Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect for the IBM Storage product line at the
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This week, I will be in Las Vegas for the 30th annual [Data Center Conference]. For those on Twitter, follow the conference on hashtag #GartnerDC, and follow me at [@az990tony]. IBM is a Global Partner and Platinum Sponsor for this event. Here is a recap of some of the Monday morning keynote sessions:
Welcome and Introduction
Monday morning kicked off with a welcome introduction from the conference coordinators. This is the highest attendance for this conference in its 30 year history, with 60 percent of the attending for their first time, and 18 percent only once before. This is the fourth time I am attending. Half of the attendees represent corporations with 20,000 employees or more, the other half from smaller companies and government agencies. The top five industries represented are financial services, public sector, healthcare, manufacturing, and energy.
This conference uses a clever "interactive polling" where hand-held devices can be used to select choices, and results of over 800 voters are presented immediately on the big screen.
For IT budgets, 42 percent plan to increase next year, 32 percent flat, and 26 percent lower, which are similar to the numbers last year. Of nine different IT challenges, the top three were managing storage growth, power/cooling issues, and adopting a Cloud strategy.
Top 10 Trends and how they will impact Data Center IT
The analyst presented top 10 business, technology and societal trends that will impact IT. He added a last-minute eleventh issue that he felt will impact everyone in 2012:
Consumerization and the Tablet. Back in 1997, a GB of flash memory cost $7,992 US dollars, and today that same GB costs only 25 cents. Employees are bringing their own devices to the workplace, and expecting IT support.
Infinite Data Center. You may never have to expand your floorspace again. Improvements in server and storage density can allow you to continually upgrade in place.
Energy Management. Data centers consume 100x more energy than the offices they support. The cost of energy is on part with IT equipment. Energy management is becoming an enterprise-wide discipline. A key performance indicator (KPI) can be "compute per kW" or "compute per Square foot".
Context Awareness. There are hundreds of thousands of apps for Android-based smart phones and iPhones. Context awareness allows an app to help business travelers in airports know what restaurants are nearby, their flight status, and alternate flights available, based entirely on their location.
Hybrid Clouds. By 2013, over 60 percent of cloud adoption will be to redeploy existing apps like email. Some 80 percent of cloud initiatives will be private or hybrid configurations. Customers want "good enough" technology, and thus Cloud will be mostly an augmentation strategy.
Fabric Computing. The opposite of fully-integrated stacks is the notion of having compute, memory and storage joined together via an interconnect fabric with software to manage the entire environment.
IT Complexity. Robert Glass's Law states that for every 25 percent increase in functionality, there is a 100 percent increase in complexity. See Roger Session's whitepaper [The IT Complexity Crisis: Danger and Opportunity] for more on this.
Patterns and Analytics. Big data and business analytics is a key platform. This is expected to grow 60 percent CAGR.
Impact of Virtualization. Virtualizing your environment should be considered a continuous process, not a one-time project. Many companies are running x86 servers at less than 55 percent, which the speaker considers under-utilized. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a trade-off, may cost more but have other business benefits to consider. The problem is that many IT shops are organized vertially (a server team, storage team, network team) but problems surface horizontally, and there is no "ownership" for the resolution. Some use "tiger teams" to address this. Companies should reward lateral thinking.
Social Media. Of the ommunications on cell phones by college students, 98.4 percent are text messages, and only 1.6 percent voice phone calls. People search Google for "what was", but they search Twitter for "what is". Most of the growth on Twitter are in the 39-52 year-old demographic. The analyst felt that if your company is blocking or restricting access to facebook, twitter, youtube or other social networking sites, then shame on you. I agree!
Flooding in Thailand. Over two million square feet of HDD production space were flooded, and this will impact HDD prices for 2012. Already, a 2TB drive that was selling for $79 at local store is now selling for $190.
How To Get Your CFO's Support For Strategy and Funding
In the first of a series of "mastermind interviews", the analyst interviewed their own CFO Chris Lafond. Ultimately, it is about business results. They have grown annual 15-20 percent, from 250 million in 2003 to 1.3 billion US dollars in 2011 for annual revenue, 4600 employees, doing business in 85 countries. The company is focused on three business areas: Research, Consulting, and Events like this one. Chris does not approve 3-5 year projects, and instead requests projects be broken up into year-long phases. ROI can be very misleading, and he asks instead for benefits and contributions to initiatives.
