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!
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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 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!
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.
IBM continues its market leadership with these new set of features and offerings!
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, leas 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.
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.
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.