I have created blog categories, based on our System Storage offering matrix, which you can track individually:
- Disk systems, including the IBM System Storage DS Family of products, SAN Volume Controller, N series, as well as features unique to these products, such as FlashCopy, MetroMirror, or SnapLock.
- Tape systems, including the IBM System Storage TS Family of products, tape-related products in the Virtualization Engine portfolio, drives, libraries and even tape media.
- Storage Networking offerings, from Brocade, McData, Cisco and others, such as switches, routers and directors.
- Infrastructure management, including IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center software, IBM Tivoli Provisioning Manager, IBM Tivoli Intelligent Orchestrator, and IBM Tivoli Storage Process Manager.
- Business Continuity, including IBM Tivoli Storage Manager, Tivoli CDP for Files, Productivity Center for Replication software component, Continuous Availability for Windows (CAW), Continuous Availability for AIX (CAA).
- Lifecycle and Retention offerings, including our IBM System Storage DR550, DR550 Express, GPFS, Tivoli Storage Manager Space Management for UNIX, Tivoli Storage Manager HSM for Windows, and DFSMS.
- Storage services, including consulting, assessments, design, deployment, management and outsourcing.
This week I was in Dallas, Texas, teaching at the "System Storage Portfolio Top Gun" class.
Can you believe it was hotter and more humid in Dallas than in Tucson? I am glad to be home.
For those unfamiliar with Top Gun classes, it is our top level sales training, typically 4 to 4.5 days long. This year, I have taught Top Gun classes in USA, China, Mexico, Thailand, and Brazil.
The class is open to IBM sales, IBM Business Partners, ibm.com telesales, field support and our technology partners.
We have several more classes for 2006, in Canada and the USA. For more information, read here www.ibm.com[Read More]
An interesting blog in "Channel Advisor" relates to the lack of trust in the storage industry:Education — Trust: Key To Survival In Today's IT World
and offers some advice to vendors and channel distributions.
I can't stress enough how important is credibility in a highly-competitive marketplace.[Read More]
Two blogs discuss Thick versus Thin storage virtualization.
This is a good discussion if you are interested in SAN Volume Controller and/or our N series disk systems.[Read More]
I've only had this blog since Sep. 1, and already it is listed in the Data Storage Bloggers wiki list.
In last week's System Storage Portfolio Top Gun class in Dallas, some of the students were not familiarwith Really Simple Syndication (RSS). For the uninitiated, this can be intimidating.I thought a quick overview of what I've done might help:
- Chose a "feed reader". I chose Bloglines but there are many others.
- Use Technorati to search other blogs for keywords or phrases I am looking for.
- When I find a blog that I like to continue tracking, I "add" it to my subscription list on bloglines. Just hit "add" and copy the URL of the blog you want to track. Bloglines will figure out the RSS keywords required.I track eight blogs at the momemnt, but some people with lots of time on their hands track 20 or more. It is easy to unsubscribe, so don't be afraid to try some out for a few days.
- Since I was actually going to run a blog of my own, I read a few books on the topic. One I recommend is "Naked Conversations" by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, both experienced bloggers.
- Finally, I am not big on spell checking, but most places have the option to preview your post or comment before it actually gets posted, which is not a bad idea if you use any HTML tags.
For a quick taste of blogging, consider using Data Storage Blogger Feed Reader. This has a lot of blogs on the topic of storage, already added and categorized for your convenience, ready for your perusal.
I am sure there are many other ways to enjoy the Blogosphere, but this works for me.[Read More]
Dave Hitz from Network Appliance has a wonderful discussion of "branding": What do Marketing People Mean When They Say Brand?
A lot of people ask me about IBM branding, as we have recently changed brands. In the past we had two separate brands, one for servers (eServer) and one for storage (TotalStorage). These would be fine if we wanted to promote their independence, but customers today want synergy between servers and storage, they want systems that work well together.
Last year, in response to market feedback, we crated a new brand, "IBM Systems" and put all the server and storage product lines under one roof. Over time, we will transition from TotalStorage to System Storage naming. This will occur with new products, and major versions of existing products.
