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.
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Wrapping up my coverage of the Data Center Conference 2009, the week ends with a celebration. This year we had six "Hospitality Suites" sponsored by various different vendors. Each suite has its own theme, decorations and entertainment. The first suite was VMware's "Cloud 9 Ultra Lounge" which offered blue cotton candy martinis. IBM is the leading reseller of VMware.
When the red martini liquid was poured on top of the blue cotton candy, the result was a nasty muddish brown grey color. The guy on the left chose to get the martini without the blue cotton candy. We joked that this is perhaps a good metaphor for cloud computing in general. It looks good on paper, until you actually put it all together and realize it does not look as blue and puffy as you were expecting. However, it tasted good!
Next suite was sponsored by Cisco, one of IBM's storage networking partners. Cisco also decorated in blue, as the guy Jake in the middle demonstrates.
Next suite was sponsored by Brocade, our supplier for IBM-branded networking gear. They went with a red-and-black color scheme. Sadly, many of my pictures inside involved straight jackets and unicycles, so not appropriate for this blog. However, it was easy to remember that they were talking about their "extraordinary networks". Makes you want to help out Brocade by contacting your nearest IBM storage sales rep and buy yourself a SAN768B or two.
Somewhere along the way, we picked up Hawaiian leis at the "Margaritaville" Hospitality Suite, compliments of sponsor APC by Schneider Electric. We had the best "Filet Mignon" appetizers at "Club Dedupe" by our competitor DataDomain, and some fun with my friends over at Computer Associates' "Top Gun" suite. Pictured at right are Paula Koziol with Christian Barrera from Argentina. A good time was had by all.
Well, I'm back in Tucson, and thought I would close out my coverage of this year's Data Center Conference 2009 with some pictures. These first few are from the Solution Showcase.
There were four stations at the IBM booth. I had the "Information Infrastructure" station, you can see here I had my blook (blog-based book) on display "Inside System Storage: Volume I", a solid-state drive (in clear plexiglas to show all the chips inside), and the GUI panel for XIV.
What really stole the show was the IBM Portable Mobile Data Center (PMDC), which is a shipping crate with a fully running data center inside. In the one shown here, we had iDataPlex servers connected to an IBM XIV Storage System. Here is David Bricker striking a pose.
Inside, Monica Martinez shows off the iDataPlex servers. These are 1U servers that are only half as deep as regular servers, so you can pack 84 servers in the floorspace of 42 traditional 1U servers.
Two of these fit into a 2U chassis to share a common power supply and fan set. The trouble with traditional 1U servers is that fans do not have enough radius, so putting wider 2U fans for two servers gives you much better airflow.
Monica Martinez, Ruth Weinheimer, and Tamara Rice.
Continuing my coverage of the Data Center Conference 2009, we had a keynote session on Wednesday, Dec 2 (Day 3) that focused on the key technologies to watch for the data center.
It seems like every session this week mentioned Cloud Computing. It is service- based, scalable and elastic both upwards and downwards, uses shared resources and internet standards, and can be metered by use. There are three focal points related to Cloud Computing:
Consuming Cloud Services offered by other providers
Developing cloud-enabled applications and solutions
Implementing an internal "Prviate Cloud"
The analyst used the term "service boundary" to distinguish between IaaS, PaaS and SaaS cloud service models. For those still confused, here is how I explain Cloud Computing, using that analogy of transportation as an example.
You buy a car to get around town. You need to have a drivers license, carry liability insurance, and have a place to park your vehicle. You get to pick the make, model and color. You need to come up with thousands of dollars up front, or arrange some form of financing for monthly payments. It could take days or weeks to purchase, as you test drive different ones, research online, and check out feature comparisons between car dealers. You can drive wherever you want, whenever you want.
The same is done in the data center, you buy servers, storage and network gear, build a data center floor to hold it all, and hire server, storage and network administrators to manage it.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
You rent a car from a local Car Rental Agency. You still need a drivers license and carry liability insurance, but often you can get the insurance for the days or weeks that you are renting the car. You have limited choices of make, model and color. You don't need thousands of dollars, just enough to cover the daily or weekly rate. The rental process can be done in minutes.
