Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Systems Client Experience Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2016, Tony celebrates his 30th year anniversary with IBM Storage. He is
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.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson )
My books are available on Lulu.com! Order your copies today!
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Jim is an IBM Fellow for IBM Systems and Technology Group. There are only 73 IBM Fellows currently working for IBM, and this is the highest honor IBM can bestow on an employee. He has been working with IBM since 1968.
He is tasked with predicting the future of IT, and help drive strategic direction for IBM. Cost pressures, requirements for growth, accelerating innovation and changing business needs help influence this direction.
IBM's approach is to integrate four different "IT building blocks":
Scale-up Systems, like the IBM System Storage DS8000 and TS3500 Tape Library
Resource Pools, such as IBM Storage Pools formed from managed disks by IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC)
Integrated stacks and appliances, integrated software and hardware stacks, from Storwize V7000 to full rack systems like IBM Smart Analytics Server or CloudBurst.
Mobility of workloads and resources requires unified end-to-end service management. Fortunately, IBM is the #1 leader in IT Service Management solutions.
Jim addressed three myths:
Myth 1: IT Infrastructures will be homogenous.
Jim feels that innovations are happening too rapidly for this to ever happen, and is not a desirable end-goal. Instead, a focus to find the right balance of the IT building blocks might be a better approach.
Myth 2: All of your problems can be solved by replacing everything with product X.
Jim feels that the days of "rip-and-replace" are fading away. As IBM Executive Steve Mills said, "It isn't about the next new thing, but how well new things integrate with established applications and processes."
Myth 3: All IT will move to the Cloud model.
Jim feels a substantial portion of IT will move to the Cloud, but not all of it. There will always be exceptions where the old traditional ways of doing things might be appropriate. Clouds are just one of the many building blocks to choose from.
Jim's focus lately has been finding new ways to take advantage of virtualization concepts. Server, storage and network virtualization are helping address these challenges through four key methods:
Sharing - virtualization that allows a single resource to be used by multiple users. For example, hypervisors allow several guest VM operating systems share common hardware on a single physical server.
Aggregation - virtualization that allows multiple resources to be managed as a single pool. For example, SAN Volume Controller can virtualize the storage of multiple disk arrays and create a single storage pool.
Emulation - virtualization that allows one set of resources to look and feel like a different set of resources. Some hypervisors can emulate different kinds of CPU processors, for example.
Insulation - virtualization that hides the complexity from the end-user application or other higher levels of infrastructure, making it easier to make changes of the underlying managed resources. For example, both SONAS and SAN Volume Controller allow disk capacity to be removed and replaced without disruption to the application.
In today's economy, IT transformation costs must be low enough to yield near-term benefits. The long-term benefits are real, but near-term benefits are needed for projects to get started.
What set's IBM ahead of the pack? Here was Jim's list:
100 Years of Innovation, including being the U.S. Patent leader for the last 18 years in a row
IBM's huge investment in IBM Research, with labs all over the globe
Leadership products in a broad portfolio
Workload-optimized designs with integration from middleware all the way down to underlying hardware
Comprehensive management software for IBM and non-IBM equipment
Clod is an IBM Distinguished Engineer and Chief Technical Strategist for IBM System Storage. His presentation focused on trends and directions in the IT storage industry. Clod started with five workload categories:
To address these unique workload categories, IBM will offer workload-optimized systems. The four drivers on the design for these are performance, efficiency, scalability, and integration. For example, to address performance, companies can adopt Solid-State Drives (SSD). Unfortunately, these are 20 times more expensive dollar-per-GB than spinning disk, and the complexity involved in deciding what data to place on SSD was daunting. IBM solved this with an elegant solution called IBM System Storage Easy Tier, which provides automated data tiering for IBM DS8000, SAN Volume Controller (SVC) and Storwize V7000.
For scalability, IBM has adopted Scale-Out architectures, as seen in the XIV, SVC, and SONAS. SONAS is based on the highly scalable IBM General Parallel File System (GPFS). File systems are like wine, they get better with age. GPFS was introduced 15 years ago, and is more mature than many of the other "scalable file systems" from our competition.
Areal Density advancements on Hard Disk Drives (HDD) are slowing down. During the 1990s, the IT industry enjoyed 60 to 100 percent annual improvement in areal density (bits per square inch). In the 2000s, this dropped to 25 to 40 percent, as engineers are starting to hit various physical limitations.
Storage Efficiency features like compression have been around for a while, but are being deployed in new ways. For example, IBM invented WAN compression needed for Mainframe HASP. WAN compression became industry standard. Then IBM introduced compression on tape, and now compression on tape is an industry standard. ProtecTIER and Information Archive are able to combine compression with data deduplication to store backups and archive copies. Lastly, IBM now offers compression on primary data, through the IBM Real-Time Compression appliance.
