This week, I am in beautiful Sao Paulo, Brazil, teaching Top Gun class to IBM Business Partners and sales reps. Traditionally, we have "Tape Thursday" where we focus on our tape systems, from tape drives, to physical and virtual tape libraries. IBM is the number #1 tape vendor, and has been for the past eight years.
(The alliteration doesn't translate well here in Brazil. The Portuguese word for tape is "fita", and Thursday here is "quinta-feira", but "fita-quinta-feira" just doesn't have the same ring to it.)
In the class, we discussed how to handle common misperceptions and myths about tape. Here are a few examples:
- Myth 1: Tape processing is manually intensive
In my July 2007 blog post [Times a Million], I coined the phrase "Laptop Mentality" to describe the problem most people have dealing with data center decisions. Many folks extend linearly their experiences using their PCs, workstations or laptops to apply to the data center, unable to comprehend large numbers or solutions that take advantage of the economies of scale.
For many, the only experience dealing with tape was manual. In the 1980s, we made "mix tapes" on little cassettes, and in the 1990s we recorded our favorite television shows on VHS tapes in the VCR. Today, we have playlists on flash or disk-based music players, and record TV shows on disk-based video recorders like Tivo. The conclusion is that tapes are manual, and disk are not.
Manual processing of tapes ended in 1987, with the introduction of a silo-like tape library from StorageTek. IBM quickly responded with its own IBM 3495 Tape Library Data Server in 1992. Today, clients have many tape automation choices, from the smallest IBM TS2900 Tape Autoloader that has one drive and nine cartridges, all the way to the largest IBM TS3500 multiple-library shuttle complex that can hold exabytes of data. These tape automation systems eliminate most of the manual handling of cartridges in day-to-day operations.
- Myth 2: Tape media is less reliable than disk media
For any storage media to be unreliable is to return the wrong information that is different than what was originally stored. There are only two ways for this to happen: if you write a "zero" but read back a "one", or write a "one" and read a "zero". This is called a bit error. Every storage media has a "bit error rate" that is the average likelihood for some large amount of data written.
According to the latest [LTO Bit Error rates, 2012 March], today's tape expects only 1 bit error per 10E17 bits written (about 100 Petabytes). This is 10 times more reliable than Enterprise SAS disk (1 bit per 10E16), and 100 times more reliable than Enterprise-class SATA disk (1 bit per 10E15).
Tape is the media used in "black boxes" for airplanes. When an airplane crashes, the black box is retrieved and used to investigate the causes of the crash. In 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after take-off. The tapes in the black box sat on the ocean floor for six weeks before being recovered. Amazingly, IBM was able to successfully restore [90 percent of the block data, and 100 percent of voice data].
- Myth 3: Most tape restores fail
Why do people still believe that most tape restores fail? Curtis Preston, on his Backup Central blog, has a great post [Gartner Never Said 71 percent of Tape Restores Fail].
Analysts are quite upset when they are quoted out of context, but in this case, Gartner never said anything closely similar to this. Nor did the other analysts that Curtis investigated for similar claims. What Garnter did say was that disk provides an attractive alternative storage media for backup which can increase the performance of the recovery process.
Back in the 1990s, Savur Rao and I developed a patent to help backup DB2 for z/OS by using the FlashCopy feature of IBM's high-end disk system. The software method to coordinate the FlashCopy snapshots with the database application and maintain multiple versions was implemented in the DFSMShsm component of DFSMS. A few years later, this was part of a set of patents IBM cross-licensed to Microsoft for them to implement a similar software for Windows called Data Protection Manager (DPM). IBM has since introduced its own version for distributed systems called IBM Tivoli FlashCopy Manager that runs not just on Windows, but also AIX, Linux, HP-UX and Solaris operating systems.
Curtis suspects the "71 percent" citation may have been propogated by an ambitious product manager of Microsoft's Data Protection Manager, back in 2006, perhaps to help drive up business to their new disk-based backup product. Certainly, Microsoft was not the only vendor to disparage tape in this manner.
A few years ago, an [EMC failure brought down the State of Virginia] due to not just a component failure it its production disk system, but then made it worse by failing to recover from the disk-based remote mirror copy. Fortunately, the data was able to be restored from tape over the next four days. If you wonder why nobody at EMC says "Tape is Dead" anymore, perhaps it is because tape saved their butts that week.