Two other phrases you will hear in the names of our offerings are "Virtualization Engine" and "Express". These are portfolio identifiers. The Virtualization Engine identifier was created to emphasize our leadership in system virtualization, and we have products that span product lines with this identifier.
The Express identifier was created to emphasize our focus on Small and Medium sized business (SMB). It spans not just servers and storage, but across other offerings from other IBM divisions.
Of course, just renaming products and services isn't enough. Systems don't work together just because they have similar names, are covered in similar "Apple white" plastic, or have similar black bezels. Obviously, thoughtful and collaborative design are needed, with the appropriate amounts of engineering and testing. IBM is aligning its server and storage development so that the IBM Systems brand keeps its promise.
technorati tags: Dave Hitz, NetApp, marketing, brand, TotalStorage, eServer, IBM Systems, Virtualization Engine, IBM, Express, SMB, Apple white, SMB
My colleague Cyrus pointed me to this ComputerWorld article: Users suffer major problems with Symantec NetBackup 6.0
Which reminds me of the old adage frequently said by Mike Hartung, IBM Fellow:
Eventually hardware fails, ...
... eventually software works.
For a solid backup product, consider usingIBM Tivoli Storage Manager.I use it to protect all my data on my laptop. And when switching recently from my old Thinkpad T30 to my newThinkpad T60, used it to transfer my data over as well.[Read More]
A few years ago, I was the IBM portfolio manager for storage connected to BladeCenter solutions. I learned a lot about the BladeCenter design, and got to speak at various x86 server events.
My colleague John put together a nice webpage on storage for System x and BladeCenter servers:
IBM System Storage for System x
BladeCenterservers come in many flavors, including blades with Intel, AMD and POWER chipsets, and can be configured in Grid and SuperComputer configurations. Up to 14 blade servers can fit intoa single 7U-high chassis, making this twice as dense as standard 1U-high rack-mounted servers.
System x, the new "IBM Systems" name for our popular xSeries product line, support Intel and AMD chipsets. These come in both rack-mountedand tower configurations. These also are idea for clustered and SuperComputer configurations.[Read More]
The TS3100 Tape Library
An astute reader brought this to my attention. The newest addition to our "IBM Express Portfolio"set of SMB-oriented offerings is the new TS3100 tape library. This has one LTO Gen 3 drive and up to 22 cartridges, which can be a mix of WORM and rewriteable cartridges,beautifully packaged in a small 2U high (3.5 inch) rack-mountable chassis. Each cartridge can hold up to 800GB uncompressed, or 1.6TB with typical 2-to-1 compression.
This tape library would be a great complement to TSM Express for backup, and to theDR550 Express for archive and compliance storage.
And now, for a limited time, there is a $1500 rebate, check website for details.
technorati tags: IBM, TS3100, Tape, Library, Express, Portfolio, WORM, LTO, LTO3, cartridge, Tivoli Storage Manager, TSM, DR550
On SearchStorage.com, my buddy Tony Asaro recaps the latest Storage Acquisition Frenzy
It has always been the case in fast pace technology areas that you can't tell the players without a program card, andthis is especially true for storage.
When analyzing each acquistion move, you need to think of what is driving it. What are the motives?Having been in the storage business 20 years now, and seen my share of acquisitions, both from within IBM,as well as competition, I have come up with the following list of motives.
Although slavery was abolished in the US back in the 1800's, and centuries earlier everywhere else, many acquisitionsseem to be focused on acquiring the people themselves, rather than the products or client list. I have seen statistics such as "We retained 98% of the people!" In reality, these retentions usually involve costly incentives,sign-in bonuses, stock options, and the like. Desptie this, people leave after a few years, often because ofpersonality or "corporate culture" clash. For example, many former STK employees seem to be leaving after their company was acquired by Sun Microsystems.
If you can't beat them, join them. Acquisitions can often be used by one company to raise its ranking in marketshare, eliminating smaller competitors. And now that you have acquired their client list, perhaps you can sellthem more of your original set of products!
