost of ownership calculations.
Of course, if saving money is your main concern, you should consider tape, which can be ten to twenty times cheaper than disk, affording you to keep a dozen or more copies, in as many time zones, at substantially lower cost. These can be encrypted and written to WORM media for even more thorough protection.
It's been a while since I've talked about [Second Life].
The latest post on eightbar[Spimes, Motes and Data centers]discusses IBM's use of virtual world technology to analyze data centers in three dimensions.New World Note asks[What's The Point Of 3D Data Centers?]One would think that a simple monitoring tool based on a two-dimensional floor plan would be enough to evaluate a data center.
Enter Michael Osias, IBM (a.k.a Illuminous Beltran in Second Life). Some of the leading news sites havebegun to notice some 3D data centers that he has helped pioneer. UgoTrade writes up an article aboutMichael and the media attention in [The Wizard of IBM's 3DData Centers].
Of course, in presenting these "Real Life/Second Life" (RL/SL) interactive technologies, IBM is sometimes the target of ridicule. Why? Because IBM is 10 years ahead of everyone else. So, are there aspects of a data center where 3D interfaces makes sense? I think there is.
IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center has an awesome "topology viewer" that shows what servers are connectedto which switches, to which disk systems and tape libraries. This is all done in a 2D diagram, generated dynamicallywith data discovered through open standard interfaces, similar to what you might draw manually with toolslike Visio. Imagine, however, howmore powerful if it were a 3D viewer, with virtual equipment mapped to the physical location of each pieceof hardware on the data center floor, including the position on the rack and location on the data center floor.
Designing computer room air conditioning (CRAC) systems is actually a three dimensional problem. Cold air isfed underneath the raised floor, comes up through strategically placed "vent" tiles, taken in the front ofeach rack. Hot air comes out the back of each rack, and hopefully finds ceiling duct intake to get cooled again.The temperature six inches off the floor is different than the temperature six feet off the floor, and 3Dmonitor tools could be helpful in identifying "hot spots" that need attention. In this case "spimes" representsensors in the 3D virtual world, able to report back information to help diagnose problems or monitor events.
After many people left the mainframe in favor of running a single application per distributed server, the pendulumhas finally swung back. Companies are discovering the many benefits of changing this behavior. "Re-centralization" is the task at hand. Thanks to virtualization of servers, networks and storage, sharing common resources canonce again claim the benefits of economies of scale. In many cases, servers work together in collective unitsfor specific applications that might benefit better if consolidated together onto the same equipment.
IBM's "New Enterprise Data Center" vision recognizes that people will need to focus on the management aspectsof their IT infrastructure, and 3D virtual world technologies might be an effective way to getthe job done.
A client asked me to explain "Nearline storage" to them. This was easy, I thought, as I started my IBM career on DFHSM, now known as DFSMShsm for z/OS, which was created in 1977 to support the IBM 3850 Mass Storage System (MSS), a virtual storage system that blended disk drives and tape cartridges with robotic automation. Here is a quick recap:
Online storage is immediately available for I/O. This includes DRAM memory, solid-state drives (SSD), and always-on spinning disk, regardless of rotational speed.
Nearline storage is not immediately available, but can be made online quickly without human intervention. This includes optical jukeboxes, automated tape libraries, as well as spin-down massive array of idle disk (MAID) technologies.
Offline storage is not immediately available, and requires some human intervention to bring online. This can include USB memory sticks, CD/DVD optical media, shelf-resident tape cartridges, or other removable media.
Sadly, it appears a few storage manufacturers and vendors have been misusing the term "Nearline" to refer to "slower online" spinning disk drives. I find this [June 2005 technology paper from Seagate], and this [2002 NetApp Press Release], the latter of which included this contradiction for their "NearStore" disk array. Here is the excerpt:
"Providing online access to reference information—NetApp nearline storage solutions quickly retrieve and replicate reference and archive information maintained on cost-effective storage—medical images, financial models, energy exploration charts and graphs, and other data-intensive records can be stored economically and accessed in multiple locations more quickly than ever"
Which is it, "online access" or "nearline storage"?
