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Here I am, day 11 of a 17-day business trip, on my last leg of the trip this week, in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. I have been flooded with requests to give my take on EMC's latest re-interpretation of storage virtualization, VPLEX.
I'll leave it to my fellow IBM master inventor Barry Whyte to cover the detailed technical side-by-side comparison. Instead, I will focus on the business side of things, using Simon Sinek's Why-How-What sequence. Here is a [TED video] from Garr Reynold's post
[The importance of starting from Why].
Let's start with the problem we are trying to solve.
Problem: migration from old gear to new gear, old technology to new technology, from one vendor to another vendor, is disruptive, time-consuming and painful.
Given that IT storage is typically replaced every 3-5 years, then pretty much every company with an internal IT department has this problem, the exception being those companies that don't last that long, and those that use public cloud solutions. IT storage can be expensive, so companies would like their new purchases to be fully utilized on day 1, and be completely empty on day 1500 when the lease expires. I have spoken to clients who have spent 6-9 months planning for the replacement or removal of a storage array.
A solution to make the data migration non-disruptive would benefit the clients (make it easier for their IT staff to keep their data center modern and current) as well as the vendors (reduce the obstacle of selling and deploying new features and functions). Storage virtualization can be employed to help solve this problem. I define virtualization as "technology that makes one set of resources look and feel like a different set of resources, preferably with more desirable characteristics.". By making different storage resources, old and new, look and feel like a single type of resource, migration can be performed without disrupting applications.
Before VPLEX, here is a breakdown of each solution:
Non-disruptive tech refresh, and a unified platform to provide management and functionality across heterogeneous storage.
Non-disruptive tech refresh, and a unified platform to provide management and functionality between internal tier-1 HDS storage, and external tier-2 heterogeneous storage.
Non-disruptive tech refresh, with unified multi-pathing driver that allows host attachment of heterogeneous storage.
New in-band storage virtualization device
Add in-band storage virtualization to existing storage array
New out-of-band storage virtualization device with new "smart" SAN switches
SAN Volume Controller
HDS USP-V and USP-VM
For IBM, the motivation was clear: Protect customers existing investment in older storage arrays and introduce new IBM storage with a solution that allows both to be managed with a single set of interfaces and provide a common set of functionality, improving capacity utilization and availability. IBM SAN Volume Controller eliminated vendor lock-in, providing clients choice in multi-pathing driver, and allowing any-to-any migration and copy services. For example, IBM SVC can be used to help migrate data from an old HDS USP-V to a new HDS USP-V.
With EMC, however, the motivation appeared to protect software revenues from their PowerPath multi-pathing driver, TimeFinder and SRDF copy services. Back in 2005, when EMC Invista was first announced, these three software represented 60 percent of EMC's bottom-line profit. (Ok, I made that last part up, but you get my point! EMC charges a lot for these.)
Back in 2006, fellow blogger Chuck Hollis (EMC) suggested that SVC was just a [bump in the wire] which could not possibly improve performance of existing disk arrays. IBM showed clients that putting cache(SVC) in front of other cache(back end devices) does indeed improve performance, in the same way that multi-core processors successfully use L1/L2/L3 cache. Now, EMC is claiming their cache-based VPLEX improves performance of back-end disk. My how EMC's story has changed!
So now, EMC announces VPLEX, which sports a blend of SVC-like and Invista-like characteristics. Based on blogs, tweets and publicly available materials I found on EMC's website, I have been able to determine the following comparison table. (Of course, VPLEX is not yet generally available, so what is eventually delivered may differ.)
Scalable, 1 to 4 node-pairs
One size fits all, single pair of CPCs
SVC-like, 1 to 4 director-pairs
Works with any SAN switches or directors
Required special "smart" switches (vendor lock-in)
SVC-like, works with any SAN switches or directors
Broad selection of IBM Subsystem Device Driver (SDD) offered at no additional charge, as well as OS-native drivers Windows MPIO, AIX MPIO, Solaris MPxIO, HP-UX PV-Links, VMware MPP, Linux DM-MP, and comercial third-party driver Symantec DMP.
Limited selection, with focus on priced PowerPath driver
Invista-like, PowerPath and Windows MPIO
Read cache, and choice of fast-write or write-through cache, offering the ability to improve performance.
No cache, Split-Path architecture cracked open Fibre Channel packets in flight, delayed every IO by 20 nanoseconds, and redirected modified packets to the appropriate physical device.
SVC-like, Read and write-through cache, offering the ability to improve performance.
Space-Efficient Point-in-Time copies
SVC FlashCopy supports up to 256 space-efficient targets, copies of copies, read-only or writeable, and incremental persistent pairs.
