Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2016, Tony celebrates his 30th year anniversary with IBM Storage. 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.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson )
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Continuing this week's theme on Earth Day, I am in San José, the capital of Costa Rica.
Despite all the talk I heard about how great Costa Rica was, ranked 5th in the world as one of thegreenest countries, I had a hard time breathing the air in San José.Here's a picture I took from my hotel in Escazú, which overlooks the city.
I have been to the [Top 5 smogiest cities in the world] --Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Cairo, New Dehli, and Shanghai-- and can say that San Jose,Costa Rica is nowhere near as bad as any of those, and more on par with cities in the United States, like Pittsburgh or Los Angeles.
Having a single government official in charge of both energy and environment means they can set pricesand provide incentives in one to benefit the other. Here are two examples:
Only 5 percent of the energy consumption of this county comes from oil. Despite having their own oilrepositories off-shore, the Costa Ricans have decided not to drill and ruin their pristine shoreline,but rather import from foreign sources.Gasoline prices are set high to include some of the environmental costs, about four dollars per gallon(800 Costa Rican Colones per liter). Cars can be converted to run on less expensive Propane orsugar cane Ethanol, but the conversions are cost-prohibitive for many.
Did it help? No, Traffic was like a parking lot. Part of this was the result of the main highway beingunder construction, forcing many people to take side streets.
Electricity is 13 US cents per KWh. My hotel in Escazu wanted an extra $8.50 US dollars per day to run theAir Conditioner. By comparison, my house in Tucson, Arizona is 1167 square feet, roughly five to six times the size of my hotel room, and my electricity bill is a flat 27 US dollars per month year round.
Did it help? No, most tourists just pay the extra cost. I tried one day with A/C, and the second day without, for scientific comparison, and decided to go without the rest of the time I was there. Perhaps being from Tucson, Arizona I can tolerate the 85-degree heat better than others.
So if incentives to conserve like high prices don't work, what will? I interviewed Alexandra,a local 24-year-old studying law at a nearby college:
Once you get your law degree, will you move to another country, such as the United States? --There are already too many lawyers in your country.
What about Japan or Asia, there is a shortage of lawyers there?-- No, I plan to stay here in my country. Costa Rica is beautiful, my friends and family are here, why would I leave?
So why do you think the incentives don't work to help people conserve gasoline and electricity? --People have to earn a living, and are focused on getting things done. If it can be done in a way that helps the environment, great, but otherwise life continues.
So will you specialize in "environmental" law? -- Not sure yet. Too early to say. Costa Rica is certainly leading the world in environmental protection, and much of this is through laws and tax schemes.
High prices don't serve well as incentives to reduce consumption, but perhaps national pride and working in an industry like agriculture or eco-tourism might.
This week I am in Costa Rica to celebrate[Earth Day] and promote IBM's [Smarter Planet strategy] to help solve the world's energy and environmental problems. This is thethird in the series. The first two posts were:
Here in Costa Rica, they separate their recyclables, and encourage even the hotel guests from other countries to do the same. See my photo on the left for an example.
This is more than most in the United States will do. We're lucky to get North Americans to just separate all recyclables in one bin separate from all trash in a second bin.
Leaving Arenal, I went to Escazu, a suburb of San Jose, the capital of this country. I met with Patrick, one of the owners of [Exclusive Excursions Travel] that helped me organize the eco-tourism portion of this trip to Costa Rica.
Most people are familiar with the [star rating system] that rank most hotels from one star (budget class/economy) to five stars (deluxe/luxury). The nicest hotel I've been to was the [Burj Al Arab] in Dubai, which claims a seven star rating. For eco-tourism, there is a similar "Green Leaf" rating system. According to Patrick,the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo [ICT] (tourism board of Costa Rica) rates hotels from one leaf (adopting some measures, like separating recyclables shown above) to five leaves (entirely carbon neutral).This Green Leaf system seems more important to European and Canadian tourists, but those from United States may not even be aware of it.
The food at these hotels vary. The typical dish here for breakfast, lunch and dinner is the Casado, consisting of mostly rice and beans. I have found thatCosta Rica has come up with as many creative ways to combine rice and beans in various proportions as Starbucks® serve various combinations of coffee and milk.The locals might be accustomed to a steady diet of rice and beans for every meal of every day, but those of us from North America aren't! Not counting tourist flatulence, Costa Rica has[pledged to be carbon neutral by 2021], the country's 200th birthday.
Sadly, most folks in the United States don't categorize their hotels with a Green Leaf rating system, nor do they even bother to categorize their recyclables. I spent 18 months in the field doing Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) assessments for clients, and most didn't categorize their data either.So, the next time you have some combination of coffee and milk, whether its a Latte, Misto, Espresso, or Macchiato, remember that the coffee came from acountry trying to be more environmentally responsible, grown by a farmerwho eats a simple diet of rice and beans, and has no problem separating different categories of recyclables. Perhaps you will remember to separate your data, and store it on an information infrastructure based on an environmentally-responsible combination of SSD, FC, SATA and tape, to reduce your costs and minimize your carbon footprint.
This week's theme is Earth Day and the importance IBM has placed on energy and environmental conservation. I am traveling through Costa Rica, ranked by Forbes as the fifth greenest and [cleanest countries in the world]. Europe was home to the top four in the survey of 149 countries, ledby Switzerland, and home to 14 of the top 20. Colombia came in ninth. United States was a pathetic 39th.
In yesterday's post, [Green Water for Green Energy], I covered geo-thermal energy with a visit to the hot springs.My next activity was a rafting trip down the Peñas Blancas and San Carlos rivers, heading towards Nicaragua, to discuss hydro-electric power. Half of the hydro-electric power in this country is driven directly by river flow, and the rest relies on stored water in lakes. Back in 2007, Costa Rica had a drought, and this affected the hydro-electric capacity, resulting in brown-outs and power outages. When more than 80 percent of your energy comes from this source, droughts can be devastating. Rain patterns for Costa Rica have a dry season from mid-December to April, lots of Rain in May and June, a "short summer" (called affectionately El Veranito) with little or no rain in July, and then more rain the rest of the year, averaging over 150 inches of rainfall per year.
This was billed as a "Safari Float" ride.The water level was low, "Class I", the slowest possible rating, giving our raft guide Pedro a chance to point out a variety of birds, monkeys, iguanas and crocodiles. Iguanas and Crocodiles are protected endangered species in Costa Rica, and are notsupposed to be killed for food or sport.
(Hint: don't bother, both taste like chicken)
Joining us in our raft is Pamela, the 9-year-old daughter of one of the employees of the rafting company, [Canoa Adventura]. This wastheir version of take-your-daughter-to-work-day, as her parents want her to learn the rafting business, and get accustomed around English-speaking tourists.
Along the way, we saw a bulldozer knocking down trees and scooping up the rich soil.Costa Ricans consider trees and soil as renewable resources, reducing the need to purchase foreign fossil-based oil for cooking and chemical fertilizers.The name of the country, Costa Rica, literally means "rich coast" in the Spanish language, and with a string of 112 volcanos, the silt has plenty of mineral content that is good for agriculture, from coffee and bananas, to sugar cane, oranges and African palm.
Midway down the river, we had an "energy stop" to rest from all the paddling. This involved a visit to Don Pedro's farm, he is 98 years old, has four daughters, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren, the youngest of which just born 15 days ago. We had coffee, [fried plantaines], and Yucca cake. We have Yucca in Arizona as well. If you've ever seen a [Yucca] plant, you would never think to eat it, but it is a staple here. To make cake, just grate the Yucca root, mix in enough milk and sugar, and bake in a pie tin. The result has a consistency similar to coconut macaroons.
On the ride back, we stopped at the famous "Iguana bridge" where we could see up close and personal a dozen or so of these huge lizards. Our guide Marcos fed them some papaya. Agreat way to appreciate bio-diversity in action!
"These days, visitors can still see amazing biodiversity all over Costa Rica — more than 25 percent of the country is protected area — thanks to a unique system it set up to preserve its cornucopia of plants and animals. Many countries could learn a lot from this system.
More than any nation I’ve ever visited, Costa Rica is insisting that economic growth and environmentalism work together. It has created a holistic strategy to think about growth, one that demands that everything gets counted. So if a chemical factory sells tons of fertilizer but pollutes a river — or a farm sells bananas but destroys a carbon-absorbing and species-preserving forest — this is not honest growth. You have to pay for using nature. It is called “payment for environmental services” — nobody gets to treat climate, water, coral, fish and forests as free anymore.
The process began in the 1990s when Costa Rica, which sits at the intersection of two continents and two oceans, came to fully appreciate its incredible bounty of biodiversity — and that its economic future lay in protecting it. So it did something no country has ever done: It put energy, environment, mines and water all under one minister.
“In Costa Rica, the minister of environment sets the policy for energy, mines, water and natural resources,” explained Carlos M. Rodríguez, who served in that post from 2002 to 2006. In most countries, he noted, “ministers of environment are marginalized.” They are viewed as people who try to lock things away, not as people who create value. Their job is to fight energy ministers who just want to drill for cheap oil.
But when Costa Rica put one minister in charge of energy and environment, “it created a very different way of thinking about how to solve problems,” said Rodríguez, now a regional vice president for Conservation International. “The environment sector was able to influence the energy choices by saying: ‘Look, if you want cheap energy, the cheapest energy in the long-run is renewable energy. So let’s not think just about the next six months; let’s think out 25 years.’ ”
As a result, Costa Rica hugely invested in hydro-electric power, wind and geo-thermal, and today it gets more than 95 percent of its energy from these renewables. In 1985, it was 50 percent hydro, 50 percent oil. More interesting, Costa Rica discovered its own oil five years ago but decided to ban drilling — so as not to pollute its politics or environment! What country bans oil drilling?
Rodríguez also helped to pioneer the idea that in a country like Costa Rica, dependent on tourism and agriculture, the services provided by ecosystems were important drivers of growth and had to be paid for. Right now, most countries fail to account for the “externalities” of various economic activities. So when a factory, farmer or power plant pollutes the air or the river, destroys a wetland, depletes a fish stock or silts a river — making the water no longer usable — that cost is never added to your electric bill or to the price of your shoes.
Costa Rica took the view that landowners who keep their forests intact and their rivers clean should be paid, because the forests maintained the watersheds and kept the rivers free of silt — and that benefited dam owners, fishermen, farmers and eco-tour companies downstream. The forests also absorbed carbon."
I start my visit at Arenal, where there is a hydro-electric dam at Lake Arenal that produces electricity, a large volcano, and natural hot springs.I found [more stats on Costa Rica's energy consumption] that provide more details.
At left is a photo I took of the Volcano Arenal. This is just one of the 112 volcanoes in thecountry.
At the [Springs Resort and Spa], they have clear (chlorinated) swimming pools maintained at three different temperatures. I asked our guide,Alan, if the pools were being heated from the electricity generated from the dam at the lake.No, they use green water for green energy. Taking advantage of "geo-thermal" energy, the natural hot springs are run through a [Heat Exchanger], to heat the pools. The waters do not mix, keeping the clean water clean. The process is similar to IBM's [Rear Door Heat eXchanger].
Why don't people just soak directly in the green water directly? Alan responded, "You can certainly enjoy soaking in the green water, but I recommend you buy some storage, which will cost you extra, as a souvenir."
The storage, shown here at right, holds cash and credit cards with a water-tight seal. Normal pool water won'teffect cash or credit cards, and I have certainly seen people pay for food and drinks with soggy dollars in other places. This water is literally green, and perhaps not for everyone. How green is it? Think watered-down version of [split-pea soup] and you will have a close approximation.I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but am going to need some industrial-strength scum-and-lime remover to clean the glass face of my waterproof watch when I get back home.
Fortunately, I speak the Castellano dialect of Spanish that is spoken here in Costa Rica,and this will allow me to continue to gather more information about how Costa Rica leads the way in being more energy efficient and environmentally responsible.
Earlier this week, EMC announced its Symmetrix V-Max, following two trends in the industry:
Using Roman numerals. The "V" here is for FIVE, as this is the successor to the DMX-3 and DMX-4. EMC might have gotten the idea from IBM's success with the XIV (which does refer to the number 14, specifically the 14th class of a Talpiot program in Israel that the founders of XIV graduated from).
Adding "-Max", "-Monkey" or "2.0" at the end of things to make them sound more cool and to appeal to a younger, hipper audience. EMC might have gotten this idea from Pepsi-Max (... a taste of storage for the next generation?)
I took a cue from President Obama and waited a few days to collect my thoughts and do my homework before responding.Special thanks to fellow blogger ChuckH in giving me a [handy list of reactions] for me to pick and choose from. It appears that EMC marketing machine feels it is acceptable for their own folks to claim that EMC is doing something first, or that others are catching up to EMC, but when other vendors do likewise, then that is just pathetic or incoherent. Here are a few reactions already from fellow bloggers:
This was a major announcement for EMC, addressing many of the problems, flaws and weaknesses of the earlier DMX-3 and DMX-4 deliverables. Here's my read on this:
Now you can have as many FCP ports (128) as an IBM System Storage DS8300, although the maximum number of FICON ports is still short, and no mention of ESCON support. The Ethernet ports appear to be 1Gb, not the new 10GbE you might expect.