If a client asked why slower drives consume less energy or generate less heat, I could explain that, but if they ask why slower drives must have SATA connections, that is a different discussion. The speed of a drive and its connection technology are for the most part independent. A 10K RPM drive can be made with FC, SAS or SATA connection.
I am opposed to using "Nearlne" just to distinguish between four-digit speeds (such as 5400 or 7200 RPM) versus "online" for five-digit speeds (10,000 and 15,000 RPM). The difference in performance between 10K RPM and 7200 RPM spinning disks is miniscule compared to the differences between solid-state drives and any spinning disk, or the difference between spinning disk and tape.
I am also opposed to using the term "Nearline" for online storage systems just because they are targeted for the typical use cases like backup, archive or other reference information that were previously directed to nearline devices like automated tape libraries.
Can we all just agree to refer to drives as "fast" or "slow", or give them RPM rotational speed designations, rather than try to incorrectly imply that FC and SAS drives are always fast, and SATA drives are always slow? Certainly we don't need new terms like "NL-SAS" just to represent a slower SAS connected drive.
Now that the frozen economy is starting to thaw, I have been traveling like crazy this month. So far, I have been to Rochester, MN, Los Angeles and San Diego, CA, and now currently in Austin, TX. On the plus side, I was able to enjoy the [Fourth of July] holiday weekend on the beaches of San Diego.
(If you have not been to California beaches lately, here's a quick [video] reminder)
So the big news this week is that the auction over Data Domain is over, and EMC's bid finally won over NetApp. Both NetApp and EMC have data deduplication capabilities in their existing product lines, but neither could compete against IBM's TS7650G ProtecTIER Data Deduplication gateway and TS7650 ProtecTIER appliances, and so were hell-bent to buy Data Domain for large amounts. The final price agreed upon was over two billion US dollars for Data Domain.
For the most part, Data Domain's products are targeted towards small and medium sized businesses, whereas IBM's TS7650 and TS7650G products targets medium and larger sized enterprises.So now that EMC has a viable data deduplication solution, it looks like it will be yet another IBM-vs-EMC debate going forward.
Guy Kawasaki is hosting a Web Conference next week on The Art of Evangelism.By this he is referring to promoting products and services, rather than the traditionaldefinition: the preaching or promulgation of the gospel.
A few years ago, I myself had the official title of "Technical Evangelist" for the IBM System Storageproduct line. I never liked the title, and asked to use something else, but since I was part of ateam of "Technical Evangelists," I had to keep it. A lot of companies were using this as a title,I was told, and everyone knew that it was not a religious reference, but a marketing one.
Sometimes, words do not translate well into other countries or cultures. Four years ago, on theweek of September 11, 2003, I traveled to Kuwait, Qatar and UAE for a business trip to present thelatest on our storage products. On arrival in Kuwait, I had to fill out my "visa application" to enterthe country, and it asked for my "occupation/title" but there were not enough spaces to write "Technical Evangelist" so I just entered "Evangelist".
The two Kuwaitis behind the desk looked it up in their Arabic/English dictionary, discussed it, andweren't sure if they should shoot me, or take me to the back room to video tape my proper be-heading. Our official hostcame over to ask what was the delay, and they showed her the dictionary translation. She asked me,"Why would you put Evangelist as your title?" So, I gave her my business card, and told herthat my full title of Technical Evangelist did not fit in the space provided.
She explained to the two behind the desk that I had misunderstood the question, and misspelled theactual word intended was "Engineer". She showed them the agenda of the IBM Technical Conference I wasspeaking at, and the list of Oil and Construction companies that were attending. They looked upthe new title "Engineer", and agreed the translation was suitable for entry, and that these two words,Evangelist and Engineer, used enough similar letters they could understand how one might misspell one for the other.
Our limo took a small detour to the middle of the desert so that we could burn and bury the ashes of the remainder of my business cards, before arriving to the hotel. All of my powerpoint slides that listed my title were changed to "Technical Engineer". The events themselves went very well,as IT people are the same all over the world, and had no problem setting aside religious or politicaldifferences in an effort to learn more about technology.
