Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Executive Briefing 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 )
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Well, it's Tuesday, and that means IBM announcements! Today is bigger, as there are a lot of Dynamic Infrastructure announcements throughout the company with a common theme, cloud computing and smart business systems that support the new way of doing things. Today, IBM announced its new "IBM Smart Archive" strategy that integrates software, storage, servers and services into solutions that help meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. IBM has been spending the past few years working across its various divisions and acquisitions to ensure that our clients have complete end-to-end solutions.
IBM is introducing new "Smart Business Systems" that can be used on-premises for private-cloud configurations, as well as by cloud-computing companies to offer IT as a service.
IBM [Information Archive] is the first to be unveiled, a disk-only or blended disk-and-tape Information Infrastructure solution that offers a "unified storage" approach with amazing flexibility for dealing with various archive requirements:
For those with applications using the IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) or IBM System Storage Archive Manager (SSAM) API of the IBM System Storage DR550 data retention solution, the Information Archive will provide a direct migration, supporting this API for existing applications.
For those with IBM N series using SnapLock or the File System Gateway of the DR550, the Information Archive will support various NAS protocols, deployed in stages, including NFS, CIFS, HTTP and FTP access, with Non-Erasable, Non-Rewriteable (NENR) enforcement that are compatible with current IBM N series SnapLock usage.
For those using NAS devices with PACS applications to store X-rays and other medical images, the Information Archive will provide similar NAS protocol interfaces. Information Archive will support both read-only data such as X-rays, as well as read/write data such as Electronic Medical Records.
Information Archive is not just for compliance data that was previously sent to WORM optical media. Instead, it can handle all kinds of data, rewriteable data, read-only data, and data that needs to be locked down for tamper protection. It can handle structured databases, emails, videos and unstructured files, as well as objects stored through the SSAM API.
The Information Archive has all the server, storage and software integrated together into a single machine type/model number. It is based on IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS) to provide incredible scalability, the same clustered file system used by many of the top 500 supercomputers. Initially, Information Archive will support up to 304TB raw capacity of disk and Petabytes of tape. You can read the [Spec Sheet] for other technical details.
For those who prefer a more "customized" approach, similar to IBM Scale-Out File Services (SoFS), IBM has [Smart Business Storage Cloud]. IBM Global Services can customize a solution that is best for you, using many of the same technologies. In fact, IBM Global Services announced a variety of new cloud-computing services to help enterprises determine the best approach.
In a related announcement, IBM announced [LotusLive iNotes], which you can think of as a "business-ready" version of Google's GoogleApps, Gmail and GoogleCalendar. IBM is focused on security and reliability but leaves out the advertising and data mining that people have been forced to tolerate from consumer-oriented Web 2.0-based solutions. IBM's clients that are already familiar with on-premises version of Lotus Notes will have no trouble using LotusLive iNotes.
There was actually a lot more announced today, which I will try to get to in later posts.
Well, it's Tuesday again, and that means IBM announcements!
We've got a variety of storage-related items today, so here's my quick recap:
DS5020 and EXP520 disk systems
[IBM System Storage DS5020]
provides the functional replacement for DS4700 disk systems. These are combined controller
and 16 drives in a compact 3U package.
The EXP520 expansion drawer provides additional 16 drives per 3U drawer. A DS5020 can
support upo to six additional EXP520, for a total of 112 drives per system.
The DS5020 supports both 8 Gbps FC as well as 1GbE iSCSI.
New Remote Support Manager (DS-RSM model RS2)
The [IBM System Storage DS-RSM Model
RS2] supports of up to 50 disk systems, any mix of DS3000, DS4000 and DS5000 series.
It includes "call home" support, which is really "email home", sending error alerts to IBM
if there are any problems. The RSM also allows IBM to dial-in to perform diagnostics before
arrival, reducing the time needed to resolve a problem. The model RS2 is a beefier model
with more processing power than the prior generation RS1.
New Ethernet Switches
With the increased interest in iSCSI protocol, and the new upcoming Fibre Channel over
Convergence Enhanced Ethernet (FCoCEE), IBM's re-entrance into the ethernet switch market
has drawn a lot of interest.
The [IBM Ethernet Switch r-
series] offers 4-slot, 8-slot, 16-slot, and 32-slot models. Each slot can handle either
16 10GbE ports, or 48 1GbE ports. This means up to 1,536 ports.
The [c-series] now offers a
24-port model. This is either 24 copper and 4 fiber optic, or 24 fiber optic.
The "hybrid fiber" SFP fiber optic can handle either single or multi-mode, eliminating the
need to commit to one or the other, providing greater data center flexibility.
The [IBM Ethernet Switch B24X]
offers 24 fiber optic (that can handle 10GbE or 1GbE) and 4 copper (10/100/1000 MbE RJ45)
Storage Optimization and Integration Services
[IBM Storage Optimization and
Integration Services] are available. IBM service consultants use IBM's own
Storage Enterprise Resource Planner (SERP) software to evaluate your environment and provide
recommendations on how to improve your information infrastructure. This can be especially
helpful if you are looking at deploying server virtualization like VMware or Hyper-V.