Like Invista, No
Remote distance mirror
Choice of SVC Metro Mirror (synchronous up to 300km) and Global Mirror (asynchronous), or use the functionality of the back-end storage arrays
No native support, use functionality of back-end storage arrays, or purchase separate product called EMC RecoverPoint to cover this lack of functionality
Limited synchronous remote-distance mirror within VPLEX (up to 100km only), no native asynchronous support, use functionality of back-end storage arrays
Provides thin provisioning to devices that don't offer this natively
Like Invista, No
SVC Split-Cluster allows concurrent read/write access of data to be accessed from hosts at two different locations several miles apart
I don't think so
PLEX-Metro, similar in concept but implemented differently
Non-disruptive tech refresh
Can upgrade or replace storage arrays, SAN switches, and even the SVC nodes software AND hardware themselves, non-disruptively
Tech refresh for storage arrays, but not for Invista CPCs
Tech refresh of back end devices, and upgrade of VPLEX software, non-disruptively. Not clear if VPLEX engines themselves can be upgraded non-disruptively like the SVC.
Heterogeneous Storage Support
Broad support of over 140 different storage models from all major vendors, including all CLARiiON, Symmetrix and VMAX from EMC, and storage from many smaller startups you may not have heard of
Invista-like. VPLEX claims to support a variety of arrays from a variety of vendors, but as far as I can find, only DS8000 supported from the list of IBM devices. Fellow blogger Barry Burke (EMC) suggests [putting SVC between VPLEX and third party storage devices] to get the heterogeneous coverage most companies demand.
Back-end storage requirement
Must define quorum disks on any IBM or non-IBM back end storage array. SVC can run entirely on non-IBM storage arrays
HP SVSP-like, requires at least one EMC storage array to hold metadata
SVC 2145-CF8 model supports up to four solid-state drives (SSD) per node that can treated as managed disk to store end-user data
Invista-like. VPLEX has an internal 30GB SSD, but this is used only for operating system and logs, not for end-user data.
In-band virtualization solutions from IBM and HDS dominate the market. Being able to migrate data from old devices to new ones non-disruptively turned out to be only the [tip of the iceberg] of benefits from storage virtualization. In today's highly virtualized server environment, being able to non-disruptively migrate data comes in handy all the time. SVC is one of the best storage solutions for VMware, Hyper-V, XEN and PowerVM environments. EMC watched and learned in the shadows, taking notes of what people like about the SVC, and decided to follow IBM's time-tested leadership to provide a similar offering.
EMC re-invented the wheel, and it is round. On a scale from Invista (zero) to SVC (ten), I give EMC's new VPLEX a six.
Well, I'm back safely from my tour of Asia. I am glad to report that Tokyo, Beijing and Kuala Lumpur are pretty much how I remember them from the last time I was there in each city. I have since been fighting jet lag by watching the last thirteen episodes of LOST season 6 and the series finale.
Recently, I have started seeing a lot of buzz on the term "Storage Federation". The concept is not new, but rather based on the work in database federation, first introduced in 1985 by [A federated architecture for information management] by Heimbigner and McLeod. For those not familiar with database federation, you can take several independent autonomous databases, and treat them as one big federated system. For example, this would allow you to issue a single query and get results across all the databases in the federated system. The advantage is that it is often easier to federate several disparate heterogeneous databases than to merge them into a single database. [IBM Infosphere Federation Server] is a market leader in this space, with the capability to federate DB2, Oracle and SQL Server databases.
Storage expansion: You want to increase the storage capacity of an existing storage system that cannot accommodate the total amount of capacity desired. Storage Federation allows you to add additional storage capacity by adding a whole new system.
Storage migration: You want to migrate from an aging storage system to a new one. Storage Federation allows the joining of the two systems and the evacuation from storage resources on the first onto the second and then the first system is removed.
Safe system upgrades: System upgrades can be problematic for a number of reasons. Storage Federation allows a system to be removed from the federation and be re-inserted again after the successful completion of the upgrade.
Load balancing: Similar to storage expansion, but on the performance axis, you might want to add additional storage systems to a Storage Federation in order to spread the workload across multiple systems.
Storage tiering: In a similar light, storage systems in a Storage Federation could have different capacity/performance ratios that you could use for tiering data. This is similar to the idea of dynamically re-striping data across the disk drives within a single storage system, such as with 3PAR's Dynamic Optimization software, but extends the concept to cross storage system boundaries.
To some extent, IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC), XIV, Scale-Out NAS (SONAS), and Information Archive (IA) offer most, if not all, of these capabilities. EMC claims its VPLEX will be able to offer storage federation, but only with other VPLEX clusters, which brings up a good question. What about heterogenous storage federation? Before anyone accuses me of throwing stones at glass houses, let's take a look at each IBM solution:
IBM SAN Volume Controller
The IBM SAN Volume Controller has been doing storage federation since 2003. Not only can IBM SAN Volume Controller bring together storage from a variety of heterogenous storage, the SVC cluster itself can be a mix of different hardware models. You can have a 2145-8A4 node pair, 2145-8G4 node pair, and the new 2145-CF8 node pair, all combined together into a single SVC cluster. Upgrading SVC hardware nodes in an SVC cluster is always non-disruptive.
IBM XIV storage system
The IBM XIV has two kinds of independent modules. Data modules have processor, cache and 12 disks. Interface modules are data modules with additional processor, FC and Ethernet (iSCSI) adapters. Because these two modules play different roles in an XIV "colony", that number of each type is predetermined. Entry-level six-module systems have 2 interface and 4 data modules. Full 15-module systems have 6 interface and 9 data modules. Individual modules can be added or removed non-disruptively in an XIV.
