It's Tuesday, and you know what that means-- IBM makes its announcements.
Today, IBM announced a variety of storage offerings, but I am going to just focus this poston just the new DR550 models. The DR550 is the leading disk-and-tape solution forstoring non-erasable, non-rewriteable (NENR) data. This type of data, often called fixed-contentor compliance data, was previously writtento Write-Once-Read-Only (WORM) optical media. However, Optical technology has not advanced as fastas magnetic recording, so disk and tape have taken over this role. While there are still a fewlaws on the books that mandate "optical media" as the storage solution, new laws like SEC 17a-4and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) allow for NENR solutions based on magnetic disk or tape instead.
As we had done for the IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC), the DR550 was based on "off the shelf"components. The File System Gateway (FSG) was based on System x server, the DR550 hardwarebased on System p server and DS4000 disk arrays, with "hardened" versions of the AIX,DS4000 Storage Manager and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) that we renamed the IBM SystemStorage Archive Manager (SSAM).
The DR550 is Ethernet-based, so it can be used with all IBM server platforms, from System xand BladeCenter, to System i, and System p, and even System z mainframe customers, as wellas non-IBM platforms from Sun, HP and others. There are two ways to get data stored ontothe DR550:
- Sending archive objects via the SSAM archive API. This is an API based on the XBSA open standardthat many applications have coded to.
- Writing files via standard CIFS and NFS protocols through the File System Gateway (FSG), an optional priced feature that you can have incorporated into the DR550.
Generally, business applications like SAP or Microsoft Exchange don't do this directly, but ratheryou have an "archive management application" that acts as the go-between broker. IBM offers IBM Content Manager, IBM CommonStore for eMail (Exchange and Lotus Domino), and IBM CommonStore for SAP.IBM also recently acquired FileNet and Princeton Softech that provide additional support. Third partyproducts like Zantaz and Symantec KVS Enterprise Vault have also passed System Storage Provencertification for the DR550. These go-between applications understand the underlying storagestructure of their respective applications, and can apply policies to extract database rows, individualemails, or other attachments, as appropriate, and either move or copy them into the DR550.
The DR550 has built in support to move data from disk to tape, through policy-based automation behind the scenes. This is the key differentiator fromdisk-only solutions. Rather than filling up an EMC Centera, and watching it sit there idle burning energyfor five to seven years, or however long you are required to keep the data, you can instead use the disk for the most recent months worth of data on a DR550. The DR550 attaches to tapedrives or libraries, not just IBM TS1120 or LTO based models, but hundreds of systems from other vendorsas well. You can combine this with either rewriteable or WORM tape cartridge media, depending on yourcircumstances. This can be directly cabled, or through a SAN fabric environment. Storing the bulk ofthis rarely-referenced data on tape makes the DR550 substantially more affordable and more green thandisk-only alternatives.
Let's take a look at the specific models:
- IBM System Storage DR550 DR1
The DR1 machine-type-model replaces the "DR550 Express" for small and medium size business workloads. This is a singleSystem p server with anywhere from 1 to 36 TB of raw disk capacity in a nice lockable 25U cabinet (see picture at left). On the original DR550 Express, the 25U cabinet was optional, but so many people opted for it, that wemade it standard feature. You can add the File System Gateway, which is a System x running Linuxwith NFS and CIFS protocols converted to SSAM API calls.
- IBM System Storage DR550 DR2
The DR2 machine-type-model replaces the larger "DR550" for enterprise workloads. This can be either a single or dual node System p configuration, anywhere from 6 to 168 TB in raw disk capacity, in a lockable 36U cabinet. This also allows for an optional File System Gateway, and in the case of thedual node configuration, you can have two System p servers, and two System x servers with two Ethernetand two SAN switches for complete redundancy.
Common Information Model (CIM) and SMI-S interfaces have been added so that IBM Director can providea "single pane of glass" to manage all of the components of the DR550.