As people look towards deploying a dynamic infrastructure, these new offerings can be a
Continuing my week in Chicago, for the IBM Storage Symposium 2008, we had sessions that focused on individual products. IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) was a popular topic.
SVC - Everything you wanted to know, but were afraid to ask!
Bill Wiegand, IBM ATS, who has been working with SAN Volume Controller since it was first introduced in 2003. answered some frequently asked questions about IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller.
Do you have to upgrade all of your HBAs, switches and disk arrays to the recommended firmware levels before upgrading SVC? No. These are recommended levels, but not required. If you do plan to update firmware levels, focus on the host end first, switches next, and disk arrays last.
How do we request special support for stuff not yet listed on the Interop Matrix?
Submit an RPQ/SCORE, same as for any other IBM hardware.
How do we sign up for SVC hints and tips? Go to the IBM
[SVC Support Site] and select the "My Notifications" under the "Stay Informed" box on the right panel.
When we call IBM for SVC support, do we select "Hardware" or "Software"?
While the SVC is a piece of hardware, there are very few mechanical parts involved. Unless there are sparks,
smoke, or front bezel buttons dangling from springs, select "Software". Most of the questions are
related to the software components of SVC.
When we have SVC virtualizing non-IBM disk arrays, who should we call first?
IBM has world-renown service, with some of IT's smartest people working the queues. All of the major storage vendors play nice
as part of the [TSAnet Agreement when a mutual customer is impacted.
When in doubt, call IBM first, and if necessary, IBM will contact other vendors on your behalf to resolve.
What is the difference between livedump and a Full System Dump?
Most problems can be resolved with a livedump. While not complete information, it is generally enough,
and is completely non-disruptive. Other times, the full state of the machine is required, so a Full System Dump
is requested. This involves rebooting one of the two nodes, so virtual disks may temporarily run slower on that
What does "svc_snap -c" do?The "svc_snap" command on the CLI generates a snap file, which includes the cluster error log and trace files from all nodes. The "-c" parameter includes the configuration and virtual-to-physical mapping that can be useful for
disaster recovery and problem determination.
I just sent IBM a check to upgrade my TB-based license on my SVC, how long should I wait for IBM to send me a software license key?
IBM trusts its clients. No software license key will be sent. Once the check clears, you are good to go.
During migration from old disk arrays to new disk arrays, I will temporarily have 79TB more disk under SVC management, do I need to get a temporary TB-based license upgrade during the brief migration period?
Nope. Again, we trust you. However, if you are concerned about this at all, contact IBM and they will print out
a nice "Conformance Letter" in case you need to show your boss.
How should I maintain my Windows-based SVC Master Console or SSPC server?
Treat this like any other Windows-based server in your shop, install Microsoft-recommended Windows updates,
run Anti-virus scans, and so on.
Where can I find useful "How To" information on SVC?
Specify "SAN Volume Controller" in the search field of the
[IBM Redbooks vast library of helpful books.
I just added more managed disks to my managed disk group (MDG), can I get help writing a script to redistribute the extents to improve wide-striping performance?
Yes, IBM has scripting tools available for download on
[AlphaWorks]. For example, svctools will take
the output of the "lsinfo" command, and generate the appropriate SVC CLI to re-migrate the disks around to optimize
performance. Of course, if you prefer, you can use IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center instead for a more
Any rules of thumb for sizing SVC deployments?
IBM's Disk Magic tool includes support for SVC deployments. Plan for 250 IOPS/TB for light workloads,
500 IOPS/TB for average workloads, and 750 IOPS/TB for heavy workloads.
Can I migrate virtual disks from one manage disk group (MDG) to another of different extent size?
Yes, the new Vdisk Mirroring capability can be used to do this. Create the mirror for your Vdisk between the
two MDGs, wait for the copy to complete, and then split the mirror.
Can I add or replace SVC nodes non-disruptively? Absolutely, see the Technotes
[SVC Node Replacement page.
Can I really order an SVC EE in Flamingo Pink? Yes. While my blog post that started all
this [Pink It and Shrink It] was initially just some Photoshop humor, the IBM product manager for SVC accepted this color choice as an RPQ option.
The default color remains Raven Black.
Continuing my week in Chicago, for the IBM Storage Symposium 2008, I attended two presentations on XIV.
XIV Storage - Best Practices
Izhar Sharon, IBM Technical Sales Specialist for XIV, presented best practices using XIV in various environments.He started out explaining the innovative XIV architecture: a SATA-based disk system from IBM can outperformFC-based disk systems from other vendors using massive parallelism. He used a sports analogy:
"The men's world record for running 800 meters was set in 1997 by Wilson Kipketer of Denmark in a time of 1:41.11.
However, if you have eight men running, 100 meters each, they will all cross the finish line in about 10 seconds."