Support for System z mainframe
V-Max adds some new support to catch up with the DS8000, like Extended Address Volumes (EAV). EMC is still not quite there yet. IBM DS8000 continues to be the best, most feature-rich storage option if you have System z mainframe servers.
Both the IBM DS8000 and HDS USP-V beat the DMX-4 in performance, and in some cases the DMX-4 even lost to the IBM XIV, so EMC had to do something about it. EMC chooses not to participate in industry-standard performance benchmarks like those from the [Storage Performance Council], which limits them to vague comparisons against older EMC gear. I'll give EMC engineers the benefit of the doubt and say that now V-Max is now "comparably as fast as HDS and IBM offerings".
Getting "V" in the name
The "V" appears to be for the roman number five, not to be confused with external heterogeneous storage virtualization that HDS USP-V and IBM SVC provide. There is no mention of synergy with EMC's failed "Invista" product, and I see no support for attaching other vendors disk to the back of this thing.
Switch to Intel processor
Apple switched its computers from PowerPC to Intel-based, and now EMC follows in the same path. There are some custom ASICs still in V-Max, so it is not as pure as IBM's offerings.
Modular, XIV-like Scale-out Architecture
Actually, the packaging appears to follow the familiar system bays and storage bays of the DMX-4 and DMX-4 950 models, but architecturally offers XIV-like attachment across a common switch network between "engines", EMC's term for interface modules.
Non-disruptive data migration
IBM's SoFS, DR550 and GMAS have this already, as does as anything connected behind an IBM SAN Volume Controller.
A long time ago, IBM used to have midrange disk storage systems called "FAStT" which stood for Fibre Array Storage Technology, so this might have given EMC the idea for their "Fully Automated Storage Tiering" acronym. The concept appears similar to what IBM introduced back in 2007 for the Scale-Out-File Services [SofS] which not only provides policy-based placement, movement and expiration on different disk tiers, includes tape tiers as well for a complete solution. I don't see anything in the V-Max announcement that it will support tape anytime soon.
And what ever happend to EMC's Atmos? Wasn't that supposed to be EMC's new direction in storage?
Zero-data loss Three-site replication
IBM already calls this Metro/Global Mirror for its IBM DS8000 series, but EMC chose to call it SRDF/EDP for Extended Distance Protection.
Ease of Use
The most significant part of the announcement is that EMC is finally focusing on ease-of-use.In addition to reducing the requirement for "Bin File" modifications, this box has a redesigned user interface to focus on usability issues. For past DMX models, EMC customers had to either hire EMC to do tasks for them that were just to difficult otherwise, or buy expensive software like their EMC Control Center to manage. EMC willcontinue to sell DMX-4 boxes for a while, as they are probably supply-constrained on the V-Max side, but I doubt they will retro-fit these new features back to DMX-3 and DMX-4.
When IBM announced its acquisition of XIV over a year ago now, customers were knocking down our doors to get one. This caught two particular groups looking like a [deer in headlights]:
EMC Symmetrix sales force: Some of the smarter ones left EMC to go sell IBM XIV, leaving EMC short-handed and having to announce they [were hiring during their layoffs]. Obviously, a few of the smart ones stayed behind, to convince their management to build something like the V-Max.
IBM DS8000 sales force: If clients are not happy with their existing EMC Symmetrix, why don't they just buy an IBM DS8000 instead? What does XIV have that DS8000 doesn't?
Let me contrast this with the situation Microsoft Windows is currently facing.
I am often asked by friends to help them pick out laptops and personal computers. I use Linux, Windows and MacOS, so have personal experience with all three operating systems.
Linux is cheaper, offers the power-user the most options for supporting older, less-powerfulequipment, but I wouldn't have my Mom use it. While distributions like Ubuntu are makinggreat strides, it is just too difficult for some people.
MacOS is nice, I like it, it works out of the box with little or no customization and an intuitive interface. However, some of my friends don't make IBM-level salaries, and have to watch their budget.
In their "I'm a PC" campaign, Microsoft is fighting both fronts. Let's examine two commercials:
In the first commercial, a young eight-year-old puts together a video from pictures oftoy animals and some background music.The message: "Windows is easier to use than Linux!" If they really wanted to send this message, they should have shown senior citizens instead.
In the second commercial, a young college student is asked to find a laptop with 17 inchscreen, and a variety of other qualifications, for under $1000 US dollars. The only modelat the Apple store below this price had a 13 inch screen, but she finds a Windows-based system that had this size screen and met all the other qualifications. The message: "Windows-based hardware from a variety of competitors are less expensive than hardware from Apple!"
Both Microsoft and Apple charge a premium for ease-of-use.In the storage world, things are completely opposite. Vendors don't charge a premium forease-of-use. In fact, some of the easiest to use are also the least expensive.
If you just have Windows and Linux, you can get some entry level system likethe IBM DS3000 series, only a few features, and can be set up in six simple steps.
Next, if you have a more interesting mix of operating systems, Linux, Windows and some flavorsof UNIX like IBM AIX, HP-UX or Sun Solaris, then you might want the features and functionsof more pricier midrange offerings. More options means that configuration and deploymentis more difficult, however.
Finally, if you are serious Fortune 500 company, running your mission critical applications on System z or System i centralized systems in a big data center, that you might be willing to pay top dollar for the most feature-rich offerings of an Enterprise-class machine.Thankfully you have an army of highly-trained staff to handle the highest levels of complexity.
IBM's DS8000, HDS USP-V and EMC's Symmetrix are the key players in the Enterprise-classspace. They tried to be ["all things to all people"], er.. perhaps all things to allplatforms. All of the features and functions came at a price, not just in dollars, butin complexity and difficulty. You needed highly skilled storage admins using expensive storage management software, or be willing to hirethe storage vendor's premium services to get the job done.
IBM recognized this trend early. IBM's SVC, N series and now XIV all offer ease-of-use withenterprise-class features and functions, at lower total cost of ownership than traditional enterprise-class systems. IBM is not the only one, of course, as smaller storage start-ups like 3PAR,Pillar Data Systems, Compellent, and to some extent Dell's EqualLogic all recognized thisand developed clever offerings as well.
While IBM's XIV may not have been the first to introduce a modular, scale-out architectureusing commodity parts managed by sophisticated ease-of-use interfaces, its success might have been the kick-in-the-butt EMC needed to follow the rest of the industry in this direction.
Did you miss your chance to attend Storage Networking World last week? IBM has some upcoming conferences that might be of interest to you.
IBM Systems Conference 2009
In this inaugural event, IBM executives, developers and industry experts reveal the latest innovations, trends and directions. In the span of three full days, you will hear and see technologies demonstrated that are needed to transform and respond effectively in these economic times.
There will be three tracks:
IBM Systems -- Including storage, mainframe, POWER and x86 systems
Solutions for a Dynamic Infrastructure
Professional Development -- including negotiation skills, project management and TCO analysis
IBM System Storage and Storage Networking Symposium
If the above conference is too broad, we have a more storage-specificconference. The [IBM System Storage and Storage Networking Symposium] brings IBM storage developers, architects, technical experts, solution providers and customer speakers together in one place to show you how to address the growing challenge of managing and securing retention managed data. You'll also learn about the latest IBM System Storage™ portfolio product announcements.
I have spoken at these perhaps 12 of the last 14 years. The list of presenters has not yet finalized, so I do not yet know if I will actually be there this year.
Two exciting things are new this year. First, instead of being in San Diego or Las Vegas, it will be held in Chicago, Illinois instead!Secondly, you get a two-for-one with the [IBM System x and BladeCenter Technical Conference]. That's right, they are co-located there in Chicago so that you can attend sessions from both! Perhaps you spend 80 percent of your time on storage, and 20 percent on x86 servers, or 80 percent servers and 20 percent storage, now you can register for one price, and decide when you get there.
If you act soon, you can save money with the early-registration discount by May 31.
Hopefully, this will give you enough time to plan and make travel arrangements!
Well, it is Tuesday, and that means IBM announcements. This week many of my colleagues are attending Storage Networking World [SNW] conference. Normally, the most exciting announcements are reserved for the weeks these conferences are held, but IBM apparently made an exception this week.
New Factory configurations for XIV
The first announcement is for new [factory configurations] for the IBM XIV disk system. In the past, you could only order a partial 6-module or a full 15-module rack. Today, IBM announced that there will also be 9-, 10-, 11-, 12-, 13- and 14-module configurations orderable as well.
Some FUD out in the blogosphere led some to believe that these partial configurations had to be made full 15 modules within 12 months. That is false. You can order any of these partial rack configurations and leave them as is until you need more capacity. There is no obligation to buy more capacity with these partial rack configurations.
IBM N series N6060 configurations
This second announcement indicates that the N6060 supports[672 drives]. The N6060 is the latest midrange model of IBM N series unified storage.
If you are asking "What is a 672 drive?" don't feel stupid. It actuallyrefers to the number of external drives that can be attached to the N6060. Previously, it was mis-reported that the N6060 could support as many as 840 drives, but this was not correct, and this announcement is to fixthat typo.
IBM Passport Advantage Sub-Capacity Licensing
This last announcement today relates to IBM Passport Advantage[sub-capacity licensing].Pricing products is always a challenge. You want to come up with a pricing methodology such that people who get the most use pay the most, and those who get less pay less, in a manner that everyone thinks is fair. With commodities, it is simple to price rice by the pound, or fabric by the yard, but what about IT solutions?
Some of the IBM software is based on number of processors used, so that people who have the software running on multiple machines, or machines with multiple cores, should pay more because they are getting more value. This makes sense if this software is the only thing running on that server, but today you can also have server virtualization and are running many guest operating systems, each with different applications. The solution is to use "sub-capacity" licensing. If you have a quad-core processor server, but have four guest operating systems using 25 percent of this, then each OS should only pay for one processor's worth of licensing. Since different processors have different clock speeds, IBM has standardized the calculations to a mythical "Processor Value Unit" or PVU, with a corresponding IBM License Metric Tool (ILMT).
Initially, this will cover specific versions of Citrix Xen Server, Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware, but IBM has made as a "statement of direction" that it will extend this sub-capacity licensing and ILMT support to IBM PowerVM capability for its POWER systems.
I have often heard clients complain that their third party software vendor does not support these hypervisors. Sometimes, this means the third party vendor will not fix or provide assistance if the problem occurs in this environment, and other times, it is that the pricing does not favor this environment, you get charged for all the processors, even if your slice of the processor is much smaller.
If you are at SNW this week, stop by and say "Hi" to my fellow IBM collegues for me.
I am proud to announce that fellow IBMer Carlos Pratt has launched a new IBM storage blog[GreenSpeed].
I'd like to expand a bit on how I know Carlos. Back in 1999 I was asked to lead a team at IBM Tucson to install Linux on our local z800 mainframe, and run tests to confirm that all of our IBM disk and tape storage offerings attached successfully. I was, at the time, lead architect for DFSMS on OS/390 and management felt that my knowledge of the S/390 instruction set was all that was needed to pull this off. My team was a collection of people from a variety of other hardware and software teams, and Carlos came over from the Disk Performance test team.
Needless to say, there were some challenges. The port of Red Hat and SUSE Linux over to the mainframe required special device drivers, and in some cases, we actually needed to make changes to the Linux kernel. While it was over 100 degrees outside, we were in the test lab wearing jackets with a refrigerator thermometer hanging on the wall to monitor our ice cold working conditions.
And of course, we had our internal skeptics. At the time, Linux was only a few percentage points of marketshare, and a few unenlightened souls did not see any reason to invest in support for a new operating system until it was more established. People with a "Wait-and-See" attitude don't last long at IBM. Fortunately, smarter heads prevailed, and now that Linux is well established as the operating system of the future, we can all look back and say "I told you so!"
Carlos was a "get things done" kind of guy. Working with frequent patches to the Linux kernel, device drivers under development, and a team fairly new to this new operating system, Carlos was able to provide the driving force to get our tests done.
Continuing this week's series on Pulse 2009 video, we have a double header. Bob Dalton discusses our entry-level IBM System Storage [DS3000] and midrange IBM System Storage [DS4000] disk systems, followed by Dan Thompson discussing [IBM Tivoli Storage Manager FastBack] software.
IBM Tivoli Storage Manager FastBack is the result of IBM's [acquisition of FilesX], a company in Israel that developed software to backup servers at remote branch offices running Microsoft Windows operating system.
..., nor any drop to drink"From Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798), by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Actually, I've been so busy this week that I am just now getting to this week's theme of Smarter Water. Since it was St. Patrick's Day this week, I thought of discussing IBM's project to help Ireland. Working with the Marine Institute Ireland, IBM has created a system to monitor wave conditions, marine life and pollution levels in and around Galway Bay. Here is quick excerpt from IBM [Press Release]:
"This real-time advanced analytics pilot is turning mountains of data into intelligence, paving the way for smarter environmental management and development of the bay.