The system is based on high-capacity 750GB SATA drives, installed in half-drawer (eight drives, 6 TB)and full-drawer (16 drives, 12 TB) increments. Your choices will be 7+P RAID5 or 6+P+Q RAID6.Here is an Intel article that explains [RAID6 P+Q].In the future, as new disk technologies are introduced, the DR550 supports moving the disk datafrom old to new seamlessly, without disrupting the data retention policies enforcement.
For more information, here is a [6-page brochure] thathas specifications for both the DR1 and DR2 models.
Previous posts about the DR550: [DR550 File System Gateway | What happened to CAS? | Optimizing Data Retention and Archiving | Blocks, Files and Content-Addressable Storage | Dilemma over future storage formats | Storage Predictions for 2007]
I'll cover some of the other announcements in later posts this week. If you can't wait, you can go read the[IBM Press Release].
technorati tags: IBM, DR550, Express, DR1, DR2, SSAM, TSM, FSG, NFS, CIFS, NENR, WORM, fixed-content, compliance, SEC, SOX, SVC, XBSA, API, SAP, CommonStore, Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino, FileNet, Princeton Softech, Zantaz, EnterpriseVault, EMC, Centera, AIX, Linux, cabinet, RAID5, SATA, RAID6, P+Q, CAS
On Tuesday, I covered much of the Feb 26 announcements, but left the IBM System Storage DS8000 for today so that it can haveits own special focus.
Many of the enhancements relate to z/OS Global Mirror, which we formerly called eXtended Remote Copy or "XRC", not to be confused with our "regular" Global Mirror that applies to all data. For those not familiar with z/OS Global Mirror, here is how it works. The production mainframe writes updates to the DS8000, and the DS8000 keeps track of these in cache until a "reader" can pull them over to the secondary location.The "reader" is called System Data Mover (SDM) which runs in its own address space under z/OS operating system. Thanks to some work my team did several years ago, z/OS Global Mirror was able to extend beyond z/OS volumes and include Linux on System z data. Linux on System z can use a "Compatible Disk Layout" (CDL) format (now the default) that meetsall the requirements to be included in the copy session.
IBM has over 300 deployments of z/OS Global Mirror, mostly banks, brokerages and insurance companies. The feature can keep tens of thousands of volumes in one big "consistency group" and asynchronously mirror them to any distance on the planet, with the secondary copy recovery point objective (RPO) only a few seconds behind the primary.
- Extended Distance FICON
Extended Distance FICON is an enhancement to the industry-standard FICON architecture (FC-SB-3) that can help avoid degradation of performance at extended distances by implementing a new protocol for "persistent" Information Unit (IU) pacing. This deals with the number of packets in flight between servers and storage separated by long distances, andcan keep a link fully utilized at 4Gpbs FICON up to 50 kilometers. This is particularly important for z/OS GlobalMirror "reader" System Data Mover (SDM). By having many "reads" in flight, this enhancementcan help reduce the need for spoofing or channel-extender equipment, or allow you to choose lower-costchannel extenders based on "frame-forwarding" technology. All of this helps reduce your total cost of ownership (TCO)for a complete end-to-end solution.
This feature will be available in March as a no-charge update to the DS8000 microcode.For more details, see the [IBM Press Release]
- z/OS Global Mirror process offload to zIIP processors
To understand this one, you need to understand the different "specialty engines" available on the System z.
On distributed systems where you run a single application on a single piece of server hardware, you mightpay "per server", "per processor" or lately "per core" for dual-core and quad-core processors. Software vendors were looking for a way to charge smaller companies less, and larger companies more. However, you might end up paying the same whether you use 1GHz Intelor 4GHz Intel processor, even though the latter can do four times more work per unit time.
The mainframe has a few processors for hundreds or thousands of business applications.In the beginning, all engines on a mainframe were general-purpose "Central Processor" or CP engines. Based on theircycle rate, IBM was able to publish the number of Million Instructions per Second (MIPS) that a machine witha given number of CP engines can do. With the introduction of side co-processors, this was changed to "Millionsof Service Units" or MSU. Software licensing can charge per MSU, and this allows applications running in aslittle as one percent of a processor to get appropriately charged.