When I got back to the United States, I shared my experience with my fellow team-mates, most of whom never leavethe country, and would never have thought this might happen. Management agreed to let us change our titles.That was good for me, as I had to order a new box of business cards anyways.
Last year, I became "Manager of Brand Marketing Strategy" of the IBM System Storage product line.Now on business trips I just write "Manager" on the Occupation/Title line. It fits in every form I have ever had to fill, and translates properly into every language.
In explaining the word "archive" we came up with two separate Japanese words. One was "katazukeru", and the other was "shimau". If you are clearing the dinner plates from the table after your meal, for example, it could be done for two reasons. Both words mean "to put away", but the motivation that drives this activity changes the word usage. The first reason, katazukeru, is because the table is important, you need the table to be empty or less cluttered to use it for something else, perhaps play some card game, work on arts and craft, or pay your bills. The second reason, shimau, is because the plates are important, perhaps they are your best tableware, used only for holidays or special occasions only, and you don't want to risk having them broken. As it turns out, IBM supports both senses of the word archive. We offer "space management" when the space on the table, (or disk or database), is more important, so older low-access data can be moved off to less expensive disk or tape. We also offer "data retention" where the data itself is valuable, and must be kept on WORM or non-erasable, non-rewriteable storage to meet business or government regulatory compliance.
The process of archiving your data from primary disk to alternate storage media can satisfy both motivations.
IBM offers software specifically to help with this archival process.For email archive, IBM offers [IBM CommonStore] for Lotus Domino and MicrosoftExchange. For database archive, including support for various ERP and CRM applications, IBM offers [IBM Optim] from the acquisition of Princeton Softech.
The problems occur when companies, under the excuse of simplification or consolidation, feel they can just usetheir backups as archives. They are taking daily backups of their email repositories and databases, and keepingthese for seven to ten years. But what happens when their legal e-discovery team needs to find all emails or database records related to a particular situation, an employee, client or account? Good luck! Most backupsare not indexed for this purpose, so storage admins are stuck restoring many different backups to temporary storage and combing through the files in hopes to find the right data.
Backups are intended for operational recovery of data that is lost or corrupted as a result of hardware failures, application defects, or human error. Disk mirroring or remote replication might help with hardware failures, but any logical deletion or corruption of data is immediately duplicated, so it is not a complete solution. FlashCopy or Snapshot point-in-time copies are useful to go back a short time to recover from logical failures, but since they are usually on the same hardware as the original copies, may not protect against hardware failures. And then there's tape, and while many people malign tape as a backup storage choice, 71 percent of customers send backups to tape, according to a 2007 Forrester Research report.
Backups often aren't viable unless restored to the same hardware platform, with the same operating system and application software to make sense of the ones and zeros. For this reason, people typically only keep two to five backup versions, for no more than 30 days, to support operational recovery scenarios. If you make updatesto your hardware, OS or application software, be sure to remember to take fresh new backups, as the old backupsmay no longer apply.
Archives are different. Often, these are copies that have been "hardened" or "fossilized" so that they make sense even if the original hardware, OS or application software is unavailable. They might be indexed so that they can be searched, so that you only have to retrieve exactly the data you are looking for. Finally, they are often stored with "rendering tools" that are able to display the data using your standard web browser, eliminating the need to have a fully working application environment.
Take any backup you might have from five years ago and try to retrieve the information. Can you do it? This might be a real eye-opener. You might have inherited this backup-as-also-archive approach from someone else, and are trying to figure out what to do differently that makes more sense. Call IBM, we can help.
Wrapping up this week's theme of thankfulness, I am thankful for theOne Laptop Per Child [OLPC] and their Get-One-Give-One (G1G1)offer.
Last November, I was one of the first to [sign up for the G1G1],and when mine arrived December 24, I posted initial observations in this[OLPC series].Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of helping out teams in Nepal and Uruguay,collaborating with developers in France, India and the United States. Giving back to othershas been a richly rewarding experience for me. I made some new friends, built up newprofessional contacts, and learned some new tricks as well.