The vision for SmartBay is a marine research infrastructure of sensors and computational technology interconnected across Galway Bay collecting and distributing information on coastal conditions, pollution levels and marine life. The monitoring services, delivered via the web and other devices, benefits tourism, fishing, aquaculture and the environment.
The pilot, which includes a move from manual to instrumented data gathering, will allow researchers to deploy quicker reactions to the critical challenges of the bay such as pollution, flooding, fishing stock levels, green energy generation and the threats from climate change."
Or... I could have used water as a metaphor for the "tidal wave" of information. For many,we have a lot of raw data, but not suitably digestible information in the form we need it.
Ok, I admit it is a silly photo, Darth Vader standing in the middle of the ocean filtering sea water into a plastic jug, but it helps focus on the problem. Long before we are donefighting over the last few drops of oil, we will be fighting over water.
This Sunday, March 22, is "World Water Day".Over the past 100 years, water consumption has increased six fold, twice the growth ofhuman population. Today, one in five people on this planet lack access to suitable drinking water. I have been to countries where people not just lack water filters, and in some cases didn't have closeable plastic jugs to carry the water in.
By 2015, the World Health Organization [WHO] estimates that water problems will impactover half the world's population.Here is their [Top 10 Facts File] on water scarcity.
At this point, you might be asking what any of this has to do with IBM.
The smart folks at IBM Research lab, the same location where we do storage research,were able to take some of their knowledge of chemistry, solid state memory, and nanotubes to help the planet with the water situation.Here is a quick [2-minute video]
If you are looking for a reason to travel to Florida next month, IBM will be presenting at the [Storage Networking World conference], April 6-9, 2009 in Orlando. This conference is organized by ComputerWorld and the Storage Networking Industry Association [SNIA]. IBM is a platinum sponsor for this event, and will have various executives presenting IBM's leadership in storage:
Barry Rudolph, VP, Strategy and Stack Integration, Storage Platform
IBM will be demonstrating solutions throughout the conference, includingeight SNIA tutorial and breakout speaking sessions, a panel discussion, two new Summits (Cloud Computing, and Solid-State Storage), and four Hands-on-Labs:
Plus, IBM will have a huge 10 foot by 20 foot booth located in the Expo hall and a kiosk in the Platinum Galleria. The demonstrations highlighted in the IBM booth will showcase Information Infrastructure solutions, which will help simplify, reduce risk, increase efficiency and lower costs. I won't be there myself, but you can ask my IBM colleagues about:
The Next Generation of Storage: IBM XIV Storage System
Storage Virtualization with SAN Volume Controller (SVC)
Infrastructure Management with IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center (TSPC)
Data Deduplication using the IBM ProtecTIER solution
Storage and Data Services
As sponsor of this event, IBM has received a limited number of free conference passes. We will be assigning these upon request to IBM clients and prospective clients. If you would like to go, contact your IBM Business Partner or local storage rep.Act fast! First come, first served.
Well, it's Tuesday, which means IBM makes its announcements!
This week, IBM announces that it now supports 50GB Solid State Disk (SSD) in its [IBM System Storage EXP3000] disk systems.IBM has already made announcements about SSD enablement in the DS8000 and SAN Volume Controller (SVC), but now the EXP3000 brings SSD technology down to smaller System x server deployments.
Adoption of this new exciting technology is still in the early stages, despite the fact that IBM and other vendors have been touting this technology for a while. (For a quick blast to the past, here was my first post on the subject back from December 20, 2006: [Hybrid, Solid State and the future of RAID])Recently, fellow blogger BarryB admitted that EMC have only sold SSD to [hundreds of their customers], and to be fair, I suspect IBM's sales of SSD in its BladeCenter servers [available since July 2007] have been in similar single-digit percentage territory as well.
The advantage of today's announcement is that you can mix and match SSD drives with SAS and SATA drives in the EXP3000. You won't have to buy the entire drawer of SSD, you can start with just a few, depending on your business needs. On the other extreme, you can have up to two drawers, with 12 SSD drives each, for a total of 24 drives directly attached to System x servers via the ServeRAID MR10M SAS/SATA controller adapter.
IBM released its [2008 Annual Report]. IBM has improved in revenues, profits and earnings per share compared to recent past years. Part of the success comes from IBM's focus on [generating higher value].Here are some excerpts:
"Several years ago, we saw change coming.
Value was shifting in the IT industry, driven by the rising tide of global integration, a new computing paradigm and new client needs. These shifts meant the world was becoming not just smaller and “flatter,” but also smarter.
We remixed our businesses in order to move to the emerging higher-value spaces.
IBM has divested commoditizing businesses like personal computers, and strengthened its position through strategic investments and acquisitions in higher-value segments like business intelligence and analytics, virtualizationand green solutions.
From 2000 to 2008 we acquired more than100 companies to complement and scale our portfolioof products and offerings. This has changed ourbusiness mix toward higher-value, more profitable segments of the industry.
We became a globally integrated enterprise in order to capture the best growth opportunities and improve IBM’s profitability.
IBM operates in more than 170 countries and enjoys an increasingly broad-based geographic reach.Our non-U.S. operations generated approximately65 percent of IBM’s revenue in 2008. IBM’s Growth Markets unit, which was established in 2008,grew 10 percent last year, and made up 18 percentof our revenues. Revenue increased 18 percent(15 percent in local currency) in Brazil, Russia, India and China.
As a result, IBM is a higher-performing enterprise today than it was a decade ago.
Our business model is more aligned with our clients’ needsand generates better financial results.
We have therefore been able to invest in future sources of growth and provide record return to investors…
…while continuing to invest in R&D—more than $50 billion from 2000 to 2008.
This gives us confidence that we are entering the current economic environment from a position of strength…
In 2008 we made progress toward our 2010 objectivesby growing earnings per share 24 percent. And withthis strong 2008 performance, we are clearly ahead of pace on our road map to $10–$11 of earnings per share.
…and that we will emerge from it even stronger, thanks to our long-term fundamentals and our agenda for a smarter planet.
All around the world, businesses, governmentsand institutions are investing to reduce costs,drive innovation and transform their infrastructure. The economic downturn has intensified this trend,as leaders seek not simply to repair what isbroken, but to prepare for a 21st Century economy.
Many of their key priorities are in areas whereIBM has leading solutions—such as smarter utility grids, traffic, healthcare, financial systems,telecommunications and cities. We are aggressively pursuing this transformational, global opportunity."
It is good to see that IBM continues to proceed with long-term investments during these tough times!
Of these, fellow blogger Marc Farley suggested for me "Tony Late for Dinner Pearson", which is fair, I guess, given that I often work late to make sure my blog posts are well written, and sometimes that means I am the last to leave the building.
Full Disclosure: I've known Marc for a while now, we have attended events together and even were co-speakers on a conference call for customers.
Perhaps more disturbing is that, for the most part, the storage blogosphere is entirely dominated by men. Where are the women bloggers for storage?
People are confused over various orders of magnitude. News of the economic meltdownoften blurs the distinction between millions (10^6), billions (10^9), and trillions (10^12).To show how different these three numbers are, consider the following:
A million seconds ago - you might have received your last paycheck (12 days)
A billion seconds ago - you were born or just hired on your current job (31 years)
A trillion seconds ago - cavemen were walking around in Asia (31,000 years)
That these numbers confuse the average person is no surprise, but that it confuses marketing people in the storage industry is even more hilarious. I am often correcting people who misunderstandMB (million bytes), GB (billion bytes) and TB (trillion bytes) of information.Take this graph as an example from a recent presentation.
At first, it looks reasonable, back in 2004, black-and-white 2D X-Ray images were only 1MBin size when digitized, but by 2010 there will be fancy 4D images that now take 1TB, representinga 1000x increase. What?When I pointed out this discrepancy, the person who put this chart together didn't know what to fix.Were 4D images only 1GB in size, or was it really a 1000000x increase.
If a 2D image was 1000 by 1000 pixels, each pixel was a byte of information, then a 3D imagemight either be 1000 by 1000 by 1000 [voxels], or 1000 by 1000 at 1000 frames per second (fps). Thefirst being 3D volumetric space, and the latter called 2D+time in the medical field, the rest of us just say "video".4D images are 3D+time, volumetric scans over time, so conceivably these could be quite large in size.
The key point is that advances in medical equipment result in capturing more data, which canhelp provide better healthcare. This would be the place I normally plug an IBM product, like the Grid Medical Archive Solution [GMAS], a blended disk and tape storage solution designed specifically for this purpose.
So, as government agencies look to spend billions of dollars to provide millions of peoplewith proper healthcare, choosing to spend some of this money on a smarter infrastructure can result in creating thousands of jobs and save everyone a lot of money, but more importantly, save lives.
Short 2-minute [video] argues the case for Smarter Healthcare
For more on this, check out Adam Christensen's blog post on[Smarter Planet], which points to a podcast byDr. Russ Robertson, chairman of the Counsel of Medical Education at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and Dan Pelino, general manager of IBM's Healthcare and Life Sciences Industry.
An avid reader of this blog pointed me to a blog post [A Small Tec DIGG on IBM XIV], byGowri Ananthan, a System Engineer in Singapore.Basically, she covers past battles, er.. discussions between me and fellow blogger BarryB from EMC, and [blegs] foranswers to three questions.
Gowri, here are your answers:
Q1. Does IBM offer a Pay-as-you-Go [PAYGO] upgrade path for its IBM XIV disk storage system?
The concern was expressed as:
PAYGO also requires the customer to purchase the remaining capacity within 12 months of installation. So it is More of a 12-month installment plan than pay-as-you-grow.
A1. Actually, IBM offers several methods for your convenience:
With IBM's Capacity on Demand (CoD) plan, you get the full framewith 15 modules installed on your data center floor, but only pay for the first four modules 21 TB, then pay for 5.3TB module increments as you need them over the next 12 months. This is ideal for companies that don't know how fast they will grow, but do not want to wait for new modules to be delivered and installed when needed.
With IBM's Partial Rack offering, you can get a system with as little as six modules (27TB),and then over time, add more modules as you need. This does not have to be done within 12 months, you can stay at six modules for as long as you like, and you can take as long asyou want to add more modules. When you are ready for more capacity, the drawer or drawerscan be delivered, and installed non-disruptively.
Neither of these are "payment installment plans", but certainly if you want to spread yourcosts into regularly-scheduled monthlypayments across multiple years, IBM Global Financing can probably work something out.
Q2. Does IBM consider the XIV as green storage?
The concern was expressed as:
You are powering (8.4KW) and cooling all 180 drives for the whole duration, whether you're using the capacity or not. is it what you called Greener power usage..?
A2. Yes. IBM considers the IBM XIV as green storage. The 8.4KW per frame is lessthan the 10-plus KW that a comparable 2-frame EMC DMX-950 system would consume. Theenergy savings in IBM XIV comes from delivering FC-like speeds using slower SATA disks that rotate slower, and therefore take less energy to spin.
In the fully-populated or Capacity on Demand configuration, you would spin all 180disks. However, using the partial rack configuration, the 6-module has only 40 percent ofthe disks, and therefore consumes only 40 percent of the energy. If you don't plan to storeat least 20-30 TB, you might consider the DS3000, DS4000, DS5000, or DS8000 disk system instead.
Q3. How do you connect more than 24 host ports to an IBM XIV?
The concern was expressed as:
And finally do not forget my question on 24-FC Ports… Up to 24 Fiber Channel ports offering 4 Gbps, 2Gbps or 1 Gbps multi-mode and single-mode support.Stop.. stop.. how you gonna squeeze existing bunch of FC cables in 24 ports?
A3. Best practices suggest that if you have ten or more physical servers, each with two separate FC ports, then you should use a SAN switch or director in between. If you require four ports per server, then you would need a SAN switch beyond six servers to connect to the IBM XIV. If you consider that 24 FC ports, at 4Gbps, represents nearly 10 GB/sec of bandwidth, you will recognize that this is not a performance bottleneck for the system.
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.
Wrapping up this week's theme on IBM's Dynamic Infrastructure® strategic initiative, we have a few more goodies in the goody bag.
First item: Dave Bricker shows off the XIV cloud-optimized storage at Pulse 2009
Second item: Rodney Dukes discusses the latest features of the DS8000 disk system at Pulse 2009
Third item: IBM launches the [Dynamic Infrastructure Journal]. You can read the February 2009 edition online, and if you find it useful and interesting, subscribe to learn from IBM's transformation experts how to reduce cost, manage risk and improve service.
Whether or not you attended the IBM Pulse 2009 conference, you might enjoy looking at the rest of the series of videos on [YouTube] and photographs on [Flickr].
With mixed emotions, Jon Peake announced he will retire from IBM next week. Jon is known as thefather of IBM Virtual Tape Server (VTS), the industry's first virtual tape system, announced in 1996and generally available in 1997.One of my 19 patents was for the VTS pre-migration capability, and as lead architect for DFSMS, I worked closely with Jon and his tape systems team to ensure its success.
From left to right:
Chris Telford, IBM Development manager for Enterprise Tape Integration
Jon Peake, IBM Distinguished Engineer and Master Inventor
Annette Estelle, Jon's global admin assistant
At his retirement celebration, Jon was awarded the coveted "Project Bulldog" jacket, which has an interesting history.