Symantec had acquired Veritas, which in turn had acquired a variety of other smaller players, and the end result is that they are now #1 backup software provider, even though none of theirproducts holds a candle to IBM's Tivoli Storage Manager. Meanwhile, EMC acquired Avamar to try to get more into the backup/recovery game, but most analysts still find EMC down in the #4 or #5 place in this category.
Next month,Brocade's acquisition of McData should take effect, furthering its marketshare in SAN switch equipment.
Prior to my current role as "brand market strategist" for System Storage, I was a "portfolio manager" where wetried to make sure that our storage product line investments were balanced. This was a tough job, as the investmentshad to balance the right development investments into different technologies, including patent portfolios.Despite IBM's huge research budget, I am not surprised that some clever inventions of new technologies comefrom smaller companies, that then get acquired once their results appear viable.
- Value Shift
The last motive is value shift. This is where companies try to re-invent themselves, or find that they are stuck in acommodity market rut, and wish to expand into more profitable areas.
LSI Logic acquisition of StoreAge is a good exampleof this. Most of the major storage vendors have already shifted to software and services to provide customer value,as predicted in 1990's by Clayton Christensen in his book "The Innovator's Dilemma". The rest are still strugglingto develop the right strategy, but leaning in this general direction.
I hope that provides some insight.[Read More]
Continuing this week's theme of New Year's Resolutions
for the data center, today we'll talk about one that many people make for their own personal lives: staying on a budget.
Often, when faced with a tightening budgets, we try to make more use of what we already have. Tell someone they are only using 10 percent of their brain, and they immediatelybelieve you; but tell them they are only using 30 percent of their storage, and they ask for a whitepaper,magazine article, or clarification on how that percentage is calculated. I actually visiteda customer that was only using6 percent of the storage attached to their Windows servers!
So, to help those of you making data center resolutions to stay on budget, the terms to remember are "Reduce", "Reuse" and "Recycle".
- When people come to request storage, are they being reasonable about what they need today, or are they asking for what they might need over the next three years? They might need 50GB, but they ask for 100GB, in case they grow, and a year later, you find they have only 15GB of data on it. On the flipside, the person asks for what they need but some storage admins give out more, just so they don't have to be bothered so often when growth happens. Finally, I have seen this formalized into fixed size LUNs, all the disk is carved into big huge 100GB pieces, so if you need 20GB, here's one big enough with plenty of room to grow.
If you are going to keep on a budget, remember that storage today is 30% more expensive than storage next year. That is the average drop in both disk and tape on a dollar-per-MB basis. If there is any way to postpone giving out storage until it is actually needed, you can save a bundle of money. Timing is everything! In the event of a disaster, getting immediate replacement for disk can be very expensive, but if you can wait just two weeks, you can negotiate a better deal. I thought of this while going to the movie theatre yesterday. A "hot dog" and a bottle of water was $8.00, but if you are able to wait two hours and eat after the movie, you can get a much better meal for less.
- A lot of companies buy new storage because their existing storage isn't fast enough, or doesn't have the latest copy services. This can easily be solved with an IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC). The SVC can virtualize slower, functionless storage, and present to your application hosts virtual disks that are faster, and with all the latest disk-to-disk copy services like FlashCopy, Metro Mirror, and Global Mirror.
Chances are, you have unused disk capacity spread across all your storage today, but perhaps they are formatted into small LUNs. The SVC can combine the capacity, and let you carve up big LUNs at the sizes you need.This is like taking all those tiny pieces of soap in your shower and forming a new bar of soap, or taking all the crumbs at the bottom of your bread box, and making a new slice of bread. And, the virtual LUNs are dynamically expandable,so give out only the amount they need today, as it is simple to expand them to larger sizes later.