It is important to keep the horse in front of the cart. Accounting departments should not drive business decisions. For example, companies should not move to the public cloud just so that the accounting department can shift from CAPex to OPex. Try to depreciate as soon as possible. Likewise, green technologies and social responsibility are factors, but not drivers of business decisions. Acquisitions are a natural evolution of the market, so risk mitigation strategies should be in place in case your vendor of choice is acquired by someone you don't like.
For BC/DR planning, the analyst has a single Data Center approach, but Chris indicated that IT is looking to expand this. Their single datacenter for one part of their business was in Florida, and the other in Massachusetts, and both impacted by Hurricanes or Earthquakes recently.
The "lightning round" asked Chris his thoughts, either thumbs up, thumbs down, or neutral, on single ideas or concepts. I liked this part of the interview!
Chargeback? Thumbs down. He doesn't feel you should have internal fighting over charge rates. He prefers showback instead.
BYO Device with stipend? Thumbs down, but inevitable. Giving people a chunk of money to buy their own laptop, smart phone or tablet of choice may wreak havoc on the IT department for support and service.
Telepresence? Thumbs down. Cool, but very expensive. I don't think people are prepared to exploit the benefits of this.
Corporate apps on public "app stores"? Thumbs down. Concerns over security and integration is main issue.
Access to Social Networks? Thumbs up. This is how employees communicate and collaborate. Don't stifle them doing the right things just because you are afraid they might waste 20 minutes on Facebook per day.
Your IT budget? It's up slightly 1-5 percent for 2012.
Cloud? Promising, some challenges related to integration and security.
Chris finished up with a story about an application team that indicated that they would need to make 100 customizations to an off-the-shelf general ledger financial application. Chris and the other executives asked to be presented each and every customization, and he was able to eliminate most of them.
Positive comments I heard from the audience was that these keynotes had real "meat" to them, and not just full of cliches and platitudes that is common for keynote sessions. I would have to agree.
Continuing my post-week coverage of the [Data Center 2010 conference], Wednesday morning started with another keynote session, followed by some break-out sessions.
Realities of IT Investment
Tighter budgets mean more business decisions. Future investments will come from cost savings. The analysts report that 77 percent of IT decisions are made by CFOs. Most organizations are spending less now than back in 2008 before the recession.
How we innovate through IT is changing. In bad times, risk trumps return, but only 21 percent of the audience have a formal "risk calculation" as part of their purchase plans.
Divestment matters as much as investment. Reductions in complexity have the greatest long-term cost savings. Try to retire at least 20 percent of your applications next year. With the advent of Cloud Computing, companies might just retire it and go entirely with public cloud offerings. Note that this graph the years are different than the ones above, in groups of half-decade increments.
It is important to identify functional dependencies and link your IT risks to business outcomes. Focus on making costs visible, and re-think how you communicate IT performance measurements and their impact to business. Try to change the culture and mind-set so that projects are not referred to as "IT projects" focused on technology, but rather they are "business projects" focused on business results.
Moving to the Cloud
Richard Whitehead from Novell presented challenges in moving to Cloud Computing. There are risks and challenges managing multiple OS environments. Users should have full access to all IT resources they need to do their jobs. Computing should be secure, compliant, and portable. Here is the shift he sees from physical servers to virtual and cloud deployments, years 2010 to 2015:
Richard considers a "workload" as being the combination of the operating system, middleware, and application. He then defines "Business Service" as an appropriate combination of these workloads. For example, a business service that provides a particular report might involve a front-end application, talking through business logic workload server, talking to a back-end database workload server.
To address this challenge, Novell introduces "Intelligent Workload Management", called WorkloadIQ. This manages the lifecycle to build, secure, deploy, manage and measure each workload. Their motto was to take the mix of physical, virtual and cloud workloads all "make it work as one". IBM is a business partner with Novell, and I am a big fan of Novell's open-source solutions including SUSE Linux.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Cloud....