Since XIV is already self-tuning, what kind of best practices are left to present? Izhar presented best practicesfor software, hosts, switches and storage virtualization products that attach to the XIV. Here's some quickpoints:
Use as many paths as possible.
IBM does not require you to purchase and install multipathing software as other competitors might. Instead, theXIV relies on multipathing capabilities inherent to each operating system.For multipathing preference, choose Round-Robin, which is now available onAIX and VMware vSphere 4.0, for example. Otherwise, fixed-path is preferred over most-recently-used (MRU).
Encourage parallel I/O requests.
XIV architecture does not subscribe to the outdated notion of a "global cache". Instead, the cache is distributed across the modules, to reduce performance bottlenecks. Each HBA on the XIV can handle about 1400requests. If you have fewer than 1400 hosts attached to the XIV, you can further increase parallel I/O requests by specifying a large queue depth in the host bus adapter (HBA).An HBA queue depth of 64 is a good start. Additional settings mightbe required in the BIOS, operating system or application for multiple threads and processes.
For sequential workloads, select host stripe size less than 1MB. For random, select host stripe size larger than 1MB. Set rr_min_io between ten(10) and the queue depth(typically 64), setting it to half of the queue depth is a good starting point.
If you have long-running batch jobs, consider breaking them up into smaller steps and run in parallel.
Define fewer, larger LUNs
Generally, you no longer need to define many small LUNs, a practice that was often required on traditionaldisk systems. This means that you can now define just 1 or 2 LUNs per application, and greatly simplifymanagement. If your application must have multiple LUNs in order to do multiple threads or concurrent I/O requests, then, by all means, define multiple LUNs.
Modern Data Base Management Systems (DBMS) like DB2 and Oracle already parallelize their I/O requests, sothere is no need for host-based striping across many logical volumes. XIV already stripes the data for you.If you use Oracle Automated Storage Management (ASM), use 8MB to 16MB extent sizes for optimal performance.
For those virtualizing XIV with SAN Volume Controller (SVC), define manage disks as 1632GB LUNs, in multiple of six LUNs per managed disk group (MDG), to balance across the six interface modules. Define SVC extent size to 1GB.
XIV is ideal for VMware. Create big LUNs for your VMFS that you can access via FCP or iSCSI.
Organize data to simplify Snapshots.
You no longer need to separate logs from databases for performance reasons. However, for some backup productslike IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) for Advanced Copy Services (ACS), you might want to keep them separatefor snapshot reasons. Gernally, putting all data for an application on one big LUNgreatly simplifies administration and snapshot processing, without losing performance.If you define multiple LUNs for an application, simply put them into the same "consistencygroup" so that they are all snapshot together.
OS boot image disks can be snapshot before applying any patches, updates or application software, so that ifthere are any problems, you can reboot to the previous image.
Employ sizing tools to plan for capacity and performance.
The SAP Quicksizer tool can be used for new SAP deployments, employing either the user-based orthroughput-based sizing model approach. The result is in mythical unit called "SAPS", which represents0.4 IOPS for ERP/OLTP workloads, and 0.6 IOPS for BI/BW and OLAP workloads.
If you already have SAP or other applications running, use actual I/O measurements. IBM Business Partners and field technical sales specialists have an updated version of Disk Magic that can help size XIV configurations fromPERFMON and iostat figures.
Lee La Frese, IBM STSM for Enteprise Storage Performance Engineering, presented internal lab test results forthe XIV under various workloads, based on the latest hardware/software levels [announced two weeks ago]. Three workloadswere tested:
Web 2.0 (80/20/40) - 80 percent READ, 20 percent WRITE, 40 percent cache hits for READ.YouTube, FlickR, and the growing list at [GoWeb20] are applications with heavy read activity, but because of[long-tail effects], may not be as cache friendly.
Social Networking (50/50/50) - 50 percent READ, 50 percent WRITE, 50 percent cache hits for READ.Lotus Connections, Microsoft Sharepoint, and many other [social networking] usage are more write intensive.
Database (70/30/50) - 70 percent READ, 30 percent WRITE, 50 percent cache hits for READ.The traditional workload characteristics for most business applications, especially databases like DB2 andOracle on Linux, UNIX and Windows servers.
The results were quite impressive. There was more than enough performance for tier 2 application workloads,and most tier 1 applications. The performance was nearly linear from the smallest 6-module to the largest 15-module configuration. Some key points:
A full 15-module XIV overwhelms a single SVC 8F4 node-pair. For a full XIV, consider 4 to 8 nodes 8F4 models, or 2 to 4 nodes of an 8G4. For read-intensive cache-friendly workloads, an SVC in front of XIV was able to deliver over 300,000 IOPS.
A single node TS7650G ProtecTIER can handle 6 to 9 XIV modules. Two nodes of TS7650G were needed to drivea full 15-module XIV. A single node TS7650 in front of XIV was able to ingest 680 MB/sec on the seventh day with17 percent per-day change rate test workload using 64 virtual drives. Reading the data back got over 950 MB/sec.