For the rest of this decade, IBM predicts that tape will continue to enjoy (at least) 10 times lower dollar-per-GB than the least expensive spinning disk. Disk and Tape share common technologies, so all of the R&D investment for these products apply to both types of storage media.
For integration, IBM is leading the effort to help companies converge their SAN and LAN networks. By 2015, Clod predicts that there will be more FCoE purchased than FCP. IBM is also driving integration between hypervisors and storage virtualization. For example, IBM already supports VMware API for Array Integration (VAAI) in various storage products, including XIV, SVC and Storwize V7000.
Lastly, Clod could not finish a presentation without mentioning Cloud Computing. Cloud storage is expected to grow 32 percent CAGR from year 2010 to 2015. Roughly 10 percent of all servers and storage will be in some type of cloud by 2015.
As is often the case, I am torn between getting short posts out in a timely manner versus spending some more time to improve the length and quality of information, but posted much later. I will spread out the blog posts in consumable amounts throughout the next week or two, to achieve this balance.
Continuing my coverage of the [IBM System Storage Technical University 2011], I participated in the storage free-for-all, which is a long-time tradition, started at SHARE User Group conference, and carried forward to other IT conferences. The free-for-all is a Q&A Panel of experts to allow anyone to ask any question. These are sometimes called "Birds of a Feather" (BOF). Last year, we had two: one focused on Tivoli Storage software, and the second to cover storage hardware. This year, we had two, one for System x called "Ask the eXperts", and one for System Storage called "Storage Free-for-All". This post covers the latter.
(Disclaimer: Do not shoot the messenger! We had a dozen or more experts on the panel, representing System Storage hardware, Tivoli Storage software, and Storage services. I took notes, trying to capture the essence of the questions, and the answers given by the various IBM experts. I have spelled out acronyms and provided links to relevant materials. The answers from individual IBMers may not reflect the official position of IBM management. Where appropriate, my own commentary will be in italics.)
You are in the wrong session! Go to "Ask the eXperts" session next door!
The TSM GUI sucks! Are there any plans to improve it?
Yes, we are aware that products like IBM XIV have raised the bar for what people expect from graphical user interfaces. We have plans to improve the TSM GUI. IBM's new GUI for the SAN Volume Controller and Storwize V7000 has been well-received, and will be used as a template for the GUIs of other storage hardware and software products. The GUI uses the latest HTML5, Dojo widgets and AJAX technologies, eliminating Java dependencies on the client browser.
Can we run the TSM Admin GUI from a non-Windows host?
IBM has plans to offer this. Most likely, this will be browser-based, so that any OS with a modern browser can be used.
As hard disk drives grow larger in capacity, RAID-5 becomes less viable. What is IBM doing to address this?
IBM is aware of this problem. IBM offers RAID-DP on the IBM N series, RAID-X on the IBM XIV, and RAID-6 on its other disk systems.
TPC licensing is outrageous! What is IBM going to do about it?
About 25 percent of DS8000 disk systems have SSD installed. Now that IBM DS8000 Easy Tier supports "any two" tiers, roughly 50 percent of DS8000 now have Easy Tier activated. No idea on how Easy Tier has been adopted on SVC or Storwize V7000.
We have an 8-node SVC cluster, should we put 8 SSD drives into a single node-pair, or spread them out?
We recommend putting a separate Solid-State Drive in each SVC node, with RAID-1 between nodes of a node-pair. By separating the SSD across I/O groups, you can reduce node-to-node traffic.
How well has SVC 6.2 been adopted?
The inventory call-home data is not yet available. The only SVC hardware model that does not support this level of software was the 2145-4F2 introduced in 2003. Every other model since then can be updated to this level.
Will IBM offer 600GB FDE drives for the IBM DS8700?
Currently, IBM offers 300GB and 450GB 15K RPM drives with the Full-Disk Encryption (FDE) capability for the DS8700, and 450GB and 600GB 10K RPM drives with FDE for the IBM DS8800. IBM is working with its disk suppliers to offer FDE on other disk capacities, and on SSD and NL-SAS drives as well, so that all can be used with IBM Easy Tier.
Is there a reason for the feature lag between the Easy Tier capabilities of the DS8000, and that of the SVC/Storwize V7000?
We have one team for Easy Tier, so they implement it first on DS8000, then port it over to SVC/Storwize V7000.
Does it even make sense to have separate storage tiers, especially when you factor in the cost of SVC and TPC to make it manageable?
It depends! We understand this is a trade-off between cost and complexity. Most data centers have three or more storage tiers already, so products like SVC can help simplify interoperability.
