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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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One of the differences between IBM and the other storage vendors is that IBM is also in the business of middleware, application-aware backup software, and advanced copy services. This allows IBM to put togethersolutions that work to address specific challenges for our clients.
IBM has written a whitepaper on a cleverVSS Snapshot Backup for Exchange using IBM Tivoli Storage Manager and the point-in-time copy capabilities of IBM System Storage disk systems.
A problem in the past was that each vendor's point-in-time copy method had its own unique proprietary interface.Microsoft Developed Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS) as a common interface front-end to resolve this concern.IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Mail can invoke standard VSS interfaces, and this in turn can invoke FlashCopyon the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller, DS8000 series, or DS6000 series disk system.
You might be thinking: Wouldn't it have been less effort to just have TSM for Mail invoke IBM proprietary interfaces,rather than having to put full VSS support into TSM for mail, and then full VSS support into IBM's various disksystems? Perhaps, but IBM doesn't decide to do things because it is the cheapest way, we focus on what is theright way, and in this case, customers now have more choices, then can use TSM for Mail with IBM or non-IBM disksystems that support the VSS interface, and IBM disk systems can be employed into other uses for VSS snapshot.
Of course, we would like our clients to consider both TSM and IBM System Storage disk systems for a combined solution,not because they are required to make the solution work, but because both are best-of-breed, and whitepapers likethis show how they can provide synergy working together.
Well, this week I am in Maryland, just outside of Washington DC. It's a bit cold here.
Robin Harris over at StorageMojo put out this Open Letter to Seagate, Hitachi GST, EMC, HP, NetApp, IBM and Sun about the results of two academic papers, one from Google, and another from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). The papers imply that the disk drive module (DDM) manufacturers have perhaps misrepresented their reliability estimates, and asks major vendors to respond. So far, NetAppand EMC have responded.
I will not bother to re-iterate or repeat what others have said already, but make just a few points. Robin, you are free to consider this "my" official response if you like to post it on your blog, or point to mine, whatever is easier for you. Given that IBM no longer manufacturers the DDMs we use inside our disk systems, there may not be any reason for a more formal response.
Coke and Pepsi buy sugar, Nutrasweet and Splenda from the same sources
Somehow, this doesn't surprise anyone. Coke and Pepsi don't own their own sugar cane fields, and even their bottlers are separate companies. Their job is to assemble the components using super-secret recipes to make something that tastes good.
IBM, EMC and NetApp don't make DDMs that are mentioned in either academic study. Different IBM storage systems uses one or more of the following DDM suppliers:
Seagate (including Maxstor they acquired)
Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, HGST (former IBM division sold off to Hitachi)
In the past, corporations like IBM was very "vertically-integrated", making every component of every system delivered.IBM was the first to bring disk systems to market, and led the major enhancements that exist in nearly all disk drives manufactured today. Today, however, our value-add is to take standard components, and use our super-secret recipe to make something that provides unique value to the marketplace. Not surprisingly, EMC, HP, Sun and NetApp also don't make their own DDMs. Hitachi is perhaps the last major disk systems vendor that also has a DDM manufacturing division.
So, my point is that disk systems are the next layer up. Everyone knows that individual components fail. Unlike CPUs or Memory, disks actually have moving parts, so you would expect them to fail more often compared to just "chips".
If you don't feel the MTBF or AFR estimates posted by these suppliers are valid, go after them, not the disk systems vendors that use their supplies. While IBM does qualify DDM suppliers for each purpose, we are basically purchasing them from the same major vendors as all of our competitors. I suspect you won't get much more than the responses you posted from Seagate and HGST.
American car owners replace their cars every 59 months
According to a frequently cited auto market research firm, the average time before the original owner transfers their vehicle -- purchased or leased -- is currently 59 months.Both studies mention that customers have a different "definition" of failure than manufacturers, and often replace the drives before they are completely kaput. The same is true for cars. Americans give various reasons why they trade in their less-than-five-year cars for newer models. Disk technologies advance at a faster pace, so it makes sense to change drives for other business reasons, for speed and capacity improvements, lower power consumption, and so on.
The CMU study indicated that 43 percent of drives were replaced before they were completely dead.So, if General Motors estimated their cars lasted 9 years, and Toyota estimated 11 years, people still replace them sooner, for other reasons.
At IBM, we remind people that "data outlives the media". True for disk, and true for tape. Neither is "permanent storage", but rather a temporary resting point until the data is transferred to the next media. For this reason, IBM is focused on solutions and disk systems that plan for this inevitable migration process. IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller is able to move active data from one disk system to another; IBM Tivoli Storage Manager is able to move backup copies from one tape to another; and IBM System Storage DR550 is able to move archive copies from disk and tape to newer disk and tape.
If you had only one car, then having that one and only vehicle die could be quite disrupting. However, companies that have fleet cars, like Hertz Car Rentals, don't wait for their cars to completely stop running either, they replace them well before that happens. For a large company with a large fleet of cars, regularly scheduled replacement is just part of doing business.