For SAP environments where response time 20-30 msec are acceptable, the 15-module XIV delivered over 60,000 IOPS. Reducing this down to 25,000-30,000 cut the msec response time to a faster 10-15 msec.
These were all done as internal lab tests. Your mileage may vary.
Not surprisingly, XIV was quite the popular topic here this week at the Storage Symposium. There were many moresessions, but these were the only two that I attended.
Continuing my week in Chicago, for the IBM Storage Symposium 2008, I attended several sessions intended to answer the questions of the audience.
In an effort to be cute, the System x team have a "Meet the xPerts" session at their System x and BladeCenter Technical Conference, so the storage side decided to do the same. Traditionally, these have been called "Birds of a Feature", "Q&A Panel", or "Free-for-All". They allow anyone to throw out a question, and have the experts in the room, either
IBM, Business Partner or another client, answer the question from their experience.
Meet the Experts - Storage for z/OS environments
Here were some of the questions answered:
I've seen terms like "z/OS", "zSeries" and "System z" used interchangeably, can you help clarify what this particular session is about?
IBM's current mainframe servers are all named "System z", such as our System z9 or System z10. These replace the older zSeries models of hardware. z/OS is one of the six operating systems that run on this hardware platform. The other five are z/VM, z/VSE, z/TPF, Linux and OpenSolaris. The focus of this session will be storage attached and used for z/OS specifically, including discussions of Omegamon and DFSMS software products.
What can we do to reduce our MIPS-based software licensing costs from our third party vendors?
Consider using IBM System z Integrated Information Processor
What about 8 Gbps FICON?
IBM has already announced
[FICON Express8] host bus adapter (HBA) cards, that will auto-negotiate to 4Gbps and 2Gbps speeds. If you don't need full 8Gbps speed now, you can
still get the Express8 cards, but put 4/2/1 Gbps SFP ports instead. Currently, LongWave (LW) is only supported to 4km at 8Gbps speed.
I want to use Global Mirror for my DS8100 to my remote DS8100, but also make test copies of my production data to
an older ESS 800 I have locally. Any suggestions? Yes, consider using FlashCopy to simplify this process.
I have Global Mirror (GM) running now successfully with DSCLI, and now want to deploy IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Replication. Is that possible? Yes, Productivity Center for Replication will detect existing GM relationships, and start managing them.
I have already deployed HyperPAV and zHPF, is there any value in getting Solid-State Drives as well?
HyperPAV and zHPF impact CONN time, but SSD impacts DISC time, so they are mutually complementary.
How should I size my FlashCopy SE pool? SE refers to "Space Efficient", which stores only the changes
between the source and destination copies of each LUN or CKD volume involved. General recommendation is to start with 20 percent and adjust accordingly.
How many RAID ranks should I configure per DS8000 extent pool? IBM recommends 4 to 8 ranks per pool.
Meet the Experts: Storage for Linux, UNIX and Windows distributed systems
This session was focused on storage systems attached to distributed servers, as well as products from Tivoli used to manage them. Here were some of the questions answered:
When we migrated from Tivoli Storage Manager v5 to v6, we lost our favorite "Operational Reporting" tool. How can we get TOR back? You now get the new Tivoli Common Reporting tool.
How can we identify appropriate port distribution for multiple SVC node pairs for load balancing?
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v4.1 has hot-spot analysis with recommendations for Vdisk migrations.
We tried TotalStorage Productivity Center way back when, but the frequent upgrades were killing us. How has it been lately? It has been much more stable since v3.3, and completely renamed to Tivoli Storage Productivity Center to avoid association with versions 1 and 2 of the predecessor product. The new "lightweight agents" feature of v4.1 resolve many of the problems you were experiencing.
We have over 1600 SVC virtual disks, how do we handle this in IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center? Use the Filter capability in combination with clever naming conventions for your virtual disks.
How can we be clever when we are limited to only 15 characters? Ok. We understand.
We are currently using an SSPC with Windows 2003 and 2GB memory, but we are only using the Productivity Center for Replication feature of it. Can we move the DB2 database over to a Windows 2008 server with 4GB of memory?
Consider using the IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center for Replication software instead of SSPC for special
circumstances like this.
We love the XIV GUI, how soon will all other IBM storage products have it also? As with every acquisition,
IBM evaluates if there are technologies from new products that can be carried back to existing products.
We are currently using 12 ports on our existing XIV, and love it so much we plan to buy a second frame, but are concerned about consuming another 12 ports on our SAN switch. Any suggestions? Yes, use only six ports per frame. Just because you have more ports, doesn't mean you are required to use them.
We have heard there are concerns from the legal community about using deduplication technology, any ideas how to address that?
Nobody here in the room is a lawyer, and you should consult legal counsel for any particular situation.
None of the IBM offerings intended for non-erasable, non-rewriteable (NENR) data retention records (DR550, WORM tape, N series SnapLock) support dedupe today, and none of IBM's deduplication offerings (TS7650,N series A-SIS,TSM) make any claims for fit-for-purpose for compliance regulatory storage. However, be assured that all of IBM's dedupe technology involves byte-for-byte comparisons so that you never lose any data due to false hash collisions. For all IBM compliance storage, what you write will be read back in the correct sequence of ones and zeros.
