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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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Well, it's Tuesday, which means IBM makes its announcements!
This week, IBM announces that it now supports 50GB Solid State Disk (SSD) in its [IBM System Storage EXP3000] disk systems.IBM has already made announcements about SSD enablement in the DS8000 and SAN Volume Controller (SVC), but now the EXP3000 brings SSD technology down to smaller System x server deployments.
Adoption of this new exciting technology is still in the early stages, despite the fact that IBM and other vendors have been touting this technology for a while. (For a quick blast to the past, here was my first post on the subject back from December 20, 2006: [Hybrid, Solid State and the future of RAID])Recently, fellow blogger BarryB admitted that EMC have only sold SSD to [hundreds of their customers], and to be fair, I suspect IBM's sales of SSD in its BladeCenter servers [available since July 2007] have been in similar single-digit percentage territory as well.
The advantage of today's announcement is that you can mix and match SSD drives with SAS and SATA drives in the EXP3000. You won't have to buy the entire drawer of SSD, you can start with just a few, depending on your business needs. On the other extreme, you can have up to two drawers, with 12 SSD drives each, for a total of 24 drives directly attached to System x servers via the ServeRAID MR10M SAS/SATA controller adapter.
People are confused over various orders of magnitude. News of the economic meltdownoften blurs the distinction between millions (10^6), billions (10^9), and trillions (10^12).To show how different these three numbers are, consider the following:
A million seconds ago - you might have received your last paycheck (12 days)
A billion seconds ago - you were born or just hired on your current job (31 years)
A trillion seconds ago - cavemen were walking around in Asia (31,000 years)
That these numbers confuse the average person is no surprise, but that it confuses marketing people in the storage industry is even more hilarious. I am often correcting people who misunderstandMB (million bytes), GB (billion bytes) and TB (trillion bytes) of information.Take this graph as an example from a recent presentation.
At first, it looks reasonable, back in 2004, black-and-white 2D X-Ray images were only 1MBin size when digitized, but by 2010 there will be fancy 4D images that now take 1TB, representinga 1000x increase. What?When I pointed out this discrepancy, the person who put this chart together didn't know what to fix.Were 4D images only 1GB in size, or was it really a 1000000x increase.
If a 2D image was 1000 by 1000 pixels, each pixel was a byte of information, then a 3D imagemight either be 1000 by 1000 by 1000 [voxels], or 1000 by 1000 at 1000 frames per second (fps). Thefirst being 3D volumetric space, and the latter called 2D+time in the medical field, the rest of us just say "video".4D images are 3D+time, volumetric scans over time, so conceivably these could be quite large in size.
The key point is that advances in medical equipment result in capturing more data, which canhelp provide better healthcare. This would be the place I normally plug an IBM product, like the Grid Medical Archive Solution [GMAS], a blended disk and tape storage solution designed specifically for this purpose.
So, as government agencies look to spend billions of dollars to provide millions of peoplewith proper healthcare, choosing to spend some of this money on a smarter infrastructure can result in creating thousands of jobs and save everyone a lot of money, but more importantly, save lives.
Short 2-minute [video] argues the case for Smarter Healthcare
For more on this, check out Adam Christensen's blog post on[Smarter Planet], which points to a podcast byDr. Russ Robertson, chairman of the Counsel of Medical Education at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and Dan Pelino, general manager of IBM's Healthcare and Life Sciences Industry.
Of these, fellow blogger Marc Farley suggested for me "Tony Late for Dinner Pearson", which is fair, I guess, given that I often work late to make sure my blog posts are well written, and sometimes that means I am the last to leave the building.
Full Disclosure: I've known Marc for a while now, we have attended events together and even were co-speakers on a conference call for customers.
Perhaps more disturbing is that, for the most part, the storage blogosphere is entirely dominated by men. Where are the women bloggers for storage?
Continuing this week's series on Pulse 2009 video, we have a double header. Bob Dalton discusses our entry-level IBM System Storage [DS3000] and midrange IBM System Storage [DS4000] disk systems, followed by Dan Thompson discussing [IBM Tivoli Storage Manager FastBack] software.
IBM Tivoli Storage Manager FastBack is the result of IBM's [acquisition of FilesX], a company in Israel that developed software to backup servers at remote branch offices running Microsoft Windows operating system.
..., nor any drop to drink"From Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798), by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Actually, I've been so busy this week that I am just now getting to this week's theme of Smarter Water. Since it was St. Patrick's Day this week, I thought of discussing IBM's project to help Ireland. Working with the Marine Institute Ireland, IBM has created a system to monitor wave conditions, marine life and pollution levels in and around Galway Bay. Here is quick excerpt from IBM [Press Release]:
"This real-time advanced analytics pilot is turning mountains of data into intelligence, paving the way for smarter environmental management and development of the bay.
The vision for SmartBay is a marine research infrastructure of sensors and computational technology interconnected across Galway Bay collecting and distributing information on coastal conditions, pollution levels and marine life. The monitoring services, delivered via the web and other devices, benefits tourism, fishing, aquaculture and the environment.