This brings us to the subject of RAID. No question that RAID 5 provides better reliability than having just a bunch of disks (JBOD). Certainly, three copies of data across separate disks, a variation of RAID 1, will provide even more protection, but for a price.
Robin mentions the "Auto-correlation" effect. Disk failures bunch up, so one recent failure might mean another DDM, somewhere in the environment, will probably fail soon also. For it to make a difference, it would (a) have to be a DDM in the same RAID 5 rank, and (b) have to occur during the time the first drive is being rebuilt to a spare volume.
The human body replaces skin cells every day
So there are individual DDMs, manufactured by the suppliers above; disk systems, manufactured by IBM and others, and then your entire IT infrastructure. Beyond the disk system, you probably have redundant fabrics, clustered servers and multiple data paths, because eventually hardware fails.
People might realize that the human body replaces skin cells every day. Other cells are replaced frequently, within seven days, and others less frequently, taking a year or so to be replaced. I'm over 40 years old, but most of my cells are less than 9 years old. This is possible because information, data in the form of DNA, is moved from old cells to new cells, keeping the infrastructure (my body) alive.
Our clients should approach this in a more holistic view. You will replace disks in less than 3-5 years. While tape cartridges can retain their data for 20 years, most people change their tape drives every 7-9 years, and so tape data needs to be moved from old to new cartridges. Focus on your information, not individual DDMs.
What does this mean for DDM failures. When it happens, the disk system re-routes requests to a spare disk, rebuilding the data from RAID 5 parity, giving storage admins time to replace the failed unit. During the few hours this process takes place, you are either taking a backup, or crossing your fingers.Note: for RAID5 the time to rebuild is proportional to the number of disks in the rank, so smaller ranks can be rebuilt faster than larger ranks. To make matters worse, the slower RPM speeds and higher capacities of ATA disks means that the rebuild process could take longer than smaller capacity, higher speed FC/SCSI disk.
According to the Google study, a large portion of the DDM replacements had no SMART errors to warn that it was going to happen. To protect your infrastructure, you need to make sure you have current backups of all your data. IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center can help identify all the data that is "at risk", those files that have no backup, no copy, and no current backup since the file was most recently changed. A well-run shop keeps their "at risk" files below 3 percent.
So, where does that leave us?
ATA drives are probably as reliable as FC/SCSI disk. Customers should chose which to use based on performance and workload characteristics. FC/SCSI drives are more expensive because they are designed to run at faster speeds, required by some enterprises for some workloads. IBM offers both, and has tools to help estimate which products are the best match to your requirements.
RAID 5 is just one of the many choices of trade-offs between cost and protection of data. For some data, JBOD might be enough. For other data that is more mission critical, you might choose keeping two or three copies. Data protection is more than just using RAID, you need to also consider point-in-time copies, synchronous or asynchronous disk mirroring, continuous data protection (CDP), and backup to tape media. IBM can help show you how.
Disk systems, and IT environments in general, are higher-level concepts to transcend the failures of individual components. DDM components will fail. Cache memory will fail. CPUs will fail. Choose a disk systems vendor that combines technologies in unique and innovative ways that take these possibilities into account, designed for no single point of failure, and no single point of repair.
So, Robin, from IBM's perspective, our hands are clean. Thank you for bringing this to our attention and for giving me the opportunity to highlight IBM's superiority at the systems level.
I've blogged about some of these videos already, but since there are probably a few out there buying the brand new Apple iPhone looking for YouTube videos to play on them, these links might provide some exampleentertainment on your new handheld device.
Next week has "Fourth of July" Independence Day holiday in the USA smack in the middle of the week, so I suspect the blogosphereto quiet down a bit. So whether you are working next week or not, in the USA or elsewhere, take some time to enjoy your friends and family.
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.
Many people have asked me if there was any logic with the IBM naming convention of IBM Systems branded servers. Here's your quick and easy cheat sheet:
System x -- "x" for cross-platform architecture. Technologies from our mainframe and UNIX servers were brought into chips that sit next to the Intel or AMD processors to provide a more reliable x86 server experience. For example, some models have a POWER processor-based Remote Supervisor Adapter (RSA).
System p -- "p" for POWER architecture.
System z -- "z" for Zero-downtime, zero-exposures. Our lawyers prefer "near-zero", but this is about as close as you get to ["six-nines" availability] in our industry, with the highest level of security and encryption, no other vendor comes close, so you get the idea.
But what about the "i" for System i? Officially, it stands for "Integrated" in that it could integrate different applications running on different operating systems onto a [COMMON] platform. Options were available to insert Intel-based processor cards that ran Windows, or attach special cables that allowed separate System x servers running Windows to attach to a System i. Both allowed Windows applications to share the internal LAN and SAN inside the System i machine. Later, IBM allowed [AIX on System i] and [Linux on Power] operating systems to run as well.
