When new technologies are introduced to the marketplace, it is normal for customers to be skeptical.
My sister is a mechanical engineer, so when she needs to configure a part or component, she candesign it on the computer, and then use a "Rapid Prototyping Machine"that acts like a 3D printer, to generate a plastic part that matches the specifications. Some machinesdo this by taking a hunk of plastic and cutting it down to the appropriate shape, and others use glue andpowder to assemble the piece.
But not everything is that simple. Harry Beckwith deals with the issue of selling services and software featuresin his book "Selling the Invisible". How do you sell a service before it is performed? How do you sell a softwarefeature based on new technology that the customer is not familiar with?
Our good friends over at NetApp, our technology partners for the IBM System Storage N series, developed a"storage savings estimator" tool that can provide good insight into the benefits of Advanced Single InstanceStorage (A-SIS) deduplication feature.
I decided to run the tool to analyze my own IBM Thinkpad C: drive (Windows operating system and programs) and D: drive ("My Documents" folder containing all my data files) to see how much storage savings thetool would estimate. Here are my results:
WINXP-C-07G (C: drive)Total Number of Directories: 1272Total Number of Files: 56265Total Number of Symbolic Links: 0Total Number of Hard Links: 41996Total Number of 4k Blocks: 2395884Total Number of 512b Blocks: 18944730Total Number of Blocks: 2395884Total Number of Hole Blocks: 290258Total Number of Unique Blocks: 1611792Percentage of Space Savings: 20.61Scan Start Time: Wed Sep 5 14:37:06 2007Scan End Time: Wed Sep 5 14:53:51 2007
WINXP-D-07H (D: drive)Total Number of Directories: 507Total Number of Files: 7242Total Number of Symbolic Links: 0Total Number of Hard Links: 11744Total Number of 4k Blocks: 3954712Total Number of 512b Blocks: 31610595Total Number of Blocks: 3954712Total Number of Hole Blocks: 3204Total Number of Unique Blocks: 3524605Percentage of Space Savings: 10.79Scan Start Time: Wed Sep 5 14:21:16 2007Scan End Time: Wed Sep 5 14:34:30 2007
I am impressed with the results, and have a better understanding of the way A-SIS works. A-SIS looks at every4kB block of data, and creates a "fingerprint", a type of hash code of the contents. If two blocks have different "fingerprints", then the contents are known to be different. If two blocks have the same fingerprint, it is mathematically possible for them to be unique in content, so A-SIS schedules a byte-for-byte comparison to be sure they are indeed the same. This might happen hours after the block is initially written to disk, but is a much safer implementation, and does not slow down the applications writing data.
(In an effort to provide support "real time" as data was being written, earlier versions of deduplication
had to either assume that a hash collision was a match, or take time to perform the byte-for-byte comparisonrequired during the write process. Doing this byte-for-byte comparison when the device is the busiest doingwrite activities causes excessive undesirable load on the CPU.)
The estimator tool runs on any x86-based Laptop, personal computer or server, and can scan direct-attached, SAN-attached, or NAS-attached file systems. If you are a customer shopping around for deduplication, ask your IBM pre-sales technical support, storage sales rep, or IBM Business Partner to analyze your data. Tools like this can help make a simple cost-benefit analysis: the cost of licensing the A-SIS software feature versus the amount of storage savings.
technorati tags: IBM, Rapid prototyping, 3D printer, Harry Beckwith, Selling the Invisible, IBM, NetApp, Advanced Single Instance Storage, A-SIS, deduplication, fingerprint, hash code, EMC, flaw, MD5, Centera
A few weeks ago, my Tivo(R) digital video recorder (DVR) died. All of my digital clocks in my house were flashing 12:00 so I suspect it wasa power strike while I was at the office. The only other item to die was the surge protector,and so it did what it was supposed to do, give up its own life to protect the rest of myequipment. Although somehow, it did not protect my Tivo.