Are there best practices for combining SVC with DS8000? Can we share one DS8000 system across two or more SVC clusters?
Yes, you can share one DS8000 across multiple SVC clusters. DS8000 has auto-restripe, so consider having two big extent pools. The queue depth is 3 to 60, so aim to have up to 60 managed disks on your DS8000 assigned to SVC. The more managed disks the better.
The IBM System Storage Interopability Center (SSIC) site does not seem to be designed well for SAN Volume Controller.
Yes, we are aware of that. It was designed based on traditional Hardware Compatability Lists (HCL), but storage virtualization presents unique challenges.
How does the 24-hour learning period work for IBM Easy Tier? We have batch processing that runs from 2am to 8am on Sundays.
You can have Easy Tier monitor across this batch job window, and turn Easy Tier management between tiers on and off as needed.
Now that NetApp has acquired LSI, is the DS3000 still viable?
Yes, IBM has a strong OEM relationship with both NetApp and LSI, and this continues after the acquisition.
If have managed disks from a DS8000 multi-rank extent pool assigned to multiple SVC clusters, won't this affect performance?
Yes, possibly. Keep managed disks on seperate extent pools if this is a big concern. A PERL script is available to re-balance SVC striped volumes as needed after these changes.
Is the IBM [TPC Reporter] a replacement for IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center?
No, it is software, available at no additional charge, that provides additional reporting to those who have already licensed Tivoli Storage Productivity Center 4.1 and above. It will be updated as needed when new versions of Productivity Center are released.
We are experiencing lots of stability issues with SDD, SDD-PCM and SDD-DSM multipathing drivers. Are these getting the development attention they deserve?
IBM's direction is to shift toward native OS-based multipathing drivers.
Is anyone actually thinking of deploying public cloud storage in the near-term?
A few hands in the audience were raised.
None of the IBM storage devices seem to have [REST API]. Cloud storage providers are demanding this. What are IBM plans?
IBM plans to offer REST on SONAS. IBM uses SONAS internally for its own cloud storage offerings.
If you ask a DB2 specialist, an AIX specialist, and a System Storage specialist, on how to configure System p and System Storage for optimal performance, you get three different answers. Are there any IBMers who are cross-functional that can help?
Yes, for example, Earl Jew is an IBM Field Technical Support Specialist (FTSS) for both System p and Storage, and can help you with that.
Both Oracle and Microsoft recommend RAID-10 for their applications.
Don't listen to them. Feel free to use RAID-5, RAID-6 or RAID-X instead.
Resizing SVC source volumes forces ongoing FlashCopy or Metro Mirror relatiohships to be stopped. Does IBM plan to address this?
Currently, you have to stop, resize both source and target, then start the relationship again. Consider getting IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Replication (TPC-R).
IBM continues to support this for exising clients. For new deployments, IBM offers SONAS and the Information Archive (IA).
When will I be able to move SVC volumes between I/O groups?
You can today, but it is disruptive to the operating system. IBM is investigating making this less disruptive.
Will XIV ever support the mainframe?
It does already, with support for both Linux and z/VM today. For VSE support, use SVC with XIV. For those with the new zBX extension, XIV storage can be used with all of the POWER and x86-based operating systems supported. IBM has no plans to offer direct FICON attachment for z/OS or z/TPF.
Not a question - Kudos to the TSM and ProtecTIER team in supporting native IP-based replication!
When will IBM offer POWER-based models of the XIV, SVC and other storage devices?
IBM's decision to use industry-standard x86 technology has proven quite successful. However, IBM re-looks at this decision every so many years. Once again, the last iteration determined that it was not worth doing. A POWER-based model might not beat the price/performance of current x86 models, and maintaining two separate code bases would hinder development of new innovations.
We have both System i and System z, what is IBM doing to address the fact that PowerHA and GDPS are different?
IBM TPC-R has a service offering extension to support "IBM i" environments. GDPS plans to support multi-platform environments as well.
This was a great interactive session. I am glad everyone stayed late Thursday evening to participate in this discussion.
There is still time to enroll for [IBM Edge], a conference focused on storage, to be held June 4-8 in Orlando, Florida. There is an early-bird discount until May 6!
I will be there all week! Here are the seven sessions I will be presenting at the Technical Edge side of the event:
Understanding Your Options for Storing Archive Data to Meet Compliance Challenges
This session will cover the IBM software and hardware solutions that your organization can use to store archive data, including features like immutability, Write-Once-Read-Many (WORM) technology and Non-Erasable, Non-Rewriteable (NENR) enforcement. The discussion will include high-level concepts like chronological and event-based retention, litigation hold and release, as well as an overview of the products and solutions from IBM that you can deploy today.
IBM Watson: How it Works and What it Means for Society Beyond Winning Jeopardy!