From a storage perspective, we often joked that the "i" stood for "island", as most System i machines used internal disk, or attached externally to only a fewselected models of disk from IBM and EMC that had special support for i5/OS using a special, non-standard 520-byte disk block size. This meant only our popular IBM System Storage DS6000 and DS8000 series disk systems were available. This block size requirement only applies to disk. For tape, i5/OS supports both IBM TS1120 and LTO tape systems. For the most part,System i machines stood separate from the mainframe, and the rest of the Linux, UNIX and Windows distributed serverson the data center floor.
Often, when I am talking to customers, they ask when will product xyz be supported on System z or System i?I explained that IBM's strategy is not to make all storage devices connect via ESCON/FICON or support non-standard block sizes, but rather to get the servers to use standard 512-byte block size, Fibre Channel and other standard protocols.(The old adage applies: If you can't get Mohamed to move to the mountain, get the mountain to move to Mohamed).
On the System z mainframe, we are 60 percent there, allowing three of the five operating systems (z/VM, z/VSE and Linux) to access FCP-based disk and tape devices. (Four out of six if you include [OpenSolaris for the mainframe])But what about System i? As the characters on the popular television show [LOST] would say: It's time to get off the island!
Last week, IBM announced the new [i5/OS V6R1 operating system] with features that will greatly improve the use of external storage on this platform. Check this out:
POWER6-based System i 570 model server
Our latest, most powerful POWER processor brought to the System i platform. The 570 model will be the first in the System i family of servers to make use of new processing technology, using up to 16 (sixteen!) POWER6 processors (running at 4.7GHZ) in each machine.The advantage of the new processors is the increased commercial processing workload (CPW) rating, 31 percent greater than the POWER5+ version and 72 percent greater than the POWER5 version. CPW is the "MIPS" or "TeraFlops" rating for comparing System i servers.Here is the[Announcement Letter].
Fibre Channel Adapter for System i hardware
That's right, these are [Smart IOAs], so an I/O Processor (IOP) is no longer required! You can even boot the Initial Program Load (IPL) direclty from SAN-attached tape.This brings System i to the 21st century for Business Continuity options.
Virtual I/O Server (VIOS)
[VirtualI/O Server] has been around for System p machines, but now available on System i as well. This allows multiplelogical partitions (LPARs) to access resources like Ethernet cards and FCP host bus adapters. In the case of storage, the VIOS handles the 520-byte to 512-byte conversion, so that i5/OS systems can now read and write to standard FCP devices like the IBM System Storage DS4800 and DS4700 disk systems.
IBM System Storage DS4000 series
Initially, we have certified DS4700 and DS4800 disk systems to work with i5/OS, but more devices are in plan.This means that you can now share your DS4700 between i5/OS and your other Linux, UNIX and Windowsservers, take advantage of a mix of FC and SATA disk capacities, RAID6 protection, and so on.
To call [IBM PowerVM] the "VMware for the POWER architecture" would not do it quite justice. In combination with VIOS, IBM PowerVM is able to run a variety of AIX, Linux and i5/OS guest images.The "Live Partition Mobility" feature allows you to easily move guest images from one system to another, while they are running, just like VMotion for x86 machines.
And while we are on the topic of x86, PowerVM is also able to represent a Linux-x86 emulation base to run x86-compiled applications. While many Linux applications could be re-complied from source code for the POWER architecture "as is", others required perhaps 1-2 percent modification to port them over, and that was too much for some software development houses. Now, we can run most x86-compiled Linux application binaries in their original form on POWER architecture servers.
BladeCenter JS22 Express
The POWER6-based [JS22 Express blade] can run i5/OS, taking advantage of PowerVM and VIOS to access all of the BladeCenterresources. The BladeCenter lets you mix and match POWER and x86-based blades in the same chassis, providing theultimate in flexibility.
Over on his Backup Blog, fellow blogger Scott Waterhouse from EMC has a post titled
[Backup Sucks: Reason #38]. Here is an excerpt:
Unfortunately, we have not been able to successfully leverage economies of scale in the world of backup and recovery. If it costs you $5 to backup a given amount of data, it probably costs you $50 to back up 10 times that amount of data, and $500 to back up 100 times that amount of data.
If anybody can figure out how to get costs down to $40 for 10 times the amount of data, and $300 for 100 times the amount of data, they will have an irrefutable advantage over anybody that has not been able to leverage economies of scale.
I suspect that where Scott mentions we in the above excerpt, he is referring to EMC in general, with products like
Legato. Fortunately, IBM has scalable backup solutions, using either a hardware approach, or one purely with software.
The hardware approach involves using deduplication hardware technology as the storage pool for IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM). Using this approach, IBM Tivoli Storage Manager would receive data from dozens, hundreds or even thousands
of client nodes, and the backup copies would be sent to an IBM TS7650 ProtecTIER data deduplication appliance, IBM TS7650G gateway, or IBM N series with A-SIS. In most cases, companies have standardized on the operating systems and applications used on these nodes, and multiple copies of data reside across employee laptops. As a result, as you have more nodes backing up, you are able to achieve benefits of scale.