IBM Scale-Out NAS
The SONAS is comprised of three kinds of nodes that work together in concert. A management node, one or more interface nodes, and two or more storage nodes. The storage nodes are paired to manage up to 240 nodes in a storage pod. Individual interface or data nodes can be added or removed non-disruptively in the SONAS. The underlying technology, the General Parallel File System, has been doing storage federation since 1996 for some of the largest top 500 supercomputers in the world.
IBM Information Archive (IA)
For the IA, there are 1, 2 or 3 nodes, which manages a set of collections. A collection can either be file-based using industry-standard NAS protocols, or object-based using the popular System Storage™ Archive Manager (SSAM) interface. Normally, you have as many collections as you have nodes, but nodes are powerful enough to manage two collections to provide N-1 availability. This allows a node to be removed, and a new node added into the IA "colony", in a non-disruptive manner.
Even in an ant colony, there are only a few types of ants, with typically one queen, several males, and lots of workers. But all the ants are red. You don't see colonies that mix between different species of ants. For databases, federation was a way to avoid the much harder task of merging databases from different platforms. For storage, I am surprised people have latched on to the term "federation", given our mixed results in the other "federations" we have formed, which I have conveniently (IMHO) ranked from least effective to most effective:
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
My father used to say, "If the Soviet Union were in charge of the Sahara desert, they would run out of sand in 50 years." The [Soviet Union] actually lasted 68 years, from 1922 to 1991.
The United Nations (UN)
After the previous League of Nations failed, the UN was formed in 1945 to facilitate cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and the achieving of world peace by stopping wars between countries, and to provide a platform for dialogue.
The European Union (EU)
With the collapse of the Greek economy, and the [rapid growth of debt] in the UK, Spain and France, there are concerns that the EU might not last past 2020.
The United States of America (USA)
My own country is a federation of states, each with its own government. California's financial crisis was compared to the one in Greece. My own state of Arizona is under boycott from other states because of its recent [immigration law]. However, I think the US has managed better than the EU because it has evolved over the past 200 years.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries [OPEC]
Technically, OPEC is not a federation of cooperating countries, but rather a cartel of competing countries that have agreed on total industry output of oil to increase individual members' profits. Note that it was a non-OPEC company, BP, that could not "control their output" in what has now become the worst oil spill in US history. OPEC was formed in 1960, and is expected to collapse sometime around 2030 when the world's oil reserves run out. Matt Savinar has a nice article on [Life After the Oil Crash].
United Federation of Planets
The [Federation] fictitiously described in the Star Trek series appears to work well, an optimistic view of what federations could become if you let them evolve long enough.
Given the mixed results with "federation", I think I will avoid using the term for storage, and stick to the original term "scale-out architecture".
I gotten several emails expressing worry that I have fallen off the face of th earth. The last two weeks have been educational and eye-opening for me. I can't provide details in my blog, so I will just say that it involved government agencies that IBM refers to as "dark accounts", and that I am now back safely in the USA. Between adjusting to time zone differences, ridiculously long hours, and restricted access to the internet, I was unable to blog lately.
Instead, I will resume my coverage of the [IBM System Storage Technical University 2011]. The "Solutions Expo" runs Monday evening through Wednesday lunch. This is a chance for people to explore all the solutions that are part of IBM's large "eco-system" for IBM System storage and System x products. There were several sponsors for this event.
As is often the case at these conferences, the various booths hand out fun items. The hot items this year were tie-dyed tee-shirts from Qlogic, and propeller beanies from the IBM rack and power systems team. Here is Amanda, one of the bartenders showing off the latter.
After the expo on Tuesday night, my friends at [Texas Memory Systems] held an after-party. Unlike the pens, tee-shirts and keychains at the Expo, these guys had a raffle for real storage products. Here is Erik Eyberg handing out a RamSan PCIe card, valued at $14,000 or so. IBM recently certified the TMS RamSan as External SSD storage for the IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC). The SVC can optimize performance using this for automated sub-LUN tiering with the IBM System Storage Easy Tier feature.
In his last post in this series, he mentions that the amazingly successful IBM SAN Volume Controller was part of a set of projects:
"IBM was looking for "new horizon" projects to fund at the time, and three such projects were proposed and created the "Storage Software Group". Those three projects became know externally as TPC, (TotalStorage Productivity Center), SanFS (SAN File System - oh how this was just 5 years too early) and SVC (SAN Volume Controller). The fact that two out of the three of them still exist today is actually pretty good. All of these products came out of research, and its a sad state of affairs when research teams are measured against the percentage of the projects they work on, versus those that turn into revenue generating streams."
But this raises the question: Was SAN File System just five years too early?
IBM classifies products into three "horizons"; Horizon-1 for well-established mature products, Horizon-2 was for recently launched products, and Horizon-3 was for emerging business opportunities (EBO). Since I had some involvement with these other projects, I thought I would help fill out some of this history from my perspective.
