Today, I went looking for reading-glasses. Unfamiliar with my surroundings, I asked several people where I might be able to find and purchase these, and was sent in various directions. My first stop was a bookstore. It would make sense that since many people need reading glasses to read the books, that they would sell them there, but no. The staff didn't know where I could go, but pointed me in the direction of a mall. At the mall, I found a pharmacy. Many pharmacies sell reading glasses, so I stopped in, but no, not this one. The pharmacists suggested the super-store nearby. I walked in to the super-store, and asked the first employee where they keep their reading glasses, and they said the other corner. The other corner was the electronics department. It made sense that they sold CDs and DVDs in the same section as the equipment that plays them, but reading glasses? Skeptical, I went to the pharmacy department, and the young and beautiful lady (everyone is young, thin and beautiful here) had me follow her, and she led me back to the electronics department, whereupon she pointed to a rack of sunglasses. I indicated that I need reading glasses, not sunglasses. She pulled one out, and it was indeed reading glasses, 1.25, just what I was looking for. Others were tinted, so you can read the newspaper out in the sunlight. The pair I chose cost only $97 in the local currency.
After reading the last sentence, you might be thinking I am describing my "avatar" in Second Life, but no, I am talking about my search for reading glasses on the streets of Mexico. I am here this week in meetings with IBM Business Partners and sales reps to discuss IBM's latest System Storage products and offerings.
We used to tell people they should "clothe" servers with storage. IBM offers both, so yes it makes sense to offer both as part of a complete solution. However, when you look through a dictionary definition "to clothe" you learn it is to dress, wrap or cover with clothing, an implication that it is external, and perhaps temporary, easily changed, like switching from sunglasses to reading glasses. In Second Life, objects can be "worn", simply by attaching or detaching them to your "avatar". Sometimes clothing serves a purpose, like reading glasses, provides protection, like raincoats, and other times, more decorative, like"icing on the cake" or "gold plating".
This concept was fine 50 years ago, when we were in a server-centric world, and dumb storage devices were attached to very intelligent servers. Back then, we used the derogatory term "subsystems" to emphasize that storage was just part of the server, not a system of its own.
Today, we live in an information-centric world. The information outlives the media, and the media outlives the servers that access it. It is not unreasonable to attach dozens or hundreds of servers to a single storage system, or collection of storage systems. Over 20 percent of IBM System Storage DS8000 series, for example, are attached to Windows rack-optimized or blade servers. Imagine a refrigerator surrounded by dozens or hundreds of pizza boxes. Storage is no longer a subsystem, but a system on its own right, dressed, wrapped or covered by servers that deliver the right information, to the right people, at the right time.
So perhaps we should reverse it, telling people they should "clothe" their storage with servers!
technorati tags: IBM, disk, storage, servers, Second Life, clothing, DS8000, Turbo, subsystem, system
Wrapping up my week in China, I read an article by Li Xing in the local "China Daily" about energy efficiency in buildings. She argues that it is not enough for a building to be energy-efficient on its own, but you have to consider the impact of the other buildings around. Does it reflect the sun so harshly into neighboring windows that people are forced to put up blinds and use artificial light? Does it block the sun, so that rooms that previously could be used with natural sunlight must now be artificially lit?
A similar effect happens with power and cooling in the data center. Servers and storage systems generate heat, and that heat affects all the other equipment in the data center. IBM has the most power-efficient and heat-efficient servers and storage, but that is not enough. You have to consider the heat generated by all systems that might raise overall temperature.
This is what motivated IBM to deliver the IBM Rear Door Heat eXchanger, a member of IBM's CoolBlue(tm) portfolio.
According to a press release:
Research has indicated that water can remove far more heat per volume unit than air. For example, in order to disperse 1,000 watts, with 10 degree temperature difference, only 24 gallons of water per hour is needed, while the same space would require nearly 11,475 cubic feet of air. IBM's Rear Door Heat eXchanger helps keep growing datacenters at safe temperatures, without adding AC units. The unobtrusive solution brings more cooling capacity to areas where heat is the greatest -- around racks of servers with more powerful and multiple processors.