Perhaps your budget isn't big enough to handle new hardware purchases at this time, in this economy. Have no fear,
IBM also offers deduplication built right into the IBM Tivoli Storage Manager v6 software itself. You can use sequential access disk storage pool for this. TSM scans and identifies duplicate chunks of data in the backup copies, and also archive and HSM data, and reclaims the space when found.
If your company is using a backup software product that doesn't scale well, perhaps now is a good time to switch over to IBM Tivoli Storage Manager. TSM is perhaps the most scalable backup software product in the marketplace, giving IBM an "irrefutable advantage" over the competition.
"IBM announced that Northwest Radiology Network has gone live with a new virtualized enterprise of IBM servers and storage to support its growing medical imaging needs, giving its four locations an enterprise-class infrastructure which enables its doctors to recover medical image reports faster for analysis and enables remote 24x7 access to its medical image report system.
Founded in 1967, Northwest Radiology (NWR) is ranked as one of the largest physician groups in the Indianapolis, Indiana area. With 180 employees who offer the Central Indiana community comprehensive inpatient and outpatient imaging services such as mammography, ultrasonography, CT scans, PET-CT scans, bone density scans and MRIs – the Network had a dramatic need to develop a centralized infrastructure where large amounts of data could be stored and shared. A new data center would benefit the company’s clientele; which includes area hospitals and doctor’s offices serving thousands of patients each year.
Storing more than ten thousand medical imaging reports and radiographic images each month for doctors to analyze, the Network realized it had single points of failure and at one point a critical report server failed. Northwest Radiology turned to IBM and IBM Business Partner Software Information Systems (SIS) for a more efficient solution to prevent any possible downtime in the future.
SIS recommended and installed a virtualized infrastructure with IBM servers and storage as the heart of Northwest Radiology’s Indianapolis data center. By April 2007, Northwest Radiology replaced eight servers and direct attached storage with just two IBM System x3650 servers connected to an IBM System Storage DS3400. Today, the new servers run 15 virtual servers to ensure the availability of their services 24x7. When the business needs it, a new server can be provisioned in just minutes. With a Fibre Channel on the SAN Disk, the DS3400 not only increased performance but also met NWR’s requirement to not have one single point of failure. With three TB of storage capacity, they can meet the demands of increased business well into the future. The systems are also now easily managed from a remote site."
“Uptime is paramount in our business. We selected IBM based on the reliability and flexibility of IBM System x servers and the IBM System Storage DS3400,” said Marty Buening, IT Director, Northwest Radiology Network. “The virtualized infrastructure and the SAN storage array that SIS and IBM brought to the table is improving our service and giving our doctors and staff piece of mind knowing each patient’s medical imaging reports are always available.”
Second, we have [Iowa Health System], a large enterprise with over 19,000 employees, managing four million patients and hundreds of TBs of data.
Here is a 4-minute video on IBM TV from the good folks at Iowa Health System discussing theIBM Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS) as part of their information infrastructure for theirPicture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) application.
In both cases, IBM technology was able to provide remote access to medical information, making images and patient records available to more doctors, specialists and radiologists. Last January, in my post[Five in Five], IBM had predicted that remote access to healthcare would have an impact over the next five years.
Whether you are a small company or a large one, IBM probably has the right solution for you.
Earlier this year, IBM launched its[New Enterprise Data Center vision]. The average data center was built 10-15 years ago,at a time when the World Wide Web was still in its infancy, some companies were deploying their first storage areanetwork (SAN) and email system, and if you asked anyone what "Google" was, they might tell you it was ["a one followed by a hundred zeros"]!
Full disclosure: Google, the company, justcelebrated its [10th anniversary] yesterday, and IBM has partnered with Google on a varietyof exciting projects. I am employed by IBM, and own stock in both companies.
In just the last five years, we saw a rapid growth in information, fueled by Web 2.0 social media, email, mobile hand-held devices, and the convergenceof digital technologies that blurs the lines between communications, entertainment and business information. This explosion in information is not just "more of the same", but rather a dramatic shift from predominantly databases for online transaction processing to mostly unstructured content. IT departments are no longer just the"back office" recording financial transactions for accountants, but now also take on a more active "front office" role. For a growing number of industries, information technology plays a pivotal role in generating revenue, making smarter business decisions, and providing better customer service.
IBM felt a new IT model was needed to address this changing landscape, so IBM's New Enterprise Data Center vision has these five key strategic initiatives:
Highly virtualized resources
Business-driven Service Management
Green, Efficient, Optimized facilities
In February, IBM announced new products and features to support the first two initiatives, including the highlyvirtualized capability of the IBM z10 EC mainframe, and and related business resiliency features of the [IBM System Storage DS8000 Turbo] disk system.
In May, IBM launched its Service Management strategic initiative at the Pulse 2008 conference. I was there in Orlando, Florida at the Swan and Dolphin resort to present to clients. You can read my three posts:[Day 1; Day 2 Main Tent; Day 2 Breakout sessions].