In 2011, the IBM Watson computer was able to beat the top-earning human winners on the trivia game-show “Jeopardy!” As I was the author of [How to Build Your Own Watson Junior in Your Basement], I have been asked to explain how the IBM Watson system was put together, how it works, and what examples of text mining and big data analytics means for society as we apply technology to meet tomorrow's challenges.
Using Social Media for IBM System Storage - Birds of a Feather
I will be moderating this Birds of a Feather, or BOF, session that will bring together a Q&A panel of experts on how social media can be leveraged to help you do your job, get the information you need to solve problems, and share your knowledge with others.
Data Footprint Reduction: Understanding IBM Storage Efficiency Options
Data Footprint Reduction is the catch-all term for a variety of technologies designed to help reduce storage costs. In this session, I will cover thin provisioning, space-efficient copies, deduplication and compression technologies, and describe the IBM storage products that provide these capabilities.
IBM's Storage Strategy in the Smarter Computing Era
Confused about IBM's new initiatives for Big Data analytics, Workload Optimized Systems, and Cloud Computing? This session will explain it all, and how IBM's strategy for its various storage products and solutions fit into these overall themes.
IBM SONAS and the IBM Cloud Storage Taxonomy
Confused over the different types of cloud storage? IBM's scale-out Network Attached Storage (SONAS) can be used in a variety of use cases. This session will provide an overview of IBM's SONAS solution, provide an update on the latest features and functions recently announced, and explain how it can be deployed in various private, public and hybrid cloud environments.
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center Overview and Update
IBM has enhanced its premier storage infrastructure management tool: IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center. This session will provide both an overview of the product, and explain the latest features and functions recently announced.
This week I am in Moscow, Russia for today's "Edge Comes to You" event. Although we had over 20 countries represented at the Edge2012 conference in Orlando, Florida earlier this month, IBM realizes that not everyone can travel to the United States. So, IBM has created the "Edge Comes to You" events where a condensed subset of the agenda is presented. Over the next four months, these events are planned in about two dozen other countries.
This is my first time in Russia, and the weather was very nice. With over 11 million people, Moscow is the 6th largest city in the world, and boasts having the largest community of billionaires. With this trip, I have now been to all five of the so-called BRICK countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and Korea) in the past five years!
The venue was the [Info Space Transtvo Conference Center] not far from the Kremlin. While Barack Obama was making friends with Vladimir Putin this week at the G2012 Summit in Mexico, I was making friends with the lovely ladies at the check-in counter.
If it looks like some of the letters are backwards, that is not an illusion. The Russian language uses the [Cyrillic alphabet]. The backwards N ("И"), backwards R ("Я"), the number 3 ("З), and what looks like the big blue staple logo from Netapp ("П"), are actually all characters in this alphabet.
Having spent eight years in a fraternity during college, I found these not much different from the Greek alphabet. Once you learn how to pronounce each of the 33 characters, you can get by quite nicely in Moscow. I successfully navigated my way through Moscow's famous subway system, and ordered food on restaurant menus.
The conference coordinators were Tatiana Eltekova (left) and Natalia Grebenshchikova (right). Business is booming in Russia, and IBM just opened ten new branch offices throughout the country this month. So these two ladies in the marketing department have been quite busy lately.
I especially liked all the attention to detail. For example, the signage was crisp and clean, and the graphics all matched the Powerpoint charts of each presentation.
Moscow is close to the North pole, similar in latitude as Juneau, Alaska; Edinburgh, Scottland; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Stockholm, Sweden.
As a result, it is daylight for nearly 18 hours a day. The first part of the day, from 8:00am to 4:30pm, was "Technical Edge", a condensed version of the 4.5 day event in Orlando, Florida. I gave three of the five keynote presentations:
Game Change on a Smarter Planet: A New Era in IT, discussing Smarter Computing and Expert-Integrated systems, based on what Rod Adkins presented in Orlando.
A New Approach to Storage, explaining IBM Smarter Storage for Smarter Computing, IBM's new approach to the way storage is designed and deployed for our clients
IBM Watson: How it Works and What it Means for Society Beyond Winning Jeopardy! explaining how IBM Watson technologies are being used in Healthcare and Financial Services, based on what I presented in Orlando.
(Note: I do not speak Russian fluently enough to give a technical presentation, so I did then entire presentation in English, and had real-time translators convert to Russian for me. The audience wore headphones. However, I was able to sprinkly a few Russian phrases, such as "доброе утро", "Я не понимаю по-русский" and "спасибо".)
After the keynote sessions, I was interviewed by a journalist for [Storage News] magazine. The questions covered a variety of topics, from the implications of [Big Data analytics] to the future of storage devices that employ [Phase Change Memory]. I look forward to reading the article when it gets published!