Last year's G1G1 offer was limited to US and Canada, but this year, the OLPC have enlisted [Amazon.com] and made the offer available worldwide. You can choose to either give a single laptop for $199 USD, or get two laptops, get one for yourself or your family, and give the other to someone like Zimi, for $399 USD.
I'm thankful I did. Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers in the USA!
This week is Thanksgiving holiday in the USA, so I thought a good theme would be things I am thankful for.
I'll start with saying that I am thankful EMC has finally announcedAtmos last week. This was the "Maui" part of the Hulk/Maui rumors we heard over a year ago. To quickly recap, Atmos is EMC's latest storage offeringfor global-scale storage intended for Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads. Atmos can be sold as just software, or combined with Infiniflex,EMC's bulk, high-density commodity disk storage systems. Atmos supports traditionalNFS/CIFS file-level access, as well as SOAP/REST object protocols.
I'm thankful for various reasons, here's a quick list:
It's hard to compete against "vaporware"
Back in the 1990s, IBM was trying to sell its actual disk systems against StorageTek's rumored "Iceberg" project. It took StorageTek some four years to get this project out,but in the meantime, we were comparing actual versus possibility. The main feature iswhat we now call "Thin Provisioning". Ironically, StorageTek's offering was not commercially successful until IBM agreed to resell this as the IBM RAMAC Virtual Array (RVA).
Until last week, nobody knew the full extent of what EMC was going to deliver on the many Hulk/Maui theories. Severalhinted as to what it could have been, and I am glad to see that Atmos falls short of those rumored possibilities. This is not to say that Atmos can't reach its potential, and certainly some of the design is clever, such as offering native SOAP/REST access.
Instead, IBM now can compare Atmos/Infiniflex directly to the features and capabilities of IBM's Scale Out File Services [SoFS], which offers a global-scale multi-site namespace with policy-based data movement, IBM System Storage Multilevel Grid Access Manager[GAM] that manages geographical distrubuted information,and IBM [XIV Storage System] that offers high-density bulk storage.
Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads justify new storage architectures
When I presented SoFS and XIV earlier this year, I mentioned they were designed forthe fast-growing Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads that were unique enough to justify their own storage architectures. One criticism was that SoFS appeared to duplicate what could be achieved with dozens of IBM N series NAS boxes connected with Virtual File Manager (VFM). Why invent a new offering with a new architecture?
With the Atmos announcement, EMC now agrees with IBM that the Web 2.0 and DigitalArchive workloads represent a unique enough "use case" to justify a new approach.
New offerings for new workloads will not impact existing offerings for existing workloads
I find it amusing that EMC is quickly defending that Atmos will not eat into its DMXbusiness, which is exactly the FUD they threw out about IBM XIV versus DS8000 earlier this year. In reality, neither the DS8000 nor the DMX were used much for Web 2.0 andDigital Archive workloads in the past. Companies like Google, Amazon and others hadto either build their own from piece parts, or use low-cost midrange disk systems.
Rather, the DS8000 and DMX can now focus on the workloads they were designed for,such as database applications on mainframe servers.
Cloud-Oriented Storage (COS)
Just when you thought we had enough terminology already, EMC introduces yet another three-letter acronym [TLA]. Kudos to EMC for coining phrases to help move newconcepts forward.
Now, when an RFP asks for Cloud-oriented storage, I am thankful this phrase will help serve as a trigger for IBM to lead with SoFS and XIV storage offerings.
Digital archives are different than Compliance Archives
EMC was also quick to point out that object-storage Atmos was different from theirobject-storage EMC Centera. The former being for "digital archives" and the latter for"compliance archives". Different workloads, Different use cases, different offerings.
Ever since IBM introduced its [IBM System Storage DR550] several years ago, EMC Centera has been playing catch-up to match IBM'smany features and capabilities. I am thankful the Centera team was probably too busy to incorporate Atmos capabilities, so it was easier to make Atmos a separate offering altogether. This allows the IBM DR550 to continue to compete against Centera's existingfeature set.