Continuing my week in Chicago for the IBM Storage and Storage Networking Symposium and System x and BladeCenter Technical Conference, I presented a variety of topics.
Hybrid Storage for a Green Data Center
The cost of power and cooling has risen to be a #1 concern among data centers. I presented the following hybrid storage solutions that combine disk with tape. These provide the best of both worlds, the high performance access time of disk with the lower costs and reduced energy consumption of tape.
IBM [System Storage DR550] - IBM's Non-erasable, Non-rewriteable (NENR) storage for archive and compliance data retention
IBM Grid Medical Archive Solution [GMAS] - IBM's multi-site grid storage for PACS applications and electronic medical records[EMR]
IBM Scale-out File Services [SoFS] - IBM's scalable NAS solution that combines a global name space with a clustered GPFS file system, serving as the ideal basis for IBM's own[Cloud Computing and Storage] offerings
Not only do these help reduce energy costs, they provide an overall lower total cost of ownership (TCO) thantraditional WORM optical or disk-only storage configurations.
The Convergence of Networks - Understanding SAN, NAS and iSCSI in the Data Center Network
This turned out to be my most popular session. Many companies are at a crossroads in choosing data and storage networking solutions in light of recent announcements from IBM and others. In the span of 75 minutes, I covered:
Block storage concepts, storage virtualization and RAID levels
File system concepts, how file systems map files to block storage
Network Attach Storage, the history of the NFS and CIFS protocols, Pros and Cons of using NAS
Storage Area Networks, the history of SAN protocols including ESCON, FICON and FCP, Pros and Cons of using SAN
IP SAN technologies, iSCSI and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), Pros and Cons of using this approach
Network Convergence with Infiniband and Fibre Channel over Convergence Enhanced Ethernet (FCoCEE), why Infiniband was not adopted historically in the marketplace as a storage protocol, and the features and enhancements of Convergence Enhanced Ethernet (CEE) needed to merge NAS, SAN and iSCSI traffic onto a single converged data center network [DCN]
Yes, it was a lot of information to cover, but I managed to get it done on time.
IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center version 4.1 Overview and Update
In conferences like these, there are two types of product-level presentations. An "Overview" explains howproducts work today to those who are not familiar with it. An "Update" explains what's new in this version of the product for those who are already familiar with previous releases. I decided to combine these into one sessionfor IBM's new version of [Tivoli Storage Productivity Center].I was one of the original lead architects of this product many years ago, and was able to share many personalexperiences about its evolution in development and in the field at client facilities.Analysts have repeatedly rated IBM Productivity Center as one of the top Storage Resource Management (SRM) tools available in the marketplace.
Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) Overview
Can you believe I have been doing ILM since 1986? I was the lead architect for DFSMS which provides ILM support for z/OS mainframes. In 2003-2005, I spent 18 months in the field performingILM assessments for clients, and now there are dozens of IBM practitioners in Global Technology Services andSTG Lab Services that do this full time. This is a topic I cover frequently at the IBM Executive Briefing Center[EBC], because it addressesseveral top business challenges:
Reducing costs and simplifying management
Improving efficiency of personnel and application workloads
Managing risks and regulatory compliance
IBM has a solution based on five "entry points". The advantage of this approach is that it allows our consultants to craft the right solution to meet the specific requirements of each client situation. These entry points are:
Tiered Information Infrastructure - we don't limit ourselves to just "Tiered Storage" as storage is only part of a complete[information infrastructure] of servers,networks and storage
Storage Optimization and Virtualization - including virtual disk, virtual tape and virtual file solutions
Process Enhancement and Automation - an important part of ILM are the policies and procedures, such as IT Infrastructure Library [ITIL] best practices
Archive and Retention - space management and data retention solutions for email, database and file systems
I did not get as many attendees as I had hoped for this last one, as I was competing head-to-head in the same time slot as Lee La Frese covering IBM's DS8000 performance with Solid State Disk (SSD) drives, John Sing covering Cloud Computing and Storage with SoFS, and Eric Kern covering IBM Cloudburst.
I am glad that I was able to make all of my presentations at the beginning of the week, so that I can then sit back and enjoy the rest of the sessions as a pure attendee.
Last week, I was in Austin, and had dinner at [Rudy's Country Store and BBQ]. They offer their self-proclaimed "Worst BBQ in Austin!" with brisket, sausage and other meats by weight. I got a beer, some potato salad, and creamed corn, all at additional cost, of course. When I went to the cashier to pay, I was offered all the white bread I wanted at no additional charge. Are you kidding me? You are going to charge me for beer, but give me 8 to 12 complimentary slices of white bread (practically half a loaf)? Honestly, I consider bread and beer to be basically the same functional food item, differing only in solid versus liquid form. I chose to have only four slices. The food was awesome!