In June, IBM launched its fourth strategic initiative "Green, Efficient and Optimized Facilities" with [Project BigGreen 2.0], which included the Space-Efficient Volume (SEV) and Space-Efficient FlashCopy (SEFC) capabilitiesof the IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) 4.3 release. Fellow blogger and IBM master inventor Barry Whyte (BarryW) has three posts on his blog about this:[SVC 4.3.0Overview; SEV and SEFCdetail; Virtual Disk Mirroring and More]
Some have speculated that the IBM System Storage team seemed to be on vacation the past two months, with few pressreleases and little or no fanfare about our July and August announcements, and not responding directly to critics and FUD in the blogosphere.It was because we were holding them all for today's launch, taking our cue from a famous perfume commercial:
"If you want to capture someone's attention -- whisper."
My team and I were actually quite busy at the [IBM Tucson Executive Briefing Center]. In between doing our regular job talking to excited prospects and clients,we trained sales reps and IBM Business Partners, wrote certification exams, and updated marketing collateral. Fortunately, competitors stopped promotingtheir own products to discuss and demonstrate why they are so scared of what IBM is planning.The fear was well justified. Even a few journalists helped raise the word-of-mouth buzz and excitement level. A big kiss to Beth Pariseau for her article in [SearchStorage.com]!
(Last week we broke radio silence to promote our technology demonstration of 1 million IOPS using Solid StateDisk, just to get the huge IBM marketing machine oiled up and ready for today)
Today, IBM General Manager Andy Monshaw launchedthe fifth strategic initiative, [IBM Information Infrastructure], at the[IBM Storage and Storage Networking Symposium] in Montpellier, France. Montpellier is one of the six locations of our New Enterprise Data Center Leadership Centers launched today. The other five are Poughkeepsie, Gaithersburg, Dallas, Mainz and Boebligen, with more planned for 2009.
Although IBM has been using the term "information infrastructure" for more than 30 years, it might be helpful to define it for you readers:
“An information infrastructure comprises the storage, networks, software, and servers integrated and optimized to securely deliver information to the business.”
In other words, it's all the "stuff" that delivers information from the magnetic surface recording of the disk ortape media to the eyes and ears of the end user. Everybody has an information infrastructure already, some are just more effective than others. For those of you not happy with yours, IBM hasthe products, services and expertise to help with your data center transformation.
IBM wants to help its clients deliver the right information to theright people at the right time, to get the most benefits of information, while controlling costs and mitigatingrisks. There might be more than a dozen ways to address the challenges involved, but IBM's Information Infrastructure strategic initiative focuses on four key solution areas:
Last, but not least, I would like to welcome to the blogosphere IBM's newest blogger, Moshe Yanai, formerly the father of the EMC Symmetrix and now leading the IBM XIV team. Already from his first poston his new [ThinkStorage blog], I can tell he is not going to pullany punches either.
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]
Well, it's Tuesday again, which means IBM announcement day. With our [big launches] we had this year, there might be some confusion on IBM terminology on how announcements are handled.Basically, there are three levels:
Technology demonstrations show IBM's leadership, innovation and investment direction, without having to detail a specificproduct offering.Last month's[Project Quicksilver], for example, demonstrated the ability to handle over 1 million IOPS with Solid State Disk.IBM is committed to develop solid state storage to create real-world uses across a broad range of applications, middleware, and systems offerings.
A preview announcement does entail a specific product offering, but may not necessarily include pricing, packagingor specific availability dates.
An announcement also entails a specific product offering, and does include pricing, packaging and specific availability dates.
With our September 8 launch of the IBM Information Infrastructure strategic initiative, there were a mix of all three of these. Many of the preview announcements will be followed up with full announcements later this year. Today, the IBM Tivoli Advanced Backup andRecovery for z/OS v2.1 was announced.
Note: If you don't use z/OS on a System z mainframe, you can stop reading now.
As many of my loyal readers know, I was lead architect for DFSMS until 2001, and so functions related to DFSMS and z/OS are very near and dear to my heart. For Business Continuity, IBM created Aggregate Backup andRecovery Support (ABARS) as part of the DFSMShsm component. This feature created a self-contained backupimage from data that could be either on disk or tape, including migrated data. In the event of a disaster,an ABARS backup image can be used to bring back just the exact programs and data needed for a specific application, speeding up the recovery process, and allowing BC/DR plans to prioritize what is most important.
To help manage ABARS, IBM has partnered with [Mainstar Software Corporation]to offer a product that helps before, during and after the ABARS processing.
ABARS requires the storage admin to have a "selection list" of data sets to process as an aggregate.IBM Tivoli Advanced Backup and Recovery for z/OS includes Mainstar® ASAP™ to help identify the appropriatedata sets for specific applications, using information from job schedulers, JCL, and SMF records.
ABARS has two simple commands: ABACKUP to produce the backup image, and ARECOVER to recover it. However, ifyou have hundreds of aggregates, and each aggregate has several backups, you may need some help identifyingwhich image to recover from.IBM Tivoli Advanced Backup and Recovery for z/OS includes Mainstar® ABARS Manager™ to present a list ofinformation, making it easy to choose from. To help prep the ICF Catalogs, there is a CATSCRUB feature for either"empty" or "full" catalog recovery at the recovery site.