Bud Albers, CTO of Disney, shared their success in deploying their hybrid cloud infrastructure. Everyone recognizes the Disney brand for movies and theme parks, but may not aware that they also own ABC News and ESPN television, Travel cruises, virtual worlds, mobile sites, and deploy applications like Fantasy Football and Fantasy Fishing.
Two years ago, each Line of Business (LOB) owned their own servers, they were continually out of space, power and HVAC issues forced tactical build-outs of their datacenters. But in 2008, the answer to all questions was Cloud Computing, it slices and dices like something invented by [Ron Popeill], with no investment or IT staff required. However, continuing to ask the CFO for CAPEX to purchase assets that were only 1/7th used was not working out either. That's right, over 75 percent of their servers were running less than 15 percent CPU utilization.
The compromise was named "D*Cloud". Internal IT infrastructure would be positioned for Cloud Computing, by adopting server virtualization, implementing REST/SOAP interfaces, and replicating the success across their various Content Distribution Networks (CDN). Disney is no stranger to Open Source software, using Linux and PHP. Their [Open Source] web page shows tools available from Disney Animation studios.
At the half-way point, they had half their applications running virtualized on just 4 percent of their servers. Today, they run over 20 VMs per host and have 65 percent of their apps virtualized. Their target is 80 percent of their apps virtualized by 2014.
Bud used the analogy that public clouds will be the "gas stations" of the IT industry. People will choose the cheapest gas among nearby gas stations. By focusing on "Application management" rather than "VM instance management", Disney is able to seamlessly move applications as needed from private to public cloud platforms.
Their results? Disney is now averaging 40 percent CPU utilization across all servers. Bud feels they have achieved better scalability, better quality of service, and increased speed, all while saving money. Disney is spending less on IT now than in 2008,
UPMC Maximizes Storage Efficiency with IBM
Kevin Muha, UPMC Enterprise Architect & Technology Manager for Storage and Data Protection Services, was unable to present this in person, so Norm Protsman (IBM) presented Kevin's charts on the success at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center [UPMC]. UPMC is Western Pennsylvania's largest employer, with roughly 50,000 employees across 20 hospitals, 400 doctors' offices and outpatient sites. They have frequently been rated one of the best hospitals in the US.
Their challenge was storage growth. Their storage environment had grown 328 percent over the past three years, to 1.6PB of disk and nearly 7 PB of physical tape. To address this, UPMC deployed four IBM TS7650G ProtecTIER gateways (2 clusters) and three XIV storage systems for their existing IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) environment. Since they were already using TSM over a Fibre Channel SAN, the implementation took only three days.
UPMC was backing up nearly 60TB per day, in a 15-hour back window. Their primary data is roughly 60 percent Oracle, with the rest being a mix of Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, and unstructured data such as files and images.
Their results? TSM reclamation is 30 percent faster. Hardware footprint reduced from 9 tiles to 5. Over 50 percent reduction in recovery time for Oracle DB, and 20 percent reduction in recovery of SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange, and Epic Cache. They average 24:1 deduplication overall, which can be broken down by data category as follows:
29:1 Cerner Oracle
18:1 EPIC Cache
10:1 Microsoft SQL Server
8:1 Unstructured files
6:1 Microsoft Exchange
UPMC still has lots of LTO-4 tapes onsite and offsite from before the change-over, so the next phase planned is to implement "IP-based remote replication" between ProtecTIER gateways to a third data center at extended distance. The plan is to only replicate the backups of production data, and not replicate the backups of test/dev data.
Wrapping up my coverage of the IBM Dynamic Infrastructure Executive Summit at the Fairmont Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, we had a final morning of main-tent sessions. Here is a quick recap of the sessions presented Thursday morning. This left the afternoon for people to catch their flights or hit the links.
Data Center Actions your CFO will Love
Steve Sams, IBM Vice President of Global Site and Facilities, presented simple actions that can yield significant operational and capital cost savings. The first focus area was to extend the life of your existing data center. Some 70 percent of data centers are 10-15 years old or worse, and therefore not designed for today's computational densities. IBM did this for its Lexington data center, making changes that resulted in 8x capability without increasing footprint.