The afternoon had break-out sessions in three separate rooms. Each room hosted seven topics, giving the attendees plenty to choose from for each time slot. I presented one of these break-out sessions, Big Data Cloud Storage Technology Comparison. The title was already printed in all the agendas, so we went with it, but I would have rather called it "Big Data Storage Options". In this session, I explained Hadoop, InfoSphere BigInsights, internal and external storage options.
I spent some time comparing Hadoop File System (HDFS) with IBM's own General Parallel File System (GPFS) which now offers Hadoop interfaces in a Shared-Nothing Cluster (SNC) configuration. IBM GPFS is about twice as fast as HDFS for typical workloads.
At the end of the Technical Edge event, there was a prize draw. Business cards were drawn at random, and three lucky attendees won a complete four-volume set of my book series "Inside System Storage"! Sadly, these got held up in customs, so we provided a "certificate" to redeem them for the books when they arrive to the IBM office.
The second part of the day, from 5:00pm to 8pm, was "Executive Edge", a condensed version of the 2 day event in Orlando, designed for CIOs and IT leaders. Having this event in the evening allowed busy executives to come over after they spend the day in the office. I presented IBM Storage Strategy in the Smarter Computing Era, similar to my presentation in Orlando.
Both events were well-attended. Despite fighting jet lag across 11 time zones, I managed to hang in there for the entire day. I got great feedback and comments from the attendees. I look forward to hearing how the other "Edge Comes to You" events fare in the other countries. I would like to thank Tatiana and Natalia for their excellent work organizing and running this event!
This week is IBM Pulse2012 conference in Las Vegas. I am not there, for medial reasons this time. While my colleagues will be spending this week sipping Margaritas and enjoying the music in between inspiring technical sessions, I will be flat on my back, getting all my nutrients from a tube connected to my arm, listening to the hospital equivalent of [Muzak].
"IBM Pulse 2012 ‘s opening keynote talked about the realities of cloud as a delivery model – without the ‘private-‘, or the ‘public-‘, or even the quotes or capitalization of “The Cloud.” It was IBM’s perspective on what IBM knows better than most, how to deliver enterprise IT services that map to strategic business goals."
"In contrast to talking about ‘data-center/cloud’ stuff and then later about ‘consumerization-of-IT’ stuff , IBM’s core message was how mobility was in many ways driving cloud evolution."
"...cloud-based delivery was ‘more than just virtualization’"
"...the US Dept of Labor stating that jobs related to technology are forecast to be among the fastest growing segment thru 2018."
Hopefully, this post will hold you over until I regain consciousness.
Guest Post: The following post was written by Tom Rauchut, IBM Infrastructure Architect and Advanced Technical Sales Specialist for Tivoli Automation. Tom is at IBM Pulse 2011 for Las Vegas this week, and has offered to send his observations.
The expo opened last night. There are so many fantastic demos and product experts. Las Vegas has a Tivoli buzz on right now.
This week, I will be in Auckland, New Zealand for the [IBM System x and System Storage Technical Symposium]. This is a three-day event, with 35 unique sessions and labs. The agenda is organized with a keynote session in the beginning, followed by 12 time slots over three days, each slot offering five different break-out session topics to choose from. Here is a recap of Day 1:
The keynote was led by Phil Tasker, IBM Business Unit Executive (BUE) for STG Education Programs in Growth Markets, then Matt Paterson, General Manager for Sales in New Zealand say a few words. IBM is in the Top 10 Training Hall of Fame, and conducts over 40,000 classes worldwide, resulting in over 1.3 million student days of instructions. IBM Systems Lab and Training technical hosts over three dozen conferences like this one every year. This is the first time that System x and Storage Symposium has been run in New Zealand, and based on the incredibly good turn-out, will probably be a regular event.
Matt Ziegler - HPC
Matt Ziegler, IBM Senior HPC Solutions Architect for the iDataPlex marketing team, gave an introdcution to HPC during the keynote, then provided more details in a break-out session.
In the High Performance Computing (HPC) market, IBM POWER used to be the dominant chipset, with over 200 of the top 500 supercomputers back in June 2001. Today, only about 50 use POWER. Rather, over 350 of the top 500 supercomputers use x86 instead. HPC represents a 6.3 percent growth opportunity for computer, 9.3 percent growth for storage, and 8.6 percent growth for services.
IBM's leadership in energy efficiency applies to HPC as well. In the "Green 500", a ranking based on MFLOPS/Watt, 19 of the top 25 are from IBM. IBM's iDataPlex is the most energy efficient x86 platform, at 401 MFLOPS per Watt.