The fact that storage admins may not be intimately familiar with the applications they are backing up is a commonsource of human error. IBM Tivoli Advanced Backup and Recovery for z/OS includes Mainstar® All/Star™ to help validate that the data setsprocessed by ABACKUP are complete, to support any regulatory audit or application team verification.This critical data tracking/inventory reporting not only identifies what isn't backed up, so you can ensure that you are not missing critical data, but also can identify which data sets are being backed up multiple times by more than one utility, so you can reduce the occurrence of redundant backups.
With v2.1 of Tivoli Advanced Backup and Recovery for z/OS, IBM has integrated Tivoli Enterprise Portal (TEP)support. This allows you to access these functions through IBM Tivoli Monitor v6 GUI on a Linux, UNIX or Windowsworkstation. IBM Tivoli Monitor has full support to integrate Web 2.0, multi-media and frames. This meansthat any other product that can be rendered in a browser can be embedded and supported with launch-in-contextcapability.
(If you have not separately purchased a license to IBM Tivoli Monitoring V6.2, don't worry, you can obtainthe TEP-based function by acquiring a no-charge, limited use license to IBM Tivoli MonitoringServices on z/OS, V6.2.)
In addition to supporting IBM's many DFSMS backup methods, from ABARS to IDCAMS to IEBGENER, IBM Tivoli Advanced Backup and Recovery v2.1 can also support third-party products from Innovation Data Processing and Computer Associates.
As many people re-discover the mainframe as the cost-effective platform that it has always been, migratingapplications back to the mainframe to reduce costs, they need solutions that work across both mainframe anddistributed systems during this transition. IBM Tivoli Advanced Backup and Recovery for z/OS can help.
IBM is hosting a webcast about storage for SAP Environments. Learn how integrated IBM infrastructure solutions, specifically, customized for your SAP environments, can help lower your business costs, increases productivity in SAP development and test tasks, and improve resource utilization. This will include discussion of archive solutions with WebDAV, ArchiveLink and DR550;IBM Business Intelligence (BI) Accelerator; IBM support for SAP [Adaptive Computing]; and performance benchmark results. The session is intended for SAP and storage administrators, IT directorsand managers.
Here are the details:
Date: Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Time: 11:00am EDT (8:00am for those of us in Arizona or California)
Continuing this week's theme on Business Continuity, I thought I would explore more on the identification of scenarios to help drive appropriate planning. As I mentioned in my last post, this should be done first.
A recent post in Anecdote talks about the long list of cognitive biases which affect business decision making. This list is a good explanation of why so many people have a difficult time identifying appropriate recovery scenarios as the basis for Business Continuity planning. Their "cognitive biases" get in the way.
Again, using my IBM Thinkpad T60 laptop as an example, here are a variety of different scenarios:
Corrupted File System
Some file systems are more fragile than others. If your NTFS file system gets corrupted, you might be able to run
CHKDSK C: /F
but this just puts damaged blocks into dummy files, it doesn't really repair your files back to their pre-damage level.All kinds of things can damage the file system, including viruses, software defects, and user error.
I keep my programs and data in separate file systems. C: has my Windows operating system and applications, and D: holds my pure data. If one file system is corrupted, the other one might be in tact, mitigating the risk.
Hard Disk Crash
Hopefully, you will have temporary read/write errors to provide warning prior to a complete failure. In theory, if I kept a spare hard disk in my laptop bag, I could swap out the bad drive with the good drive. I don't have that. The three times that I have had a disk failure all occurred while I was in Tucson.
Instead, I keep the few files I need for my trip on a separate USB key, and carry bootable Live CD, which allows you to boot entirely from CDrom drive, either to run applications, or perform rescue operations.
The latest one that I am trying out is Ubuntu Linux, which has OpenOffice 2.2 that can read/write PowerPoint, Word, and Excel spreadsheets; Firefox web browser; Gimp graphics software; and a variety of other applications, all in a 700MB CDrom image. I even have been able to get Wireless (Wi-Fi) working with it, and the process to create your own customized Live CD with the your own application packages is fairly straightforward. Combined with a writeable USB key, you can actually get work done this way. Special thanks to IBM blogger Bob Sutor for pointing me to this.
(If you have a DVD-RAM drive, there are bigger Live CDs from SUSE and RedHat Fedora that provide even more applications)
Laptop Shell Failure
This might catch some people by surprise. I have had the keyboard, LCD screen, or some essential port/plug fail on my laptop. The disk drive and CDrom drive work fine, but unless you have another "laptop" to stick them into, they don't help you recover. This can also happen if the motherboard fails, or the battery is unable to hold a charge.
IBM provides a 24-hour turn around fix. Basically, IBM sends me a laptop shell, no drive, no CDrom, with instructions to move the disk drive and CDrom drive from your broken shell, to the new shell, then send the bad shell back in the same shipping box.