One of the first specialty engines was the IFL, the "Integrated Facility for Linux". This was a CP designatedto only run z/VM and Linux on the mainframe. You could "buy" an IFL on your mainframe much cheaper than a CP,and none of your z/OS application software would count it in the MSU calculations because z/OS can't run on theIFL. This made it very practical to run new Linux workloads.
In 2004, IBM introduced "z Application Assist Processor" (zAAP) engines to run Java, and in 2006, the "z Integrated Information Processor" (zIIP) engines to run database and background data movement activities.By not having these counted in the MSU number for business applications, it greatly reduced the cost for mainframe software.
Tuesday's announcement is that the SDM "reader" will now run in a zIIP engine, reducing the costs for applicationsthat run on that machine. Note that the CP, IFL, zAAP and zIIP engines are all identical cores. The z10 EC hasup to 64 of these (16 quad-core) and you can designate any core as any of these engine types.
- Faster z/OS Global Mirror Incremental Resync
One way to set up a 3-site disaster recovery protection is to have your production synchronously mirrored to a second site nearby, and at the same time asynchronously mirrored to a remote location. On the System z,you can have site "A" using synchronous IBM System Storage Metro Mirror over to nearby site "B", and alsohave site "A" sending data over to size "C" using z/OS Global Mirror. This is called "Metro z/OS Global Mirror"or "MzGM" for short.
In the past, if the disk in site A failed, you would switch over to site B, and then send all the data all over again. This is because site B was not tracking what the SDM reader had or had not yet processed.With Tuesday's announcement, IBM has developed an "incremental resync" where site B figures out what theincremental delta is to connect to the z/OS Global Mirror at site "C", and this is 95% faster than sendingall the data over.
- IBM Basic HyperSwap for z/OS
What if you are sending all of your data from one location to another, and one disk system fails? Do you declare a disaster and switch over entirely? With HyperSwap, you only switch over the disk systems, but leave therest of the servers alone. In the past, this involved hiring IBM Global Technology Services to implementa Geographically Dispersed Parallel Sysplex (GDPS) with software that monitors the situation and updates thez/OS operating system when a HyperSwap had occurred. All application I/O that were writing to the primary locationare automatically re-routed to the disks at the secondary location. HyperSwap can do this for all the disk systems involved,allowing applications at the primary location to continue running uninterrupted.
HyperSwap is a very popular feature, but not everyone has implemented the advanced GDPS capabilities.To address this, IBM now offers "Basic HyperSwap", which is actually going to be shipped as IBMTotalStorage Productivity Center for Replication Basic Edition for System z. This will run in a z/OSaddress space, and use either the DB2 RDBMS you already have, or provide you Apache Derby database for thosefew out there who don't have DB2 on their mainframe already.
Update: There has been some confusion on this last point, so let me explain the keydifferences between the different levels of service:
- Basic HyperSwap: single-site high availability for the disk systems only
- GDPS/PPRC HyperSwap Manager: single- or multi-site high availability for the disk systems, plus some entry-level disaster recovery capability
- GDPS/PPRC: highly automated end-to-end disaster recovery solution for servers, storage and networks
I apologize to all my colleagues who thought I implied that Basic HyperSwap was a full replacement for the morefull-function GDPS service offerings.
- Extended Address Volumes (EAV)
Up until now, the largest volume you could have was only 54 GB in size, and many customers still are using 3 GB and 9 GB volume sizes. Now, IBM will introduce 223 GB volumes. You can have any kind of data set on these volumes,but only VSAM data sets can reside on cylinders beyond the first 65,280. That is because many applications still thinkthat 65,280 is the largest cylinder number you can have.
This is important because a mainframe, or a set of mainframes clustered together, can only have about 60,000disk volumes total. The 60,000 is actually the Unit Control Block (UCB) limit, and besides disk volumes, youcan have "virtual" PAVs that serve as an alias to existing volumes to provide concurrent access.