Overall, x86 is growing. In 2005, x86 had 48 percent of the market, RISC/Itanium had 39 percent, and mainframe had 12 percent. In 2009, x86 grew to 56 percent, RISC/Itanium dropped to 33 percent, and mainframe to 11 percent. By 2014, Matt projects that x86 will be 63 percent, RISC/Itanium will drop to 30 percent, and mainframe to 7 percent.
The most popular form factor for x86 are blades. Growing from 8 percent in 2005, to 20 percent in 2009, and projected to be 33 percent by 2014.
IBM's Storage Strategy in the Era of Smarter Computing
I gave this presentation twice today. It has evolved quite a bit from the version I presented in Orlando last July. Attendees appreciated that my colorful analogies and stories helped them better understand the concepts of Big Data analytics, Workload-Optimized systems, and Cloud Storage offerings.
SONAS Product Review and Demo
Rich Swain presented IBM's Scale-Out Network Attached Storage (SONAS) and provided a live demo connecting to a box here in New Zealand. This is a topic I often present at the Tucson Executive Briefing Center, but it is always good to hear someone else's spin.
Phil Tasker invited everyone to the Welcome Reception after the last sessions. There was food and drink, and prizes! One person won an Xbox-360 game console, and two people won iPads.
Over on the Tivoli Storage Blog, there is an exchange over the concept of a "Storage Hypervisor". This started with fellow IBMer Ron Riffe's blog post [Enabling Private IT for Storage Cloud -- Part I], with a promise to provide parts 2 and 3 in the next few weeks. Here's an excerpt:
"Storage resources are virtualized. Do you remember back when applications ran on machines that really were physical servers (all that “physical” stuff that kept everything in one place and slowed all your processes down)? Most folks are rapidly putting those days behind them.
In August, Gartner published a paper [Use Heterogeneous Storage Virtualization as a Bridge to the Cloud] that observed “Heterogeneous storage virtualization devices can consolidate a diverse storage infrastructure around a common access, management and provisioning point, and offer a bridge from traditional storage infrastructures to a private cloud storage environment” (there’s that “cloud” language). So, if I’m going to use a storage hypervisor as a first step toward cloud enabling my private storage environment, what differences should I expect? (good question, we get that one all the time!)
The basic idea behind hypervisors (server or storage) is that they allow you to gather up physical resources into a pool, and then consume virtual slices of that pool until it’s all gone (this is how you get the really high utilization). The kicker comes from being able to non-disruptively move those slices around. In the case of a storage hypervisor, you can move a slice (or virtual volume) from tier to tier, from vendor to vendor, and now, from site to site all while the applications are online and accessing the data. This opens up all kinds of use cases that have been described as “cloud”. One of the coolest is inter-site application migration.
A good storage hypervisor helps you be smart.
Application owners come to you for storage capacity because you’re responsible for the storage at your company. In the old days, if they requested 500GB of capacity, you allocated 500GB off of some tier-1 physical array – and there it sat. But then you discovered storage hypervisors! Now you tell that application owner he has 500GB of capacity… What he really has is a 500GB virtual volume that is thin provisioned, compressed, and backed by lower-tier disks. When he has a few data blocks that get really hot, the storage hypervisor dynamically moves just those blocks to higher tier storage like SSD’s. His virtual disk can be accessed anywhere across vendors, tiers and even datacenters. And in the background you have changed the vendor storage he is actually sitting on twice because you found a better supplier. But he doesn’t know any of this because he only sees the 500GB virtual volume you gave him. It’s 'in the cloud'."
"Let’s start with a quick walk down memory lane. Do you remember what your data protection environment looked like before virtualization? There was a server with an operating system and an application… and that thing had a backup agent on it to capture backup copies and send them someplace (most likely over an IP network) for safe keeping. It worked, but it took a lot of time to deploy and maintain all the agents, a lot of bandwidth to transmit the data, and a lot of disk or tapes to store it all. The topic of data protection has modernized quite a bit since then.
Fast forward to today. Modernization has come from three different sources – the server hypervisor, the storage hypervisor and the unified recovery manager. The end result is a data protection environment that captures all the data it needs in one coordinated snapshot action, efficiently stores those snapshots, and provides for recovery of just about any slice of data you could want. It’s quite the beautiful thing."
At this point, you might scratch your head and ask "Does this Storage Hypervisor exist, or is this just a theoretical exercise?" The answer of course is "Yes, it does exist!" Just like VMware offers vSphere and vCenter, IBM offers block-level disk virtualization through the SAN Volume Controller(SVC) and Storwize V7000 products, with a full management support from Tivoli Storage Productivity Center Standard Edition.