I opened a problem ticket with Sony, and they sent me instructions on how to send itover to another state to get it repaired.Amusingly, the instructions included "Please make a backup of the drive contents beforesending the unit in for repair." Excuse me? How am I supposed to do that, exactly?
My model has only a single 80GB drive, and so my friend and I removed the drive and attachedit to one of our other systems to see if anything was salvageable. It failed every diagnostictest. There was just not enough to read to be usable elsewhere.
This is typical of many home systems. They are not designed for robust usage, high availability, nor any form of backup/recovery process. Some of the newer models havetwo drives in a RAID-1 mode configuration, but most have many single points of failure.
And certainly, it is not mission critical data. Life goes on without the last few episodesof Jack Bauer on "24", or the various Food Network shows that I recorded for items I planto bake some day. For the past few weeks, I have spent more time listening to the radioand reading books. Somehow, even though my television runs fine without my Tivo, watchingTV in "real time" just isn't the same.
I suspect that if you gave someone a method to do the backup, most would not bother to useit. People are now relying more and more heavily on their home-basedinformation storage systems, digital music, video and cherished photographs. Perhaps experiencing a "loss" will help them appreciate backup/recovery systems so much more than they do today.
technorati tags: Tivo, Digital Video Recorder, DVR, RAID, backup, recovery, loss, information, storage, systems
ESG Analyst, Tony Asaro, talks about the many small storage startups having aBillion Dollar Impact
on the storage system industry. Tony has counted over50 storage system vendors that are now in the marketplace. Is it really that many?Most of the time, the media only focus on the top seven major players, but I agree that big players like IBM should take trends about small startups like this seriously.
EMC Blogger Chuck Hollis suggests that this trend might be the start of a squeeze play, where top players and new upstarts squeeze out the middle playerslike Sun and HDS, in his postDesperate Times In Storage Land?
(His statement that IDC and Gartner have listed EMC as number one in "almost all"market segments is perhaps a bit misleading. IBM is number one in overall storage hardware, as wellas leading in tape drives, tape libraries, tape virtualization, and for that matter,disk virtualization. I don't know if IDC or Gartner count EMC Disk Library in the "tape virtualization" category, or if either analyst distinguishes between "cache-based" versus "switch-based" disk virtualization as separate categories.Perhaps Chuck should have qualified this to say "almost all of themarket segments that EMC does business in," which of course is better than the othervendors in the middle.)
This time around, Chuck pokes fun at HDS, IBM, Sun, NetApp and HP, much like "that guy" that skewersour favorite SouthPark characters Cartman, Kenny, Stan, Kyle in thisComedy Central MMORPG parody video. (And no, I am not suggesting Chuck looks anythinglike the cartoon character or his corresponding avatar)
Perhaps putting me in the same not-afraid-to-say-bold-things-in-his-blog category as Sun'sout-spoken Jonathan Schwartz, or Dave Hitz uber-blogger from NetApp, is not such a bad thing after all.
technorati tags: ESG, Tony Asaro, IBM, storage, system, vendors, EMC, Chuck Hollis, HDS, SouthPark, Cartman, Kenny, Stan, Kyle, MMORPG, Comedy Central, Sun, Jonathan Schwartz, NetApp, Dave Hitz,
Today I spoke at the IBM Think Green Roadshow in Phoenix, Arizona. This is justone of a 15-city tour to help make people aware of Green data center issues.Here is the schedule forthe remaining cities. Contact your local IBM rep for details.
Victor Ferreira was our moderator and host. He is the site level executive for the2000 IBM employees in the Phoenix area, and manages the Public Sector for our Westernregion.
The first speaker was Dave McCoy, IBM principal in our Data Center services group.He explained IBM's Project Big Green and the Energy Efficiency Initiative, and wentinto details on how IBM can act as general contractor to design, plan and build theideal Green Data Center for you. IBM can also retrofit existing buildings, with new technologies like stored cooling, optimized airflow assessments, and modulardata center floorspace. While not related to energy, but still important to ourenvironment was IBM Asset Recovery Services, where IBM can take all those old PCmonitors, keyboards and other outdated equipment and refurbish or melt down to recapture useful metals and plastics, and disposing the rest in an environmentally-friendly,non-toxic manner.