- Of my 13 patents, the first will always be my favorite, on a function called "RECYCLE" for the Data Facility Storage Management Subsystem Hierarchical Storage Manager (DFSMShsm) product, which is now a component of the IBM z/OS operating system. Basically, tapes could contain hundreds or thousands of files, such as backup versions or archive copies, and these expired on different dates. As a result, a tape would be written100 percent full, and then over time, decrease in valid data to 80, 60, 40, 20 until it hit 0 percent. In some cases, a single filecould hold an entire tape hostage. RECYCLE was able to read the valid data off tapes that were perhaps less than 20 percent full, and consolidate them onto fewer tapes. As a result, a whole bunch of tapes could be returned to the scratch pool, and reused immediately for other workloads. This also helps in moving to newer, higher capacity cartridges, such as the new 700GB cartridge that IBM co-developed with FujiFilm.(This RECYCLE function exists in our IBM Tivoli Storage Manager software, as well as our Virtual Tape Server, but is called "reclamation" instead, to avoid confusion on searches.)
When evaluating your use of tape, determine if you are making best use of the tapes you have now, and perhaps a RECYCLE (or reclamation) scheme may be in order. Fewer tapes can save money in many ways, such as reduced storage costs, and reduced courier costs to send the tapes offsite. Tape media can still be 10-20 times less expensive than disk, based on full capacity.
technorati tags: IBM, storage utilization,RECYCLE, Tivoli Storage Manager, SAN Volume Controller, SVC, tape, disk, FujiFilm, DFSMS, HSM, DFSMShsm, Virtual Tape Server, brains
This week I am in Japan, so my week's theme will center around travel, speaking at conferences, and Japan itself. I first travelled to Japan in the late 1980s, to visit a college friend who was working for Ford Motor Company, on assignment in Japan as liasion to Mazda Corp.
Back then, the only Japanese phrase I knew was "Wakarimashta" which means "I know" or "I understand". If you only know one phrase in a foreign language, this possibly could be the worst to know.
My second trip, I was better prepared. I learned three "survival phrases":
sumimasen - "I'm sorry/excuse me"
hanashimasen - "I don't speak"
wakarimasen - "I don't know / I don't understand"
These are great phrases to know individually, but even more powerful strung all together, to emphasize that you will begin speaking English, but at least with good reason (and perhaps a bit of irony.)
I've been to Japan many times since, and have picked up more of the language. When travelling to Japan, or anywhere for that matter, it is important to "pack light". I'll be gone for two weeks, but all I bring is a laptop bag and one carry-on piece of luggage.
I went on a trip to Prague (Czech Republic) with a female co-worker who brought FOUR pieces of luggage. One was just for shoes. Another piece was just for hair styling gel, make-up, face creams and finger nail polish. Today, the rules are different, and the TSA allows only a single quart-size plastic bag containing little jars of 3 ounces or less of liquids or gels. I didn't have any "quart-size" bags, so I used a smaller sandwich-size bag.
What does all this have to do with storage? I've helped many clients move data centers, and this involves moving their servers, their networks, and their storage. Servers and Networks are easy to move, but storage presents some challenges. In many cases, the entire company is shut down, the storage is moved, and then the company is operational again. Needless to say, it is best to do this over a weekend.
I tell clients to "pack light" and figure out what data they really need in the move. What do you really need to operate your business? Bring just that, the rest can arrive later.
This same concept applies for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery planning. What do you really need after a disaster occurs? Can you run your business for a few weeks on that data, until the rest of the data is restored? If you can't run your entire business on that data, can you run your most important parts of your business?
If you run a bank, perhaps keeping your ATM cash machines running is more important than making out new loans. In Japan, if a bank has any outages that impact their ATM machines, they put out a full page advertisement in the local papers to apologize for the inconvenience.
Business Continuity is one of the nine "Infrastructure Solutions" that IBM can help clients with. If you are interested in learning more on how IBM can help you with your Business Continuity, click here.
technorati tags: IBM, Japan, Prague, TSA, Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, ATM, Infrastructure Solutions, travel, Japanese, language, survival, phrases,
Modified by TonyPearson
Continuing my week's theme on travel, conferences, and Japan, I saw two items in the newsthat seem to follow a common theme.