In response to IBM's 1996 VTS announcement, the top StorageTek (STK) tape sales teams and most of the dedicated tape technicians were invited to a global assembly at a fancy resort in Winter Park, CO (about 90 miles west of STK's Louisville headquarters) in early 1997. The gathering was named Project Bulldog, after Ron Korngiebel, STK's director of competitive marketing, who I am told had voice and facial resemblance to justify the project moniker. Ron had recruited Fred Moore, Steve Blenderman, and other prized engineers as speakers. I have seen both Fred and Steve speak at various conferences such as SHARE and GUIDE, and agree they are high quality speakers.
The goal was to have STK's brightest in Louisville go down in the trenches, work the field guys into a frenzy, defend STK Tape at any cost, and send IBM packing. At the end of the two day fest, many participants received the coveted Project Bulldog jacket.
Former STKers who now work at IBM can remember this meeting involved:
Bashing of the [IBM Seascape] architecture approach. The use of commodity servers and componentsto build storage systems continues today in the IBM System Storage DS8000, SAN Volume Controller,XIV, and TS7650 Deduplication solutions.
Explanations how and why IBM's VTS would never work, and how only STK virtual tape would make it in the market. Today, IBM is the leader in storage virtualization, both for disk and tape.
Mock interview videos with claims that IBM could never figure out how to attach IBM drives to the STK Silo. I was a big proponent of this, having visited customers who specifically asked for IBM to sell its better, faster IBM drives into their existing STK silos. At first, upper management was hesitant to do this, but the IBMengineers worked out what changes were needed, and today many STK tape automation libraries run with IBM tape drives.
While some analysts frowned on Sun's [2005 acquisition of StorageTek], IBM was delighted, given Sun's previous track record in storagecompany acquisitions. I joke that we are still picking up confetti in the hallways of IBM's Tucsonlab. I was in New York city when I heard Sun's announcement, and it didn't take long for STKemployees offering me their resumes.Since then, many STK engineers, technicians and sales team have left Sun, many coming over to IBM.Back then, there were many intelligent and talented people working for StorageTek, and IBM is gladto have hired them.
With the resurgence of interest in tape systems, from dealing with new legislation for long term retention of electronic data to a focus on energy efficiency, Jon leaves much like a champion retiring at the top of his game.
Jon, I am going to miss you! Enjoy your retirement!
Well, it's Tuesday again, and that means more IBM announcements!
Today, IBM announced the enhanced IBM System Storage DS3200 disk system.It is in our DS3000 series, the DS3200 is SAS-attach, DS3300 is iSCSI-attach, and DS3400 is FC-attach. All of them support up to 48 drives, which can be a mix of SAS and SATA drives.
The DS3200 supports the following operating environments (see IBM's [Interop Matrix] for details):
Linux (both Linux-x86 and Linux on POWER)
With today's announcements, the DS3200 can be used to boot from, as well as contain data. This is ideal to combine with IBM BladeCenter. With the IBM BladeCenter you can have 14 blades, either x86 or POWER based processors, attached to a DS3200 via SAS switch modules in the back of the chassis.
Let's take an example of how this can be used for a Scale-Out File Services[SoFS] deployment.
First, we start with servers. We can have either three [IBM System x3650] servers, but this would use up all six of the direct-attach ports. Instead, we'll choose the [BladeCenter H chassis], with three HS21 blades for SoFS, and that leaves us with eleven empty blade slots we could put in a management node, or other blades to run applications.
SAS connectivity modules
The IBM BladeCenter [SAS Connectivity Module] allows the blade servers to connect to a DS3200. Two of them fit right in the back of the BladeCenter chassis, providing full redundancy without consuming additional rack space.
DS3200 and EXP3000 expansion drawers
We'll have one DS3200 controller with twelve internal drives, and three expansion EXP3000 drawers with twelve drives each, for a total of 48 drives. Using 1TB SATA, this would be 48 TB raw capacity.
The end result? You get a 48TB NAS scalable storage solution, supporting up to 7500 concurrent CIFS and NFS users, with up to 700 MB/sec with large block transfers. By using BladeCenter, you can expand performance by adding more blades to the Chassis, or have some blades running SAP or Oracle RAC have direct read/write access to the SoFS data.
Just another example on how IBM can bring together all the components of a solution to provide customer value!
I’ve just returned from the IBM Tivoli Pulse conference in Las Vegas – a meeting of over 4000 customers, partners, and IBM employees. ... There was a lot to digest, but three of the major themes caught my attention, and my imagination. ... First, IBM put a huge push behind their Dynamic Infrastructure initiative. Sounds like so many other automation and autonomic initiatives of the past, right? Well, things are getting better, and “dynamic” is becoming more of a realistic possibility, especially with the emergence of cloud computing and cloud services models. ... Second, a lot of time was spent on IBM’s Service Management Industry Solutions. When I first heard of this, my thought was that IBM was creating solutions for the Service Management industry (i.e. food services, janitorial services, hospitality services). But this is much larger than that – much, much larger. IBM is taking their unique ability to pair business (non-IT) expertise with IT consulting, planning, and technology delivery, and constructing (careful – here comes the “f” word) frameworks for several vertical industry segments. ... IBM is perhaps the only organization in the world that can take this on fully and hope to deliver a meaningful result. But beyond that, this represents a huge opportunity for IT professionals to become the transformation agents within their own organizations, contributing at a whole new level. ... Lastly, I was really impressed by IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative. The primary thought here was that the key to a greener planet is to take inefficiencies out of just about every form of business through the intelligent application and deployment of technology. At first I was thinking this was just another marketing initiative, but in the course of this event, listening to the keynotes and talking to a number of IBM execs, it became apparent that this is a substantial cultural shift within IBM itself. Just think about that for a moment – when 400,000 employees all change their direction and focus, their sheer mass is going to make a noticeable difference. ... Magic (Johnson) gave an excellent talk, and reminded the audience that you should do two things no matter what your job or role. First, service starts with knowing your customers – not just who they are, but what they do and what is important to them. And second – always over-deliver. Go that extra step. Exceed expectations. The boost in loyalty, goodwill, and improved customer relationships will be well worth the effort. Good thoughts to keep with us….
If you missed Pulse 2009, perhaps because your company has put a clamp down on travel expenses, you are in luck! IBM is hosting the "Dynamic Infrastructure Forum" March 3-4, 2009, on your computer. This is an IBM Virtual event, no travel required! [Register Today!]
Fellow blogger Chuck Hollis from EMC has a post titled[Whither Frankenstorage] causing quite a stir in the [Stor-o-Sphere]. He is not the firstEMC blogger to use this phrase, I credit [BarryB] for coining the term back in September 2008.Frankenstein serves as the ideal icon for EMC's FUD machine. In the novel, Dr. Frankenstein wasattempting to do something nobody else had ever attempted, to create human life from variousdead body parts, a process full of uncertainty and doubt, with frightful results.
Perhaps it was a coincidence that I discussed IBM's storage strategy in my post[Foundations and Flavorings] on January 28, shortly followed by NetApp's announcing V-series gateway [support of Texas Memory Systems' RamSan-500] on February 3. These two events mighthave been the trigger that pushed ChuckH over the edge to put pen to paper, .. finger to keyboard.
Flinging FUD in all directions was ChuckH's not-so-subtle way to remind the world that EMC is the only major storage vendor to not offer a successful storage virtualization product. Withoutfirst-hand experience with well-designed storage virtualization, ChuckH conjectures that a configuration matching intelligent front-ends to reliable back-ends might be more expensive, might be more difficult to manage, or might be harder to support.
(Note: Rest assured, IBM can demonstrate that a modular approach, combining intelligent front-ends to reliableback-ends can help reduce costs, be easier to manage, and be fully supported. Contact yourlocal IBM Business Partner or storage sales rep for details.)
My favorite was from Nigel Poulton's post on[Ruptured Monkey]. Here's an excerpt:
In fact, I'm fairly certain that EMC don't back away from customers who run HP or IBM servers and say "sorry we cant help you here, an end to end HP or IBM solution would be much better for you when it comes to troubleshooting……. putting our storage in would only add extra layers of complexity and make things messy….."
On most other days, ChuckH has well-written, insightful blog posts that show that EMC brings some value to the industry. I could have made a snarky reference to[Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde], or indicate this post proves that nobody at EMC is editing or reviewingChuck's thoughts before they get posted. But it's too late, Chuck already got the message, and added the following to bring the discussion back to civility:
When considering the broad range of storage media service levels available today (flash, FC, SATA, spin-down, etc.) what's the best way to offer these media choices in an array? Is the answer (a) combine smaller arrays from different vendors together behind a virtualization head, or (b) invest the time and effort to build arrays that can directly support all of these media types?
Would anyone like to try a cogent response to the question posed, please?
To address ChuckH's question, Nigel's post gave me the idea to use today's 200th year celebration of [Charles Darwin].
Over millions of years, Charles Darwin argued, evolution results in change in the inherited traits of a population of organisms from one generation to the next.A key component of this is a biological process called [mitosis] that allows a single cell to split and become two cells. In some cases, these individual daughter cells can then specialize to specific functions, such as nerve cells, muscle cells or bone cells. Over time, adaptations that work well carry forward, and thosethat don't get left behind.
I find it interesting that before [On the Origin of Species] was published in 1859, works of fiction like Mary Shelley's[Frankenstein] had monsters being"created", and afterward, monsters were the result of mutation or selective adaptation.
Nigel compares EMC's monolithic approach to placing an intelligent front-end with a reliable back-end as "One man band, where one guy is trying playing all the instruments himself" versus the "Philharmonic Orchestra". I would take it one step further, comparing single-cell organisms to multi-cell life forms.
Innovative companies like Google and Amazon can't wait for a completely integrated solution from a major IT vendor to meet their needs. Why should they? There are open standards, and ways to interconnect the best intelligence into a [dynamic infrastructure®.].You don't need to wait another million years to see which way the IT marketplace considers the better approach. Just look at the last 60 years. Back then, computer systems were all integrated, server, storage, and the wires that connected them were all inside a huge container. Then, mitosis happened, and IBM created external tape storage in 1952, and external disk storage in 1956. Open standards for interfaces allowed third party manufacturers like HDS, StorageTek and EMC to offer plug-compatible storage devices.
On the server side, it didn't take long for functionality in mainframes to split off. Mitosis happened again, with front-end UNIX systems processing incoming data, and mainframes handling the back-end data bases and printing. The client-server era replaced dumb terminals with more intelligent desktops and workstations, and these could handle the front-end processing to display information, with the back-end storage and number-crunching being handled by the UNIX and mainframe systems they connected to.Connections between desktops and servers, and from servers to storage, have also evolved. From thousands of direct-attach cables to networks of switches and directors.
Charles Darwin was particularly interested in cases where evolution happened faster or slower than in other cases. While IBM and Microsoft encouraged third-party innovations on the PC side, Apple resisted mitosis, trying to keep its machines pure single-cell, integrated solutions.For the same reasons that you can't fight the laws of nature, Apple ended up having to support I/O ports to external devices. Thanks to open standards like USB and Firewire, you can connect third-party storage to Apple computers. My little Mac Mini at home has more devices hanging off it than any of my Windows or Linux boxes! And Apple's iPod is successful because its iTunes software runs on both Windows and Mac OS operating systems.
Every time mitosis happens in the IT industry, it opens up opportunities to specialize, to innovate, to adapt to a dynamically changing world. When mitosis is suppressed, you get limiting products and frustratedengineers leaving to form their own start-up companies.But when mitosis is encouraged, you get successful products, solutions and partnerships positioned for a smarter planet.
These disk capacities can have up to 25x times their effective capacity with IBM's HyperFactorin-line deduplication capability. So the smallest 7TB model could be as effective as 175TB of traditionaldisk storage.
IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) v6
After years and years in development, IBM announces[TSM v6]. Here's a quick summary of the key features:
DB2 instead of an internal database
For years, people have complained that IBM used its own internal relational database. This was becausewhen TSM was first launched back in 1993, the DB2 did not have all the features on all of the various server platforms that TSM needed. Today, DB2is the leading relational database on all the key platforms that TSM server runs on, and therefore good enough for use within Tivoli Storage Manager. If you don't already have DB2, it is included for use with TSM v6.1 at no additional charge. Do you have to become a DB2 expert to use TSM? No! The TSM administration commands have been updated to hide all the complexity of DB2 away, behind the scenes. You now just use TSM commands to administer the database,as you did before. IBM will provide conversion utilities to help existing TSM customers migrate to thisnew database environment.
Better Operational Reporting
Another big complaint was that TSM had fixed reporting, and administrators that wanted customized reportsoften had to resort to purchasing third party products. With the change over to DB2, TSM now enables youto create your own reports using Eclipse's Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools[BIRT]! If you haven't used BIRT, you can downloada free open source copy and start playing around with its capabilities. This is combined with a revamped GUI that provides a customizable dashboard using IBM's Integrated Solutions Console (ISC)infrastructure.
Lastly, IBM has incorporated deduplication capability within the TSM v6.1 software for its own diskstorage pools. This is done in a post-process manner so as to dedupe all of your legacy backup dataas well, not just the new stuff, without impacting the current TSM server performance.