I was the second speaker, covering "How to get it done". While Dave covered the issuesand technologies available, I explained how to put it all into practice. This includesIT systems assessments, health audits, and thermal profiling. Using server and storagevirtualization, you can increase resource utilization and reduce energy waste. IBM's CoolBlueproduct line, which includes the IBM PowerExecutive software to monitor your IT environment, and the "Rear Door Heat Exchanger" that uses chilled water to remove asmuch as 60% of the heat coming out of the back of a server rack, greatly reducing hot-spotson the data center floor, and allowing you to run the entire room at warmer, less-expensivetemperatures.
On the server side, I covered IBM's System z mainframe and the BladeCenter as examples of how innovative technologies can be used to run more applications with less energy. The newSystem p570 based on the energy-intelligent POWER6 processor has twice the performance for the same amountof power as its POWER5 predecessor. On thestorage side, I explained how Information Lifecycle Management (ILM), storage virtualization,and the use of a blended disk and tape environment can greatly reduce energy costs.
Reps from our many technology partners Eaton, APC, Schneider Electric, Liebert, and Anixter werethere to support this event.
The session ended with a Q&A Panel, with Dave McCoy, myself, and Greg Briner from IBM GlobalFinancing. IBM is able to offer creative "project financing" that can often times match theactual monthly savings, resulting in net zero cost to your operational budget, with payback periods as little as 2.5 years.
To learn more about IBM's efforts to help clients create "Green" data centers, clickGreen Data Center.
technorati tags: IBM, Green Data Center, Project Big Green, Energy Efficiency Initiative, Eaton, APC, Scheider Electric, Liebert, Anixter, BladeCenter, POWER6, p570, ILM, disk, tape, Dave McCoy, Greg Briner, Victor Ferreira, Phoenix, Arizona
Often, when looking at disk storage it is easy to focus on comparisons to other disk storage, but disruptive technologies cross boundaries. Already we have seen Flash Memory drives on the IBM BladeCenter, replacing traditional disk drives internal to each blade server. They are smaller than regular disk drives, but big enough to hold the operating system to boot from.
The New York Times has an article by John Markoff, Redefining the Architecture of Memory that talks about IBM's research on "Racetrack Memory".The article is a good read, but here are some interesting excerpts:
Now, if an idea that Stuart S. P. Parkin is kicking around in an I.B.M. lab here is on the money, electronic devices could hold 10 to 100 times the data in the same amount of space.
Currently the flash storage chip business is exploding. Used as storage in digital cameras, cellphones and PCs, the commercially available flash drives with multiple memory chips store up to 64 gigabytes of data.
However, flash memory has an Achilles’ heel. Although it can read data quickly, it is very slow at storing it. That has led the industry on a frantic hunt for alternative storage technologies that might unseat flash.
Mr. Parkin’s new approach, referred to as “racetrack memory,” could outpace both solid-state flash memory chips as well as computer hard disks, making it a technology that could transform not only the storage business but the entire computing industry.
But ultimately, the technology may have even more dramatic implications than just smaller music players or wristwatch TVs, said Mark Dean, vice president for systems at I.B.M. Research.“Something along these lines will be very disruptive,” he said. “It will not only change the way we look at storage, but it could change the way we look at processing information. We’re moving into a world that is more data-centric than computing-centric.”
This technology has the potential to break some of the physical limitations that are currently worrying disk drive designers. I look forward to see how this plays out.
technorati tags: IBM, Stuart Parkin, Mark Dean, racetrack, memory, storage, disk, flash, disruptive technology
This Doonesbury cartoonabout Second Life reminded me about our September 20 event.
Registration for the "Meet the Storage Experts" event in Second Life will close this week fornext week's September 20 event. All IBMers, clients and IBM Business Partners are welcome to attend. We will focus this time on DS3000 and N series disk systems, tape systems,and IBM storage networking gear.
