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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Specialist for the IBM System Storage product line at the
IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2011, Tony celebrated his 25th year anniversary with IBM Storage on the same day as the IBM's Centennial. He is
author of the Inside System Storage series of books. This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to storage and storage networking hardware, software and services. You can also follow him on Twitter @az990tony.
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Most businesses in Latin America would be considered "Small and Medium-size" businesses, which we shorten to SMB, but in some places is shortened to SME for "Small and Medium sized Enterprises." The problem with SME is that we often use this to refer to "subject-matter experts," so it can be confusing.
The problem with many acronyms is that in other countries, the letters are re-arranged, based on the syntax of the language.ISO is actually the International Organization for Standards.
Today, we learned about PYME. In Spanish, this stands for pequeñas y medianas empresas, which is literally "small" and "medium" businesses. Of course, most of my colleagues had not recognized PYME, and most of the people we talked to did not understand SMB. Once we equated one to the other, things went smoothly.
For those not familiar with Latin America, I suggest the movieRomancing The Stone, starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.
Today,Apple and EMI announced that EMI’s entire music and video catalog will be available in May without any digital rights management (DRM) protection.Not only with the music be higher quality, but can be played on any player, presumably using MP3 format instead ofApple's proprietary AAC format. Being locked into any single vendor solution is undesirable. Similar issues abound for Microsoft Office 2007 file formats.
On my iPod, I ripped all my CDs into MP3 format, not AAC. I love my iPod, but if I ever decided to chose a different MP3 player, I did not want to go through the time-consuming process or re-ripping them again.
A blog by Seth Godin feels this Apple-EMI announcement means thatDRM is dead.
Back when music labels added value by producing and distributing music in physical form, it made sense for them to take a cut. Mass-producing CDs and distributing them out to music stores across the country costs lots of money. However, for online music, music labels don't have these same overhead costs, but continue the process of paying the artists only a few pennies per dollar. Some artists have file lawsuits to get their fair share.
This process applies to any published work. For example, you can purchase Kevin Kelly's book in various formats, at different prices, from different distributors. For example:
In PDF for $2, directly from the author via PayPal
black-and-white hardcover, for $20, from Amazon
color softcopy, for $30, from Lulu
Each nets the author $1.50 in royalties per copy. You can decide how much in production and distribution costs you want to pay.
Yesterday, I went to the Bodyworlds exhibition. Here the anatomy of real human cadavers are on display, in full detail, thanks to a process calledPlastination.This was a great way to present anatomy in a 3-D visual way that can be easily understood and appreciated.I was glad to see so many children were there, although I warn parents that some sections of the exhibit maybe a bit shocking. I heard people speaking French and German, and it was great that anyone can be fascinatedby the human body, without having to read or understand English.
In the exhibit, you got to see the bones, nerves, muscles, digestive tract and other organs.Some in action poses, like swinging a baseball bat or ice skating, while others were stretched into specific poses to help emphasize one part or another.
In some cases, they would show side by side healthy and unhealthy organs, for example, the lungs of someone that smokes tobacco cigarettes, compared to the lungs of a normal person. Quite a difference!
Visualization can be an effective way to understand and gain insight from information. Presenting information in a visually stunning manner can be challenging, but often worth the effort. It reminded me of Edward Tufte, who has written several books on this subject.
The concept that there should be a linear "Storage Administrators per TB" rule-of-thumb has been around for a while.Back in 1992, I went to visit a customer in Germany who had FIVE storage admins for 90 GB (yes, GB, not TB) disk array.I told them they only needed 3 admins, but they cited German laws that prohibited "overtime" work on evenings and weekends.
Later, in 1996, I visited an insurance company in Ohio to talk about IBM Tivoli Storage Manager. They had TWO admins to manage 7TB on their mainframe, and another 45 people managing the 7TB across their distributed systems running Linux, UNIX, and Windows. My first question, why TWO? Only one would be needed for the mainframe, but they responded that they back each other up when one takes a 2-week vacation. My second question to the rest of the audience was... "When was the last time you guys took a 2-week vacation?"
Today, admins manage many TBs of storage. But TBs are turning out not to be a fair ruler to estimate the number of admins you need. It's a moving target, and other factors have more influence that sheer quantity of data.Let's take a look at some of those factors, which we call "the three V's":
Variety of information types
In the beginning, there were just flat text files. In today's world, we have structured databases, semi-structured e-mail systems, hypertext documents, composite applications, audio and video formats that require streaming, and so on. Variety adds to the complexity of the environment. Different data requires different treatment, different handling, and perhaps even different storage technologies.
Volume of data
Data on disk and tape is growing 60% year on year. It's growing on paper also. It's growing on film like photos and X-rays. The problem is not the amount, but the rate of growth. Imagine if population and traffic in your city or town increased 60% in one year, most likely people would suffer because most governments just aren't prepared for that level of growth.