IaaS providers have their own data centers, so you don't need your own. They can rent you floorspace and equipment on a monthly basis. Your server, storage and network administrators manage these remotely. Your OS choices are limited to the types of hardware available, typically x86 servers, SAN and NAS storage.
Platform as a Service (PaaS)
You take a taxi. Since you are not driving, you do not need a drivers license nor need liability insurance. The vehicle is typically a yellow four-door sedan. You don't need thousands of dollars, just enough to cover the ride, often metered by the distance traveled. Getting a taxi takes minutes, just a matter of calling the cab company, or hailing one streetside. Depending on the cab company, you can tell the taxi driver where to go, how to get there, and that you are in a hurry.
PaaS providers have data centers with servers, storage and networking gear. Your options are often Linux or Windows with some middleware web serving and database already running. You may still need some of your own server, storage and network admins to manage things remotely. Usage is metered, you pay for bandwidth, CPU and storage used. Typical rates for Cloud Storage, for example, is 25 cents per GB per month.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
You take public transportation, like the subway. You are not driving, so no need for license or insurance. The vehicle holds hundreds of passengers, and you have no options on the make, model or color. You only need enough to cover the cost of the ticket, which is often based on the distance traveled. You have to get to the subway station nearest you, and it takes you to the subway station nearest your eventual destination, so other forms of transportation may be required if this does not completely meet your requirements.
SaaS providers offer you the application already running in their data center on their servers. You are charged per employee per month that uses this application. You won't need server, storage or network administrators, but you might need your own software developers to customize the application, or compensate for its lack of functionality with surrounding applications if it does not exactly meet your needs. Google Gmail and IBM LotusLive are two examples of this.
Virtualization for Availability and Business Continuity
No surprise here, virtualization has proven quite useful to improve both high availability and continuous operations within the data center, as well as multiple site configurations for disaster recovery and business continuity. P-to-V is used to refer to the concept of running applications on physical servers at the primary location, but have these as virtual servers under VMware or Hyper-V at the disaster site secondary location to minimize the cost of standby equipment.
Reshaping the Data Center
Data Center facilities design is going modular, with design for server/storage/network "pod" and contained "power zones".
IT for Green
This is not making the IT department itself more environment-friendly, but using IT to make the entire company more environment-friendly, including using sensors to monitor input and output, reduce carbon footprint and monitor energy consumption per employee.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is changing the way employees use IT services. Rather than having to maintain a full OS and application stack on each employees PC, using VDI and browser-based applications can help centralize and take back control, minimizing help desk costs.
Business Intelligence and Operational Analytics is taking off. In the past, decision support systems were limited to just the highest levels of executives and analysts that work for them, but now the technology is reaching a broader portion of the company, allowing knowledge workers to have more information to make better business decisions. We have seen this transition from employees working off fixed rules of thumb that apply to all situations, to decisions supported by market data, to now a more predictive analysis.
FLASH memory (Solid State Drives, SSD)
Solid State Drives and advances in memory will impact the storage world in the data center, much as it has in consumer electronics.
Reshaping the Server
This last prediction seemed far-fetched. The analyst felt that we will begin to see server components to be separated between CPU, memory and I/O support, so that you can seemlessly add or remote each from running servers. Some of this has happened with blade servers, with some components shraed by multiple servers that are hot-swappable.
Certainly, an interesting list of technologies to watch.
This week several IBM executives will present at the 28th Annual Data Center Conference here in Las Vegas. Here is a quick recap:
Steve Sams: Data Center Cost Saving Actions Your CFO Will Love
A startling 78 percent of today's data centers were built in the last century, before the "dot com" era and the adoption of high-density blade servers. IBM Vice President of Global Site and Facility Services, Steve Sams, presented actions that can help extend the life of existing data centers, help rationalize the infrastructure across the company, and design a new data center that is flexible and responsive to changing needs.