Back in 2000, IBM executive [Linda Sanford] was in charge of IBM storage business and presented that IBM Research was working on the concept of "Storage Tank" which would hold Petabytes of data accessible to mainframes and distributed servers.
In 2001, I was the lead architect of DFSMS for the IBM z/OS operating system for mainframes, and was asked to be lead architect for the new "Horizon 3" project to be called IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center (TPC), which has since been renamed to IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center.
In 2002, I was asked to lead a team to port the "SANfs client" for SAN File System from Linux-x86 over to Linux on System z. How easy or difficult to port any code depends on how well it was written with the intent to be ported, and porting the "proof-of-concept" level code proved a bit too challenging for my team of relative new-hires. Once code written by research scientists is sufficiently complete to demonstrate proof of concept, it should be entirely discarded and written from scratch by professional software engineers that follow proper development and documentation procedures. We reminded management of this, and they decided not to make the necessary investment to add Linux on System z as a supported operating system for SAN file system.
In 2003, IBM launched Productivity Center, SAN File System and SAN Volume Controller. These would be lumped together with Horizon-1 product IBM Tivoli Storage Manager and the four products were promoted together as the inappropriately-named [TotalStorage Open Software Family]. We actually had long meetings debating whether SAN Volume Controller was hardware or software. While it is true that most of the features and functions of SAN Volume Controller is driven by its software, it was never packaged as a software-only offering.
The SAN File System was the productized version of the "Storage Tank" research project. While the SAN Volume Controller used industry standard Fibre Channel Protocol (FCP) to allow support of a variety of operating system clients, the SAN File System required an installed "client" that was only available initially on AIX and Linux-x86. In keeping with the "open" concept, an "open source reference client" was made available so that the folks at Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems and Microsoft could port this over to their respective HP-UX, Solaris and Windows operating systems. Not surprisingly, none were willing to voluntarily add yet another file system to their testing efforts.
Barry argues that SANfs was five years ahead of its time. SAN File System tried to bring policy-based management for information, which has been part of DFSMS for z/OS since the 1980s, over to distributed operating systems. The problem is that mainframe people who understand and appreciate the benefits of policy-based management already had it, and non-mainframe couldn't understand the benefits of something they have managed to survive without.
(Every time I see VMware presented as a new or clever idea, I have to remind people that this x86-based hypervisor basically implements the mainframe concept of server virtualization introduced by IBM in the 1970s. IBM is the leading reseller of VMware, and supports other server virtualization solutions including Linux KVM, Xen, Hyper-V and PowerVM.)
To address the various concerns about SAN File System, the proof-of-concept code from IBM Research was withdrawn from marketing, and new fresh code implementing these concepts were integrated into IBM's existing General Parallel File System (GPFS). This software would then be packaged with a server hardware cluster, exporting global file spaces with broad operating system reach. Initially offered as IBM Scale-out File Services (SoFS) service offering, this was later re-packaged as an appliance, the IBM Scale-Out Network Attached Storage (SONAS) product, and as IBM Smart Business Storage Cloud (SBSC) cloud storage offering. These now offer clustered NAS storage using the industry standard NFS and CIFS clients that nearly all operating systems already have.
Today, these former Horizon-1 products are now Horizon-2 and Horizon-3. They have evolved. Tivoli Storage Productivity Center, GPFS and SAN Volume Controller are all market leaders in their respective areas.
Guest Post: The following post was written by Tom Rauchut, IBM Infrastructure Architect and Advanced Technical Sales Specialist for Tivoli Automation. Tom is at IBM Pulse 2011 for Las Vegas this week, and has offered to send his observations.
The expo opened last night. There are so many fantastic demos and product experts. Las Vegas has a Tivoli buzz on right now.
A lot was announced yesterday, so I decided to break it up into several separate posts. This is part 2 in my 3-part series, focusing on: Storwize V7000 Unified, LTO-6 tape, and the SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center.
The Storwize V7000 Unified is a product that consists of a 2U-high Storwize V7000 control enclosure that provides block-based access, combined with two 2U-high File Modules that provide file-based NAS protocols: CIFS, NFS, HTTPS, SCP and FTP. The problem was that when it was introduced, it was based on Storwize V7000 v6.3, so when the Storwize V7000 v6.4 features were announced last June, they did not apply to the Storwize V7000 Unified.
That is all fixed now, so the Storwize V7000 Unified now supports the full v6.4 features, including Real-time Compression for both file and block-based access to primary data, and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) for block access.
The two File Modules are no longer limited to a single Storwize V7000 control enclosure, you can now connect to up to four control enclosures clustered together. Combined with up to nine expansion enclosures for additional disk raises the total maximum to 960 drives.
If you don't already have an Active Directory or LDAP server, the Storwize V7000 Unified now offers an embedded LDAP server, for smaller deployments that want to reduce the number of servers they need to purchase for a complete solution.
Like the [IBM XIV Gen3 storage system], both the Storwize V7000 and V7000 Unified now also support the OpenStack Nova-volume interface.
Lastly, if you have a Storwize V7000 v6.4, you can upgrade it to a Storwize V7000 Unified by simply adding the two File Modules. This can be done in the field.