Velocity of change
Back in the 1950's and 1960's, people only had to make updates once a year, scheduling time during holidays. Now, people are making changes every month, sometimes every weekend. One customer we spoke with recently said they do about 8000 changes PER WEEKEND!
So, the key is that there is no simple rule-of-thumb. Fewer admins are need per TB on mainframe than distributed systems data. Fewer admins per TB are needed when you deploy productivity software, like IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center. Fewer admins per TB are needed when you deploy storage virtualization, like IBM SAN Volume Controller or IBM virtual tape libraries.
The terms "information" and "data" are often used interchangeably in regular usage, but for the storageindustry, there are significant differences between the two, as different as "fact" from "meaning".
For example, if you are walking down the street, and see a pole with red and white stripes, the data of red and white stripes may not have much meaning, unless you recognize the information is that you are in front of a barber shop.I thought of this when someone pointed me to theStrip Generator Tool website, which can helpyou generate various stripes for use on the tiled background of web pages. (Or if you aredesigning neckties for your Second Life avatar).
Many national flags are based on simple stripes of different colors.For example, look at the national flags of France, Russia, and the Netherlands. These consist of a red, white, and blue stripe, justin different sequence and orientation.Again, the data of these colors, the width of their lines, and the way they are placed on the flag are all data, but the information they convey is significantly more than that.One person might walk right by the flag, not knowing which country it belongs to, while anotherperson might get emotional memories of their homeland.
For those of us in the storage industry, data is just binary 1's and 0's on disk and tape media, and canbe treated like packages at the post office in brown wrapping paper. Just as post office employees don't have to know the contents to ship them to the final destination, servers and storage devices don't need to knowthe informational content of the data that they process and store.
Converting information to data is easy. Let's take an example of taking a digital photo. The photo could be a picture of you and your spouseon your last vacation trip, but you would never know that from just looking at a series of 1's and 0's. For this reason, you create photo albums, you write captions below indicating where and when the photowas taken. This additional "context" is often called "metadata" or just simply "indexing".
Both the information captured (the photo in this case) and its metadata (the caption), can be storedas 1's and 0's on storage media. These bits can be compressed, encrypted, or represented in a variety of formats.
Information is copied from one data file to another. In the traditional sense, one piece of informationcould exist in the primary production copy, as well as multiple archive or backup copies. One piece ofinformation, stored on multiple copies of data. In a sense, this is similar to genetic information storedon each human being (data copy). Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene, reminds us that genes outlive individual humans. In storage, we remind people that data outlivesthe media it is initally written to, and the information outlives the initial data copy stored.
Converting data back to information is not always as simple.Not all sequences of 1's and 0's are obvious what they represent. To display a digital photo, you need to know the format the photo is in, and have an appropriate application that can display it back to something a human person can recognize. If the bits were compressed, the application needs to handlethat, or you need to de-compress the data before handing it to the application. For encrypted data,you need to have the decryption key. The process of converting a single file of data back to information is called "rendering".
One of the big problems with keeping information for long periods of time, isthat you may not have the equipment, decryption key, or applications needed to render the data back to usable information. You've kept the data, but you can't make any sense of it, as if it went through an episode of Will it Blend?
A good example is how the current version of Microsoft Office application is unable to interpret andrender data documents that were stored in WORD 1.0 format. IBM and others have developed "rendering tools" that can help decipher the bits, and bring back the information. To help address this challenge, the new Microsoft Office 2007 haschosen the OOXML format, but will continue to support some of the older legacy formats. IBM and the rest of the world are focused instead on Open Document Format (ODF) open standard. Those of usstill using older versions of Microsoft Office might need the Office 2007 Compatibility Pack.
Another way to get information from data is "data mining", an important part of "business intelligence". Here you are gleaning information notfrom individual details, but from patterns in the data, averages, statistics, totals, that havebroader meaning than individual transactions or events.
For many applications, DLM is just fine. Let's consider e-mail, for example. For most employees,deleting e-mails larger than 1 MB, after 90 days, regardless of content, is probably a reasonable DLM policy. All data is treated the same, based purely on the size and date markings on the outer brown wrapper.
For more sensitive content, DLM is not enough. The e-mails that are to or from the president of thecompany, or between top executives, or that contain certain pieces of information relevant for lawsuitsor other investigations, may not be treatedthe same as other e-mails. In this case, you need ILM technologies, managing based on the informational content of the data, and not just the size and date last referenced.
Of course, IBM supports both, and can help you decide the right solution for each workload.
It is perhaps coincidence that I learned that two people have blogs today.