In one example, an 85,000 square foot datacenter in Lexington had reached 98 percent capacity based on power/cooling requirements. They estimated it would take $53 million US dollars to either upgrade the facility or build a new facility to meet projected growth. Instead, IBM was able to consolidate servers six-to-one, an 85 percent reduction. IBM also was able to make changes to the cooling equipment, redirect airflow and changed out the tiles, re-oriented the servers for more optimal placement, and implement measurement and management tools. The end result? The facility now has eight times the compute capability and enjoys 15 percent headroom for additonal growth. All this for only 1.5 million US dollar investment, instead of 53 million.
IBM builds hundreds of data centers for clients large and small. In addition to the "Portable Modular Data Center"(PMDC) shipping container on display at the Solution Showcase, IBM offers the "Scalable Modular Data Center", a turn-key system with a small 500 to 2500 square foot size for small customers. For larger deployments, the "Enterprise Modular Data Center" offers standardized deployments in 5000 square foot increments. IBM also offers "High Density Zones" which can be perfect way to avoid a full site retrofit.
Helene Armitage: IT-wide Virtualization
Helene is IBM General Manager of the newly formed IBM System Software division. A smarter planet will require more dynamic infrastructures, which is IBM's approach to helping clients through the virtualization journey. The virtualization of resources, workloads and business processes will require end-to-end management. To help, IBM offers IBM Systems Director.
Helene indicated that there are four stages of adoption:
Physical consolidation - VMware and Hyper-V are the latest examples of running many applications on fewer physical servers. Of course, IBM has been doing this for decades with mainframes, and has had virtualization on System i and System p POWER systems as well. A quick survey of the audience found that about 20 percent were doing server virtualization on non-x86 platforms (for example, PowerVM or System z mainframe z/VM)
Pools of resources - SAN Volume Controller is an example solution to manage storage as a pool of disparate storage resources. Supercomputers manage pools of servers.
Integrated Service Management - in the past, resources were managed by domain, resulting in islands of management. Now, with IBM Systems Director, you can manage AIX, IBM i, Linux and Windows servers, including non-IBM servers running Linux and Windows.
Service management can provide monitoring, provisioning, service catalog, self-service, and business-aligned processes.
Cloud computing - Helene agreed that not everyone will get to this stage. Some will adopt cloud computing, whether public, private or some kind of hybrid, and others may be fine at stage 3.
For those clients that want assistance, IBM offers three levels of help:
Help me decide what is best for me
Help me implement what I have decided to do
Help me manage and run my operations
With IBM's compelling vision for the future, best of breed solutions, leadership in management software, extensive experience in services, and solid business industry knowledge, it makes sense to tap IBM to help with your next IT transformation.
Jeff Garten, a professor of International Trade at the Yale School of Management covered the Post-Crisis Global Economy. How well did the world's governments do? Here was his "scorecard" of the five "R's":
Jeff gives world governments an "A", pumping about $20 trillion US dollars onto the world stage to stave off the worst impacts.
Jeff gives an "I" (Incomplete). Not quite an "F" as government regulations just have not been adopted to address situations like this.
Jeff gives this one an "I" also. The major inbalance is US borrowing so much from China, and China keeping its currency artificially low.
Jeff gives this a "B". Banks and other financial services have changed the way they do business and have taken some corrective actions on their own, often because strings attached to bailout funds.
Jeff gives this one a "C+", in that he is not hopeful for a quick recovery. Economists have five recovery models. A quick recovery has a "V" shape. A slower full recovery has a "U" shape. Some recoveries have premature upticks followed by a second crash, representing a "W" shape. Japan still has not recovered from their crash from last decade, like an "L" shape. Jeff feels that the United States will probably have a "reverse J" where it looks like a slow "U" shaped recovery over the next three years, but we never get back to our original prominence.