- According to the "The Daily Yomiuri", a local Japanese paper, "double happy weddings" arebecoming more and more popular in Japan. These would be called "stotgun" weddings in the US, butin Japan, couples pay extra to have a wedding between the fifth and seventh month ofpregnancy. As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up. 27% of couples in Japan got married while or after pregnant. The logic is that they can celebrate both events with one ceremony. Many couples believe that the primary purpose of marriage is to have children, and somethat fail to have children suffer terrible anguish or divorce. Waiting untilbeing pregnant helps ensure the couple will be "successful" in this regard.
- IBM acquires Softek, a software company that develops a product called Transparent Data MoverFacility (TDMF) to move mainframe data from one disk system to another, while applicationsare running. This can be used, for example, to move data from outdated disk systems to IBMdisk systems. This is not to be confused with IBM's archive and retention software partner,Princeton Softech.
Softek is the software spin-off of Fujitsu (a Japanese computer hardware manufacturer). Fora while, Fujitsu made IBM-compatible mainframe servers, but was not successful at developingits own system software, relying heavily on IBM for this. Unable to compete against IBM, it stoppedmaking mainframe servers, but continues making other kinds of hardware equipment.
With TDMF, the process of moving data is simple. The software runs on z/OS and intercepts all writes intendedfor a source volumes on the old array, and re-directs a copy to destination volumes on the new device.Systems can run with old and new equipment side by side for a few weeks, with the new devicestaying in-sync with the old. When the client is ready to cross over, the systems arepointed to the new disk, and the old disk systems are detached and removed from the sysplex.
Afraid that installing TDMF will mess with your applications? IBM Global Technology Services (GTS)is able to roll-in a separate mainframe, move the data, than disconnect it along with the old storage.
(For customers running Linux, UNIX or Windows on other platforms, IBM offers SAN Volume Controller (SVC).While SVC is not marketed as a "data migration device", per se, it does have this capability.Many clients were able to cost-justify purchase of an SVCto move data from old storage to new in similar fashion to how TDMF works on the mainframe.)
What do these stories have to do with one another, other than both relating to Japan? IBM has beenusing TDMF for years as part of a service offering to move data from one disk system to another.Since Sam Palmiasano took over in 2002, IBM has acquired 51 companies, 31 of them software companies.Often, these have been "successful" turning quickly profitable because IBM was already well familiar with the companies they acquire, in much the same way that husbandsare well familiar with their brides-to-be at a "double happy wedding".
So, welcome Softek! It looks like its time to celebrate again!
technorati tags: IBM, Japan, Daily Yomiuri, double happy, wedding, shotgun, Dave Barry, Softek, TDMF, z/OS, Fujitsu
In Storage Technology News, Marc Staimer makes hisSeven network storage predictions for 2007
. Let's take a closer look at each one.
- Federal Rules for Civil Procedures (FRCP) will increase adoption of unstructured data classification, email archive systems and CAS.
CAS continues to flounder, but the rest I can agree with. Regulations are being adopted world wide. Japan has its own Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) style legislation go into effect in 2008.IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center for Data is a great tool to help classify unstructured file systems. IBM CommonStore for email supports both Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino, and can be connected to IBM System Storage DR550 for compliance storage.
- Unified storage systems (combined file and block storage target systems) will become increasingly attractive in 2007, because of their ease of use and simplicity.
I agree with this one also. Our sales of IBM N series in 2006 was great, and looking to continue its strong growth in 2007. The IBM N series brings together FCP, iSCSI and NAS protocols into one disk system. With the SnapLock(tm) feature, N series can store both re-writable data, as well as non-erasable, non-rewriteable data, on the same box. Combine the N series gateway on the front-end with SAN Volume Controller on the back-end, and you have an even more powerful combination.
- Distributed ROBO backup to disk will emerge as the fastest growing data protection solution in 2007.
IDC had a similar prediction for 2006. ROBO refers to "Remote Office/Branch Office", and so ROBO backup deals with how to back up data that is out in the various remote locations. Do you back it up locally? or send it to a central location?Fortunately, IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) supports both ways, and IBM has introduced small disk and tape drives and auto-loaders that can be used in smaller environments like this. I don't know whether "backup to disk" will be the fastest growing, but I certainly agree that a variety of ROBO-related issues will be of interest this year.