If you miss this one, we plan to have another one in November!
technorati tags: IBM, SecondLife, doonesbury, cartoon, avatar, storage, experts, September
Well, we had another successful event in Second Life today.
Unlike our April 26 launch of our System Storage products for IBM Business Partners only, this time we decided this time to make it as a "Meet the Storage Experts" Q&A Panel format, and open up registration to everyone. Thesubject matter experts sat at the front of the room on four stools. We had six rows of chairs arrangedsemi-circularly.
Shown above, from left to right, are the avatars of our four experts:
- Steve Grillo
- IBM System Storage N series, focusing on recent N3000 disk system announcements
- Harold Pike (holding the microphone while speaking)
- IBM System Storage DS3000 and DS4000 series, focusing on recent DS3000 disk system announcements
- Eric Buckley
- IBM System Storage TS series, focusing on recent TS2230, TS3400 and TS7700 tape system announcements
- Pete Danforth
- IBM storage networking, focusing on recent IBM SAN256B director blade announcements
(you can read more about these products here:July announcements
While Eric was a veteran Second Lifer, having presented at our April event, the other three were trainedon how to raise their hand, speak into the microphone, sit on the stool, and so on. I want to thank allof our experts for putting in this effort!
The event was produced by Katrina H Smith. She did a great job, and made sure we were on top ofall the issues and tasks required to get the job done. Running a Second Life event is every bit ashard as running a real face-to-face event. We had several meetings to discuss venue details, placementof chairs, placement of product demos, audio/video recording, wall decorations, tee-shirt and coffee mug design, logistics, and so on.
I acted as moderator/emcee for the event. That is my back in the picture above. The process wassimple, modeled after the "Birds of a Feather" sessions at events like SHARE and the IBMStorage and Storage Networking Symposium. We threw out a list of topics the experts would cover,and people in the audience would "raise their left hand". I, as the moderator, would then walkover to each person, and hold out the microphone for them to ask the question. I would then repeat the question and ask the appropriate expert to provide an answer. We defined gestures onhow to "raise hand" and "put hand down" that we gave to each registered participant.
We had four dedicated "camera-avatars" in world to capture both video and screenshots.Our video editors are now working to edit "highlight videos" that we can use at future events, for training materials, and for our internal "BlueTube" online video system.
The room was filled with examples of each of our products, made into 3D objects that were dimensionallycorrect, and "textured" with photographs of the actual products. If you click on an object, you get a "notecard" that provided more information. Special thanks to Scott Bissmeyer for making all of theseobjects for us.
We made posters of each expert and placed them in all four corners of the room. On the bottom of each coffee mug was a picture of each of the experts, and if you walked under each of the posters, you were"dispensed" a coffee mug matching the expert shown in the poster.Participants could "Collect all Four!" When you bring the coffee mug up to takea sip, the picture on the bottom of the mug is exposed for all to see.And as a final give-away to the audience, we made a variety of event tee-shirts and polo-shirts.
At the end of the session, we asked everyone to click on the "Survey" kiosk near the exit door. We askedsix simple questions using SurveyMonkey.com that took only a fewminutes to process. We found asking questions immediately at the end of the event was the best way tocapture this feedback.
From a "Green" perspective, we had people registered from the following countries: US, India, Mexico,Australia, United Kingdom, Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Chile, China, Canada, and Venezuela. Second Lifeallows all these people who probably could not travel, or could not afford the time and expense to travel,to participate in a simulated face-to-face meeting without energy consumption of traditional travel methods.
More importantly, we got several leads for business. People often ask "Yes, but is there any businessassociated with this?" This time, there was, based on the answers to the questions, several avatars asked for a real sales call to follow-up on the products and offerings they were discussed.