The CoolBlue portfolio of IBM innovations includes comprehensive hardware and systems-management tools for computing environments, enabling clients to better optimize the power consumption, management and cooling of infrastructure at the system, rack and datacenter levels. The CoolBlue portfolio includes IBM PowerConfigurator, PowerExecutive, and Rear Door Heat eXchanger.
The eXchanger works on standard 42U racks, and can help clients deal with the rapid growth of rack-mounted servers and storage on their raised floor. How cool is that!
technorati tags: IBM, Rear Door Heat eXchanger, CoolBlue, power, cooling, efficiency, server, storage
In case you haven't noticed, IBM System Storage makes most of their announcements on Tuesdays. IBM announced a lot today, so here is a quick run-down.
- Cisco storage networking products
IBM continues to resell Cisco switches and directors, but now can offer these with a 1-year IBM warranty.
The entry-level Cisco 9124offers 8 to 24 ports. For IBM BladeCenter, IBM now offers the Cisco10-port and 20-port modules that slide into the back of the chassis, and are functionally equivalent to the 9124.The original BladeCenter came with a 16-port module with 14 internal, but only 2 external, which severely hamperedbandwidth connectivity to external storage. These new modules provide more external ports to relieve that constraint.
The midrange Cisco9200switches have two models, both with 16 fixed ports, with the option for a blade that can provide 12, 24 or 48 additional ports. The 9216A has 16 FCP ports, and the 9216i has 14 FCP ports, and 2 GbE ports to act as a router, such as toconnect to a remote location for business continuity using Metro Mirror or Global Mirror.
The enterprise-class Cisco 9500directors can support up to 528 ports.
- TS3400 Tape Library
The new TS3400library is a small entry-level size library, supporting the enterprise-class TS1120 drive, providing interoperabilitywith the larger tape libraries, with all the support for tape encryption.
In addition to Linux, Unix, and WIndows, the TS1120 can now be connected to System i servers. In the past, the only IBMtape available to System i were the LTO models. There are a lot of businesses that need to comply with government regulations that are looking for tape encryption, and now IBM has made it accessible to more clients.
- 300GB drives at 15K RPM
The DS8000 can now support new drives with 300GB capacity at 15,000 RPM (15K). These can be up to 30 percent faster than the 10,000 RPM drives for typical workloads.
IBM continues its market leadership with these new set of features and offerings!
technorati tags: IBM, SAN, Cisco, 9124, BladeCenter, warranty, 9200, 9216i, 9216A, 9500, TS3400, TS1120, LTO, DS8000, disk,tape,15K, RPM
I didn't really have a theme this week, still recovering from jet-lag from my travels through Japan, Australia, China.
Gary Diskman has an amusing blog entry about a Funny disaster recovery job posting. It is not clear if he is being completely tongue-in-cheek, or a bit cynical. However, it rings true that you get what you measure, and some managers look for easy metrics, even if there are unintended consequences.
Western medicine works this way. Rather than paying your doctor to keep you healthy, you pay him per visit, to get refills on prescriptions, check-ups on medical conditions, surgeries and so on. While Eastern medicine is focused on keeping people healthy, Western medicine profits more from resolving "situations".
I have seen similar situations on the "health" of the data center. In one case, the admins were measured on how quickly they bring back up their web-servers after a crash. They had this process down to a science, because they were measured on how quickly they resolved the situation. I suggested switching from Windows to Linux, a much more reliable operating system for web-serving, and showed examples of web-servers running Linux that have been up for 1000 days or more. Management changed the metrics to "average up-time in days" and magically the re-boots all but disappeared, thanks to Linux, but also thanks in part to shifting the incentive structure. Perhaps some of those earlier situations were "artificially created"?
Back in the 1980s, I was working on a small software project that was about 5000 lines of code. In those days, testers were measured by the number of "successful" testcases that ran without incident. Testcases that uncovered an error were labeled as "failures" to be re-run after the developers fixed the code. When I declared my code ready for test, the test team ran 110 testcases, all successfully, and they were all rewarded for meeting their schedule. I, on the other hand, did not accept these results, met with them and told them I would give them $100 each if they could find a bug in my code in the next week. Nobody writes 5000 lines of code without some error along the way, not even me. (As one author put it, more people have left earth's gravity to orbit the planet than have written perfect code that did not require subsequent review or testing. It's so true. Good software is difficult to write.)