SVC has supported every release of VMware since the 2.5 version. IBM is the leading reseller of VMware, so it makes sense for IBM and VMware development to collaborate and make sure all the products run smoothly together. SVC presents volumes that can be formatted for VMFS file system to hold your VMDK files, accessible via FCP protocol. IBM and VMware have some key synergies:
Management integration with Tivoli Storage Productivity Center and VMware vCenter plug-in
VAAI support: Hardware-assisted locking, hardware-assisted zeroing, and hardware-assisted copying. Some of the competitors, like EMC VPLEX, don't have this!
Space-efficient FlashCopy. Let's say you need 250 VM images, all running a particular level of Windows. A boot volume of 20GB each would consume 5000GB (5 TB) of capacity. Instead, create a Golden Master volume. Then, take 249 copies with space-efficient FlashCopy, which only consumes space for the modified portions of the new volumes. For each copy, make the necessary changes like unique hostname and IP address, changing only a few blocks of data each. The end result? 250 unique VM boot volumes in less than 25GB of space, a 200:1 reduction!
Support for VMware's Site Recovery Manager using SVC's Metro Mirror or Global Mirror features for remote-distance replication.
Data center federation. SVC allows you to seamlessly do vMotion from one datacenter to another using its "stretched cluster" capability. Basically, SVC makes a single image of the volume available to both locations, and stores two physical copies, one in each location. You can lose either datacenter and still have uninterrupted access to your data. VMware's HA or Fault Tolerance features can kick in, same as usual.
But unlike tools that work only with VMware, IBM's storage hypervisor works with a variety of server virtualization technologies, including Microsoft Hyper-V, Xen, OracleVM, Linux KVM, PowerVM, z/VM and PR/SM. This is important, as a recent poll on the Hot Aisle blog indicates that [44 percent run 2 or more server hypervisors]!
Join the conversation! The virtual dialogue on this topic will continue in a [live group chat] this Friday, September 23, 2011 from 12 noon to 1pm EDT. Join me and about 20 other top storage bloggers, key industry analysts and IBM Storage subject matter experts to discuss storage hypervisors and get questions answered about improving your private storage environment.
Every January, we look back into the past as well as look into the future for trends to watch for the upcoming year. Ray Lucchesi of Silverton Consulting has a great post looking back at the [Top 10 storage technologies over the last decade]. I am glad to see that IBM has been involved with and instrumental in all ten technologies.
Looking into the future, Mark Cox of eChannel has an article [Storage Trends to Watch in 2011], based on his interviews with two fellow IBM executives: Steve Wojtowecz, VP of storage software development, and Clod Barrera, distinguished engineer and CTO for storage. Let's review the four key trends:
Cloud Storage and Cloud Computing
No question: Cloud Computing will be the battleground of the IT industry this decade. I am amused by the latest spate of Microsoft commercials where problems are solved with someone saying "...to the cloud". Riding on the coat tails of this is "Cloud Storage", the ability to store data across an Internet Protocol (IP) network, such as 10GbE Ethernet, in support of Cloud Computing applications. Cloud Storage protocols in the running include NFS, CIFS, iSCSI and FCoE.
Mark writes "..vendors who aren't investing in cloud storage solutions will fall behind the curve."
Economic Downturn forces Innovation
The old British adage applies: "Necessity is the mother of invention." The status quo won't do. In these difficult economic times, IT departments are running on constrained budgets and staff. This forces people to evaluate innovative technologies for storage efficiency like real-time compression and data deduplication to make better use of what they currently have. It also is forcing people to take a "good enough" attitude, instead of paying premium prices for best-of-breed they don't really need and can't really afford.
IT Service Management
Companies are getting away from managing individual pieces of IT kit, and are focusing instead on the delivery of information, from the magnetic surface of disk and tape media, to the eyes and ears of the end users. The deployment mix of private, hybrid and public clouds makes this even more important to measure and manage IT as a set of services that are delivered to the business. IT Service Management software can be the glue, helping companies implement ITIL v3 best practices and management disciplines.
Smarter Data Placement
A recent survey by "The Info Pro" analysts indicates that "managing storage growth" is considered more critical than "managing storage costs" or "managing storage complexity".
This tells me that companies are willing to spend a bit extra to deploy a tiered information infrastructure if it will help them manage storage growth, which typically ranges around 40 to 60 percent per year. While I have discussed the concept of "Information Lifecycle Management" (ILM), for the past four years on this blog, I am glad to see it has gone mainstream, helped in part with automated storage tiering features like IBM System Storage Easy Tier feature on the IBM DS8000, SAN Volume Controller and Storwize V7000 disk systems. Not all data is created equal, so the smart placement of data, based on the business value of the information contained, makes a lot of sense.
These trends are influencing what solutions the various different vendors will offer, and will influence what companies purchase and deploy.