At this point, you might be thinking "Wait, what about IBM TS7650 ProtecTIER deduplication?" which is really two questions.
Can I use TSM v6.1 with IBM TS7650 ProtecTIER?
Yes, however since TSM progressive incremental method is vastly more efficientthan other backup products like Veritas NetBackup or EMC Legato NetWorker, the TS7650 may only get 10x reductionof TSM backups, versus up to 25x with full-backups-every-night backup schemes. TSM only dedupes itsdisk storage pools, so it won't dedupe data directed at tape systems like the TS7650 or othertape libraries. This avoids the "double dedupe" concern.
When should I use TSM's software version versus TS7650's hardware deduplication?
This is a positioning question. For now, the cut-over point is about 10TB per night backup processing. If youbackup more than 10TB per night, TS7650 hardware may be the better approach. If you are a smaller customer nowhere near that volume of data, then using TSM v6.1 software deduplication may be a morecost-effective solution. If you start small, and grow beyond 10TB per night, it is easy to bring ina TS7650 into an existing TSM environment and migrate the data over.
If you run TSM server on a logical partition (LPAR) or virtual guest OS under VMware ESX, Xen or Microsoft'sHyper-V environment, why should you have to license it for the whole box? With TSM v6.1, you nowcan pay for only the amount of processors you use, down to a single core even.If you currently run TSM v5 on z/OS, you can migrate over to TSM v6.1 server for Linux on System z totake advantage of cost savings using IFL engines.
IBM Tivoli Key Lifecycle Manager (TKLM) v1.0
Don't let the "v1.0" scare you, this is the successor to IBM's Encryption Key Manager (EKM) that hasthousands of clients using today with IBM encrypting tape drives. The new TKLM adds support for full disk encryption (FDE) drives--like those for the DS8000 I mentioned in [yesterday's post]--as well as new features to support key rotation for compliance and business controls.
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center
Last, but not least, we have IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center [TSPC]. No, that is not a typo. IBM is renaming IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center to Tivoli Storage Productivity Center toavoid trademark conflicts with the [Professional Golfer's Association].
This is not just renaming existing product. Here some key improvements:
TSPC brings back together Productivity Center Standard Edition (Disk, Tape, SAN and Data) with Productivity Center for Replication, which were separate at birth a few years ago.
TSPC adds support for IBM's Storage Enterprise Resource Planner[SERP] from theNovusCG acquisition.
End-to-end view for EMC storage devices connected to supported servers via EMC Powerpath multipathing driver. As customers switch away from EMC Control Center over to IBM's Productivity Center, IBM can continue to provide support for existing EMC gear.
Of course, IBM will still offer IBM System Storage Productivity Center[SSPC] which is a piece of hardware pre-installed with Productivity Center software.
Hopefully, you can now see why I had to split up all these announcements into separate posts acrossmultiple days!
Now that IBM XIV has proven that 1TB SATA are safe for high-end tier-1 enterprise class use, we extended DS8000 support to include SATA support also. DS8000 supports RAID-6 and RAID-10 for these.
Intelligent Write Caching
IBM Research conducts extensive investigations into improved algorithms for cache management. Intelligent Write Caching boosts performance for both temporal and spatial locality.
Remote Pair FlashCopy®
This allows you to FlashCopy volume A to volume B, with Volume B remotely mirrored to Volume C at a secondary location, via Metro Mirror. This allows you to have a consistent copy of your data at both locations.
IBM was the first in the industry to deliver tape-drive encryption, so it makes sense that IBM is also the first in the industry to deliver disk-drive encryption. These are 15K rpm drives in standard 146GB, 300GB and 450GB capacities. As with tape, encrypting at the disk device eliminates the huge overhead from server-based encryption methods.
Solid State Drive (SSD)
You can also have Solid State Disk drives in your DS8000, in 73GB and 146GB capacities, protected by RAID-5.If you are wondering what data to put on these much-faster drives, IBM has taken the work and worry out by havingintelligence in DB2 to optimize what gets placed on SSD to get the most performance improvement.
IBM System Storage XIV
Continuing the incredible marketplace excitement over its Cloud-Opimized Storage[XIV series], IBM now has announced[new capacity options]. The IBM XIV R2 that we announced last August 2008 was a fixed 15 module configuration. In thenew configurations, you can start with as little as six modules, representing a 40% partial rack of the originalfull model. Here is a table that shows the details:
Useable Capacity (TB)
Fibre Channel Ports
Cache Memory (GB)
IBM System Storage N series
And last, but not least, we have two new models in IBM's[N6000 series].The [N6060]has model A12 (single controller) and model A22 (dual controller). These are disk-less controllers thatyou can configure in either appliance mode or gateway mode. In appliance mode, you can attachdisk drawers such as the EXN1000, EXN2000 or EXN4000. In gateway mode, you attach external disk systems, suchas the IBM DS8000 or XIV above.
It's ruggedized to handle earthquakes. IBM brings a feature that we've had for a while on other disk systems to the N series with a collection of bolts and anchors to secure the rack from physical tremors.
It's instrumented for IBM Active Energy Manager, a component of IBM Systems Director. New iPDUs are designed to help measure and monitor energy management components. As companies get more concerned about thefate of the planet, monitoring energy consumption can help reduce carbon footprint.
I'll cover the rest of the announcements tomorrow!
It seems like [only yesterday] I was talking about IBM's strategic initiatives for the New Enterprise Data Center, including the launch of asset and service management at [Pulse 2008] in Orlando, Florida.
This week, my colleagues are at [Pulse 2009] in Las Vegas, Nevada. (I'm not there this time, so stop asking all my colleagues where I am!)Obviously, a lot has change in the last 12 months: the world's financial economy has collapsed, our delicate environment continues to unravel, and a new US President was elected to fix all that was broken by the former occupant. As a result, IBM's strategy has evolved beyond just data centers for large enterprises.
I can't think of a better time to emphasize the need for a more dynamic infrastructure. And this is not just focused on IT operations, but smarter business infrastructure as well, as the two now are very much intertwined. Everything from smarter healthcare, smarter telecom, smarter retail, smarter distribution, smarter transportation, and smarter financial services. IBM's [Dynamic Infrastructure@reg;] is one of four strategic initiatives to help build a smarter planet.
Let's take a quick look at the key benefits:
Do you remember back to the days that the IT department was like the accounting department in the back office, merely recording what happened in a series of transactions? Not anymore! Today, IT is front and center of most businesses, helping to generate revenue, drive innovation, and provide better customer service. We are finding a convergence between the physical world of running business with the digital world of IT. Intelligence is everywhere, embedded in systems and operations throughout, not just in a data center.
Imagine only 10-15 years ago the primary concern for IT operations was the cost of hardware. Now, thanks to[Moore's law], hardware is cheaper, but other IT budget costs like labor, management software, power and cooling costs are growing faster and becoming more predominant factors. IBM recognizes that you must consider thetotal cost of ownership, not just the acquisition cost of new hardware. But again, this isn't just reducing the costs of IT, but making more effective use of IT resources to reduce costs everywhere else, in schedulingtransportation, in managing manufacturing assets, and so on.
While the world feels much safer now that Barack Obama has taken over, there are still risks and threats out there, and businesses large and small have to manage them. Economic swings like we have experienced lately help weed out those companies that had fixed costs and static infrastructures, in favor of those with more variable costs and dynamic infrastructures. When the marketplace slows down, can your business "dial down" its operations to match? And when the recession is over and business is booming again, can your business "ramp up" fast enough to take on new opportunity? With IBM's Cloud Computing, companies can minimize their fixed investments and use a variable amount of computing as business needs change dynamically.
To learn more about Dynamic Infrastructure, read the IBM [Press Release].
When I was a kid, I used to love old spy movies where they would hide a small microchip or microfiche behind the stamp on a letter or postcard. "Yeah right," I would think to myself, "how much information could that little thing possibly hold."On their post[Bringing the "New Intelligence" Down to Earth: Intro to Semantic Web, Internet-of-Thing], My fellow IBM bloggers Jack Mason and Adam Christensen pointed me to a crazy new product called "Mir:ror" that connects to your PC or laptop.
At first, I thought it was a another product spoof, like Onion News Networks'video of the [Apple MacBook Wheel] that eliminatesthe need for a keyboard.But no, this product is real, from a company called [Violet]. The mir:ror, the internet-connected rabbits, and the tiny postage stamps called "ztamps" with embedded RFID chips that allow everything to be interconnected.I can see a lot of interesting uses for the ztamps. Squishing CD-romsor memory sticks inside presentation folders was always awkward. Butthese are small, flat and discrete. I don't know how many GBs of storage each ztamp holds, but they look cool, don't they?
Just another example of becoming a smarter planet!
IBM's emphasis on "Information Infrastructure" is to help organizations get the right information, to the right people at the right time. This helps them to have the right insights, make the right decisions, and develop the right innovations needed for the challenges at hand.
As the planet got smaller and flatter, IBM led the way. Now, as the planet needs to get smarter--with more efficient health care, energy distribution, financial institutions, and IT infrastructures--IBM will once again take the lead.
In an effort to deal with "Great Depression 2.0", US President Barack Obama invited IBM Chairman Sam Palmisano and dozen other CEOs to the White House yesterday to talk about the economic stimulus package.
Barack's response was insightful on his thoughts on this. Here are someexcerpts:
"A few moments ago, I met with some of the leading business executives in the country. And it was a sober meeting because these companies and the workers they employ are going through times more trying than any we've seen in a long, long while. ... And yet, even as we discussed the seriousness of this challenge, we left our meeting confident that we can turn our economy around. ... But these executives also understand that without wise leadership in Washington, even the best-run businesses can't do as well as they might. ... And that is why I hope to sign an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan into law in the next few weeks. And most of the money we're investing as part of this plan will get out the door immediately and go directly to job creation, generating or saving 3 (million) to 4 million new jobs. And the vast majority of these jobs will be created in the private sector because, as these CEOs well know, business, not government, is the engine of growth in this country. ... But even as this plan puts Americans back to work, it will also make the critical investments in alternative energy, in safer roads, better health care and modern schools that will lay the foundation for long-term growth and prosperity, and will invest in broadband and emerging technologies, like the ones imagined and introduced to the world by people like Sam and so many of the CEOs here today, because that's how America will retain and regain its competitive edge in the 21st century. ... We will invest in what works. Instead of politicians doling out money behind a veil of secrecy, decisions about where we invest will be made public on the Internet and will be informed by independent experts whenever possible. And we will launch a sweeping effort to root out waste, inefficiency and unnecessary spending in our government. And every American will be able to see how and where we spend taxpayer dollars, by going to a new website to [recovery.gov], because I firmly believe what Justice Louis Brandeis once said, that sunlight is the best disinfectant. ... In the end, the answer to our economic troubles rests less in my hands or in the hands of our legislators than it does with America's workers and the businesses that employ them. They are the ones whose efforts and ideas will determine our economic destiny, just as they always have. For in the end, it's businesses, large and small, that generate the jobs, provide the salaries and serve as the foundation on which the American people's lives and dreams depend. All we can do, those of us here in Washington, is to help create a favorable climate in which workers can prosper, businesses can thrive and our economy can grow."
I certainly find Sam's efforts and Barack's responsiveness encouraging.
We've been quite busy here at the Tucson Executive Briefing Center. I am often asked to explain the relationship between IBM's various storage products. While automakers don't have to explain why they sell sports coupes, pickup trucks and minivans, this analogy does not adequately cover IT storage products. So, I have come up with a new analogy that seems to be a better fit: foundations and flavorings.
All over the world, meals are often comprised of a foundation, perhaps rice, potatoes or pasta, covered with some form of flavoring, sauces, pieces of meat or fish, grated cheese and spices. In Puerto Rico, I had dishes where the foundation was mashed bananas called [plantains]. Sandwich shops often let you pick your choice of bread, the foundation, and then your meats and cheeses, the flavorings.At our local steakhouse,[McMahon's], the menulists a set of steaks, the foundation such as Rib Eye, Filet Mignon, Prime Rib or New York Strip, andvarious flavorings, such as sauces and rubs to cover the steak. Last night, I had the Delmonico steak with the Cristiani sauce consisting of Portobello mushrooms, garlic and aged Romano cheese.
This serves as a useful analogy for IBM's storage strategy. Allowing thefoundations and flavorings to be separately orderable greatly simplifies the selection menu and providesa nearly any-to-any approach to meeting a variety of client needs.Let's take a look at both.
IBM's foundation products are the DS family [DS3000, DS4000, DS5000, DS6000 and DS8000 series], [DS9900 series], and [XIV] for disk, and the TS family [TS1000, TS2000, TS3000] series for tape drives and libraries. In much thesame way you might prefer brown rice instead of white rice, or linguine instead of penne pasta, you might find the attributes of one storagefoundation more attractive based on its performance, scalability and availability features for yourparticular application workloads.