IBM LTO-6 for tape libraries and drives
IBM introduces the sixth generation of Linear Tape Open (LTO-6) drives, which can be used as stand-alone IBM TS1060 drives, or in IBM tape libraries. As with previous models of LTO, the LTO-6 can read two older generations (LTO-4 and LTO-5) tape media, and can write to previous generation (LTO-5) tape media. You can buy the LTO-6 drives now, and use the older media until LTO-6 tape cartridges are available (hopefully later this year!)
My friend, Brad Johns, from Brad Johns Consulting, has a great post on this [LTO-6 Announcement]. While you expect the new drives to be faster with a denser tape media format, the key advantage to the LTO-6 is that it improves the compression algorithm, from the previous 2:1 to the new 2.5:1 compression ratio:
Thus, with the improved compression, the LTO-6 is 40 percent faster, with double the tape cartridge density. This can reduce backup times by 30 percent, increase the amount of data that sits in your automated tape libraries, and reduce the courier costs sending tapes off-site.
IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center v5.1
Last year, IBM coined the phrase "Storage Hypervisor" to refer to the underlying technology in the IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and Storwize V7000 disk systems.
At the IBM Edge conference last June, my colleague Mike Griese presented [SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center]. Back then, it was a pilot program (beta test), and this week, IBM announces that it will be formally available as a product.
The idea was simple: take the basic storage hypervisor, and add the necessary software to make it a complete solution.
If all of your disk is currently virtualized behind IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC), or you want to put all of your data behind SVC, then SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center is for you. Basically, for one per-TB price, you get all of the following:
The software features of SAN Volume Controller v6.4, including FlashCopy, Metro Mirror and Global Mirror.
The full advanced features of IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v5.1, including the Storage Analytics Engine that does "Right-Tiering", recommending which LUNs should be moved entirely from one disk system to another, based on policies and access patterns.
IBM Tivoli Storage FlashCopy Manager v3.2 which manages FlashCopy with full coordination with applications, including Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, DB2, Oracle, SAP, and VMware. This ensures that the FlashCopy destination copies are clean, eliminating the need to run backout or redo logs to correct any incomplete units of work.
If this combination sounds familiar, it was based on IBM's previous attempt called [Rapid Application Storage] which combined the Storwize V7000 with Tivoli Storage Productivity Center Midrange Edition and FlashCopy Manager.
The key difference is that SmartCloud VSC does not include the SVC hardware itself, you buy this separately. If you want Real-time Compression, that is charged separately for the subset of TB of the volumes that you select for compression.
Here are some upcoming events related to IBM Storage!
If you sell IBM and/or Oracle solutions, please join me for IBM Oracle Virtual University 2013!
A few weeks ago, I recorded a session on IBM Storage: Overview, Positioning and How to Sell that will be available on demand starting tomorrow, February 26th, at the IBM Oracle Virtual University 2013.
It's one of 65 new sessions that will help IBM to surround Oracle applications with IBM infrastructure, services and industry solutions. Oracle software, after all, runs best on IBM hardware. Other highlights of Oracle Virtual University include a live executive State of the Alliance session with Q&A, Oracle keynote, updates by Oracle product managers, sessions on PureSystems, Selling IBM into an Oracle environment, Cloud, and much more.
There will be live technical teams on hand throughout launch day to answer your questions in real time, so I hope you can carve out 30 minutes or more on February 26th to take advantage of these available resources.
After helping launch the first Pulse back in 2008, I have sadly not been back since. Last year, I was invited to attend as a last-minute replacement for another speaker, but I was busy [having emergency surgery].
This year's [Pulse 2013] conference looks amazing. It will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Guest Speaker Payton Manning, NFL 4-time MVP football player, and Carrie Underwood, 6-time Grammy award winner, join IBM's Software Group executives and experts on how IBM Tivoli can help optimize your IT infrastructure.
Sadly, once again, I will not be there at Pulse. This time, I will be on the East Coast visiting clients instead, but my on-premise correspondent, Tom Rauchut, has informed me that he will be there. Hopefully, he will provide me something to write about.
Later in March, I will be in Brussels, Belgium for the Storage Expo. This is held March 20-21, at the Brussels-Expo venue. I will be presenting several topics each day, as well as visit clients in the area. This event comes on behalf of IBM Belgium in association with IBM Business Partner IRIS-ICT.
If you plan to participate in any of these events, let me know!
Continuing my coverage of the [IBM System Storage Technical University 2011], I participated in the storage free-for-all, which is a long-time tradition, started at SHARE User Group conference, and carried forward to other IT conferences. The free-for-all is a Q&A Panel of experts to allow anyone to ask any question. These are sometimes called "Birds of a Feather" (BOF). Last year, we had two: one focused on Tivoli Storage software, and the second to cover storage hardware. This year, we had two, one for System x called "Ask the eXperts", and one for System Storage called "Storage Free-for-All". This post covers the latter.