Micro-RAID arrays, logical file and object-level replication
I am thankful that one of the Atmos policy-based feature is replicating individualobjects, rather than LUN-based replication and protection. SoFS supports this forlogical files regardless of their LUN placement, GAM supports replication of files and medical images across geographical sites in the grid, and the XIV supports this for 1MBchunks regardless of their hard disk drive placement. The 1MB chunk size was basedon the average object size from established Web 2.0 and DigitalArchive workloads.
I tried to explain the RAID-X capability of the XIV back in January, under muchcriticism that replication should only be done at the LUN level. I amthankful that Marc Farley on StorageRap coined the phrase[Micro-RAID array] to helpmove this new concept further. Now, file-level, object-level and chunk-level replication can be considered mainstream.
Much larger minimum capacity increments
The original XIV in January was 51TB capacity per rack, and this went up to 79TB per rack for the most recent IBM XIV Release 2 model. Several complained that nobody would purchase disk systems at such increments. Certainly, small and medium size businessesmay not consider XIV for that reason.
I am thankful Atmos offers 120TB, 240TB and 360TB sizes. The companies that purchasedisk for Web 2.0 and Digital Archive workloads do purchase disk capacity in these large sizes. Service providers add capacity to the "Cloud" to support many of theirend-clients, and so purchasing disk capacity to rent back out represents revenue generating opportunity.
Renewed attention on SOAP and REST protocols
IBM and Microsoft have been pushing SOA and Web Services for quite some time now.REST, which stands for [Representational State Transfer] allows static and dynamic HTML message passing over standard HTTP.SOAP, which was originally [Simple Object Access Protocol], and then later renamed to "Service Oriented Architecture Protocol", takes this one step further, allowingdifferent applications to send "envelopes" containing messages and data betweenapplications using HTTP, RPC, SMTP and a variety of other underlying protocols.Typically, these messages are simple text surrounded by XML tags, easily stored asfiles, or rows in databases, and served up by SOAP nodes as needed.
It's hard to show leadership until there are followers
IBM's leadership sometimes goes unnoticed until followerscreate "me, too!" offerings or establish similar business strategies. IBM's leadership in Cloud and Grid computing is no exception.Atmos is the latest me-too product offering in this space, trying pretty muchto address the same challenges that SoFS and XIV were designed for.
So, perhaps EMC is thankful that IBM has already paved the way, breaking throughthe ice on their behalf. I am thankful that perhaps I won't have to deal with as much FUD about SoFS, GAM and XIV anymore.
During the Republican primaries, Mitt Romney promised Michigan he wouldbring back all those jobs back to the Auto Industry, while his opponent,John McCain, told the audience that those jobs are gone forever, time tostart learning new skills. Mitt won the state, but lost the nomination,and perhaps this snapped him back to reality. Mitt now has a new prescription for what ails the US Auto industry--straight talk that he should have been saying during his campaign,telling people what they should hear, rather than what they wanted to hear.
Gaurav takes this argument one step further, referring to IBM's amazingturn-around back in 1993. Whereas the US Auto Industry has pushed backagainst inevitable globalization, IBM has embraced it, re-inventing itself into aGlobally Integrated Enterprise [GIE] and helping our clients do the same.I've been working for IBM since 1986, so I remember the pre-1993 IBM and how different it is now in the post-1993 era.
The marketplace has responded positively. Since 2004, more than 5,000 companies worldwide have replaced their HP, Sun, and EMC products with energy-efficient IBM Systems: Servers and Storage. Companies have invested in IBM's servers and storage to tackle their most challenging business objectives and to help reduce sprawling data center costs for labor, energy and real estate.This announcement was part of IBM's[Press Release]for its Migration Factory offering. The Migration Factory includes competitive server assessments, migration services, and other resources to help customers achieve energy and space savings and lower their cost of ownership.
Earlier this month, IBM's Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano recently outlined the possibilities of a smarter planet to the Council on Foreign Relations.Steve Lohr of the New York Times weighs in with his article [I.B.M. Has Tech Answer for Woes of Economy], and Dr. Fern Halper of Hurwitz & Associates gives her take over at [IT-Director.com].