Dinh Phan is an IBM Field Technical Sales Specialist (FTSS) for IBM System Storage for the Western region of United States. He contributes to the Solsie.com blog from Costa Mesa, California. While this blog is focused on Mobile technology, Dinh has told me he plans to contribute postings about storage. One posting I found heart-warming was about IBM's historic donation of technology.Find his blog entries at:http://solsie.com/
The "corporate bloggers" from the various storage vendors often mention their opinions about IBM products. Sometimes, they say something nice, and other times they poke fun. It's good to read the various opinions. Most are well-thought and well-written.
EMC blogger Chuck Hollis has a post about the various categories that industry analyst IDC used for external controller-based disk in their most recentQ4 Storage Scorecard.I agree with Chuck that it is good to have independent analysts that take an objective look across all storage vendors to provide the facts on various makes and models. Both IBM and EMC took marketshare in 4Q, so we cancongratulate ourselves and each other for the efforts needed to make this happen.
Chuck mentions that while EMC and HDS high-end boxes are similar, perhaps IBM's "DS" series is different enough to question putting it in the same "high-end" category. It's not clear if Chuck is poking fun at the fact that theIBM DS family spans multiple categories; or an admission thatthe IBM DS8300 Turbo is faster than the EMC DMX-3 and HDS USP offerings. Perhaps we need a new categorycalled "super high-end"?
IDC doesn't publish their data by price band, but we can infer from the products in each how they decidedwhich products were grouped into which categories. Let's examine the entire IBM DS family in the various categories.
Our newest offering is the IBM System Storage DS3000 series. Some analysts call this category "low end", but IBM prefers using "entry level". These have an attractivelow acquisition price, very easy to set up, and are intended for the Intel and AMD servers, such as IBMBladeCenter, System x, as well as servers from HP and Dell. Disk arrays in this category typically have listprices below $50,000 USD.
Our midrange offering is the IBM System Storage DS4000 series. These are designed for Linux, UNIX and Windows based workloads.Some call these server platforms "open systems", or sometimes "distributed systems". The DS4000 systems are rack-optimized modularunits, providing plenty of options and trade-offs between price and performance for price-sensitive customers.The "high end" model of the DS4000 series is the DS4800, and has very impressive performance characteristics.Disk arrays in this category typically have list prices in the $50,000 to $299,000 USD range.
IBM System Storage DS6000 seriesis one of our enterprise class offerings. DS6000 offers mainframe attachment comparable to what EMC DMX or HDS USP offer for their "enterprise class" or "high end" models, but uses substantially less power and in a much more compact modular rack-optimized packaging. Disk arrays in this category typically have list prices at $300,000 USD and above.
Super High End
Perhaps IBM and EMC can work together to petition IDC to adopt this as a new category, based on performance,rather than list price. Is the storage marketplace ready for a fourth category?As Chuck mentioned on his blog, IBM is #1 for mainframe disk storage, and perhaps it is because the IBM System Storage DS8000 Turbo series does so well on most mainframe workloads. No offering from EMC or HDS meet or beat the SPC benchmarks for the DS8000 Turbo. You can see the results in the Executive Summary or read the Full Report.
Thanks to IBM's innovative Adaptive ReplacementCache algorithm, IBM DS8000 performance shines best handling read-intensive random-access workloads that mainframes do most often. These types of workload are modeled by the SPC-1 benchmark. In cases of write-intensive, sequential processing, the differences are less substantial, as disk arrays from all manufacturers drop down to the native performance capabilities of the 10K and 15K RPM drives.
I'll give you a real example. Not long ago, I waspart of a team to help resolve a performance bottleneck on-site at the customer location. The customer had an interesting "composite application" where data was processed on AIX platform (IBM System p), which passed the data to a Linux partition running on the IBM System z mainframe,which in turn used Java SQL to post updates to a DB2 database on z/OS partition, which then wrote out through FICON adapters to an HDS USP device. IBM and HDS worked together to help the customer figure out why they weregetting disappointing throughput and response times. IBM brought in experts on AIX, TCP/IP, Java, Linux, z/OS and FICON. HDS had their experts too, and tried to improve performance by quadrupling the storage capacity, and spreading the data out across more spindles. That didn't work. As it turns out, HDS disk just couldn't deliver the performance required. The software and mainframe were all well tuned. They replaced the HDS withan IBM DS8000 array, and it met all the service level requirements. Problem solved.
The problem with having this new "super high end" category, of course, is that only IBM plays in it, so it wouldn'toffer the marketplace much of a comparison. For now, we'll just have to settle for being the fastest in the samecategory as EMC DMX and HDS USP.
Storage is a competitive marketplace.Both EMC and HDS are reputable companies that make quality products that attach to IBM System z mainframe servers. Not all workloads are mission-critical or performance-sensitive. For less critical workloads, perhaps you may find EMC or HDS performance is "good enough".