Here, again, I am thankful that I keep my key files on an USB key. Often I travel with other IBMers, and can borrow their laptop to make presentations, check my e-mail, or other work, until I can get my replacement shell. In you are travelling outside the US, you might be able to move your disk drive into a colleague's laptop, access the data, copy it to your USB key or burn a copy on CD or DVD.
In a data center, many outages are really "failures to access data", but the data is safe. For example, power outages, network outages, and so on, can prevent people from using their IT systems, but the data is safe when these are re-established.
At times, I have been temporarily separated from my laptop. Three examples:
A higher level executive had technical difficulties with his laptop, and usurped mine instead.
A colleague forgot his power supply for his laptop, and borrowed my laptop instead. (I wish there were a standard for laptop power plug connectors)
Customs agents confiscate your laptop, give you a receipt, and eventually you get it back.
In all cases, I was glad that no "recovery" was required, and that the few files I needed were on my USB key. A few times, I was able to get by on the machines available at the nearest Internet Cafe, in the meantime.
With some imagination, you can recognize that this scenario is similar to the previous one for laptop shell failure.Here is a good example that you can identify different scenarios, and then later discover they have similar properties in terms of recovery, and can be treated as one.
Laptops are stolen every day. Luckily, I've only had this happen twice to me in my career at IBM, and I managed to get a replacement soon enough. The key lesson here is to keep your USB key and recovery media in separate luggage.I know it is more convenient to keep all computer-related stuff in one place, but a thief is going to take your whole laptop bag, to make sure that all cables and power supplies are included, and is not going to leave anything behind. That would just slow them down.
In each case, some brainstorming, or personal experience, can help identify scenarios, identify what makes them unique from a recovery perspective, and plan accordingly. If you looking to create or upgrade your Business Continuity plan, give IBM a call, we can help!
The blogosphere has quieted down a bit over the two papers on MTBF estimates for Disk Drive Modules (DDM).One article on SearchStorage.com by Arun Taneja asksIs RAID passé? Disk capacity is growing at a faster rate than DDM reliability. During the hours to rebuild a DDM, companies are at risk of additional failures that could require recovery from a copy, or result in data loss, depending on how well your Business Continuity (BC) plan is written and followed.
... The problem with that is that it's the DISK ARRAY that determines when a drive has failed an starts the rebuild process. That IS under the control of IBM, specifically the controller. But more importantly, it effects my risk of data loss.
As I see it, my risk of data loss with RAID-5 is influenced by two main factors. 1 - The drive replacement rate and 2 - The rebuild time (which to a great extent is a function of the drive size) both of which IBM has some control over.
So, I think that the question in my mind is, what's the tipping point? Where does the risk of using RAID-5 protection exceed what I'm willing to accept, and I need to move to some other protection mechanism like RAID-6? Is it when the rebuild times exceed 12 hours? 24 hours? 48 hours?
Also, I wonder why IBM isn't publishing some information to help me make these kinds of decisions?
Oh, dear - while Tony doesn’t seem to be parrying vigorously (as Seagate, Hitachi, and Chunk were doing), his contribution sounds more like IBM marketing than the kind of detailed, technical response one might have hoped for
... well, he *is* a manager, and a marketing one at that, so perhaps we shouldn’t expect more).
Both are fair comments. Disk arrays do run microcode to assist or perform the RAID function, detect failures and start the rebuild process, and so clever designs to support spare disks, process the rebuild quickly, and so on, can differentiate one vendor's offering from another.
On the issue of what does IBM provide to help its clients make the right decisions for their environments, Jon William Toigo at DrunkenData points his readers to IBM's Business Continuity Self-Assessment tool. In normal data center conditions, DDMs will fail, and a Business Continuity plan shouldbe written and developed to handle this fact. Using 2-site and 3-site mirroring, complemented with versions of tape backups, can help address some of these concerns and mitigate some of the risks involved with using disk systems.
For those who want a more technical answer, IBM has just published a series of IBM Redbooks.
Each client's situation is different, so no simple answer is possible. However, IBM does have a lot of experience in this area, and would be glad to help you write or update your existing Business Continuity plan.
Continuing my theme of "Innovation that matters", I thought I would cover MapQuest and NeverLost.
When Shawn Callahan on Anecdote wrote[Our need for the knowledge worker is over], he was referring to the fact that we no longer need the term "knowledge worker", because practically everyone isa "knowledge worker" today. He asks "How does knowledge help us to work better?"
It is said that as much as 30 percent of a knowledge worker's time is spent looking for information to do their jobs. This could be information to make a decision, decide between several choices, take specific action, or schedule when these actions should take place. The logistics of planning a business trip, and actually navigating in unfamiliarsurroundings, is a good example of this, and presents some unique challenges.
Before these technologies
Before these technologies, to plan a trip involved finding someone who lives or has been to the destination city,can recommend hotels and restaurants near the meeting facility, and can suggest approximate times it would take to drive from one place to another. I would bring a compass, and would shop for a city map, either before leaving, or upon arrival.