With such a great success, we have already scheduled our next Second Life event, November 8. Mark your calendars! I'll postmore details on the registration process of the November event when available.
technorati tags: IBM, secondlife, meet, the, storage, experts, Steve Grillo, Harold Pike, Eric Buckley, Pete Danforth, Katrina Smith, Scott Bissmeyer, US, India, Mexico, Australia, UK, Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Chile, China, Canada, Venezuela, Green, business
I was in Raleigh this week, in business meetings, and had dinner last night at a Japanese Tepanyaki restaurant. The man next to me was dining alone, and said he worked for Cisco, a big company, "Had you heard of it?" he asked. Of course, I told him, I work for IBM, and IBM and Cisco have a strong working relationship, using each others products in both directions. He said he understood why they would use IBM, but why would IBM buy anything from them, and then he said, "Oh yes, your cafeteria".
At this point we realized he was talking about SYSCO, the food company, not Cisco, the storage networking technology partner. We both had a good laugh.
Which brings me to think of other "mis-heard" or "mis-interpreted" items that might have caught people off guard because they sounded similarly.
- zFS versus ZFS
Some things are case-sensitive. Lower case zFS is the hierarchical file system for the z/OS mainframe environment, which was originally called "episode" file system that IBM acquired from TransArc. z/OS supports two file systems, HFS and zFS. Meanwhile, ZFS is one of the file systems available for Sun Solaris. Apple Mac OS is switching from its own HFS, different than the z/OS version, over the Sun's ZFS.
- packs versus PACS
Older mainframers call disk volumes "packs". This started in the days where disks were "removable" and you can pack and unpack them into the drive unit.
PACS on the other hand refers to the "Picture Archive and Communication System" application environment used by hospitals and medical facilities to storage and share X-ray, Cardiology and Radiology images. Today, modern medical equipment are called "modalities" and directly connect to NAS storage via NFS or CIFS protocols. The images are immediately digitized and sent to disk, then tape, for long-term archive storage. IBM's Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS) is designed specifically for this environment.
- rack versus RAC
Perhaps my favorite was when someone asked a high-level executive at a conference if their storage product supported Oracle RAC, and the response was that it supported anyone's rack, so long as it met the 19 inch standard. Everyone burst out laughing, and he probably had to be explained what was going on afterward.
Oracle RAC refers to Real Application Cluster, allowing multiple Oracle servers to work together as a system. A "rack" is just the powered shelf, typically 19" wide, and typically 25U or 42U tall, that allows modular servers, storage or network gear be placed together in a data center. A "U" is 1.75 inches, the thickness of a "two-by-four" piece of lumber. If you have ever used a 3.5 inch or 5.25 inch floppy diskette, then you already know the 2U and 3U sizes.
I am sure there are many other examples of similar sounding terms and phrases. If you have any to contribute, post a comment below!
technorati tags: IBM, Sysco, Cisco, zFS, Transarc, episode, Sun, Solaris, Apple, Mac, OSX, HFS, rack, Oracle, RAC, 25U, 42U, floppy, diskette, pack, PACS, X-ray, cardiology, radiology, modality
The smart people at the University of Pittsburgh
manage five campuses and over 33,000 students, andneeded to create an enterprise storage solution that would give it three key benefits. Of course, they turnedto IBM, the number one overall storage hardware vendor, to deliver.
- A new storage infrastructure with the capacity to grow with the University of Pittsburgh as needed
- Improved system reliability with reduced downtime, and availability 24/7/365
- A significantly more manageable storage solution that could lower costs and provide better system efficiency through virtualization
As a result, IBM shipped its 25,000th high-end disk storage system, in this case two IBM System Storage DS8300 models, along with storage virtualization, and other related hardware, software and services, to provide a complete end-to-end solution.
Here is what Jinx Walton, Director of Computing Services and Systems Development at the University of Pittsburgh, had to say about it...