Are you tired of hearing about Cloud Computing without having any hands-on experience? Here's your chance. IBM has recently launched its IBM Development and Test Cloud beta. This gives you a "sandbox" to play in. Here's a few steps to get started:
Generate a "key pair". There are two keys. A "public" key that will reside in the cloud, and a "private" key that you download to your personal computer. Don't lose this key.
Request an IP address. This step is optional, but I went ahead and got a static IP, so I don't have to type in long hostnames like "vm353.developer.ihost.com".
Request storage space. Again, this step is optional, but you can request a 50GB, 100GB and 200GB LUN. I picked a 200GB LUN. Note that each instance comes with some 10 to 30GB storage already. The advantage to a storage LUN is that it is persistent, and you can mount it to different instances.
Start an "instance". An "instance" is a virtual machine, pre-installed with whatever software you chose from the "asset catalog". These are Linux images running under Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) which is based on Linux's kernel virtual machine (KVM). When you start an instance, you get to decide its size (small, medium, or large), whether to use your static IP address, and where to mount your storage LUN. On the examples below, I had each instance with a static IP and mounted the storage LUN to /media/storage subdirectory. The process takes a few minutes.
So, now that you are ready to go, what instance should you pick from the catalog? Here are three examples to get you started:
IBM WebSphere sMASH Application Builder
Base OS server to run LAMP stack
Next, I decided to try out one of the base OS images. There are a lot of books on Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP (LAMP) which represents nearly 70 percent of the web sites on the internet. This instance let's you install all the software from scratch. Between Red Hat and Novell SUSE distributions of Linux, Red Hat is focused on being the Hypervisor of choice, and SUSE is focusing on being the Guest OS of choice. Most of the images on the "asset catalog" are based on SLES 10 SP2. However, there was a base OS image of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.4, so I chose that.
To install software, you either have to find the appropriate RPM package, or download a tarball and compile from source. To try both methods out, I downloaded tarballs of Apache Web Server and PHP, and got the RPM packages for MySQL. If you just want to learn SQL, there are instances on the asset catalog with DB2 and DB2 Express-C already pre-installed. However, if you are already an expert in MySQL, or are following a tutorial or examples based on MySQL from a classroom textbook, or just want a development and test environment that matches what your company uses in production, then by all means install MySQL.
This is where my SSH client comes in handy. I am able to login to my instance and use "wget" to fetch the appropriate files. An alternative is to use "SCP" (also part of PuTTY) to do a secure copy from your personal computer up to the instance. You will need to do everything via command line interface, including editing files, so I found this [VI cheat sheet] useful. I copied all of the tarballs and RPMs on my storage LUN ( /media/storage ) so as not to have to download them again.
Compiling and configuring them is a different matter. By default, you login as an end user, "idcuser" (which stands for IBM Developer Cloud user). However, sometimes you need "root" level access. Use "sudo bash" to get into root level mode, and this allows you to put the files where they need to be. If you haven't done a configure/make/make install in awhile, here's your chance to relive those "glory days".
In the end, I was able to confirm that Apache, MySQL and PHP were all running correctly. I wrote a simple index.php that invoked phpinfo() to show all the settings were set correctly. I rebooted the instance to ensure that all of the services started at boot time.
Rational Application Developer over VDI
This last example, I started an instance pre-installed with Rational Application Developer (RAD), which is a full Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Java and J2EE applications. I used the "NX Client" to launch a virtual desktop image (VDI) which in this case was Gnome on SLES 10 SP2. You might want to increase the screen resolution on your personal computer so that the VDI does not take up the entire screen.
From this VDI, you can launch any of the programs, just as if it were your own personal computer. Launch RAD, and you get the familiar environment. I created a short Java program and launched it on the internal WebSphere Application Server test image to confirm it was working correctly.
If you are thinking, "This is too good to be true!" there is a small catch. The instances are only up and running for 7 days. After that, they go away, and you have to start up another one. This includes any files you had on the local disk drive. You have a few options to save your work:
Copy the files you want to save to your storage LUN. This storage LUN appears persistent, and continues to exist after the instance goes away.
Take an "image" of your "instance", a function provided in the IBM Developer and Test Cloud. If you start a project Monday morning, work on it all week, then on Friday afternoon, take an "image". This will shutdown your instance, and backup all of the files to your own personal "asset catalog" so that the next time you request an instance, you can chose that "image" as the starting point.
Another option is to request an "extension" which gives you another 7 days for that instance. You can request up to five unique instances running at the same time, so if you wanted to develop and test a multi-host application, perhaps one host that acts as the front-end web server, another host that does some kind of processing, and a third host that manages the database, this is all possible. As far as I can tell, you can do all the above from either a Windows, Mac or Linux personal computer.
Getting hands-on access to Cloud Computing really helps to understand this technology!