The second focus area was to rationalize the infrastructure across the organization. The process of "rationalizing" involves determining the business value of specific IT components and deciding whether the business value justifies the existing cost and complexity. It allows you to prioritize which consolidations should be done first to reduce costs and optimize value. IBM's own transformation reduced 128 CIOs down to a single CIO, and from 155 host data centers scattered were consolidated down to seven, and 80 web hosting data centers down to five. This also included consolidating 31 intranets down to a single global intranet.
The third focus area was to design your new infrastructure to be more responsive to change. IBM offers four solutions to help those looking to build or upgrade their data center:
Scalable Modular Data Center - save up to 20 percent than traditional deployments with turn-key configurations from 500 to 2500 square feet that can be deployed in as little as 8-12 weeks to an existing floorspace.
Enterprise Modular Data Center - save 40 to 50 percent with 5000 square foot standardized design for larger data centers. This modular approach provides a "pay as you grow" approach that can be more responsive to future unforeseen needs.
Portable Modular Data Center - this is the PMDC shipping container that was sitting outside in the parking lot. This can be deployed anywhere in 12-14 weeks and is ideal for dealing with disaster recoveries or situations where traditional data center floor plans cannot be built fast enough.
High Density Zone - this can help increase capacity in an existing data center without a full site retrofit.
Here is a quick [video] that provides more insight.
Neil Jarvis, CIO of American Automobile Association (AAA) for Northern California, Nevada and Utah (NCNU), provided the customer testimonial. Last September, the [AAA NCNU selected IBM] to build them an energy-efficient green data center. Neil provided us an update now six months later, managing the needs of 4 million drivers.
Virtualization - Managing the World's Infrastructure
Helene Armitage, IBM General Manager of the newly formed IBM System Software product line, presented on virtualization and management. Virtualization is becoming much more than a way of meeting the demand for performance, capability, and flexibility in the data center. It helps create a smarter, more agile data center. Her presentation focused on four areas: consolidate resources, manage workloads, automate processes, and optimize the delivery of IT services.
Charlie Weston, Group Vice President of Information Technology at Winn Dixie, one of the largest food retailers in the United States, with over 500 stores and supermarkets. The grocery business is highly competitive with tight profit margins. Winn Dixie wanted to deploy business continuity/disaster recovery (BC/DR) while managing IT equipment scattered across these 500 locations. They were able to consolidate 600 stand-alone servers into a single corporate data center. Using IBM AIX with PowerVM virtualization on BladeCenter, each JS22 blade server could manage 16 stores. These were mirrored to a nearby facility, as well as a remote disaster recovery center. They were also able to add new Linux application workloads to their existing System z9 EC mainframe. The result was to free up $5 million US dollars in capital that could be used to remodel their stores, and improve application performance 5-10 times. They were able to deploy a new customer portal on Linux for System z in days instead of months, and have reduced their disaster recovery time objective (RTO) against hurricanes from days to hours. Their next steps involves looking at desktop virtualization.
Redefining x86 Computing
Roland Hagan, IBM Vice President for IBM System x server platform, presented on how IBM is redefining the x86 computing experience. More than 50 percent of all servers are x86 based. These x86 servers are easy to acquire, enjoy a large application base, and can take advantage of readily available skilled workforce for administration. The problem is that 85 percent of x86 processing power remains idlea, energy costs are 8 times what they were 12 years ago, and management costs are now 70 percent of the IT budget.
IBM has the number one market share for scalable x86 servers. Roland covered the newly announced eX5 architecture that has been deployed in both rack-optimized models as well as IBM BladeCenter blade servers. These can offer 2x the memory capacity as competitive offerings, which is important for today's server virtualization, database and analytics workloads. This includes 40 and 80 DIMM models of blades, and 64 to 96 DIMM models of rack-optimized systems. IBM also announced eXFlash, internal Solid State Drives accessible at bus speeds.
The results can be significant. For example, just two IBM System x3850 4-socket, 8-core systems can replace 50 (yes, FIFTY) HP DL585 4-socket, 4-core Opteron rack servers, reducing costs 80 percent with a 3-month ROI payback period. Compared to IBM's previous X4 architecture, the eX5 provides 3.5 times better SAP performance, 3.8 times faster server virtualization performance, and 2.8 times faster database performance.