Aside from the first item, the Extended Distance FICON, the other enhancements are "preview announcements" which means that IBM has not yet worked out the final details of price, packaging or delivery date. In many cases, the work is done, has been tested in our labs, or running beta in select client locations, but for completeness I am required to make the following disclaimer:
All statements regarding IBM's plans, directions, and intent are subject to change or withdrawal without notice. Availability, prices, ordering information, and terms and conditions will be provided when the product is announced for general availability.
technorati tags: IBM, z10 EC, DS8000, z/OS Global Mirror, XRC, SDM, CDL, RPO, FICON, dual-core, quad-core, Intel, MIPS, MSU, zAAP, IFL, zIIP, Hyperswap, DB2, Apache, Derby, UCB, VSAM, EAV
Many people have asked me if there was any logic with the IBM naming convention of IBM Systems branded servers. Here's your quick and easy cheat sheet:
- System x -- "x" for cross-platform architecture. Technologies from our mainframe and UNIX servers were brought into chips that sit next to the Intel or AMD processors to provide a more reliable x86 server experience. For example, some models have a POWER processor-based Remote Supervisor Adapter (RSA).
- System p -- "p" for POWER architecture.
- System z -- "z" for Zero-downtime, zero-exposures. Our lawyers prefer "near-zero", but this is about as close as you get to ["six-nines" availability] in our industry, with the highest level of security and encryption, no other vendor comes close, so you get the idea.
But what about the "i" for System i? Officially, it stands for "Integrated" in that it could integrate different applications running on different operating systems onto a [COMMON
] platform. Options were available to insert Intel-based processor cards that ran Windows, or attach special cables that allowed separate System x servers running Windows to attach to a System i. Both allowed Windows applications to share the internal LAN and SAN inside the System i machine. Later, IBM allowed [AIX on System i
] and [Linux on Power
] operating systems to run as well.
From a storage perspective, we often joked that the "i" stood for "island", as most System i machines used internal disk, or attached externally to only a fewselected models of disk from IBM and EMC that had special support for i5/OS using a special, non-standard 520-byte disk block size. This meant only our popular IBM System Storage DS6000 and DS8000 series disk systems were available. This block size requirement only applies to disk. For tape, i5/OS supports both IBM TS1120 and LTO tape systems. For the most part,System i machines stood separate from the mainframe, and the rest of the Linux, UNIX and Windows distributed serverson the data center floor.
Often, when I am talking to customers, they ask when will product xyz be supported on System z or System i?I explained that IBM's strategy is not to make all storage devices connect via ESCON/FICON or support non-standard block sizes, but rather to get the servers to use standard 512-byte block size, Fibre Channel and other standard protocols.(The old adage applies: If you can't get Mohamed to move to the mountain, get the mountain to move to Mohamed).
On the System z mainframe, we are 60 percent there, allowing three of the five operating systems (z/VM, z/VSE and Linux) to access FCP-based disk and tape devices. (Four out of six if you include [OpenSolaris for the mainframe])But what about System i? As the characters on the popular television show [LOST] would say: It's time to get off the island!
Last week, IBM announced the new [i5/OS V6R1 operating system] with features that will greatly improve the use of external storage on this platform. Check this out:
- POWER6-based System i 570 model server
Our latest, most powerful POWER processor brought to the System i platform. The 570 model will be the first in the System i family of servers to make use of new processing technology, using up to 16 (sixteen!) POWER6 processors (running at 4.7GHZ) in each machine.The advantage of the new processors is the increased commercial processing workload (CPW) rating, 31 percent greater than the POWER5+ version and 72 percent greater than the POWER5 version. CPW is the "MIPS" or "TeraFlops" rating for comparing System i servers.Here is the[Announcement Letter].
- Fibre Channel Adapter for System i hardware
That's right, these are [Smart IOAs], so an I/O Processor (IOP) is no longer required! You can even boot the Initial Program Load (IPL) direclty from SAN-attached tape.This brings System i to the 21st century for Business Continuity options.