Jeff did not give the impression the worst was over. Rather, he felt there were still problems ahead, banks are still carrying a lot of bad debt and real estate industry may take a while to recover. He feels the era of a dollar-centric world that started circa 1945 is over, and that the dollar will continue to decline for several decades. Replacing this will be a combination of the Euro, Japanese Yen and Chinese Yuan.
What can we look forward to? There is a definite shift to Asia and other large emerging markets like Brazil. The "Global Commons" like food and energy are under severe stress. Global rules will go under a sort of remission. A resurgence of National governments to protect citizens is underway. Finally, there will be a return of Industrial policy.
Continuing my week in Las Vegas for the Data Center Conference 2009, I attended a keynote session on Service Management. There were two analysts that co-presented this session.
One analyst was the wife of a real CEO, and the other was the wife of a real CIO, so the two analysts explained that there was a langauge gap between IT and business. Use the analogy of a clock, business is concerned with the time shown on the front face is correct and ticking properly, but behind the scenes, the gears of the clock, represent IT, finance, supply chain and other operations.
Based on recent surveys, there is a 45 percent "alignment" between the goals of CEO and the goals of a CIO. CEOs are concerned about decision making, workforce productivity, and customer satisfaction. CIOs on the other hand are worried about costs, operations and change initiatives. Both CEOs and CIOs are focused on innovations that can improve business process. Service management strives to shorten the language gap between business and IT, by helping to drive operational excellence that benefits both CEO and CIO goals. Recent surveys found the key drivers for this are controlling costs, improving customer satisfaction, availability, agilty and making better business decisions.
Unfortunately, in this economy, the idea of "transformation" is out, and "restructuring" is in. In much the same way that employees have abandoned career development in favor of simple job preservation, companies are focused on tactical solutions to get through this financial meltdown, rather than launching transformation projects like deploying Service Management tools.
How much influence does the CIO have on running the rest of the business? Various surveys have found the following, ranked from most influential to least:
5-9 percent, Enterprise Leader
15-18 percent, Trusted Ally
25-32 percent, Partner
27-35 percent, Transactional
7-20 percent, At Risk
The bottom rank not only have little or no influence, but are at risk of losing their jobs. Evaluations based on a Maturity model finds many I&O operations in trouble, 11 percent taking some pro-active measures, 59 percent committed to improvement, and 30 percent aware of the problems.
IT Service Management tries to bring a similar discipline as Portfolio Management and Application Lifecycle Management. Why can't IT be treated like any other part of the business portfolio? What is the business value of IT? IT can help a business run, grow and even transform. IT can help consolidate and centralize shared services to help leverage resources and offer cost optimizations not just for itself, but for the business as a whole.
CIOs that can adopt IT Service Management can have a "Jacks or Better" chance for a seat at the executive table to help drive the business forward.
This week I am at the Data Center Conference 2009 in Las Vegas. There are some 1700 people registered this year for this conferece, representing a variety of industries like Public sector, Services, Finance, Healthcare and Manufacturing. A survey of the attendees found:
55 percent are at this conference for the first time.
18 percent once before, like me
15 percent two or three times before
12 percent four or more times before
Plans for 2010 IT budgets were split evenly, one third planning to spend more, one third planning to spend about the same, and the final third looking to cut their IT budgets even further than in 2009. The biggest challenges were Power/Cooling/Floorspace issues, aligning IT with Business goals, and modernizing applications. The top three areas of IT spend will be for Data Center facilities, modernizing infrastructure, and storage.
There are six keynote sessions scheduled, and 66 breakout sessions for the week. A "Hot Topic" was added on "Why the marketplace prefers one-stop shopping" which plays to the strengths of IT supermarkets like IBM, encourages HP to acquire EDS and 3Com, and forces specialty shops like Cisco and EMC to form alliances.
Day 2 began with a series of keynote sessions. Normally when I see "IO" or "I/O", I immediately think of input/output, but here "I&O" refers to Infrastructure and Operations.