(Disclaimer: Do not shoot the messenger! We had a dozen or more experts on the panel, representing System Storage hardware, Tivoli Storage software, and Storage services. I took notes, trying to capture the essence of the questions, and the answers given by the various IBM experts. I have spelled out acronyms and provided links to relevant materials. The answers from individual IBMers may not reflect the official position of IBM management. Where appropriate, my own commentary will be in italics.)
You are in the wrong session! Go to "Ask the eXperts" session next door!
The TSM GUI sucks! Are there any plans to improve it?
Yes, we are aware that products like IBM XIV have raised the bar for what people expect from graphical user interfaces. We have plans to improve the TSM GUI. IBM's new GUI for the SAN Volume Controller and Storwize V7000 has been well-received, and will be used as a template for the GUIs of other storage hardware and software products. The GUI uses the latest HTML5, Dojo widgets and AJAX technologies, eliminating Java dependencies on the client browser.
Can we run the TSM Admin GUI from a non-Windows host?
IBM has plans to offer this. Most likely, this will be browser-based, so that any OS with a modern browser can be used.
As hard disk drives grow larger in capacity, RAID-5 becomes less viable. What is IBM doing to address this?
IBM is aware of this problem. IBM offers RAID-DP on the IBM N series, RAID-X on the IBM XIV, and RAID-6 on its other disk systems.
TPC licensing is outrageous! What is IBM going to do about it?
About 25 percent of DS8000 disk systems have SSD installed. Now that IBM DS8000 Easy Tier supports "any two" tiers, roughly 50 percent of DS8000 now have Easy Tier activated. No idea on how Easy Tier has been adopted on SVC or Storwize V7000.
We have an 8-node SVC cluster, should we put 8 SSD drives into a single node-pair, or spread them out?
We recommend putting a separate Solid-State Drive in each SVC node, with RAID-1 between nodes of a node-pair. By separating the SSD across I/O groups, you can reduce node-to-node traffic.
How well has SVC 6.2 been adopted?
The inventory call-home data is not yet available. The only SVC hardware model that does not support this level of software was the 2145-4F2 introduced in 2003. Every other model since then can be updated to this level.
Will IBM offer 600GB FDE drives for the IBM DS8700?
Currently, IBM offers 300GB and 450GB 15K RPM drives with the Full-Disk Encryption (FDE) capability for the DS8700, and 450GB and 600GB 10K RPM drives with FDE for the IBM DS8800. IBM is working with its disk suppliers to offer FDE on other disk capacities, and on SSD and NL-SAS drives as well, so that all can be used with IBM Easy Tier.
Is there a reason for the feature lag between the Easy Tier capabilities of the DS8000, and that of the SVC/Storwize V7000?
We have one team for Easy Tier, so they implement it first on DS8000, then port it over to SVC/Storwize V7000.
Does it even make sense to have separate storage tiers, especially when you factor in the cost of SVC and TPC to make it manageable?
It depends! We understand this is a trade-off between cost and complexity. Most data centers have three or more storage tiers already, so products like SVC can help simplify interoperability.
Are there best practices for combining SVC with DS8000? Can we share one DS8000 system across two or more SVC clusters?
Yes, you can share one DS8000 across multiple SVC clusters. DS8000 has auto-restripe, so consider having two big extent pools. The queue depth is 3 to 60, so aim to have up to 60 managed disks on your DS8000 assigned to SVC. The more managed disks the better.
The IBM System Storage Interopability Center (SSIC) site does not seem to be designed well for SAN Volume Controller.
Yes, we are aware of that. It was designed based on traditional Hardware Compatability Lists (HCL), but storage virtualization presents unique challenges.
How does the 24-hour learning period work for IBM Easy Tier? We have batch processing that runs from 2am to 8am on Sundays.
You can have Easy Tier monitor across this batch job window, and turn Easy Tier management between tiers on and off as needed.
Now that NetApp has acquired LSI, is the DS3000 still viable?
Yes, IBM has a strong OEM relationship with both NetApp and LSI, and this continues after the acquisition.
If have managed disks from a DS8000 multi-rank extent pool assigned to multiple SVC clusters, won't this affect performance?
Yes, possibly. Keep managed disks on seperate extent pools if this is a big concern. A PERL script is available to re-balance SVC striped volumes as needed after these changes.
Is the IBM [TPC Reporter] a replacement for IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center?
No, it is software, available at no additional charge, that provides additional reporting to those who have already licensed Tivoli Storage Productivity Center 4.1 and above. It will be updated as needed when new versions of Productivity Center are released.
We are experiencing lots of stability issues with SDD, SDD-PCM and SDD-DSM multipathing drivers. Are these getting the development attention they deserve?
IBM's direction is to shift toward native OS-based multipathing drivers.
Is anyone actually thinking of deploying public cloud storage in the near-term?
A few hands in the audience were raised.
None of the IBM storage devices seem to have [REST API]. Cloud storage providers are demanding this. What are IBM plans?
IBM plans to offer REST on SONAS. IBM uses SONAS internally for its own cloud storage offerings.
If you ask a DB2 specialist, an AIX specialist, and a System Storage specialist, on how to configure System p and System Storage for optimal performance, you get three different answers. Are there any IBMers who are cross-functional that can help?
