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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior Software Engineer for the IBM Storage product line at the
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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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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!
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.
Yesterday morning, the entire country of Colombia suffered their worst black-out (power outage) in 22 years. 98% of the country was out for 4 1/2 hours.This is just 5 months after an outage that hit 25% of the country, December 7, 2006.Ironically, this one happened the week I am here explaining the need for Business Continuity plans to IBM Business Partners from Argentina, Peru, Velenzuela, Ecuador and Colombia. As is oftenthe case, people often need a real example to recognize the need for planning is important.
It reminded me of the Northeast Black-out of 2003 that impacted USA and Canada. I was speaking to a crowd of 800 people at the SHARE conference in Washington D.C. when it happened, and hundreds of pagers and cell-phones went off all at the same time. Although we were outside the effected area and had plenty of lighting, we ended up canceling therest of my talk, and many people left immediately to help execute their business continuity plans.Of course, terrorism was immediately assumed, but a final report showed that it was initiated in Ohiodue to overgrown trees, and then propagated due to a software bug to hundreds of other plants.
According to this morning's Bogota newspaper, "El Tiempo", nobody knows the root cause of yesterday's outage. Immediately, the country's leftist rebels were blamed, but now the leading theory is that it was initiated byoperator error (a technician touching something he shouldn't have), and then propagated by a faulty distribution system.
Another example of the need for a robust and resilient infrastructure, and appropropriate business continuity plans.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/
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.
I survived my first day at SNW Spring 2007.This is my first time at SNW, but it is very much like many of the other conferences I have been to.It officially started Monday morning with pre-conferencetutorials and primer break-outsessions that covered storage fundamentals, but I didn't arrive until late Monday night due to highwind conditions at the Phoenix airport that delayed my travel.
Tuesday started out with main tent sessions. Ron Milton, VP of ComputerWorld that puts on this conference,and Vincent Franceschini, Chairman of the Board for SNIA, kicked off the event.It didn't take them long to get into the alphabet soup: ILM, ITIL, SMI-S, XAM, IMA, MMA, DDF,MF, DMF, IPSF, SSIF, and SRM.Several hundred people had "voting devices" so that they could participate in "informal" surveys.
Q1. What was the greatest need?
37% Storage Resource Management (SRM) tools
19% Storage Virtualization
19% Information Lifecycle Management (ILM)
14% Integration with other management tools
11% Compliance storage for regulations
Q2. What are people doing to address storage infrastructure complexity?
33% Deploying new SRM and SAN management tools
26% Adopting "Storage as a Service" methodology
22% Deploying new storage virtualization technologies
8% Hiring more staff
9% (complexity was not an issue)
The first keynote speaker was Cora Carmody, CIO of SAIC. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I did a lot of work with SAIC here in San Diego, and so IBM sent me to San Diego quite frequentlyfor face-to-face meetings with them. Her talk was cryptically titled "Jumbo Shrimp, InformationManagement, and the Mark of the Beast." Coming up with good titles is important. Some of herkey points:
"Information management" was as much an oxymoron as "jumbo shrimp" or "military intelligence".(SAIC is a general contractor for the US Military, so this was especially funny).
Computer data needs both "ownership" and "stewardship".
Gartner analyst reports that 50% of digital information for a business resides in personal files onindividual PCs.
PAN-StaRRs project is ingesting 10TB per week of astronomical data.
TeraTEXT(R) project is a non-relational database that supports a large mix of structured and unstructured content.
The next "Y2K" crisis for the USA is changing from 3-digit to 4-digit area codes for our telephone numbers.
Battery size and life have not advanced as fast as we need
There has been little progress in "User Interface" ease of use
Formats and standards are picked for the most part by the winning vendors, and it is the silence of themarketplace that lets them get away with this.
We are overly reliant on an inherently insecure medium.
The "mark of the beast" refers to exciting new technologies based on "presence awareness". For example,some hotels now are able to check you into the hotel as you drive up in your car, based on your car's licenseplate. Some 24-hour gyms use your fingerprint as your entry credentials, eliminating the need to staff peopleat the front desk.