"The University of Pittsburgh supports large enterprise systems, and the number and complexity of new systems continue to grow. To effectively manage these systems it was necessary to identify an enterprise storage solution that would leverage our existing investments in storage, make allocation of storage flexible and responsive to project needs, provide centralized management, and offer the reliability and stability we require. The integrated IBM storage solution met these requirements"
You can read the details in the official IBM press release.
technorati tags: IBM, University, Pittsburgh, DS8300, Jinx Walton, SVC, SAN Volume Controller, services, Productivity Center, software
Forrester Research has a paper that discusses how Storage Providers Are Divided Into Generalists And Specialists
. The studyfocuses on the buying behaviour of enterprises in North America. Here is an excerpt of their executive summary:
To get beyond the simple statistics of vendor popularity, we looked at the number and combinations of vendors with which enterprises work. Many were customers of one or two storage providers, but the rest were customers of up to six storage providers. More than one-third were customers of systems vendors only, bypassing storage specialists.
Comparisons between solutions vendors and storage component vendors are not new. One could argue that this can be compared to supermarkets and specialty shops.
- Supermarkets offer everything you need to prepare a meal. You can buy your meat, bread, cheese,and extras all with one-stop shopping. In a sense, IBM, HP, Sun and Dell are offering this to clients who prefer this approach. Not surprisingly, the two leaders in overall storage hardware,IBM and HP, are also the two best to offer a complete set of software, services, servers and storage.
This is especially true for small and medium sized businesses (SMB). The Register writesIBM and HP the most loved x86 server vendors of all, beating out other solution providers Dell and Sun.
IBM and HP are also the leaders in tape.While Forrester reports that many large enterprises in North America prefer to buy diskfrom storage specialists, others have found that customers prefer to buy their tape from solution providers. Recently, Byte and Switch reports thatLTO Hits New Milestones,where the LTO consortium (IBM, HP, and Quantum) have collectively shipped over 2 million LTO tape drives, and over 80 million LTO tape cartridges. Perhaps this is because tape is part of an overallbackup, archive or space management solution, and customers trust a solution vendor overa storage specialist.
Where possible, IBM brings synergy between its servers and storage. For example, we justannounced the IBM BladeCenter Boot Disk System, a 2U high unit that supports up to 28 blade servers, ideal for applications running under Windows or Linux, and helping to reduce the energy consumption for thoseinterested in a "Green" data center.
- Specialty shops
- Some people prefer buying their meat at the slaughterhouse, bread at the French pastry shop, andso on. Storage specialists focus on just storage, leaving the rest of the solution, like servers,to be purchased separately from someone else. Storage vendors like NetApp, EMC, HDS and othersoffer storage components to customers that like to do their own "system integration", or to thosethat are large enough to hire their own "systems integrator".
Storage specialists recognize that not everybody is a "specialty shop" shopper.HDS has done well selling their disk through solution vendorslike HP and Sun. EMC sells its gear through solution vendor Dell.
Interestingly, I have met clients who prefer to buy IBM System Storage N series from IBM, becauseIBM is a solution vendor, and others that prefer to buy comparable NetApp equipment directly fromNetApp, because they are a storage component vendor.
I mostly buy my groceries at a supermarket, buthave, on occasion, bought something from the local butcher, baker or candlestick maker. And if you are ever in Tucson, you might be able to find Mexican tamalessold by a complete stranger standing outside of a Walgreens pharmacy, the ultimate extreme of specialization. You can get a dozen tamales for tenbucks, and in my experience they are usually quite good. Theoretically, if you get sick, or they don't taste right, you have no recourse, and will probably never see that stranger again to complain to.(And no, before I get flamed, I am not implying any major vendor mentioned above is like this tamale vendor)
Of course, nothing is starkly black and white, and comparisons like this are just to help provide context and perspective,but if you are looking to have a complete IT solutionthat works, from software and servers to storage and financing, come to the vendor you can trust, IBM.
technorati tags: IBM, EMC, HP, Dell, Sun, NetApp, HDS, BladeCenter, boot, disk, storage, system, blade, server, LTO, Ultrium, tape, drive, cartridge, shipments, Mexican, tamales, Walgreens