I am reminded of that from my latest exchange with EMC.It didn't take long after IBM's announcement yesterday of IBM's continued investment in its strategic product set, IBM System Storage DS8000 series, that competitors responded. In particular, fellow blogger BarryB from EMC has a post [DS8000 Finally Gets Thin Provisioning] that pokes fun at the new Thin Provisioning feature.
Interestingly, the attack is not on the technical implementation, which is straightforward and rock-solid, but rather that the feature is charged at a flat rate of $69,000 US dollars (list price) per disk array. BarryB claims that recently EMC Corporate has decided to reduce the price of their own thin provisioning, called Symmetrix Virtual Provisioning (VP) on select subset of models of their storage portfolio, although I have not found an EMC press release to confirm. In other words, EMC will bury the cost of thin provisioning into the total cost for new sales, and stop shafting, er.. over-charging their existing Symmetrix customers that are interesting in licensing this feature.
BarryB claims this was a lucky coincidence that his blog post happened just days before IBM's announcement.
(Update: While the timing appears suspicious, I am not accusing Mr. Burke in anywrongdoing of insider information of IBM's plans, nor am I aware of any investigations on this matter from the SEC or any other government agency, and apologize if my previous attempt at humor suggested otherwise. BarryB claimsthat the reduction in price was motivated to counter publicly announced HDS's "Switch In On" program, that it is not a secret thatEMC reduced VP pricing weeks ago, effective beginning 3Q09, just not widely advertised in any formal EMC press releases.Perhaps this new VP pricing was only disclosed to just EMC's existing Symmetrix customers, Business Partners, and employees. Perhaps EMC's decision not to announce this in a Press Release was to avoid upsetting all the EMC CLARiiON customers that continue to pay for Thin Provisioning, or to avoid a long line of existing VP customers asking for refunds. In any case, people are innocent until proven otherwise, and BarryB rightfully deserves the presumption of innocence in this regard. I'm sorry, BarryB, for any trouble my previous comments may have caused you.)
Instead, let's explore some events over the past year that have led up to this.
Let's start with what EMC previously charged for this feature. Software features like this often follow a common pricing method, based per TB, so larger configurations pay more, but tiered in a manner that larger configurations pay less per TB, combined with a yearly maintenance cost.
(Updated: EMC has asked me nicely not to post their actual list prices,so I will provide rough estimates instead. According to BarryB, these are no longer the current prices, soI present them as historical figures for comparison purposes only.)
Initial List price
Software Maintenance (SWMA) percentage
Software Maintenance per year
Number of years
Software License Cost (4 years)
Holy cow! How did EMC get away charging so much for this? To be fair, these are often deeply discounted, a practice common among the industry. However, it was easy for IBMers to show EMC customers that putting SVC or N series gateways in front of their existing EMC disks was more cost effective. Both SVC and N series, as well as IBM's XIV, provide thin provisioning at no additional charge.
HDS offers their own thin provisioning called Hitachi Dynamic Provisioning.Hitachi also offers an SVC-like capability to virtualize storage behind the USP-V. However, I suspect thatfewer than 10 percent of their install base actually licensed this capability because it cost so much. Under the cost pressure from IBM's thin provisioning capabilities in SVC, XIV and N series, Hitachi launched its ["Switch It On"] marketing campaign to activate virtualization and provide some features at no additional charge, including the first 10TB of Hitachi Dynamic Provisioning.
Last week, Martin Glassborow on his StorageBod blog, argued that EMC and HDS should[Set the Wide Stripes Free]. Here is an excerpt:
HDS and EMC are both extremely guilty in this regard, both Virtual Provisioning and Dynamic Provisioning cost me extra as an end-user to license. But this is the technology upon which all future block-based storage arrays will be built. If you guys want to improve the TCO and show that you are serious about reducing the complexity to manage your arrays, you will license for free. You will encourage the end-user to break free from the shackles of complexity and you will improve the image of Tier-1 storage in the enterprise.
Martin is using the term "free" in two contexts above. In the Linux community, we are careful to clarify "free, as in free speech" or "free, as in free beer". Technically, EMC's virtual provisioning is neither, as one has to purchase the hardware to get the feature, so the term "at no additional charge" is more legally correct.
However, the discussion of "free beer" brings me back to my first paragraph about Rudy's BBQ. Nearly everyone eats bread, with the exception of those with [Celiac Disease] that causesan intolerance for gluten protein in wheat, so burying the cost of white bread in the base cost of the BBQ meat is reasonable. In contrast, not everyone drinks beer, and there are probably several people whowould complain if the cost of beer was included in the cost of the BBQ meat, so charging separately forbeer makes business sense.
The same applies in the storage industry. When all (or most) customers of a product can benefit from a feature, it makes sense to include it at no additional charge. When a significant subset might not want to pay a higher base price because they won't use or benefit from a feature, it makes sense to make it optionally priced.
For the IBM SVC, XIV and N series, all customers can benefit from thin provisioning, so it is included at no additional charge.