Transcontinental flights and the[Travel Channel] have made the world smaller.Thomas Friedman argued the world has also become "flatter",thanks to advances in computers and global communication, in his 2005 book[The World is Flat].Now, IBM recognizes that InformationTechnology (I.T.) can help us solve the financial meltdown, global warming, and other major problems the world is now faced with.
How? First, our world is becoming instrumented. Sensors, RFID tags and other equipmentare now inexpensive and readily available to be placed wherever they are needed. Second, our world is becoming more interconnected. We are closely approaching two billion internet users andfour billion mobile subscribers, andthese can connect to the trillions of RFID tags, sensors and other instrumentation. Third,our world needs to get more intelligent. Not just US auto workers learning new skills,but all these instruments providing information that can be acted on with intelligentalgorithms. Algorithms can help with automobile traffic in large cities, enhance energyexploration, or improve healthcare.
You could buy 10 liters of gasoline in Venezuela with this coin.
I'm back from South America, and am now in Chicago, Illinois. I'm having breakfast at the Starbucksdowntown, and thought I would make a post before all of my meetings today.
On this trip, I met with IBM Business Partners and sales reps from Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. While I have visited thefirst three countries on past trips, this was my first time to Caracas, Venezuela. I grew up in La Paz, Bolivia, and speak Spanish fluently, so had no problemgetting around and holding discussions with everyone. While my friends in the US are oftensurprised I speak multiple languages, it doesn't surprise anyone I visit in other countries.If you are going to have worldwide job responsibilities for a global company that does businessin over 180 countries, the least you could do is learn a few additional languages. I suspect themajority of the 350,000 IBM employees speak at least two languages, the exceptions being mostly the 50,000 orso employees that live in the United States.
I flew on American Airlines from Tucson to Dallas to Caracas, and was only slightly delayed as a resultof all of the flight cancellations that happened earlier that week. Some companies designate a single "official airline" for their employees to use. That makessense if all of your employees are located in a single city, and that city is the hub for yourdesignated airline.IBM is too big, too spread out, and sells technology to nearly every airline to make sucha designation. Instead, IBM tries to spread its business out to multiple carriers, although all ofmy colleagues seems to have their own personal favorites. Mine are American Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
While other people were upset over the delays, I found American Airlines did a great job keeping me informed,and all their employees I talked to seemed to be handling the situation fairly well. If youfly on American, I recommend you sign up for "text message" notifications. I did this for everyleg of my trip, and was kept up to date on times, gates and status. Very helpful!American Airlines even started their own corporate blog: [AA Conversation] (Special thanks to my friend[Paul Gillen] for pointing this out)
(I read somewhere that if you are going to travel anywhere, you need to remember to bringboth your sunscreen and your sense of humor, otherwise you are going to get burned. Goodadvice! Trust me, you don't even know how bad it can really be until you travel in the third world.)
Anyhoo, last week, IBM Venezuela celebrated its 70th anniversary. That's right, IBM has been doingbusiness in Venezuela for the past 70 years. Also last week, IBM put out its impressive [1Q08 quarterly results],including 10 percent growth for IBM System Storage product line worldwide, comparing what IBM earned this first quarter to what IBM earned the first quarter of last year. For just the Latin American countries,the growth for IBM System Storage was 20 percent!There are a lot of oil and gas companies in Venezuela. With a barrel of oil selling at more than$117 US dollars, these companies are looking to spend their newly earned profits on IBM systems, software and services.
As for the picture above, that is a one-thousand Bolivares coin, worth about 47 US cents atthis week's official exchange rate. As with many Latin American countries going through [years of high inflation], Venezuela was tired of all those zeros on their money. For example, a cheeseburger, freedom fries and a Cokeat McDonald's would set you back 20,000 Bolivares.This year the Venezuelan governmentcreated a new currency called "Bolivares Fuertes" (VEF), lopping off the last three zeros.So, the coin above would be replaced by a new coin with a big "1" on it instead, and an old 2000 Bolivares billwould be replaced by a new 2 Bolivares Fuertes bill. Unfortunately,I had to give all my new Venezuelan money back at the airport upon leaving, but they let me keep the coinabove, since it is old money, as a souvenir so that I could use it as a ball mark for playing golf.