- Virtual I/O Server (VIOS)
[VirtualI/O Server] has been around for System p machines, but now available on System i as well. This allows multiplelogical partitions (LPARs) to access resources like Ethernet cards and FCP host bus adapters. In the case of storage, the VIOS handles the 520-byte to 512-byte conversion, so that i5/OS systems can now read and write to standard FCP devices like the IBM System Storage DS4800 and DS4700 disk systems.
- IBM System Storage DS4000 series
Initially, we have certified DS4700 and DS4800 disk systems to work with i5/OS, but more devices are in plan.This means that you can now share your DS4700 between i5/OS and your other Linux, UNIX and Windowsservers, take advantage of a mix of FC and SATA disk capacities, RAID6 protection, and so on.
- IBM PowerVM
To call [IBM PowerVM] the "VMware for the POWER architecture" would not do it quite justice. In combination with VIOS, IBM PowerVM is able to run a variety of AIX, Linux and i5/OS guest images.The "Live Partition Mobility" feature allows you to easily move guest images from one system to another, while they are running, just like VMotion for x86 machines.
And while we are on the topic of x86, PowerVM is also able to represent a Linux-x86 emulation base to run x86-compiled applications. While many Linux applications could be re-complied from source code for the POWER architecture "as is", others required perhaps 1-2 percent modification to port them over, and that was too much for some software development houses. Now, we can run most x86-compiled Linux application binaries in their original form on POWER architecture servers.
- BladeCenter JS22 Express
The POWER6-based [JS22 Express blade] can run i5/OS, taking advantage of PowerVM and VIOS to access all of the BladeCenterresources. The BladeCenter lets you mix and match POWER and x86-based blades in the same chassis, providing theultimate in flexibility.
Now that's exciting!
technorati tags: IBM, System x, System p, System i, System z, island, COMMON, AIX, Linux, POWER, POWER6, Windows, EMC, DS6000, DS8000, TS1120, LTO, ESCON, FICON, 520-byte, z/VM, z/VSE, z/OS, z/TPF, OpenSolaris, mainframe, LOST, CPW, x86, VMware, VMotion, BladeCenter, JS22, i5/OS, V6R1, PowerVM, VIOS, LPAR, DS4700, DS4800, LTO, disk, SAN, tape, storage
I nearly fell out of my chair when I read EMC's press release[EMC a Leader in Virtual Tape Libraries Writes Top Independent Research Firm
], as pointed to by fellow EMC blogger Chuck Hollis in his post[How The EMC Disk Library Came To Be
]. The EMC Disk Library(EDL) was formerly known as the EMC CLARiiON Disk Library, but was renamed somewhere along the way to drop the CLARiiON brand. Given CLARiiON's poor reputation in the marketplace, this was probablya smart move.
First, an excerpt from the EMC Press Release:
EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC) today announced it has been positioned as a leader in the Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Open Systems Virtual Tape Library (VTL), Q1 2008 by Forrester Research, Inc. (January 31, 2008), an independent market and technology research firm. EMC achieved a position as a leader in the Forrester Wave report on virtual tape libraries based on the largest installed base of the EMC® Disk Library family of systems, its broad ecosystem interoperability. Virtual tape libraries emulate tape drives and work in conjunction with existing backup software applications, enabling fast backup and restoration of data by using high-capacity, low-cost disk drives.
EMC was the first major vendor in the open systems virtual tape library market as it introduced the EMC Disk Library in April 2004 and today is a leading provider of open systems virtual tape solutions, with systems that are designed for businesses and organizations of all sizes.
While the press release implies that "EDL equals VTL", Chuck tries to explain they are in fact very different. Here is an excerpt from his blog post:
Virtual Tape Libraries vs. Disk Libraries
As many of you know, VTLs have been around for a while. They use disk as a cache -- they buffer the incoming backup streams, do some housekeeping and stacking, then turn around and write tape efficiently. When you go to restore, you're usually coming back off of tape, unless the backup image in question is sitting in the disk cache.
Now, there is nothing wrong with the VTL approach, but it was conceived in a time when disks were horribly expensive. It was also pretty clear to many of us that disks were going to be a whole lot cheaper in the near future, and this fundamental assumption wouldn't be valid for much longer.