For the IBM System Storage DS8000, perhaps some 30 to 40 percent of our clients have only System z and/or System i servers attached, and therefore would not benefit from this new thin provisioning. It may seem unfair to raise the price on everybody. The $69,000 flat rate was competitively priced against the prices EMC, HDS and 3PAR were charging for similar capability, and lower than the cost to add a new SVC cluster in front of the DS8000. IBM also charges an annual maintenance, but far lower than what others charged as well.
(Note: These list prices are approximate, and vary slightly based on whether you are on legacy, ESA, Servicesuite or ServiceElect software and subscription (S&S) service plans, and the machine type/model. The tables were too complicated to include here in this post, so these numbers are rounded for comparison purposes only.)
IBM flat rate
Software Maintenance per year (approx)
Number of years
Software License Cost (4 years)
Pricing is more art than science. Getting the right pricing structure that appears fair to everyone involved can be a complicated process.
Well, it's Tuesday, and you know what that means? IBM announcements!
Today we had several for the IBM System Storage product line. Here are some of them:
DS8000 gets thinner, leaner and faster
The 4.3 level of microcode for the IBM System Storage DS8000 series disk systems [announced enhancements] for both fixed block architecture (FBA) LUNs and count key data (CKD) volumes.
For FBA LUNs that attach to Linux, UNIX and Windows distributed systems, IBM announced DS8000 Thin Provisioning native support. Of course, many people already had this by putting IBM System Storage SAN Volume Controller (SVC) in front, but now DS8000 clients out there without SVC can also achieve benefits ofthin provisioning. This support also improves quick initialization a whopping 2.6 times faster.
For CKD volumes attached to z/OS on System z mainframes, IBM announced zHPF multitrack support for z/OS 1.9 and above. zHPF provide high performance FICON performance, and can now handle multitrack I/O transfers foreven better performance for zFS, HFS, PDSE, and extended striped data sets.
XIV gets better connected
A lot of XIV[announced enhancements] and preview announcements centered around better connectivity. Here's a run down:
Better host attachment connectivity by beefing up the interface modules that hold the FCP and iSCSI interface cards. XIV disk arrays have 3 to 6 of these in different configurations, and since they manage both their own disks,as well as receive host I/O requests for other disks, are basically doing double-duty.These interface modules can now be ordered as [Dual-CPU] modules.
Better infrastructure management by connecting XIV with the industry standard SMI-S interface to IBM Tivoli Storage Productivity Center. Now, XIV can be part of the single pane of glass console that manages all of your other disk arrays, tape libraries and SAN fabrics.
Better copy services for backups by connecting XIV with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Advanced Copy Services. TSM for Advanced Copy Services is application aware and can coordinate XIV Snapshots similar to its current support for SVC and DS8000 FlashCopy capabilities.
Better connectivity to security systems by supporting LDAP credentials. Before, you had individual userid and passwords for each XIV, and these were probably different than all the other userid/password combinations you have for every other box on your data center floor. IBM is working on getting all products to support theLightweight Directory Access Protocol, or [LDAP] so that we can reach the nirvana of "single sign-on",one userid/password per administrator for all IT devices in the company.
Better support with flexible warranty periods and non-disruptive code load options.
Better remote copy support by connecting to sites far, far away. IBM previewed that it will provideasynchronous disk mirroring from one XIV to another XIV natively. Before this, XIV's synchronous mirroring was limited to 300km distances. Many of our clients do long distance global mirroring of their XIV today behind an SVC, but again, for those out there that don't yet have an SVC, this can be a reasonable alternative.
TS7650 ProtecTIER data deduplication appliance now offers "no dedupe" option
In what some might consider a surprising move, IBM announced a "no dedupe" licensing option on their premiere deduplication solution, which somewhat reminds me of IBM's NOCOPY option on DS8000 FlashCopy. At first I thought "Are you kidding me?!?!" However, this new license option allows the TS7650 appliance to compete with other virtual tape libraries (VTL) that do not offer deduplication capability on an even playing field. It also allows TS7650 to be used for data that doesn'tdedupe very well, such as seismic recordings, satellite images, or what have you. There are also clients who do not yet feel comfortable to dedupe their financial records for compliance reasons.This option now allows IBM to withdraw from marketing the TS7530 non-dedupe library. Having one technology thatdoes both dedupe and no-dedupe is better than offering two separate libraries based on different technologies.
The ProtecTIER series also announced [IP remote distance replication]. This can be used to replicate virtualtape cartridges in one ProtecTIER over to another ProtecTIER at a remote location. You can decide to replicateall or just a subset of your virtual tapes, and this feature can be used to migrate, merge or split ProtecTIERconfigurations as your needs grow. Before this support, our TS7650G clients replicated the disk repositoryusing native disk array replication technology, such as Global Mirror on the DS8000, but that meant that all data was replicated over to the secondary site. Now, with this new IP replication feature, you can be selective, and replicate only those virtual tapes that are mission critical.
The appliance now supports up to 36TB of disk capacity, and the new "IBM i" operating system on System i servers,formerly known as i5/OS.