Yes, for example, Earl Jew is an IBM Field Technical Support Specialist (FTSS) for both System p and Storage, and can help you with that.
Both Oracle and Microsoft recommend RAID-10 for their applications.
Don't listen to them. Feel free to use RAID-5, RAID-6 or RAID-X instead.
Resizing SVC source volumes forces ongoing FlashCopy or Metro Mirror relatiohships to be stopped. Does IBM plan to address this?
Currently, you have to stop, resize both source and target, then start the relationship again. Consider getting IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Replication (TPC-R).
IBM continues to support this for exising clients. For new deployments, IBM offers SONAS and the Information Archive (IA).
When will I be able to move SVC volumes between I/O groups?
You can today, but it is disruptive to the operating system. IBM is investigating making this less disruptive.
Will XIV ever support the mainframe?
It does already, with support for both Linux and z/VM today. For VSE support, use SVC with XIV. For those with the new zBX extension, XIV storage can be used with all of the POWER and x86-based operating systems supported. IBM has no plans to offer direct FICON attachment for z/OS or z/TPF.
Not a question - Kudos to the TSM and ProtecTIER team in supporting native IP-based replication!
When will IBM offer POWER-based models of the XIV, SVC and other storage devices?
IBM's decision to use industry-standard x86 technology has proven quite successful. However, IBM re-looks at this decision every so many years. Once again, the last iteration determined that it was not worth doing. A POWER-based model might not beat the price/performance of current x86 models, and maintaining two separate code bases would hinder development of new innovations.
We have both System i and System z, what is IBM doing to address the fact that PowerHA and GDPS are different?
IBM TPC-R has a service offering extension to support "IBM i" environments. GDPS plans to support multi-platform environments as well.
This was a great interactive session. I am glad everyone stayed late Thursday evening to participate in this discussion.
Raj hails from Toronto, Canada and will be able to provide the Canadian perspective on all things Storage. I had the pleasure to meet Raj in person here in Tucson when him and dozens of his cohorts came down for a multi-customer briefing at the [IBM Executive Briefing Center] where I work.
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v4.2.2 Overview and Update
This was an updated version of the presentation I gave last July in Orlando, Florida (see my post [IBM Storage University - Day 1]). Since it might have been awhile since the Australian audience had heard about the latest and greatest for Tivoli Storage Productivity Center, I decided to cover the enhancements of 4.2.0, 4.2.1 and 4.2.1 combined.
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center is an important part of IBM's "Storage Hypervisor" solution, combining a single pane of glass for management with non-disruptive storage virtualization with SVC and Storwize V7000.
IBM Storwize V7000 and SVC integration with VMware
Alexi Giral from IBM Sydney presented this session on how Storwize V7000 and SVC serve as the "Storage Hypervisor" for VMware server virtualization environments. The focus was on the FCP and iSCSI block-only access modes of these devices, although one could use IBM Storwize V7000 Unified to provide NFS file-level access to VMware. Alexi covered both VMware Vsphere v4 and v5, as there are a few differences.
IBM Storwize V7000 and SVC supports thin provisioning, VMware's VAAI interface, VMware's Site Recovery Manager, and provides a storage management plug-in to Vmware's vCenter. The SVC has extended the distance for split-cluster configurations that support VMware's vMotion live partition mobility and High Availiability (HA) up to 300km using active DWDM.
Tape Storage Reinvented: What's New and Exciting in the Tape World?
Special thanks to Jim Fisher and Jim Karp for providing me this presentation, videos and supporting materials for me to present this session. I gave this as the first break-out session on Tuesday, and then repeated as the last break-out session on Thursday. Several of the attendees in the audience mocked my title, with taunts like "What could be NEW or EXCITING about tape?" I covered four key areas:
The new TS1140 tape drive, including the corresponding model-JC tape that holds 4TB native (12 TB compressed!).
The enhanced TS3500 with the Tape Library Connector Shuttle. I had a video that shows how tapes can be sent from one TS3500 tape library string to another.
The new Linear Tape File System (LTFS), both the single drive edition and the library edition
The new 3592-C07 FICON controller for our mainframe clients
By the end of the session, the folks that taunted me were honestly impressed that they learned a few things, and had not realized so much has been developed recently in the world of tape.
IBM had over a dozen storage-related announcements this week. This is my third and final part in my series to provide a quick overview of the announcements.
IBM Tivoli® Storage Manager v6.3
IBM Tivoli Storage Manager is market-leading software that provides not just backup, but also HSM and archive capabilities across a wide variety of operating systems. Originally developed in the IBM Almaden Research Center, it then moved about 15 years ago to Tucson to become a commercial product.
The new TSM v6.3 introduces site-to-site hot-standby disaster recovery feature that replicates the TSM meta data and data for fast recovery. The maximum number of objects supported has doubled to four billion. Reporting has been enhanced using technologies borrowed from IBM Cognos. Lastly, a feature on Tivoli Storage Productivity Center has been carried forward to deploy and update agents on the various clients.