- 2007 will be remembered as the year iSCSI SAN took off because of the much reduced pricing for 10 Gbit iSCSI and the continued deployment of 10 Gbit iSCSI targets.
While I agree that iSCSI is important, I can't say 2007 will be remembered for anything.We have terrible memory in these things. Ask someone what year did Personal Computers (PC) take off, and they will tell you about Apple's famous 1984 commercial. Ask someone when the Internet took off, cell phones took off, etc, and I suspect most will provide widely different answers, but most likely based on their own experience.
For the longest time, I resisted getting a cell phone. I had a roll of quarters in my car, and when I needed to make a call, I stopped at the nearby pay-phone, and made the call. In 1998, pay phones disappeared. You can't find them anymore. That was the year of the cell phones took off, at least for me.
Back to iSCSI, now that you can intermix iSCSI and SAN on the same infrastructure, either through intelligent multi-protocol switches available from your local IBM rep, or through an N series gateway, you can bring iSCSI technology in slowly and gradually. Low-cost copper wiring for 10 Gbps Ethernet makes all this very practical.
Another up-and-coming technology is AoE, or ATA-over-Ethernet. Same idea as iSCSI, but taken down to the ATA level.
- CDP will emerge as an important feature on comprehensive data protection products instead of a separate managed product.
Here, CDP stands for Continuous Data Protection. While normal backups work like a point-and-shoot camera, taking a picture of the data once every midnight for example. CDP can record all the little changes like a video camera, with the option to rewind or fast-forward to a specific point in the day. IBM Tivoli CDP for Files, for example, is an excellent complement to IBM Tivoli Storage Manager.
The technology is not really new, as it has been implemented as "logs" or "journals" on databases like DB2 and Oracle, as well as business applications like SAP R/3.
The prediction here, however, relates to packaging. Will vendors "package" CDP into existing backup products, possibly as a separately priced feature, or will they leave it as a separate product that perhaps, like in IBM's case, already is well integrated.
- The VTL market growth will continue at a much reduced rate as backup products provide equivalent features directly to disk. Deduplication will extend the VTL market temporarily in 2007.
VTL here refers to Virtual Tape Library, such as IBM TS7700 or TS7510 Virtualization Engine. IBM introduced the first one in 1997, the IBM 3494 Virtual Tape Server, and we have remained number one in marketshare for virtual tape ever since. I find it amusing that people are now just looking at VTL technology to help with their Disk-to-Disk-to-Tape (D2D2T) efforts, when IBM Tivoli Storage Manager has already had the capability to backup to disk, then move to tape, since 1993.
As for deduplication, if you need the end-target box to deduplicate your backups, then perhaps you should investigatewhy you are doing this in the first place? People take full-volume backups, and keep to many copies of it, when a more sophisticated backup software like Tivoli Storage Manager can implement backup policies to avoid this with a progressive backup scheme. Or maybe you need to investigate why you store multiple copies of the same data on disk, perhaps NAS or a clustered file system like IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS) could provide you a single copy accessible to many servers instead.
The reason you don't see deduplication on the mainframe, is that DFSMS for z/OS already allows multiple servers to share a single instance of data, and has been doing so since the early 1980s. I often joke with clients at the Tucson Executive Briefing Center that you can run a business with a million data sets on the mainframe, but that there wereprobably a million files on just the laptops in the room, but few would attempt to run their business that way.
- Optical storage that looks, feels and acts like NAS and puts archive data online, will make dramatic inroads in 2007.
Marc says he's going out on a limb here, and that's good to make at least one risky prediction. IBM used to have anoptical library emulate disk, called the IBM 3995. Lack of interest and advancement in technology encouraged IBM to withdraw it. A small backlash ensued, so IBM now offers the IBM 3996 for the System p and System i clients that really, really want optical.
As for optical making data available "online", it takes about 20 seconds to load an optical cartridge, so I would consider this more "nearline" than online. Tape is still in the 40-60 second range to load and position to data, so optical is still at an advantage.