The pilot, which includes a move from manual to instrumented data gathering, will allow researchers to deploy quicker reactions to the critical challenges of the bay such as pollution, flooding, fishing stock levels, green energy generation and the threats from climate change."
Or... I could have used water as a metaphor for the "tidal wave" of information. For many,we have a lot of raw data, but not suitably digestible information in the form we need it.
Ok, I admit it is a silly photo, Darth Vader standing in the middle of the ocean filtering sea water into a plastic jug, but it helps focus on the problem. Long before we are donefighting over the last few drops of oil, we will be fighting over water.
This Sunday, March 22, is "World Water Day".Over the past 100 years, water consumption has increased six fold, twice the growth ofhuman population. Today, one in five people on this planet lack access to suitable drinking water. I have been to countries where people not just lack water filters, and in some cases didn't have closeable plastic jugs to carry the water in.
By 2015, the World Health Organization [WHO] estimates that water problems will impactover half the world's population.Here is their [Top 10 Facts File] on water scarcity.
At this point, you might be asking what any of this has to do with IBM.
The smart folks at IBM Research lab, the same location where we do storage research,were able to take some of their knowledge of chemistry, solid state memory, and nanotubes to help the planet with the water situation.Here is a quick [2-minute video]
If you are looking for a reason to travel to Florida next month, IBM will be presenting at the [Storage Networking World conference], April 6-9, 2009 in Orlando. This conference is organized by ComputerWorld and the Storage Networking Industry Association [SNIA]. IBM is a platinum sponsor for this event, and will have various executives presenting IBM's leadership in storage:
Barry Rudolph, VP, Strategy and Stack Integration, Storage Platform
IBM will be demonstrating solutions throughout the conference, includingeight SNIA tutorial and breakout speaking sessions, a panel discussion, two new Summits (Cloud Computing, and Solid-State Storage), and four Hands-on-Labs:
Plus, IBM will have a huge 10 foot by 20 foot booth located in the Expo hall and a kiosk in the Platinum Galleria. The demonstrations highlighted in the IBM booth will showcase Information Infrastructure solutions, which will help simplify, reduce risk, increase efficiency and lower costs. I won't be there myself, but you can ask my IBM colleagues about:
The Next Generation of Storage: IBM XIV Storage System
Storage Virtualization with SAN Volume Controller (SVC)
Infrastructure Management with IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center (TSPC)
Data Deduplication using the IBM ProtecTIER solution
Storage and Data Services
As sponsor of this event, IBM has received a limited number of free conference passes. We will be assigning these upon request to IBM clients and prospective clients. If you would like to go, contact your IBM Business Partner or local storage rep.Act fast! First come, first served.
IBM released its [2008 Annual Report]. IBM has improved in revenues, profits and earnings per share compared to recent past years. Part of the success comes from IBM's focus on [generating higher value].Here are some excerpts:
"Several years ago, we saw change coming.
Value was shifting in the IT industry, driven by the rising tide of global integration, a new computing paradigm and new client needs. These shifts meant the world was becoming not just smaller and “flatter,” but also smarter.
We remixed our businesses in order to move to the emerging higher-value spaces.
IBM has divested commoditizing businesses like personal computers, and strengthened its position through strategic investments and acquisitions in higher-value segments like business intelligence and analytics, virtualizationand green solutions.
From 2000 to 2008 we acquired more than100 companies to complement and scale our portfolioof products and offerings. This has changed ourbusiness mix toward higher-value, more profitable segments of the industry.
We became a globally integrated enterprise in order to capture the best growth opportunities and improve IBM’s profitability.
IBM operates in more than 170 countries and enjoys an increasingly broad-based geographic reach.Our non-U.S. operations generated approximately65 percent of IBM’s revenue in 2008. IBM’s Growth Markets unit, which was established in 2008,grew 10 percent last year, and made up 18 percentof our revenues. Revenue increased 18 percent(15 percent in local currency) in Brazil, Russia, India and China.
As a result, IBM is a higher-performing enterprise today than it was a decade ago.
Our business model is more aligned with our clients’ needsand generates better financial results.
We have therefore been able to invest in future sources of growth and provide record return to investors…
…while continuing to invest in R&D—more than $50 billion from 2000 to 2008.
This gives us confidence that we are entering the current economic environment from a position of strength…
In 2008 we made progress toward our 2010 objectivesby growing earnings per share 24 percent. And withthis strong 2008 performance, we are clearly ahead of pace on our road map to $10–$11 of earnings per share.
…and that we will emerge from it even stronger, thanks to our long-term fundamentals and our agenda for a smarter planet.
All around the world, businesses, governmentsand institutions are investing to reduce costs,drive innovation and transform their infrastructure. The economic downturn has intensified this trend,as leaders seek not simply to repair what isbroken, but to prepare for a 21st Century economy.
Many of their key priorities are in areas whereIBM has leading solutions—such as smarter utility grids, traffic, healthcare, financial systems,telecommunications and cities. We are aggressively pursuing this transformational, global opportunity."
It is good to see that IBM continues to proceed with long-term investments during these tough times!