I kept thinking in terms of disk as a direct target for a backup application. No modifications to the backup application. Native speed of sequential disks for both backup and restore. Tape positioned as a backup to the backup. Use the strengths of the underlying array (e.g. CLARiiON) for performance, availability, management, etc.
We ended up calling the concept a "disk library" to differentiate from the VTLs that had come before it. It was a different value proposition and offering, based on the emergence of lower-cost disk media.
... It's nice to see we're at 1,100+ customers, and still going strong.
For those new to the blogosphere, there is a difference between "Press Releases" as formalcorporate communications versus "Blog Posts" which are informal opinions of the individual blogger, whichmay or may not match exactly the views of their respective employer.As we've learned many times before, one should not treat termslike "first" or "leader" in corporate press releases literally! Let's explore each.
Was EDL the first "open systems" Virtual Tape Library?
This is implied by the Forrester report. Chuck mentions the "VTLs that had came before it" in his blog, and many people are aware that IBM and StorageTek had introduced mainframe-attached VTLs in the 1990s. But what about VTL for "open systems"?
(Hold aside for the moment that IBM System zmainframe is an open system itself, with z/OS certified as a bona fide UNIX operating system by the [the Open Group] standards body. Most analysts and research firms usually refer only to the non-mainframe versions of UNIX and Windows. Alternative definitions for "open systems" can be foundin [Web definitions or Wikipedia]. I will assume Forrester meantnon-mainframe servers.)
IBM announced AIX non-mainframe attachment via SCSI connectivity to the IBM 3494 Virtual Tape Server (VTS) on Feb 16, 1999, with general availability in May 28, 1999. That's nearly FIVE YEARS before the April 2004 introduction of EDL. IBM VTS support for Sun Solaris and Microsoft Windows came shortly thereafter in November 2000, and support for HP-UX a bit later in June 2001. One of my 17 patents is for the software inside the IBM 3494 VTS, so like Chuck, I can takesome pride in the success of a successful product.
(I don't remember if StorageTek, which was subsequently acquired by Sun, had ever supported non-mainframe operating systems with their Virtual Storage Manager[VSM] offering, but if they did, I am sure it was also before EMC.)
Last week, another EMC blogger, BarryB (aka [the Storage Anarchist]),took me to task in comments on my post [IBM now supports 1TB SATA drives]. He felt that IBM should not claim support, given that the software inside the IBM System Storage N series is developed by NetApp. He compared this to the situation of HP and Sun re-badging the HDS USP-V disk system. If someone else wrote the software, BarryB opines, IBM should not claim credit for it. I tried to explain how IBM provides added value and has full-time employees dedicated to N series development and support, butdoubt I have changed his mind.
Why do I bring that up? Because the EMC Disk Library runs OEM software from FalconStor. Basically EMC is assembling a hardware/software solution with components provided from OEM suppliers. Hmmm? Sound familiar? Who is calling the kettle black?
If there is a clear winner here, it is FalconStor itself.Perhaps one of the worst kept industry secrets is that FalconStor software is also used in VTL offerings from Sun, Copan, and IBM, the latter embodied as the [IBM TS7520 Virtualization Engine] offering. If you like the concept of an EDL,but prefer instead one-stop shopping from an "information infrastructure" vendor, IBM can offer the TS7520 along with servers, software and services for a complete end-to-end solution.
Can EMC claim to be "a leader" in Virtual Tape Libraries?
The timing of all this couldn't have been better. IDC analyst firm just came out with their latest 3Q07 "Tape Tracker" analysis report of the tape industry.Here's an excerpt from [Report: IBM Number One in Worldwide Branded Tape Revenue]:
- During the measured quarter, IBM shipped its 10 millionth LTO-4 tape drive cartridge to Getty Images, the world's leading creator and distributor of still imagery, footage and multi-media products, as well as a recognized provider of other forms of premium digital content, including music. Getty Images is using the LTO-4 drives as part of a tiered infrastructure of IBM disk and tape solutions that help support the backup needs of their digital imagery;
- IBM shipped more than 1,500 Petabytes of tape storage in Q3'07 alone;
- During Q3'07, IBM shipped the 10,000th IBM System Storage TS3500 Tape Library. The TS3500 is a highly scalable tape library with support from 1 to 192 tape drives and up to 6,400 cartridge slots for open system, mainframe and virtual tape system attachment.