On one trip to Raleigh, I asked a local IBMer who lived in Raleigh for a hotel recommendation. The hotel was nice,but involved a long 45-60 minute commute each day to the meeting facility. When I asked her why she suggested thatparticular hotel, she said it was because it was "close to the airport". I have since learned never to ask for "best" of anything, as this is subject to such interpretation.
On another trip, I was travelling with a colleague in Germany. He asked how I knew which bus to take, and which bus stop to wait at. I pulled out my compass, and told him that based on the schedule, the bus that went in a specific directionmust be the correct one. The entire bus load of people burst out laughing, that we fit the universal stereotype ofmen who refuse to ask for directions. This method works only in Germany, where timeliness is next to godliness. In other countries, time schedules are more of a suggestion.
Sometimes, maps of the destination city were not always easy to find. Now with the Internet and Google Earth, maps are available before leaving on the trip. (See my post on Inner Workings of Storage which discusses how Google Earth works.)
I like using MapQuest, available online at [mapquest.com], and have not yet looked into the similar systems from Google or Yahoo. I map out each leg of my trip that involves driving, walking or trains. These are oftenairport-to-hotel, hotel-to-meeting, meeting-to-airport. Having a feel for the time and distances between locationshelps choose hotels and restaurants, when to leave, and so on.
I even use MapQuest in Tucson. Recently, a route I generated to visit a friend across town took into accountconstruction on Highway I-10 that has been going on for a while, where 8 miles of on-ramps are closed, and routed me around this mess accordingly. This is one key advantage over a static map, either a paper map, or downloaded from Google Earth.
While MapQuest may not always choose the "best" route, it always finds "a route" that works, and generally works for me.
A few problems with a MapQuest print-out I have found are:
It is on paper, which could impact driving, as I have to look away from the road to look at the instructions.
If it can't find a specific address, it provides generic instructions, and often, this involves airports.
It often starts with "Head Northeast...", so unless you brought your compass, or can tell what direction you are pointing from Sun, Moon or stars, you may end up leaving in the wrong direction.
Recently, I checkmarked the "Request NeverLost" box on my Hertz Gold profile, and now I seem to get NeverLost innearly every rental. The system is based on the[Global Positioning System] set of satellites,complemented by a CD-based street information and yellow pages data for US and Canada, stored in the trunk.
The NeverLost system knows which way the car is oriented, can tell which direction you are driving, and tell youwith voice prompts to be in the left lane, right lane, and when to make left and right turns. No need for a compassor any knowledge of which way is North, East, West or South.
I also like that it gives you three choices for route: (a) Shortest time, (b) Most use of Highways, and (c) Least use of Highways. This came in handy when I was in Toronto last week. Apparently, the 407 Highway had recently implementedan Electronic Toll Road (ETR) which bills based on license plate. While this system is fine for residents, it isnot designed for rental car companies. Hertz left a note in my car warning me NOT to use the 407 highway, or I wouldbe charged an $8.50 dollar penalty. I chose "Least use of Highways" and proceeded to tour the city of Toronto for90 minutes from the Pearson Airport to my hotel in Markham, a trip that would have only taken 20 minutes otherwise.
Once you enter your destination street address, it can estimate the distance to get there. This is not a quick process, as there is no keyboard, you have to enter each letter using up/down/left/right keys. You can enter thename of the street, hotel or restaurant. To find "Sal Grosso" restaurant in Smyrna, it was at 1927 Powers Ferry Road,but NeverLost said that Powers Ferry only went from 2750-6350. I had to select 2750 and then hope to be close enough.
In Dallas, I tried to find "P. F. Chang's" restaurant, and you have to make sure that the periods and spaces are entered exactly. I ended up looking for restaurants in Grapevine, Texas, and then just going through the list ofall that start with the letter "P".
Another issue is that sometimes it takes awhile to find the satelites in the sky. I get the car started, I hit theenter button to get the NeverLost started, enter the address, and then it starts looking for satellites? Why doesn'tit look for satellites while you spend 3-5 minutes trying to enter the street address?In my case, I take out my MapQuest print-out, head in the right direction, and hope that NeverLost catches upeventually, in time to help me get to the final location.
It is not clear how often Hertz updates the CDrom that contains the street and yellow pages data. About 30-40 percent of the time, it can't find the street address I am looking for, and I have to be creative on howto get me in the general area.
Part of the problems is that I have not read the entire instruction manual, and do not have time to learn itwhen I am in the car driving. I might have to put this on my reading to-do list before my next trip. Some ofmy other colleagues have purchased their own GPS-based systems, like those from Garmin or Magellan, so that theyalways have it available, and they always know how to use it. This has the advantage that you can use it when walking around, or in your own car when you are home, as well.
Despite these few problems, I am impressed on the innovations involved to make this all happen. All of the mapping information was stored, transmitted, searched, and then plotted in a manner that provides specificinformation that you need to get the job done. For now, I will probably use a combination of these to planand travel on my business trips. Wouldn't it be nice if other areas in your life had this kind of support?
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]