Business Sensitivity Analysis leads to better I&O Solutions
The analyst gave examples from Alan Greenspan's biography to emphasize his point that what this financial meltdown has caused is a decline in trust. Nobody trusts anyone else. This is true between people, companies, and entire countries. While the GDP declined 2 percent in 2009 worldwide, it is expected to grow 2 percent in 2010, with some emerging markets expected to grow faster, such as India (7 percent) and China (10 percent). Industries like Healthcare, Utilities and Public sector are expected to lead the IT spend by 2011.
While IT spend is expected to grow only 1 to 5 percent in 2010, there is a significant shift from Capital Expenditures (CapEx) to Operational Expenses (OpEx). Five years ago, OpEx used to represent only 64 percent of IT budget in 2004, but today represents 76 percent and growing. Many companies are keeping their aging IT hardware longer in service, beyond traditional depreciation schedules. The analyst estimated over 1 million servers were kept longer than planned in 2009, and another 2 million will be kept longer in 2010.
An example of hardware kept too long was the November 17 delay of 2000 some flights in the United States, caused by a failed router card in Utah that was part of the air traffic control system. Modernizing this system is estimated to cost $40 billion US dollars.
Top 10 priorities for the CIO were Virtualization, Cloud Computing, Business Intelligence (BI), Networking, Web 2.0, ERP applications, Security, Data Management, Mobile, and Collaboration. There is a growth in context-aware computing, connecting operational technologies with sensors and monitors to feed back into IT, with an opportunity for pattern-based strategy. Borrowing a concept from the military, "OpTempo" allows a CIO to speed up or slow down various projects as needed. By seeking out patterns, developing models to understand those patterns, and then adapting the business to fit those patterns, a strategy can be developed to address new opportunities.
Infrastructure and Operations: Charting the course for the coming decade
This analyst felt that strategies should not just be focused looking forward, but also look left and right, what IBM calls "adjacent spaces". He covered a variety of hot topics:
65 percent of energy running x86 servers is doing nothing. The average x86 running only 7 to 12 percent CPU utilization.
Virtualization of servers, networks and storage are transforming IT to become on big logical system image, which plays well with Green IT initiatives. He joked that this is what IBM offered 20 years ago with Mainframe "Single System Image" sysplexes, and that we have come around full circle.
One area of virtualization are desktop images (VDI). This goes back to the benefits of green-screen 3270 terminals of the mainframe era, eliminating the headaches of managing thousands of PCs, and instead having thin clients rely heavily on centralized services.
The deluge in data continues, as more convenient access drives demand for more data. The anlyst estimates storage capacity will increase 650 percent over the next five years, with over 80 percent of this unstructured data. Automated storage tiering, ala Hierarchical Storage Manager (HSM) from the mainframe era, is once again popular, along with new technologies like thin provisioning and data deduplication.
IT is also being asked to do complex resource tracking, such as power consumption. In the past IT and Facilities were separate budgets, but that is beginning to change.
The fastest growing social nework was Twitter, with 1382 percent growth in 2009, of which 69 percent of new users that joined this year were 39 to 51 years old. By comparison, Facebook only grew by 249 percent. Social media is a big factor both inside and outside a company, and management should be aware of what Tweets, Blogs, and others in the collective are saying about you and your company.
The average 18 to 25 year old sends out 4000 text messages per month. In 24 hours, more text messages are sent out than people on the planet (6.7 billion). Unified Communications is also getting attention. This is the idea that all forms of communication, from email to texts to voice over IP (VoIP), can be managed centrally.
Smart phones and other mobile devices are changing the way people view laptops. Many business tasks can be handled by these smaller devices.
It costs more in energy to run an x86 server for three years than it costs to buy it. The idea of blade servers and componentization can help address that.
Mashups and Portals are an unrecognized opportunity. An example of a Mashup is mapping a list of real estate listings to Google Maps so that you can see all the listings arranged geographically.
Lastly, Cloud Computing will change the way people deliver IT services. Amusingly, the conference was playing "Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell, which has the [lyrics about clouds]
Unlike other conferences that clump all the keynotes at the beginning, this one spreads the "Keynote" sessions out across several days, so I will cover the rest over separate posts.