GPFS does Windows
IBM's General Parallel File System (GPFS) has the lion's marketshare of file systems used in the [Top 500 Supercomputers]. For a while, it was limited to just Linux and AIX operating system support, but version 3.3 [extends this to Windows 2008 on 64-bit architectures]. GPFS isthe file system used in IBM's Scale-Out File Services, the underlying technology of IBM's Cloud Computing and Storage offerings.
Well, I am back from Las Vegas, and had a pleasant [US Memorial Day] holiday yesterday.
Today is Tuesday, and that means more IBM announcements! IBM announced that the DCS9900 now supports an intermix of SAS and SATA drives. The DCS9900 is purpose-built specifically for the High-Performance-Computing (HPC) and Video Broadcasting industries.
The system is a combination of 4U controllers and 3U expansion drawers. The controllers handle either FC or Infiniband attachment to host servers. The expansion drawers hold up to 60 drives each. With the new features of intermix, the following drives are supported:
7200 RPM SATA drives in 500, 750 and 1000 GB capacities
15K RPM SAS drives in 146, 300 and 450 GB capacities
The DCS9900 groups the drives into sets of 10, in RAID-6 ranks of 8+2P. IBM supports either 5, 10 or 20 expansion drawers to make a complete system. The maximum configuration would be 1200 drives of the 1000GB SATA drives, for a total of 1.2 PB in two frames. Each rank must be all the same type and capacity drive, but you can mix different types within the entire system.
The DCS9900 supports "Sleep Mode", an implementation of Massive Array of Idle Disks [MAID] technology, whereby each RAID rank can be either awake and spinning, or in energy-efficient standby mode. This makes for a more "green" storage system for data that is not accessed frequently.
Continuing my ongoing discussion on Solid State Disk (SSD), fellow blogger BarryB (EMC) points out in his [latest post]:
Oh – and for the record TonyP, I don't think I ever said EMC was using a newer or different EFDs than IBM. I just asserted that EMC knows more than IBM about these EFDs and how they actually work a storage array under real-world workloads.
(Here "EFD" is refers to "Enterprise Flash Drive", EMC's marketing term for Single Layer Cell (SLC) NAND Flash non-volatile solid-state storage devices. Both IBM and EMC have been selling solid-state storage for quite some time now, but EMC felt that a new term was required to distinguish the SLC NAND Flash devices sold in their disk systems from solid-state devices sold in laptops or blade servers. The rest of the industry, including IBM, continues to use the term SSD to refer to these same SLC NAND Flash devices that EMC is referring to.)
Although STEC asserts that IBM is using the latest ZeusIOPS drives, IBM is only offering the 73GB and 146GB STEC drives (EMC is shipping the latest ZeusIOPS drives in 200GB and 400GB capacities for DMX4 and V-Max, affording customers a lower $/GB, higher density and lower power/footprint per usable GB.)
Here is where I enjoy the subtleties between marketing and engineering. Does the above seem like he is saying EMC is using newer or different drives? What are typical readers expected to infer from the statement above?
That there are four different drives from STEC, in four different capacities. In the HDD world, drives of different capacities are often different, and larger capacities are often newer than those of smaller capacities.
That the 200GB and 400GB are the latest drives, and that 73GB and 146GB drives are not the latest.
That STEC press release is making false or misleading claims.
Uncontested, some readers might infer the above and come to the wrong conclusions. I made an effort to set the record straight. I'll summarize with a simple table:
Usable (conservative format)
Usable (aggressive format)
So, we all agree now that the 256GB drives that are formatted as 146GB or 200GB are in fact the same drives, that IBM and EMC both sell the latest drives offered by STEC, and that the STEC press release was in fact correct in its claims.
I also wanted to emphasize that IBM chose the more conservative format on purpose. BarryB [did the math himself] and proved my key points:
Under some write-intensive workloads, an aggressive format may not last the full five years. (But don't worry, BarryB assures us that EMC monitors these drives and replaces them when they fail within the five years under their warranty program.)
Conservative formats with double the spare capacity happen to have roughly double the life expectancy.
I agree with BarryB that an aggressive format can offer a lower $/GB than the conservative format. Cost-conscious consumers often look for less-expensive alternatives, and are often willing to accept less-reliable or shorter life expectancy as a trade-off. However, "cost-conscious" is not the typical EMC targeted customer, who often pay a premiumfor the EMC label. To compensate, EMC offers RAID-6 and RAID-10 configurations to provide added protection. With a conservative format, RAID-5 provides sufficient protection.
(Just so BarryB won't accuse me of not doing my own math, a 7+P RAID-5 using conservative format 146GB drives would provide 1022GB of capacity, versus 4+4 RAID-10 configuration using aggressive format 200GB drives only 800GB total.)
In an ideal world, you the consumer would know exactly how many IOPS your application will generate over the next five years, exactly how much capacity you will require, be offered all three drives in either format to choose from, and make a smart business decision. Nothing, however, is ever this simple in IT.