IBM Tivoli Storage FlashCopy Manager coordinates application-aware backups through the use of point-in-time copy services such as FlashCopy or Snapshot on various IBM and non-IBM disk systems. The versions can remain on disk, or optionally processed by Tivoli Storage Manager to move them to external storage such as tape for added protection.
There will always be a spot in my heart for this product, as the method to use FlashCopy for application-aware backups on the mainframe was my 19th patent, and subsequently delivered as a series of enhancements to DFSMS over the past decade on the z/OS operating system. It is good to see this innovation has "jumped over" to distributed systems.
The new FlashCopy Manager v3.1 adds support for HP-UX and VMware, expands support for IBM DB2 and Oraqcle databases, and introduces an interface for custom business applications.
IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Virtual Environments v6.3
TSM for VE is a new addition to the TSM family, focused on being able to coordinate hypervisor-aware data protection. Initially it supports VMware, but IBM has plans to support a variety of other server virtualization hypervisors as well, as over 40 percent of companies run two or more hypervisors in their data center.
The new TSM for VE v6.3 adds a VMware vCenter plug-in, and support for hardware-based disk snapshots.
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v4.2.2
A long time ago, I was the chief architect IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v1, now we are already up to v4.2.2 release!
IBM has added enhanced reporting based on IBM Cognos technology, including storage tiering analysis reports (STAR). Few companies keep all of their storage tiers in a single disk system. Rather, they have different boxes, and often from different vendors. IBM's Productivity Center can report on both IBM and non-IBM disk systems. New this release is support for the internal disks of the Storwize V7000 midrange disk system.
Productivity Center's "SAN Planner" has been enhanced to consider XIV replication criteria. This SAN Planner helps clients decide where to carve LUNs, and to make sure they pick the right place given all of the criteria such as remote copy replications.
Last year, we introduced Productivity Center for Disk Midrange Edition (MRE) which to offer lower price when you are only managing midrange disk systems DS5000, DS3000, Storwize V7000 and SVC managing these. This was so successful, that we now have TPC Select, which is basically Productivity Center Standard Edition (SE) for these midrange disk systems.
Whew! I have already heard from some of my readers to slow down, that this is too much information to deal with all at once. IBM has tried everything from having just a few announcements nearly every Tuesday, to having huge launches every two to three years, and settled in the middle with announcements about four to five times per year.
We had our first "Future of IT Storage" Lunch-and-Learn here in Indianapolis, IN. We held it at the [Harry & Izzy's Restaurant], which looks like it has been in business for quite a while, but actually was only started four years ago. It is the sister restaurant for St. Elmo's next door which has been running since 1902, so it maintains a sense of that heritage, but with a bit more casual atmosphere.
Please note that in the wake of Hurricane Irene, the [Burlington, MA (Boston Area) event] has been postponed, probably to October or November. We have already notified all the people who signed up, but in case you planned just to show up, I wanted to let you know here in this blog.
Special thanks to Karen Harrison and Kerry Ingram for their help in setting up this event! Also a shout-out to Leanna and Amy, our two waitresses who served us today!
In less than a month, I will be presenting at the annual IBM Storage Technical University, July 18-22, at the Hilton in Orlando, Florida. This is one of my favorite conferences! You can sign up for this at their [Online Registration Page].
I will be covering a variety of topics:
IBM Storage Strategy in the Era of Smarter Computing - After IBM has led the IT industry through the "Centralized Computing" era, and then later the "Distributed Computing" era, we are now entering the third era, that of Smarter Computing. Come learn IBM's strategy for Storage to address today's big challenges, including Big Data, Integrated Workload-optimized systems, and Cloud service delivery models.
IBM Information Archive for Email, Files and eDiscovery - This session will cover the latest announcement for our non-erasable, non-rewriteable compliance storage, the Information Archive (IA), how this can be used to protect your emails and files, and provide indexed search to assist with eDiscovery.
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center Overview and Update - I was one of the original lead architects for Productivity Center. Come learn what this software is all about, and how the latest features and functions can help you manager your IT environment.
IBM SONAS and the Smart Business Storage Cloud - Confused about Cloud Computing and Cloud Storage? I will explain everything you need to know, including how the integrated SONAS appliance operates, IBM's customized solutions for private cloud deployments, and IBM's public cloud offerings.
BOF on Social Media - BOF stands for "Birds of a Feather", and his normally an after-hours discussion on a single theme. This BOF will be a four-expert Q&A panel, including myself, John Sing, Rich Swain and Ian Wright. We will discuss how we got started in Social Media, and how it has boosted our careers and our ability to get work done.
This week I am blogging from beautiful Caesars Palace hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada to report on what I see and hear at the
28th annual Data Center Conference. Today was simply registration, which opened at 4pm, and I was able to get my conference backpack, badge, and details of the week.
Already, I can tell there will be more people here, and it looks like the economy is on the rebound versus last year. Here are my
posts from 12 months ago when I attended this conference in 2008:
This year, we will have the IBM Portable Modular Data Center (PMDC) with XIV and iDataPlex inside, as well as several subject matter experts joining me at the solution center. Look for us in the "Hunter Green" shirts.