The test team accepted the challenge, and found 6 problems, more than I expected, but at least I felt more confident of the code quality after fixing these. As I suspected, the unintended consequence of counting "successful" testcases was that testers would write the most simple, basic, least-likely-to-challenge-boundaries testcases to ensure they meet their numbers. My experiment was costly to me, but more importantly was a wake-up call for the test management, and they realized they needed to re-evaluate their test procedures, metrics and terminology. This was a long time ago, and I am glad to see that the overall "software engineering" practice has matured much over the past 20 years.
So, my advice is to determine metrics that have the intended consequences you want, while avoiding any negative unintented consequences that might undermine your eventual success. People will quickly figure out how to maximize the results, and if you can align their goals to company goals, then everybody benefits.
Well, I'll be blogging from Mexico next week (yes, it is a business trip!). Enjoy the weekend.
technorati tags: IBM, Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, Gary Diskman, indentives, metrics, testcases, unintented consequences
I will wrap up this week's theme on travel, conferences and Japan discussingGroundhog day
, celebratedtoday (Feb. 2) in the US.
I thought of this because there was a 2003 movie called"Lost in Translation", the title of yesterday's post. This movie is about an American actor, played by Bill Murray, coming to Tokyoto film a whisky commercial. I first saw it with my sister and father, and we musthave been the only three who have actually been to Japan, as we were laughing hysterically,while the rest of the audience was utterly confused. If you have never been to Japan, see the movie before you go, then see it again after you get back home.
Ten years earlier, Bill Murray also played the lead role in another movie called"Groundhog day".In the movie, Bill Murray's character is TV newsman "Phil Connors" who travels to a small townwhere they bring out a small groundhog. If the groundhog can see his shadow, it predictsat least six more weeks of winter. If it does not, winter will end sooner. The nextday, Phil wakes up to realize that he is re-living the same day, over and over, like a modern-day Sisyphus or Promethius. Howhe handles himself in this situation, is what makes the movie so memorable.
When I explain what I do for IBM, to people I meet at home and abroad, I get asked the same set of questions.
- Don't you get bored presenting the same presentations?
The fact is, I never give the same presentation twice. Since I focus mostly on visual informationand what I say, versus the words of text on the page, I am able to customize my presentation toeach unique audience. In much the same way that Bill Murray's character managed to do somethingfun and different each day in the movie, despite his situation.
I do pity those presenters who focus entirely on text, turning their back to the audience, and then reading verbatim what is on each page.They should read Seth Godin's Really Bad PowerPointwith advice like "Bullets are for the NRA".
Another problem are presenters who apologize because they did not develop the materials they are presenting. Sorry, bub, you present it, you own it. The only person held accountable fora bad presentation at a conference is the speaker. When I make charts for others, I expect themthem to adjust it to their own speaking styles.
As a speaker, if you inherit materials fromsomeone else, have the courage to change it, or accept the parts you can't change, and have thewisdom to know the difference.
- Don't you get tired of traveling?
At first I thought this was odd. It's like asking "Don't you get tired of doing different things and eating different foodswith different people in a different country every week?" How can anyone grow tired of variety?
As with any question, you have to go inside the mind of the person asking the question.For most people, travel is an ordeal, outside their comfort zone. They are travelingto attend a funeral, family reunion, or a theme park with spouse and kids in tow.If that is the only kind of traveling a person knows, then it is understandablewhy they might ask this question.
- Don't you get annoyed answering the same questions at conferences?
As if this only happens at conferences!
Seriously, it might be the 17th time I've heard the question asked, but might be onlythe first time the person is asking it, and my response may be the crucial "first impression"that sets the stage for later engagements.
In this case, I focus on continuous improvement. What is the best way to answer thisquestion? How could I have answered that better? How could I have phrased the answerso it will be well-remembered? Again, like Bill Murray's character in "Groundhog Day",have fun with it, take advantage of the opportunity for improvement.
Enjoy the weekend!
technorati tags: IBM, Japan, travel, conferences, really, bad, PowerPoint, Lost In Translation, Groundhog Day, Bill Murray, Seth Godin