Let's take a look at the numbers. IBM has sold over 5,400 virtual tape libraries. Sun/STK has sold over 4,000 virtual tape libraries. Both are drastically more than the 1,100 mentioned in Chuck's post. Does IDC recognize EMC in third place? No, EMC chooses instead to declare EDL as disk arrays (probably toprop up their IDC "Disk Tracker" numbers), so they don't even earn an honorable mention under the virtual tape librarycategory. This of course includes the number of mainframe-attached models from IBM and Sun/STK. So, if EMC did call these tape systems instead, they might showup in third place, and as such EMC could claim to be "a leader" in much the same way an athlete can claim to be an "Olympic medalist" winning the bronze for third place. (If you limit thecount to just the FalconStor-based models from IBM, EMC, Sun and Copan, then EMC moves up to first or second, but then press release titles like "EMC a Leader in FalconStor-based non-mainframe Virtual Tape Libraries" can get too confusing.)
Chuck, if you are reading this, I feel you have every right to celebrate your involvement with the EDL. Despite having common software and hardware components, both IBM and EMC can rightfully declare their own unique value-add through their respective VTL offerings. Like the IBM N series, the EMC Disk Library is not diminished by the fact the software was written by someone else. BarryB might disagree.
technorati tags: EMC, VTL, Forrester, CLARiiON, disk library, EDL, mainframe, open systems, disk, cache, buffer, 3494, VTS, AIX, Solaris, HP-UX, Microsoft, Windows, Sun, StorageTek, Chuck Hollis, HP, HDS, USP-V, FalconStor, Copan, OEM, LTO-4, Getty Images, patent
Yesterday, I promised I would cover other products from the Feb 12 announcement. Today I will focus on the IBM SAN768B director. Some people are confused on the differences between switchesand directors. I find there are three key differences:
- Directors are designed to be 24x7 operation, highly available with no single points of failure or repair. Generally, all components in directors are redundant and hot-swappable, including Control Processors. In switches, some components are redundant and hot-swappable, such as fans and power supplies), but not the “motherboard” or controller. Often you have to take down a switch to make firmware or major hardware changes or upgrades.
- Directors are designed to take in "blades" with different features, port counts, or protocol capabilities. You can add or remove blades while the system is up and running. Switches have a fixed number of ports. (A Small Form-factor Pluggable optical transceiver [SFP] is the component that turns electric pulses into light pulses (and visa versa). You plug the SFP into the switch, and then the fiber optic cable is plugged into the SFP).
With switches, you often start with a base number of active ports, and then can enable the rest of the ports as you need them.
- Directors have hundreds of ports. Switches tend to have 64 ports or less.
Last year, Brocade acquired McDATA. Both were OEMs for IBM, and IBM distinguished that in the naming convention. The IBM SAN***B name was used to denote products manufactured for IBM by Brocade, and a SAN***M name was used to denote products manufactured by McDATA.
At that time, Brocade and McDATA equipment did not mix very well on the same fabric, so IBM retained the naming convention so that you as a customer knew what it worked with.
Brocade now has released with new levels of both operating systems--Brocade's FOS and McDATA's EOS--and their respective fabric managers--Brocade Fabric Manager (FM) and McDATA's Enterprise Fabric Connectivity Manager (EFCM)--so that they have full interoperability.
Brocade's goal is to enhance EFCM to be a common software management platform for all of their products going forward.
IBM used the maximum port count in the name to provide some clue as to the size of the switch or director. The SAN16B-2 or the SAN32B-3 are switches that have a maximum of 16 and 32 ports. The SAN256B supports a maximumeight blades of your choosing.Two different types were supported for FC ports, a 16-port blade and a 32-port blade.If all eight were 32-port blades then the maximum was 256 ports, hence the name. But then Brocade began offering 48-port blades. Should IBM change the name? No, it decided to leave itthe SAN256B even though it can now have a maximum of 384 ports.