(FTC Disclosure: I work for IBM and this post can be considered a paid, celebrity endorsement for all of the IBM tape and software products mentioned on this post. I own shares of stock in both IBM and Google, and use Google's Gmail for my personal email, as well as many other Google services. While IBM, Google and Microsoft can be considered competitors to each other in some areas, IBM has working relationships with both companies on various projects. References in this post to other companies like EMC are merely to provide illustrative examples only, based on publicly available information. IBM is part of the Linear Tape Open (LTO) consortium.)
Last year, Google lost the email data for half a million Gmail accounts due to a software error. Once again, tape came to the rescue, with [Google restoring lost Gmail data from tape backups].
- Myth 4: Vendors and Manufacturers are no longer investing in tape technology
IBM and others are still investing Research and Development (R&D) dollars to improve tape technology. What people don't realize is that much of the R&D spent on magnetic media can be applied across both disk and tape, such as IBM's development of the Giant Magnetoresistance read/write head, or [GMR] for short.
Most recently, IBM made another major advancement with tape with the introduction of the Linear Tape File Systems (LTFS). This allows greater portability to share data between users, and between companies, but treating tape cartridges much like USB memory sticks or pen drives. You can read more in my post [IBM and Fox win an Emmy for LTFS technology]!
Next month, IBM celebrates the 60th anniversary for tape. It is good to see that tape continues to be a vibrant part of the IT industry, and to IBM's storage business!
technorati tags: IBM, Google, Microsoft, EMC, Brazil, LTO, TS2900, TS3500, Space Shuttle, Challenger
Well, today's Tuesday, and you know what that means... IBM Announcements!
This week, IBM has their huge 3Q Launch. This on top of the [2Q results] IBM released yesterday. You can read how the rest of the company did, but it is good to see that IBM grew in both revenue and market share for storage!
As with any IBM launch of this magnitude, there are so many enhancements, I will spread them across several posts.
- IBM System Storage TS7610 ProtecTIER® Deduplication Appliance Express
The TS7610 is a smaller appliance than the TS7650 we introduced last year, taking up only 3U of rack space (2U for the disk itself, and a 1U slide rail to simplify maintenance). This is designed for smaller deployments, such as midsized businesses between 100 and 1000 employees that backup 3TB of data per week or less. The unit relies on RAID protected SATA drives. Thanks to the same ProtecTIER data deduplication we have on the TS7650, the TS7610 can hold up to 135TB of backup data on just 5.4TB of disk capacity, with in-line data ingest at 80 MB/sec performance. This little Virtual Tape Library (VTL) emulates up to four TS3500 libraries, with 64 LTO-3 drives and over 8000 virtual tapes. See the [Announcement letter] for details.
The [ProtecTIER Entry Edition] offers a hub-and-spoke approach to replication. You can have up to twelve(12) TS7610 boxes (the "spokes") replicate to a central VTL (the "hub"). This can be ideal for protecting remote office or branch office deployments.
Josh Krischer wrote a nice [7-page summary] on this.
- IBM System Storage N series
IBM dobules the storage capacity by utilizing 2TB hard disk drives for the N3300 and N3400 series models, maximizes customer satisfaction through Partner Select Bundles (software bundles) for all of the N3000 series (N3300, N3400, N3600), and offers Application and Server Packs (software bundles) for N3400 models.
For the high-end, IBM introduces an enhanced Performance Acceleration Module (PAM II) bundle for N7900 Gateway. This bundle includes two 512GB Solid State Drive PAM II adapters, two dual-port 10GbE TOE network interface cards (NIC), and various software features.
See the [Announcement letter] for details.
- IBM System Storage DS4000 and DS5000 series
The DS5020 and EXP520 joins their bigger siblings DS5100 and DS5300 in supporting Solid State Drives (SSD), available in 73GB and 300GB capacities. A new air filter bezel is also available for these when used in dusty environments. See the [Announcement letter] for details.
For my friends down in Brazil, A new 2.8 meter length power cord that supports 220-250 volts is now available for all DS4000 and DS5000 series disk systems. Obrigado para o seu negócio!
- IBM Tivoli Storage FlashCopy Manager v2.2
I covered this latest release in my post [FlashCopy Manager v2.2] but the marketing team felt we should include it with this launch to get added exposure and visibility.
I'll try to get to the rest in separate posts over the rest of this week.
technorati tags: IBM, 2Q Results, ProtecTIER, deduplication, TS7610, VTL, N3400, PAM, DS5020, Brazil, power cord, FlashCopy, FlashCopy Manager