Fellow IBM blogger Barry Whyte discusses SVC at great length on his [Storage Virtualization] blog. Flavoring disk foundation storage with SAN Volume Controller can provide you additionalfeatures and functions, and help improve the scalability, performance or availability characteristics.For example, if you have DS4000, DS8000 and XIV, you might use SVC to provide a consistent methodologyfor asynchronous replication, a form of consistent "flavoring" if you will.
N series Gateways
The [N series gateways] offerflavoring to disk foundation, including unified NAS, iSCSI and FCP protocol host attachment, and application aware capabilities. (As for our IBM N series appliances or "filers", these could be foundational storage behind an SVC, but that's perhaps a topic for another post.)
SoFS provides a global namespace with clustered NAS access to files. This is a blended disk-and-tape solution with built-in backup and Information Lifecycle Management [ILM]. Policies can be used to place different files onto different tiers of storage, automate the movement from tier to tier, including migration to tape, and even expiration when the data is no longer needed.
The [IBM System Storage DR550] provides Non-erasable, Non-rewriteable (NENR) flavoring to storage. While the DR550 comes with internal disk storage, it can front end a tape library filled with WORM cartridges. The DR550 hasbeen paired up with small libraries (TS3200 or TS3310) as well as larger libraries like the TS3500.
The IBM Grid Medical Archive Solution [GMAS] provides a variety of capabilities for storing and accessing medical images, using a blended disk-and-tape approach. This allows hospital and clinicnetworks to provide access for doctors and radiologists from multiple locations.
Many of the flavorings are called "gateways". The IBM TS7650G flavors disk that provides a virtualtape library[VTL] with inline data deduplication capability. Recent performance tests pairing the TS7650G flavoring with XIV foundation storage found this combination to be an excellent match.
Let me know what you think. Does this help you understand IBM's storage strategy and acquisitions? Enteryour comments below.
In the post [Flowing Workflow], the folks over at Eightbar point to the latest 3D work being done with IBM Lotus Sametime.
IBM Sametime is IBM's instant messaging facility, which has been extended to include Voice over IP (VOIP) capability similar to Skype, and now is being developed as a launch point for 3D impromptu meetings "in-world", similar to [Second Life].
With many companies facing hard times and considering travel restrictions for face-to-faceinternal meetings, an information infrastructure that adopts this technology might be a reasonable alternative.
Today we watched Barack Obama get inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States, and he reminded all Americans that the power and strength of this country comes through its diversity.To some extent, this is also what gives IBM its power and strength as well. While not quite the orator of President Obama, IBM's own CFO, Mark Loughridge, gave a rousing speech about IBM's 4Q08 and year-end financial results.
In 2008, IBM was not just successful because it had a wide diversity of servers and storage hardware products, but also a diversity of software, and a diversity of service offerings.And lastly, IBM sells to a diversity of clients in different industries, throughout a diversity of markets. While the current economic meltdown might have affected businesses focused on the US and other major markets, IBM did particularly well last year in growth markets, including the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
IBM's approach to invest in R&D and its nearly 400,000 employees for long-term success continues to pay off. Where "Cash is King", IBM can also afford all those acquisitions and strategic initiatives, positioning the company for a brighter future.
Where there are challenges, IBM finds opportunity.
IBM has launched a new blog, focused on making [a smarter planet]. In my post,[The New Year in Six Words], Idiscussed the part of Sam Palmisano's speech that mentioned a small $30 Billion investmentcould result in 950,000 new jobs. For those who wondered how IBM arrived to that figure,here are two posts:
Today, fellow IBMer Ken Hannigan celebrated his 25th year anniversary with IBM, which inducts him into the IBM Quarter Century Club[QCC]. I was surprised to hear that there are over 900 QCC members currently residing in Arizona. In the past, QCC was shortly followed by retirement,but in these economic times, it marks a mid-point in one's career.
I met Ken back in 1988, I was working on DFHSM and he was part of theDFDSS team that moved from San Jose, California to Tucson, Arizona.Later, Ken and I would work in the same department as architects forthe DFSMS product that included DFSMShsm and DFSMSdss components.
Ken was then offered a chance to lead the effort to launch a new productfrom an internal project called Workstation Data Save Facility (WDSF) thatwas changed to Data Facility Distributed Storage Manager (DFDSM),then renamed to ADSTAR Distributed Storage Manager (ADSM), and finally tothe name it has today: [IBM Tivoli Storage Manager].
Over the years, Ken's had some interesting experiences. Two examples:
Saving the Democracy of Peru
During a hotly contested election in the Latin American country of Peru, there were technical problems with the ballot records. Management needed someone from Tucson to go, and my namewas floated around, since I spoke Spanish fluently. My schedule did not permit,so they sent Ken instead. Ken was able to recover the lost ballot information and avoid a revolution.
Assisted with the Technical team for a Major Motion Picture
Ken was part of the IBM technical team that helped [DreamWorks SKG] producethe movie [The Prince of Egypt],a major animated motion picture. IBM is heavily involved in the digital mediacommunity, and was instrumental in helping film-makers set up theirinformation infrastructure.
Ken has been one of my best friends over the past twenty years. I introduced him to hiswife, and was the best man at his wedding. It is quality people like Ken that makeworking at IBM so special.
I've gotten some strange emails lately, so I thought I would address them here.
Dear Tony, In your last post about [New Years Resolutions for 2009], you mention spending more time with friends and family, which is typically a phrase usedby people leaving a company.
Are you announcing your retirement?
No, I don't plan to retire anytime soon. Like most companies, IBM had [changed its retirement plans]. Those lucky enough to be on the old plan could retire after 30 years of service to IBM, and get 12 percent of their last five year's salary as an annual pension the rest of their lives. If you averaged $100K per year the last five years, then you could retire on $60K per year. Many IBMers in Tucson took their pension and moved to Mexico, and lived like kings!
To qualify for the old plan, you had to be a certain age, have a minimum number of years service working for IBM, or be an executive of Italian-American descent. I missed it by a few months, so I am on the new plan instead. This involves employer contribution matches to a 401(k) plan and reflects the trend from working for a single company all your life, tochanging careers or companies every 5 to 10 years.Many of my colleagues on the old plan had announced early last year their plans to retire by the end of 2008, but then changed their minds after the economic downturn.
For both personal and professional reasons, I plan to travel less in 2009,so that will give me more time to reconnect with friends and family, especially my friends over at[Tucson Fun and Adventures], the premiere singles activities club in Southern Arizona; the [Tucson Laughter Club], recognized as one of the oldest laughter clubs in the United States; and the Tucson Film Society at the[Loft Cinema].
Dear Tony, Why not make a New Years Resolution for an "exercise regime"?
I made that lifestyle change back in 2003, joining [Performance at McMahon's] fitnesstraining facility, and have been lifting weights there, several times per week, ever since.
This is my personal trainer Christine. Our gym had their annual Elite Performer athletic contest running August to November last year, and I came in fifth place. If you are looking fora personal trainer in the Tucson area to jump-start your own fitness goals, call Christine at 907-4510.
Normally, I considerNew Years Resolutions for starting new things, changing bad behaviors, or revisiting things I have long forgotten, not really intended for continuing to do the same as the year before. However, if it makes you happy, I resolve to continue my exercise regime of lifting weightsthree times a week, and will try to do more [cardio] as well.
Dear Tony, What's up with your fellow blogger Chuck Hollis from EMC and his post[Timely Reading], suggesting we should read Ayn Rand's hefty novel Atlas Shrugged?
What's your take on this?
I don't talk with Chuck personally about his posts, so I can only guess that he is underthe same blackout period rules, which typically commences the day following the end of the fiscal quarter and ends after the issuance of a news release disclosing the quarterly financial results.
That said, Chuck is an avid reader, and often recommends books he likes. For example,based on his recommendation, I read Tim Harford's [The Undercover Economist] and found it an excellent choice.In the book Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand renounces religion, socialism and a variety of other ills facing societyin 1950s America. Since [93 percent] of scientists and engineers are Atheist,Agnostic or other form of non-believer, I suspect most readers of the Storage blogosphere areat least somewhat familiar with Ayn Rand's works. Personally, I prefer the works of fellow atheist authors[Douglas Adams], [Sir Isaac Asimov], [Richard Dawkins], and [George Orwell].
Chuck mentions he saw Stephen Moore's article ['Atlas Shrugged': From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years in the Wall Street Journal, which considers this tometo be the second most influential book, second only to the Bible. No doubt many of the bailoutplans proposed today sound similar to the government acts covered in the novel. One warningrings true for me:
When profits and wealth and creativity are denigrated in society, they start to disappear -- leaving everyone the poorer.
However, I suspect his postmight also be partly motivated by Josh Bernoff's report [Time To Rethink Your Corporate Blogging Ideas] from Forrester Research. I've read the full report, andit has some interesting results.Only 16 percent of those surveyed who use company blogssay they trust them. The situation improves slightly if you look at people who are activein the blogosphere.Among those who read blogs regularly, only 24 percent trust company blogs. And only 39 percent of bloggers, who actually write their own blogs, trust company blogs. This ranks lower than every other form of content Forrester asked about, includingbroadcast and print media, direct mail, and email from companies.
This would mean company blogs are justslightly more trustworthy than self-proclaimed UFO alien abductees, tabloidsat the grocery store checkout lane, and perhaps politicians like Vice President Dick Cheneyor former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.Josh insists that this report is not meant as a plea for existing corporate bloggers to give up blogging, but rather to be more thoughtful on how and why they blog.
Perhaps Chuck is suggesting that bloggers are like the creative types in Atlas Shrugged who felt under-appreciated, and that perhaps all IT Storage bloggers should go on strike?
Well, I'm not retiring, not quitting my exercise routine, and not planning to stop blogging.Last year, thanks to you my dear readers, I was ranked the third most influential blog on IBMDeveloperworks. Congratulations to my fellow IBM bloggers [Bobby Wolf] and ["Turbo" Todd Watson], who ranked first and second!
This is our so-called black-out period that prevents me from talking about how well IBM is doing or making predictions about our industry that might affect stock prices, so instead I will talk about my New Year's Resolutions.
Contribute to the OLPC Foundation
Last year, I resolved to contribute my time and effort to the One Laptop Per Child[OLPC] project led by Nicholas Negroponte. It didn't takelong for them to contact me, and I had wonderful experiences helping the folks in Nepal andUruguay.Despite building and delivering half a million laptops to deserving kids, the OLPC team has been impacted by the recent economic meltdown. From their [announcement], theOLPC team is making some shifts in their direction and priorities. Here's an excerpt:
"This restructuring is also the result of an exciting new direction for OLPC. Our technology initiatives will focus on:
Development of Generation 2.0
A no-cost connectivity program
A million digital books
Passing on the development of the Sugar Operating System to the community.
With regard to deployments:
Latin America will be spun off into a separate support unit
Sub-Saharan Africa will become a major learning hub
The Middle East, Afghanistan and Northwestern Pakistan will become a major focus"
It's not clear how involved I will be with OLPC in 2009, and I will probably wait for the dust to settle on this one.
Eat Healthier and Drink more
I hired a nutritionist and improved my diet. I also drank more (that was an easy one to keep!). Unfortunately, there is still room for improvement on this one.
Attend more movies and film-making events
I've renewed my membership with the Tucson Film Society, and attended several of their eventsin 2008, including a meeting Will Conroy, screenwriter for the Action/Suspense thriller[Transsiberian] starring Woody Harrelson and Ben Kingsley.
Get better Organized
Well I carried my [Hipster PDA] in my back pocket most of 2008, but it just did not catch on. I did get somewhat better organized, with three-ring binders and a scanner that converts paper documents into searchable PDF files.
While some might find the concept of New Year's resolutions silly or pointless, I find themuseful. Here's some interesting research on Wikipedia:
"Recent research shows that while 52 percent of participants in a resolution study were confident of success with their goals, only 12 percent actually achieved their goals. Men achieved their goal 22 percent more often when they engaged in goal setting, a system where small measurable goals are used (lose a pound a week, instead of saying "lose weight"), while women succeeded 10 percent more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends."
Here are mine for 2009:
Spend More Time with Friends and Family
According to this [article by Albrecht Powell], reconnecting with friends and family is the number one on the Top 10 list.I think the economic meltdown served as a great wake-up call for people to focus what is mostimportant in your life and adjust your priorities accordingly.
Enjoy Life More
Back in 2007, I vowed to laugh more. While the current economic crisis might not seem like an appropriate time for this one, I think there is hope, a new US President, and some much-needed enthusiasm for change.
Learn Something New
At a dinner with clients, one of the IBMers had brought his 20-something daughter and hersimilarly-aged friend. Their college was closed for the week after a student shooting, andhe felt it best to give them a change of scenery. They couldn't wait until they were "done withschool" so they could get on with their lives. I had to break the bad news to them that intoday's world, they should expect life-long learning. Gone are the days where you can learna specific skill or trade, and do that the rest of your life. Hopefully I didn't frightenboth into giving up a career in favor of marriage with such advice!
With the world getting smaller, flatter, and yes "smarter" also, I resolve to learn somethingnew. I don't necessarily know what that is yet, but I will keep it in the back of my mind.