Optical eliminates the "hassles of tape"? Tape data is good for 20 years, and optical for 100 years, but nobody keeps drives around that long anyways. In general, our clients change drives every 6-8 years, and migrate the data from old to new. This is only a hassle if you didn't plan for this inevitable movement. IBM Tivoli Storage Manager, IBM System Storage Archive Manager, and the IBM System Storage DR550 all make this migration very simple and easy, and can do it with either optical or tape.
The Blue-ray vs. DVD debate will continue through 2007 in the consumer world. I don't see this being a major player in more conservative data centers where a big investment in the wrong choice could be costly, even if the price-per-TB is temporarily in-line with current tape technologies. IBM and others are investing a lot of Research and Development funding to continue the downward price curve for tape, and I'm not sure that optical can keep up that pace.
Well, that's my take. It is a sunny day here in China, and have more meetings to attend.
technorati tags: IBM, FRCP, SOX, TotalStorage, Productivity Center, Microsoft, Exchange, Lotus, Domino, DR550, SnapLock, unified storage, NAS, iSCSI, FCP, ROBO, Tivoli, Storage Manager, TSM, Ethernet, AoE, CDP, DB2, Oracle, SAP, VTL, TS7700, TS7510, GPFS, DFSMS, Optical, 3995, 3996, Blue-Ray, D2D2T,DVD
I didn't really have a theme this week, still recovering from jet-lag from my travels through Japan, Australia, China.
Gary Diskman has an amusing blog entry about a Funny disaster recovery job posting. It is not clear if he is being completely tongue-in-cheek, or a bit cynical. However, it rings true that you get what you measure, and some managers look for easy metrics, even if there are unintended consequences.
Western medicine works this way. Rather than paying your doctor to keep you healthy, you pay him per visit, to get refills on prescriptions, check-ups on medical conditions, surgeries and so on. While Eastern medicine is focused on keeping people healthy, Western medicine profits more from resolving "situations".
I have seen similar situations on the "health" of the data center. In one case, the admins were measured on how quickly they bring back up their web-servers after a crash. They had this process down to a science, because they were measured on how quickly they resolved the situation. I suggested switching from Windows to Linux, a much more reliable operating system for web-serving, and showed examples of web-servers running Linux that have been up for 1000 days or more. Management changed the metrics to "average up-time in days" and magically the re-boots all but disappeared, thanks to Linux, but also thanks in part to shifting the incentive structure. Perhaps some of those earlier situations were "artificially created"?
Back in the 1980s, I was working on a small software project that was about 5000 lines of code. In those days, testers were measured by the number of "successful" testcases that ran without incident. Testcases that uncovered an error were labeled as "failures" to be re-run after the developers fixed the code. When I declared my code ready for test, the test team ran 110 testcases, all successfully, and they were all rewarded for meeting their schedule. I, on the other hand, did not accept these results, met with them and told them I would give them $100 each if they could find a bug in my code in the next week. Nobody writes 5000 lines of code without some error along the way, not even me. (As one author put it, more people have left earth's gravity to orbit the planet than have written perfect code that did not require subsequent review or testing. It's so true. Good software is difficult to write.)
The test team accepted the challenge, and found 6 problems, more than I expected, but at least I felt more confident of the code quality after fixing these. As I suspected, the unintended consequence of counting "successful" testcases was that testers would write the most simple, basic, least-likely-to-challenge-boundaries testcases to ensure they meet their numbers. My experiment was costly to me, but more importantly was a wake-up call for the test management, and they realized they needed to re-evaluate their test procedures, metrics and terminology. This was a long time ago, and I am glad to see that the overall "software engineering" practice has matured much over the past 20 years.
So, my advice is to determine metrics that have the intended consequences you want, while avoiding any negative unintented consequences that might undermine your eventual success. People will quickly figure out how to maximize the results, and if you can align their goals to company goals, then everybody benefits.
Well, I'll be blogging from Mexico next week (yes, it is a business trip!). Enjoy the weekend.
technorati tags: IBM, Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, Gary Diskman, indentives, metrics, testcases, unintented consequences