Not to confuse anyone, the SAN768B also has a maximum of 384 ports, in the same 14U dimensions, but with a special twist. Normally to connect two directors together you use up ports from each, in what are called "inter-switch links" (ISL).These are ports you are taking away from availability from the servers and storage controllers. The SAN768Boffers a new alternative called "inter-chassis links". Each SAN768B has two processing blades, and each has two ICL ports, so with just four two-meter (2m) cables, you get the equivalent of 128 FC 8 Gbps ISL links without using 128 individual ports on each side. That is like giving you 256 ports back for use with servers and storage!
Since IBM directors require 240 volt power, IBM TotalStorage SAN Cabinet C36 include power distribution units (PDUs). PDUs are just glorified power strips, but a new intelligent PDU (iPDU) option introduces additional intelligence to monitor energy consumption for customers looking to measure, and perhaps charge back, energy consumption to the rest of the business. You can stack two SAN768B in one cabinet, one on top of the other, and connected via ICLs, it wouldlook like one huge 768-port backbone.
As a backbone for your data center, the SAN768B is positioned for two emerging technologies:
- 8 Gbps Fibre Channel (FC)
The SAN768B is powerful enough to have 32-port blades run full speed on all ports off-blade without oversubscription. Oversubscription is an emotional topic.
Normally, blades (like switches) can handle all traffic at full speed without delays provided the in-bound and out-bound ports involved are all on the same blade. In a director, however, if you need to communicate from a port on one blade to a port on a different blade, it is possible that off-blade traffic might be constrained or delayed in its transit across the backplane.
On the SAN768B, both the 16-port and 32-port blades can run at full 8 Gbps speed, and the 48-port is exposed to oversubscription only if you have more than 32-ports running at full 8 Gbps transferring data off-blade concurrently.
The new 8 Gbps SFPs support auto-negotiation at N-1 and N-2 generation link speeds. This means that they will automatically slow down when communicating with 4Gpbs and 2 Gbps devices, but they cannot communicate with 1 Gbps devices. If you are still using 1 Gbps devices in your data center, you will need to use 4 Gbps SFPs (which also support 2 Gbps and 1 Gbps link speeds) to communicate with those older devices.
- Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE)
Wikipedia has a good summary of [FCoE].
Basically, this new technology enables transport of Fibre Channel packets over 10 Gbps Ethernet links. This 10 Gbps Ethernet can also be used to carry traditional iSCSI and TCP/IP traffic. FCoE introduces new extensions to provide Fibre Channel characteristics, like being lossless, and offering consistent performance. The ANSI T11 team is driving FCoE as an open standard, and at the moment it is not fully baked. I suggest you don't buy any FCoE equipment prematurely, as pre-standard devices or host bus adapters could get you burned later when the standard is finalized.
The idea is that FCoE blades can be installed in a SAN768B along with traditional FC blades, allowing routing of traffic between traditional FC and new FCoE ports. Those who have invested in FCIP for long distance replication will be able to continue using either FC or FCoE inputs.
One of the big drivers of FCoE is IBM BladeCenter. Currently, most BladeCenter blades support both Ethernet and FC connectivity and are connected to both Ethernet and FC switches on the back of each BladeCenter chassis. With FCoE, we have the potential to run both FC and IP traffic across simpler all-Ethernet blades, connecting through all-Ethernet switches on the backs of each chassis.
For more information on the IBM SAN768B, see the [IBM Press Release]. For more detailson Brocade's strategy, here is an 8-page white paper on their[Data Center Fabric] vision.
technorati tags: IBM, SAN768B, SAN, switch, director, backbone, SFP, Brocade, McDATA, BOS, EOS, BFM, EFCM, blade, ISL, ICL, FC, FCP, FCIP, FCoE, BladeCenter, Ethernet, 8Gbps, 10GbE, Data Center Fabric