Make Tucson a better place, and enrich the lives of its residents
I've actually gotten complaints that I was helping people in other countries, through OLPC and [Kiva],and that I should domore for people right here in Tucson. That's fair. This year I resolve to investigatethat further.
Get Better Organized
Last year was a good start, but I can certainly do better in 2009, both at home and at the office.Perhaps I need to dust off my old copy of ["Getting Things Done"] by David Allen and read it again!
I hope everyone had some time these past few weeks of the Winter Solstice to enjoy some time off with friends and family. I had a great trip to New York City, got to visit my brother and his friends, went to see my friends in Michigan to celebrate New Years Eve, and see the world premiere of [LexiBaby], an independent film from fellow filmmaker Jonathan Petro.
The latter of course from fellow IBMers, corporate executives receiving bailout money, attorneys that specialize in foreclosures, and the lucky few who will be in Washington DC for the US Presidential Inauguration.In addition to all the bailout money from banks, insurance companies and automakers that will be spent on IBM equipment and services, there might be additional funds from the US Government to improve our country's information infrastructure.In a recent Forbes article titled[The Tech Solution To The Recession], Andy Greenberg writes about US president-elect Barack Obama's ideas about a stimulus to the economy. Here's an excerpt:
"IBM, for starters, believes that a massive infusion of cash should go toward cutting-edge technology. Last month, IBM CEO Sam Palmisano presented a report to Obama's transition team from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) that argues that a $30 billion investment in universal broadband, health information technology and a smarter power grid could create 950,000 jobs.
"Those disparities, and IBM's argument for focusing a stimulus plan on technology in general, come from what economists have dubbed "network multipliers." The computing giant, and ITIF, argue that technology creates more jobs than other types of infrastructure by enabling new types of businesses.
"If you build more roads, people don't buy more tires or GPS systems, but if you build better networks, you create entirely new business applications," says Rob Atkinson, president of ITIF and an author of the think tank's report. "Something like YouTube could never have existed without broadband."
"Regardless of precisely how tech stimulus money gets spent, IBM will likely sweep up a significant chunk of those taxpayer funds, given the computing giant's diverse hardware, software and services businesses. Other IT infrastructure giants like Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Oracle and SAP are also likely to vie for pieces of Obama's stimulus package aimed at technology.
"But among those tech companies, IBM has been especially active in driving home the need for national investment in tech systems. In a November speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Palmisano argued that that the U.S. needs to invest in innovation not just as a solution to our current recession but as a competitive measure in an increasingly integrated and technologically advanced world."
Wrapping up this week's theme on ways to make the planet smarter, and less confusing, I present IBM's third annual [five in five]. These are five IBM innovations to watch over the next five years, all of which have implications on information storage. Here is a quick [3-minute video] that provides the highlights:
"If you've spent any time in the storage biz, you probably realize that the server vendors sell more storage than they have any right to."
This is the old [Supermarkets-vs-Specialty Shops] debate I discussed over a year ago. The debate goes along the lines that some peopleprefer to buy their entire information infrastructure (servers, storage, software and services)from a single vendor, one-stop shopping, while others might prefer to buy their pieces ascomponents from different vendors that specialize in each technology. Because of this, Specialty shops tend to focus on other Specialty shops as their primary competitors (EMC vs. NetApp), whileSupermarkets tend to focus on other Supermarkets (IBM vs. HP).
The apparent contradiction is that Chuck feels the Supermarkets (IBM, HP, Sun and Dell) should not have any right to sell storage, in the same manner that butchers, bakers and candlestick makersdo not believe that Supermarkets should have any right to sell meat, bread or candles?If servers and storage are so different, how can self-proclaimed storage-only specialist EMC have the right to sell their non-storage offerings, from server virtualization (VMware) to cloud-computing services? With EMC's latest announcement of DW/BI centers, I think we can safely take EMC off the list of storage-only specialists. We will needto come up with a third category for those caught in limbo between being one-stop shopping Supermarkets like IBM and being a pure storage-only Specialists like NetApp. Perhaps EMC has become the IT equivalent of Wal-Mart's[Neighborhood Market].(No offense intended to my friends at Wal-Mart!)
Then Chuck continues with these statements:
"It is rarely is it the case that a server vendor can offer you a better storage product, or better service, or better functionality than what a storage specialist can do.
...Interestingly enough, Dell appears to do a sizable amount of storage business "off base" with EMC products -- outside the context of a specific server transaction."
This second contradiction relates to products that are manufactured by specialty shops, butsold through supermarket channels. Chuck would like to imply that the only storage products anyone should consider is gear made by specialty shops, whether you get it directly from them, or through Supermarket's with appropriate OEM agreements. Storage made by Supermarkets, either organicallydeveloped or through acquisitions, should not be considered? What happens when a Supermarket acquires a specialty shop? We've already seen how negative EMC has been against IBM's acquisitions of XIV and Diligent, which allowed a Supermarket like IBM to provide better products in both cases than what is available from any specialty shop. Kind of pokes a big hole in that argument!
But Dell also acquired EqualLogic, which Chuck admits might have a "fit in the marketplace".As it turns out, companies would rather buy EMCequipment from Dell sales people, than from EMC directly, and perhaps this is becauseDell, like IBM, sees the big picture. Dell, IBM and the rest of the IT Supermarkets understand theentire information infrastructure, not just the storage components of a data center. With HP and Sun selling HDS gear, and IBM selling NetApp gear, it becomes obvious that EMC needs Dell more than Dell needs EMC.
Chuck then pokes fun at NetApp in comparing the EMC NX4 to NetApp's FAS2020, comparable to IBM System Storage N series N3300. Here's an excerpt:
Like other Celerras, it does the full unified storage thing: iSCSI, NAS and "real deal" FC that isn't emulated.
The irony, of course, is that the NX4 does not actually use "real" Fibre Channel drives,but rather SAS and SATA drives. I guess Chuck's concern is that the NetApp, which doesuse "real" Fibre Channel drives, provides FC-attached LUNs to the host through its WAFL mapping,rather than through EMC's traditional RAID-rank mapping approach.How Chuck can imply that anything in the IT industry that is "emulated" is somehow seriouslyworse than "real", but then spend 40 percent of his posts devoted to the benefits of VMware,which offers "emulated" virtual machines, seems to be yet another contradiction.
"Cloud computing" has been ill-defined and over-hyped, yet storage vendors have been quick to trot out their own "cloud storage" offerings and end users are wondering whether there's significant cost savings in these services for them, particularly in tough economic times.
"Cloud-speak" can be downright confusing....
"Surprisingly, Gartner considers the amorphous nature of the term to be good news: 'The very confusion and contradiction that surrounds the term 'cloud computing' signifies its potential to change the status quo in the IT market,' the IT research firm said earlier this year."
Consistent with Scott Adams's original prediction, the barriers of entry have lowered for storage vendors as well.Rather than competing on function and price through valued relationships and trusted expertise, some vendors would rather confuse instead. EMC tries to paint the NX4 as being "just as good as" anNetApp or IBM N series for unified storage, and EMC tries to create new categories, like Cloud-Oriented Storage (COS), to give their me-too products the impression they are in a league of their own.All of this to discourage customers from making their own comparisons and doing their own research.
IBM doesn't play that way. If you want straight talk aboutIBM's products, contact your local IBM Business Partner or sales rep.
Continuing this week's theme, my team here at theTucson Executive Briefing Center (TEBC) have made these two videos for me, usingcloud-computing facilities from OfficeMax and the folks at JibJab.Only five people were allowed per video, so we had to make two to get everyone in.
If you have been to the Tucson Executive Briefing Center, perhaps you can recognizesome of our faces!
This wraps up my week in Las Vegas for the 27th Annual [Data Center Conference]. This conference follows the common approach of ending at noon on Friday, so that attendees can get home to their families for the weekend, or start their weekend in Las Vegas early to watch the 50th annual Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
I attended the last few sessions. Here is my recap:
Where, When and Why do I need a Solid-State Drive?
The internet provides transport of digital data between any devices. All other uses have evolved from this aim. Increasing data storage on any node on the Web therefore increases the possibilities at every other point. We are just now beginning to recognize the implications of this. The two speakers co-presented this session to cover how Solid State Disk (SSD) may participate.
Some electronic surveys of the audience provided some insight. Only 12 percent are deploying SSD now. 59 percent are evaluating the technology. A whopping 89 percent did not understand SSD technology, or how it would apply to their data center. Here is the expected time linefor SSD adoption:
17 percent - within 1 year
60 percent - around 3 years from now
21 percent - 5 years or later
The main reasons cited for adopting SSD were increasing IOPS, reducing power and floorspace requirements, and expanding global networks. Here's a side-by-side comparison between HDD and SSD:
Disk array with 120 HDD, 73GB drives
Disk array with 120 SSD, 32GB drives
Per 73GB drive
Per 32GB drive
100MB/sec per drive
Read 250 MB/sec per drive Write 170 MB/sec per drive
300 IOPS per drive
35,000 IOPS per drive
12 Watts per drive
2.4 Watts per drive
However, the cost-per-GB for SSD is still 25x over traditional spinning disk, andthe analysts expected SSD to continue to be 10-20x for a while. For now, they estimatethat SSD will be mostly found in blade servers, enterprise-class disk systems, andhigh-end network directors.
The speakers gave examples such as Sun's ZFS Hybrid, and other products from NetApp,Compellent, Rackable, Violin, and Verari Systems.
Taking fear out of IT Disaster Recovery Exercises
The analyst presented best practices for disaster recovery testing with a "Pay Now or Pay Later"pre-emptive approach. Here were some of the suggestions:
Schedule adequate time for DR exercises
Build DR considerations into change control procedures and project lifecycle planning
Document interdependencies between applications and business processes
Bring in the "crisis team" on even the smallest incidents to keep skill sharp
Present the "State of Disaster Recovery" to Senior Management annually
The speaker gave examples of different "tiers" for recovery, with appropriate RPO and RTOlevels, and how often these should be tested per year. A survey of the audience found that70 percent already have a tiered recovery approach.
In addition to IT staff, you might want to consider inviting others to the DR exerciseas reviewers for oversight, including: Line of Business folks, Facilities/Operations, Human Resources, Legal/Compliance officers, even members of government agencies.
DR exercises can be performed at a variety of scope and objectives:
Tabletop Test - IBM calls these "walk-throughs", where people merely sit around the table and discuss what actions they would take in the event of a hypothetical scenario. This is a good way to explore all kinds of scenarios from power outages, denial of service attacks, or pandemic diseases.
Checklist Review - Here a physical inventory is taken of all the equipment needed at the DR site.
Stand-alone Test - Sometimes called a "component test" or "unit test", a single application is recovered and tested.
End-to-End simulation - All applications for a business process are recovered for a full simulation.
Full Rehearsal - Business is suspended to perform this over a weekend.
Production Cut-Over - If you are moving data center locations, this is a good time to consider testing some procedures. Other times, production is cut-over for a week over to the DR site and then returned back to the primary site.
Mock Disaster - Management calls this unexpectedly to the IT staff, certain IT staff are told to participate, and others are told not to. This helps to identify critical resources, how well procedures are documented, and members of the team are adequately cross-trained.
For exercise, set the appropriate scope and objectives, score the results, and then identifyaction plans to address the gaps uncovered. Scoring can be as simple as "Not addressed","Needs Improvement" and "Met Criteria".
Full Speed Ahead for iSCSI
The analyst presented this final session of the conference. He recognized IBM's early leadership in this area back in 1999, with the IP200i disk system. Today, there are many storage vendors that provide iSCSI solutions, the top three being:
23 percent - Dell/EqualLogic
15 percent - EMC
14 percent - HP/LeftHand Networks
This protocol has been mostly adopted for Windows, Linux and VMware, but has been largelyignored by the UNIX community. The primary value proposition is to offer SAN-like functionality at lower cost. When using the existing NICs that come built-in on most servers, iSCSI canbe 30-50 percent less expensive than FC-based SANs. Even if you install TCP-Offload-Engine (TOE) cards into the servers, iSCSI can still represent a 16-19 percent cost savings. ManyIBM servers now have TOE functionality built-in.
Since lower costs are the primary motivator, most iSCSI deployments are on 1GbE. The new10Gbps Ethernet is still too expensive for most iSCSI configurations. For servers runninga single application, 2 1GbE NICs is sufficient. For servers running virtualization with multiple workloads might need 4 or 5 NICs (1GbE), or consider 2 10GbE NICs if 10Gbps is available.
The iSCSI protocol has been most successful for small and medium sized businesses (SMB) lookingfor one-stop shopping. Buying iSCSI storage from the same vendor as your servers makes a lot of sense: EqualLogic with Dell servers, LeftHand software with HP servers, and IBM's DS3300 or N series with IBM System x servers.The average iSCSI unit was 10TB for about $24,000 US dollars.
Security and Management software for iSCSI is not as fully developed as for FC-based SANs.For this reason, most network vendors suggest having IP SANs isolated from your regular LAN.If that is not possible, consider VPN or encryption to provide added security.Issues of security and management imply that iSCSI won't dominate the large enteprise data center. Instead, many arewatching closely the adoption of Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), based on revised standardsfor 10Gbps Ethernet. FCoE standards probably won't be finalized till mid-2009, with productsfrom major vendors by 2010, and perhaps taking as much as 10 percent marketshare by 2011.