The CIO of Acxiom provided the customer testimonial. They were able to get a 35-to-1 consolidation switching over to IBM x86 servers, resulting in huge savings.
Top ROI projects to Get Started
Mark Shearer, IBM Vice President of Growth Solutions, and formerly my fourth-line manager as the Vice President of Marketing and Communications, presented a list of projects to help clients get started. There are over 500 client references that have successfully implement Smarter Planet projects. Mark's list were grouped into five categories:
Enabling Massive Scale
Increase Business Agility
Manage Risk, Compliance and Security
Organize Vast Amounts of Information
Turn Information into Insight
The attendees were all offered a free "Infrastructure Study" to evaluate their current data center environments. A team of IBM experts will come on-site, gather data, interview key personnel and make recommendations. Alternatively, these can be done at one of IBM's many briefing centers, such as the IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona that I work at.
This wraps up the week for me. I have to pack the XIV back into the crate, and drive back to Tucson. IBM plans to host another Executive Summit in the September/October time frame on the East coast.
This week several IBM executives will present at the 28th Annual Data Center Conference here in Las Vegas. Here is a quick recap:
Steve Sams: Data Center Cost Saving Actions Your CFO Will Love
A startling 78 percent of today's data centers were built in the last century, before the "dot com" era and the adoption of high-density blade servers. IBM Vice President of Global Site and Facility Services, Steve Sams, presented actions that can help extend the life of existing data centers, help rationalize the infrastructure across the company, and design a new data center that is flexible and responsive to changing needs.
In one example, an 85,000 square foot datacenter in Lexington had reached 98 percent capacity based on power/cooling requirements. They estimated it would take $53 million US dollars to either upgrade the facility or build a new facility to meet projected growth. Instead, IBM was able to consolidate servers six-to-one, an 85 percent reduction. IBM also was able to make changes to the cooling equipment, redirect airflow and changed out the tiles, re-oriented the servers for more optimal placement, and implement measurement and management tools. The end result? The facility now has eight times the compute capability and enjoys 15 percent headroom for additonal growth. All this for only 1.5 million US dollar investment, instead of 53 million.
IBM builds hundreds of data centers for clients large and small. In addition to the "Portable Modular Data Center"(PMDC) shipping container on display at the Solution Showcase, IBM offers the "Scalable Modular Data Center", a turn-key system with a small 500 to 2500 square foot size for small customers. For larger deployments, the "Enterprise Modular Data Center" offers standardized deployments in 5000 square foot increments. IBM also offers "High Density Zones" which can be perfect way to avoid a full site retrofit.
Helene Armitage: IT-wide Virtualization
Helene is IBM General Manager of the newly formed IBM System Software division. A smarter planet will require more dynamic infrastructures, which is IBM's approach to helping clients through the virtualization journey. The virtualization of resources, workloads and business processes will require end-to-end management. To help, IBM offers IBM Systems Director.
Helene indicated that there are four stages of adoption:
Physical consolidation - VMware and Hyper-V are the latest examples of running many applications on fewer physical servers. Of course, IBM has been doing this for decades with mainframes, and has had virtualization on System i and System p POWER systems as well. A quick survey of the audience found that about 20 percent were doing server virtualization on non-x86 platforms (for example, PowerVM or System z mainframe z/VM)
Pools of resources - SAN Volume Controller is an example solution to manage storage as a pool of disparate storage resources. Supercomputers manage pools of servers.
Integrated Service Management - in the past, resources were managed by domain, resulting in islands of management. Now, with IBM Systems Director, you can manage AIX, IBM i, Linux and Windows servers, including non-IBM servers running Linux and Windows.
Service management can provide monitoring, provisioning, service catalog, self-service, and business-aligned processes.
Cloud computing - Helene agreed that not everyone will get to this stage. Some will adopt cloud computing, whether public, private or some kind of hybrid, and others may be fine at stage 3.
For those clients that want assistance, IBM offers three levels of help:
Help me decide what is best for me
Help me implement what I have decided to do
Help me manage and run my operations
With IBM's compelling vision for the future, best of breed solutions, leadership in management software, extensive experience in services, and solid business industry knowledge, it makes sense to tap IBM to help with your next IT transformation.