But if performance is important to you, you should consider IBM on your list of vendors for your next purchase decision. Let IBM help you prove it to yourself, running your specific workloads side by side with your existing equipment.
IBM had some big announcements today. The theme for today's announcement was "Protected Information", as there are many reasons to protect your most strategic asset, your information. Let's do a quick run-down of a few of them.
IBM LTO generation 4
LTO 4 provides encryption at the drive level, and supports WORM cartridges similar to LTO 3. It continues the LTO consortium's strategy for higher capacity and faster performance. If you have LTO 1 or LTO 2, now is a good time to consider upgrading your tape technology. The combination of encryption and WORM protects your information against unauthorized access, and unethical tampering of the data. The support is from our largest automated tapelibrary (TS3500),to our smallest drives.
TS7520 Virtualization Engine
The TS7520replaces the TS7510, providing enhanced Virtual Tape Library (VTL) capability. When you hear "storage virtualization" you often think disk, but IBM invented "tape storage virtualization" and this product continues that leadership.
Support for Half-high LTO 3 drives
The TS3100 and TS3200 now support half-high LTO 3 drives, which means you can have twice the number of drives in each unit. LTO 4 drives can read and write to LTO 3 media, so this provides additional investment protection.
IBM System Storage DR550 File System Gateway
This new offering provides much-needed CIFS and NFS access to the DR550, the worlds most flexible compliance-and-retention storage available. Already there is a large body of ISVs that support the DR550 today, and with this new gateway, the list is even longer. The DR550 provides encryption for both disk and tape data, as well as policy-based non-erasable, non-rewriteable enforcement, designed for compliance with government regulations like Sarbanes-Oxley Act, HIPAA, and many others.
IBM System Storage SAN32B-3 switch
This is the first major deliverable from Brocade since their acquisition of McDATA. A powerful switch packs 4 Gbps support in a small 1U form factor. Start with 16 ports, then add in increments of 8 ports to a maximum of 32 ports.
I've provided all the links, so that you can delve deeply into all the data sheets.
This week (actually April 29 to May 2) is IBM'sPartnerWorld 2007 conference.Over the past 10 years, IBM's shift to rely more heavily on business partners has proven to be a smart decision. IBM Business Partners can often focus on a specific region or industry much better, with laser-like focus.
We had a great event today! This was a first-of-a-kind product launch, using Second Life as the medium. We invited IBM Business Partners, industry analysts and reporters from the Press to have their "avatars" in-world to watch us launch new tape systems, archive and retention systems, and disk systems announced this month.
Andy Monshaw, IBM System Storage General Manager, welcomed everyone to the event, and introduced our three speakers.He mentioned that this was a great innovative way to meet, collaborate and forge relationships without the carbon pollution associated with travel required by a more traditional face-to-face meeting. We had attendees from the USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Colombia, and Brazil.
All the attendees were given a "goody bag" that contained IBM BP-logo clothing, animations and gestures to be used during the meeting.
Eric Buckley, one of our marketing managers for tape systems, introduced our complete line of LTO 4 tape systems, as wellas the TS7520 Virtualization Engine, a virtual tape library for Windows, UNIX and Linux servers. Eric had a virtual 3-Dversion of an LTO cartridge that is photo-realistic and dimensionally correct.
Funda Eceral, our solutions manager for archive and retention offerings, presented the new version of the IBM System Storage DR550, the DR550 file system gateway, and the IBM System Storage Multilevel Grid Archive Manager. At first we thought we would "pass the microphone" from speaker to speaker, but it turned out to be easier just to give all three speakers their own microphone.
Last, but not least, was David Tareen, marketing manager for disk systems, covering the entry-level DS3000 Express disk system bundles designed for our SMB client. David used a black-and-brown pointer stick to point out specific things on the charts.
After the presentations, Kristie Bell, VP of Marketing for IBM System Storage, hosted a Question & Answer (Q&A) panel.Avatars rose their left hand to indicate they had a question.
We thought it would be a good idea to have a few minutes at the end to socialize over a cup of coffee. This involved making a "coffee machine" that dispensed coffee, and the appropriate animations and gestures so that everyone could sip the coffee, and hold the coffee at waist level when they were talking.
The event was held upstairs in one of the conference rooms of the IBM Briefing Center, located on "IBM 8" island.Many people went to the ground floor to look at the many IBM System Storage products on display. Unlike a picture on a web-page, Second Life gives you a 3-D view that you can walk around each product, and get a feel for the size and shape of the hardware.
We had four photographers and camera-persons on hand to capture still shots, video, audio, and chat text, and are working now to combine them for marketing collateral. I want to thank the builders, script programmers, animators, clothing designers, speakers, editors, and channel enablement team for making this event such a great success!