(The term Bolivares is named after Simon Bolivar who was born in Caracas. He is famous throughoutSouth America, and was, and I am not making this up, the first president of Colombia, the secondpresident of Venezuela, the first president of Bolivia, and the sixth president of Peru. Here isthe [Wikipedia article] to learn more.)
Gasoline costs a mere 100 old Bolivares per liter.For those who don't do metric, gasoline therefore costsless than 18 cents per gallon. By comparison, in the USA, the average today was $3.47 US dollarsper gallon, of which 18.4 cents of this is Federal tax. That's right, we pay more just in taxes forgasoline than los venezolanos pay for it all.
The side effect of cheap gas is bad traffic. Everybody in Venezuela drives their own car, and nobody thinksabout the price of gasoline, carpooling, or taking public transportation, acting much like Americans used to, up until a few years ago. With some of the gridlock we faced, it might have been faster (but not safer)to walk there instead.
Which makes me wonder if American Airlines fills up their airplanes with fuel at these lower prices when theypick up people in Caracas to take them back to the United States. In 2002, fuel represented 10 percentof the average airline's operating expenses, but today it is now 25 percent. That is a drastic increase!
The same is happening in data centers. In the past, electricity was so cheap, and such a small percentof the total IT budget, nobody gave it much thought. But as the usage of electricity increased, andthe cost per KWh went up, this has a multiplying effect, and the growth in power and cooling costs isgrowing four times faster than the average IT hardware budget increase.
This week, I was in the Phoenix area presenting at TechData's TechSelect University. TechData is one of IBM's IT distributors,
and TechSelect is their community of 440 resellers and 20 vendors. This year they celebrate their 10 year anniversary of this event. I covered three particular topics, and I was videotaped for those who were not able to attend my session. (There were very few empty seats at my sessions)
IBM Business Partners now realize that the "killer app" for storage is combining the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller with entry-level or midrange disk storage systems for an awesome solution. Solutions based on either the Entry Edition or the standard hardware models can compete well with a variety of robust features, including thin provisioning, vDisk mirroring, FlashCopy, Metro and Global Mirror. This has the advantage that the SVC can extend these functions not just to newly purchased disk capacity, but also existing storage capacity. The newly purchased capacity can be DS3400, DS4700 or the new DS5000 models. This is great "investment protection" for small and medium sized businesses.
LTO-4 drives and automation
The Linear Tape Open (LTO) consortium--consisting of IBM, HP and Quantum--has proven wildly successful, ending the
vendor-lockin from SDLT tape. I presented the latest LTO-4 offerings, including the TS2240, TS2340, TS2900, TS3100
and TS3200. The LTO consortium has already worked out a technology roadmap for LTO-5 and LTO-6. The LTO-4 drives
support WORM cartridges and on-board hardware-based encryption. The encryption keys can be managed with IBM Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager (TKLM).
SAN and FCoCEE switches
IBM has agreements with Brocade, Cisco and Juniper Networks for various networking gear. I focused on entry-level switches for SAN fabrics, the SAN24B-4 and Cisco 9124, as well as new equipment for Convergence Enhanced Ethernet (CEE),
including IBM's Converged Network Adapater (CNA) for System x servers, and the SAN32B switch that has 24 10GbE CEE ports and 8 FC ports that support 8/4/2 and 4/2/1 SFP transceivers. FCoE Clients that want to deploy Fibre Channel over CEE (FCoCEE) today have everything the need to get started.
The venue was the
[Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa] in Chandler, just south of Phoenix. This compound includes [Rawhide], an 1800's era Western Town attraction, a rodeo arena, and a casino still under construction.
Dinners were held nearby at the infamous
[Rustler's Rooste] Steakhouse on South mountain.