I hope you have enjoyed this series of posts. In addition to the sessions I attended, theconference has provided me with 67 presentations for me to review. Those who attended couldpurchase all the audio recordings and proceedings of every session for $295 US dollars, and those who missed the event can purchase these for $595 US dollars. These are reasonable prices, when you realize that the average Las Vegas visitor spends 13.9 hours gambling, losing an average of $626 US dollars per visit. The audio recordings and proceedings can provide more than 13.9 hours of excitement for less money!
The booths at a typical week-long tradeshow only go from day 2 to day 4, so that day 1 and day 5 can be used for unpacking and repacking all of the demo equipment and displays. This was the case here at the27th annual [Data Center Conference] here in Las Vegas.
The solution showcase ended Thursday afternoon.
From left to right:George Lane, Ron Houston, Cris Espinosa, Patty Congdon, David Bricker, Paula Koziol, Steve Sams, Tony Pearson,Gary Fierko, Diane Hill, David Share, Nick Sardino, Carla Fleming, Bruce Otte.
Gary Fierko and I discuss the IBM's vision and strategy, the TS7650G ProtecTIER gateway, and the differences between LTO-4 and IBM Enterprise tape, with an attendees at the booth.
Behind the scenes were folks from the [George P. Johnson company] that run events.Deniese Dunavin here helped us be successful at this conference!
Here are just a portion of all the sponsors that made this event possible, printed on bags given to each attendee.
After the booths closed down, we were invited to several different hospitality suites, sponsoredby different vendors.
The Cisco hospitality suite had an Elvis impersonator and a beautiful bride. Her name was Trixie.
The bouncers at the Computer Associates (CA) hospitality suite wore the same shade of green and blue colors from their logo.
The APC hospitality suite went with an Island/Pirate theme.
The Brocade hospitality suite rocked the Casbah! Yes, that is a REAL snake she is holding.
Michael Nixon, a presenter from NEC Corporation of America.
By the time we got to the Data Domain hospitality suite, they were out of "dedupe-tinis", most ofthe attendees had left, but they were giving out these bumper stickers. For those considering Data Domain,you might want to look at the IBM TS7650G Virtual Tape gateway, which also provides inline datadeduplication, but about six times faster ingest rate.
Lagasse, Inc. sells janitorial supplies, such as mops, cleaning chemicals, waste receptacles, and garbage can liners. Of the 1000 employees of Lagasse nationwide, about 200 associates were located in New Orleans at their main Headquarters, primary customer care center, and primary IT computing center.
Amazingly, Lagasse did not have a formally documented BCP (Business Continuity Plan) but more of aBCI (Business Continuity Idea). They chose to take a ["donut tire"] approach, putting older previous-generation equipment at their DR site. They knew that in the event of a disaster,they would not be processing as many transactions per second. That was a business trade-offthey could accept.
Evaluating all the different threat scenarios for impact and likelihood, and focused on hurricanes and floods.They had experienced previous hurricanes, learning from each,with the most recent being 2004 Hurricane Ivan and 2005 Hurricane Dennis. From this, they wereable to categorize three levels of DR recovery:
Tier 1 - The most mission-critical, which for them related to picking, packing and shipping products.
Tier 2 - The next most important, focused on maintaining good customer service
Tier 3 - Everything else, including reporting and administrative functions
The time-line of events went as follows:
The US Government issues warning that a hurricane may hit New Orleans
August 27 - 7pm
Lagasse declares a disaster, starts recovery procedures to an existing IT facility in Chicago, owned by their parent company. A temporary "Southeast" Headquarters were set up in Atlanta.Remote call centers were identified in Dallas, Atlanta, San Antonio, and Miami.
August 28 - just after midnight
In just five hours, they recovered their "Tier 1" applications.
August 28 - 7:30pm
In just over 24 hours, they recovered their "Tier 2" applications.
August 29 - 6am
The Hurricane hits land. With 73 levees breached, the city of New Orleans was flooded.
The following week
Lagasse was fully operational, and recorded their second and third best sales days ever.
I was quite impressed with their company's policy for how they treat their employees during a disaster. For many companies, people during a disaster prioritize on their families, not their jobs.If any associate was asked to work during a disaster, the company would take care of:
The safety of their family
The safety of their pets. (In the weeks following this hurricane, I sponsored people in Tucson to go to New Orleans to attend to lost and stray dogs and cats, many of which were left behind when rescuers picked up people from their rooftops.)
Any emergency repairs to secure the home they leave behind
Marshall felt that if you don't know the names of the spouse and kids of your key employees, you are not emotionally-invested enough to be successful during a disaster.
For communications, cell phones were useless. They could call out on them, but anyone with acell phone with 504 area code had difficulty receiving calls, as the calls had to be processedthrough New Orleans. Instead, they used Voice over IP (VoIP) to redirect calls to whichever remote call center each associate went to. Laptops, Citrix, VPN and email were considered powerful tools during this process. They did not have Instant Messaging (IM) at the time.
While the disk and tapes needed to recover Tiers 1 and 2 were already in Chicago, the tapes for Tier 3 were stored locally by a third-party provider. When Lagasse asked for thier DR tapes back, the third-party refused, based on their [force majeure] clause. Force majeure is a common clause in many business contracts to free parties from liabilityduring major disasters.Marshall advised everyone to strike out any "force majeure" clauses out of any future third-party DR protection contracts.
Hurricane Katrina hit the US hard, killing over 1400 people, and America still has not fully recovered. The recovery of thecity of New Orleans has been slow. Massive relocations has caused a deficit of talent inthe area, not just IT talent, but also in the areas of medicine, education and other professions. The result has been degraded social services, encouraging others to relocate as well. Some have called it the "liberation effect", a major event that causespeople to move to a new location or take on a new career in a different field.
On a personal note, I was in New Orleans for a conference the week prior to landfall, and helped clients with their recoveries the weeks after. For more on how IBM Business Continuity Recovery Services (BCRS) helped clients during Hurricane Katrina, see the following [media coverage].
It's Thursday here at the [Data Center Conference] here in Las Vegas. Trying to keep up with all the sessions and activities has been quite challenging. As is often the case, there are more sessions that I want to attend than I physically am able to, so have to pick and choose.
Making the Green Data Center a Reality
The sixth and final keynote was an expert panel session, with Mark Bramfitt from Pacific Gas and Electric [PG&E], and Mark Thiele from VMware.
Mark explained PG&E's incentive program to help data centers be more energyefficient. They have spent $7 million US dollars so far on this, and he has requested another$50 million US dollars over the next three years. One idea was to put "shells" aroundeach pod of 28 or so cabinets to funnel the hot air up to the ceiling, rather than havingthe hot air warm up the rest of the cold air supply.
The fundamental disconnect for a "green" data center is that the Facilities team pay for the electricity, but it is the IT department that makes decisions that impact its use. The PG&E rebates reward IT departments for making better decisions. The best metric available is"Power Usage Effectiveness" or [PUE], which is calculated by dividing total energy consumed in the data center, divided by energy consumed by the IT equipment itself.Typical PUE runs around 3.0 which means for every Watt used for servers, storage or network switches, another 2 Watts are used for power, cooling, and facilities. Companies are tryingto reduce their PUE down to 1.6 or so. The lower the better, and 1.0 is the ideal.The problem is that changing the data center infrastructure is as difficult as replacingthe phone system or your primary ERP application.
While California has [Title 24], stating energy efficiency standards for both residential and commercial buildings, it does notapply to data centers. PG&E is working to add data center standards into this legislation.
The two speakers also covered Data Center [bogeymans], unsubstantiated myths that prevent IT departments fromdoing the right thing. Here are a few examples:
Power cycles - some people believe that x86 servers can typically only handle up to 3000 shutdowns, and so equipment is often left running 24 hours a day to minimize these. Most equipment is kept less than 5 years (1826 days), so turning off non-essential equipment at night, and powering it back on the next morning, is well below this 3000 limit and can greatly reduce kWh.
Dust - many are so concerned about dust that they run extra air-filters which impactsthe efficiency of cooling systems air flow. New IT equipment tolerates dust much betterthan older equipment.
Humidity - Mark had a great story on this one. He said their "de-humidifier" broke,and they never got around to fixing it, and they went years without it, realizing they didn't need to de-humidify.
The session wrapped up with some "low hanging fruit", items that can provide immediate benefit with little effort:
Cold-aisle containment--Why are so few data centers doing this?
Colocation providers need to meter individual clients' energy usage -- IBM offers the instrumentation and software to make this possible
Air flow management--Simply organizing cables under the floor tiles could help this.
Virtualization and Consolidation.
High-efficiency power supplies
Managing IT from a Business Service Perspective
The "other" future of the data center is to manage it as a set of integrated IT services,rather than a collection of servers, storage and switches.IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is widely-accepted as a set of best practices to accomplish this "service management" approach. The presenter from ASG Software Solutions presented their Configuration Management Data Base (CMDB) and application dependency dashboard. Theyhave some customers with as many as 200,000 configuration items (CIs) in their CMDB.
The solution looked similar to the IBM Tivoli software stack presented earlier this yearat the [Pulse conference].Both ASG and IBM "eat their own dog food", or perhaps more accurately "drink their own champagne", using these software products to run their own internal IT operations.
For many, the future of a "green" data center managed as a set of integrated service are years away, but the technologies and products are available today, and there is no reasonto postpone these projects any longer than necessary. For more about IBM's approach togreen data center, see [Energy EfficiencySolutions]. You can also take IBM's[IT Service Management self-assessment] to help determine whichIBM tools you need for your situation.
Continuing my coverage of the 27th annual[Data Center Conference], the weather here in Las Vegas has been partly cloudy,which leads me to discuss some of the "Cloud Computing" sessions thatI attended on Wednesday.
The x86 Server Virtualization Storm 2008-2012
Along with IBM, Microsoft is recognized as one of the "Big 5" of Cloud Computing. With theirrecent announcements of Hyper-V and Azure, the speaker presented pros-and-cons between thesenew technologies versus established offerings from VMware. For example, Microsoft's Hyper-Vis about three times cheaper than VMware and offers better management tools. That could beenough to justify some pilot projects. By contrast, VMware is more lightweight, only 32MB,versus Microsoft Hyper-V that takes up to 1.5GB. VMware has a 2-3 year lead ahead of Microsoft, and offers some features that Microsoft does not yet offer.
Electronic surveys of the audience offered some insight. Today, 69 percent were using VMware only, 8 percent had VMware plus other, including Xen-based offerings from Citrix,Virtual Iron and others. However, by 2010, the audience estimated that 39 percent would be VMware+Microsoft and another 23 percent VMware plus Xen, showing a shift away from VMware'scurrent dominance. Today, there are 11 VMware implementations to Microsoft Hyper-V, and thisis expected to drop to 3-to-1 by 2010.
Of the Xen-based offerings, Citrix was the most popular supplier. Others included Novell/PlateSpin,Red Hat, Oracle, Sun and Virtual Iron. Red Hat is also experimenting with kernel-based KVM.However, the analyst estimated that Xen-based virtualization schemes would never get past8 percent marketshare. The analyst felt that VMware and Microsoft would be the two dominant players with the bulk of the marketshare.
For cloud computing deployments, the speaker suggested separating "static" VMs from "dynamic" ones. Centralize your external storage first, and implement data deduplicationfor the OS load images. Which x86 workloads are best for server virtualization? The speaker offered this guidance:
The "good" are CPU-bound workloads, small/peaky in nature.
The "bad" are IO-intensive, those that exploit the features of native hardware
The "ugly" refers to workloads based on software with restrictive licenses and those not fully supported on VMs. If you have problems, the software vendor may not help resolve them.
Moving to the Cloud: Transforming the Traditional Data Center
IBM VP Willie Chiu presented the various levels of cloud computing.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provides the software application, operating system and hardware infrastructure, such as SalesForce.com or Google Apps. Either the software meets your needs or it doesn't, but has the advantage that the SaaS provider takes care of all the maintenance.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) provides operating system, perhaps some middleware like database or web application server, and the hardware infrastructure to run it on. The PaaS provider maintains the operating system patches, but you as the client must maintain your own applications. IBM has cloud computing centers deployed in nine different countries across the globe offering PaaS today.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provides the hardware infrastructure only. The client must maintain and patch the operating system, middleware and software applications. This can be very useful if you have unique requirements.
In one case study, Willie indicated that moving a workload from a traditional data center to the cloud lowered the costs from $3.9 million to $0.6 million, an 84 percent savings!
We've Got a New World in Our View
Robert Rosier, CEO of iTricity, presented their "IaaS" offering. "iTricity" was coined from the concept of "IT as electricity". iTricity is the largest Cloud Computing company in continental Europe, hosting 2500 servers with 500TB of disk storage across three locations in the Netherlands and Germany.
Those attendees I talked to that were at this conference before commented that this year's focus on virtualization and cloud computing is noticeably more than in previous years. For more on this, read this 12-page whitepaper:[IBM Perspective on Cloud Computing]