IBM's own Barry Rudolph, presented "Storage in an Age of Inconvenient Truths", dressed up like Oscar-winner andformer USA Vice President Al Gore. Barry's focus was on the growingconcern of over environmental Power and Cooling issues in the data center. According to IDC, the cost of power and cooling an individual server, over its lifetime, now exceeds its acquisition cost. Storage devices are not as bad as servers in this regard. Data centers now consume 1.2% of the worlds energy.
Over lunch, I heard Tony Asaro from ESG present "The Need for Highly Virtualized Storage Systems withina Virtualized Data Center." His concern is that there is still a "heavy touch" required to manage storage.Without virtualization, your data center is less than the sum of its parts. Although IBM has been doingstorage virtualization since 1974, Tony mentioned that most storage vendors were "late to the party".He argues that "internal virtualization" inside storage arrays is not enough, you need "external virtualization"(like the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller) to virtualize your entire infrastructure.What storage administrators would like is for storage to have consumer levels of "ease of use", and today'snon-virtualized storage environments are nowhere near that.
"The great advantage [the telephone] possesses over every other form of electrical apparatus consists in the fact that it requires no skill to operate the instrument." - Alexander Graham Bell, 1878
I attended a few break-out sessions in the afternoon.
Ralph presented "Crisis of Capacity" which covered the drastic actions he had to take to handle power and coolingin their expanding data center during their summer months, where temperatures peak up to 105 degrees. This included creating "hot" and "cold" aisles onhis raised floor by re-organizing the perforated floor tiles, and doing a better job standardizing how cables areconnected to the back of racks and up through the ceiling to maximize airflow. An amp-meter on each power strip was used to measure the powerused at each rack, which allowed them to better prioritize their efforts. Their Air Conditioning unit was only 12inches from the concrete floor, and raising it to 18 inches greatly reduced noise and vibration. Adding a second AC unit made a world of difference. Finally, they eliminatedKVMs, because people who use KVMs break other parts of thedata center. His rule of thumb: the cooling requirements will be 50% of the rated power requirements for equipment.
Terry Yoshi, Intel internal IT department, as a member of the SNIA's end user council
Terry presented "Taming the SAN Complexity". The problem with "complexity" as a concept is that it is very subjective, difficult to quantify, and therefore difficult to manage. He presented complexity in four areas:Organizational structure of the company as a whole; skill sets required of the IT staff; business process andprocedures; and technology. Dealing with complexity is a battle between Old School (because we've always doneit this way) and New School (because it is new and different technology). Storage Area Networks are inherentlya "shared resource", and the increased complexity is a direct result of the low reliability of the componentsand devices it is composed of. People should focus on the "Total Cost of Ownership" (TCO) for a SAN, and not just the initial acquisitionprice of SAN gear.He was not a fan of the "dual/multiple" vendor strategy that many companies employto reduce costs. His suggestion that things should be tried out first on your "test SAN" caused some chuckles,as few have such a thing. Finally, he suggested not only documenting "Best Practices" and "Best Known Methods"but also things that have been found not to work, his do-not-try-this-at-home list.
Tony Antony, Cisco marketing manager for Optical products
This was an overview of the technologies available for long distance connections for disaster recovery,business continuity, and resilience. He covered three levels.
IP - Fibre Channel of IP (FCIP) offers the greatest "global" distance but forces people into asynchronous mirroring.
SONET/SDH - SONET is what we call it in the USA, and SDH is what it is called in other countries. This provides state-to-state or "out-of-region" distances, which is ideal to meet certain government regulations for homeland defense. He suggests this is offered when dark fiber or DWDM is not available.
DWDM/CWDM - this is using a prism to run multiple colors of light through a single fiber optic cable. CWDM ischeaper, but only handles 8 signals per cable. DWDM can handle 32 to 160 signals per cable, but is more expensive.
His rule of thumb: one buffer credit for every kilometer at 2Gbps speed (for every 2km at 1Gbps).
The day ended at the "Expo". I hung out at the IBM booth to help answer questions and network with others.